Lull between hunting seasons a great time to be on the water
PRATT — Before long, the Kansas hunting seasons will be in full swing, but there’s still time to enjoy some excellent fishing. There’s a lull after the fast action of the opening dove, early teal, and youth deer and duck seasons, but avid outdoorsman are still itching to get out. This is a time of year when many take advantage of hungry fish, feeding continually in preparation for a long winter. Fall is a great time to be outdoors.
In the state’s larger lakes and reservoirs, gizzard shad are the preferred prey of most sport fish. In the fall, young-of-the-year shad are about 2-3 inches long, and a white or chrome, fat-bodied crankbait is the perfect imitation of a gizzard shad. Cast a deep- or medium-diving crankbait along rocky points and rip-rapped shorelines, and retrieve it quickly, so it gets near the bottom and bounces off the rocks. A deep-diving crankbait may be the best choice even when fishing relatively shallow water. The lure’s long lip deflects off rocks and other snags, and this action can trigger strikes. If the lure does hang up, give it some slack, and it will often float free. Using light monofilament or a small-diameter braided line will allow a crankbait to dive deeper.
Later in fall, when water temperatures cool to the low 50s or high 40s, it’s time to catch Kansas crappie. Reservoir crappie congregate in large schools over deep brushpiles and creek channel dropoffs at this time. Jigs or jigging spoons fished vertically in 12-25 feet of water are most effective. If too many small crappie are biting, try a larger jig with a 2- or 2 1/2-inch shad-type plastic body. The larger bait will more closely resemble shad and may discourage smaller fish. When concentrations of crappie and white bass are found, use landmarks or GPS to mark their location. If the state experiences a frigid winter and safe ice forms, you can return to the spots that held fish before freeze-up and catch them through the ice.
Even though autumn weather may be mild, always wear more layers of clothing than you think necessary when fall fishing. No matter how warm it feels on land, it will be much cooler on the water, especially if the wind blows. And don’t forget to wear a life jacket; it will keep you warm and may save your life.