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Brad Laabs: Some tricks for enjoying fall fishing

Brad Laabs column mug
Brad Laabs

The unseasonably warm temperatures and bright, sunny days of this last week have brought water temperatures back up from 60-62 degrees, to many of the lakes now having surface temps in the mid to upper 60s again.

Many fish have started to transition to fall locations. A few of the area lakes even had a fall algae bloom this week with the sun and lake warm-up. They will clear up quickly over the next week. We are going to cool down and will be back to more average temps and lake temps by the middle of the week, and fish will settle into a more consistent pattern.

Many fish have transitioned back to shore line breaks and are relating to health weed edges. Many weeds have already started to die off, so look for the green weeds when locating fish relating to the weeds. Depending on wind and light conditions, sometimes the fish will position themselves on the outside edge with a sharper drop to deeper water, sometimes the weeds will hold them (on brighter sun days), as the weeds can provide food, comfort, and protection.

Fish in high winds can move to inside weed edges and cleaner bottom areas that will be holding baitfish this time of year when flats and edges are getting windswept.

During the summer, fishing for walleyes can be better in the early morning or late evening, due to the impact of light conditions on their feeding habits. During the fall, many times the mid-day and evening can be good as the sunlight hours are diminished, the sun is lower in the sky, and the warming of the water after the cool nights can activate the baitfish -- making the game fish more active.


The early morning bite can be slower to get started after the water temp drops with the cooler evenings. Later morning starts will not hurt your chances much this time of the season.

Dress for the weather this time of the year. Layering can be helpful to keep you warm in the morning, peel layers off as the day warms, and layer back up as the sun starts to set. The air temps drop fast in the evenings now, and boat rides across the lake as water temps get cooler can be like being in super air-conditioning. It always feels much warmer on shore than it does in the middle of the lake now.

Wind also makes a big difference when it is sweeping across the cooler water. Cool moist air wicks body warmth away in short order. Hats that cover the ears and gloves are always worth stowing in the boat as we progress into fall.

Even though the nice days this week haven’t felt like fall, the changing fall colors, loss of the tree leaves, and the falling acorns are reminders that fall is really here. It will feel like it again this week! Keep fishing, and remember to clean, drain, and dry.

(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)

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