fall fishing
Amberjack Fishing Journal

5 Fall Fishing Trips to Add to Your Bucket List

As autumn rolls in, it's time to consider your next fall fishing trip.

There's great fishing to be had all across the United States, so we decided to narrow down five fishing trips you can add to your autumn calendar.

Of course, you likely won't pursue all of them in a single year, but if you're a passionate angler, it's worth looking at at least one of these fall fishing adventures every year.

Do any of these catch your eye?

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Stripers in Montauk

There are plenty of locations on the East Coast to catch some great striped bass action, but Montauk, New York, may be the most iconic. Striper fishing here is a way of life. Every angler should experience the fall striper run in Montauk at least once in his or her life. It's madness of the most wonderful kind.

Stripers, bluefish and false albacore all make an appearance here, where seemingly every other vehicle on the road has surf rods sticking out the back. The town fairly well buzzes with fishing frenzy and every restaurant you enter will be alive with folks talking about the run.

It's easy to see why, when you can surfcast bucktails or darters to an acre of surface-roiling fish. Montauk Point State Park is the place to be for this kind of action.

Or, you can launch a boat or join a fishing charter and hit Turtle Cove to chase the striper blitzes with lighter tackle or fly fishing gear. You'll likely stumble on some 15-30-pound fish, as they're very common here. You could also deep fish live eels for a real monster, with bass hovering over 50 pounds being caught every year.

It seems like everyone catches their limit in Montauk. It's an experience you won't soon forget, and one that may just have you coming back year after year.

Bois Brule River of Lake Superior

One of the most scenic rivers in the Midwest, the Bois Brule River, known simply as the Brule, is a haven for lovers of beautiful fall colors and for anglers chasing coho, chinook, steelhead and brown trout. Located in the northwest corner of Wisconsin, the 44-mile-long river flows through the Brule River State Forest before draining into the pristine waters of Lake Superior.

The Brule has been a favorite destination for several of our angling Presidents, too. In fact, it's also known as the "River of Presidents," as no fewer than five U.S. Presidents treasured the Brule for its fishing reputation. Calvin Coolidge actually maintained a summer residence, known as the "Summer White House," on the upper Brule.

Wading and drifting both offer excellent trout fishing and some of the prettiest scenery you'll find in the entire country.

You can hook into a line-stripping king salmon (chinook) or a lake run big brown trout in early fall. The coho salmon and steelhead (rainbow trout) runs should be heating up nicely on into October. Yarn flies, spawn sacs and all manner of spoons and spinners will bring fish to the net.

Catfish in Tennessee

Want to taste a little world-class catfishing action this fall? Head to Tennessee. Catfish of one species or another swim in virtually all of the state's lakes and rivers. But if you're hunting for trophy cats, you've come to the right place. You can find channel, flathead and blue catfish of massive proportions in many bodies of water.

The state record channel cat is 41 pounds, the record flathead is nearly 86 pounds and the biggest blue weighed in at a whopping 112 pounds. Each of these behemoths were pulled from Fall Creek Lake, the Hiwassee River and the Cumberland River, respectively. Of course, the Mississippi River on the western edge of the state offers some of the best opportunities in America for catching a huge catfish.

So it's worth it to explore the entire state for good catfishing, especially in the fall. Following the autumn lake turnover, fall catfishing is an excellent time to catch a big blue or channel cat. It's also a great time to catch a monster flathead, as the whiskered giants will be putting on the feedbag to bulk up before winter temperatures slow them down considerably.

Anchoring your boat and fishing live bait or cut bait is a proven method. Use a slip float rig and work the edges of breaks by suspending a bait several inches off the bottom. You can also cast a jig rigged with cut bait to cover more water and work multiple depths.

Wisconsin muskies

Given that Wisconsin is my home state, it seems only fair I list it again. It also wouldn't be right to not include chasing the mythical muskellunge on any fall fishing trip bucket list, I don't care where you live.

The "fish of 1,000 casts" is indeed legendary, although it probably won't take you a 1,000 casts to hook into one of the ornery, toothy beasts. It might, but even if it does, lifting a mammoth musky into your boat will be a fishing experience you'll never forget.

Wisconsin's state fish can be found in good numbers in a good percentage of the badger state's more than 15,000 lakes and countless rivers, streams and flowages. Big fish aren't uncommon, as far as muskies go. The current world-record musky—a nearly 70-pound behemoth—hails from Wisconsin.

As the fall water temperature declines, muskies move onto shallower reefs, where slow reeling a crankbait or plastic will often trigger a strike. If your arms get tired from casting, you can always switch to slowly long-line trolling a big floating Rapala or jerkbait around rocky points or islands.

It doesn't get better than autumn musky fishing in Wisconsin.

Alaska and the Kenai River

Just hearing someone say "fishing in Alaska" is enough to get most anglers daydreaming. America's largest state is the bucket list destination for countless anglers. And while Alaska provides year-round fishing action, some of the best fishing can be had in the autumn.

Name your freshwater trout or salmon species, and chances are Alaska has it, and likely in numbers impressive in both quantity and size. Of all of Alaska's famed rivers, the Kenai is arguably the most iconic. Loaded with fish all year long, the Kenai is a fisherman's paradise. Scenic beyond belief, the river is even more attractive come autumn, if for no other reason than the fishing pressure dwindles a bit.

Coho salmon up to and sometimes exceeding 20 pounds make their run in early fall through September. Rainbow trout flood the river during the fall to feed on the eggs of spawning salmon, to the tune of around 2,000 rainbows per mile. There's a reason that Alaska and the Kenai are said to offer the world's best salmon fishing.

Cast just about anything from spawn sacs to spoons, spinners and small shallow-running plugs. If you're a fly fisherman, you'll be in nirvana.

And don't forget, if you happen to tire of trout and salmon, Alaska also has some seriously big northern pike fishing, too. It's sport fishing at its finest.

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