Water temps have finally dropped below 60 degrees and are in the mid- to high-50 degree range on most area lakes.
The water temps will continue to drop slowly over the next few weeks. With the cooler water and the shorter daylight hours, the walleyes are starting to gather up in larger pods than even just a week ago.
Weeds are dying, but for this time of the year we still have a lot of healthy green weeds that fish are relating to for forage, cover, and higher oxygen levels. Many species are relating to the outside edges of the green weeds on shoreline flats that drop sharply to deeper water.
Northern, musky, bass, and walleyes can many times be caught in the same area, as they are feeding on baitfish holding in those areas. Northern pike are extremely active now, as all fish start to really put on the fall “feedbag” now. Most crappies have slid off breaks to deeper soft bottom areas and are also schooled up more this time of the season.
Jigs and minnows and live bait rigs and larger minnows continue to be consistent producers for walleyes during this fall cool water. Most fish are coming in the 14-24 foot depth range on the deep clear water lakes and the 9-13 foot water on the stained lakes and shallow basin lakes.
Some walleyes are out in the very deep water out to 40 feet, but fish mortality is diminished if catching and releasing those deep water fish. Musky activity is increasing and many more musky anglers are doing some catching now as the musky feed heavily from now until ice up.
The large sucker minnow bite is happening now, but some musky anglers are also getting fish trolling or casting large baits over healthy weeds on the edges of shoreline flats.
Becker County has removed public access docks and the water is still low even after all our recent rain, so plan accordingly for launching and loading. Otter Tail County still has some docks in on the more popular fall fishing lakes, but look for them to also start disappearing soon.
Bring high waterproof boots as you will have to wade into the water to get in and out of boats on most lakes. Dress in layers and warmer than you think you may need, as time on the water now is much cooler than when you are on shore. The wind sweeping over cool water with high moisture makes for a wind chill effect. Cold water splashes will get your attention this time of the season, so towels for wet hands and face can be a luxury! With the quick transition to dark now, headlamps and flashlights come in handy for your fall fishing outings.
This time of the year the AIS workers are off duty so you are on your honor. Be honorable. Remember to clean, drain, and dry. Do not transport lake water or lake weeds in your boat or on your trailer.
(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)