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Best Places to See the Fall Colors… and Smash Huge Autumn Bass

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Fall colors are awesome, and so is fall bass fishing.

Image via yazhangphotography
yazhangphotography

As the air and water temperatures drop, the fish become more active and move shallow to feed before the long winter sets in. As an angler, you can finally get out and catch a lot of fish and not feel like you’re in a frying pan.

Add to this some beautiful fall foliage, and the stage is set for a great time on the water. Here are some of the best places in the United States to see the fall colors and smash huge autumn bass.

View the slideshow for the best combination bass fishing/fall foliage spots in the U.S.

1. Table Rock Lake – Missouri/ Arkansas

fineartamerica

When to Go: mid October to early November

Table Rock is located right in the middle of the Ozark Mountains, one of the premier fall foliage destinations in the United States. As a fishery, “the rock” as it’s locally known, boasts healthy populations of big largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass. In mid October fish begin schooling on shad in the backs of pockets and can be caught on topwater baits. Spinnerbaits, finesse jigs, and shaky heads also yield big results.

2. Lake Lyndon B. Johnson – Marble Falls, Texas

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When to Go: November

Marble Falls, Texas is located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. The leaves change a little later in the year here, but the display is more than worth the wait. Just outside of Marble Falls lies Lake Lyndon B. Johnson. Fish here are known to be shallow year around. Flipping docks and patches of water willow with soft plastics will yield good results. Spinnerbaits and squarebill crankbaits are also good producers this time of year.

3. Lake Coeur d’Alene – Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

fineartamerica

When to Go: Late September to mid October

Lake Coeur d’Alene is Idaho’s crown jewel when it comes to bass fishing, and the fall colors here are no slouch either. The leaves begin to change in late September and are usually in full color by mid October. The fishing also heats up around this time, with bass being caught on spinnerbaits and soft plastic frogs. If your spinnerbait is big enough, you might just catch a trophy pike as well!

4. Lake Ouachita – Hot Springs, Arkansas

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When to Go: Late October to mid November

Being that it lies entirely within the 1.8 million acre Ouachita National Forest, Lake Ouachita has plenty of trees to admire while you’re fishing. Much like Table Rock, Ouachita has a healthy population of largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass. The topwater bite is at its best during the fall, while jigs and drop shots are also effective.

5. Hiwassee Lake – Murphy, North Carolina

wunderground

When to Go: October

Probably the least well known on the list, Hiwassee offers beautiful scenery as well as a healthy bass fishery. Both smallmouth and largemouth are found in the lake and are active during the fall. Blueback herring are the main forage species, so fish relate to the schools of baitfish more than underwater cover or structure. Find the schools of herring and you will find the bass.

6. Lake Champlain – New York/ Vermont

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When to Go: Mid September- October

Arguably the most famous lake in the northeast, Lake Champlain should be on the bucket list of any bass fisherman. If you go in the fall you can escape the crowds, enjoy the foliage, and catch some monster largemouth and smallmouth. The most productive lures this time of year are jigs, grubs, and drop shots in 12-20 feet of water.

7. Lake Guntersville – Guntersville, Alabama

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When to Go: Mid October- early November

There is rarely a bass fishing destination list that does not include Guntersville, and fall fishing is no exception. Northern Alabama is one of the best kept secrets of fall foliage, but the fantastic fall fishing on Guntersville is well known. Once water temps dip down into the 60s, the bite turns on strong. Huge bass can be caught on frogs in the grass, as well as swim jigs and spinnerbaits on the edges.

8. Lake of the Ozarks – Osage Beach, Missouri

visitmo

When to Go: October

From April to September, Lake of the Ozarks is so packed with pleasure boats, that it is nearly impossible to fish after 10:00 in the morning. In early spring and late fall, the pleasure traffic is gone, and this lake shines bright. Big largemouth can be caught almost anywhere on the lake, and relate mainly to the thousands of private docks located throughout the lake. Finesse jigs and swim jigs are hot this time of year around the docks, as well as spinnerbaits and jerkbaits when the water gets a little cooler.

9. Smith Mountain Lake – Huddleston, Virginia

rlfranz

When to Go: October

Located just south of Blue Ridge Parkway and the Shenandoah Valley, Smith Mountain Lake is in the heart of one of the best fall color destinations in the United States. October is one of the best months of fishing at Smith Mountain as the bass are aggressive and can be caught almost any way you want to catch them. As long as you’ve wet a line in the water, you’ve got a good chance at catching a big bass.

10. Kentucky/Barkley Lake – Kentucky/Tennessee

random-plan 

When to Go: Late September- October

Another popular Tennessee River Impoundment, Kentucky/Barkley Lake is one of the most consistent bass fisheries in the country. Average bass range from 3-5 pounds and can be caught a variety of ways. As with many other lakes on the list, spinnerbaits and shallow crankbaits are best this time of year. The peninsula between the two bodies of water is known as the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area and offers stunning views of the changing leaves.

11. Upper Peninsula – Michigan

yazhangphotography

When to Go: Late September to mid October

No autumn foliage countdown would be complete without including Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Boasting two national forests covering nearly 2 million acres, there is no shortage of trees here. There are also thousands of lakes to fish, ranging from three Great Lakes (Huron, Superior, and Michigan), to smaller reservoirs such as Lyman and Gogebic Lakes, to tiny unnamed ponds. Monster smallmouth are plentiful here, as well as a lot of big largemouth.

12. Chickamauga Lake – Chattanooga, Tennessee

fun2boat

When to Go: Late October

Lake Chickamauga is one of the hottest bass lakes in the country right now. This past February it took a 5 bass limit weighing 49 pounds to win a tournament there. Chickamauga is also in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains of east Tennessee, making it a great destination to see the fall colors. Frogs, buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, and soft plastic worms all are effective baits on Chickamauga in the fall.

13. Lake Winnipesaukee – Laconia, New Hampshire

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When to Go: Early to mid October

New Hampshire is known more for its spectacular autumn colors than anything else. What is not quite as well known is the phenomenal bass fishing at Lake Winnipesaukee. As with other northern lakes, the smallmouth fishing is top notch, but there are plenty of largemouth to be caught as well. Smallmouth will be found over deeper water with rocks and boulders, while the largemouth will be relating to the abundant weeds in the lake.

14. Lake of the Woods – Minnesota/Ontario, Canada

panoramio

When to Go: Mid September- Early October

Lake of the Woods may be called the “Walleye capital of the world” but it’s got plenty to offer when it comes to bass fishing and fall colors. The lake contains over 14,000 islands and is also home to a healthy bald eagle population. Smallmouth fishing here is second to none and largemouth are also abundant. Both species can be found shallow in the fall, and can be caught on spinnerbaits, Texas rigged worms, and crankbaits.

15. Caddo Lake – Texas/Louisiana

rlmetzler

When to Go: November

The bald cypress trees and Spanish moss give Caddo Lake an extremely unique look, and the scenery only gets better once the leaves start to change in November each year. Trophy largemouth bass are abundant and can be found relating to the cypress trees as well as man made features such as piers and duck blinds.

Liked that slideshow? Check this one out.

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Best Places to See the Fall Colors… and Smash Huge Autumn Bass