Many anglers across the Midwest declare late September and October to be their favorite times to fish and I would mostly agree. In the fall, the fish catching can be so good, for quality and quantity. In addition, the surroundings are pretty spectacular as well. The trees are in full color and wildlife sightings can be abundant. I have many fond memories of fall fishing.
In the early 80’s I lived in the Walker area of Minnesota. Walker is on the shores of Leech Lake, but there are lots of smaller lakes in the area. This was before fishing for largemouth bass was popular in the Midwest. A friend of mine had a book: I believe it was called a plat book. This plat book was a detailed map of the county. It showed all the small lakes in the area, the roads that led to them, and where the boat ramp was. Some days we would leave town in the morning and visit lakes that were off the radar. We maybe had some information about the various lakes or had seen some DNR research regarding them. We would fish a lake maybe two hours. If the bite was good we might hang around longer. If action was slow in the first hour, we left. We mostly threw crankbaits along the deep weedline. During the course of the day, we usually found at least one lake that was very productive, other days two or three would be good. In the course of a day we often fished five lakes. We learned so much about the differences in lakes on those trips, much of which we’re still applying today. The difference today is, the bass are generally bigger. Maybe the bass population has gained weight, maybe we’re better big bass anglers.
I think the biggest walleye that I’ve caught in the states was in October trolling crankbaits at night. I caught lots of walleyes at night when the tullibee were spawning. Walleyes that eat tullibee are generally of a larger size. It was a windy night, so the boat was rocking, which made netting the big walleye difficult. I didn’t get a measurement on it, but it was long and fat. Shortly after catching that one, I hooked a bigger one and got it to the boat and got a good look at it, but due to the wind, couldn’t get it in the net. The key to catching big walleyes at night is to use the biggest bait they’ll hit. Start with a Lucky Shad. If they’ll eat that, go to a Bonsai or Banana Shad. When you use the larger baits, they’ll run deeper, so you’ll need to let less line out. If you’re concerned about spooking the walleyes with less line out, attach a planer board.
Through the years I’ve been fortunate to get in on some outstanding smallmouth bass action in a lot of places during all 3 open water seasons. But there is no doubt that the best smallmouth bass bite that I’ve ever experienced took place just a couple of years ago on Kabetogama Lake in northern Minnesota. Local guide Tim Snyder, Mike Frisch and I were on Kab in early October. Tim had been telling us for some time how good the smallmouth action on Kab is in the fall. We searched some offshore deeper structure with our sonar: We didn’t even drop a line until we saw fish. On Mike’s first cast he hooked and caught what I believe he said was his largest smallmouth at the time. We guessed it at at least six pounds. The rest of the afternoon we caught lots of smallmouth in a variety of sizes, mostly on drop-shot rigs but some on jigs as well. We didn’t ever go more than a few minutes without having one on. We had lots of doubles and even a few triples. Memorable.
The next few weeks will provide lots of opportunities to make fishing memories. Make some of your own.
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