Brad Laabs: Fishing the fall tweener time can be challenging
The weather this October so far has been like most Septembers for us in past years. September is always known for transitional weather and the front on top of front inconsistency that lets us know we are into our fall weather. This year, September was very pleasant and now we are getting the inconsistent weather and having our transitional change. Water temperatures have finally dropped into the mid-50 degree range and will keep dropping fast now with the frosty nights, cooler daytime temperatures, and shorter daylight hours. Some lakes will start turnover shortly (if they haven’t already by the time you are reading this, as I write this a few days before it hits the paper). I am hoping turnover will hold off until the week of the 21st so it doesn’t mess up the full moon bite. Most seasons we have already had lakes turned over by several weeks by this time. After turnover, the lakes become very clear.
“Turnover” is the term when the surface temperatures cool enough so that the cooler water becomes heavier and sinks, mixing the bottom water and “turning” the lake over. High winds usually help this process along, and we know we will always get some days of high wind this time of year, so no problem there!
This past two weeks I have found walleyes both deep (24-35ft) and shallow (8-13ft). Most of the nicer fish for me have come from shallow water and more numbers with smaller walleyes and a mix of nice fish have come from the deep water.
For the shallow fish, long lining the jigs tipped with minnows has been the pattern. Getting out away from the boat and active movement of the jig has been important to trigger bites. Pitching and retrieving jigs, and either trolling and twitching or rip jigging has produced. You can also always count on getting a mixed bag of action when doing this during this time of the season. Perch, bass, northern pike, and crappies are always a possibility when working the shallower water with a high action jigging approach.
If you are on one of the area musky lakes it is also not uncommon to hook up with one of those hungry fish plying this shallow water technique. For the deep fish, jigs or live bait rigs with leaders from 3-6ft tipped with minnows has been working.
After the “turnover” and lake temperatures are in the 40’s, look for walleyes to set up sharp breaks to deep water. They will school in deep water off main lake points, bars or flats that extend out to basin areas of the lake. Transition areas of hard sand to mud can be a key area for holding fish. Once you find one, you will likely catch several in the same area. Larger minnows will be a consideration as veteran fall anglers have long known that fish feed hardy in preparation for the cold water period of ice we are going to encounter in the next month.
Musky anglers have been out in force over the last several weeks and that is likely to continue for the next few weeks. Musky action has been good for most of the musky anglers. Musky are eating the large sucker minnow offerings they are being presented. Numerous musky over 50 inches have been reported over the last couple of weeks off Big Detroit, Pelican, Beers, and Sallie. The popularity and boom of the fall musky fishing in our area the last number of years is incredible. Musky anglers from all over the Midwest have been showing up for the September, October and early November musky action.
Anglers that travel to our area always comment on what a beautiful area we live in, with so many great fishing opportunities available to us. We are lucky to live in such a sportsman’s paradise. It is easy for us to sometimes take for granted what we have here. Get out and take advantage of what’s left of the open water season, the snow will be flying soon enough!
(Laabs runs Brad Laabs’ Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)