Sons of Fall

By Captain James McManus

Noticed the other day the Joe pye weed was blooming. Along with ironweed those mark the beginning of the end of hot weather and the start of fall with all of the comforts that come as mates.

The favorite with me is the improved appetite of our little slimy friends. Young of the year shad and herring are abundant and have moved into open water in schools. This lends itself to trolling as the most effective means of filling your boat. We typically will troll and station someone on the front of the boat to cast to breaking fish. To succeed with casting you need to be quick, accurate and have a match the hatch bait. A nonchalant reaction to breaking fish and you will come up empty every time.

These spotted bass corral little bait pods with a group of 6-10 brothers and sisters. Holding 25-30 feet deep they crash the surface and immediately go back down so if you are 10-15 seconds late they are already gone. Our spots are in really good shape now. They have healed up from their spawning scrapes, have plenty to eat and with cooler weather are much less lethargic than a couple of weeks back.

Seems like we are catching fewer and fewer smallies every year which is a shame and taking the limit off the spots doesn’t seem to have changed their numbers although the size seems to be rising. Not sure if that’s a trend or if it’s just that the larger fish are becoming more active.

With all the bait we are seeing I sure would like to see stripers introduced, but the minds of the wildlife folks are dead set against it. With almost no white bass, walleye or small mouth, guess they have decided we are going to have a spot lake and need to be satisfied with that. The bream and catfish are down, as well as the herring gobble up any eggs that are laid anywhere, any time. Stripers would at least break up the herring and give them something else to think about other than species annihilation.

Our folks would do well to look to Tennessee and their stocking programs. Their lakes have extremely diverse fisheries with stripers, walleye, all kinds of trout including lake trout, smallies and spots. A monoculture lake is not the worst thing in the world, but some new species would be nice, maybe some lake trout, coho salmon and of course stripers. Let our wildlife folks know and maybe someday… Later, Captain James

Capt. James McManus owns 153 Charters. Give him a call for a great day on the water at (828) 421-8125