Labor Day full moon makes for good night fishing
Next weekend we have a combination of a couple significant events for fisherman. We will have the combination of Labor Day weekend and the August 31, September 1 full moon. It becomes much easier this time of year to get out and night fish in the full moon, as our sunset is at about 8 p.m. You can get a few hours of evening and night fishing under your belt and still be home by midnight (if that is important to you).
It has long been known that full moon phases have coincided with big fish catches. That doesn't mean everyone catches big fish during this time, but it can happen to you, if you get on the water during this timeframe.
The most common ways to chase walleyes during the full moon at night is by pulling crank baits, pitching crank baits, or fishing bait under a lighted slip bobber. Most successful trollers will concentrate their efforts on large flats that extend out to the main lake, underwater points that jut out to main lake areas, or mid-lake flats. Trolling over rock piles, weed beds, or transition areas that go from hard bottom to soft bottom will also produce fish. Depths will vary on some lakes, but you can usually count on fish feeding actively in shallow water ranging from 6-15ft. The anglers that like to pitch crank baits also seem to be the group that also likes wading in shallow water close to current areas. The slip bobber specialists are usually good at finding that "spot on the spot" location. Rock piles, cabbage weed patches, open patches of hard bottom areas on the middle of weed patches, or sharp breaks to deep water on inside or outside turns of weed beds will be areas of choice for the bobber enthusiasts. Baits will usually be leeches or minnows on a small jig or plain hook dangled close to the bottom. Depth ranges will also be in the 6-15ft range; however some veterans of this evening tactic can always locate some fish that are relating to the deeper water areas. It can always help if you locate fish just before dark. Then work the area over with your crank baits or bobbers, typically moving shallower as the evening progresses and the moon rises.
If you haven't had experience in the boat fishing at night, I suggest you see if you can make that happen with someone that does. It takes a little getting used to being on the lake after dark. Make sure you have working lights on your boat, take flashlights, spotlights, or headlights to help stay organized. If you haven't tried night fishing, this next couple full moons might be the right time to give it a try. It is always a unique experience. Some discover it is not for them, some discover a whole new and different world of fishing experience.
What I have also noticed over the years, is that bite patterns over the previous weeks change during this time. Sometimes that "early morning, and late evening" bite time will change due to the increased activity of feeding that happens all night during the full moon. You may be able to enjoy the benefits of a mid-day bite during this full moon period. This daytime bite activity also increases also due to shortening days, cooler nights, and dropping water temperatures. For those that don't take to the night thing, the mid-day thing will work out just fine.
For many anglers around the state this holiday weekend marks the end of fishing their open water season. The start of school, fall sports, fall projects, closing up cabins, winter preparation, and upcoming hunting seasons (and all the prep that goes with that), squeeze the time out of fishing. For others like me, this starts to be just another exciting transition of the open water season. I suggest you balance your time well and make sure that Labor Day doesn't put an end to you open water season. Get out, give the full moon night thing a try, and keep fishing into the fall season, you won't regret it.
(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)