Textbook Fall Fishing
For many anglers, there is a favorite time of the year that they enjoy fishing the most, often either the spring months as fish move shallow to spawn or maybe the summer months when the fish group up on offshore structure.
But for Major League Fishing co-founder Gary Klein, the best time to fish is any time that the Weatherford, Texas, pro can be on the water competing for one of bass fishing's biggest honors.
Klein, a two-time B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year and 29-time qualifier for the Bassmaster Classic, is at home on the water no matter when he happens to be fishing.
"I'm an angler and I like to catch them," said the eight-time winner on the B.A.S.S. tournament trail. "Whether I'm fishing in the fall, summer, winter or spring, I like to catch 'em."
That being said, Klein does admit that the fall season is a good one for an angler to be out on the water.
"One thing that makes the fall so unique for me and intriguing is the fact that you have less traffic on the water," said Klein, who has won $1.9 million in his B.A.S.S. tournament career.
"Everybody is usually in the field hunting. There's no water skiing. And all the kids are in school. So the fall is really a quiet time."
That can make for an enjoyable day on the water for sure.
But quiet or not on a lake's placid surface, Klein says that the fall months also are a time of the year when there's a lot taking place on a lake even if it's a little harder to observe.
Specifically, there's a whole lot of movement going on as baitfish - and the bass that depend on them - migrate from deep to shallow water in preparation for winter.
While some anglers prefer a specific technique or two in the autumn months, Klein is a master of a number of different angling techniques.
And since a whole lot of those techniques work particularly well at this time of the year, Klein is often in prime position to land a boatload of bass.
"Normally what I'm focused on is the baitfish migration and it usually takes place in the backend of the creeks or in the upper end of the river arms," said Klein. "When I find that, there are multiple ways that I can catch them."
"Crankbaits work really good in the fall," he said. "Downscaled spinnerbaits, a kind of a match the hatch for shad, will also work. And buzzbaits can work really good and are a great fall bait. And of course, flipping is really good because you can isolate."
Does this variety of techniques make fall fishing a bit easier?
Klein thinks so.
"To me, fishing in the fall becomes a little bit easier than fishing in the summer or in the spring," he said. "The fish aren't as spread out and they have the tendency to want to group up a bit more.
"In the fall, I'm thinking about finding a group or concentration of fish or finding a migration route (that they'll follow). Then I just apply the (various) tools that I catch them on."
One thing that will dictate which tool is the most successful during any given stretch of the fall is the weather.
And in general, the deeper into the autumn season an angler is fishing, the better he should like it according to Klein.
"I really like it when it is getting more into the colder nights," he said. "That's what I really look forward to because that is what is going to dictate the water temperature more than the daytime hours is how cold it is getting at night.
"If I wake up in the morning and it's the third week of October and it's 52 degrees outside, I mean gosh, that's the prime of fall fishing."
One thing that will quickly affect those water temperatures is the passage of strong cold fronts, something that can be a death blow to a spring fishing trip.
But that's not nearly as true during the autumn months.
"I feel (in general) in the fall, the fronts have less of a negative effect on the fish than they do at any other time of the year," said Klein. "Fall, and winter, conditions affect the anglers more than they do the fish."
Why is that?
"In the springtime, these fish are coming from their wintering areas, they're migrating in to spawn, and as the water temperatures warm up, they get out of the schools and they scatter," said Klein.
Meaning to Klein that fronts are more apt to negatively affect the fishing because the fish are spread out more, they are more isolated, and they become a bit more difficult to find.
Just the opposite takes place in the fall however.
"In the fall, everything is wanting to bunch up," said Klein. "They get on the structure in groups, they migrate into the creeks in groups. You find stretches in a river, stretches in a creek that are just full of fish."
Because of this grouping tendency, Klein feels that fronts have less of a negative effect on fish in the fall.
What about the rainy spells that can sometimes set in for a day, two, or three during the fall months?
"What I really think is that what it affects more than anything else are the tools of choice available to the angler," said Klein.
"On those good overcast days, a buzzbait can work fantastic in the fall. Sunshiny days puts the fish more in the shade on the targets. Even in the creeks where the fish are ambushing bait, if they are not suspended, they're around the logs, they're around the stumps.
"They're a lot easier to pattern in the fall. So really, the weather to me in the fall just dictates the tools that I use to catch fish."
After 30-plus years of competing in professional bass tournaments, Klein says that he misses the fact that few of those events take place during the fall months anymore.
"A great, great angler that fishes well in the fall is Rick Clunn," said Klein. "Rick is the best at catching them in the fall. But that's one of the things that we don't (get to do) anymore is compete in the fall."
With the exception, of course, of the fall events of Major League Fishing.
Klein agrees and fondly recalls the inaugural MLF event back in November 2011 on Texas' Lake Amistad.
"That was a kick, that was a blast," smiled Klein.
A lot of people - myself included - remember that Lone Star State event as the Kevin VanDam versus Brent Ehrler shootout with both anglers slinging jerkbaits.
But Klein reminded yours truly that there was far more to that event than a two-horse race featuring a clinic in fall jerkbait fishing.
"It's a rather large, desert-like man-made environment," said Klein. "But if you look at the anglers that excelled through the elimination rounds, into the semi-final rounds, and even into the championship round, it was all based around a technique - and there were several (that worked) - schools of fish, and a creek channel.
"It was just textbook fall fishing."
Which might help to explain why Klein seems to enjoy fishing in the autumn-based MLF events so much.
They offer some of the year's best fishing, a variety of ways to catch them, and yet another opportunity for the Texas pro to compete against the best.
And to add another accolade into the resume of one of the most sterling careers that the sport of bass fishing has ever known.
No wonder Gary Klein loves to fish in the fall.
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