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Brad Laabs column: September lakes are for fishermen

Fishing Columnist Brad Laabs

After the Labor day holiday, many believe that summer is over. It may be, but that doesn't mean that lake activity, especially fishing, needs to stop.

Lake activity slows considerably from now until the end of October. Recreational activity slows, and so does fishing for many. It is the time of year that it is difficult to get all the interests and hobbies into the schedule.

School starts, high school sports are rolling, hunting seasons become a preoccupation for many, fall projects come into play, and it is hard to make time for everything. I make fishing this time a year a priority, and if you do also, you will be rewarded with some fantastic time on the water.

The weather is pleasant for the most part, the bugs subside, and although fishing can be unpredictable at times, when the bite is on, you can be rewarded with quality fish, and some days significant numbers of fish.

It is also nice to have the lakes mostly to ourselves as fisherman: No wakeboarders, pleasure boats, ski boats, jet skis, fewer taking pontoon rides, and even less fishing pressure than most of the open water season.

We are not yet at the fall "feedbag" time, but fishing can still be very good if you adapt to the conditions. September can be inconsistent at times due to the many fronts that are common for this time of year, with October being the time of a little more stable weather and an increasing fish activity level with the upcoming cold water period.

It is a good idea to learn how to use your electronics to locate fish in deeper water as we transition into fall, and fish over the top of these deeper fish with slower presentations than used during the warm water period of summer.

Many times as we cool down, the better bite can be in the mid-day and into the evening until dark (or dark 30), as the water warms from the cooler overnight lows and bait fish get more active.

When bait fish get active, many of the predator fish get active after them. During cold fronts, check deeper water, downsize baits, slow presentations down, and shorten leaders on live bait rigs.

During stable weather, fish will be more aggressive, and bite windows will be more frequent and last longer.

Coming out of the cold front, it is typical for the smaller fish of each species to become the first to get active. Their metabolism just can't last as long as the bigger fish.

Look for fish to be highly active just before the next front rolls in, so if you can pick your times to fish, getting out before the next cold front comes in is always a good choice.

If you can't pick your times, the best time to get out is ... whenever you can. Remember, fishing is always fun, it is just that catching is even more fun. Oh, and pro football starts this weekend also (that always distracts people from time on the water). Go Vikes!

(Brad Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)