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From Chris Huskilson:
Late fall right through to ice-up presents some of the greatest muskie and smallmouth bass fishing of the year in the Kawarthas Northumberland region of Ontario. Your opportunity to truly catch a legend awaits right here. Come see for yourself!
Fall in the Kawarthas Northumberland region is one of my favorite times to fish. Not only is the fishing spectacular, but the sheer beauty and fall colors have made their appearance in full. The leaves have turned and begun to fall. The nights are cooler, the air is crisp and the fish are feeding up in preparation for winter.
These two species are without question my favourite target from mid-September right through to ice up. Why you might ask? Well the answer is this. Not only are they aggressively feeding during this time, but they are much more likely to be susceptible to simple angling techniques in areas that are much more obvious and easier to access. I keep my techniques very simple during this time and the results are always very good.
When targeting smallmouth bass from late September through November my approach is simple. During this period the fish within the region tend to school up on shallow rocky points extending out from the shoreline. Points close to deep water. Fall equals BIG smallies. Fish at this time of year feed heavily on crayfish and minnows in preparation for the cold winter months. I always start my search right on the bank in as little as a foot of water. Early morning “walk the dog” style topwater baits are a great option. I will fish them very slowly and in a color pattern resembling the local forage. In most cases white will do the trick. When the water is really starting to get 60°F or lower, nothing beats the steady cadence of a suspending jerk bait. I will allow for very long pauses between jerks to allow enough time for the fish to commit to the bait. The pause is the key. This is a great time for the shore angler to take advantage of some great accessible shallow water fish! Check out the “Fish From Shore” fishing locations on the Kawartha’s Northumberland website and catch the fish of a lifetime! Below are a few lake recommendations and examples of baits I suggest you try.
Dalrymple, Rice Lake. Stony Lake
A White Jerkbait is a great minnow imitator. Remember to allow for long pauses between jerks to trigger strikes. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your cadence though! The fish’s reaction will dictate the amount of time between twitches.
A walk the dog style topwater bait in shallow water first thing in the morning can be a great way to trigger big fish to strike. The same rule applies during this time of the year. Slow and steady wins the race.
When targeting muskies from late September right through until ice-up, my approach is even more simplified. They are packing on pounds before winter as well and quite literally can be found in the same areas as the smallmouth–rock and/or weed points with close proximity to deep water. While I will shy away from top water presentations during this period, I will lean heavily towards a suspending/neutral buoyancy type bait that will allow me to impart a jerkbait type presentation triggering bites in the exact same manner as I would with the smallmouth. It is during this period that I lean heavily on large profile soft plastic baits. Large swimbaits and water dwelling rodent imitators are a favourite for me as well as large tube-style baits that have been rigged weightless so that I can fish it in the upper portion of the water column instead of the bottom. Long pauses are key! Fish slowly and the fish will come. The muskies within the region this time of year are feeding heavily! They are opportunistic, meaning no bait is too big. This is the time to increase in size and hang on for the fish of a lifetime! Below are a few lake recommendations and examples of baits I suggest you try.
Balsam Lake, Pigeon Lake, Cameron Lake
A heavy leader is an absolute must and will ensure you land your fish of a lifetime. I prefer fluorocarbon leaders made from only the finest and strongest components.