Brad Laabs column: Fishing is good, and it's beautiful out there
The lakes have been busy with activity, but not from fishing.
The docks and lifts have started to get removed, and the boats/pontoons/jet skis have started to come off the lakes for the season. Some anglers are out, but there is plenty of room on the lake for the fall fisherman. The fall bite has been good and there are many days left to get out and enjoy the lakes.
Walleyes have been deep (20-23 feet) on deep basin lakes or close to the deepest holes on the shallower basin lakes. Jigs/rigs with minnows or jig raps has been the best bite. Bass have been shallow and aggressive. Northern are relating to diminishing outside edges of weed lines. Crappies are on the sharp breaks holding suspended off edges over deeper water, sunfish are still in the weeds, and the musky anglers are transitioning to the fall big sucker minnow bite.
The fall colors are spectacular from the lake side view right now. You may or may not catch fish, but you will see loons, eagles, osprey, ducks, geese, trumpeter swans and the beauty that we are blessed to experience living here.
If removing boats, docks, lifts yourself instead of having one of the local dock and lift companies do it for you, remember to clean all weeds, drain (motor, live wells, bait wells, remove drain plug), and dry water holding compartments. Make sure anchor and anchor ropes are weed free also.
Check trailers and remove all aquatic vegetation. I have observed several driving with weeds on the trailer. I don't believe it is malicious, I think it is lack of experience and knowledge for those that don't regularly put boats in and out of the lake. Make sure to clean off docks and lifts, especially those that will have zebra mussels on them from the infested waters. Hot water and putty knife scrapers will be needed.
Water levels are low and still dropping, so keep that in mind when launching or loading now. Most of the docks are still in and it makes it much more handy when they are, but they will start being pulled very soon.
Many of the shallow warning buoys and navigation channel markers have already been removed on most area lakes. Use caution when traveling on lakes that you are not familiar with. The use of mapping chips can be extremely helpful now on lakes with hazards that are no longer marked.
If you don't have mapping chips for your sonar/GPS unit, you can download the Boating USA by Navionics for $10 onto your smartphone that has all the lake contours and mapping. That app will also be handy for you when it comes to the ice fishing season. It is the high-end replacement for handheld GPS.
(Brad Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)