DON’T “FALL” INTO COMPLACENCY
The height of the fall run is right around the corner. The anticipation and excitement for surf fisherman is intoxicating. However, we sometimes have blinders on as to our approach to the season and "fall" into complacency. As a result, anglers often just employ the same way of thinking they always have when choosing locations and lures. My contention is that we should never make assumptions that the same locations, fished the same way, will produce the same success as in years past.
So what can we do to avoid the complacency trap? How can we make the fall run the most productive yet? It all comes down to preparation. Just as with any other part of the fishing season, you cannot assume the fishing locations you fished last season will hold fish at those
same times this season. Fall conditions in those areas will change- especially areas with soft structure. You need to scout these locations at low tide and see if the structure is still present or has changed. Remember, changes, even subtle ones, can significantly change the productivity of that area. Checking these areas should be a regular routine throughout the fall, especially as it is a season when events such as tropical storms and hurricanes can be prevalent. Even remnants of these types of storms can be a major factor in changing the landscape of your beaches and their surf fishing features. It’s also a good idea to scout out some new locations to give yourself more flexibility and options to catch fish consistently. Make sure you check your locations in advance for access. Access to areas seems to be decreasing every year due to restrictions such as shorebird habitat, homeowner associations, and local governments’ attitudes towards beach anglers. Fortunately, the post
Labor Day period typically presents fewer access issues than spring and summer. The worst thing however is to drive to a spot for a day or night of fishing only to be turned away due to access restrictions and no parking signs. Stiff parking fines and tickets can really ruin a trip.
Next, never assume the lures you used last fall will be the “go to” lures that work for this fall run. While your notes regarding which lures you used under what conditions and when are always a great place to start your trip planning, you need to be aware of the bait patterns that have been working and the current status of bait migrations for the particular areas you want to fish. This means doing your homework. Of course there are certain lures that will be my “go to” lures- such as Bucktails- because they can mimic many types of bait present and give the angler the flexibility to fish the lure in any part of the water column. I prefer to use S&S Bucktails because of their quality paint jobs and durability of the hair. Their baits seem to hold up longer on any type of structure I choose to fish than many others I have tried. Your homework feeds your lure selection by using a good “match the hatch” mentality. You want to use lures that have the same profile as the bait present in the water. For times when you are not sure exactly what bait is present, you will need
to experiment with different profiles. It might take several different types of lure profiles to get on the bite. Also remember that bait can change throughout a tide, so you must be willing to move on from that lure that was catching them earlier when the bite slows. It could just be a matter of the bait in the area changing, so be prepared to change the profile of your presentation.
Lastly, just like any other part of the season, you must continue to monitor the tides, moon phases, winds, and other factors that have an impact on the areas you want to fish. By doing so it will increase your chances of having productive days and nights of fishing. The fall run is always a great time of year. Remember, this teacher wants you to do your homework first, then get out for some productive fishing! Before you know it we will be cleaning up our gear and packing it away for the off season. Live the Passion and Tightlines!
Guide with over 30 years of experience fishing the legendary waters of Long Island. He is well known for his informative seminars at saltwater shows in the Northeast. Bernie offers trips along the outer beaches and inlets of Long Island, as well as Cape Cod Canal, Cuttyhunk, and other Northeast Striper locations. He is a pro-team member for S&S Bucktails, ODM RODS, and KastKing, as well as a member of the Long Island Beach Buggy Association and the Montauk Surfcasters Association. You can contact Bernie on Facebook through Bernie Bass Surfcasting Services, on Instagram @Bernie_bass, and through his website at https://www.berniebass.com/