Tips for Fishing During the Fall

Tips for Fishing During the Fall

What is it? Why should you use it? Types of tshirt

Key takeaways

  •  Keep an eye on bird activity and sonar scans to locate baitfish and, by association, the gamefish that follow them. The "fall feed" makes fish hungrier and more active, boosting your chances of a catch.
  •  Different lure colors have unique impacts during fall. Lighter shades are effective in low visibility, while darker colors create strong silhouettes that fish can easily spot.
  •  Use a fast-paced approach to scout larger areas in less time. Set your trolling motor to a higher speed and use spinnerbaits for efficient and effective coverage.

Fall fishing has some serious perks that make it a great time to hit the water. First off, the fish are a lot more active. As the water gets cooler, fish move around more and often head to deeper spots. This means you're more likely to get bites and have some real action on your line.

Fall is also way less crowded. Think about it: kids are back in school, and most folks have put away their fishing gear for the season. That means you've got the lake or river pretty much to yourself. Less competition? Yes, please! While you're enjoying your almost-private fishing session, you also get to take in the killer fall scenery. We're talking eye-popping autumn colors that make every catch Instagram-worthy. And let's not forget the weather. You can say goodbye to sweltering heat and hello to crisp, cool air. Less sweat, fewer bugs, and more comfort make fall fishing a total win.

If all these are up your alley, then keep reading for some major fall fishing insights, including information about fish behavior during the fall, the best fish to catch in the fall, along with some tried-and-tested fall fishing techniques!

 

Table of Contents

The "Fall Feed" Phenomenon

During the fall, fish enter a period known as the "fall feed." This is a time when fish become particularly active and aggressive in their feeding habits. The reason? They're preparing for winter.

fall fishing tips

 

As they migrate and spawn, they're also on the hunt for food, making it an excellent time for anglers to capitalize on this increased activity. Baitfish and other prey animals are also preparing for the colder months, making them more abundant and easier for gamefish to find.

The Best Fish to Catch in the Fall

Fall is a season that offers a wide variety of fishing opportunities, whether you fish in freshwater or saltwater, thanks to the range of fish that become more active. You can expect to encounter:

Largemouth Bass

A favorite among freshwater anglers, largemouth bass are commonly found in various water bodies from Canada to Mexico. In the fall, they often move to deeper waters and are keen on larger baitfish.

Northern Pike

These fish are also quite active during the fall. You can typically find them in shallow waters near weed beds, but they're also known to frequent deeper waters near drop-offs.

Walleye

Known for their delectable taste, walleye are generally found in deeper waters during the fall season. Live bait or jigs are often the go-to methods for catching them.

Perch

A popular panfish, perch can be caught in large numbers during the fall. They usually school near drop-offs or other underwater structures, making them relatively easy to locate.

Speckled Trout

For those who prefer saltwater fishing, speckled trout are a popular target in the fall. They are commonly found in shallow waters near grass beds or oyster bars.

Redfish

Another saltwater favorite, redfish can be located in shallow waters near oyster bars as well as in deeper waters near drop-offs.

Flounder

These bottom-dwellers are often caught using live bait or jigs. In the fall, they are usually found in shallow waters near various types of underwater structure.

King Mackerel

Known for their incredible speed, king mackerel are a thrilling catch. They are typically found in deeper waters near some sort of underwater structure and can be caught using live bait or lures.

Tips to Locate Fish During the Fall

Finding fish in the fall can be a bit tricky, but with the right strategies, you can up your chances significantly. Here's a detailed guide to help you locate fish during this transitional season.

Pay Attention to Baitfish Migration Patterns

In the fall, baitfish have a tendency to move into deeper waters, and predator fish aren't far behind. One of the best ways to locate these deeper areas is to watch for birds diving into the water; they're often a reliable indicator of where baitfish—and by extension, gamefish—are congregating.

baitfish

 

Alternatively, you can use your sonar to scan the water and find schools of baitfish. Once you've located them, you're likely in a good spot to start fishing for larger species.

Look for Depth-Related Transition Points

As the water cools, fish often migrate to deeper areas. This means you should focus on places where there are significant changes in water depth. Drop-offs, ledges, and other underwater structures serve as transition points where fish are likely to be found. These structures provide fish with both a sense of security and a strategic point for ambushing prey, making them prime fishing spots during the fall.

Check Secondary Points and Structures

Don't just focus on the main lake or river structures; secondary points like the last steep drops in creek arms and bluff walls off the main lake can also be hotspots for fish. Once you've used your sonar to mark some baitfish in these areas, it's a good indicator that predator fish are nearby. This is your cue to start casting and hopefully start catching.

 

fall fishing

Use Your Sonar in Open Water

In many seasons, fish are found near structures, but fall is a bit different. During this season, baitfish are often found in open water, sometimes hundreds of yards away from any significant structure. This is where your sonar becomes invaluable. It can help you locate schools of baitfish in these open areas, which in turn can lead you to where the gamefish are feeding.

 

Best Time of Day to Fish During the Fall

When it comes to fall fishing, timing can be everything. The best time to cast your line can vary depending on the species you're targeting and the current weather conditions.

In late autumn, the sun and temperature are at their highest during midday. This can be an excellent time to fish, especially as the weather gets cooler.

Best Weather Conditions for Fall Fishing

The right weather can make all the difference in your fall fishing experience. During the fall season, the sun's rays aren't as intense, allowing fish to roam freely and feed more actively. However, the ideal conditions can vary depending on the species you're targeting and your fishing location. Generally, consistent, stable weather, with few swings in temperature signal a great day of fishing.

If the sky is overcast and there are light winds coming from the south or southwest, along with some humidity in the air, you're looking at some prime fishing conditions to catch big bass, stripers, pike, and walleye.

fall fishing techniques

 

Also, don't be discouraged by a little rain. Light rain is actually beneficial for fishing. It helps you stay hidden from the fish and washes bait and other insects into the water, attracting more fish to the area.

Wind Direction, Water Temperature, Moon Phase, Tides: Other Factors To Consider in Fall Fishing

If you really want to up your fall fishing game, it’s smart to take note of other factors like wind direction, water temperature, the current moon phase, or the tides.

A southerly or southeasterly wind tends to bring warm, nutrient-rich waters to the surface, essentially setting the dinner table for hungry fish. On the flip side, a northerly or westerly wind generally keeps the water cooler and more stable, which can make it easier to locate schools of fish. So, it's a good idea to check the wind direction before you head out.

Water temperature is another key factor. Most fish are most active within a specific temperature range, usually between 50°F and 70°F. Make sure to check the water temperature before you leave and adjust your tackle accordingly. If the water is on the warmer side, you might want to use lures that imitate baitfish, like spoons or jigs. If it's cooler, slower, more subtle presentations like soft plastic rigs or flies could be more effective.

The phase of the moon can also influence fish activity, with peak times occurring during the full moon and new moon phases. Tidal movements are another consideration; areas with strong tidal currents tend to hold more fish. And let's not forget about water clarity. While clear water makes it easier to spot fish, don't discount murkier waters. They can also be productive, especially when you're targeting species like bass or pike. Information on moon phases and tidal conditions are available on fishing calendars and most fishing apps.

Key Fall Fishing Techniques

When it comes to fall fishing, there are some techniques that can help you catch more fish.

  • First off, keep an eye on baitfish migration patterns. In the fall, these little guys move to deeper waters, and the predator fish aren't far behind. If you notice a bunch of baitfish like glass minnows or shad, there’s a good chance that gamefish are lurking around the area. Casting at that spot, where gamefish are eager to ambush prey, will likely land you a catch.
  • Birds are also a fantastic indicator of where you might find baitfish, and consequently, predator fish. If you see birds diving into the water, chances are good that they're onto something.
Different colors of fishing lures lead to different results when you're fishing in the fall
  • Different lure colors can yield different results, and understanding what works best during the fall season can give you a significant edge. Lighter colors like white or chartreuse are often effective because they are highly visible in various water conditions. They're particularly useful in overcast conditions or in waters with low visibility. Brown or green pumpkin-colored lure colors mimic the appearance of crawdads and baitfish, making them an excellent choice for fall fishing when fish are on the hunt for these types of prey. For surface lures, darker colors like black can be incredibly effective. These shades create a strong silhouette against the sky, making them easier for fish to spot and target. This is particularly useful during early morning or late afternoon fishing. For anglers fishing in clear water, natural "ghost" colors can be a game-changer.
  • One of the most effective strategies during this season is to cover water quickly to locate promising fishing spots. Speed is your friend when you're trying to locate fish in the fall. With the trolling motor set to a higher speed, you can move efficiently from one location to another. This allows you to scout larger areas in a shorter amount of time, increasing your chances of finding a hotspot teeming with fish. A spinnerbait is an excellent tool for this fast-paced approach. Cast it beyond areas where you suspect fish might be lurking—think submerged structures or weed beds. Once it lands, reel it in at a brisk pace, making sure it passes close to the potential hiding spots.

Final Thoughts

So, you've got the rundown on why fall fishing is a must-try experience. From the active fish and the less crowded waterways to the stunning scenery and comfortable weather, it's clear that fall offers some of the best fishing conditions you could ask for. You're not just casting a line; you're stepping into a seasonal spectacle that's as rewarding for the senses as it is for the fishing reel.

We've also covered the nitty-gritty details, from understanding fish behavior during the "fall feed" to the best species to target. We've even thrown in some pro tips on how to locate fish and the optimal times and conditions for casting your line. Whether you're a seasoned angler or a newbie looking to get your feet wet, fall fishing provides a unique blend of challenges and rewards.

So, grab your gear, put on some protective fishing clothes, check the weather, and head out to your favorite fishing spot this fall. You won’t regret it!

Looking for summer fishing tips? Check out this post.

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