By Jim Lee
Each year in in the fall months of October and November, before the ides of winter overtake us, fishing gets as good as it can get here on the West Coast. The change in weather and lower water temperature along with the influx of bait fish all make this happen. Many species of fish are involved in this change. A deep planer or a small shallow water planer can be an important tool.
In the fall months, gag grouper move in closer as the water cools so trolling for them can be successful in 40 feet of water or less. Deep running lures, a planer with spoons or jointed lures work well when trolling. There are several ways to do this. You can attach a number 5 planer to your boat with a 15 foot leader and lure, or with a quick release clip, attach the line from a rod to the planer, or use a number 1 small planer directly to a stout rod with a lure or spoon attached. Some use a Monel (steel) line and deep running lure.
In the fall months big trout move in from deeper haunts on to the flats making catches of trout over 15 inches a common occurrence. Fish the drops, swashes and deep holes for the largest trout. Live bait makes big fish success even easier as the largest trout are usually taken on live bait in deeper haunts. Large green backs or small pin fish are what you will need.
Although live bait is the easiest way to catch larger trout, in the fall months, artificial lures are faster and more efficient. The common jig is the best tool in your arsenal for high numbers. Let it sink to the bottom, lift, drop and crank so it appears like a shrimp heading for the bottom. Trout only hit as the lure dives, never on the lift. The lift gives the trout an indicator that something is there and when it drops, it appears like a shrimp heading for the grass and is attacked.
Fly fishing for trout is no different. Most fly anglers limit their efforts to shallow waters with a light weight Clouser fly. This unfortunately limits the catch experience. To fish deeper waters from 5 to 8 feet is possible, but you need a heavier Clouser fly with little water resistance. This will enable the fly angler to work the Clouser fly just like a jig and be just as effective, with lots more fun. The fly must bounce off the bottom, arch over the grass and head for the bottom in order to be effective.
Flounder are already moving into sandy area around the artificial reefs and then to the bays. Then, in the fall months flounder move into the estuaries and sandy areas of the flats. From now on into winter, flounder can be a great target of inshore anglers. Cast a jig or Clouser fly past the sandy spot and drag or work it over the spot. In deeper waters, like artificial reef area, live bait is king for flounder. Anchor just off the area and cast a small live bait (a Carolina rig works well here) to the bottom, and then slowly drag it over the area to the flounder.
King mackerel also make a pilgrimage in the fall months. When you see the water temperature reaches 70 degrees or less, we may have king fish offshore. Usually off our coast they are deep and not on the surface. Trolling with a #1 planer in a rod seems to be one of the most efficient methods. You can spot them on your fish finder and troll your lure at the proper depth.
One of the most prominent species in the fall months are Spanish mackerel who, like king mackerel follow the bait that follow the water temperature. Spanish mackerel can be caught several ways. Toll with a small squid spoon, a small green plastic squid, or set up a chum line and blind cast either with live bait, lures or Clouser flies.