With half of August behind us, it’s only a short matter of time before cooler fall weather settles in — and with it, the excitement of hunting seasons.
But the myriad of archery and rifle seasons aren’t the only opportunities for outdoorsmen to be out and about. Rather, there’ll be a fair share of hikers, mountain bikers and tourists ready to check out fall foliage, along with those still getting a few camping trips in.
And though for many, fishing is more associated with spring and early summer, there’s something to be said for fishing — whether for trout, bass, sunfish, or other — in the coming fall months.
“Coast to coast, fall offers ample opportunities to catch a variety of gamefish, as cooling water temperatures spark hot bites for everything from catfish and crappies to bass, sunfish and walleyes,” according to a report from the officials at leading tackle supplier Berkley.
The report calls out the excitement behind fishing for bass, walleyes and catfish in particular in those cooler months.
They noted that fish — finicky bass in particular — are invigorated by declining water temps, having put up with months of long, hot days and inevitably warm waters.
“As fall marches on, shad and other forage fish in many systems school in predictable places. When hungry bass move in for a meal, savvy anglers can enjoy epic action,” the report stated, adding that some of the best spots to consider when indulging in a fall fishing trip are coves, ledges, points, weed beds and creek mouths.
“In natural lakes rich in minnows and small sunfish, weed edges and choke points that connect weedy backwaters with deeper water can be dynamite,” they continued.
Fall fishing trips shouldn’t be relegated to just lakes and open bodies of water.
Instead, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) says that the fall can be an ideal time to fish for trout because there’s typically less angling pressure.
“I encourage people to get out and enjoy some prime trout fishing, both wild and stocked,” said Brian Wisner, Director of the PFBC Bureau of Hatcheries, in a press release issued last fall.
“You can’t hunt on Sundays, but you can fish. Take that trout rod to camp this season and enjoy more of what Pennsylvania has to offer,” he continued.
The report also described the PFBC’s annual stocking of Pennsylvania waterways with more than 111,000 hatchery-raised adult rainbow, brown and brook trout from early October through December.
PFBC officials said that will “ensure that many popular waterways are ripe with opportunity for individuals and families enjoying a day along the water.”
Maps and schedules are available on the PFBC’s website to see what local waterways will be stocked this year.
In Fayette County, for example, Dunbar Creek, Dunlap Lake, Meadow Run, Virgin Run Lake and the Youghiogheny River will be stocked in early October.
Ted Leeson noted in a report for Field and Stream that for those looking to visit those springtime favorites — those streams, creeks and waterways that hold treasured fish and memories — the thing to keep in mind is the vegetation.
“After a summer’s worth of growth, beds of aquatic plants spread in thick mats on the surface. Fish holding alongside or between islands of weeds or in shallow channels through the salad are supernaturally wary,” he wrote in the report.
Instead of wading, he recommends crouching, crawling or creeping up to the bank much more than you would in the spring.
“Do whatever it takes to get directly across from, or slightly below, the fish,” he continued, adding that casting from a kneeling or sitting position may help accomplish that, without bringing attention to your stature by standing or causing shadows to cast of the water.
Regardless of where you cast a line this spring and summer, consider revisiting those areas this fall, knowing you may just need to slightly adapt your tactics.