Fishing the north in the fall can be both challenging and rewarding. On any given cast the fish of a lifetime can bite and that’s why the fall fishing is so popular amongst anglers in the north country. It offers some of the best bass fishing in the country and is home to some of the most serene bodies of water. But, these lakes, rivers, pits, and ponds are (generally) only accessible via boat for a few months out of the year. Sometimes it seems as if the seasons up here consist of winter, winter, summer, and winter. Thus, as North Country anglers, we must optimize the time we have available and that means fishing well into the late fall.
Fish Loves Oxygen in the Fall
Believe it or not, bass love oxygen. In fact, they need it and so do the rest of the organisms that live in the watery ecosystem. During the late fall, the oxygen given off by remaining green vegetation is highly important. Bass flock to living vegetation like a child to candy. Conversely, dying vegetation gives off CO2 and tends to have a repelling effect on fish and microorganisms.
As fall progresses, the vegetation in the shallowest water will die off first. As temperatures get colder, the greenest vegetation will continue to “move” deeper and deeper. If you can find living vegetation like cabbage, coontail, milfoil, or hydrilla, congratulations; you have found the bass.
Now that you have found the fish, it is time to decide what to throw at them. In the fall an angler only needs a few baits. First and foremost, a spinnerbait is my go-to bait in all periods of the fall. It comes through vegetation like a champ and can be thrown in a foot of water or 15 feet of water. In Minnesota, bass love a chartreuse and white spinnerbait during all times of the year. My favorite size is 3/8 oz but I will go lighter (1/4 oz) or heavier (1/2 oz) depending upon depth, wind, and cover thickness. I prefer baits with bulkier skirts. This enables the bait to fall and move slower, maximizing time in the strike zone.
Fishing The North In The Fall: Choose Your Lakes Wisely
Being as the North Country (Norther United States and Canada in particular) has a plethora of lakes and rivers, it is wise to pick the places you want to fish strategically. Make sure to keep an eye on your weather app as this time of the year even one 60-degree day can cause the water in a smaller lake to jump by 5 or more degrees. This can trigger an incredible bite and is the reason I typically choose (after checking the DNR reports) smaller sized lakes in the fall. Make sure to pick lakes with healthy populations of both bass and smaller fish like bluegill, perch, and crappie. Lastly, if you know of lakes “off the beaten path”, these are typically the best choice as they will receive little to no fishing pressure this late in the season.