Putting the finishing touches on fallPublished 11:37am Sunday, November 13, 2011
Column: Woods & Water
With threat of winter looming just around the corner, there’s still time to do a little fishing. (I just can’t quite let go.)
This past Wednesday I suppose we were all waiting, shovels in hand, for that big snowfall. Don’t get me wrong; I know the weathermen are always right, but with all that sun we had on Wednesday I found it pretty hard to spot a snowflake anywhere. I have to say that I was not disappointed at all.
The deer hunting opener is pretty much a wrap with only the archery and muzzle loader seasons remaining. The high winds we experienced on the first weekend had to make it hard to hunt. It seems the deer usually lay low when it’s windy because there is no way for them to pick up a scent. I did hear a report of an Albert Lea man who shot a 12-point buck in the Bricelyn area. Now that’s one nice deer.
With late fall weather like this I think back to my youth when a warm sunny day in the late fall meant a game of backyard football.
As a kid I attended Hammer School, which was a little 2-room schoolhouse that sat where Hammer Field is now. I can remember daydreaming about heading home and trying to get a backyard football game together after school.
Sometimes there would only be four or five of us, but we still had fun, and it seemed like we made up a different set of rules almost every time. There didn’t seem to be all that many nice days this late in the late fall back then but whenever there was we took advantage of it. I actually think that it didn’t really matter what the weather was we always managed to find plenty of things to do in the outdoors.
There is always something that seems a little sad about this time of the year, especially on a cold cloudy day. This seems to be some kind of a sign that signals the end to another season like reading the final chapter in the book of summer. It’s kind of funny how many things in nature change with the seasons. Take late fall fishing for instance, you won’t always find fish in the same areas that you did in summer. In the summer fish are usually pretty predictable but in fall after the lakes turn over you can pretty much find them anywhere.
I was watching an In-Fisherman show a few years ago when Al Linder was fishing a lake in the Brainerd area. It was the first part of November and he had to break through a thin layer of ice with his boat to get to his fishing spot. He was dressed in a snowmobile suit and was fishing in about 20-ft. of water jigging a 5-inch sucker minnow. He managed to haul in a few walleye that were in the 8-lb. plus range. As I was watching the show I thought to myself “you really gotta love to fish to be out there in that weather”.
I’ve fished pretty late into the fall before but I have never have given any thought to turning my boat into an “icebreaker”. I usually don’t watch fishing shows in the summer or fall because I think they have a definite purpose for me and that is to help ease the symptoms of cabin fever. Late January and Most all of February are the times when I start looking for fishing shows to help get me through until spring.
The late fall fishing reports that I’ve seen are pretty good for the whole state. The walleye bite seems to have been pretty good the last couple of weeks. From most of the reports that I’ve seen a jig and minnow combination seems to be working the best. Any time you are into the late fall and are still able to fish open water minnows are the best bet. It is always the rule of thumb (somebody’s) that live bait works best when fish are actively looking to bulk up for winter.
A few of the area where fishing has been the best are Mille Lacs, Rainy, Lake of the Woods, Winnie and Leech. All of these report success using jig and minnow combinations. Here are some of the other areas reporting good fishing luck:
BRAINERD/NISSWA — Not much has changed this week with good walleye action coming off North Long Lake, Gull Lake, and Pelican Lake in 15 to 40 feet with minnows. There hasn’t been many people fishing them, but crappies can be had over 20 to 35 feet at Upper Gull Lake, Round Lake, and North Long.
HACKENSACK — Woman Lake continues to produce walleyes, northern pike, and smallmouth bass on jigs and minnows in 17 feet. Sunfish are hitting waxworms at Five Point Lake and Child Lake in 10 to 12 feet. Anglers trolling floating Rapalas in less than six feet are catching walleyes at night on Ten Mile Lake. Grouse and woodcock hunting reports have been favorable, but duck numbers haven’t improved.
BEMIDJI — Walleye action has been pretty consistent with minnows in 15 to 20 feet at Lake Plantagenet, Lake Bemidji, and Lake Andrusia. Panfish action has been minimal, but muskie action remains strong with large sucker minnows on the Cass Lake Chain and Plantagenet. Hunters are finding some grouse off the main trails, duck numbers are somewhat light for this time of year,
FARIBAULT — Minnows are producing walleyes at French Lake in 10 to 20 feet. Anglers fishing from shore at Cannon Lake are catching plenty of perch, although you’ll have to sort through numbers of small fish, and Shields Lake is kicking out northern pike in 10 to 12 feet.
RED WING — Anglers working hair jigs and minnows are catching more saugers than walleyes below the dam on the Mississippi River in 16 to 24 feet. You’ll hit more walleyes in the rip/rap areas towards Lake Pepin on crankbaits. Panfish also continue to hit at a good pace on most wing dam locations of the river. Archery hunters are starting to see and take some bigger bucks and the rut is shifting into high gear.
Until next time, hunt safe and enjoy the outdoors before the weather turns harsh.
Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers during the coming year. They are the reason we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.