By Discover Boating.
Is freshwater fishing your favorite way to relax? Or, maybe saltwater fishing is your number-one hobby? Either way, as the leaves turn colors and a chill appears in the air, there’s sure to be a red-hot fall bite in your neck of the woods.
Take full advantage of it with these 10 fall fishing tips.
1. Pay Attention to Baitfish Migration Patterns
As fall hits baitfish often go on the move, and predators will follow. Just how this works varies greatly from one body of water to the next:
- In coastal bays, it may mean that finger mullet gather near inlets as they prepare to enter the ocean and run south.
- In tidal rivers, expect young-of-year glass minnow and menhaden to move out of the creeks and into the river mouths.
- In many large reservoirs, shad will shift from creeks and feeders into the main lake where water temperatures are more stable from day to day.
In all of these cases you can bet that the gamefish you’re chasing after won’t be far behind those baitfish.
2. Be on the Lookout for Birds
Fall is a time of year when large fish often corral schools of bait, and chase their prey up to the surface. Gulls, terns, and other birds will gather over the action to pick off injured baitfish, so when you see them swooping and diving over a spot, it’s a sure-fire sign that you should try casting there.
3. Look for Fish at Depth-Related Transition Points
In most bodies of water, as the thermometer drops fish will be on the move, looking for favorable conditions. That means they’ll often be found in areas where there are abrupt depth changes (like underwater points and channel edges) so they have easy access to both shallow and deep waters throughout the course of the day.
4. When the Chill Becomes Downright Cold, Slow Your Retrieves and/or Trolling Speeds
Fish are cold-blooded, so their metabolism slows as the water temps drop. You can expect that fast, erratic retrieves will no longer accurately mimic the actions of the small fish and critters those gamefish are hunting, as they did in mid-summer.
Slow, steady retrieves, on the other hand, will become more and more effective the cooler it gets.
5. Up-size Your Offerings
The colder it gets, the less interested large fish become in chasing small baits. They don’t want to burn up a lot of calories chasing a morsel, and become more focused on capturing an entire meal in one energy-efficient gulp.
6. Consider Targeting Different Species
Consider targeting different species. Just how important this is depends on where you do your fishing, but in some parts of the nation as some species of gamefish go dormant, others come alive. Fish like walleye, pickerel, and pike are just a few examples of gamefish that often pick up the pace of their feeding behavior as water temperatures drop.