Get your ice gear ready. Winter is here to stay. We will have a few nice days in the next week that will provide a chance for some open water anglers to get out for a few hours on some of the larger deeper lakes that will stay ice free for another week or two (lakes like Cormorant, Ottertail and Rose). Time is limited for open water as smaller, shallow lakes (like Little Detroit) are iced over already.
You have probably noticed the rapid change to winter weather this last week. The change has been dramatic and it looks like it will continue. Water temperatures are in the mid-40-degree range and dropping. Small ponds have skimmed over and will probably stay ice-locked with the 15-20 degree overnight lows and the daytime highs only projected to be in the 25-30 degree range.
If you haven't winterized your boat yet, and you do not plan on getting out on the open water again this season, now is the time to get it done: We will have well-below freezing overnight temps several times in the next week to 10 days. The easiest way to take care of your winterization is to make an appointment with one of the many marine mechanics in our area. If you do it yourself, make sure you take care of preparing the boat and trailer and not just your marine motor for the winter.
The DNR has been busy all week sending out the stocking trucks. They have been collecting walleyes from rearing ponds, and have also been delivering fry and fingerlings to many of the area lakes. This year was a great producer for them, and they are able to stock some additional lakes that don't typically get stocked on the regular rotation.
Water temperatures range from the mid-to-high 50-degree range now. Even with the rain we have had the last couple of weeks, water levels are low, so caution at the access is prudent. Having boots along may come in handy. Docks at accesses will start to disappear now. Some boats are still out fishing, and on some lakes a few duck hunting boats are out, but most of the lake activity now is pulling docks and boats as people get ready for the upcoming hard water season. Overall, lake activity is slow, so it is very pleasant to have most of the lake to yourself when fishing now.
As we close out September and welcome October we still have late August/early September water temperatures. Water temps are still hovering in the low 60 degree range. Most years, our lakes have "turned over" by the middle of September and water temperatures are about 10 degrees cooler than they are now. Not this year, or the last two falls! This means we still have a lot of fall fishing left.
All the signs point to fall except the water temperatures. The trees are turning and it looks like an early peak to our fall colors. Coots, loons, and geese are gathering in large groups. Area football teams are well into their season and the Vikings have even won a football game already! This should mean fall fishing, but with the unseasonably warm weather after such a cool August, water temps remain in the mid 60s and have even gotten back up to 70 degrees this last week during the day.
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.
This last week has felt more like fall weather than our typical mid-August hot weather. The cooler weather and 50-degree nights have dropped water temperatures about 5 to 7 degrees in the last week on area lakes. This is the time of the calendar when we typically still have rising water temps that peak at their highs before Labor Day.
I end up with many kids in the boat throughout the season. The last couple of weeks I seem to have had many kids as young as 6 years old. This has prompted me to write about a few considerations when it comes to fishing with young kids and getting kids hooked on fishing. I have written before about my concerns with the declining number of young anglers. The first order of business is to get them out. It doesn't have to be in a boat. Catching fish from shore or a dock is still fishing and catching.