Anglers looking to escape the mass confusion of metropolitan New York don’t have to run far this week. With cooler temperatures and shorter days, the rivers and streams of the Catskill Mountains are primed for great fishing. Tom Gentalen at River Basin Outdoors (www.riverbasinsports.com) in Catskill, New York reporting that smallmouth and largemouth bass are gearing up for their fall migration down the Hudson. Tom suggests looking for the largemouth at the confluence of feeder creeks where the fish will fall for a rubber worm, spinnerbaits or crankbaits. “Best colors in the fall are fire tiger or Tennessee shad,” Tom said. Fall is the best time of year to target smallmouth bass on the river. “Smallmouth key in on two things,” Tom said, “swift current and gravel beds.” He said that the smallies are still responding to poppers, but Tom suggests a drop shot and 3-inch worm for guaranteed action. “Guys are catching smallmouth to 4 pounds and putting together five-fish stringers pushing 17 pounds,” he said. Trout fishing in the mountain streams has been slow. Tom says that low, clear water has made it tough to trick the trout. For die-hard trout anglers, the best place to find the best conditions is Schoharie Creek between Prattsville and Hunter. “There are 7 or 8 public access points along Route 23A,” he says, “and they all hold fish.” Although a few fly anglers are having luck tricking brown trout with terrestrials, Tom reminds non-purists that these waters are open to spinfishing and natural bait, too.
After spending 700 billion taxpayer dollars to bail out the nation’s overdrawn banks, lawmakers are probably ready to get out of Washington and get on the water this weekend. Luckily, George Washington spent far less money constructing the C&O Canal and later administrations invested even less money in turning the waterway into a 180 mile-long national park that hosts some of the country’s best smallmouth bass fishing. For the 411 on fishing this national monument, we called Grizzly at Urban Angler (www.urbanangler.com) in the heart of D.C. “There is tons of public access along the canal,” he said, “just pull on some felt-soled boots and wade.” He suggests throwing cicada, dragonfly or crayfish imitations with a 6 to 8 weight rod. “Bigger baits will catch bigger fish,” he reminds anglers. Grizzly adds that largemouth fishing on the lower Potomac has been red hot. “It’s not just for guys in sparkly bass boats,” he says. Grizzly has been fishing the grass beds with his fly rod and frog flies and finding quiet creeks where he sparks the bass with popping bugs or Clouser deep minnows. “Fly guys are giving the Potomic River bass something they haven’t seen before,” he says.
Anglers looking to pop down to the Keys for a weekend getaway should head to Islamorada where they can spend Saturday offshore and Sunday fishing the backwaters before catching the red-eye flight back to work Monday morning. Bill Hartman at Bud and Mary’s (www.budnmarys.com) said that the day-time swordfish bite is off the hook right now. Crews fishing on the B&M have been dropping rigged squid 1500 to 2000 feet and scoring big swords on each trip. After they punch their sword ticket, the boats are loading up on dolphin. “Backcountry fishing has been red hot,” Bill adds. He says that skinny water guides are busy with snook, seatrout and bonefish fishing the muds in Everglades Park. Even tarpon are still biting on the night bite. Bill says that the best action is coming around the bridges with live crabs or pinfish dangling under foam floats. “It’s all on right now,” he said.
For the latest on the fall crappie run, we called 40 Woods Bait and Tackle in Kansas City where Mark Hill assured us that the local lakes are chocked full of hungry slabs. Anglers are finding the fish suspended in 10 to 12 feet of water over brushpiles. He suggests using a garlic-impregnated Slab Buster jig in chartreuse or orange or a live minnows on a No. 6 hook under a bobber. Mark points anglers to the public access points on Lake Jacomo and Long View where boaters can launch their rigs and shore fishermen can fish the marina piers. He adds that Lake Jacomo is also holding some nice-sized catfish for anglers fishing the shallows at night with night crawlers.
California bass fishing really turns on in the fall and the lakes around Monterey are already ahead of the curve. Denise Bradford at Coyote Bait and Tackle (www.coyotebait.com) between San Francisco and Santa Cruz reported that Anderson Reservoir is putting up good quantities of bass. “The fish are small, but there are plenty of them,” she said, adding that lucky anglers might encounter a 4- or 5-pound fish. The best method for bailing these bass is bouncing a drop shot and Senko along the points and channels in the Reservoir. “You can get your limit any day,” she said. Crappie fishing has picked up in the last few weeks, Denise says the fish are hanging over submerged trees in the north and south ends of the lake. For folks looking for a change of pace, Denise suggests targeting striped bass on San Luis Reservoir out of O’Neill Forebay. She says that the best action is early in then morning when the fish are feeding on the surface and taking popping plugs. “Most of the fish are 3 to 5 pounds, but we’ll get a lunker every once-in-a-while,” she says. Striper fishing is also improving on the San Francisco Delta where guides are catching fish on topwater plugs or by trolling broken-back lures or drifting big minnows and pile worms. Denise recommends fishing the areas around Rio Vista at Frank’s Bay or Discovery Bay.—Ric Burnley