Outside Chance ...


Late fall fishing brings on great first ice fishing

It’s a struggle for me to find time to fish but come the week of Thanksgiving, hunting will really slow down for me. We have tremendous late fall fishing with whitefish, perch and crappies some of my favorites. Oh yea, don’t forget the huge pike and fattened up walleye.

If you like ice fishing then getting out a few times just before freeze over will put you into some dandy spots. Always carry a GPS in late fall fishing. Mark any green weed that you run across. A rock pile, a fallen tree, any type of wood. Mark out every long bar and point so that when hard water arrives you will have a few lakes mapped out.

Pier fishing will start in earnest for whitefish any day. Daytime anglers do best with a single egg, an artificial Trout Single Strand, an Ice Ant tipped with a single egg or go crazy and try the Skandia Shrimp Fly, all from Stopper Lures. The Shrimp Fly is a new bait and really does a number on the whitefish and winter steelhead. Works great when tipped with a spike. Night time anglers do best with jigging spoons.

Grand Haven and Muskegon are very good piers to fish. Grand Haven has less anglers. Another decent pier is at South Haven. Bonus steelhead and walleye will be caught on the piers.

I love perch fishing on White and Muskegon Lakes in late fall. Both of these lakes hold large schools of perch and very few anglers. The Perch Pounder Rig is our top favorite and I still like using the Slim Glow and Moon Glow teardrops. Run one rod with the flies and a second with the teardrops. Try a minnow and a spike on a fly and the same on the teardrops.

Bluegill and crappies will scatter during the fall turnover of water and then slowly migrate to any green weeds, water that is warmer by a few degrees such as a canal or man-made channel. Brush and stick-ups also draw panfish and old docks or swim rafts.

Fishing for gills and crappies in late fall is like taking a page from first ice. Fish shallow, fish with light tackle and be prepared to move. Minnows and teardrops work great and the smallest Carlisle Float. This is also a time that I dig out my Missile Float. The Missile Float allows an angler to fish a super lightweight fly and let it dance in a fishes face in super shallow water.

Tie the Missile Float to your main line, then tie on a leader that is shorter than the length of your rod. Tie on a fly and tip it with a spike if the condition dictate. You can fish this rig in a foot of water or over the top of the weeds. The fly will sit on the surface or sink super slow. Remember, pan fishing in late fall is almost like ice fishing at first ice.

Both Muskegon and White Lakes have fantastic pike fishing in the late fall. This is the time to lay into some real hogs. Ten pound fish very common, fifteen pounders not rare at all. Take photos and release these trophy fish.

You can troll body baits, cast spinners or spoons or work a live sucker under a Carlisle Float hooked onto a Quick Hit Rig. The beauty of the Quick Hit Rig from Stopper Lures is that you can set the hook well before the sucker minnow has been swallowed, thus not killing the pike.

Walleye anglers, this is your best chance at an 8 to 10 pound walleye on our side of the state. These fat pigs are feeding and you can jig fish for them, troll at night with body baits or cast minnow imitating lures.

I enjoy vertical jigging and often I will use a Two Tune Jig Head tipped with a 3-4 inch minnow and will add a stinger hook. Fish slow! Sharp break lines and green weeds are key for both pike and walleye as are finding schools of shad. Find out how great last open water fishing can be.