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5 Species to Fish in the Fall


Author: Michael Perulli

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If you want in on some of the best fishing of the year, don’t put your boat away before the leaves start changing color. Although it can be a little more challenging at times, autumn provides anglers with a chance to land some big fish. The fall feed (when fish eat more than usual in anticipation of winter) is the major reason that fishing can be so good this time of year. We’ve put together a list of some of the freshwater fish that anglers target when the weather cools down a bit:

Largemouth Bass

If you are looking to catch some largemouth bass this fall, keep in mind that most of them are going to be in shallow water because the lake is cooling off and the water is warmer there. This also means that some of the larger bass that would have been in deeper waters throughout the summer will come closer to shore. If the water you are fishing in isn’t clear (muddy or stained), you should target water that is no deeper than about four feet with a lure that is metallic to draw fish in from a distance.

Tackle to use:  Spinnerbait, crankbait, top water lures, and swimbaits.

Where to find: Find largemouth bass in many small freshwater lakes, the St. Lawrence, Great Lakes, Hudson Bay (Red River), and Mississippi River basins; Atlantic drainages from North Carolina to Florida and to northern Mexico.

Northern Pike

Some may call it a “jackfish,” “northern” or just “pike,” but one thing is for sure, fall is the best season to catch them. Pike are stealthy, usually lying in wait until they strike, and also an aggressive fish, especially in the fall. Pike have very sharp teeth, allowing them to rip through plastic bait (ensure you have pliers to remove the lure from a hooked fish). To find these fish in the fall, search out aquatic vegetation in deeper water that hasn’t died from the cooler weather yet; Pikes will be actively looking for this cover in the fall.

Tackle to use: Spoons, Spinnerbait, Crankbait.

Where to find: The northern pike has a range greater than any other freshwater gamefish, and can be found throughout the northern half of North America including northern New England, eastern New York, Minnesota and the Ohio Valley, the Great Lakes basin and also the surrounding states of Nebraska and Missouri. Toward the north, pikes are also found in Alaska and Canada, except, British Columbia.

Trout

Although it is possible to catch trout with a spinner, minnow or worm, fly fishing is often considered the preferred method when it comes to catching trout. Although some species of trout can be found in the depths of certain lakes, trout are most abundant in streams and rivers. Many anglers love fishing the rivers for fall trout because they aren’t many other people fishing at this time but the rivers often contain more of these prized fish.

Tackle to use: Fly fishing setup, spinnerbait, jigs tipped with plastic, top water lure.

Where to find: Trout of various species range across North America. Some specific examples include rainbow trout and lake trout. Rainbow trout are native to North Americas Pacific slope, from the mountains in northern Mexico through the western United States, around Alaska and the Bering Sea to the northern regions of Asia. Lake trout are widely distributed from northern Canada and Alaska south to New England in USA and the Great Lakes basin in Canada and the United States. Both species have been introduced to many areas outside their native range.

Walleye

During the fall months, Walleyes are getting ready for winter and they are hungry. The fish that walleyes prey on, small baitfish like bluegill and perch, will be close to shore searching for any weeds that are still around, looking for cover. With that in mind, fishing the shorelines is where you are going to have the most luck catching walleye.

Tackle: Jigs tipped with plastic, crankbaits.

Where to find: The walleye is native to the central portion of North America from the Rocky Mountain to the Appalachian Mountain chains, ranging as far south as Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama, and as far north as Great Slave Lake, the Mackenzie River and the Peace River in northwest Canada. Introductions have extended the range beyond the Appalachian Mountains in the east, to the Columbia River in the west, and as far south as Texas.

Salmon

The fall salmon run is one of the best times to catch salmon, particularly in September and October. During the fall, salmon swim up streams and rivers to spawn in great numbers, sometimes making for quite the spectacle. There are many different methods for catching salmon, both from a boat or from shore. Many anglers like to fly fish for salmon, but they can be caught on spoons, bobbers, plugs and spinners.

Tackle to use: Fly fishing setup, spoons, bobber and bait, salmon spinners, salmon plugs.

Where to find: Pacific salmon are anadramous, spending part of their life in fresh water and part in saltwater.  Salmon are commonly found in the Pacific Ocean and the Great Lakes due to their preference of cold waters with a high oxygen content. They’ve also been stocked in many northern states.

Check out Discover Boating for more freshwater fishing tips!

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