5 Favorite Fall Fishing Bites
“From muskies to bull redfish, autumn is a fine time to grab a rod and go fishing
It’s a great time of year to be on the water. With cooling temperatures come great angling opportunities everywhere we look. In the far North, many fish strap on the feedbag and prepare for winter. Farther south, a welcomed cool-down means greater activity for everything that swims. We can’t go wrong in October.
Sometimes, there are just too many choices. Through a lifetime in fishing, I’ve sampled many of the best autumn bites east of the Mississippi. And while they all burned a place in my memory, a few choice bites just couldn’t be beat. I’ll need to diversify here, so not all of these fishing opportunities will appeal to everyone. But rest assured, if the list includes a body of water in your area, it’s time to grab a rod.
Muskies of the North
When I was a kid, October marked two things: the beginning of deer season and muskies. While the toothy predators were fair game year ‘round, our best shot at these mythical beasts was always in October. Out of nowhere, muskies would begin showing up on our favorite bass and perch spots, likely in search of the same meals that we were.
Muskies represent the homerun of freshwater angling in the north. They’re the blue marlin of inland lakes from Wisconsin to New York. And they’re at their most active in autumn.
Fishing techniques vary. Casting massive bucktails and rubber baits can be productive, as can the old-school Suick slash bait. Topwaters have a short widow of appeal, but may produce the best strike of your life. For my money, though, nothing says October musky like live bait. When we were kids, friends and I would catch creek chubs and suckers, saving the biggest baits for “Lunge fishing” as the old New Yorkers called it. Most often live baiting was done at night but, as waters cool, your shot at a trophy is just as good during the day.
As a bonus, gigantic, crazed smallmouths aren’t shy about hitting musky lures.
The lakes of western New York, like Lake Chautauqua of musky fame, held giant fish. Today, big waters top the list of destinations. A musky pilgrimage will take you to Lake Of the Woods, Green and Sturgeon Bays, and the Detroit River, where angling opportunities last as late as December. For a smaller, hometown feel, hundreds of lakes in Minnesota still have muskies lurking. If you’ve ever wanted to tangle with “the Great Fish,” the native term from which the name ‘muskellunge” is derived, autumn is the time of year to get your fix. As a bonus, gigantic, crazed smallmouths aren’t shy about hitting musky lures.
Bull Reds of the South
Here’s an inshore opportunity for those within reach of the coast. Redfish of any size are great sport fish; capable of hard, digging runs, and tremendous stamina. But autumn kicks it up a notch, with a shot at redfish so big, you’ll question your tackle.
Throughout eastern Florida, Louisiana, and Texas, fall brings access to the biggest breeding females, mistakenly referred to as “bulls” instead of cows, but the grammar doesn’t matter. These ocean-bound leviathans come inshore to feed and breed, where they intersect with the lines of anglers hoping to tangle with the fish of a lifetime. Thirty-pound reds are common.
First, you’ll need to find a productive area. Venice, Louisiana, is famous for redfish year ‘round, but fall brings a special time all its own. The eastern ports of Florida, specifically Ponce Inlet, have anglers stacked all day near the jetties. Usually, one is on to a fish every time you look. Nearly the entire Gulf shoreline of Texas is redfish crazy in fall, too. There, surf casters do the most damage, with more and more kayakers now joining the fun. Regardless of your chosen fishing hole, look for water movement through a pass or inlet to be key.
Every local has a favorite bait but — take it from me — nothing beats a large chunk of blue crab. Reds will readily take other smelly offerings, too, with ladyfish chunks and shrimp accounting for a number of fish. Artificials can be fun and productive. But the big mommas want crabmeat. Crafty guides will set a heavy-handed rod in a holder, baited with a half of a crab, and always take the biggest fish of the day on that setup.
One special note here: it’s vitally important to catch and immediately release these big, breeder fish. This is a photo-op only fishery, with all states enforcing a strict release policy of giant fish. But as a bonus, tasty cobia occasionally join the party.”
To read this full article from Realtree, click here.
Photo Credit: Original Author and Phil Hughes