Fall Lake Fishing Tactics

I often get asked when the best time of year to fish for trout in lakes is. Unfortunately, it is not a simple answer, since there can be good fishing at all times of year – including ice fishing in winter. However, there is a lot to be said about the spring and fall seasons. Spring has good fishing because water temperatures are warming, and that stimulates fishes’ feeding activity. Also, the majority of aquatic insect emergences occur during the spring and early summer months, and trout and char feed heavily on these prolific hatches. In autumn, trout again feed aggressively, not necessarily on insect hatches, but rather on the same insects’ immature nymphal or larval stages, along with other invertebrates (like leeches, freshwater shrimp, water boatman, and backswimmers). There are also several other reasons why fall fishing can be outstanding, so let’s take a closer look at why we should be out on the water over the next couple of months.  

Remember that since all fish are cold-blooded, each species has temperature ranges in which they are the most active. When water temperatures go above that range in the hot summer months, or below that during the coldest months of winter, it slows the metabolisms and feeding levels of trout and char – often reflected in their unwillingness to bite! Dropping autumn air temperatures allow the lake water to also cool down, which brings fish back into a feeding state. Trout and char living in the thousands of small lakes of the province’s interior will endure several months of ice cover. During fall, fish need to put on as much body fat as possible to get them through the long winter. When the shallow or shoal areas of a lake cool down enough, it is more comfortable for fish to forage for longer periods of time and, in preparation for winter, feed even more aggressively as the temperatures continue to drop.

Always be on the lookout for active fish: ones that are showing themselves on the surface of the lake. Fish that are rising, jumping, or rolling not only indicate their presence but, potentially, fish that are actively feeding. The key is to fish the areas of the lake where fish are concentrated; move to where the fish are active.

In autumn, fish a lake’s shallower areas – from 1.5 to five metres (five to 16 feet) in depth – where the natural food sources of trout and char are found. Try fly-fishing with leech, water boatman or shrimp patterns; trolling Worden’s Triple Teazer or Panther Martin lures; or float-fishing with worms or Berkley PowerBait, just off the lake bottom.

September, October and November are prime months for fishing lakes throughout the province. However, some of the best interior lakes to fish include Whiteswan and Whitetail near Kimberley; Tunkwa and Leighton near the town of Logan Lake; Campbell and Scuitto east of Kamloops; and Dragon, just south of Quesnel.

Each fall, the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. also stocks catchable-sized trout in urban lakes situated on southern Vancouver Island, and around the greater Vancouver area. On Vancouver Island, you’ll find some great fishing at Elk/Beaver, Langford, and Thetis lakes. Try Rice, Green Timbers, LaFarge and Mill lakes in the Lower Mainland. For the latest information on what lakes have been stocked take a look at our Stocking Reports.

Author: Brian Chan, Fishing Advisor, Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC
Photo Credit: Craig Adamson, Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC