Weather continues to trend toward cooler temperatures with wind pushing lots of leaves onto the water. Don't be surprised to get caught up in tree debris as you navigate through the local waters.
All is good, though, as fish continue to bite. Most sought after species lately for some anglers has been the toothy muskellunge. Other anglers are tagging some big smallmouth and walleyes as well. We can't forget some nice aggressive crappie bites on some lakes, too.
This is the time of year where it is very important to have the proper personal safety equipment. We highly recommend wearing a life jacket at all times on the water. It can help keep you warmer in the boat and keep you alive if you end up in the water. Also note that local crews are pulling docks out of the water at boat landings, so come prepared with hip boots or waders.
Most anglers will now have free rein of area waters with little or no traffic. We are in arguably some of the best fishing of the whole year, and "Rocktober" is living up to its reputation.
Boat traffic on Lake Superior in and around the Twin Ports recently has been mostly in the form of big ships, especially with the many windy days of late. The big lake off the Bayfield Peninsula has produced good catches of salmon and brown trout. Anglers trolling the areas near Bayfield and Washburn are turning a few fish. No single bait has been best, so bring a full load of tackle.
In the Ashland area the big smallmouth and walleyes continue to be willing biters. Don't be surprised to tangle up with a salmon or trout here either. Also, some good-sized pike are being reported in areas shared with smallies and walleyes. Chucking bigger profiled stick baits or spoons will certainly grab a big pike's attention.
Stream fishing around the area is seeing the most traffic with anglers trying for fall-run steelhead. Some good reports are coming from both North Shore and South Shore tributaries, with recent rains adding some flow to what had been very low rivers. Be courteous of other anglers, as some areas are seeing lots of traffic.
Usually a low light period is best for catching fish, but not when it comes to stream fishing. The most successful anglers are the ones putting in overtime. Several baits and differing fly patterns are doing well. Each day is different so best to bring plenty of options.
The St. Louis River put out a nice week of bites. Again, each day has a different pattern, but we have been consistent with good daily catch rates. Most fish are showing some robust, full stomachs and are clearly eating well. Best tactics have been slow drifting channel edges with soft 5" plastics. Live bait has taken some fish as well.
Smallmouth have been very active around old wood dock debris and rocks. If you're not fishing the snaggy type areas, you are not fishing the right spots. Fan casting spinner baits and ripping raps is equally good. Lots of muskie anglers continue to report action by slow drifting large sucker minnows near channel edges and vegetation.
Fall is an exceptionally great bite when it comes to muskie fishing. Like always, don't be surprised to lock up with a random big pike while muskie fishing.
Inland lakes have been great this last week as well. Good muskie action is taking place on the designated muskie lakes. Same tactics of soaking big minnows or casting big baits into shorelines has been solid.
Walleye fishing has been good working mid lake reefs. I like to fish the jagged areas of rock bottoms. Here again, the more snaggy type waters, the better. If you see any bait fish on your electronics, make sure to use that to your advantage as well. Best bait this week has been a 1/4 oz jig with a soft plastic, ripped. I like to sweep the rod vertical just before the bait hits the bottom. It more or less creates a blasting-reaction type bite. Some nice smallmouth are being caught using the same technique as well.
Jarrid Houston of South Range is a fishing guide (houstonsguideservice.com) on Minnesota and Wisconsin inland waters, the St. Louis River and, in winter, on Lake Superior.