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Kayak Fishing Tips for the Fall

Just because Labor Day has come and gone, don’t think that you have to wrap up kayaking season. Some of the best kayak fishing can be done in the fall. Cooler weather, fewer crowds, cost-saving off season rates, and beautiful foliage are just a few reasons to consider continuing to kayak fish in the fall.

With just a few kayak fishing tips, you can make this fall your best one yet.

Tweak your Fishing Routine

  • Go in the afternoon. Warmer midday temps makes afternoon the perfect time to get out on the water and still have time to get home before the sunsets. Days are still long enough to get some paddle time in before your lose sunlight and the mercury starts to drop.
  • Pack for the weather. Layers are the name of the game for autumn. You might find that a strong sunny afternoon quickly turns breezy. Or that overcast skies burn off to baking sun. Bring a lightweight waterproof jacket and a hat with good coverage. And never forget the sunscreen - even when the temps are cool and the clouds are plentiful, sun exposure is a risk. Polarized sunglasses are also great for kayak fishing.

Tweak your Kayak Fishing Technique

  • Slow your speed - As the weather turns cold, fish metabolism slows as well. You might find that the fast, erratic casts/retrieves of summer will no longer fool the fish. If you want to mimic the bait that gamefish are hunting in the fall, slow your retrieves and trolling speeds. Stealth is still the name of the game so your uber silent kayak approach is a winning technique. Consider investing in deck padding, if you haven’t already, to further soften your presentation.
  • Up your bait size - Along with slowing things down a bit, you should also up your bait size to more accurately reflect the needs of the gamefish. Your predators are getting ready for winter as well, and they aren’t interested in burning calories chasing down the little stuff. Baitfish at this time of year are usually at their largest. Make your bait more attractive by sizing it up.
  • Watch for birds - Especially in the fall, large fish will encircle a school of bait and drive them to the surface. Birds will watch for this and take advantage of an easy meal – you can too. Take note of where birds are swooping and cast there.

Tweak your Fishing Hot Spot

  • Look for transition points - During the late summer and early fall, baitfish will move to shallow water to spawn. So, looking for areas of depth change will help you locate the bait. And if you find the food, you will likely find the bigger fish.
  • Get lost in the weeds - Throughout the fall, any areas that still boasts weeds will be a good place to cast a line. As weeds die off and shrink, the area become a concentrated feeding ground for more and more species of fish. And where the bait fish are the gamefish are sure to follow.
  • Find sun warmed water - In the heat of summer, it is all about the shade and you will often find fish taking advantage of cool shady areas. That changes in the fall as the weather (and water temperature) cool. Fish might seek out sun-warmed waters during this season. Just another reason to hit the shallows, as they warm faster. Or seek out coves with dark-colored bottoms.
  • Be aware of “turnover” - Speaking of water temperatures, another phenomenon of fall can hinder (or help) your catch. “Turnover” can happen in some bodies of water as the cool water at the surface sinks and forces warmer waters up. This causes a few things to happen. Oxygen stratification is reduced and oxygen is dispersed to wider areas, meaning more environments are hospitable for fish. In addition, sediments and suspended solids are circulated with the turnover making for poor visibility. This can make fishing tough. However, this phenomenon also means fish tend to stick to those transition points. So, fish close to the shallows and weeds and if you find fish biting, stick with that area of the duration of turnover. Likely, fish will stay there until conditions change.


Fishing in fall can be extremely rewarding: beautiful weather, vibrant scenery, and abundant biting. Let your kayak enjoy the season with you!


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