Across the country, natural lakes, rivers and reservoirs come to life in autumn, yielding some of the year’s best fishing for a variety of species. Whether your passion is largemouth bass, rainbow trout or black crappies, chances are you’ll find ample opportunities to tap the fall bite.
In appreciation of the autumn bonanza, and to help you dial in travel plans if a road trip is in order, we assembled the Top 20 states for fall fishing. Rest assured, this wasn’t a “close your eyes and throw a dart at the map” proposition.
Have Rod, Will Travel
With the assistance of many state fisheries departments and other sources of inside information, we gathered data and then weighed a number of factors, including:
- Variety of fish species and fishing opportunities
- Catch rates
- Fishing pressure
- Amount of prime water available to anglers
- Nonresident license costs
We also factored in some intangibles, including scenery, lore and the sheer mystique of a state’s fishing destinations. Additionally, we focused on freshwater, though at times we give a nod to adventures on the brine.
Gear Up & Go
In the end, there were still plenty of tough calls to make. If your favorite states didn’t make the list, rest assured they were probably very close. After all, the U.S. is blessed with fine fishing from coast to coast, and this rundown is more a celebration of variety than of raising one state onto a pedestal over another.
Keep in mind that weather, water conditions and state or local regulations are subject to change. Always check with local guides, bait shops and fisheries offices before you head for the water.
That being said, sit back, relax and join us on a whirlwind tour of the Top 20 states to wet a line this fall. Then grab your tackle box and get out there!
Check out the top 20 states that made the list:
<h2>Alabama</h2>With <a href="http://www.gameandfishmag.com/south/alabama/top-places-for-bass-fishing-in-alabama/" target="_blank">45 public reservoirs and nine major river systems</a>, Alabama is a southern gem for fall fishing. Plus, everything from black and temperate bass, pickerel, perch, trout, crappies and sunfish goes is ready to bite. <p></p> Alabama is also known for its ability to yield bragging-size catches. Thirteen state records have been toppled in the past decade. New bests include: <p></p> -151-pound, 9-ounce alligator gar <br /> -120-pound, 4-ounce blue catfish <br /> -69-pound, 9-ounce striped bass <br /> -4-pound, 5-ounce black crappie <p></p> As hunting and football take center stage, many lakes and rivers offer extreme solitude and unpressured fishing in autumn. <p></p> The cost of fishing here is reasonable as well. Non-resident license options range from $27.85 for an individual 7-day freshwater permit ($30 for Floridians) to a three-day family license for the same price (covers you plus four immediate family members), to $12.50 for an annual tag good on WFF Division-owned state lakes.
- <h2>Alabama</h2>With <a href="http://www.gameandfishmag.com/south/alabama/top-places-for-bass-fishing-in-alabama/" target="_blank">45 public reservoirs and nine major river systems</a>, Alabama is a southern gem for fall fishing. Plus, everything from black and temperate bass, pickerel, perch, trout, crappies and sunfish goes is ready to bite. <p></p> Alabama is also known for its ability to yield bragging-size catches. Thirteen state records have been toppled in the past decade. New bests include: <p></p> -151-pound, 9-ounce alligator gar <br /> -120-pound, 4-ounce blue catfish <br /> -69-pound, 9-ounce striped bass <br /> -4-pound, 5-ounce black crappie <p></p> As hunting and football take center stage, many lakes and rivers offer extreme solitude and unpressured fishing in autumn. <p></p> The cost of fishing here is reasonable as well. Non-resident license options range from $27.85 for an individual 7-day freshwater permit ($30 for Floridians) to a three-day family license for the same price (covers you plus four immediate family members), to $12.50 for an annual tag good on WFF Division-owned state lakes.
- <h2>Alaska</h2>There’s little argument that <a href="http://www.gameandfishmag.com/fishing/20-questions-for-an-alaskan-commercial-fisherman/" target="_blank">the Last Frontier is a fishing paradise</a> for much of the open-water season, and fall is no exception. With more than 12,000 rivers and 3 million lakes, the state holds a whopping 40 percent of U.S. surface water. <p></p> October options include steelhead, coho salmon, Arctic char, rainbow trout, Arctic grayling, Dolly Varden, northern pike, lake trout, burbot and cutthroat trout. We’re focusing on sweetwater, but the brine yields halibut, king salmon, lingcod, rockfish, Pacific cod and sablefish, in case you’d like to sample the salt. <p></p> Fish size trends towards the high side of the spectrum, with trophies possible on any given cast or trolling pass. Average sizes are healthy, too, and include: <p></p> -Steelhead, 27-30 inches <br /> -Coho, 6-10 pounds <br /> -Rainbow trout, 15-20 inches <br /> -Lake trout, 2-8 pounds <br /> -Northern pike, 24-32 inches <p></p> In the south-central region, top fall fisheries include some of the state’s best road-accessible autumn action for rainbows, grayling and Dolly Varden. ‘Bows and grayling abound in the Susitna and Talkeetna rivers near Anchorage, while the legendary Kenai kicks out fall rainbows and Dolly Varden. <p></p> Other fall jewels include the Delta Clearwater River, which has the largest population of cohos in interior Alaska, and the fishing is strong through late October. <p></p> Considering the amount of world-class options, a $35 three-day nonresident license is one of the continent’s best deals. You can spring for a weeklong fishing adventure and choose the $55 seven-day permit instead, another manageable fare to say the least.
- <h2>Arkansas</h2>The Natural State is, well, a natural for fall fishing. With everything from trout to catfish, bass and panfish on the menu, Arkansas delivers quality and variety for autumn fishing adventures. <p></p> Fishing on impoundments such as mighty Bull Shoals Lake picks up as the water cools. Bass typically move shallow, and are suckers for spinnerbaits on cloudy and windy days. Crappies and walleyes also tend to invade the shallows. <a href="http://www.gameandfishmag.com/south/arkansas/top-places-for-bass-fishing-in-arkansas/" target="_blank">And don’t forget epic action for schooling stripers, hybrids and white bass.</a> <p></p> The trout front holds ample options as well. For example, the Greers Ferry tailwater on the Little Red River is a fine option for late-season action. <p></p> The Arkansas River is a top destination for a variety of species, including largemouth and spotted bass. It also offers solid striper and white bass bites, along with catfish action. And speaking of cats, flatheads typically go on a binge in late fall, ushering in a great cool-water bite. <p></p> For a unique bronzeback getaway, try floating the upper Ouachita River in November for smallmouth bass. On the lower section, downstream of Camden, shad often move into backwaters and creeks due to cooling river water temperatures. Following the forage there can lead to magical days on the water. <p></p> Overall, the state’s big-fish potential is respectable. Twenty state records have fallen in the past decade, with standouts including: <p></p> -102-pound, 8-ounce paddlefish <br /> -5-pound black crappie <br /> -1-pound, 11-ounce yellow perch <p></p> At $11 for three days, the nonresident license is dirt cheap. Trout tags cost $12, which is also a deal.
- <h2>California</h2>Golden State fishing rocks in fall. Talking trout, steelhead are popular autumn targets in hundreds of miles of coastal and Central Valley rivers. Plus, in the northwest coastal area, you can chase cutthroats in the unique primeval setting of the giant redwoods. <p></p> Goliaths of the brown trout variety migrate out of many high-elevation reservoirs, offering trophy hunters a great shot at behemoths topping 20 pounds. On a smaller scale, brookies staging in high-country lakes offer excellent fishing as well. If that’s not enough, inland rainbows gorging on salmon eggs throughout the Central Valley rivers are also an option this time of year. <p></p> Salmon fans would do well to consider inland Chinooks in lakes Shasta and Berryessa. Fall-run salmon are also an option on select fisheries such as the Sacramento and Feather rivers, but be sure to check the regulations before you go. <p></p> <a href="http://www.gameandfishmag.com/west-coast/california/top-places-for-bass-fishing-in-southern-california/" target="_blank">Other fine fall choices in Cali include bass, namely largemouths, smallies and spots.</a> Average sizes run 1 to 2 pounds but brutes topping 5 and pushing 10 aren’t uncommon. Clear Lake and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is a standout for green bass, while Oroville and New Melones will have you seeing spots. For bronze bounty, look toward Trinity Lake. Best of all, the fish are transitioning from deep to shallow water, and become relatively easy to find and catch. <p></p> One word of caution, however. California is suffering from severe drought. So check with local guides or tackle shops before you go.
- <h2>Colorado</h2>Popular among hunters seeking a Rocky Mountain high, the Centennial State is also rich in fall fishing opportunities. A full 35 species of warm- and coldwater fish call its 2,000 lakes and 6,000 miles of streams home. Options range from iconic rainbow trout in cool mountain streams to trolling for walleyes on high desert impoundments. <p></p> As for fall highlights, the kokanee salmon run is legendary, as schools of 3- to 5-year-old pacific salmon swarm to lake and reservoir inlets and gravelly shoals. Top kokanee lakes include Blue Mesa, Sweetwater, Wolford Mountain and Granby. Besides offering fine salmon fishing, the run attracts hungry lake trout of trophy proportions that feed heavily before spawning. <p></p> While the high country is spectacular, don’t overlook the southeast, where 3,000-acre Pueblo Reservoir offers a booming walleye population, plus decent numbers of wipers topping 20 inches. <a href="http://www.gameandfishmag.com/rocky-mountains/colorado/top-places-for-bass-fishing-in-colorado/" target="_blank">Pueblo is also a standout for smallmouth bass</a> in fall, and holds an abundance of channel and flathead catfish, which feed heavily as waters cool at winter’s approach. <p></p> At 800 acres, Trinidad Reservoir is another local hotspot. Largely devoid of fishing pressure, it has an above-average walleye and saugeye fishery, with trophies possible. <p></p> Speaking of big fish, a full 17 state records have fallen in the past 10 years. Top catches include: <p></p> -50-pound, 3.5-ounce lake trout <br /> -43-pound, 6-ounce channel catfish <br /> -30-pound, 11-ounce northern pike <p></p> For the full lowdown on Colorado fishing opportunities, check out the Parks & Wildlife Department’s <a href="http://cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/Pages/FishingHotSpots.aspx" target="_blank">interactive online fishing guide</a>. Or contact a reputable fishing guide, like renowned trout stalker <a href="http://fishingwithbernie.com" target="_blank">Bernie Keefe</a> of Granby.
- <h2>Florida</h2>If variety is the spice of life, the Sunshine State packs plenty of flavor on the fall fishing front. There are 33 sought-after freshwater species available, and fishery managers report that roughly half of the state’s 3 million acres of fishable water provide above-average late-season fishing. <p></p> Known worldwide for trophy largemouths, Florida offers excellent bassin’ in October and November, particularly in the state’s southern reaches. Perennial favorites include legendary Lake Okeechobee, along with Kissimmee, Istokpoga, Talquin, George and Rodman. <p></p> <a href="http://www.gameandfishmag.com/south/florida/top-places-for-bass-fishing-in-florida/" target="_blank">Few states match the caliber of Florida trophy bass</a>. The unofficial record stands at 20.13 pounds, while the official benchmark is 17.27. <a href="http://www.gameandfishmag.com/galleries/10-great-tricks-topwater-bass/" target="_blank">Largemouths topping 10 are realistically possible on top waters</a>, and the minimum size to qualify for the state’s Big Catch program is 8 pounds, which equates to the bass of a lifetime in most other states. <p></p> Besides great largemouth bass fishing, catfish, striped bass and sunshine bass are firing on all cylinders in northern Florida during the fall, while crappies, bluegills, and redear sunfish remain consistent statewide. <p></p> As a bonus, at $17.50 for a three-day permit, the nonresident fishing license is one of the best buys around. <p></p> <em>Photo Courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission</em>
- <h2>Georgia</h2>Anglers worldwide recognize Georgia for producing the all-tackle world record largemouth bass. And while <a href="http://www.gameandfishmag.com/south/georgia/top-places-for-bass-fishing-in-georgia/" target="_blank">the state offers fine fall bassin’</a>, there’s far more available. <p></p> Multiple species are on tap, including brown and rainbow trout, spotted and striped bass, catfish, crappies, redbreast and bluegill sunfish. And we’re not even touching saltwater, which holds seatrout, redfish and more. <p></p> You might find it hard to believe, but northern Georgia also offers fine walleye fishing that’s off the radar of many anglers. <p></p> With 2,400 miles of trout streams open in October and November, Georgia is a great place for a fall trout road trip. Plus, there are 12,000 miles of warm-water streams and 500,000 acres of reservoirs larger than 500 acres at your disposal. <p></p> We mentioned the world-record largemouth, but Georgia waters have given up 12 state records as well in recent seasons. Big catches include: <p></p> -55-pound, 5-ounce record flathead catfish <br /> -64-pound, 5-ounce blue cat <br /> -<a href="http://www.gameandfishmag.com/news/state-record-brown-trout/" target="_blank">20-pound, 14-ounce brown trout taken in July 2014</a> <p></p> Top Peach Tree picks include the Chattahoochee River below Lake Lanier for brown trout, the Toccoa River for browns and rainbows, Lake Seminole for largemouth bass, plus lakes Eufaula, Clarks Hill, Oconee, Sinclair, West Point, Richard B. Russell and Allatoona for largemouths and spots. <p></p> Catfish hotspots include Oconee, Sinclair and West Point, along with the lower Chattahoochee for trophy blues, and the Flint River for bruiser flatheads.
- <h2>Idaho</h2>Gem State opportunities include 42 species of gamefish, many surrounded by spectacular scenery. Cooling water temperatures bring hungry rainbow trout to the shorelines of many lakes and impoundments such as C.J. Strike and Dworshak reservoirs. <p></p> Streams are no slouches, either. Top fall picks include the St. Joe, Henrys Fork of the Snake River, Wood River and Silver Creek, to name a few. Options include rainbows, cutthroats and brookies. In northern Idaho, late-running kokanee salmon are found in tributaries to Lake Pend Oreille and Coeur d’Alene through November into December. <p></p> To battle a true giant, try sturgeon fishing in the Snake River. Fish in the 3- to 8-foot range weighing upwards of 300 pounds are possible. <p></p> Finally, <a href="http://www.gameandfishmag.com/rocky-mountains/idaho/top-places-for-bass-fishing-in-idaho/" target="_blank">if feisty smallmouth bass are more your style</a>, Brownlee, Dworshak and Salmon Falls Creek reservoirs are perennial autumn hotspots. <p></p> As a testament to Idaho’s big-fish powers, 18 state records have fallen in the past decade. Eyebrow-raising catches include: <p></p> -40-pound northern pike <br /> -32-pound brown trout <br /> -20-pound, .02-ounce rainbow trout <br /> -3-pound, 12.8-ounce white crappie <p></p> <em>Photo Courtesy of Idaho Tourism</em>
- <h2>Iowa</h2>Known for corn, soybeans and big whitetail bucks, the Hawkeye State is also a hotbed of fall fishing bliss. Few anglers are on the water, as in most states, but the variety and productivity of its waters deserves serious consideration for recognition among the all-American top 20 fall fisheries. <p></p> Let’s start in the north, where the Great Lakes of Iowa offer multispecies action so stellar, it draws anglers from surrounding states to sample the bounty. Granted, we’re not talking Erie, Huron or Superior, but the cluster of glacial fisheries including Spirit Lake and East and West Okoboji are definitely Class A water. <p></p> Walleye populations in particular have been coming on strong in the north, and Clear Lake near Mason City also offers one of the state’s finest muskie fisheries. Iowa’s Great Lakes are also famous for panfish, and provide options in fall as well as once winter’s icy curtain cloaks their surfaces. <p></p> On the flowing water front, the mighty Mississippi serves up 300 miles of big-river opportunities, both on the mainstem and in fish-rich backwaters, side channels and tributaries. The scenery, especially along the northern reaches bordered by 600-foot bluffs, infinitely adds to the experience. <p></p> In fall, fish such as walleyes and saugers often gather in tailraces below 11 permanent dams, which stretch from Lock and Dam No. 9 at Lynxville to Lock and Dam No. 19 at Keokuk. The Missouri is another fine flowing-water option, with fall action for walleyes and saugers, particularly below wing dams and around tributary mouths. <p></p> No mention of Iowa would be complete without a nod to channel catfish, which the DNR says are the state’s most popular and abundant gamefish. With more than <a href="http://www.gameandfishmag.com/fishing/big-secrets-for-big-iowa-bass-fishing/" target="_blank">20,000 miles of rivers and streams, which commonly offer 500 to 5,000 pounds of channel cats per mile</a>, Iowa is top-notch cat country. In fall, deep holes are prime lies for probing with live or cut bait on slip-sinker rigs. Many lakes also offer channel cats. <p></p> Finally, don’t forget southern Hawkeye hotspots such as Rathbun for walleyes and crappies, Macbride and Coralville for crappies, and a fistful of other destinations large and small for everything from panfish to walleyes and largemouth bass.
- <h2>Maine</h2>Rugged scenery and remote fisheries are just part of the attraction of a trip to the Pine Tree State. To be fair, a number of waters are closed in October and November to protect spawning fish populations, so always check regulations, but in general most waters are open in the southern part of the state during that period. <p></p> And where you find open season, you’ll enjoy opportunities to tackle: <p></p> -Brook trout weighing up to 4 pounds <br /> -Lake trout to 15 pounds <br /> -<a href="http://www.gameandfishmag.com/new-england/maine/top-places-for-bass-fishing-in-maine/" target="_blank">Largemouth bass up to 10 pounds</a> <br /> -Smallmouth bass up to 7.5 pounds <br /> -Northern pike up to 22 pounds in lakes and tidal waters <br /> -Muskies up to 25 or so pounds <p></p> Maine also offers black crappies, white perch, striped bass, wild and stocked rainbow, brook, brown trout and landlocked salmon. Invariably, anglers are scarce even on top waters, thanks to the popularity of the state’s grouse, deer, geese, ducks, woodcock and moose hunting options. <p></p> Nonresident license costs are not unreasonable, at $23 for three days. And, though only four state records have fallen since 2004, intangibles such as the sheer scenic beauty surrounding many fisheries boosts Maine into the list of 20 top options. <p></p> <em>Photo Courtesy of Phil Savignano, Maine Office of Tourism</em>
- <h2>Michigan</h2>With 18 species of gamefish and more than 11,000 lakes, 36,000 miles of rivers and streams, and <a href="http://www.gameandfishmag.com/midwest/michigan/top-places-for-bass-fishing-in-michigan/" target="_blank">3,126 miles of Great Lakes shoreline to choose from</a>, Michigan is definitely a player in the fall fishing scene. <p></p> Especially when you consider the fact that state biologists classify a whopping 153,000 acres of inland lakes, 1,800 stream miles and 6.2 million acres of the Great Lakes as “above average” fishing water during autumn. <p></p> Couple this with the fact that most of these honeyholes are lightly fished in fall, and it’s hard to argue against Michigan making the list. Granted, fishing pressure can get a little intense on rivers hosting salmon and steelhead runs, but inland lakes are largely ghost fisheries come October and November. <p></p> As for select opportunities, pike and muskies go on a tear as waters cool. Walleyes, too, seek sustenance prior to winter’s arrival, and often stack up around river mouths leading into the Great Lakes, and in major bays such as Saginaw Bay off Lake Huron, and Bays de Noc on the northern shores of Lake Michigan. <p></p> When it comes to intangibles such as scenery, Michigan serves up 19.3 million acres of forest (an impressive 53 percent of the state), approximately 200 waterfalls, and unique features such as Lake Michigan’s sand dunes and one of my personal favorites, the iconic Buck Inn bar and eatery in the U.P. paradise of Escanaba.
- <h2>Minnesota</h2>Hailed as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, the Gopher State serves up solid fall fishing from the lower Mississippi River and Lake Pepin in the southeast to prairie impoundments of the west, and scores of natural lakes scattered throughout the central and northern forests. <p></p> Walleyes are prime targets on waters large and small. The state’s big-water hotspots include massive Lake of the Woods, which yields a late-fall bite that draws anglers from across the Midwest as schools of walleyes swarm toward the incoming Rainy River. <p></p> Other super-size walleye destinations include 128,000-acre Mille Lacs, 110,000-acre Leech Lake, 56,000-acre Lake Winnibigoshish, and the state’s 48,000-acre share of Upper Red Lake. Top seasonal patterns include everything from live-bait rigging deep, steep drop-offs to trolling, casting and bobber-fishing shallow structure. <p></p> ’Eyes aren’t the only autumn attraction. Northern pike abound statewide, with Upper Red and Lake of the Woods offering notable trophy fisheries with chances for fish topping 40 inches. Likewise, <a href="http://www.gameandfishmag.com/midwest/minnesota/top-places-for-bass-fishing-in-minnesota/" target="_blank">both small- and largemouth bass are abundant</a>, and feed heavily in October. Panfish including crappies, bluegills and yellow perch are also options on many waters across Minnesota. <p></p> Keep flowing-water hotspots in mind as well. Rivers including the Mississippi, St. Croix, St. Louis, Rainy and Rum, to name just a few, kick out excellent action all fall, with only a fraction of the already-light fishing pressure seen on Minnesota lakes as winter approaches.
- <h2>Montana</h2>There’s plenty to love about Montana in the fall. Everything from trout in pristine high-country rivers to sag-bellied walleyes and <a href="http://www.gameandfishmag.com/fishing/pike-muskie/how-to-fillet-a-pike/" target="_blank">northern pike</a> in impoundments is fair game and on the bite. <p></p> Some of the planet’s finest fly fishing awaits in Glacier Country in northwest Montana. Blue-ribbon streams including such hallowed waters as the Clark Fork, Bitterroot and Blackfoot offer world-class action for rainbows, browns, cuttbows and westslope cutthroat. Protected bull trout are also relatively common catches, and must be released immediately. <p></p> Hatches throughout October fuel phenomenal dry-fly action, with pods of 20 to 40 feeding fish possible on select stretches, especially on the Lower Clark Fork. Guided float- and wade-fishing options are available at veteran outfitters such as <a href="http://www.grizzlyhackle.com" target="_blank">Grizzly Hackle</a> in Missoula starting at $495 per day for two anglers. <p></p> Other Big Sky hotspots include Flathead Lake for lake trout and whitefish, Tongue River Reservoir for crappies, and mighty Fort Peck Reservoir for walleyes, northern pike and smallmouth bass. <p></p> At $25 for two days, Montana’s nonresident license is a solid investment. And with 28 state records falling in recent years, the odds of a giant are better than average.
- <h2>New York</h2>The Big Apple may never sleep, but the rural reaches of New York State never fail to offer fall anglers amazing options. Take your pick of warm- and coldwater species, along with more than 7,500 lakes and ponds, plus 70,000 miles of rivers and streams. <p></p> The state’s share of the Great Lakes alone merits mention in a Top 20 list. Cohos and Chinook salmon are hot through November in spawning streams, river mouths and inshore areas. Mid-October into winter is also prime time for brown trout and steelhead. Lakers, meanwhile, cruise inshore shallows into December (check local regulations). Atlantic salmon, too, are available into November in Oak Orchard Creek and larger Lake Ontario tributaries. <p></p> <a href="http://www.gameandfishmag.com/northeast/new-york/top-places-for-bass-fishing-in-new-york/" target="_blank">Large- and smallmouth bass are also on tap</a>, though local regulations vary. Walleye fishing can be incredible on the St. Lawrence River and its major tributaries, and toothy esox like pike and muskies also go on a fall rampage. <p></p> If that’s not enough, the scenic Finger Lakes, New York’s share of Lake Champlain, and countless other fisheries offer ample reasons to visit the state.
- <h2>Ohio</h2>Western lake Erie in the fall offers walleye fishing the likes of which anglers elsewhere would kill for, as mind-blowing schools of giant ’eyes return from their summertime haunts farther east. If you’re looking to top the 10-pound barrier, Erie is the place. <p></p> Other notable Buckeye options include steelhead off Lake Erie breakwalls, harbors and the lower reaches of a number of incoming rivers. <p></p> To the south, the Ohio River offers even more great options. Channel, blue and flathead catfish are common, and quite <a href="http://www.gameandfishmag.com/uncategorized/8-reasons-youre-catching-trophy-catfish/" target="_blank">capable of reaching trophy proportions</a>. Though many anglers focus on warmer months, catfish are still active in cooler water. And don’t forget the river’s abundant saugers and walleyes, which gather at stream confluences and in tailwaters in fall and winter. <p></p> In the state’s interior, a number of smaller lakes and rivers serve up species from muskellunge to crappies and catfish, making Ohio a perfect fit for a fall fishing getaway. <p></p> <em>Photo Courtesy of <a href="http://www.discoverohio.com" target="_blank">Tourism Ohio</a></em>
- <h2>Oklahoma</h2>If the Sooner State isn’t on your radar for fall fishing, it should be. With 34 major lakes covering 555,450 acres, plus countless ponds and river miles, Oklahoma boasts more than its share of autumn opportunities—often on the same bodies of water. <p></p> Take Grand Lake, for example. Nestled in the Ozark foothills of northeastern Oklahoma, the sprawling impoundment yields largemouth bass, crappies and sunfish, along with a fine mix of blue, channel and flathead catfish. <p></p> Legendary Lake Eufaula is another multispecies standout. Spanning more than 100,000 acres at normal pool, it produces stellar action for crappies, sunfish, bass and catfish—namely flatheads and blues. And don’t forget Lake Texoma, which offers excellent largemouth bass and striped bass action in fall. Texoma is also developing a following among <a href="http://www.gameandfishmag.com/uncategorized/8-reasons-youre-catching-trophy-catfish/" target="_blank">hardcore catfish anglers</a> as a must-fish late fall and winter destination for giant blue cats. <p></p> Speaking of catfish, Kaw Lake holds an abundance of blues as well, plus plenty of channels. If walleyes are more your game, check out Broken Bow, Canton and Hefner. On the sauger front, Lake Thunderbird and Fort Cobb are hard to beat. Cobb also coughs up hybrid <a href="http://www.gameandfishmag.com/southwest/oklahoma/top-places-for-bass-fishing-in-oklahoma/" target="_blank">striped bass of epic proportions</a> in autumn. <p></p> Of 17 Sooner state-record fish landed since 2004, notable catches include: <p></p> -192-pound, 1-ounce alligator gar <br /> -98-pound blue catfish <br /> -78-pound, 8-ounce flathead <br /> -35-pound, 15-ounce channel cat <br /> -8-pound, 7-ounce smallmouth bass
- <h2>Tennessee</h2>With rivers, streams and legendary impoundments, not to mention amazing scenery, Tennessee makes for a fine fall fishing destination. <p></p> Classic autumn patterns emerge for everything from supersized striped bass and hybrids to walleyes, saugers, catfish and panfish. Take your pick! <p></p> Bass fans have options as well. Home-grown touring bass pro Ott DeFoe offers a few stellar programs for fall bass. He fishes <a href="http://www.gameandfishmag.com/south/tennessee/top-places-for-bass-fishing-in-tennessee/" target="_blank">rivers and streams flowing into bass–rich reservoirs</a> until the water temp dips into the low 50s. <p></p> “These areas attract baitfish and bass,” he says. “And nothing beats pitching a 4-inch Berkley Havoc Pit Boss rigged on a 4/0 hook with a 5/16-ounce tungsten sinker.” <p></p> Once the water cools below 50, DeFoe says bass migrate into main lakes. To target these fish, he throws a 5-inch swimbait on a ½-ounce jighead. While DeFoe often competes in tournaments for high stakes, he confides his go-to bait in such situations is a Berkley Powerbait Hollow Belly. Let’s keep that our secret. <p></p> <em>Photo Courtesy of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development</em>
- <h2>Texas</h2><a href="http://www.gameandfishmag.com/southwest/texas/top-places-for-bass-fishing-in-texas/" target="_blank">Largemouth bass are king</a> in Texas, and while true behemoths topping 10 pounds are more common catches from January through March, fall is a great time to target big numbers of 4- to 5-pound bass leading the charge from deep-water summer haunts into shallower water. <p></p> The fish are there to feed, and easily accessible to anglers wielding a variety of tactics. Spotted bass also offer fine late-season fishing in a number of lakes. <p></p> There’s more to the Lone Star State than bass, of course. Channel catfish put on the feedbag in autumn, especially when fall rains flush food into the reservoirs. Tap the incoming buffet by staking out swollen creek mouths with dipbaits and natural offerings. <p></p> Schooling crappies offer solid opportunities around creek channels, flooded brush and other cover and structure. Hybrid striped bass and striped bass go on a feeding binge fall into winter. <p></p> As is the case with many states, fall fishing pressure is light. Although more than 2 million resident and non-resident anglers fish Texas each year, autumn is a relatively quiet time on the water, as hunting draws many sportsmen to the field. <p></p> Big-fish opportunities are ever present, as anglers have set 31 state records in the past decade. License fees are modest at $16 a day.
- <h2>Washington</h2>The Evergreen State is a land of autumn opportunity. On the salmonid scene, the Department of Fish and Wildlife is unleashing a torrent of trout this fall, with plans to stock some 340,000 catchable-sized trout in 47 western lakes through November. <p></p> Other opportunities include Chinook and coho salmon on sections of the Columbia, such as Bonneville to the Snake River, and in other tributaries such as the Cowlitz and Klickitat. Coastal rivers offer a unique brand of fishing, with cohos, Chinooks and chum salmon available in a number of reaches. <p></p> Walleyes of immense proportions are also on tap in the mighty Columbia River. “It’s <a href="http://www.gameandfishmag.com/fishing/fool-proof-tips-for-catching-fall-walleyes/" target="_blank">a terrific time to fish walleyes</a> out here,” says Washington’s District 4 fisheries biologist Paul Hoffarth. How big can they get? John Grubenhoff'’s 20.32-pound giant broke the state’s walleye record last March, and Hoffarth says sows topping 10 up to 15 pounds are possible on any given trolling pass. <p></p> “They have the feedbag on before winter,” he says, noting that the night bite below McNary Dam is extremely good. “Pulling deep-running crankbaits like Luhr-Jensen’s Hot Lips Troller over humps in 18 to 24 feet of water is a hot tactic." <p></p> <em>Photo Courtesy of Robyn Unruh</em>
- <h2>Wisconsin</h2>While many Wisconsinites turn their attention to Packers games and pursuing whitetail deer, autumn is prime time to fish the Badger State. <p></p> With two Great Lakes, countless acres of inland waters including natural lakes and reservoirs, plus untold river miles ranging from secluded trout streams to the mighty Mississippi, Wisconsin has something for almost any angler. <p></p> I’m partial to <a href="http://www.gameandfishmag.com/fishing/fool-proof-tips-for-catching-fall-walleyes/" target="_blank">the fall walleye bite</a> on the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers, but the Mississippi in particular offers much more, including fabulous smallmouth bass fishing, particularly in the reaches around La Crosse. <p></p> Great Lakes anglers troll up trout and salmon, while jiggers often hook into epic catches of splake. Shorefishing for Chinook salmon peaks in early October, but brown trout can be found in big numbers in harbors and river mouths. Winter runs of steelhead also kick in come November, adding more reason to hit the water. <p></p> Flowages are a big deal in Wisconsin, too. Names like Chippewa, Castle Rock and Petenwell come to mind for walleyes and crappies. <p></p> On the storied Winnebago Chain, veteran guide Jason Muche says a massive fall run of 15- to 18-inch male walleyes floods holes from the mouth of the Wolf River at Lake Poygan all the way up to Fremont and New London. “Walleyes stack up in 20- to 25-foot holes, and the action lasts through ice-up,” he reports. <p></p> Wisconsin is no slouch in the big-fish department. Recent state records include 18 new benchmarks, among them a 41-pound, 8-ounce brown trout that would make any angler’s bucket list. <p></p> <em>Photo Courtesy of RJ & Linda Miller</em>