Fall in the Lone Star State normally signals the end of the tourist season. Cooler weather also means reduced traffic on area reservoirs providing outstanding opportunities for anglers.

Fish are exothermic or cold blooded, meaning that a fish’s metabolism is directly affected by the temperature of the water. During the ‘dog days’ of summer, as anglers refer to it, reservoir water temperatures can reach 90 degrees or higher. These high water temperatures cause stress to many of the fish species in Texas. The result, lethargic fish that move deep and are hard to catch. The majority of Texas game fishes prefer water temperatures in the 65-75 degree range.

During the fall, fish begin to make the transition from deep main lake habitat to the shallow waters of coves and creeks. The cooler water temperatures of the fall turn lethargic fish into aggressive actively feeding fish that are eager to regain weight that was lost during the summer.

Reservoirs in the Brazos basin provide excellent fall fishing. One of the most sought after game fish in Texas is the largemouth bass. During the fall, largemouth bass can be found feeding on shad in the shallow water of coves and creeks. They can be caught on shad imitation lures such as crank baits and spinner baits in white or silver colors. Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir, Lake Waco and Lake Whitney provide anglers an opportunity to catch a trophy largemouth over 10 pounds!

If catfish are the sought after species, Belton and Somerville Lakes and the mainstem of the Brazos River are good places to bag a limit of “Mr. Whiskers.” Catfish can be caught on a host of live or cut bait; including prepared catfish doe bait, chicken gizzards, bait shrimp, or shad cut into pieces. If you don’t wish to use the stinky stuff, there is always the old reliable earthworm. Anglers should fish near underwater drop offs, as catfish feed in shallow water but will quickly resort to deep water when not feeding.

The Brazos basin also provides great crappie fishing. Crappie, also called white perch, is a favorite table fare of many folks that enjoy fresh fish. Crappie concentrate in schools in deep water during the summer. As fall conditions prevail, crappie tend to stay concentrated in schools but will move into more shallow water. Crappie can be caught using small live minnows or small jigs near submerged trees. Well known crappie ‘hot spots’ of the Brazos basin include Lakes Limestone, Granger and Aquilla.

If you venture out to one of the many basin-wide water bodies this fall, there are a few important practices to keep in mind. First, make sure that you take home any trash that you have created, especially fishing line. Improperly discarded fishing line can be harmful to wildlife and can do damage to boat motors if it gets tangled in the prop. Also, make sure that you understand all of the applicable fishing and boating laws that can be different for each water body. Last but not least, make safety priority number one and enjoy your outdoor fishing experience. Good Fishing!

David Collinsworth is an avid and passionate fisherman. When he’s not out on the lakes, he works as the BRA’s General Manager/CEO.