Fall Season a Good Time for Anglers to be on Water

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
16 October 2011
By Bob Frye

October means different things to different people.

For some, it's time to sit in a treestand and bowhunt for deer. For others, it's football games and homecoming parades. It's all about the color for leaf lovers.

But for anglers in the know, October is prime time for river fishing for walleyes.

"Yeah, definitely. There's one group of guys fishing around Highland Park who have doing pretty good lately," said Tim Lager of Lock 3 Bait and Tackle in Cheswick. "They're not getting many walleyes of any great size yet, but they're getting lots of numbers.

"With this colder weather, the fish are really turning on, getting fattened up for winter."

Fall is generally a good time to fish for a lot of species, including everything from bass and muskies to northern pike and even panfish, said Bob Lorantas, warmwater unit leader for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. Most species are "putting the feedbag on" in preparation for upcoming spawning seasons, he said.

But history shows that this is an especially good time for river walleyes. Catch-rate data collected by interviewing anglers on the water shows that, historically, river fishermen catch more walleyes per hour this month than in any other during of the year.

There might be a couple of reasons for that, Lorantas said.

There's generally some movement of walleyes upriver in fall in anticipation of spawning. In situations like those on the rivers locally, that can concentrate fish around dams and make them more accessible, he said.

It's probably also true that the people presently on the water are more avid, meaning more skilled than the average summertime fishermen, whose ranks include plenty of beginners, Lorantas said.

"So the people we're interviewing may have a little more prowess," he said.

That doesn't guarantee they'll slay fish.

Anglers on the Ohio River usually do very on walleyes this time of year, but that's not been the case this month, said Wayne Lykens of Island Firearms of Neville Island. The fish have been proving finicky, even though that's not supposed to be the case.

"We're just not seeing them. The river's just not working right," he said.

Still, history says that will change. And if nothing else, fall is a great time to be on the water, Lorantas said.

"Fish are generally pretty cooperative, the crowds typically aren't what they were in summer and the foliage along the river banks all make this a nice time of year to be out," Lorantas said.

Bob Frye can be reached at bfrye@tribweb.com or 724-838-5148.