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Big fish in the fall

It feels like fall could arrive early this year. After a very mild summer, an extended autumn season could be reality, and, if you like to chase big fish and lots of fish, an extended fall would be a good thing. Fall fishing offers variety, solitude, spectacular landscapes, and a chance for two types of fishing action. You can chase lots of fish of average size, or you can focus on catching a truly big fish. If we decide that we want to catch big fish we will fish differently than if we just want to get bit.

A very important consideration, probably the most important consideration, is choosing a body of water. Some lakes are big fish lakes, others are numbers waters. If you want to concentrate on catching a really big one, you need to be on water that has a history of producing big ones. Trophy walleyes, northern pike, and muskies typically come from bodies of water that are deep and clear and have oily baitfish like smelt or tullibees that allow fish to grow big.

Bodies of water that grow big largemouth bass often have a good amount of shallow water cover, which is where the bass spend the summer. As that shallow water vegetation thins in the fall, the big guys gather on points on the weedline or along drop-offs and are quite accessible.

Keep in mind that in the fall, fish want to eat. If you can find the fish you can expect them to eat at sometime during the day (or night). If you see what you believe are walleyes on deeper structure, drop them a line. If they don't eat in a little while, find another school and see if they'll eat. But remember to try that earlier school again later in the day. Keep revisiting them, because eventually they'll take your bait.

This is where sonar and GPS become so valuable. The Humminbird 798 that I use draws an outstanding picture of the underwater world. If it shows fish on structure, we try to catch them. But if they don't bite, we push the "mark" button on the unit and that spot is saved for a return trip in an hour or two. By saving the spot with GPS, we can come right back to where the fish were. They may have moved a little, but they're usually pretty easy to find. If they've moved shallower, they're more likely to bite.

As mentioned earlier, in the fall the big largemouth bass, the ones that will excite anyone, move away from shallow cover. If you can find them on the edge of that cover before they get to the deeper stuff, try throwing a spinnerbait. Use a Reed-Runner with big blades and put a bulky trailer on it, something like a big PowerBait Shaky Shad. Big bulky baits catch big, bulky bass in the fall.

Autumn can provide a great fishing experience. The weather can be so nice, the colors are spectacular and the fish can be equally memorable. Make some fall fishing memories of your own in the next few weeks.

(For more fishing information visit fishingthemidwestcom and watch all the 2009 episodes of Fishing the Midwest television on in the video section and on