Ohio Fall Fishing The Most Overlooked Fishing Season


For many Ohioans, the fall season provides an abundance of new outdoor activities. From fall foliage walks and hunting Ohio’s excellent deer herd to enjoying harvest season festivals, there are a wide variety of options available in the Buckeye State this fall.

Fall fishing in Ohio is a tremendous opportunity to catch some very large fish and there is a abundance of under fished opportunities across the state. Most fish species are in a constant feed getting ready for the approaching winter, and this occurring from lake Erie all the way south to the Ohio river. This can make for a fantastic fall fishing trip and a full cooler of fish to bring home.

Thousands of rainbow trout, raised in Ohio’s state fish hatcheries, are released into local fishing holes and neighborhood lakes throughout Ohio in the fall. This is a annual ritual in Ohio and it presents some excellent opportunities for fisherman to keep there fishing tackle active for a few more weeks. It is also a great way for families to enjoy some outdoor activities before the severe cold weather comes.

Steelhead start cruising the Lake Erie shoreline shortly after Labor Day, with rainfall and cooler temperatures triggering an increase in the upstream migrations. The Division of Wildlife annually stocks five Lake Erie tributary streams (Vermilion, Rocky, Chagrin and Grand rivers, and Conneaut Creek) with steelhead.

The stocked fish will migrate back into Lake Erie and spend the summer in the deeper cooler parts of lake Erie before moving back upstream again for there annual migration. If you are fishing in streams and tributaries of lake Erie the steel head trout average about 25inchs in length and weigh approximately five to six pounds. These fish probably have spent two to three years out in the main part of lake Erie. You will be surprised how many big trophy steelhead can be caught in the fall. Many of the Trophy Steelhead are well over 30 inches in length and weigh well over 10lbs.

All around Ohio the fall months are an excellent time to catch a good batch of bass, crappie and sunfish. These fish like many other species are fatting up for the up coming winter so they are constantly feeding. Late-season crappie are likely to be found near good cover such as fallen trees, artificial structure, or other stick-ups near sloping points, outside bends of creek channels, or steep shorelines adjacent to creek channels. If you move offshore just a bit fall crappie will hold in schools near drop off areas. A less traditional area that also is worth a try is the spillway where moving water may attract and concentrate crappie. Spillways often can be easy to fish from shore and they can be surprisingly productive.

Bass feed heavily this time of year on the bait fish that are abundant in the reservoirs. This can lead to some frenzied fishing action! Anglers should target shallow bays and structure that are adjacent to deeper waters. But the easiest way to find feeding bass is to look for schools of bait fish breaking the surface when a bass is feeding on them. Cast a top-water plug or a twister tail into the commotion and it should lead to success.

Sunfish that have been shallow year round will obviously be deeper this time of year, but the bite can be just as good. Like other species sunfish are on the constant feed during the fall fattening up for the winter. If you fish the the deeper waters for these fish you will be pleasantly please with your catch.

The most famous and remarkable fall perch fishery is still lake Erie and large catches can still be had. Also there are some inland reservoirs around the state that hold good populations of perch. Most of these reservoirs are located in northwest Ohio and the best ones for yellow perch include: Findlay Reservoir No. 1 (Hancock County), Metzger and Ferguson reservoirs (Allen County), Wauseon Reservoir No. 2 (Fulton County), Shelby Reservoir No. 3 (Richland County), Upper Sandusky Reservoir No. 2 (Wyandot County), and Willard Reservoir (Huron County).

Movement is the key for catching trophy walleye or saugeye that can be found in waterways across Ohio. Some late fall November walleye anglers find that fishing for walleye when they’re on the move is highly effective. Best baits for walleye are floating jigs tipped with white, yellow or fluorescent colored plastic tails. Saugeye become highly active this time of year as well. With lakes being drawn down for flood control, saugeye school up near areas where the flow is funneled down, such as bridge abutments. Vertical jigging or casting with twister tails or crankbaits works well to catch these female walleye/male-sauger hybrids.

Check out these quick tips for excellent autumn fishing or visit wildohio.com and click on “Fishing” for more details about choosing the right bait, places to fish, fish identification, and even how to fillet and cook the fish you take home.

Anglers age 16 and older are required to have a valid fishing license to take fish, frogs or turtles from Ohio waters. Fishing licenses are available at bait and tackle stores, outdoor outfitters, major department stores, and at wildohio.com. An Ohio fishing license is one of the best recreational bargains available, costing state residents only $19 a year. Fishing licenses do not expire until February 28, so anglers can enjoy the “hard water” season as well!

Ohio residents born on or before December 31, 1937 can obtain a free fishing license at any license vendor. Residents age 66 and older born on or after January 1, 1938 are eligible to obtain a reduced-cost senior fishing license for $10. A one-day fishing license is also available for $11, an amount that can be applied toward the cost of an annual license.



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