With the cold and rain of the last week, water temps have now dropped again to the high 50s and low 60-degree range. Water temps will continue to drop with the cold nights, cooler days and shorter by the day daylight hours.
It has been weird this year to see lake temps drop to the high 50s, raise back up to close to 70 degrees in the middle of September and hold there for a week or more before starting to finally drop again. What this inconsistency has done is spread fish out and not be schooled as tightly at this time of the season. It will happen as water temps continue to drop. Scattered fish means that some are shallow, some are on edges, and some are in deep water out to 35 feet.
This past week or two has been a boom for musky anglers with many reported follows and increasing catch rates. Many fish from 40 inches to low 50-inch fish have been caught, photo’d and released. Musky anglers will be hard at it now until ice up as the bite typically just continues to improve in the tougher to fish weather conditions continue. Walleye and crappie anglers are having mixed success as the bite has been about as inconsistent as the weather. More consistent catches will follow as water temps drop, and fish school up to more predictable locations. I look for improvement and more consistency in the next week or so. That will give us all a at least a couple, or three good weeks of fishing before putting the boats away.
As I had mentioned last week, water levels are very high for this time of year and accesses are in great shape. Most docks are still in, making launching and loading very convenient and easy. The lakes are getting minimal pressure, so it is a good time to be on the water enjoying fishing and nature. Loons, ducks, geese, eagles, osprey, cormorants and trumpeter swans will all make appearances this time of the year when you are on the water. The color change is even more beautiful from the lake looking to the shorelines. You will not be bothered by bugs either!
Sunrises and sunsets from the lake are always special, but it is really impressive this time of year to watch the fast setting sun. The air temp cools quickly as the sun sets, so dress warmer than you think you need to, and bring extra gear. It is easier to take clothing off to be comfortable, and it is hard to dress to warm up if you don’t have the right gear along. With the dropping water temps, wind sweeping across the lake will always make it feel more cool than being on shore. Remember, there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear and poor preparation.
Be careful driving to the lake in the dark, or coming home after sunset, as the deer are active and on the move even more now than usual. My Tahoe went deer hunting early last week on the way home from the lake and got a doe ... life becomes inconvenient when that happens. I can’t wait to get my regular tow vehicle back in operation!
Columnist Brad Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.