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Fall a good time for fishing

By DICK MARTIN • Sep 15, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Largemouth bass will bite during any month, even through the ice as I've discovered many times.

But there are just two seasons when they're REALLY hungry, in the spring when they're feeding up for spawning and in the fall when they're building fat for a near dormant winter. Which means right now is a prime time to catch some.

But autumn largemouths are a little different from spring and summer ones. For example, they're looking for larger meals which makes an eight inch plastic worm a good choice for probing shoreline brush and downed trees. I like them in black or dark brown now to imitate leeches and small water snakes. They do follow normal behavior otherwise, which means they lay up for the day in deep water and move shallow to feed. They're ambush fish so favorite spots now are among downed timber or in weed beds where they can lie deep in green foliage and watch corridors and holes for passing prey.

Usually, they'll spend longer time in the shallows these days looking for that last meal before they head deep, so a good plan is to work the shoreline with pig and jig combinations and worms. Never pass up a dock at this time of year because bass love to hide in the shadowy depths beneath and pick off passing small bluegill and crappie. Flip your offering as far back under as possible and retrieve slowly.

But as the morning progresses, you should do what many bass hunters don't. Cast to the shore and likely targets along its length, but turn occasionally and throw toward deep water. A friend often wins tournaments with that tactic, picking off fish slowly migrating home while other anglers stick stubbornly to the shallows all morning. And don't be afraid to bottom bump half ounce or even more jigs in that deeper water. With a minnow or piece of nightcrawler added, they can be lethal.

Then there's the ever present weed beds, which too many bassers ignore. I've made some heavy catches in weeds, but it's important to fish only those that lie very close to deep water. Fishing weeds far back in some shallow bay is a waste of time because bass won't travel far seeking dinner. I favor several methods for fishing weeds. One is to cast an unweighted plastic worm far back in the foliage, and work it back as noisily as possible, concentrating on corridors and openings.

I like an old time Silver Minnow weedless spoon tipped with pork rind too, or something similar, again splashed back noisily and allowed to flutter down in any hole that appears. And anglers who lack either can at least work the edges with a flashy spinnerbait. Spinnerbaits aren't weedless, but they don't pick up many weeds, and are always worth a try. Finally, never pass up riprap shorelines, places where large rocks extend into the water as wave protection. They harbor crayfish and bass love ‘em. Simple rules, but they'll get you fish this month and next.

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Hooks & bullets

• Young outdoor types should know that the Outdoor Writers of Ohio (OWO) is offering scholarships for Ohio college students majoring in conservation related courses of study, such as fisheries, wildlife, forestry, water quality, outdoor journalism or other fields related to fishing, hunting and similar outdoor pursuits. There are four scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $1,500 and applicants should send a short essay, not exceeding 250 words, describing the applicants career goals, field of study and how this scholarship would help achieve a degree. Also, add either a college transcript or a copy of the last two semester's grades, and a brief letter of recommendation, from a professor or advisor. Include their full name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. Send to Fred L. Snyder, OWO Education Committee, 754 Co. Rd. 126, Fremont, OH 43420.

• Magee Marsh Wildlife Area and the Sportsman's Migratory Bird Center will remain closed through the fall due to unexpected delays in a bridge repair project. The project involves removing and replacing two road bridges with an estimated date of completion Dec. 1. Wildlife enthusiasts and bird watchers are encouraged to visit Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge for excellent wildlife viewing opportunities.

Dick Martin is a free-lance writer from Shelby. Reach him at [email protected] You also can visit his blog at outdoorswithmartin.com.

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