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Fishing: There’s always a catch in September

Special to the Valley News
Published: 9/5/2019 10:02:25 PM
Modified: 9/5/2019 10:02:15 PM

Labor Day is behind us, marking the unofficial end of summer, but that doesn’t mean outdoor enthusiasts are at a loss for action.

September is one of the best months for fishing. The water in the lakes has turned over, the deep cool water rising and the shallow warm water sinking. All species of fish begin to feed voraciously to fatten up for the long winter under the ice.

For me, the key to fall fishing is live bait. By September, all species of warm-water fish have spawned, leaving plenty of fresh minnows in the water for natural forage. Bass might ignore an artificial lure but will quickly engulf a swimming minnow.

The best way to fish with minnows is to free-line them using no weight at all. Hooking the minnow through the lower and bottom lips ensures that the minnow can still breathe water through the gills. The natural swimming motion of the minnow, as well as the scent, will attract bass, pickerel, perch and rock bass.

To go a little deeper, a split shot or two will do the trick. Sometimes weights are needed on rocky dropoffs or deep weed beds. The smaller the split shot the better, even though you might have to be a little more patient until the minnow gets down to the fish.

Night crawlers are my second choice for fall. Rigged on a worm harness with a shiny blade, the angler can slowly retrieve the bait like a lure. Night crawlers also may be free-lined like a minnow or used with a bobber. While worms always produce something, the fish tend to be smaller because the little ones can get to the worm quicker.

Panfish like white and yellow perch, sunfish and crappie are still plentiful in September. One bait that is usually overlooked for these species is the common cricket. Bass and pickerel will also hit crickets. The best place to find crickets is the local pet store, where crickets are for sale as food for pet snakes and lizards, but they are also great on the end of a small golden hook. If you can catch enough grasshoppers, they will do the trick as well.

Trout become more active in September. As the water cools, fish rise off the bottom of the lake in search of schooling minnows. Locate them with a fish finder and troll with downriggers. Flashing lures are the best way to trigger a strike.

In brooks and streams, the native brook trout will begin the fall transformation into their bright orange colors. Fish the bigger pools with small spinners. The mouths of creeks that flow into a larger body of water will also hold brookies this time of year.

Meanwhile, September marks the beginning of hunting season in the Granite State. As of Sept. 1, hunters have already begun stalking black bear in the northern woods.

Bear baiting is also allowed if the hunter procures a permit. Baiting involves using some sort of food that will give off an enticing scent, like doughnuts or lobster bodies. Baiting season ends on Sept. 21 or 28th or October 5, depending on the wildlife management area.

Come Sept. 23, bear hunting with dogs is allowed through October. Hunters who use dogs will chase a bear until it is cornered and then harvest the animal.

Many environmentalists, conservationists and animal rights advocates blanch at the thought of a bear being taken during hunting season. However, between New Hampshire and Vermont, there are more than 10,000 black bears roaming the North Country woods. Hunting is the only way to control the ever-growing population of bruins that sometimes cross paths with human beings.

Later in the month, on Sept. 15, bow hunters may hit the field in pursuit of whitetail deer, ending the summer-long target practice on the fake buck in the back yard. During the first two weeks of September, bow hunters will scout locations for the best place to erect a tree stand. Of course, shooting a live deer from a tree is a lot harder than putting an arrow in the back-yard dummy. The leaves are still on the trees in September, so a clean shot is much harder to find.

Again, killing a wild animal is abhorrent to a lot of people, but with the deer population expanding every year, hunting is a way to keep the numbers down, thereby preventing deer from becoming a nuisance. Anyone who has ever had deer feed in their garden or on their fruit trees will understand what I’m talking about.

The thing I look forward to most in September is being alone on a peaceful lake. Most of the summer boaters have gone home, so I can row out and wet a line without fighting the wakes of passing watercraft. Ah, September.

Coleman Stokes can be reached at

Valley News

24 Interchange Drive
West Lebanon, NH 03784


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