August and September can be one of the best times of the year to catch big fish in the Kawarthas Northumberland region. As we reach the end of August and the days start to shorten, the nights a little cooler and the leaves begin to change so does the trigger for our native fish species to feed! And they feed a lot! Not only is everything seemingly hungry, but locations and patterns start to change as well.
As the days shorten and temperatures reduce, the aquatic vegetation follows suit and will start to deteriorate to the point where the fish will no longer use it as cover.
Largemouth bass in the region will now start to seek out what healthy green weeds remain. In most instances, Milfoil is preferred. It provides a higher oxygen content creating a place for the panfish to hide which in turn attracts the Bass. Its root system holds the bottom in place, which holds phosphorus in place as well. It will also improve water clarity making it easier for the bass to ambush. The shallow water vegetation is the first to go and in most cases the healthy green weeds will be in deeper more stable water temperatures. Eight to ten feet is a depth I like to target when seeking out healthy vegetation that may hold Largemouth this time of year and the presence of bluegill and other panfish are a sure bet that you are in the right area. Once you find them they will be there in high numbers!
Shallow water can still be a very productive option this time of year as well. Overhead cover is at a premium given the decaying plant matter. As the resident weeds die they will float to the surface creating matted clumps that will hold heat and panfish which will keep the bass in shallow as well. These fish are much more susceptible to temperature change this time of year if a sudden cold front or other weather pattern develops they will either vacate the shallows or developed a case of lock jaw.
The regions Smallmouth Bass population is on the move this time of year as well. They will begin their transition from deeper offshore structure to more accessible closer to shore haunts. Rocky points are very popular this time of year. They tend to really tighten up into schools. Instead of two or three fish together we often see ten or more together. The same rule is true. Once you find them they will be present in numbers. Every fish I catch this time of year seems to have at least a half a dozen friends following it in as I land it. Some if my biggest Smallmouth of the season will be taken after Labor day in as little as three to four feet of water! Rock and sand points being my main target, but not to forget hard bottom healthy yet relatively shallow weed lines as well. The same rule applies however! If the vegetation is still green and baitfish or panfish are still present so will the Smallmouth be.
The Muskie bite during the fall transition can be absolutely lights out as well. The drop in water temperature is the queue for these apex predators to put the feed on. This is not only the time to catch a lot of Muskies, but can also be the time to catch an absolute monster. They can be extremely aggressive in late August and early September. The forage they have been feeding on has grown throughout the season and as such the tackle I like to use will increase in size as well. Large soft plastic baits are a go-to for many as the water temperature starts to drop. I like a bait that will allow me to impart a “stop and go” retrieve and has a fair bit of buoyancy so that it will hang suspended in the water column between jerks. That extra hang time is just what the doctor ordered for big Muskies this time of year. I have good success fishing fairly shallow weed line edges this time of year and edges with relative proximity to deep water. Green weeds seem to be less of a factor ironically enough and my belief is that they simply need something for cover to ambush their forage whether the weeds are healthy or not. So don’t shy away from decaying vegetation just yet for these fish during the fall season.
On the flip side the regions Great Lake tributaries are on the cusp of exploding with the annual fall Chinook Salmon run. A drop in temperature and a good rain will trigger the “run” in full force, and what a blast these fish are to target and fight in shallow flowing water. There are a plethora of accessible locations to park and fish along some extremely product and renowned tributaries like the Ganaraska River flowing through Port Hope or the Wilmot in Newcastle. There are many bait and tackle shops along the way that are licensed to sell tied salmon roe that can be used under a float as bait. This is a very popular and productive method for catching these massive fish. They will stage in enormous schools at the mouths of these tributaries in waiting for the river conditions to suit their spawning requirements. They can be caught as early as mid-August at the mouths and right in to the tributaries as early as late August, early September. Light line and small hooks are imperative as these fish have very keen senses. A medium action ten- to thirteen-foot rod and large spooled spinning reel are also very helpful when fighting these long running, head shaking, high flying fish and will dramatically increase your odds of landing them.
Fall fishing in the Kawarthas Northumberland Region of Ontario is an opportunity for any angler to catch the fish of a lifetime from shore or boat all within an hour’s drive. The region is regarded as one of the greatest freshwater fisheries in the world. Your next trophy fish, A Kawarthas Northumberland Legend, is waiting! Come see for yourself!