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As I sit at my desk, listening to the rain and wondering what to write about, I can’t help being frustrated at not being out on the water right now. Due to an unusually high amount of rain, bad weather, life in general and a lot of training requirements this year, I have had to scratch a lot of fishing days. Not to mention, miss out on tournaments I wanted to participate in, but more importantly, I couldn’t fish with friends and family as much as I wanted to. I know I’m not the only one in this situation and it makes no sense to gripe and complain so that’s it, I’m done. Now let’s talk about cool stuff.

If you’re like me, you have a limited number of hours, even on your days off, to get out on the water and chase those beautiful bronzebacks you have been dreaming about. So when your out there, it’s really important to maximize that time. It’s like the pressure is on to pack that time with catching bass, trout, steelhead, or whatever species you’re after. I know that part of the experience we are supposed to be chasing is, the peace and tranquility that we are after but let’s be honest, catching fish is a big part of the equation. One of the ways I shorten the learning curve or time it takes me to get on fish is by asking other anglers. Now I know that this seems like a lazy shortcut and some of the people that read this may think, hey that’s cheating or where’s my sense of adventure? Trust me when I tell you that I have no interest in fishing other angler’s spots, I know the work you have to put in to find quality fish. All I mean by this, is that sometimes networking with friends and fishing buddies can get you going in the right direction. Especially in the fall when finding quality fish on a fairly consistent basis can prove to be difficult at best.

So now you got a tip on a good spot, what do you do with that? I try to do a little research on my own and usually this will put my butt smack- dab in front of a computer. Checking water graphs, google earth, fishing reports, topo maps, etc.. Then I follow this up with a short excursion and make a few cast from the banks. I don’t just go directly to the area that was recommended, I also fish the banks, (where accessible), for several miles in each direction. Fortunately the Susquehanna river and many of its tributaries have roads that closely follow their contours. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is also an excellent resource as they have water trail maps listed on their site, (​WaterTrails​​/). I do this for two reasons: to get a better understanding of what makes the spot great and why it holds fish and to try to replicate the patterns that work, in other areas, if this is possible. If it isn’t, then at least I know more afterwards than I did going in. The long and the short of it is, that even with a solid tip, you should do your homework before the kayak hits the water. Especially in the fall when fish are going to be feeding up, but also moving to transition points because of the serious changes in weather and water conditions.

I make it a point NOT to ask people what type of lure they were using because figuring it out is part of the fun. I find myself sometimes taking this to the extreme of purposefully not using the type of lure that may have been suggested, just to challenge myself or to at least be able to offer my friends alternatives to what they know is working. As we all know that a follow up text or call is sure to come when your buddies know that you’re out on the water. Now since we are on the subject, let’s talk about about a little fishing edicate, because I know this is a sensitive subject. Let’s say you get a good tip and you’ve confirmed it, either by using my method or one of your own. How often do you go back? Some people say never, some people say go back only when invited by the buddy that gave you the tip and some even say, hey they gave it up, it’s free water so it’s yours too now. Whatever your thoughts are on this, you should consider that finding fish in the fall can be tough, it takes work and a considerable investment in time. You have to respect that. In the very least, I believe you should return the favor as soon as possible. To me this demonstrates that you are a fair and considerate person and that you aren’t that lazy guy that just wants to capitalize on the efforts of others. We all know a guy or two that chases that bent rod pattern.

Finding fish in the fall can be tough, on lakes, even more so, it certainly isn’t as easy as some would have you believe, particularly in the north east. It’s almost mid November as I write this, we all know that weird time of year when its not quite winter yet but the days are shorter and the nights are colder. I and many avid outdoorsman I know, are wrestling with urges to comb the woods in search of a nice whitetail buck or to hop in the kayak in search of that monster 23 inch smallmouth that we all know is out there. In the end, we know that mother nature will play her winning hand and shut everything down with a long cold snap that will freeze the river, but until then my trusty Jackson Coosa will be in the back of my truck, ready to hit the water, hopefully with a friend or two.

– Tony Heredia