Bluegill Fishing photo

If you’re looking for fish other than the fall mainstays, use this guide to locate five popular species when the temperatures start to drop.


Illustration by Mike Sudal

1. Crappies

Crappies follow baitfish schools into bays as summer turns to fall. Look for these fish to feed here until the water temp dips below 50.

Best Fall Tactic
Skip standard tube jigs and work small stickbaits and rattle baits. Crappies are aggressive now, and bigger lures equal bigger fish.

2. Largemouths

As the temps fall, shad seek the remaining warm water in the backs of creeks. Bass are hot on their trail.

Best Fall Tactic
If the shad are holding shallow, don’t hesitate to throw a Spook-style topwater bait at them. Even in cooler water temperatures, bass will crush it.

3. Bluegills

Bluegills transition to ledges close to shallows in fall. This gives them access to both warmer water for feeding and deeper wintering holes.

Best Fall Tactic
It’s tough to beat a slip bobber and nightcrawler combo, but if you want to target monsters, replace the worm with a fathead minnow.

4. Yellow Perch

When perch leave summer weedbeds, they head to rock piles and humps in 10 to 30 feet of water to feed on crayfish and baitfish.

Best Fall Tactic
Small blade baits, such as the Heddon Sonar, get down fast and emit a lot of vibration when vertically jigged. Big perch can’t resist.

5. Catfish

Catfish looking to pack on pounds before winter head to riprap, where they gorge on crayfish and baitfish attracted to the sun-warmed rocks.

Best Fall Tactic
It never hurts to be aggressive when going after fall catfish. Try hopping a big live shiner on a jighead on the bottom around the rocks.