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The calendar says fall has officially arrived. But with few leaves showing autumn color and the temperature of most waterways unchanged, fall appears to be coming in the same way spring did this year. The good news is that turnover in nearby lakes is still weeks away, allowing for much more quality fishing time. The fish are feeding, trying to put on a little extra weight before the water freezes over for the winter, so fishing is really active right now. This time of year the tricks are location and presentation. With vegetation dying back, fish are locating near more permanent structures like piers, downed trees and rock piles or reefs. The key to success is knowing where to find them. Largemouth bass and other larger predatory fish are going to be in the shallower water — probably less than 10 to 15 feet. Bluegills, perch and other panfish are going to be down deeper in a lot of the lakes like Lake Geneva, where they will be down 20 to 25 feet. The presentation size at this time of year should run large. For live bait, the larger the minnow the better, and artificial baits should likewise be on the bigger side. Reports tell of large bluegills being caught on 4- and 5-inch plastic worms at a number of the areas lakes. After all, the bait that is natural to the food chain now was hatched in spring and has been growing since March.
Reports from area lakes have been mixed. The Skokie Lagoons have been off the bite the past few weeks; fishermen hope that changes with the fall. Busse Lake has been producing some nice catches of bass in the main and south pools, with in-line spinners and hard baits being the choices. The Fox Chain has been producing good catches of white bass, perch and bluegill using small crankbaits and minnows. Lake Geneva and Lake Delevan have given up lots of slab bluegills in 35 to 40 feet of water. But while a jig and wax worms have worked on Delevan, half a nightcrawler on a jig worked best on Geneva. The fishing program at Lovelace Park, which provides a fishing experience right here in Evanston, is over for this year. Until next time, keep a tight line.
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