Area hunting and fishing in the fall

Published 6:26 pm Wednesday, October 10, 2012

October is here! Cooler temps, smaller crowds, fewer bugs, hungry fish, hunting seasons are opening – what’s not to love?
This year’s deer season will be different in several ways. The regular season has not been extended, but another week has been added to the season for antlerless deer in Polk County.
Reports are that the acorn crop is a very good one. But the muscadine crop fell very early this year. I’m not sure if that is an indicator of anything such as the type of winter we should have.
Most folks have probably heard of the hemorrhagic disease outbreak in the foothills area of western North Carolina. While this is not uncommon, this year’s outbreak seems to be a bad one in some areas. N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission biologists have put together a very informative youtube clip that explains in detail:

Fishing should steadily improve for most species. October is normally the start of good crappie fishing. Crappie, for the most part, will be deeper now than in spring, with much of their time spent hovering in the 15-30 foot range. I prefer live minnows this time of year, much to the frown of my crappie fishing mentor J.D., who calls live bait “cheating.”
Fall is one of the best times to catch schooling smallmouths in some of our western lakes. Of course it’s best to catch the schoolers on top, but most of the time they will be schooled a bit deeper in open water, near bait schools. This is feast or famine fishing, but when you get on ’em it’s worth the effort spent finding them.
Topwater baits, live minnows, and shad color crank baits are good choices. Sometimes fishing baits faster or erratically will trigger inactive smallies into biting.
Largemouth fishing will improve as well. Fish migrate to the backs of creeks and rivers now, and it is a very good time to catch a big largemouth.
The chance at catching several big fish this time of year is above average. Many of the shad are bigger by fall, and fishing bigger shad imitations is a good way to go. Topwater baits, big spinner baits and shad crank baits are staples. Cover as much water as you can until you catch a fish, then make several casts in that area before moving on. Largemouth like to school as well, and when you find one many times you find several.
Muskie hunters like the cooler temps of fall. The toothy critters get  more active and seem to frequent the banks a bit more than usual. I have always done better on rainy/windy days in the fall than any other time.
Last but not least, the delayed harvest sections of our trout waters are back in action as of Oct. 1. I still think this is one of the best ideas in recent years the NCWRC has implemented.
Our own section of the Green River is a fine destination for numbers and size of fish. This section of river probably has more gnats than anywhere in the world, but other than that the fishing is great. Freshly stocked fish will hit about anything, but they get weary as the pressure grows.
Be sure to verify any and all hunting and fishing regulations in the current 2012-2013 regulations digest.

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