It’s hunting season! If you religiously hunt and fish you have probably been asked this open ended question a million times from the months of September-January.
“Have you done any fishing lately?”
Nine out of ten times I guarantee your answer is “No, it’s hunting season.”
As avid hunters, we all know this time of year requires a lot of work if you want to be successful both on private land or public. Everything from getting gear ready, scouting, and the attempt to pattern that game animal you’re after. Not to mention the long hours spent in the woods, prairies, fields, mountains, or swamps actually waiting for them to slip up. Seems like you have little to no time for much else.
With all these tasks needing attention it is easy to miss out on some great fishing! In my opinion the fall/winter seasons are literally the best time to throw a line in the water. I have caught my personal best bass, snook, redfish, sea trout, brown trout, flounder, and mackerel during these cooler months. Here are some tips and ideas for fishing during hunting season.
The Balancing Act
I admit the lure of hunting season consumes me also but this year I made it a point to do better balancing both of my addictions since every year I experienced a new personal best. Or at least try anyways!
I love hunting. I also equally love fishing. So you can see I needed to solve this issue of one of my loves overshadowing the other. If I was lucky those few random times after wetting a line during season, imagine if I figured out an easy way to capitalize on potential future opportunities. Some kind of way to create balance between both of these traditions but how?
Well it was quite simple really. Take a fishing pole, small bag, and put it in the truck along with my hunting gear. That’s it! A Run&Gun type set up if you will for that on-the-spot fishing. Better yet a Run&Rod set up. Simple for the fact of it being there is really all you need.
My thought behind this was just trying to be prepared for every outdoor opportunity. There had been so many times I found a honey hole and didn’t have fishing gear. Those days were over. Very first week of doing this I caught an eight pound bass while heading home from checking trail cameras. Literally the definition of right place, right time!
Less Control, More Go With The Flow
Trust me when I was brainstorming in rush hour traffic thinking of ways to do more fishing during hunting season this was not the first thing I thought to do. I figured I needed to plan out dedicated days which would require sacrificing valuable daylight hunting hours. Which none of us want to do. Let’s just be real.
Then I contemplated maybe going mid day when I eat lunch but most of my hunting adventures are all day affairs so that wouldn’t work everytime. Bottom line trying to set it in stone wasn’t the way to go. I needed to just have the gear in my canoe or truck ready.
Here in Florida there is literally a water source everywhere. Ponds, lakes, creeks, channels, bays, and rivers are not in short supply at all here. A lot of my public land spots I access by canoe so keeping my Run&Rod Fishing setup under the seat wouldn’t be an issue at all.
Bag of Tricks
I wanted to keep my bag simple and small, but effective. Each hunting trip would determine whether I would need a fresh or saltwater set up. So I put together two separate ones.
*Primary Target Species-Largemouth Bass
D Hooks #1 and #2 (Eagle Claw)
Weights (Woo! Tungsten)
Assorted colors of Senkos (Fox’d Up Lures or Yamamoto)
Assorted Ribbon tail worms 7.5 inch (Culprit)
A small plastic case with a few Rooster Tails, buzz baits, and crankbaits (your favorites)
Pack of Flukes (Zoom)
Some type of topwater lure (LiveTarget field mouse)
*Target Species- Sheepshead, Snook, Red Drum, Seatrout, Flounder, Grouper, and Snapper.
Jigheads with skirts
Circle hooks #1 and #2 (for natural live bait found in that area)
A few Spooks (Heddon)
A couple spoons
A Mirror lure or two
Pack of shrimp (DOA)
Pack of small crabs or creatures(Strike King)
Small plastic case with a few crankbaits (your favorites)
Small/medium sized egg sinkers
As far as my rods, reels, and line same concept but I use cheaper combo sets incase it is stolen or broken. I honestly catch more fish on my cheaper combos than my expensive ones. Go figure right?!
8-14 lb mono (Berkley)
5’6 Medium Action Rod/Reel (Shakespeare)
20-30 lb Braid
40-60 lb Leader
7′ Medium Action Rod\Reel (Tsunami Citadel)
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Depending on what state you live in and what type of fishing you’re doing will determine what your set up is comprised of. I fish a lot of swamps and tributaries that’s why I use the 5’6 rod for freshwater and the 7′ for saltwater. The key though is to keep it light and simple. Use your Go-To lures and favorite techniques. Don’t get too fancy. Stick to the basics. Remember this is for that on the spot fishing.
Since I am in Florida, what I use will probably be completely different then someone that lives in Maine or Kansas for example during the winter months uses. So make sure you customize the Run & Rod set up to fit YOUR needs. Remember the goal is just to have it with you. The rest will fall into place when the moments present themselves.
The Hunt For An Outdoor Grand Slam
I hope this helps or motivates anyone that may be interested in fishing more during hunting season. I know since I first started doing this the amount of fishing I do has definitely increased. Even last week while duck hunting for Cervicide’s Hunt Challenge, my partner LJ and I both threw our Run&Rod setups into the duck boat just in case we had an extra minute, which we did and got to do a little pond bass fishing.
You never know what your hunt may hold, so why not just be prepared just in case. Maybe you harvest that buck you’ve been patterning before 8:00am or limit out on ducks a little after shooters light. It’s also not uncommon to have a Thunder Chicken on your shoulder before most people even finish their first cup or morning coffee. Having a fishing setup with you can really put that Outdoor Grand Slam as I call it into view. Air, land, and water harvesting all in one day.
So if you’re like me and want to stop neglecting fishing so much during hunting season, throw your kill on ice (us southerners) and go hit that spot before calling it a day. Even if you do not have a successful hunt, grab the gear out the vehicle or boat and toss out a line. Maybe you won’t get a bite, but then again maybe you’ll hook the catch of a lifetime.