The fall season has a unique beauty and charm, one that you can enjoy fully only when spending time in the great outdoors. And there are few better outdoor activities than fishing. You get to combine stunning autumnal views with mild weather and strong action on the water, what more could you ask for? The only question that remains is where to go. Worry not, we’ve got a list of the best fall fishing destinations for you, fresh out of the oven!
Let us bring to your attention some super productive angling spots all over the country that deserve the spotlight. Whether you’re in the mood for a Salmon fall run, Tuna battles, freshwater fun, or anything in between, we’ve got you covered.
Our first stop is Griffin, Georgia, a vibrant city less than 50 miles south of the state’s capital, Atlanta. You can think of Griffin as the entryway into the beautiful nature of the Peach State. There’s no shortage of outdoor adventures you can try here, and you better believe fishing is one of them.
One of the many reasons Griffin is on this year’s list of the best fall fishing destinations is that there are two reservoirs for you to freely explore. The Heads Creek Reservoir is less than 15 minutes away from the city center and has all the peace you might need. You can hook into some delicious fish here, including Smallmouth Bass, Crappie, and Pickerel.
The Still Branch Regional Reservoir is a bit further away (30 minutes by car), but fishing for Bream, Catfish, and Bass is on fire during the fall. You can also head to the High Falls State Park, where you’ll cast a line in the Towaliga River, which is a prime Bass spot.
Griffin has a lot to offer to anyone interested in an active vacation. Hiking is a popular way to get around and see the sights, and there are also good camping grounds out there, should you like to do it. If you’re a fan of cowboy stories, visit Doc Holiday’s grave in the city. Try some local foods, enjoy the parks, and make sure to take a lot of pictures!
New River Gorge, West Virginia
If you’re looking for a hidden gem bursting with fishing potential, then the New River Gorge National Park is the place for you. Are you a thrill seeker? Even better! Not only will you enjoy excellent fishing, but you can also take your pick from the many adrenaline-high activities New River Gorge boasts.
The New River is the second oldest river on the planet and that alone is reason enough to see it live. Add to that the fact this is a top-notch fishery, what’s not to love? During the fall, these waters are the perfect temperature for Walleye, Bass, Crappie, Carp, Musky, and Catfish to come out and play. This time of year is particularly good for Smallies and Walleyes. You can go after these good-eating fish around sunrise and sunset, and even night fishing can be solid.
The gorge is simply, well, gorgeous. The river rapids and high canyon walls make for a perfect white water rafting setting. This is one of the favorite pastimes in the park during the fall months, along with zipline tours, and foliage tours.
We don’t need to stress just how beautiful the woods are when shrouded in their fall colors. Exploring trails like Grandview will allow you to admire the panoramic views in their full splendor. Sandstone Falls and the New River Gorge Bridge are but a few of the things you get to see. Another bonus – no crowds in sight!
Glacial Lakes, South Dakota
Maybe you want to be spoiled for choice when it comes to fishing spots. If that’s the case, then you’ll fall in love with the Glacial Lakes of South Dakota. In the northeast nook of Mount Rushmore State, you’ll find an oasis of woodland areas surrounded by good-fishing lakes. Glacial Lakes is one of the best fall fishing destinations to discover this year.
Picking where to cast your line isn’t going to be easy, because there are different lakes to choose from. Lake Kampeska, Bitter Lake, Lake Traverse, and Big Stone Lake are only a few that are known to have plenty of fish. The most commonly caught species are Walleye, Yellow Perch, Northern Pike, Crappie, Sunfish, Catfish, and Bass.
What you’ll target depends on the lake you choose – the species vary slightly from lake to lake. If you’d prefer to focus solely on fishing, there are many fishing lodges you can stay in. That way, you have it all at your fingertips.
The Glacial Lakes area has no less than 12 state parks, and there are even two vineyards if you feel up for some wine tasting. Aberdeen, Watertown, and Brookings are the nearby towns from where you can access all the county’s riches, and they’re great places to visit. If you’re coming with your little ones, check out the Children’s Museum, Storybook Land, and Bramble Park Zoo.
Shenandoah County, Virginia
Let’s go back to the Eastern Seaboard and talk about the unforgettable expanses and clear waters of Virginia. More precisely, we’re going to Shenandoah County, one of the most productive freshwater fisheries in the state. Whether you’re a traditional angler or a fly fisherman, the local watershed has a lot to tempt you with.
The star of the county is the 56-mile-long Shenandoah River, surrounded by lush greenery and peace. Smallmouth Bass loves these waters, and they’re the most common and most beloved catch. Fly fishing for Smallmouth Bass is very popular here. Of course, there are other species you can target, including Crappie, Catfish, Musky, and Sunfish. Everything a freshwater angler could possibly want.
When you’ve had your fill of fishing, how about a bit of exploration? The Woodstock Tower is right there for you to climb, and even though it might take a bit of time, the view will blow you away! From the top, you get an unforgettable panorama of the entire valley and the winding Shenandoah River. After that, you can stop by Woodstock, Shenandoah County’s seat, learn about its history, and relax after the day’s hike.
When a state’s nickname is the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” you know this is the place to be for any passionate angler. As you can imagine, pretty much wherever you go in Minnesota, a strong fishery is usually a stone’s throw away. This time, we’ll talk about what makes Bemidji a good choice for your fall fishing escapades.
You can come here to experience excellent freshwater fishing year-round, and the early fall is no different. The area boasts over 400 lakes you can fish, each better than the last. The star fishery must be Lake Bemidji on the Mississippi River right in the center of the city. Hook into Largemouth Bass, Walleye, Yellow Perch Northern Pike, Crappie, Musky, and the list goes on. You can fish from the local pier or directly from the shore, it’s up to you.
If you’d like to see more of the area, check out some of the “Deadly Dozen” lakes – Irving, Wolf, Plantagenet, and Big Turtle lakes. Largies are usually on the menu, along with some Walleye and Perch.
Bemidji is the best combo of the two worlds – you can find anything you need here, but the untouched nature is only a short walk away. Don’t miss hiking along the Paul Bunyan State Trail and Bemidji’s Itasca State Park. You can go fishing in one of the park’s 100 lakes, kayak, hike, or simply bask in the peace. In the city proper, spend some time perusing Bemidji’s Public Sculpture Walk or have a picnic in Diamond Point Park right next to the lake.
There’s nothing quite like the fall in the mountains. So naturally, we need to mention Sevierville, Tennessee on our list of the best fall fishing destinations because it’s right on the doorstep of the Great Smoky Mountains, some of the most beautiful ranges on the continent. This destination will wow you with its unique charm and great fishing.
If there’s one thing Sevierville is famous for, it’s Smallmouth Bass action. The bite is so good here that there are Smallie tournaments in the summer. The fall Bass run is equally enticing, and what adds to the appeal is the variety of fishing grounds. You don’t have to leave the city, the French Broad River and Little Pigeon River are home to different species. Think Smallies (of course), Walleye, and Crappie.
Douglas Lake is another productive fishery very close to the city. If you’re looking for a change of scenery, then its productive waters could put you on all kinds of Bass species, Bluegill, Catfish, and Crappie. For mountain stream fishing, nothing beats the Great Smoky Mountains national park.
Seeing that the Smokies are a short car ride away, the number of things to do around Sevierville is endless. Don’t miss Sevierville’s Harvest Fest and have fun in the corn mazes, music and art events, and Halloween activities. Take one of the historic driving tours, go horseback riding, or be a daredevil and go zip lining. The sky is the limit in Sevierville!
Don’t worry, we’re not forgetting about the West Coast and its amazing fishing opportunities, that would be unforgivable. While the saltwater action is admirable on the Gold Coast, we’ll give the spotlight to Sacramento and its angling potential. Why? Because the incredible fall Salmon run is upon us!
With the rich Sacramento and American Rivers right there in the city, and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta not too far away, it’s easy to understand why the Sac made our list. Come fall, Chinook (King) Salmon are the main attraction and the target of avid anglers’ dreams. This is because you can land 50-pounder Chinook in these waters. There are even 70 lb monsters swimming in these rivers, so you never know what you might catch.
King Salmon are the belles of the ball in the fall, and people from all over the country come to Sacramento, hoping to get something bragworthy. But that’s not the only fish to target. Trophy Striped Bass roam here, and in the San Joaquin and Feather Rivers, you’ll be blown away by the Trout action.
Sacramento itself is fabulous. Galleries, museums, shopping, everything you want is one stroll away. For some fall-themed activities, go apple picking at Apple Hill or hitch a hay ride. Delta Fall Harvest Festival takes place in October, with festivities galore.
Montauk, New York
Maybe you’re in the mood for some personal record-breaking catches, and maybe the East Coast is much closer than the mild-weather Sacramento. That’s no problem whatsoever because Montauk fishing is full-speed ahead in the fall.
Here, you can take your pick of the species you’d like to land. First up are Stripers – hard-fighting, relentless, and big! The Atlantic surf is full of them, and the fall action is simply fantastic. Then you’ve got your Sharks – Mako, Tiger, Blue, Hammerhead, and Thrashers are all hunting in these deep waters. You can also do some bottom fishing for huge Fluke and Porgy, both of which are prolific in the area.
Finally, the stars of the show are Tuna, be it Little Tunny, Albacore, Yellowfin, or legendary Bluefin Tuna, the bite is on fire in early fall. As the colder part of the season rolls in, Tuna leave following the warmth. But while they’re here, fishing is all you could dream of.
Montauk might be a hamlet, but there’s no shortage of things for you to do. The Montauk Lighthouse is always fun to visit and surfing in the first half of the fall is super exciting. It might be too cold to go for a swim, but you can still bask in the sun on Kirk Park or Gin Beach. Don’t miss the beer tasting in the legendary Montauk Brewing Company and visit Deep Hollow Ranch, the oldest ranch in the country.
Coos Bay, Oregon
The final spot on our list of the best fall fishing destinations is Coos Bay, the heart of Oregon’s Bay Area. This is the largest bay in Beaver State and as such, offers diverse fishing opportunities in the fall. It doesn’t hurt that the city itself is lovely and a perfect get-away spot for urban anglers.
September marks the beginning of the fall Chinook Salmon run in Coos Bay, and that’s reason enough to reach for your rod. Kings are working their way up to their spawning grounds, and they’re hungry! This means that they’re big, aggressive, and ready to attack your offering with wild abandon. The same goes for silvery, feisty Coho Salmon.
If you prefer fishing in the open ocean, then you can take your pick of what you’d like to target. Bottom fishing is always a good way to go because it could produce Rockfish, Lingcod, and Halibut. Closer to shore, you’ll have access to Surfperch, Steelhead, and Salmon. Coos Bay is also one of the best spots in Oregon for crabbing and clamming, so if you’d like a delicious meal, bring your crab pots, and don’t be afraid to dig for delicious mussels.
The city of Coos Bay has a laid-back vibe and there’s so much to see and do here. The downtown boardwalk has stunning views of the bay, and it’s a great spot to have dinner and enjoy the sunset. Close to the city, you’ll find the Shore Acres state park with its imposing cliffs, as well as Cape Arago State Park. For something completely different, go on a hike in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.
Best Fall Fishing Destinations – Take Your Pick!
There are so many destinations all over the US where fishing action is worth experiencing. This is just a little taste of the best of the best fall fishing destinations you should consider when planning your angling adventures. Only one question remains now, which one will you pick?
If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out our previous article on the top fall angling spots for 2021.
Have you ever been fishing in one of these spots? Did we miss something? Do you have a favorite fall fishing destination? Let us know in the comments.