Cool temps and close fish are a kayaker’s dream
Fall is finally here. The trout are on the move back into the marsh, and that’s great news for kayakers. The shorter days are coupled with shorter paddles, there’ no need for live bait and great catches of speckled trout await. Oh, and did I mention the pleasant weather?
As the cold fronts continue to push through, the fish get more predictable and more concentrated. Different from the strong fronts of winter where the water gets low and dirty in the days immediately following, these minor fronts help move the bait and concentrate the fish. So don’t overlook fishing the days immediately after a mild front moves through.
The best thing about fall ‘yak fishing is that there is no need for live bait. (Although it is still available and, of course, still works.) One tackle tray of your favorite lures is all you need to have a successful trout trip this time of year.
Simply make your lure selections to allow you to cover the water from top to bottom, and you’re all set. Select a few topwater lures in natural colors, in small to medium sizes. Even on cool days, the topwater action can be hot. Many anglers mistakenly believe that topwater lures only work for spring and summer trout. But they are actually effective all year long — even in winter.
For fish that are not interested in hitting on top, try small suspending baits that can be worked just under the surface or allowed to sink a little deeper before beginning the retrieve. Trout can’t resist the action of the twitch-and-stop retrieve of a suspending bait. The hits almost always come on the stop, when the lure slowly falls off and simulates a dying or injured baitfish.
Popping corks are another fall favorite. You can easily cover the area surrounding a kayak, and they work great as a search bait to find where trout are holding. Experiment with different brands of corks, as the sound and action can make a difference. Some days, loud and splashy is what they want, but sometimes subtle pops without a lot of noise is what gets them fired up.
Fall is also a great time to try drifting and trolling. Often, the fish are spread across large flats or shallow lagoons and aren’t piled into one area. Kayaks make great platforms to slowly and quietly cover large expanses of water. The keys to successful trolling/drifting is speed and depth.
Using light jigheads (1/16- to 1/8-ounce) rigged with a plastic tail allows the lure more action and helps keep it from snagging on the bottom. However, you want the lure to bounce along the bottom as the ‘yak moves along. Adjust the amount of line you let out until you can feel the lure bouncing along. Slowly move in a grid pattern until you get bit.
Take notice of how fast you were going and your location, so you can establish a successful pattern and repeat similar passes.
And don’t overlook casting while dragging baits out the back. You won’t be able to thoroughly cover an area, but casting a lure or popping cork on either side, out in front of the kayak, adds an extra chance to reel one in.
Trout are literally within sight of most launches during the fall. There’s no need to make unnecessarily long paddles. Of course you probably have your preferred hot spots, but there may be no need to paddle that far. Cast or troll your way as you head to your intended destination and you may discover fish you would have passed up.