As the temperatures drop and the leaves change color, the thoughts of most Arkansans turn to the pursuit of deer, ducks, squirrels and other game.But the changing seasons and dropping temperatures spur the fish of Arkansas into a feeding frenzy that can lead to some of the best angling days of the year.
During the fall months, fish species are driven to congregate by the need to feed before winter sets in. This provides anglers with a possible mixed bag on any given day. Fall fish are there to feed and their voracious appetites make them great targets for a day on the water.
These fish will also fall for a wide variety of baits, thus allowing an angler to be successful with their favorite style of fishing.
Fish in large, clear-water upland impoundments often follow large schools of shad. These shad are also trying to feed before winter sets in and can be found on long points, drop-offs and brush piles. Small crankbaits can be good, but the fish might also hit spoons or even topwaters.
Perhaps one of the most overlooked lures for fall fishing is a 3-inch paddletail grub. Fished on a ⅛-ounce jighead, a smoke or pearl grub will catch most any fish in the lake, including bass, crappie, white bass, stripers and even an occasional catfish.
In smaller lowland lakes, the fish tend to venture toward shoreline cover. Cypress trees and brush piles, especially those that might be in a little deeper water are often used as ambush points by hungry fish.
Smaller lakes provide a little more targeted fishing, so lures like a jig and pig and spinnerbaits can produce bass.
Crappie in these lakes will fall for the standard crappie jigs in a color appropriate for the water. In clearer water, natural colors like smoke and pearl will produce, while dirtier water may call for a red or black with chartreuse. A 1/16-ounce jighead with a jig in the 2- to 3-inch range will be very appealing to a crappie trying to beef up for the winter.
Many species of fish that inhabit rivers and streams will begin to feed aggressively and often stack in large numbers in the same general locations in search of food. An important tool in fishing a river is being able to read the river and its current flow.
As the leaves fall and settle on the water’s surface, they will flow downstream with the current and these flowing leaves will tell an observant angler exactly where to cast. Eddies, backflows and current breaks will be evident by the actions of the leaves on the surface, thus indicating likely locations a fish could be using as an ambush point.
A white or white/chartreuse spinnerbait is a tried and true lure for river bass in the fall. Targeting eddies and backflows with a jig and pig or a creature bait can also be very effective.