Here are some of the best places for a fall fishing trip.
We know it is autumn and many of you probably have deer and elk on the mind. But just because summer is gone, it doesn't mean the great fishing has to end.
In fact, some of the top fishing experiences can be had throughout the early fall and early winter in many parts of the country.
In these locations water temperatures may be dropping, but the fishing is hot.
So, don't put that fishing gear away yet! Here are five locations to squeeze in one last fishing vacation as the fall colors start to pop.
Chesapeake Bay, Maryland and Virginia
This legendary estuary is well-known as a waterfowler paradise. You'll hear plenty of shotguns barking in the region this time of year. But it's also a legendary angling destination in the fall and there is a great deal of sportfishing variety to be found. Saltwater species like bluefish are regularly caught in the bay in October, but another species make the Chesapeake a destination spot.
Striped bass have made for many legendary fishing adventures over the years because they move into the bay to spawn and feed this time of year. That's why fall is often the busiest time of year for fishing charters here trolling the depths for the big fish of a lifetime. Many anglers have caught just that, but recent regulations have made it tough. Authorities have determined striper populations are in danger of declining beyond sustainable numbers, and there's now a strict limit to how many large keepers you can harvest.
Still, the famous waters have historically held huge fish, and here's hoping things bounce back.
Bighorn River, Montana
The Bighorn is one of those premiere world class trout fishing destinations that is busy all summer long. In the fall the surrounding wooded areas are filled with elk and deer hunters. But what most locals don't want you to know is that the fall is when the fly fishing really heats up. While you can catch plenty of rainbow trout here, the main target species is brown trout because of spawning season.
In fact, some anglers believe some of the best fishing in the world for brown trout can be found in the Bighorn. It's a blue ribbon stream for a reason! Every so often, an angler pulls out a cutthroat trout too, although this is a very rare occurrence. The fly pattern of choice this time of year is often the San Juan Worm fished in deep water.
Lake Champlain, New York/Vermont
This large lake sits right on the New York and Vermont border and holds some of the best bass fishing to be found in the northern part of the United States. The action is often fast and furious here for both largemouth and smallmouth bass, especially in the fall when they're fattening up before the winter months.
It's also a world class northern pike and muskie fishery. Walleye, lake trout, steelhead and some land-locked Atlantic salmon can also be found in these waters. For the salmon, fall is spawning season. The only downside is that the lake has seen declining numbers of these fish in recent years. But Lake Champlain easily earns a spot on this list simply because it offers many more game fish species options in the fall than other locations.
Lake Okeechobee, Florida
Maybe you're a bass fisherman who isn't quite ready to give up on the summer or you just feel you didn't get enough fishing in during the summer months. Time to head south to Florida where the fishing is still very similar to the summer. A quick check of the weather reveals it's a comfortable 80 degrees at the time I'm typing this.
Lake Okeechobee is home to some of the best bass fishing in Florida and a double-digit fish is not out of the question here year round. Live bait fishing with shiners is one of the most popular ways to bring big bucketmouth bass out from under the thick grass mats when it is especially hot out. If bass aren't your thing, the lake also has a healthy population of catfish, sunfish and giant slab crappies.
The Sacramento River, California
This is a prime fly fishing location that doesn't get talked about nearly enough. The Sacramento is home to some awesome steelhead and trout fishing in October. Oh, and this about the time that chinook and king salmon start making their way into the waters of the Sacramento to spawn.
The Sacramento isn't often the first place many anglers look to for fall fishing. It certainly doesn't get as much love as a place like the Columbia River in Washington and Oregon or the Kenai in Alaska. But that's what makes it an overlooked gem of Pacific Northwest fisheries. Now is a great time to visit since temperatures will be dropping and the fish should be active.