Smalley gets in some fall bass fishing

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Last week, when wife Nan told me she wanted to go fishing, I kinda knew what she meant—bass fishing.

Years ago, we spent many enjoyable evenings casting plastic worms for largemouth bass in Echo Lake and Lake Blaine.

We also made numerous camping/bass fishing trips to Noxon Reservoir.

Matter of fact, I was sitting on Lake Blaine with a casting rod in my hand the evening the ash from Mount St. Helens blew into the Flathead Valley.

Fall bass fishing is a bit out of my comfort zone, so I had to do some homework.

Makes sense that bass wouldn’t be as active — like, chasing topwater lures — as they were in July and August.

From my graduate school days, I remember the term “poikilothermous”, meaning the fish’s internal temperature varies, matching the ambient temperature of their immediate surroundings.

Some people call this “cold-blooded.”

Cooler water would mean a cooler digestive system, thus slower metabolism. A fish might eat more food, but not spend as much energy getting it.

All this translates into fishing a lure or worm slower than a couple months ago.

As for depth, a retired fisheries biologist suggested water from 10 to 12 feet deep.

For us, that depth would be do-able as Nan could drop-shot a plastic worm and I could slowly retrieve a big-lipped crankbait.

Chancy Jeschke at Snappy Sport Senter (406) 257-7525 recommended drop-shotting with ½-ounce sinkers off deep points 25-30 feet deep.

Another good fall bassing technique, according to Jeschke, is fishing big jerk baits along deeper weed bed edges.

Last week we arrived about noon but didn’t launch from the Echo Lake public boat ramp until Nan came back from our nephew’s nearby house because I had forgotten PFDs.

Garage was locked but a guy pulling his boat out gave us a couple of lifejackets he didn’t want back so we eventually left them on the loaner rack.

We spent about an hour on a wonderful fall day in the Flathead Valley casting for bass, until the whitecaps chased off my little 12-foot aluminum boat.

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