With autumn here, so are some of the year’s most enormous monsters waiting for their next meal. Fall fish brings some of the heftiest strikes of the year, with many species looking to fill up before winter or a long migration.

You don’t want to miss out on these fall fish from colossal largemouth bass, hungry stripers, and every aggressive biter in between. 

But to nab yourself the season’s best, you’ll want to know where to go. And, to take the guessing out of where, here’s a compiled list of the best hot spots for fall fish.

1. Lake of the Ozarks – Missouri

Lake of the Ozarks has somewhat of a legendary status for fishing in Missouri. It’s primarily known as a top-notch catfish destination. However, consider checking out some of the branches, creeks, and streams over the deeper water for fall fish. You won’t be disappointed!

Contained in these shallower areas is the mighty bronze back. Many of which are hitting a grotesque size as they engorge themselves before heading into wintering grounds. 

This means that largemouth bass will hit on anything that’s presented to them so that they can strike easily. Therefore, with an impressive population on the Lake of the Ozarks, it guarantees anglers hours of pound-for-pound entertainment. But, you may not know that Lake of the Ozarks also produces 10-pounders.

Here’s a tip, largemouth bass love shad, so if you find a school, largemouth bass won’t be too far off.

2. Chesapeake Bay – Maryland

Up in the northeast, water temperatures are beginning to cool. Signaling to striped bass that it’s time to start migrating.  

As for habits, striped bass are particular about water temperature. So much so, it prefers to be in cooler water, around 55 °F to 65 °F. That being said, you’re likely to find these guys schooling up in the fall and aggressively eating. Oh, and if they overeat? Yup, striped bass, just throw it up and start all over again.

Try bloodworms or sandworms to entice them to your lure if opting for live bait. Otherwise, bucktails, jigs, jointed lures, and shads are always suitable for artificial baits in murky waters.

Oh yeah, and the largest striped bass to be pulled out of Chesapeake Bay was 67 pounds and 8 ounces; just let that sink in.

3. Devils Lake – North Dakota

Devils Lake is a popular fishing spot, and there’s a good reason, with no shortage of fall fish. Anglers have a variety at their disposal with 35 + inch northern pike, humungous walleye, elusive white bass, and crappies over 12 inches.

However, the lake is a bit of an enigma, and depending on the season’s rainfall, the water levels can vary by quite a bit. So, anglers should bring an entire repertoire of tackle for Devils Lake at varying depths.

Perhaps, this water trickery is how Devils Lake got its name? But jokes aside, if you’re hunting down a place to set up shop without too much hassle, take a look at Graham Island State Park. Maybe bring the kids along and make a day of fishing.

4. Black Hawk Lake – Iowa

black hawk lake

Image credits: Mike Goad via Pixabay

Many anglers focus on bass or trout when it comes to fall fish. But panfish or, more so, crappie make for an entertaining and forceful bite. And Black Hawk Lake in Iowa is a little-known sanctuary for these guys.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a relaxing yet satisfactory day of fishing, target some crappie or bluegills by jigging. You’ll be left smiling by the endless nibbles with two to three-pounders and an abundance of structures to fish around.

On average, the crappies are upwards of 12 inches, while the bluegills clock in a bit smaller at eight inches.

5. Lake Havasu – Arizona

Arizona has some of the best four-season fishing. But when it comes to fall fish, the casts take a little more care to prevent sore arms. 

Lake Havasu is beloved among many as a favorite vacationing spot. Yet when the kids return to school, the crowding tourists dwindle, making way for phenomenal fishing. Nevertheless, see Lake Havasu State Park for easy access to fishing while staying at a nearby cabin or campground. With many options to cast right from a waterfront property.

Cast to your heart’s content and reel in trophy-sized largemouth bass, striped bass, catfish, and panfish galore! There’s getting bored with the nibbles here, making Lake Havasu a genuine hot spot.

6. California Delta – California

It’s no secret that the California Delta has out-of-this-world fishing that leaves you feeling spoiled. Yet, the variety of fat fall fish is just in another universe!

You cannot go wrong with striped bass, salmon, black bass, catfish, sturgeon, and even crawfish for all the crustacean lovers out there. And this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the fall fish that you could possibly target.

The best way to conquer the California Delta is by trying out different tackles, baits, and, yes, even rigs. What is supposed to work on one species may be the greatest catch for another. You could say the non-traditional works here and expect the unexpected.

In Closing

Out of all the year’s seasons, it will likely happen in autumn for those wanting to reel in a trophy fish. With so many species preparing for the winter or migration, fall fish are at the largest of the year.

Don’t let the dream of handling a trophy be just that. Get out and hit up some of these hot spots for fall fish because that dream can quickly become a reality!

Have you fished in any of these destinations? Please let us know in the comments!