By Kevin Dahlke
Fall fishing means water temperatures are dropping and the fish are going into a feeding mode in preparation for the upcoming winter. These fish are roaming and searching for available food and that is key for finding these feeding fish.
Once you have an area scoped out, bait presentation becomes key for being successful on the water and in turn, making for an enjoyable day. A bait combination that has been working well on catching these fall panfish is the Northland Mitee Mouse Jig and Impulse Water Flea.
The Mitee Mouse is designed with oversized eyes at the front and that key feature allows the fish to hone into it easier. By adding the Impulse Water Flea to this jig, with all of the appendages, this is a very attractive bait presentation, with the eyes and a lot of movement from the tentacles.
There are a few ways that can be fished with this combination and the first is what is called “Tantalizing”. You can jig this with a variety of motions and if they are feeding fairly fast and heavy, then using a constant jigging motion, the strikes are fairly aggressive.
The other effect, when the fish are in more of a very finicky mood, is keeping this jig in the water column that the fish are using and jigging it with the slightest movement. Sometimes a very subtle constant motion, just enough so the appendages are barely moving. The other is with little movement and then a rest period, when you go to jig it again, be ready for some dead weight as typically you are not going to feel the strike in this mode.
Color combinations can be a critical factor as well, again depending on the fish’s mood. If they are heavily feeding, you can give them pretty much any color combination you want as they aren’t looking at it very much and just inhaling it. But when they are finicky, this can be a bit frustrating trying to find the right combination that makes them bite the jig.
Really comes down to trial and error and if you can see the fish schools on your electronics, keep changing the colors until they show you what they are looking for. But also in this mood, you may only catch a few fish, and then the bite stops which means it is time to go back to the color spectrum and try this selection all over again.
A great feature of this jig is the density of the tungsten and it allows you to get your bait back into the fish quickly. When these fish are in a feeding frenzy, the more your jig is out of the water, the more fish you are missing. The Mitee Mouse jig gets back to the level the fish are at quickly and also you have a lot of feel for this bait through your rod and that keeps you in tune with what the jig is doing.
There is another technique that attracts the fish’s attention and also at times, gets them to bite the bait and that is “Pounding the Ground”. Very simplistic is that you allow the jig to fall to the bottom, always on a tight line for those dropping bites, and while having a taught line, lift and let the bait hit the bottom. This is creating a disturbance in the silt, which in turn attracts the fish, as they come to investigate to see what creature is doing this.
This works especially well for those fish that are lying on the bottom and are a bit lethargic. Kind of a wake-up call and draws their attention to come and check it out and many times, they won’t attack the bait, but lightly suck it in so that when you go to repeat this step, there is dead weight on the line and quickly set the hook.