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JACK WOLLITZ Time for vertical angling



Published: Fri, November 23, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



It's time to get vertical if you want to catch any fish now through spring time.

The water is cold and that means most of the fish in local waters have restricted strike zones. They are much less inclined to roam and most certainly cannot muster the zip to chase down a spinner or crankbait.

So anglers knowledgeable about late autumn tactics put themselves directly over their favorite species‚ hideouts and offer vertical presentations to generate bites. It's a bit like ice fishing without the ice.

Walleyes, for instance, will not be too far from the shallow feeding grounds they used in early November, but they definitely have retreated to the deeper breaks. Boaters find gangs of walleyes on the drops off the flats and on the deep points.

If you have an electric motor, you can hover over the hole and move slowly around the structure until you pinpoint the fish. Otherwise, you will need to anchor directly over the spot.

Jigs tipped with live minnows will be productive, as will metal jigging lures like spoons and blade baits. For best results, drop the jig to the bottom and bounce it in various rhythms until you find what the walleyes want.

Crappies will be found in similar spots as walleyes this time of the year.

Check out: It also will pay to check out sunken bridges, deep pilings, and brush piles and wood pallet structures in seven to 10 feet of water.

Small jigs are good baits for fall crappies, as is the plain old minnow on a fine wire hook under a slip bobber set to hold the bait in the fishes‚ feeding zone.

Even if you don't have a boat to get out to the offshore hangouts, you can catch November crappies. Look for places where deep water juts to within a reasonable cast from shore. Good starting points are causeways and breakwalls.

Cast around such places with a slip bobber set-up and let the bait sit long enough to attract interest. If nothing happens in five minutes, make another cast a few feet away and continue that pattern until you find crappies or eliminate the spot.

If one of your casts snags brush, don't despair. Just set the float so it holds your bait a couple of inches over the cover and you likely will get bites.

Bass anglers put away their plugs and spinnerbaits this time of year and probe the deep breaks and bridge pilings to find a few fish. Jigs slowly dragged along the bottom will work, as will blade baits jigged around cover.

Where you fish in northeast Ohio or western Pennsylvania this time of year, it is mandatory that you slow down your lure to crawl speed. Anything moving much faster than a snail will fail to get bit.

Vertical fishing around breaklines and cover will be the ticket to success until the ice forms. Once the lakes are frozen, however, the vertical game tends to be more productive on the deep flats, especially if they have a few stumps.

SURFIN': The popular B.A.S.S. web site has been relaunched, according ESPN, which acquired the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society last spring.

The site features in-depth bass tourney coverage, fishing tips from pro anglers and more. A lively chat room is available, as are the astro tables that show the best and worst times to fish each month.

Anglers may find the site at www.bassmaster.com

jwollitz@shermanassoc.com




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