New England in the fall is like no other place on the planet. You may think you’ve seen autumn, but when you’ve seen New Hampshire or Vermont when the leaves start to turn, you’ll know you were wrong. In some parts of the country, the air doesn’t get cool until October or later. But in the Northeastern part of the United States, it begins as early as September. The trees are painted bright reds and oranges, and you can just feel the autumn.
Fall fishing in New England is amazing, too. The region is small, but there are hidden areas to explore. You’ll visit and think you’re the first man who’s fished the waters. Think you might want to check out the area this fall? Here are the best places for fall fishing in the region:
Like most of the New England states, Massachusetts is a fantastic place for both salt and freshwater fishing. But if you’re interested in fall fishing, you’re probably looking for bass. If that’s the case, you’ll want to visit Lake Pearl in Wrentham. Lake Pearl is about an hour south of Boston, and a good starting point for your trip.
As the weather gets cooler, the bass are slowly moving away from the vegetation. They’re headed for deeper waters, and start to get a bit lethargic. But in early fall, the bass are still hiding in the weeds. Try a rattle trap for the best luck.
If you’re looking for something bigger than Lake Pearl, head over to the Merrimack River. You can stay in Newburyport or camp in one of the nearby state parks. It doesn’t matter where you stay, just visit in October! There are schools of stripers as the tide goes out.
It wouldn’t be right to talk about Massachusetts fall fishing without mentioning Cape Cod. As you know, Cape Cod fishing is saltwater. But the fall is when the tourist season starts to die down. If you visit in November, it’s not too cold yet, and you won’t have a crowd around you. You can catch cod, winter flounder and haddock.
Check with Massachusetts regulations, because sometimes seasons are closed. But for the most part, if you fish north of Cape Cod, you can do it year-round. Be careful if you’re out in a boat, though. Late fall is a prime time for very dangerous storms in New England.
A New England fall fishing trip should include a trip to Connecticut. The state is tiny, but the fishing is huge! The first place you’ll want to stop is along the Housatonic River. The river is about 150 miles long, so you might have trouble deciding where to stay. Try Derby or Shelton if you want to stay away from the crowds.
Plan on fly fishing? September, October and November are an awesome time to go. Use mayflies, flying ants and caddis flies. No matter your style, fall is a great time to fish the “Housy.” You’ll catch trout, smallmouth bass, pike and carp.
Here’s the cool thing about Connecticut: Mystic. Especially if you have kids, a visit to Mystic is strongly recommended. Visit the Mystic Seaport before they close for the season, and let your kids tour old whaling ships. (You’ll love it, too!) Be mindful of school groups, though. Teachers take kids to Mystic Seaport for field trips.
After you’re done at the museum, it’s time to fish. Fall is a great time to catch black sea bass, striper and scup. And bring the whole family! You can fish while the kids look for blue crab at low tide. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a whale; it’s the perfect time of year to spot one.
Did you think Connecticut was small? Wait until you see Rhode Island. In fact, don’t blink because you probably won’t see it at all if you do. But that’s what makes Rhode Island so perfect for New England fall fishing: no one else goes there!
Everyone else is missing out. Once tourist season starts to die down, it’s the perfect time to fish. The lakes and streams have just been stocked with both bass and trout. As always, be sure to check with state regulations. Rhode Island has designated trout waters, which are posted on a government website. There are age and catch restrictions for trout fishing.
But if you’re in Rhode Island, you’ll probably want to be saltwater fishing, anyway. Visit the Newport Bridge if you don’t mind a few fellow anglers around. They’ll be catching sea bass, scup, and striper. You’ll also find bluefish and fluke.
Autumn in Rhode Island is the perfect time to visit the wineries in the area. They begin to host events like live music and tastings, and some have firepits. If you’re feeling like supporting a cause, plan to attend Sail for Hope, the yacht race in Jamestown. The race chooses a different charity to support each year.
New Hampshire is, hands down, the best place in New England for lake trout and salmon fishing. For nice rainbow trout, visit the Pemigewasset River. The best place to stop is in Bristol, which is about an hour north of the Concord Airport. But for the absolute best freshwater fishing in New Hampshire, go to Lake Winnipesaukee.
Lake Winnipesaukee is absolutely jam packed with fish. Salmon, rainbows, brooks and lakes, yellow perch and pickerel are just a few. You’ll also catch smallmouth and largemouth bass. The lake is the biggest in the state, so you’ll have plenty of room to spread out.
Here’s a fun fact. New Hampshire has the least amount of shoreline of any state. Well, any state that’s not landlocked, anyhow. The Atlantic Coast of New Hampshire measures less than 19 miles. So if you want a day on the New Hampshire coast, you’re probably going to have close company.
The company’s probably worth it, though. You can catch winter flounder, white perch, Atlantic cod, salmon and herring. While you’re there, keep an eye on the horizon. It’s a good time of year to spot a whale or a harbor seal.
Other than Vermont, New Hampshire is probably one of the prettiest New England states in the fall. You’ll love the bright reds, oranges and yellows you’ll see as you catch your limit this fall.
Vermont is the only landlocked state in New England, so your fall fishing will be freshwater. The good news, though, is that as the summer turns to fall, the tourists start to go home. That means you’ll have very little company.
If you want to catch rainbow trout, head over to the Passumpsic River. Central Vermont Public Service operates a few dams on the river, and you’ll find tons of rainbows and browns. Try spoons and spinners to catch the stocked fish.
Fall is also an excellent time to catch salmon in Vermont. Just keep in mind that during the month of October, salmon is catch-and-release only. You can try the Clyde River; there are landlocked salmon in the town of Newport.
Bass are still active in the Vermont fall, too. Mix up your live bait with some artificial lures in Vermont lakes to catch bass and panfish. You could try Northern Lake Champlain for smallmouth bass. Just make sure you don’t accidentally step over into Canada. Or if you want to stay in the southern part of the state, fish the Connecticut River.
You can’t talk about the fall in Vermont without giving props to maple syrup. Sugar makers have a culture all their own, and you have to visit a maple farm while you’re in the state. Here’s the trick, though. Visit a maple farm on your way into the state. While you’re there, buy a sampler pack of syrup. The syrups will range from dark to light, and while you’re on your trip, try each one. Choose your favorite, and buy a whole bottle on your way back home!
Fall Fishing in Maine
When most people think about fishing in Maine, they think about lobster. But there’s definitely more to the state than that. Maine is huge, and has more coastline than California. But the state is over 35,000 square miles. So there are plenty of lakes to explore, too. Because Maine is so huge, the state should be separated into regions. So let’s take it from the top.
At the northernmost tip of Maine, you’ll find the Fish River chain of lakes. In those lakes, you’ll find brooks and lake trout, landlocked Atlantic salmon and rainbow smelt.
If you’re going to visit northern Maine, do it early in the fall. Northern Maine gets very cold earlier than parts south, and there are two problems with this. The first is that the fish will be less active. The second is that much of northern Maine is almost literally untouched. You’ll almost definitely be camping, so think about taking your trip in September.
In the central part of Maine, you might like to visit Big Squaw Mountain. It’s a bit more “civilized” than northern Maine, so the kids will have fun, too. Fish Moosehead Lake for smallmouth and largemouth bass.
Keep in mind that it’s not called Moosehead Lake for nothing. There are plenty of moose in the area; you may even see moose crossing signs along most of Maine’s roads. Moose may be fun to look at, but they can also be dangerous. They’re not naturally aggressive but when they get hungry, they get cranky. You also do not want to hit one with your car.
Also in central Maine is Sugarloaf. You can try the Carrabassett River if you’re feeling adventurous, but you’ll have to let us know how it goes. Fishing on the Carrabassett used to be very good. But in recent years the fishing reports haven’t been so great.
Without a doubt, the best place for fall fishing in southern Maine is the Kennebec River. Fly fishing here is just about perfect if it’s stripers you’re after; try folded foam poppers. In the Kennebec River are browns, brooks and rainbows, as well as landlocked salmon. Remember that October is catch and release only.
While you’re in Southern Maine, head over to the Popham Beach area. It’s not only a great place to go saltwater fishing, but there’s some interesting stuff there, too. You can visit Bath Iron Works, which is a huge building where ships are made. Or you can check out Forts Baldwin and Popham, which are right next to each other. But be sure to bring insect repellant.
Ah, coastal Maine. Every vacationer’s dream. It’s every fisherman’s dream, too. But if you’re thinking you might catch a few lobster while you’re out on the sea, don’t. It’s illegal to catch lobster. You can’t even get a permit for it if you’re not a Maine resident.
You’ll have to check with the county where you’re fishing to see if you can harvest crab. Different rules apply across the state. Just make sure you check first. Illegal harvesting can carry fines that’ll ruin your vacation.
So what can you catch in coastal Maine? Lots! You can jig for mackerel or cast for tuna. You’ll find winter flounder, Atlantic herring, American shad and striped bass. And that’s just a small list. As with the other New England states, be sure to look around while you fish. You can see seals swimming on their backs and whales spouting. You might even catch a glimpse of puffins on the rocky coast.
Before you leave Maine, make sure that you visit a lobster shack. These are “mom and pop” type stores, usually family run. You’ll be able to meet the men who caught your supper, and peek at the lobster pots and lobster boats. It’s worth the drive to sometimes remote locations.
Even though New England looks small on a map, it’s impossible to fish it all in one trip. There’s just too much to do and see. Start by testing the waters in a few of these fishing spots this year, then book your trip for next year! You’ll definitely want to come back!
Picture A – https://pixabay.com/en/foliage-season-fall-river-autumn-986899/ CC0 Creative Commons
Picture B – https://pixabay.com/en/lobster-traps-lobster-fishing-boat-2759178/ “CC0 Creative Commons“