Adjusting Your Game Plan for Fall Fishing Success

Embrace changing conditions to find fish in fall.

By Chris Russell

Fall is a season of change. We all experience the changes in many aspects of our lives as the weather cools, leaves change, and the outdoors take on an entirely new look. For me, this season signals some of the best fishing of the year. It can also mean rapidly changing conditions in the weather and water. You may need to adapt quickly and look for clues to make sure your day on the water is successful.

A recent trip to southern Louisiana was such a trip. We had timed our travel there with hopes to hit the cooling water that fall brings signaling to the fish it’s time to “stock up” before bait becomes scarce. Our plan was to sight fish for Reds in the pools and backwaters around Venice, Louisiana.

Everything was shaping up great, but heavy rains several weeks prior in the upper Midwest had suddenly turned the water muddy, even by Louisiana standards. Clouds of mud, high water and flooded backwaters the color of chocolate milk were the challenges we faced.

The start of day one was tough. The normal tactics did not pay off and sight fishing was a bust. The places we thought we could count on were not producing and we struggled – even with good anglers and plenty of local knowledge. A change of tactics was in order.

Changes in water clarity can be just a few yards apart and make all the difference.

Changes in water clarity can be just a few yards apart and make all the difference.

Embrace Change

Change 1: Find Clean Water.

We set out to explore new areas. We looked for places where water was filtered through the cane or where current was coming in from smaller backwaters allowing the silt to settle out. After looking at GPS and maps to get us heading in the right direction, we started our search. We discovered a slight change was enough to really improve our odds. Off color with a tint of green or the seams between muddy water and less muddy patches were at times only a few yards apart based on current flow and tide. If we found clean water, we found fish and most were willing to chase a bait. But even this “clean” water was in no way clear. Swimbaits, normally a great option in the type of shallow areas we were fishing, came up empty. Topwater plugs would get a follow but only seemed to entice smaller fish. Even live shrimp was no guarantee of success and came up empty most of the time.

Change 2: Bait Color and Noise.

As we found more fish holding in these small clean areas, the real success came with a change of baits. Baits that gave off plenty of flash, noise and vibration made a huge difference. Spinnerbaits with heavy thumping blades or Z-Man Chatterbaits with Chartreuse heads or bright plastic trailers rounded out the lineup and started to connect. Fish still had a hard time finding even these disruptive lures and many times we missed fish on the first, second, or even third strikes. Persistence paid off and continued casts in the same area resulted in a hook up after back to back misses.

Be Prepared

Fall can be an amazing time to target fish bulking up for winter months ahead. Fish are feeding, starting to school and moving out to deeper water as the shallows cool, allowing us to target them more effectively. But it can also present some of the most unpredictable weather and rapidly changing conditions. This requires quick adjustments as you rethink your lure selection and game plan. Preparation and willingness to change your game plan can make or break a day of fishing.

Traveling with a wide selection of lures to help you be prepared is never easy so finding a bag that can serve several purposes is a must. Traveling with a wide selection of lures to help you be prepared is never easy so finding a bag that can serve several purposes is a must. The Plano A-Series duffel is my go-to travel bag for any angling trip. Loaded with up to 14 waterproof Stowaways in the 3600 size lets me pack a week’s worth of tackle in this bag and still have extra room for rain gear, gloves or snacks when I’m getting on the boat. For a weekend trip, this is the only bag I need. The interior dividers let me load my clothes in one half and tackle in the other allowing me to travel light for a weekend getaway.

On this trip, I tested the newest version of this bag. It’s tough, good looking and sheds dirt and grime. The oversized zippers allowed me to stuff it full without the fear of a zipper blowout. One of my favorite upgrades is the light color interior; this is a simple change but pliers, sunglasses and smaller items now have no way to hide in the corners and pockets.

I also used the Plano Speedbag on this trip. I like that I can keep all my soft plastics organized in their original packages for quick access. Plus, the soft design means no rattles and I can tuck the Speedbag away in small spaces around other gear.

Enjoy fall fishing and be prepared to embrace the change that is headed your way!

Read more “Fall Fishing Tips.”

Learn more about “Frustration-Free Saltwater Tackle Storage.”

About the Author:
Chris Russell grew up fishing the Pacific Northwest and has lived and fished all over North America. He is the Fishing Marketing Manager for Plano Synergy and has worked in the fishing industry for over 15 years. He chases fish if he can squeeze in the time wherever his business trips take him.


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