Q&A With Okuma Pro Jeremy Starks

Five Questions answered by Okuma Pro Jeremy Starks on Bass Fishing in the Fall

426C9D0E-3870-4416-8E82-D0CA1002652FOkuma: What is your favorite technique for targeting Fall bass?

Starks: My favorite technique for fall is crankbaiting. The baitfish are grouping up and bass are not far behind. There are few things better that will help you on your next trip out.

Okuma: What type of cover/location do you look for first thing in the morning in the Fall?

Starks: If I’m on a river I look for two things to start the day. Current and creek mouths. This is a great time to fish below locks or damns on a river. Bass are relating to the bait and not necessarily to cover. So I can just fish open water with a crankbait and find bass schooled up on the bait. I use this same technique on creek mouths.

Okuma: What type of tackle setup or setups do you have on the deck in the Fall?

Starks: My tackle setup is pretty simple this time of year. I have three or four rods set up for cranking. I throw a squarebill and a small shallow running crankbait on an Okuma Helios 7′ med action and a Helios reel. For my medium and deeper diving baits, I use an Okuma C3-40x 7’6″ medium casting rod paired with a Komodo 5.4:1 reel.

Okuma:  How much, if at all, does your strategy change in the afternoon vs. the morning when fishing in the Fall?

Starks:  One of the great things about Fall fishing is the time of day doesn’t change the fish much. I tend to fish the same types of areas both morning,afternoon and evening.

Okuma:  Any specific tips you can give for targeting Fall bass?

Starks:  There are a few things that have helped me be more successful in the Fall. I try to match my bait to the size of the baitfish. On dark days or early morning I will use a brighter bait or even chartreuse. Fishing open water, the further you can cast the longer your bait stays in the strike zone. That’s where my Okuma reels come into play. I can get more distance than with any products I’ve used in the past.

Great Lakes Trolling Tactics For Early Fall King Salmon

by Capt. Jeff Thomas

The end of summer means cooler nights and the beginning of staging King Chinook Salmon on the Great Lakes this Fall. This time of year is when deep trollers look forward to targeting these majestic creatures of the deep. Anglers switch gears to different trolling tactics and lure presentations to entice these fish to strike.

Up to this time of year King Salmon have been temperature sensitive (38 to 56 degrees) and follow bait schools. Around the end of August, males show up first in 80 to 200 feet of water, and then a few weeks later the females come in. Day by day more and more show up in the shallower, warmer water (62 to 72 degrees). With this transition the Kings start feeding less and become more aggressive and attack lures.

2015-08-31 21.12.22Light conditions play an important role in getting a few additional bites during your day on the water. Pre-dawn and first light the Kings are usually swimming throughout the water column. Placing your lures at different depths accordingly – starting with just a few feet off the bottom – will put your lures in the strike zone. At this time lures that glow such as Michigan Stinger spoons, J-plugs and attractors (e-chips and Spin Doctors) with flies generate hits.

As the sun peaks over the horizon, less glow and more flash is key. During this time, the fishfinder will start showing less suspended fish and indicate more on the bottom. This is when you want to lower your spread so your down riggers/lures are 5 to 15 feet off the bottom and wires/dipsies are lowered (lengthened) as well. Also, lure selection when it’s lighter will require changing lures from glow to more color and flash in appearance. Lures that are shinny and/or bright with red, orange, yellow such as the Silver Bullet (J-plug), Triple Red E-chip w Attommik series fly, “Pretty Girl” yellow E-chip w Atommik series fly and “Hog Wild” Michigan Stinger spoons get the attention of these staging King Salmon.

20150831_143609-2Speed plays an important role this time of year as well, such as varying your trolling speed. Changing your speed varies your lures action which can trigger a bite where as a consistent speed can turn away a fish. Another tactic to generating a hit is to change the leader length of your flies from the attractors. The shorter the lead such as 17″ to 23″ will cause the fly to become more erratic while a longer lead of 28″ to 38″ will give the fly a more pulsing action.

In addition to leader length, varying boat speed of 1.7 to 2.8 mph and using “S”-curves while trolling will also help you dial in what the fish want. If you find you are getting hits on an outside of a turn on a wire/dipsy then you can assume your lure had picked up speed and raised in the water column. The same theory holds true for the other side, such as if you get a hit on an inside turn on a wire/dipsy in which the lure slowed down and also lowered in the water column. This knowledge will help you know if you should be going faster or slower and if your lures are traveling at the right speed and depth.

Each day the Kings are getting closer and closer to the point of returning to the stream where they were born. Action, speed and lure selection is critical to attracting the King Salmon to bite and catching a fish if a lifetime.

Jeff Thomas is part of the Finders Keepers fishing team out of Wolcott, NY. www.fksportfishing.com.