Mike Frisch: BIG fish time!
October is an awesome time to be an outdoors enthusiast!
Many hunting seasons are in full swing and some of the year's best fishing happens now. Numbers of fish of all species are often cooperative biters now, and some of the year's biggest fish find the bottom of landing nets this month, too. Here are some thoughts on swaying the odds of a trophy-sized fish coming in your boat this month!
The first thing, and maybe most important ingredient, in finding big fish, regardless of the season, is going where they live! That might sound simple, but some anglers get frustrated because they can't catch a big fish when maybe the water or waters they are fishing just don't have many. For that reason, targeting lakes that are known to produce big fish with some regularity is one way to tip the trophy odds in an angler's favor.
Once a lake with big fish potential is chosen, targeting it during the right time frame is another way to increase the odds. The bite for many fish species is often best in spring and fall, with the bigger female fish being more predictable biters in the fall as the rigors of the spring spawn are not a problem now. Very late fall can, however, mean downright cold water and a tougher bite, another reason October (right now) is often prime time!
Being on the right lake at the right time will certainly increase your odds for angling successes, particularly when targeting trophy-sized fish. Another key ingredient is using the right baits, particularly the right-sized baits. Since big fish are used to eating bigger prey, bigger baits often rule during fall.
Many walleye anglers targeting big fall fish often prefer a slip-sinker live bait rig tipped with a big, lively minnow like a redtail chub, creek chub, or sucker minnow. Big minnows used to mean those in the 4-to-6-inch size range. The past few years, however, several of the biggest walleyes caught in Midwestern fall walleye tournaments have come on minnows in the 7-inch and even bigger sizes!
Smallmouth bass are my favorite fall fish to target, and while tubes in the 2.5-inch size range and finesse plastics on drop-shot rigs catch fish in good numbers, the bigger specimens are often caught on bigger offerings, as well. For example, my best "big fish" tube is a Strike King 3.5-inch Pro Model Tube.
When it comes to largemouth bass, fall often finds "largies" relating to what's left of green living weeds along deep weedlines. These fish are often susceptible to crankbaits and bigger-sized baits often reach the deeper depths the bass are found in now. These bigger baits also appeal to some of the biggest-sized bass now, as well.
Big baits presented at the right time in the right waters is often a formula for getting a big fish "hooked up." Now, patience and good fishing-fighting and landing skills are required to close the deal. Taking your time in not rushing a big fish and then being ready for the inevitable runs at the boat that fish will make are essential. Another key is to have a good landing net, preferably a sturdy net that's also big enough to land your trophy.
Beckman Nets had a longstanding reputation for quality and recently the company returned to the angling scene. Like their predecessors, the new Beckmans are durable, easy to handle, and available in a variety of sizes to match the fish species pursued.
If landing the fish of a lifetime is still on your bucket list, October is a great time to be on the water. The fish are on the bite big time now and by following some of the tips just presented, maybe, just maybe, this might be your year!
As always, good luck on the water and remember to include a youngster in your next outdoors adventure.
Mike Frisch is a western Minnesota fishing guide and co-host of the popular Fishing the Midwest TV series. Visit www.fishingthemidwest.com or follow Fishing the Midwest on Facebook for more "fishy" stuff.