Fall is a great time to be outdoors with family and friends. The air is cool, the views are picturesque, lakes are less crowded and the fish are easy to catch.
“Fall fishing is one of Iowa’s best-kept secrets,” said Joe Larscheid, chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fisheries Bureau. “Fantastic fishing opportunities await both new and expert anglers. Get out and enjoy them.”
Cooler temperatures and shorter daylight times trigger fish to actively search for food to build energy reserves to survive the long winter. These predictable movements make them easier to find.
“Yellow perch, muskies, crappies, walleyes, largemouth and smallmouth bass go on a feeding frenzy before winter,” explained Larscheid.
The fall bite in lakes and ponds shifts to the main part of the day. Fish are more active during the day and will be close to shore. Target areas of a lake where the water is warmer, mostly in shallow water bays along the north shore.
“Use live bait, particularly minnows, small tackle, and fish slowly when fishing in cooler water,” Larscheid said.
Look for panfish schools in open water near structure like a brush pile, underwater hump, drop-offs, and rock reefs. Largemouth bass will be close to some type of structure during the fall like underwater brush piles, old roadbeds, rock reeks or weed lines. Quickly find fish structure locations with the online fishing atlas or download structure location maps from the DNR’s Where to Fish website.
Fish in streams start to move to their wintering areas in October. Streamflow is often lower in the fall; allowing better angler access. Channel catfish will move downstream from smaller streams to the deepest holes they can find in larger streams. Walleyes will move to the next deepest holes and pike to the next deepest.