The fall bite is no longer considered a secret, once an after thought among anglers the fall is now well known as having some of the best action all year round. Not only is it a beautiful time to be on the water, the cooler temps and much lower fishing pressure will allow you to have most of the lake to yourself. The changing temps and food patterns have the fish far more active as they get out of their late summer slumber, the fish will be feeding heavily in order to bulk up for winter. No matter what species you are chasing, fall can be one of the hottest bites of the year and a great time to be outdoors!
Where to Find The Fish
In the fall the fish can school up and be found closer to shore, think about more traditional structure you might fish in the spring.
Walleyes & Northern Pike
Look for flats next to deep drop offs for walleyes or points heading out into deeper water. Weeds and rocks can also be great locations to find walleyes and northern pike in the fall. Just about any steep break is worth looking into to find larger numbers of fish. Larger bait presentation should pull in more hungry fish and give you a great opportunity to land some larger eyes, jigs tipped with with minnows, leeches, worms harnesses, larger rapala or spinners can all work so switch things up if the fish aren’t biting. You should find good action all day long as the fish are on the move looking for food.
Bass also strap on the feed bags and are much less picky than the warm summer months. Target bass either shallow or deep, shallow flats in the 3-7 foot range are ideal, keep moving and cover a lot of area to see if you can locate a group of bass. Deep ledges can hold some larger Bass and are a great overlooked spot for feeding fish, you may have to search some different depths to find them so put in the work and you may be rewarded. Also keep a close eye on creek or river inlets, the Bass be waiting off the edge of the first break near any moving water. Ideal water temps close to 50 degrees are the sweet spot to find active bass. Like many other fish species, the Bass will like larger crankbaits, swimmers, poppers or other topwater baits can all work great.
Crappie & Panfish
You can find crappies and other panfish schooled up in deeper water off of humps or other weedy structure, inside edges are another great spot to find them. Deep weeds can be 8-12 feet in shallower lakes and 15-20 feet on larger deeper water so make sure to be flexible and move around to find the schools of fish. Crappies are usually more active in the morning and evening hours, during the day look for flats with thicker weed cover. As the water cools and the weeds start to die off you should be searching for deeper holes in the 25-35 foot range as the fish slowly move to their deeper winter habitat in open water.
Light tackle and deep weeds usually lead to good results for fall perch. Work some larger flats but zig zag near the edges near drop offs to find the schools. You can also sometimes find them in shallower basins in the 8-12 foot range. Not all lakes hold large numbers of Jumbo Perch so make sure to do your homework before you head out. Some of the more popular perch lakes in Minnesota include Leech Lake, Big Winnie, Lake Bemidji & Lake Mille Lacs are well know hot spots but there are many others worth a look.