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NORTH IOWA OUTDOORS: Iowa’s Colorful Autumn Offers Fantastic Fishing Opportunities

Fall fishing has a special look and feel with cool air, picturesque views of splendid scenery, and cooperative fish.

“Fall is a great time to catch fish with family and friends,” said Joe Larscheid, chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Bureau. “Pack your gear, rig your rods and get outside in this perfect weather.”

Cooler temperatures and shorter daylight times trigger fish to actively search for food to build energy reserves to survive the long winter. These predictable movements make them easier to find.

“Yellow perch, muskies, crappies, walleyes, largemouth and smallmouth bass are more active and hungry in the fall,” explained Larscheid. “They eat more and more often to get ready for winter.”

The fall bite in lakes and ponds shifts to the main part of the day. Fish are more active during the day and will be close to shore. Target areas of a lake where the water is warmer, mostly in shallow water bays along the north shore.

“Use live bait, particularly minnows, small tackle and fish slowly when fishing in cooler water,” Larscheid said.

Look for panfish schools in open water near structure like a brush pile, underwater hump, drop-offs and rock reefs. Largemouth bass will be close to some type of structure like underwater brush piles, old road beds, rock reeks or weed lines.

Quickly find fish structure locations with the online fishing atlas or download structure location maps from the DNR’s Fishing Maps website.

Find tips for catching yellow perch, crappie, walleye, bass and catfish on the DNR website at Check the weekly fishing report to find out what is biting where.


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