As with spring, fall is in a state of transition in all things, including fishing. Waters and weather are turning cooler, fish are changing their living habits and habitats, and where you caught them in the summer is no longer valid in the fall.
Freshwater lakes exhibit turn over in which the waters get mixed up and the layering of the thermocline into specific levels of oxygen, temperature and food are no longer constant or consistent. While many species in the summer gang up into certain areas and spots with specific advantages, this no longer applies in the fall. Often the general trend is that fish will start to feed up more (good for us flinging lures and bait) and then start to go deep to where they can rest over during winter months.
Unfortunately, this varies all over the place according to latitude. The water temperatures change and fish movements of fresh waters in Maine or Seattle the next few months are going to be markedly different from those same fish in Florida or southern California. You have to adjust for the latitude.
Fortunately, there is an easy way to find out what is going on in your neck of the woods or your cove of the lake. And it is a simple answer. It never occurred to me when I was just starting out and really could have used the information. The more I fish and the older I get, the more I find out that there are lots of easy ways to get good information.
The answer is to ask questions of those who know or might know. Tackle shops are always good repositories of information, particularly if they have access to guide services of their area. Keep them happy by buying from them and check them out for the best spots and techniques for the species you want and the waters you want to fish.
Another seldom used yet excellent source of information is through your state fishing agency. Most states have biologists who are specialists in one or more species and some states even have specialists on specific lakes and rivers. It is also possible that unknown to the general public, these same states have completed surveys and studies of fish species and lakes that will provide a wealth of information as the when, where, what and how of fishing for specific fish in the fall—and every other season.
Often these same biologists are happy to share information, glad to be asked by local anglers about the best fishing, and might even take you along on a shocking, netting or study trip to help you learn about your favorite fish or fishing spot.
Call up your agency, ask about the biologist specializing in your favorite fish species or fishing area, and make friends with him or her. Meet with them if possible. Often they can send you reports on lakes and fish habits and habitat of your area for you to study and peruse. That can be great winter reading and study.
While general information through books and tapes is great, specialized local information can put you in the right spot this fall, for the best possible success on the species you seek.