the fall through winter transition
sition periods can be some of the most difficult times to fish. Take for example the transition from spawn to early summer, also known as post-spawn. At that time fish are moving from concentrated spawning areas to more widely spread areas such as ledges, main lake points and humps and even flats that meet up with the main river channel. Fish once easily targeted in thee shallows have now moved down in the water column, out of sight of prying eyes, and the angler has to use more search-type baits in order to find the fish. Another good example of a tough transition period is the late summer to early fall. This transition can first be seen as the days begin to shorten, leaves begin to change color, deer lose their velvet and become more active as the rut starts to take place and the green fields you pass on the way to the launch are now being harvested. These days are also accompa- nied by cooler night temperatures and a shift in wind direction, which often means you won’t be fishing in shorts and a t-shirt that morning. During this late summer to fall tran- sition, which happens in southwest Texas during the September/October timeframe, another thing happens, though. Cooler surface temperatures increase the water’s density and, when that density reaches a critical mass, the lake turns over. When this happens, the water in the entire lake mixes, the temperature throughout the en- tire water column becomes constant and the bait and predatory fish scatter through- out the depths. This phenomenon marks the toughest time of the year to catch bass. This may be why it marks the time of year when many anglers hang up their rods and pick up their guns. But for the savvy angler, this marks the genesis of the best fishing the year has to offer – the fall through winter time period.
Here at Lake Amistad fall gets into full swing around the Novem- ber time period. By this time the lake has re-stratified, the bait has moved shallow due to the
with kurt dove
cooler water temperatures, and the fish have put on the feedbag in preparation for winter. Fish at this time can be found both in their previous deep summer haunts but a majority of the fish can be found shallow and are willing to bite just about anything the angler wants to throw at them. It’s a true power-fisherman’s dream. One thing that anglers need to real- ize about this time of year, though, is that because the bait is constantly moving, so are the fish. This time of year success is all about being around the bait. Therefore, the angler needs to move constantly in or- der to find the bait and, the fish. By re- maining loose on the water and covering a lot of area, you can go from a good day to one of those days you’ll never forget.
By the time we get late into December and the wa- ter temperatures have reached very low 50’s and sometimes the high 40s, we see an- other transition. At this time the baits starts to head back out of the creeks and into the main lake. This is when the fish become very dependable as to their location and depth. The key to locating these fish is to find the depth where the bait is m o s t con-
centrated. This means you must use your electronics as your second set of eyes. Here this means I’m looking anywhere from the 40- to 80-foot range for the bait and I will then use my knowledge of the lake and my electronics to determine what structure is at the specific depth the bait is at. This is an important concept anglers need to grasp. For example, if the bait is predominantly at 60 feet – even in the middle of the lake – I want to fish structure that’s at the depth. This is what makes the electronics software like Navionics such a valuable tool this time of year – you can use your Lowrance electronics and map- ping software to locate old roads, main- lake river channels, humps and ledges that will intersect the depth where the bait is. This time of year, once you locate the fish, you can rely on them for days or even weeks. This is the most stable time of year and once the lake sets up in pure winter mode, the bait will stay at a specific depth and the fish will be close by.
the fall frenzy
During what I call the fall time- frame, when the fish are shallow and feeding heav- ily, I rely on power- fishing techniques in shallow water. I rig my Powell rods and Ardent reel up with top baits for this time of year. Down here at Amistad top baits are any bait that you can fish fast in the upper water col- umn. Baits like the Lucky Craft RC 1.5 and BDS 2 and 3, Buzzbaits, Zara Spook Jrs. Jerk- baits like the Deps Balisong 130, the IMA Skimmer and small swimbaits like the Baby Line
taCtiCs and teCh- niques