Fall fishing memories on Spider Lake last a lifetime

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 24, 2002

As summer turns the corner and heads into fall, it brings back memories of fishing and vacationing at Spider Lake.

When our boys were growing up, we had a pickup camper that we took when we went on vacation. As the years went by the camper seemed to get smaller and smaller. Go figure.

I always tried so take a week in August just before school started as sort of an end-of-the-summer fishing trip. It wasn’t always the most productive fishing trip in numbers of fish caught, but a lot of times it had its rewards.

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One year, while fishing in the narrows between what is called first and second lake, I hooked onto the largest walleye I had ever seen. At first I thought I had snagged weeds and started dragging them toward the boat. I held the line to keep the drag from going out and just horsed the &uot;weeds&uot; toward the boat. The fish and me must have figured out what was going on at about the same time. He decided he didn’t want any part of this ride about the same time that I saw what it was and how big. I reached for the net and slowly tried working him toward it, but he finally had had enough and stopped, shook his head, and the hook and slowly swam back into the depths. To this day I can still see the giant white spot on his tail as it disappeared into the depths of Spider Lake.

Needless to say I sat there for a few minutes trying to piece together what had just happened, and then I finally continued fishing.

This was mid-August and in the morning about 7. I was using a sucker and an orange Little Joe spinner. There must have been a few large walleye in the narrows that morning because I kept on getting bites and they were destroying those big suckers.

When I got back to the resort, I had to share the news with the first person that I saw. It was Dave, one of the owners of the resort. I told him about all the bites and about the &uot;Big One That Got Away&uot;. I think he was a little skeptical because he said, &uot;It’s probably just bullheads.&uot; My reply to this was, &uot;If it’s bullheads, then someone better break the news to that 3-pounder on my stringer because he thinks he’s a walleye.&uot;

I have always felt that late summer and fall offer the best chance to get that lunker. The numbers may not be there, but the ones that you do catch seem to run bigger.

One year, when the boys were about 10 and 12, the fishing was pretty spotty the whole week. We caught fish but really had to work at it. That Thursday afternoon I decided to try a method I had read about in one of the fishing magazines. This particular guy said to try trolling deep running crank baits in 18-20 feet of water to get the larger northern. I had always fished northern with the idea that they were always on the weed edges or along the shoreline.

We decided to try trolling

No. 9 Shad Raps and deep running Rapalas It produced quite a few northern and they were a lot larger than the ones we were catching earlier in the week. This method actually was working. It didn’t produce the lunker-type fish that author had caught, but it did produce larger fish.

It seems to me that some magazines always have a way of coming up with this guy that had fished a certain lake and caught fish using a &uot;new&uot; method so he writes a story about it and is an instant fishing guru. Funny thing is you usually never hear about this guy again, or his theory.

Some of these guys are so meticulous in describing every detail of their method that I am almost afraid to try, in the fear that if I do it wrong the fishing police will be knocking on the cabin door.

There are a lot of good tips you can get from magazine articles and even outdoor columns. The thing to remember is not all of these things will work on every lake or in every situation.

One useful piece of information that always seems to prove itself is going with bigger bait as the season goes on. Trolling long lures like No. 13 Rapalas or larger and large Rebels in the early morning and late evening into night can really be quite productive. I have caught some nice walleye using this method. Vertical jigging 5-6 inch suckers is another method some people use to get lunker walleye late in the fall.

I think a lot of our fishing success falls more on what kind of confidence you have in a lure or method of fishing. I have my favorite way to fish muskies, and casting Bucktails is one I have a lot of confidence in with black and silver being the color I favor. I have my favorite color Shad Rap for trolling walleye and my favorite all-around lure in late fall is probably a black and silver Rebel.

If you have confidence in what you are using you will use it more and that use will give it more exposure to the fish. Nothing is written in stone when it comes to fishing theory, but having fun should be a requirement.

Both of my boys are grown men now and have sons of their own. When we have had occasion to fish together and the northern fishing wasn’t that great, each of them has mentioned the time on Spider when we caught all those northern and that maybe we should try that again. Some memories will last a lifetime.

Good Luck and Good Fishin.’

Statwide fishing report:


Jigs tipped with live bait are producing walleyes on the deep breaks, 28 to 35 feet, on lakes Miltona and Ida. Redtail minnows have started turning walleyes on the deep points and humps of Lake Carlos, Lake Le Homme Dieu, and Lake Geneva. Lakes such as Lobster, Oscar, Mina, and Miltona have shown increased muskie activity in recent days. Jerkbaits have triggered the most fish.


Sugar Lake continues to produce enough muskie activity to keep angler’s satisfied. The early morning and evening hours are providing better action. Pleasant Lake and Clearwater Lake are producing crappies in 10 to 15 feet of water. Look to Clearwater, Lake John, and Cedar Lake for a few sunfish in eight to 15 feet of water. Northern pike and largemouth bass are an easy catch on most area lakes. The best walleye reports are still coming off Clearwater Lake.


Battle Lake and Otter Tail Lake are producing walleyes in the evening hours in nine to 12 feet of water. Bright-colored crankbaits have produced better action. Silver Lake is kicking out a few big crappies in 16 to 18 feet of water. Bass continue to hit on Elbow Lake, Clitherall Lake, and East Battle Lake. The Sand Bay break and east end of Battle Lake are heating up for muskies. There are more follows than strikes, but the fish are getting aggressive.


The established weed edges and shallower bars of Lake Bemidji and Lake Irvine are producing walleyes early and late in the day. Lake Bemidji and Lake Plantagenet continue to provide consistent muskie activity. Look to the thick weed edges of most area lakes for numbers of northern pike and aggressive largemouth bass. Crankbaits, minnows, and plastics all have produced fish this week. Panfish reports have been limited on most area lakes again this week.


Shiner minnows and redtail minnows are producing walleyes on Gull Lake and Round Lake in 15 to 18 feet of water. Look to Pelican Lake with minnows for walleyes in 20 to 26 feet of water and in 12 to 20 feet on North Long Lake. Bass and northern pike seem to be hitting just about everywhere in six to 12 feet of water. Small leeches and nightcrawlers are producing sunfish on most area lakes in 16 to 24 feet of water.


The sunfish, bass, northern pike, and crappie bite has been excellent throughout the entire area. Lakes such as Rabbit, Mission, Perry, and Clearwater are all worth noting. The area mine pits have continued to produce panfish, bass, and trout as well. Expect the trout to be suspended over deep water.


The bigger bluegills have started hitting on Big Elbow Lake in 12 to 14 feet of water. Northern pike and muskie action has heated up along the weedlines of Lake Melissa, Big Detroit Lake, and Lake Sallie. Big Detroit also has produced walleyes in 12 to 24 feet of water. Spinner rigs tipped with leeches and crawlers are turning the majority of fish.


Long, live bait rigs are turning walleyes on the main lake bars in 16 to 19 feet of water. Shallow-running crankbaits also are producing fish off the points and shoreline breaks in 10 to 12 feet of water. Jigs tipped with minnows are producing numbers of perch in the weeds and off most points. Northern pike remain an easy catch in and around most weed patches, off the points, and along the shoreline breaks.


The walleyes seem to be most active in 10 to 12 feet of water during low light periods of the day. The key has been to cover a lot of water with a shallow-running crankbait, and pick off a fish here and there. Muskie action is still going strong along the weeds and rocky areas of the lake. Topwaters, crankbaits, and bucktails all have produced fish. Numbers of fish in the 40- to 50-inch class are still being hooked daily.


East &045; The deep mud and gravel continue to produce walleyes. The bite isn’t as consistent as it was a few weeks ago, but spinner rigs tipped with leeches or crawlers are still turning a fair number of fish. The shallow rock bite also is worth checking out under low light or windy conditions. Muskie anglers are putting quite a few fish in the boat. The north end weed patches are your best bet with bucktails and spoons. Crankbaits are producing numbers of nice smallmouth bass on the points, rock reefs, and shoreline breaks.

West &045; Anglers fishing during the day have struggled a bit to find consistent walleye action. There are fish being hooked off the deep sides of most flats, but it involves a bit more work. The night bite in these same locations has been more consistent. Slip bobbers and leeches have worked best at night. Smallmouth bass and numbers of northern pike are hitting in the bays, on the rock reefs, and off the points. The muskie bite hasn’t really kicked in yet. There are fish being seen, but they aren’t real aggressive at this point.