Do not put your boats away yet! The bite has been good to great even with poor to rotten weather. Be careful when launching your boat now as all the lakes are lower and the accesses are shallow. Trim up and save on prop repairs. With the freezing temps at night, make sure you trim your motor down after getting on your trailer to drain water.
Water temps are in the mid 40's now, and with a good wind most lakes will complete their turnover. Turnover is when the surface temp gets cold and the cold "heavier" water sinks and mixes with the colder deeper water. Thus it is called "turnover". The lake becomes oxygen rich throughout the water column. When this first happens, the lakes look dingy and the bite off. After a couple of days, the water clears and gets as clear as you will see your favorite lake and the bite picks up again.
The forecast looks to improve, and it will be more pleasant on the water. I have still been getting walleyes in 13 feet of water or less with aggressive jigging. I know some others have been getting "eyes" on the sharp breaks in 19 to 25 feet. Some have been getting walleyes in deep water of 30-35 feet and on Otter Tail as deep as 60 feet. In all cases, minnows on jigs or live bait rigs are the going tactic. Fish are not afraid to take big minnows this time of year. All the game fish will feed heavily before we get our first ice.
You have probably noticed that this weeks' cold weather did not slow down the Big Detroit Muskie chasers, a good indication of fall success and an active bite. The Northern Pike will take just about anything offered, and are very active on the edge of the large flats. Active walleye lakes now are some of the traditional fall lakes for our area that include Island, Big Toad, Cotton, Cormorant, White Earth, and Sallie. Active Bass lakes are Long, Cotton, Big and Little Detroit. For smallie action, Island, Cormorant, and White Earth. Crappie fisherman are getting some nice fish suspended off of sharp breaks on the edge of dying cabbage weeds, with top producers being the Pines, Cotton, Big Detroit and Melissa. I know it is difficult to get everything done that you would like to do during the fall, but make time for some fall fishing, you will not regret your decision.
(Laabs operates Brad Laabs Guide Service from Detroit Lakes. Go to his Website at bradlaabs.com.)