Autumn full moons are fun times to fish
As we close out the Labor Day weekend, we approach another great fishing opportunity, the September full moon.
The moon will be full on Wednesday, Sept. 6. September and October full moons are not only good because we are transitioning into a fall pattern, but because you can enjoy fishing in the moonlight and still get home at a reasonable hour.
The two most popular ways to fish for walleyes in the full moon is trolling crank baits in shallow water, or using lighted slip bobbers. Slip bobber fishing is a very visual experience. If you have never seen a lighted bobber go under, you need to try this at some time in your life. It is a very memorable experience. Most times you will be casting bobbers onto shallow rock or weeds that are feeding areas. Most times, leeches are a preferred bait, with minnows coming in a close second. In October, leeches can be difficult to come by and minnows generally outperform that late in the year anyway.
Trolling is most often done in 4 to 12 feet of water. Boat speeds range from 1.8 to 3 mph, with 2.2 to 2.5 mph usually being the best. Bait setbacks will depend on depth and types of crank baits. You will want the baits to run close to the bottom and occasionally "ticking" on hard sand or rock areas, or just deep enough to run at the tops of the weeds when fishing on humps or flats that are weed covered.
Stick baits (commonly referred to as minnow imitators) in sizes 9 and 11 seem to produce the best in the late season, as most of the baitfish they are imitating are maturing. These baits usually produce best in the 4 to 8 foot depths and are run about 110 to 130 feet back.
Shad style baits in sizes 5 and 7 most times get the nod when fishing the 6 to 12 foot water. The size 5 will be set back from 110-135 and the size 7 will run 65-90 feet back, depending on depth and speed.
Changing baits helps determine what is working best. Sometimes it is size, sometimes style, sometimes color, and sometimes a combination of all these factors that become the triggering effect, along with speed and depth.
Line counter reels come in very handy for getting baits where you want them and then repeating for success. If you don't have line counters, you can sweep the rod as you let line out with each sweep of a 7-foot rod being approximately 10 feet. Before line counters, we used to mark the line with a permanent marker every 10 feet.
If fishing with a level wind (bait caster), you can measure the amount of line that is release when the line travels from one side to the other and back, and then count the number of rotations to approximate your setback.
I like to use the no-stretch lines like "Powerpro," "Fireline," or"Suffix 832." You can read the lure working well and detect any fouled baits with these lines. Many times you can clear a weed-fouled line with a hard sweep of the rod, and don't need to constantly reel in and let back out.
Baits tend to dive a little deeper and run with more action than they do when using the 8-10 pound mono lines. Softer-tipped rods help eliminate hook tear outs that can occur with a stiffer rod with a no-stretch line.
Make sure you have flashlights and headlights in the boat. They help when you need to net fish, remove hooks, undo tangles, and get cranks out of the net.
Dress more warmly than you think you may need, and have extra gear along. Temps drop after dark, and wind on the lake after dark can make it chilly, especially as we continue to have falling water temps.
Warm drinks like coffee and hot chocolate are great to have when fishing under the full moon, and it never hurts to have plenty of snacks. Many times the fish turn on and off, you will get a flurry of a few fish, a lull, and another flurry. Snacks and conversation make for a pleasant time between the action. I hope you get out for a full moon adventure this fall—they are worth the effort!
(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)