Fall fishing opportunities often get overlooked. Most anglers have shifted their focus to hunting and have little time to fish. However, fall is a great time to catch big numbers and big fish! Fish are transitioning back to feeding mode and are actively pursuing live bait across lakes, rivers, and streams. This coupled with several other reasons create ideal opportunities, making fall fishing worth every cast! 

Why Fall is a Great Time to Fish

As an angler, there are certain times of the year that get you excited. Spring is high on the list because most species are spawning and you have the chance to catch a big fish or two. Fall is another time on the calendar every angler should have circled. The change from warm to colder water puts fish into a feeding frenzy. Translation, the fall fishing bite can be one of the best of the year. Fall fishing opportunities are as good, if not better, than other times of the year for four reasons.

1.Cooling water temperatures. For most fish, cooler water increases their metabolism. This increase triggers a feeding response second to none for everything from bass, to panfish, to trout. 

2.Food is more available. Baitfish and other live bait forage have mostly been hard to get at until now. Vegetation in lakes, rivers, and streams is dying off leaving little refuge for baitfish to hide. Fish take advantage and react to this change by eating as much as they can before winter. 

3.Cold fronts. Cold fronts become more defined in the fall, which gets the attention of fish. The onset of a cold front accelerates fish activity that relates to more bites. These fall fishing opportunities can produce some of the best days on the water. 

4.Empty waters. Empty waters do not mean a lack of fish but rather fewer anglers to compete with. Fewer anglers on the water make it easier to figure out where to fish in the fall. Occupied stream fishing hotspots and lake producing holes are now vacant, which gives you more casts in prime fishing territory.

 Species to Focus Your Fall Fishing On 

Specifically, there are three groups of fish that you want to take advantage of as fall fishing opportunities come around. 

Bass – The fall season prompts bass into predictable feeding patterns mostly around baitfish. Bass follow various live bait food sources into upper reaches of lakes and around any remaining vegetation. These shallow areas in lakes warm faster on cooler days and combined with the surge of baitfish will produce giant largemouths. In addition, river smallmouth bass seek out eddies in big rivers that collect baitfish and crayfish. A very predictable spot around schooling smallmouths equates to more bass in the boat when river fishing for smallmouths. 

Panfish – Unlike bass, panfish are moving to deeper water during the fall. Fall fishing for panfish revolves around finding schools suspended off of lake points and steep drops below shallow flats. Search for these schools of crappies and perch using your electronics and sit over them to catch fish after fish. 

Trout – Warm summer water usually puts trout into survival mode, but cooler fall water combined with increased water levels has trout back in feeding mode. Often trout waters get a final round of stocking in most areas during fall so fresh fish provide additional fall fishing opportunities. Holdover trout are hungry and will aggressively chase most fall fishing lures, specifically live bait presentations, thrown at them. 

The Best Fall Fishing Lures Include Live Bait 

 Whether you are targeting bass, panfish, or trout, fall fishing lures need to include live bait if you want to catch fish. Baitfish and crayfish are targets for fish so your fall fishing tactics should focus on these live bait choices.  

 The best early fall bass lures are live crayfish rigs. Fish these on the edges of current in rivers for smallmouth bass or near creek channels in lakes. Fall fishing trout lures like threaded minnow spinner rigs will entice large trout when fished in riffles. Also, try dead drifting a minnow into deeper pools for catching newly stocked fall trout. Finally, minnow-tipped jig heads provide ideal lure presentations to suspended crappies and perch in the fall. Keep your minnows in a good live bait container to make sure they are alive and fresh for better lure presentations when fishing for fall panfish. 

If you are a hunter, try to find a few days to dedicate to fall fishing. If you are not, you probably are already taking advantage of the many fall fishing opportunities. Either way, you don’t want to miss one of the best times of the year to be on the water!

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