Take extra caution at boat launches, shallow areas
The lake levels have dropped significantly since the high water of our early season. Most lake levels are down 2-3ft from earlier in the season. This low water has made launching and loading boats from some public accesses challenging. Some accesses are so low it is even difficult to float the boats.
You will find that you will need to trim your motor significantly to avoid doing any damage to your prop. The scour holes left from power loading boats will have very shallow water behind them, so be especially careful to trim your motor up quickly when coming off your trailer and approaching your trailer for loading. When you trim up your motor, you will lose some quick control and responsiveness from the boat, so make sure you adapt to the challenge to avoid any other potential problems.
If you still have a boat on a lift or dock you may want to make sure you are going to be able to get your boat off your shoreline area. Some shoreline areas have become extremely shallow and are making it difficult to get boats and pontoons off these shoreline areas.
You may need to be cautious if pulling up to shorelines as you may not be able to get the boat beached all the way, and with the water temperatures being what they are, now it is no fun to go wading. Also be careful pulling up to docks now, as boat bumpers and dock rail bumpers may not line up well with the water so low. Many of the docks have not been adjusted to accommodate this low water situation.
When it comes to fishing you will want to keep in mind that the structure of the lake changes as the water drops. Break lines are 2-3ft different now than they were just a month ago. Depressions on flats are also different with the water being as low as it is now. The weed growth is dying off now which creates a change, but it is also changed by low water conditions. Your GPS "spot on the spot" may look very different to you as you graph that area now. Fish also make adjustments in how they relate to structure as it changes with either high water or low water situations.
In rivers, look for the fish to drop to the channel edges in low water. On the lakes you will want to concentrate now on sharp breaks to deep water.
Do not let the challenges of our low water keep you off the lake. Just adjust and take your time so you don't give yourself an extra repair bill. The fish are still active. Water temperatures have just now dropped below 60 degrees. We will have a few adjustments to make when we the lakes turn over, but my guess is that we will still have four or five more weeks of our open water season.
(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)