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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Each fall most of our deciduous trees drop their leaves. Trees located adjacent to tidal creeks and ponds drop some of their leaves onto the water surface. Those millions of leaves create casting and retrieving hazards when fishing during the leaf-fall period.

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For some reason, the trees have held their leaves much longer than usual this fall. Most of the trees in my yard still have many leaves on them (meaning more leaf cleanup in December this year). During the past week or so, I am seeing more leaves floating on the tidal waters where I plan to cast for pickerel.

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This morning, I launched at 8:30 and fished for two hours. I worked my way along more than a mile of shoreline in a tidal creek. The water level this morning was quite low, meaning that many of my near-shoreline pickerel spots had minimal water depth, and the possibility of snagging submerged branches was higher. In addition to the low water, many of the areas had substantial numbers of floating leaves near the shore (the precise zones where I usually catch the pickerel). That makes casting and retrieving a lure challenging.

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I threw a 3/16-oz jighead and 3” paddletail. I had no bites for the first half hour. Then I got to a spot that initially looked unfishable because of the abundance of leaves. But I decided to try a few casts using the following approach to mitigate leaf issues.
  • Cast into the leaf field hopefully landing in a leafless spot
  • Let the lure sink for a few seconds
  • Retrieve the lure slowly while watching the spot where the line enters the water (I use yellow braid so I can see that spot more readily)
  • Move the rod tip to guide the line entry point between leaves
  • If you feel extra resistance, do a couple of hard twitches, which often knocks a leaf free. If you cannot remove the leaf that way, wind in and remove it by hand before casting again.
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I was pleasantly surprised to pull 3 pickerel out of the same small leaf-covered zone in 5 minutes. After exhausting that spot, I kept moving. I found two more pickerel using the same technique.

Leaf cover does add challenges to pickerel fishing for a few weeks each fall. If you follow the steps outlined above, you improve your chances of keeping a lure clean and enticing to the pickerel.
 

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Thanks for the tips. I notice the loop knot on your lure. Does that knot become a failure point for you? I've tried a loop knot a few times, I believe it was a Perfection Loop, and always seemed that it broke easier than I thought it should using 10lbs fluoro. For this kind of fishing I now use duolock snaps in the smallest size I can find which aren't much more than a 1/4" long. It gives me the wiggle I want without adding much to the lure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I started using loop knots 7 or 8 years ago to give my lures more action. My leader material is normally 20-lb mono or fluoro. I very rarely break off in the loop. For me, it is more common to break off at the line/leader knot (not from fighting a fish, but from pulling hard to free a snagged lure. The loop knot has held well for pickerel to 24", stripers to 27", reds to 28", specks to 22", etc. The type of loop knot I use is shown below. I usually make 3 wraps around the main leader before passing back through the loop.

Your approach works well too. I do use snap swivels or tackle clips on occasion, particularly when I feel I may change lures often during a trip.

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Virgil and had a hard time keeping leaves off a Few days ago. You can feel it when retrieving and I guarantee you will not get bit on a leaf fouled lure. Thanks for the tips John...... Gary
 

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That is some very good tips JA. Thanks. I also use that loop know. Been using it for many years. I have no problems with the floating leaves using Weedless lures Like a 6.5" Purple worm. or a 4' Zoom ring worm Texas rigged with a offset worm hook. I don't fish for pickerel but I catch quite a few while fishing for bass. Marshy Hope Creek is loaded with floating leaves. Great time of year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Andy's comment here and one I saw from another angler on a different site suggest that rigging soft plastics weedless may also work well when leaves are on the water. I rarely rig my plastics weedless, but may need to give it a try.
 
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