By Allen Hamrick
It’s officially fall time again, if you haven’t already noticed, and the cool air is biting harder than rabid dog. Then as if summer never left its back to short sleeves and heat. It is a merry go round of weather. If you’re a river angler looking for lunker bass, the fall offers opportunities like no other. Bites are sometimes hard to come by as winter gets closer. Until it does don’t let a good leaf covered Elk River pass you up when it comes to dropping a line and bending rods. It is difficult to understand at times whether the conditions warrant a day on the river. Phases of the moon, conditions of the sky, the wind, rain, clouds all seem to factor into whether a day will be successful or not. River Bass fishing the Elk this time of year, and all that is factored in for success is oftentimes left to luck rather than science. Bass like other species have their own ways of living and their very life revolves around whether they eat or they get eaten. It is a daily routine that every fish on every day must go through. We don’t see it because we do not live under water, so based on that, the ability to catch fish in the harder months becomes an examination into the fish’s world.
Many fishermen rely on a mathematical or scientific certainty about how to get bites when the fish seem to have closed their jaws to food. There have been times that I have seen bass on the Elk that have just watched bait go past the end of their noses and we wonder why in the world they don’t bite. Other fishermen simply rely on luck a universal finality to the thought process of picking baits. It’s simply take your box of lures tie one on and use the cast and hope approach to get your limit. You hit the shores or fish from a craft and you take the good with the bad and settle into the fact that it’s going to be a good day regardless of the amount of bites. Basically the preverbal nut shell is “you want to catch fish you have to think like a fish.” This has been the foundation of the art of fishing for a long, long time. Over the years fishing has greatly evolved to where anyone can catch fish with the right amount of knowledge, and yet with all the expert wisdom fishing is still uncertain and perhaps maybe it is better that way. It is the charm of going back again and again. With each cast the hope renews again and again, and when there is nothing to show for your efforts at the end of the day, that same hope is revitalized when you next tie on the hook.
This time of year on the Elk, not only will your senses be overwhelmed with the beauty but also the bite that is associated with fall bass. They are when fished for at the right time, their bites can be aggressive and other time subtle in their hook up. They are getting fattened up for the winter when their environment becomes slow. One of the number one spots on the Elk is just below a fast running shoal that drops off into deep water, especially if that deep water has rocks. Bass love oxygen so where you find these conditions, most chances are you will find bass. So this week’s tip is to work some top water baits fast through the deeper shoals and slow the retrieve through the deeper eddies as the bait drifts into them, fanning your casts. Try this next time you’re on the river on your kayak before the water starts getting colder.
So the evening before if you’re like other anglers through the ages, the nostalgia of preparation before the day of fishing is as much of a part of the experience as is catching the fish. The overhauling of equipment, restringing the reels, and arranging the tackle to an organized and scientific method specific to your style, is all done for the success of the trip. All to restore the idea that when floating down the leaf covered Elk river that the rod will arch with leaping fish and underneath those flickering shadows, the early morning light illuminates a bass worthy of fighting for. So get out there and enjoy not only the fishing but the rest of what makes fishing great, the wildlife, the sound of the river, the fall aroma and of course the BITE. Keep your line tight.