Saturday, September 8, 2018
Today’s cooler weather is a solid reminder that the dog days of summer are waning and autumn fishing is fast approaching.
Fall brings shorter days, falling water temperatures and a general change in many of the conditions that affect our fishing fortunes.
Anglers who don’t fare well during the hot summer days on our lakes look forward to more fishing success once footballs are flying.
Walleyes are popular targets for the majority of Youngstown-area anglers, and prospects are promising from Lake Erie to the inland reservoirs.
Mosquito Creek Reservoir will be a favorite fishing hole for walleye anglers as we slide through September, and Berlin Reservoir will pick up steam as trick-or-treat time approaches.
Mosquito’s grass flats will get a lot of attention as walleye anglers work the edges with jigs and drift the deeper humps.
Berlin also produces a good jig bite for fall walleyes, while those with boats find success out on offshore spots working vertically with heavy metal-blade baits such as Cicadas, Vib-E’s and Sonars.
The summer walleye bite on Erie out of Ashtabula, Geneva and Conneaut was strong in August and looks as though it will stay hot in September. Weather permitting, the walleye fleet is likely to stay in touch with the walleyes as they prowl the massive schools of smelt and other baitfish offshore.
Those same bait schools attract the increasingly popular steelhead trout that are thriving in Lake Erie.
September marks the beginning of the transition from summer deepwater tactics for steelhead to near-shore casting and trolling.
The trout migrate in from the depths of Lake Erie where they fed aggressively and gained weight. They charge into the tributaries as they become flush with cool water from autumn rain.
For the next two months, anglers who work the harbors and river mouths with spoons, spinners and minnow plugs will find lots of trout willing to cooperate. Those who wade the pools and runs in streams such as the Rocky, Grand, Conneaut, Walnut, Elk and other tributaries will thrill at spectacular fly-fishing and noodle-rod action.
Smallmouth bass are another Lake Erie treasure increasingly accessible as autumn advances.
Smallies feed heavily on round gobies, crawfish, yellow perch, shiners and other near-shore food sources as Erie waters cool and winter approaches. The same structure where large numbers of heavy-belly bass resided in May and June will once again start yielding trophy bass as we head toward October.
Anglers are advised to locate the humps, ledges, rock piles, wrecks and other bumps on the bottom in water 15 to 20 feet and comb the structures with tubes, drop-shot rigs and deep-diving crankbaits.
Chances are excellent that autumn Erie bass anglers will connect with specimens topping 4 pounds and even a few fish topping the 6-pound mark.
Those who time their fall fishing trips to coincide with good weather forecasts and stay alert to avoid sudden storms can finish their 2018 season with some of the year’s best action from walleyes, steelhead and smallmouth bass.