Northern Minnesota Pre-Turnover Peak Fishing Right Now
<P>Have you been waiting for the fishing reports to tell you that fishing has peaked before you venture out? Okay, the fishing is at or near its peak and it’s time to venture out. There I said it. I know that there are still a lot of folks out there who’d disagree about the fishing being at its peak right now, but those particular anglers just haven’t keyed in (so far) on the one detail that makes or breaks a fishing trip in the fall. Just like the realtor always says, location, location, location… If you can see fish on your electronics, you can find a way to catch them right now. It may take a day or two before you get the timing right, but if they’re there, they’re going to feed sometime every day. The battle (mentally) is to look for fish and try to avoid the trap of heading for "the old favorite spots" just because they were good in the past. Most folks I know that are struggling right now are fishing old favorites instead of looking for elements that favor finding fish in the present conditions.
Surface water temperatures are below 60 degrees virtually everywhere in the Grand Rapids/Deer River area and most of the shallow water lakes are hovering at 56 to 58 degrees. We’ve already had a couple of frosty nights and some of the shallowest weed growth has begun to die. Deeper weed patches are still holding their own though and small schools of fish are on the move, showing up on the deep weedline edges. Some open water, shoreline related breaklines are also beginning to attract fish, particularly where there are good schools of baitfish present. Windy conditions nearly every day this week have made rocks and gravel in shallow water good locations as well.
Walleye fishing for me this week has been all about the deep weedline. I can venture out onto the clean lip areas a little bit, but not far. With weed patches getting thinner and shallow weed turning brown, the schools of fish located in the deeper, Green weed areas are staying longer. Once we find fish, we’re able to make three or four passes drifting or back trolling on the same school of fish. Jig and minnow combinations, rigs with night crawlers or rigs with leeches fished near the weed edges in shallow water are performing better now than most of the trolling approaches we’d used last week. There are few, if any Spot Tail Shiners available in our area, but we’ve had good success with above average size Fatheads. I usually really like the Rainbow Chubs too, but this week a nice Fathead in the 3-inch range has been better for jigging. During this fall period, I try to avoid small fatheads and tend to favor larger minnows. Even some of the Creek Chubs, Redtails and other odds and ends that show up at the bait shop will work well if they’re in the right size range. That’s the key, size is important!
Northern Pike have been plenty active during these colder, gloomier days. During the past week, the average size has really improved. There are still an awful lot of small ones, but the odds of picking up a few fish in the 30 to 35 inch range are steadily improving.
Perch fishing continues in the shallow water and we’ve had some fairly good action in water depths of 3 to 6 feet. When I find shallow areas with rock or gravel, there are Perch there. Jig and minnow has been the best approach. We’ve had to move frequently to stay in the larger fish, so don’t get too hung up on any one location. Just cover some water, fish some weeds and shallow rocks and you’ll start finding schools of active fish scattered along the shoreline. In most cases we’ve found enough Perch to satisfy us while we’ve been searching for Walleyes.
Bluegills and Crappies are somewhat active, with more schools of fish showing up in deeper, open water. For us, the morning bite has been much better than the afternoon. Bluegills are still more active than Crappies, but every day the Crappies are becoming more prevalent. Even when we fish with the jig and worm for sunfish, some Crappies get mixed into the bag. If you’re lucky enough to know about a brush pile, crib or other debris that holds Crappies, you will certainly find some fish on those locations now. I just posted a new article about fall Crappie fishing available by clicking here.
Things are changing fast right now, so I’ll be adding some updates to the fishing report every couple of days. Check back when you can.
About The Author: Captain Jeff Sundin
Company: The Early Bird
Area Reporting: Chippewa National Forest in Deer River, Minnesota
Bio: fishing in Northern Minnesota with professional fishing guide, Jeff Sundin. Located at the heart of The Chippewa National Forest in Deer River, Minnesota, "The Early Bird" fishing guide is at the door step of hundreds of great fishing lakes. In fact, Itasca County alone has over 1000 Grand Lakes and Jeff Sundin is right at home fishing on all of them. Lake Winnibigoshish (Big Winnie), Cutfoot Sioux, Leech Lake, Cass Lake, Bowstring Lake, Round Lake, Pokegama Lake and Sand Lake are just a few. Our area offers great Walleye Fishing, Crappie Fishing, Musky Fishing, Bass Fishing, Northern Pike Fishing, Perch Fishing and Bluegill Fishing.