Story and photographs by Matt Peters
Fall Creek Fishing
As cool fall weather sets in, bass fishing in the small warm-water creeks and rivers of the Ozarks heats up.
Places like the Buffalo River, Spring Creek, the North Fork, and even the lower end of the White River below Sylamore are excellent bass fisheries year-round, but fall is special.
Fall is prime time for bass fishing because the fish get active again after the summer heat and feed up in preparation for a long cold winter. The weather is much more tolerable, the scenery is beautiful, and the fishing is great. Ozark creeks and rivers are filled with feisty large- and small-mouthed bass, fish that are fun to catch on spin or fly fishing gear.
For beginning anglers who perhaps are not ready for the constant casting and retrieving of certain artificial baits, I recommend a wacky rig. The wacky rig is an artificial worm rigged with a small hook through its middle. No sinkers are needed.
Wacky rigs fall super slow, fish well in both slack and fast water, and can be fished on spinning gear nicely. Since there is no wrong way to fish the wacky rig, it’s a great bait for catching Ozark creek bass, regardless of skill level.
Bass live around boulders, wood/stumps, grass, and in shady pockets, so throw your wacky rig in those spots, let it sink slowly to the bottom, pick it up, shake it a little, and hold on.
The bass in creeks feed primarily on minnows and crawfish year-round, so minnow and crawfish patterns are always a good choice for lures/flies. However, minnows school in the fall and become the primary forage for bass, which are now out of energy-conservation mode and busy roaming, chasing, and feeding.
Top water baits that imitate small minnows are good choices for catching Ozark creek bass in the fall—Pop-Rs, Tiny Torpedos or small swimbaits like the Grass Minnow or Big Hammer, or flies like Clouser minnows and popping bugs.
There are spectacular waterfalls, caves, cliffs, and wildlife to observe and enjoy while you’re out bass fishing the Ozark creeks. There are tons of hiking trails and paths along creeks, and the further you get away from crowds, usually the better the fishing. The weather is gorgeous, and your fishing trips can be as much about enjoying the outdoors, hiking, taking pictures, picnicking, and floating as they are about fishing. Research the Internet to find public access points, which are the places to drive in and fish. Consider hiring a guide or outfitter service to get you started. They have special access and skills to take you and a friend to places few others get to enjoy. The fishing is awesome, and fall is just a great time to be in the Ozarks. Enjoy!
M! ON 2013