Fall Fishing Lake Shelbyville Shines

By Steve Welch


I love fishing in the fall no ski boats, no boats at all during the week. You would be surprised on a lake this big Monday through Friday I know each and every boat on the lake and there is less than a dozen. You got to love being a full time fishing guide on weekdays. All I see is the aircraft carriers of the sky the pelicans. These birds are so big one can wonder how they can just glide like they do let alone get off the ground. We see an occasional bald eagle perched up in a tree eying everything below. The trees are turning magnificent colors of red and gold and not a house to be seen anywhere. The Army Corp owns all the property surrounding the lake and there are no homes on the water only trees and miles and miles of them, nature at its best.


But is the fall fishing that gets me excited. We love wind in the fall it pushes bait up on the shore and the predators follow. We use a method called slip drifting the massive flats on the lake catching boatloads of white bass and an occasional walleye mixed in with them. I love this the whites are so shallow that you anchor the boat in two-feet of water and throw towards the bank. We target flats like point six flat or point five depending on wind direction and start up wind and drift my big Ranger sideways casting ahead of the boat right on the shore. We tie on a thirty-pound anchor to the side of the boat with just a little more line than it takes to hit bottom so it will just slow you way down. Then once we hit a school of whites I drop out fifteen-feet of line and that big thirty-pound mushroom anchor will just stick you on the mud flat. We need such a big anchor to hold my twenty-one foot boat.


The tackle I use for this is quite simple. I like a good long spinning rod with a light action tip to allow it to load up and make long throws with light lures. I also like to use braided line. We use Power Pro Slick ten pound. You must use a swivel and a short leader to remove the twists otherwise your knots will just break with the in-line spinners we use, all spinners put tons of twists in the line.


Then for terminal tackle I use my 3/8oz. Candystriper, a Number Three Blue Fox Vibrex or a Panther Martin spinner. A lot of folks use a two-jig rig, which is two eighth ounce jigs and three-inch twisters tied a foot above each other to mimic a school of bait fish. They all work I just think you get bigger whites on the spinners. The key is to keep them just under the surface especially since you are only in six-inches of water. The whites hit this so hard especially with the braided line and no stretch that you swear you have a tarpon on the end of your line. Their backs come out of the water they are so shallow you swear they couldnÕt swim in it.


We have no limit on white bass and folks love the taste so my clients really load up on them since we routinely catch over a hundred and more like two hundred. I know I cleaned fish for two hours just yesterday and we had one hundred and eighty and sent the clientÕs home with six gallons of fillets.


Once we get into real fall like early winter type weather the short rods are removed from the boat and the triple seating system is put in and it is crappie that I am chasing the rest of the season. This usually happens near the end of the month. I want to be through lake turnover so the oxygen is spread throughout the water column. Turnover fishing can be tough so this is why I tell clients the best way to avoid the slow bite is to fish wind or fish current so this is one reason why we chase the whites when most are still looking for crappie.


I love crappie fishing more than any specie of fish I look for. I have a special seating system that allows three anglers to set comfortably on the nose of the boat and we use long nine to eleven-foot rods and just vertical jig down in brush and out on the end of down trees. Most of the time we are in water from six-ten foot deep but up in the feeder creeks we are in much less.


We use my seating system to create a spider rig type fishing process. We all fish forwards watching my Lowrance HDS 10 with its huge ten-inch screen. You can see the brush on the screen and even see your jig bouncing up and down right above it. I think this is critical so you know if your client has the correct amount of line out to just tick the top of the brush. Most anglers just drop right to the bottom in the middle of the brush and they totally miss these fish. You learn this method fishing the deep clear waters of Kentucky Lake. The big fish usually take over the top of the brush to get first crack at anything that looks good to them. Same thing on Shelbyville a crappie is a crappie.


We use my 1/4oz. Deep Ledge Jig most of the time. You think why such a heavy jig well first of all we are trying to bounce it into the brush to free the algae on the branches and secondly I think the big fish like that big profile so they can see it better. My jig has a small number four hook on it so you can fish it in tight brush and not get hung up as much. I donÕt think you need a huge hook.  I routinely pull two-pound crappie right in the boat with no net down on Kentucky Lake. I do however think you need braided line. I always use Fireline Crystal 8/3. I can see it very easy and it is as strong as twenty-pound mono. Plus there is no stretch so when you get hung up you simply snap your rod tip and straighten the hook.


 My jigs are kind of costly since they are custom made and no other exists like it on the market. We hand paint each one with four coats of epoxy paint and seal them with clear coat to ensure the hi-vis eyeballs donÕt come off. We make them in four weights and also with a spinner if you desire. They are 1/4, 3/16, 1/8, and 3/32 in several fish catching colors. They really have caught on around here and the wife and I are selling about a thousand a week from our on-line store and the retail shops we have them in around the lake.


My other lure the Candystriper was developed to catch white bass in many different water depths so we needed several weights to do that. The plus about them is they turned out to be a really good walleye lure as well. Actually I catch everything on them. Huge channel catfish even seam to love them. It is a tail spinner type lure with an in-line blade. This allows it to turn freely at a much slower speed which allows you to fish it very slow if need be.


I make this lure in 5/8, 1/2, and 3/8. I use the big 5/8oz. if I am grinding it on bottom and reeling with a start and stop or reeling as fast as I can go for six cranks then let it free fall back to the bottom. I like the 1/2oz. if I am hopping it off bottom then simply let it fall back and take up the slack and do it again. I love doing this on ledges the whites just canÕt take it falling right on top of them. They will hit this bait a half dozen times before it gets to the bottom. This is my favorite way to catch them. The 3/8oz. I use to fish very shallow this has got to be a close second of my favorite ways to catch them the strikes are so hard. This lure gets the same four coats of epoxy and clear coat and we sell about a thousand a week during the white bass runs in the spring and fall so we are always busy making them.


I have several openings left to get in on the great fall fishing so climb out of that tree stand for a day and fill your freezer with the great tasting white bass or crappie. Just go to my website and check availability or call my number. While you are on my website feel free to join Illinois Fish Talk my newest venture. A fishing forum for folks to come on and learn how to catch fish around Illinois.


My website is www.LakeShelbyvilleGuide.Com and my contact numbers are 217-762-7257 home and 217-840-1221 cell. See you all on the big pond this fall and feel free to stop by and say hello.