Fishing fast and furious
HARVEY COUNTY — A dense mist rose into the cool autumn air and the prairie grasses were in their autumn golds and reds.
A gaudy rooster pheasant flushed and flew across the lake, its image perfectly reflected on the mirrored surface.
The setting would be hunting season to most, but to Eric Akred's ears it was fishing season.
"It sounded like someone flushed a toilet, a really big toilet," Akred said of the explosive top-water strike of the bass of about 4 1/2 pounds on my line. "These things can be so aggressive in the fall."
A few seconds later, the sound of a standard toilet came as a two-pound bass smashed Akred's top-water lure.
Our first casts for the morning were perfect proof for Akred's contention that autumn is prime for catching Kansas' largemouth bass.
"These really cold mornings get them going," he said as he arched another cast. "The cooler water reminds them of the big chill that's coming. They won't be doing a lot of feeding when there's ice on the water."
No doubt they were feeding heavily Wednesday morning. Akred estimates we caught about 100 largemouths. Many probably weighed two to three pounds.
"Look how healthy these fish look," Akred said as he struggled to get his hands around a two-pounder. "They're feeding up so hard and are so thick. This is the way they get in the fall."
Akred knows a thing or two dozen about bass fishing in all seasons. He teaches a class on the subject at Wichita State, is a fishing tackle manager at Gander Mountain and does well on a regional bass fishing circuit.
He had a firm game plan as he hit the water at about 7:45 a.m. It began with a bluegill-colored top-water popper.
"They'll really work top-water when the sun's not on the water," he said. "After that they'll be hitting shallow-running baits and at midday they may be deeper."
For shallow-running lures he brought small crank and spinnerbaits. A weighted plastic crawdad lure was his medicine for deeper fish.
Swirls of bass chasing small baitfish in the shallows distracted us as we loaded the Scanoe. We each caught nice fish on our first cast.
As the morning progressed, he tossed the crankbaits and crawdad while I stuck with a $1 white spinnerbait. I did, though, have to steal a couple of plastic skirts from some of Akred's lures. The bass kept tearing them apart.
Like with all seasons there are good days and bad days for fall fishing. Wednesday was way to the right of good.
"This is just insane," Akred said as he caught fish after fish. "I've done a lot of bass fishing but this is probably the best I've ever had."
Things like the moon phase, breeze, barometric pressure, water and air temperatures were on our side. It didn't hurt we were fishing a private 12-acre water still in its growing stage.
Akred said fall's also prime time on public waters, especially this year.
Angling pressure is way down from a month ago and water disturbance by boaters and skiers is next to none.
And while the plentiful rains earlier this year brought the high water that offered sanctuary to small fish the current dry spell has lowered the water and pushed the fingerlings into more open water and the mouths of ravenous bass.
We found bass around mossy shorelines, standing and fallen timber and below patches of floating algae. I kept track and 12 times we were landing fish at the same time.
The most memorable was the last double.
We were laughing at our good fortune when we heard what sounded like a huge toilet flush behind us.
Turning, we saw an osprey coming from the water, pumping its wings as it headed upwards with a fish in its talons.
"I guess that kind of makes this a triple since we all three got fish," Akred said with a smile as he watched the bird fly.
I guess it also proves all kinds of anglers can do well in the fall.
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