Save up to 50% off* on a great selection of items! Shop


Fall fishing: tips for fishing in cooler weather


September 20, 2023


Facebook Email
Fall fishing

Did you put your tackle box away as soon as the temperatures dropped? If so, you could be missing out on some of the best fishing of the year. While fall fishing seems as if it’s reserved for those hard-core enthusiasts willing to stand outside in the cold, it can also be extremely rewarding. Annie, buyer at SAIL, even landed some of her best catches in the fall! Read her top tips on how to make the most of the colder season.

In this article, you will learn:

  1. What makes fall fishing different?
  2. Popular fall fishing species
  3. Fall fishing techniques
  4. Fall fishing equipment
  5. Pro tips for fall fishing

1. What makes fall fishing different?

Fall fishing can be very exciting. During this season, the fish are in a sort of “provisioning” mode, in order to prepare for winter, and they are just as combative as in summer. Don’t doubt it, the action will be there. This means anglers can often land some trophy-size catches. You may need to release them back in the water as bigger specimens are often spawning fish and subject to size restrictions, but you’ll definitely come home with some of your best fishing memories, or at least some photos!

2. Popular fall fishing species

Pike fishing

“You can fish for most species throughout the year,” says Annie. “However, you’ll need to head to an outfitter to fish for trout or salmonids, as the fishing period for these usually ends by September.” Always verify the rules and regulations of each fishing area to avoid unpleasant surprises.

There are still plenty of options to choose from after the summer has ended. Bass is often a favourite amongst anglers who enjoy a sportier outing. Pike can also be caught all year round: as a predator, it is always hungry and can therefore be quite easy to lure. Muskellunge is a ferocious fish, but more experienced anglers with specialized equipment can tackle it during the fall.

If you opt for walleye, make sure you correctly identify your catch as it is easy to mix up walleye (subject to size restrictions) and sauger (no size restrictions). Walleye have a very distinctive transparent spot on the tip of their tail fin, while sauger feature black spots on their dorsal fin. Knowing how to tell them apart could be the difference between a successful outing and a huge fine!

For more information on what to put in your tackle box for bass, walleye or pike fishing, have a look at expert Cyril Chauquet’s tips and recommendations.

3. Fall fishing techniques

Fall fishing

As mentioned, fish tend to be generally more sluggish as the water gets colder, but they still remain active for hunting and feeding.

Annie recommends using the drop shot technique. There’s nothing complex about the rig: a sinker at the end of the line and a single hook (pointing upwards) tied with a Palomar knot. Add a soft bait with neutral buoyancy and you’ll be set up for some hits. The goal is then to create a natural movement, letting the lure hover in the water. Leave the sinker on the bottom and animate the bait slightly with a few gentle tugs. To change things up, you can also not animate the lure at all and keep the rig still. The lure will then move naturally with the current.

The best fishing spot to pick will depend on your choice of species. Pike, for example, like shallow grassy areas, which provide a perfect hiding place as they wait for their prey to pass by. Focus on zones with dense vegetation as well as those overhung by trees.

Walleye and bass can also be found in shallow water at the beginning of the season. However, by late October or early November, they will head deeper to follow bait and can be found at depths varying between 10 and 35 feet. Look for humps, flats or structures rising out of deeper basins as these are likely to contain fish. Opt for lures such as crank bait or spinner bait and stick with neutral colours.

Look for muskellunge around long flats with dead or emerging vegetation and choose a slow-moving lure.

Choose your fishing lure here.

4. Fall fishing equipment

Fishing sonar

Your fall fishing gear won’t differ much from your summer season equipment. However, you may want to add a sonar to your kit if you don’t usually use one. Some species do school up in the fall, and a sonar will help you spot those schools more easily and take the guesswork out of fishing. It will also indicate the water temperature as well as its depth, increasing your chances of a successful outing.

Make sure you dress up warm as you could be spending a long time outside. Have extra layers in your kit and plan for all eventualities, from warm, balmy days to unexpected snow!

5. Pro tips for fall fishing

  • Always check fishing periods, quotas and length limits for any species you may catch and have your fishing licence with you.
  • Remember that using live bait is forbidden in Quebec. Dead bait, however, can be used anywhere in Quebec and Ontario. Always check regulations before setting off as these are subject to change.
  • To find out more about the best techniques to use for bass, pike or walleye fishing, have a read of the articles on our blog.

You might also like