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Fall fishing options abundant

Panfish: Yes, I am a burnt-out bluegill fisherman, but I'm loving life in the fall. Locally, lakes like Centennial, Cunningham Falls and Loch Raven will yield a harvest of big bluegills and crappies as the temperatures drop. Look for pods of crappies to hang around bridge structures, as in Liberty Reservoir, and fish 1/32- to 1/16-ounce jigs at various depths until you locate fish. Minnows work too, but may be hard to come by. Berkely Gulp 1-inch minnows were a hit last year at several Pennsylvania lakes and were durable to 20 fish per bait. Check out dying weedbeds for slab action as well.

Bass. If you're a smallmouth fan, few times are better than now to cash in on some big fish. Liberty has a hot fall bite for big fish, with trophies up to 6 pounds. Shorebound anglers use large shiners or crayfish, but bass guru Andre Sturkey likes the 5-inch Senko on a drop-shot rig for quality largemouths and smallies from his boating efforts. He has also tagged some 4-pound class smallies on surface lures such as the Pop-R as late as mid-November during low-light conditions around fallen wood. Loch Raven will be hot for 3- to 5-pound largemouths on plastic and crankbaits along weed edges.

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Trout. The Department of Natural Resources will start up its fall trout stocking efforts soon, maybe by the time you read this. Many small lakes and streams in easy driving distance will get a load of 9- to 12-inch rainbows that are eager to feed and make for great light tackle fishing and a good meal. In recent years, there has been an increase in the stocking of larger, trophy-class trout that run from 3 to 8 pounds, adding more spice to the put-and-take trout gig. Small spinners and spoons catch a bunch of these fish, or you can toss prepaired baits like Powerbait on No. 10 hooks and wait 'em out. Consult the stocking schedule and regulations on the Maryland DNR Fisheries website for more on this.

Delmarva Ponds. One of the most overlooked fishing in our region. Sure, we could do the rockfish thing or head south for drum, but the freshwater fishing in Delmarva is amazing. Variety is the thing here with bass, crappie, big bluegills and toothy chain pickerel as the main headliners. Seaford, Milton and Laurel, Delaware, and Salisbury, Maryland, are jump-points for at least two dozen ponds and many creeks and spillways that will be all but abandoned as the weather cools. Kayaks and canoes welcomed, but check on the local waterfowl seasons before you venture out, and keep a safe distance from blinds and decoy spreads.

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