Fall is a great time to plan a fishing getaway. Some of the best places to fish in the U.S. are where the leaves are changing colors, making for a scenic day or weekend by the water. Fall is the ideal time to fish because water temperatures are cooler, and many species are on the move feeding and fattening up for winter.
You can target a variety of species from stream trout and musky to perch, bass, and salmon. If you are ready to plan a getaway, pack your rods, purchase a valid fishing license and review our list of the best fishing spots in the fall in the U.S.
Lake of the Ozarks – Missouri
The Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri is one of the best places to fish in the U.S. almost any time of the year. But fall offers some of the best fishing opportunities and stunning colors in the forest foliage. With peak colors in full swing and cooler water temperatures, bass are prime to target this time of year especially in late fall when they are feeding heavily before the winter.
Schooling white and hybrid bass are aggressive and feeding in the shallows in the early fall. The fish scatter during the later fall months, meaning anglers need to use a variety of lures and experiment with depths to find them. As fall turns to winter you can find black, white and hybrid bass holding closer to the rocky edges of the banks.
Watauga River – North Carolina
The Watauga River in Banner Elk is just one of several prime locations for fall fishing in the North Carolina mountains. Besides spring, this is the peak season for trout fishing and fly fishing because the trout are more active in cooler weather and feeding more regularly. The Watauga River is stocked in the fall with 2,000 brook trout, 2,000 rainbow trout, and 1,000 brown trout.
The Watauga River is ideal for fly anglers of any skill level because it is easily accessible from the Banner Elk and Boone areas and offers a wide footprint for fishing. Its high elevation collects cold and clear water flowing from the mountain creeks. Another fishing opportunity is on the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail throughout Jackson County with 15 small streams and rivers that are prime for brown, brook and rainbow trout.
Colorado Reservoirs – Colorado
Colorado has fantastic fishing year-round, but fall is prime time for the spawning run of the colorful Kokanee Salmon in the state’s inlets and reservoirs before they start their run up the rivers and streams. Brown and brook trout also spawn in the fall but the bright red and green colors of the Kokanee is a major draw for anglers.
The Kokanee Salmon are found in about 40 bodies of water in Colorado in the fall with some of the best reservoirs being Williams Fork Reservoir, Green Mountain Reservoir, Blue Mesa Reservoir, Elevenmile Reservoir, and Lake Granby. The brown and rainbow trout go after the same flies and lures as the Kokanee salmon so your chances of catching a variety of species is great. It is important to be aware of the fishing regulations before hitting the water because they differ throughout Colorado.
Lake Erie – Ohio
Few fall fishing destinations offer the kind of action that perching on Lake Erie does off the northern Ohio shoreline where perch are schooling and on the bite. You can catch them in large numbers and size. Fall is great for perch because they are spring spawners, so they are heavily feeding at the onset of winter.
Lake Erie is split into three zones along the Ohio shoreline, each with its own take limits. Generally, the Central and East Zones produce larger perch, but in less quantity. The West zone typically has smaller size perch, but they are abundant because of the shallower water, reef complexes and larger schools of fish. Weather on Lake Erie can change quickly so it is important to keep an eye on the wind forecasts before heading out onto the water.
Snake River - Idaho
The Snake River runs across south Idaho with two sections that attract anglers from all over the United States, especially in the fall.
The South Fork section of the river is prime in the fall because the water level drops enabling anglers to wade when it is not as navigable at other times of the year. This section is considered a blue-ribbon fishery for cutthroat, rainbow, and brown trout. This is a friendlier section of river for anglers of various skill levels.
Henry’s Fork is a more challenging section of the Snake River because of the nature and topography of the area with steep canyons. The clear, slow moving water and clever trout make this a more technical fly-fishing location which is why it is a bucket list river for many anglers who want the challenge of fishing for wild rainbow trout. Fishing guides and lodges are available along the Snake River. Be advised that regulations vary for different sections of the river.
Vilas County Lakes – Wisconsin
There are more than 1000 lakes in Vilas County in Wisconsin and hungry native muskies ready to bite. The lakes throughout the county come in all shapes and sizes making the fish of 10,000 casts fun to target while enjoying the epic northern Wisconsin fall scenery.
While muskie fishing on these waters stays level throughout the year, fall brings an extra opportunity to enjoy the quiet serenity of the lakes that are surrounded by Maples, Oaks and Poplars creating a spectacular scenic backdrop. The bonus is the wildlife in this area so keep an eye to the sky for bald eagles. Fall weather can be unpredictable but the advantage of the secluded Vilas County Lakes is that there is always someplace to fish protected from the winds.
While anglers come here for the muskies, fall on these waters is also great for walleyes and crappies. For the best success navigating the Vilas County lakes you will want to consider hiring a guide from one of the surrounding communities of St. Germain, Eagle River, Sayner or Conover.