We went from a cold fall to winter overnight. Sunday Nov. 3 was pleasant fishing on the open water, and by Monday we got cold. The cold, snow, and biting wind of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday confirm that winter is here.
The long-range forecast looks like ice-over will be happening over the next week. Ponds and small shallow lakes will be skimmed over with ice by the end of the weekend and early this coming week, and the larger, deeper bodies of water in our area will follow over the next week to 10 days. Even though we are supposed to get a couple days in the mid 30s, it looks like we will be cloudy and still have significant below-freezing temperatures at night.
It will help build ice if we can have snow hold off for a week or two after the lakes skim over.
I got to spend the last two days of pleasant weather (Saturday and Sunday) on the Rainy River. One end of the state to the other to fish rivers the last couple weeks ... I am a lucky man!
The Rainy River was as high as I have ever experienced this late in the season. It has been high and flowing hard for weeks, and will continue for weeks yet, as they have had significant moisture all through October up there.
The river is more challenging to fish when the flow is up. It is more difficult to slip current or drag jigs down river. At normal flow those techniques, along with pitching jigs minnow/plastics, are the most productive, and fun ways to catch the many walleyes and sauger that are in the river in the fall and early spring.
Fishing jigs is better from an anchor position in the heavy current. Doing that will require fishing a heavier jig. Another productive trick in the heavier current is to very slowly troll bigger jigs (up to 1-1.5 oz.) up river against the current at .2-.6 mph. It is also a time when switching from jigs to a 3 way rig with bait or a crankbait can keep you in the bite zone. Slow trolling up river with enough weight on the 3 way rig so the line doesn't get past a 45 degree angle is key to the presentation, along with proper speed against the current (usually ranging from .3-.8 mph)
When we were slipping current this trip we were using half-ounce jigs. From an anchor position we were using 1 ounce jigs and caught fish, and we did get some fish pulling one ounce jigs tipped with minnows and plastics up river at .3-.4 mph. as well.
We caught fish on 3 way rigs from an anchor position, and we trolled lead line and crank baits up river at .8 mph and that was very productive. Saturday was a better bite for us than Sunday for both numbers and size. This time of the year on the river you can get into numbers of trophy fish. We caught nice fish, numbers of quality eaters, and some fish over 20 inches, but our biggest was only 26.25 inches this late fall trip.
As always on the river, and when you get on to Lake of the Woods, best colors were gold, pink, orange, pearl white, glow, or combinations of those colors. That has remained the same for many years, so stick that tip into your back pocket. Those are also the best colors through the ice up there, and that will be happening soon!
(Brad Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)