Fall is officially here, and with it comes many excellent angling opportunities. From bull redfish, speckled trout, and false albacore in the salt – to striped bass, musky, big colored up brown and brook trout and trophy bass in freshwater fisheries are just a few of many reasons to get excited for this season. This week, we checked in with some of our Pro Staff to see how they are planning on spending their time on the water this fall, as well as the tools and tactics they rely on.
Freshwater and Saltwater Fly
Striped Bass & Musky
TFO Advisor Blane Chocklett, Virginia – “Fall in my opinion, especially where I live in Virginia, we have several excellent options, but I spend most of my time going after striped bass and musky. We have freshwater striper fishing in the lakes and in the bay. In the bay, you can have bigger pogie/menhaden schools where the Big Fly comes in handy. Any of the sizes (8wt, 10wt, 12wt) are perfect. I also like to use an 8wt or 9wt Axiom ll-X.
Intermediate lines work best. My recommendation would be the SA Sonar Sink 30 Clear in the appropriate grain weight. For a sinking line, the SA Sonar Sink 25 (with appropriate grain wt.) works well. Both lines are typically spooled on the BVK-SD reel.
The important thing to remember in fall striper fishing situations is sometimes you have low, clear cooling water where fish a lot of times will want smaller baits. Freshwater stripers are feeding on smaller threadfin shad – anywhere from 2-3” range. They want it kind of suspended, so an intermediate line is very important.”
“The BC Big Fly comes in handy for musky fishing as well. SA Full intermediate lines work well this time of year with the cooler water. SA also has a new musky line that I like a lot, which has a larger head to be able to turn over bigger flies and works great with the design of the Big Fly. Both are usually paired up with the BVK-SD reel or NTR reel.”
“Late October in the mid-Atlantic and North Carolina is prime time for albie fishing. The Axiom ll-X in an 8wt or 9wt is what I typically use, however when the larger albies start showing up, having a 9wt or even a 10wt is good way to go. Intermediate lines when albie fishing is very important. My go-to lines are the SA Sink 30 Clear or the Full Intermediate spooled up on the BVK-SD reel. I’ll match these up to my Finesse Changer and my Micro Changers to match the bait like glass minnows and silver sides. That’s my ideal albie setup.
Large Trout Streamer Fishing
Trent Jones (Harcourt 3G Fly Fishing), Colorado – “Fall is officially here in Colorado. Last night it got down to the 30s. Hopper dropper fishing is tapering off and I am focusing my attention on chasing those larger fish on streamers. I do some wading, but I’m doing most of my fishing this time of year in a boat. I absolutely love the LK Legacy for streamer fishing. I have several different streamer setups in my boat, but for the most part, I am running a 9’ 7wt or 8wt LK Legacy. I also like to have a 9’6” 7 wt as it helps clients with less experience casting heavier lines to really pick up those weighted lines and larger streamers and easier unloading when casting.”
“I use a variety of Cortland medium sink tip and heaving sinking lines depending on the areas I’m fishing at, and the conditions for that day. I usually have these paired up with the BVK SD lll reel. One of my go-to patterns is the Dungeon. I prefer white or black variations for the fall. Occasionally, I’ll fish a Mini Dungeon (4” or less), and can have great days fishing those smaller profile articulated streamers. I usually fish these under a 4 foot 20lb fluoro leader. In Colorado, we’re allowed to use up to three flies, so occasionally I’ll trailed a bunny leach or a black single hook pattern like a wooly bigger behind the Dungeon on a piece of 16lb fluoro. That can be a deadly set up.”
Freshwater Conventional – Bass Fishing
Joey Nania (Bassmaster), Alabama – “For fall fishing in Alabama and the southeast, the Tactical Elite Bass 7’1” Medium Light (TLE MBR S 713-1) is the rod I use the most with 10lb braid to a 10 lb leader! I like to pair with a 3000 size Johnny Morris platinum signature reel. I use the Zman Finesse EyeZ Jighead 3/16oz with a StreakZ 3.75 straight tail as well as the MinnowZ swimbait. Clear water is where it really excels on points with deep water near main lakes and in the creeks.”
Ben Nowak, Michigan – “There are several different setup I like to use in the fall, but a jerkbait and a tube are probably the two I rely on the most. A jerkbait is a great tool to cover water and trigger bites. The key to fall is covering water until you locate the bass, and there are few better lures than a jerkbait to trigger reaction strikes from fall bass. The Tactical Elite 7′ Medium Crankbait (TLE LW 70CB-1) works perfect for this!
Tubes are a great for smallmouth during the fall when they’re keying on bigger forage and baitfish. The Tactical Elite Bass 7’3″ Medium (TLE MBR 734-1) has extra length so you can make longer casts on shallow flats and pick up line quickly to ensure positive hooksets when the smallmouth bite long distances from the boat.”
Capt. Gary Dubiel, Coastal North Carolina – During the fall, I do a lot of fishing with clients for speckled trout, redfish, and stripers. For lighter popping corks and fishing soft plastic baits, I find the Tactical Inshore 703 (TAC IS 703-1) to work the best.
For topwater stuff, my favorite topwater rod is the Tactical Inshore 694 (TAC IS 694-1). Short handle is ideal for walking the dog. Perfect for fall specks, reds, stripers, bluefish and so on.
To read more about how Gary targets bull redfish in the fall, check out this article from last year – “Chasing Bull Redfish with Gary Dubiel”.
Capt. Jonathan Moss – Orlando, Florida – Fall fishing is here and so is the mullet run! This is an exciting time as there are thousands of mullet migrating south on the Atlantic coast. If you’re lucky enough to witness this, you’ll see tons of surface activity busting the surface, with the occasional tarpon jumping out of the water as they hunt these fish down. It’s not uncommon to find a bull red within the chaos as well.
When fishing the fall mullet run, I like to use the Tactical Inshore 8’ Mag Heavy (TAC IS 806-1). Paired with a 6,000-8,000 reel featuring a strong drag, I’ll use 40lb – 60lb fluoro line with a 50 lb fluoro leader. Big swimbaits work well, and of course live mullets will work great for those wanting to use live bait.