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Fall Fishing Frenzy

  • 9/15/2015 12:00:00 PM
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Joe Larscheid, chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Bureau, says fall is often overlooked as a prime fishing time because “many of us are in hunting mode or are busy with school activities, but there is excellent fishing to be had and most of our trophy fish are caught in the fall.”

Cooler temperatures and shorter daylight periods trigger fish to actively move in search of food to build energy reserves for winter to settle into their winter habitat. These predictable movements make them easier to locate.

“They’re trying to put on winter (fat) reserves and the fishing activity really picks up to a new level,” said Larscheid. “We get some great fishing opportunities in the fall. I encourage people to get out there and enjoy them.”

The fall bite in lakes and ponds shifts to the main part of the day. Fish are more active during the day and can be caught close to shore. Target areas of a lake where the water is warmer, particularly in shallow water bays along the north shore.

“Using live bait, particularly minnows, small tackle and fishing slowly are keys to fishing in cooler water,” Larscheid said. 

Look for panfish schools in open water near structure like a brush pile, underwater hump, drop-offs, and rock reefs. Largemouth bass will likely be associated with some type of structure during the fall like underwater brush piles, old road beds, rock reeks, weed lines etc.

When river fishing, target the deeper holes on the outside bends in the river. Fish in streams will begin moving to their wintering areas in October.  Stream flow is often lower in the fall; allowing better angler access. Channel catfish will move downstream from smaller streams to the deepest holes they can find in larger streams. Walleyes will move to the next deepest holes and pike to the next deepest.  

Fall is a great time to be outdoors. The air is cool, the bugs are gone, and the fish are pulling out of their late summer slumber. 

“I actually enjoy it more because the weather is more stable, the smells and sights of fall are spectacular,” Larscheid said. “It can be so much more peaceful and relaxing than other times of the year.”

Fishing is a fun activity for all ages and abilities. If someone is interested in learning how to fish, the Iowa Outdoor Expo will have hands on experiences for participants to try fishing, bow fishing, canoeing and kayaking, outdoor cooking, trap shooting, archery, off road vehicles and more in a safe, controlled environment.

The Iowa Outdoor Expo is open September 26 from 9-6 and September 27 from 10-4 at the Des Moines Waterworks Park. Attendees can read and sign Governor Terry Branstad’s proclamation declaring September 26 as Iowa Hunting and Fishing Day. The proclamation references Iowa’s rich and storied tradition of hunting and fishing that predates statehood and that it is important for young Iowans to carry on the traditions of hunting and fishing and outdoor recreation.