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With the summer heat finally behind us, fall is an excellent time to head out and enjoy the outdoors. And while you’re at it, why not catch some fish? Along with the leaves changing their colors and creating that well-known foliage, fall brings a myriad of angling opportunities. And in this article, we’ll cover some of the best fall fishing destinations across the United States.
From saltwater hotspots to some of the finest streams and lakes in the country, we’ve gone coast to coast in search of places to cast your line. So without further ado, scroll down and let our picks inspire you as you plan your next angling adventure.
San Diego, CA
With mild weather, clear skies, and barely any rain, fall is a fantastic time to explore “America’s Finest City.” Visit some of the city’s countless attractions, relax on the sprawling, gorgeous beaches, or do some angling. San Diego‘s fall fishing scene is nothing short of stellar, with numerous game fish biting both inshore and offshore.
To get in on the action, you don’t have to venture far from San Diego’s shores. In the bay and just outside of it, you’ll encounter a range of species such as Halibut, Calico and Sand Bass, Corvina, and more. The Rockfish bite is fantastic as well, making it easy to put something for dinner in the cooler.
Meanwhile, there’s plenty of fish to catch offshore, too. During October, you’ll still have a chance to wrestle Yellowfin Tuna, with Bluefins also making an occasional appearance. The Yellowtail bite is hot throughout October but, even after it slows down nearshore, you’ll find big ones lurking around Coronado Islands.
When you’ve had your fill of fishing, it’s time to get back to some of those attractions we mentioned earlier. San Diego boasts one of the best zoos in America, with wild, naturalistic habitats, housing an incredible variety of animals. You can also wander Balboa Park, explore the La Jolla Cave, or simply relax on Mission Beach. Whichever way you decide to go, you’re sure to fall in love with San Diego.
Our next best fall fishing destination lies in central Wyoming. Casper is the state’s second-largest city, with a long history as an oil boomtown. It’s also situated at the cusp of some of the finest Trout fishing waters in the country.
By this, we mean the North Platte River. There’s good fishing all along its flow, but the stretch that lies southeast of Casper is especially prolific. Called the “Miracle Mile,” it runs from Cortes Dam to Pathfinder Reservoir. In these waters, many anglers experience the best Trout fishing of their lives.
But why fish the Miracle Mile during the fall? Well, because the period between September and December is one of the best times to catch big Brown Trout. These fish reach weights between 25 and 30 pounds, putting up terrific fights when hooked. Of course, there are Rainbow Trout in the river, too, along with Snake River Cutthroats that you can occasionally catch.
Besides fishing, Casper and its surrounding area also boast incredible nature. Along the North Platte River, there are several waterfalls to marvel at, all while being surrounded by dazzling red and amber trees and bushes. Visit the Fremont Canyon, explore different trails, or stay in the city and dive deep into its history and culture.
Lake of the Ozarks, MO
After spring, fall is arguably the best season to go Bass fishing. And if you’re looking for a truly premier destination to satiate your Bass addiction, consider Lake of the Ozarks. Found smack dab in the heart of the state, the “Missouri Dragon” is a Bass fisherman’s paradise.
In terms of Bass species, Largemouth make up most of the catch, but there’s also a good number of Spotties in the lake. In early fall, Bass will typically start moving to shallow waters. So look for them there or around mid-depth transitional points and humps. Often enough, you’ll also see Bass chasing after Shad near creek mouths and coves.
If you’re in the mood for some fish to eat, Crappie fishing can be productive in the fall. Typically, you’ll have the most luck fishing for them near brush piles. Besides Bass and Crappie, you may see some Catfish, though their peak season will have passed.
With 1,100 miles of shoreline, Lake of the Ozarks has plenty of sites to explore once you’re done fishing. There are several charming villages scattered along the lake’s winding shores and a state park offering scenic trails and activities such as horseback riding. And remember, if you’re visiting during fall, you can rest assured that the surroundings will be at their most beautiful.
Our journey continues in Grayling, Michigan. The reason why this small city has made our list of best fall fishing destinations is because of the waters it has access to. Namely, the Au Sable River passes directly through Grayling, while the Manistee River flows mere minutes away.
If you haven’t had the chance to fish these rivers before, they’re some of the best in Michigan. In the fall, the Au Sable River features a stunning diversity of game fish. Here, you’ll find trophy Brown Trout, Brook Trout, as well as Salmon and Steelhead which will be making their runs.
Meanwhile, the Manistee River is just as phenomenal. In its waters, you’ll again battle big Steelhead and Brown Trout, and there’ll also be Coho Salmon. Grayling will serve you as the perfect starting spot, as even the most distant portions of the two rivers lie within a 2-hour drive.
If that’s not enough, there are also several lakes near Grayling, such as Lake Margrethe, where you’ll find the likes of Bass, Panfish, Musky, and Pike. Among other activities, you can venture into Hartwick Pines State Park, hike the local trails, or get to know the city’s history at the Crawford County Historical Museum.
For now, we’ll stay in the Great Lakes region and move to Buffalo, New York. Nestled on the shores of Lake Erie and the head of the Niagara River, this city enjoys almost boundless fishing opportunities.
Near Buffalo itself, the fall season will put you on one of the most sought-after catches in the region – Muskellunge. Around this time of year, these fish begin to pack on weight, meaning it’ll be prime time to catch yourself a trophy. Alongside Musky, Smallmouth Bass will also be biting in the upper section of Niagara River.
Meanwhile, the Lower Niagara River – the side closer to Lake Ontario – offers an even more exciting scene. Here, Steelhead and Salmon will be making their annual runs the kind of action very few other places can rival. The same sort of thing will be happening along the other tributary rivers in the area, meaning you’ll have endless spots close to Buffalo to choose from.
As for Buffalo itself, it’s the second-largest city in New York. That means you can expect tons of sights to see, venues to visit, food to eat, and music to listen to. There are extensive parks scattered throughout the city, a waterfront to walk along, and even a zoo. But let’s not forget the main attraction, Niagara Falls is just half an hour away!
The Berkshires is a highland region nestled in western Massachusetts. It’s comprised of extensive forests, breathtaking Appalachian trails, and numerous rivers and lakes. And it’s precisely its waters that have earned the Berkshires an entry on our list of top fall fishing destinations.
If you’re an angler, hearing about mountain rivers and fall fishing probably tells you a lot about the species you can target in this region. If you guessed Trout, you’re correct! The cold waters that run through the Berkshires are a fly fishing heaven. Some of the hotspots include the Housatonic River and its tributaries where you’ll find an abundance of Brook, Brown, and Rainbow Trout.
Other fishing options include the various lakes scattered throughout western Massachusetts, such as Onota and Pontoosuc. In them, you’ll get to catch your fill of Bass, Panfish, as well as big Northern Pike and Musky.
As for other activities, you’d be remiss if you didn’t spend most of your time in the pristine nature of the Berkshires. Walk the scenic Mohawk Trail or relax lakeside, and enjoy the serene landscapes to their utmost. Of course, if you’re in the mood for some history, there are several museums, such as the ones in Deerfield and Pittsfield, where you can learn more about this wonderful region.
Virginia Beach, VA
Next, we’ll move down to the ocean coast of the “Old Dominion.” Here, Virginia Beach serves as an excellent starting spot for all kinds of angling adventures. Thanks to its position at the exit of the Chesapeake Bay, you’ll have an easy time exploring both the inshore and offshore fishing grounds.
The fall fishing season brings thrilling fishing to the coastal waters of Virginia Beach. Redfish, Flounder, and Striped Bass are the main targets, and you’ll get to catch all three near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. These waters lie mere minutes from shore, making these types of trips ideal for anglers of all ages and skill levels.
Meanwhile, even though the deep sea action peaks during summer, there’ll still be fish to catch once fall arrives. Throughout October, you can expect Mahi Mahi, King Mackerel, and Yellowfin Tuna to still be in the area. Bottom fishing and deep dropping will be as productive as ever, with Grouper, Tilefish, and Seabass steadily biting.
While you’re in Virginia Beach, make sure to visit the scenic boardwalk. After that, consider touring the Military Aviation Museum where you can see airplanes dating back to the World War period. And if you just can’t get enough of marine wildlife, you’ll enjoy a stroll through the Virginia Beach Aquarium.
From mountains to beaches and back to mountains again. This time though, we venture to Asheville. This charming city lies in the Blue Ridge Mountains, right at the intersection of the French Broad River and Swannanoa River.
These two rivers, but particularly the French Broad, offer great Smallmouth Bass fishing, with fall being a superb time to reel in some big ones. Or, you can take a short ride to Lake James. There, you’ll also find a remarkable Smallmouth bite, with the addition of Largemouth Bass and the elusive Muskellunge.
At the same time, the Asheville region also features endless mountain streams, nearly all of which are inhabited by Trout. The top locations include Newberry Creek, Davidson River, the east fork of the French Broad River, as well as Wilson Creek. All of these are absolutely abundant with Rainbow and Brook Trout, especially in spring and fall.
But even if you’re not the angling type, Asheville is a fantastic place to visit in its own right. To start with, the nature is off-the-charts beautiful, with fall bringing a special kind of charm to the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are also plenty of local attractions to enjoy, including historical sites, museums, and art galleries. If you’re a foodie, you might want to stop by for a smoked Trout sandwich at Citizen Vinyl or some oysters at Jettie Rae’s.
There’s hardly a better place than Florida to round off the list of this year’s best fall fishing destinations, With the heat of the summer slowly dissipating, it’s the prime season to visit the Sunshine State. This year, we recommend journeying to Kissimmee and fishing the magnificent Lake Toho it sits on.
If you need a reminder, Lake Tohopekaliga is one of the most prominent Bass fisheries in the country. It’s renowned for producing trophy Largemouth Bass, making it a yearly site for various fishing tournaments, as well as being a popular lake for recreational angling.
Fall marks the beginning of the best fishing season on the lake, which will continue throughout winter and into early spring. With the water temperatures slowly dropping, Bass will get become and more active, feeding more aggressively. Depending on when you visit, the fish will follow different patterns, but the edges of hydrilla beds are always a good bet on Lake Toho.
When it comes to other attractions, you probably already know what Kissimmee is all about. Since it’s located right on the outskirts of Orlando, you’ll be minutes away from some of the best amusement parks in the world, including Disney World, SeaWorld, Universal Studios, and many others. Any of these will be the perfect supplement to your vacation once you’ve experienced your Bass fishing fairytale.
Fall Fishing: Enjoy the Outdoors to the Fullest
And so, we come to the end of our list. With it, it’s worth acknowledging that there are many more fall fishing destinations out there that are just as fantastic as the ones we’ve included here. And if you thought of one while reading through our picks, we’re glad the article served as inspiration for you! After all, the important thing is to get out there and spend some time fishing and enjoying the outdoors – the where part is secondary.
But if you’re still looking for some inspiration, feel free to look through last year’s fall fishing article and discover more exciting places to cast your line.
What’s your favorite fall fishing destination? Is it on our list? Hit the comment button and let us know!
This article originally appeared here and was republished with permission.