It's a well-known fact that cold fall weather triggers bass and pike to feed heavily. This late season feeding frenzy occurs in spite of how foul the weather gets, and can continue for a few weeks. As a rule of thumb, you should fish as long as the water temps are 50 degrees or higher. Bass will bite when the water is down to 45 or 50 degrees. Pike prefer colder water and they move out of the deep water and go on the prowl as water temps fall.
A few tips for chasing cold weather bass and pike are as follows:
Fish slowly - bass slow down as the water cools. They're less likely to chase a fast-moving bait or fly, so slow your retrieve to give them time to strike your fly. Pike are more opportunistic feeders that ambush from below, so your fly just has to roll through their field of view.
Fish steep banks and drop-offs, especially those that face south. Cuts or slopes with a 30 percent drop seem to hold bass, as they like to move vertically short distances during fall or winter.
Choose a few flies that you can work slowly, either high in the water column or low, along the bottom. Big streamers, clousers, half and halfs, deceivers in baitfish colors, or goby or crayfish imitations (wombat, sculpins, woolhead muddler minnows) in olive, browns and blacks are a good start. The bottom flies are classics for cold water, able to be crawled slowly along the bottom, or made to stop and twitch when they bump cover. The streamers can be slowly stripped along, not too deep, ideally half-way between surface and bottom, or allowed to sink deep and then jigged up and down.
Fish deeper than normal. Bass tend to relate to structure and drop offs when the water temps fall, so check out the ends of long points, steep banks and creek channels in impoundments. They will hold there until warm days return, or until the water locks up with ice.
Be patient - don't expect a lot of bites. However, the hits you get could be from big bass or pike. Take your time and work for that one big strike.
Lake Erie: Perch fishing has been hit-or-miss. The majority of catches came near the Fermi Power Plant in 24 to 26 feet however fish were also caught around Turtle Island, buoys 3 and 4 off the River Raisin and the Dumping Grounds, which are east of Luna Pier in 11 to 15 feet of water. Try husky jerks and body baits.
Detroit River: Anglers caught perch near the Cross-Dike across from Sugar Island.
Lake St. Clair: Has very good smallmouth bass fishing. Perch fishing continues to get better between Nine Mile Road and Twelve Mile Road and off Grosse Pointe.
St. Clair River: Has good walleye fishing at Port Huron. Anglers are vertical jigging late at night. Catch and release sturgeon anglers are doing well near Algonac.
Lexington: Some salmon are in the harbor but they are not feeding. Those fishing at night have managed to catch the occasional salmon or brown trout. Fishing inside the harbor with big streamers may roll the occasional king. Boat anglers report large schools of baitfish outside the harbor in 30 to 35 feet.
Saginaw Bay: Catch rates for perch have increased somewhat off Linwood in 15 to 18 feet. Some reported 30 to 35 fish per boat however they are sorting out the small ones. No shore fishing for perch yet as that usually picks up right around deer season in November. Boat anglers fishing off Quanicassee caught a few perch. A few boats launching from Bay Port and heading across the bay to Au Gres were bringing back about 30 perch. At Caseville, dredging in the channel continues so fishing was slow. Those perch fishing off Oak Point did well one day but caught nothing the next. The majority of the boats launching were duck hunters.