A Year in a Life – October

14 10 2014

October is my favorite time of year and probably one of my favorite times to be on the river fishing. Every spring I count the days until I can get the boat in the water but come July I’m already thinking ahead to October. This month has consistently produced more big fish for me than any other. I know the Spring Run produces a lot of big females but for me the Fall fishing has been my best time of year. I have lost some wall hangers and also landed my personal best on a Halloween afternoon a few years back. We have all heard it before about how the fish go on a feeding binge to prep for the upcoming winter and it shouldn’t be ignored. Fishing can be tough because of the weather but the rewards can be awesome.

 
There are two areas on the Detroit River where the fish start to pile up in preparation for winter and the Spring spawning run. At the north end up near Peche Island and the South end from the Grosse Isle Free bridge to south of Celeron Island. They do catch a few fish mid river but the catches are more consistent at the north and south ends. The schools also pile up in Lake Erie from Brest Bay down to Huron Ohio but I don’t have the boat for that so I stick to the river. They also catch a lot of walleye north of the Blue Water bridge up at Port Huron but I’m not making that run either. For me though it is all about the Trenton Channel. I know big surprise.

 
During the Fall the walleye in the channel are feeding on 4 different types of baitfish. Emerald Shiners, Gobies, young of the year Smallmouth Bass and eventually Gizzard Shad. The Gizzard Shad follow the warm water from the Edison Plant discharge and the walleye are right behind them. You can always tell when they are in because you will see them jumping and there will be a big increase in Egret’s, Heron’s and Eagles in the trees along the shore. This means big baits, size #11 and #13 Rapala’s and Thundersticks. My usual set up this time of year is all Rapala’s with a 13 on my 40, an 11 on my 20 and a 9 on my kicker. Of course this can change after I have been out there for a bit but 90% of the time I start out like that. It all depends on what the fish want. It can be baffling though. I have caught barely legal fish on a #13 Rapala and a 6 or 7 pounder on a #7 Rapala. Lord for bid they stick to my plan of attack.

 
Another good thing about this time of year is that the fish hit hard. None of this lightly sucking in the bait or just nipping at the tail crap. They hit these lures like a freight train. Out in the Lake the small inline planer boards turn into bobbers that disappear under the surface. For the handliner it’s not uncommon to find the whole lure inside the fish or every hook stuck in him somewhere. Of course because the fish are so big and feisty I tend to lose a lot of fish. All the head shaking produces a lot of tearing and eventually lures being thrown back at me just as I get them within a few yards of the boat. This is a time when I really prefer to fish by myself so that I can turn the boat into the fish and try to finesse them in a little more. I also keep a net handy, especially if I can see those tell tale holes in the jaw from where the hook has been pulling.

 
Couple of other things to take into consideration for the Fall fishing. Weather plays a big role in success. Once the water temps get around that 50 degree range it’s game on. If things get to cold to quick it can shut down in a hurry. Also, October storms can tear up the water in an instant. A few years back Super Storm Sandy trashed the river for weeks and the fish shut right down. I have also noticed that since the fish are more active they are willing to chase bait and sometimes are up cruising around off the bottom. I catch more fish while bringing my lines up or setting them down this time of year over any other. If I notice this I will shorten up my 20 foot lead and my kicker. I won’t touch the 40 just in case there are still a few lazy ones down there. It also helps to keep one line away from the boat in case they are a little skittish in the shallow clear water. I have also noticed that these fish will feed at the most ridiculous times. Like I said earlier my personal best came on a Halloween afternoon at 2:00 pm. I have had some of my best days on clear blue bird days at 10:00 am. I rarely get that in the summer but it happens on a regular basis in the Fall. Bottom line is when the dinner bell rings it’s best to be out there. Weeds too can be a problem, it’s not the big mats like in the summer but just all the single strands that are dying and breaking off downstream. These tend to be below the surface so a good west wind isn’t going to help keep them in Canada. In other words clear the lines on a regular basis.

 
That’s it for my thoughts on the fall fishery. If all goes well this can carry on into November and December. It all depends on what kind of a mood Mother Nature is in. In 2007 I was catching limits well into December but last year everything came to a screeching halt in November. Each year is different, just remember to dress warm and have fun.

10-26-12 TC 2 10-26-12 TC 1 10-20-12 TC 1 TC 11-10-12 11-10-13 TC

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