Happy Halloween Anglers! We are continuing to experience below average temperatures in the area. However, fishing continues to be good to great on most area waters. It's important to be prepared for the day and dress for the occasion.
If you can get out, you are definitely setting yourself up for a rewarding outing. The beauty of this time of year is that the time of day you fish is not a big factor as the water temps have dropped close to freezing. Furthermore, fish are putting on the feed bag and preparing for the winter. I have said it before, but this is arguably the best fishing of the year.
The hot bite should hold into the first stages of ice fishing, which is coming soon enough, but not yet. We have been cruising and scouting areas of first ice and I can assure you we have a long way to go.
One way or another, mother nature always seems to balance herself out. We did hear some rumors of some anglers already stretching luck on the hard water. Please people, do not put yourself in that kind of situation. Okay, enough talk about ice fishing, as that topic will be a constant in the near future. Let's grab our warm clothes, boots, gloves, and a life jacket and head to the lake. Here is our weekly fishing update; it's a good one.
We will start off with Lake Superior reports. It's not a secret that about the only boats you're going to see in the Twin Ports are the big ships coming and going, and maybe tugboats, dredge barges and the Coast Guard out working hard.
The only real fishing on the Gitch that is happening is over in the Wisconsin waters of Chequamegon Bay. This is the time of year where, if you're a big smallmouth bass fanatic, you need to try the bay. This fishery is very restrictive on smallie regulations, so it's no wonder it is a trophy bass factory. Best tactics have been fishing the structure areas with soft plastics or crank baits. The wind has been a constant lately, but there are a few areas that you can work comfortably.
Another popular recipe is dragging live sucker minnows for Smallmouth. This is a fun way to target fish, because in conjunction with the big smallies, you always have a chance at a number of other species. Make sure to stop in and talk with the good people at River Rock bait shop. I guarantee they have lively sucker minnows.
Local stream anglers continue to find some great success on Lake Superior tributaries. Make sure to stay up to date on regulations and seasons. Just a note, some Brule River sections are already closed to angling and the remaining stretch that is open will be closing soon. Lots of nice fish have been reported this last week. Most anglers are catching steelhead, brown trout, brook trout and a few salmon using the regular fall recipes. Best options continue to be yarn flies, spawn, flat fish or a variety of spinner baits. The usual challenge has been finding the right color(s). Best success I have found is getting fish to chase small dark colored spinners. There continues to be some tiny bugs in the river, so not a bad idea to bring the flybox as well.
The St. Louis River has been a somewhat busy place for both anglers and duck hunters. Don't be surprised to hear the occasional shotgun blast. Best fishing has been over the deeper holes on the flats. Don't be afraid to continue to work the channel edges and bends though. The river is awesome for providing legal two-line applications.
Right now the best fishing for us has been dead-sticking a live walleye sized sucker minnow while fan-casting long billed crank baits. Fish are being caught in all sections of the river but it has been more comfortable around the Clough Island area and further up toward Oliver.
Muskie anglers are continuing to catch some good looking fish dragging big sucker minnows. Working the areas right near vegetative flats has been good. Crappies are still going in and around submerged logs and deeper holes. If you find the roaming schools of crappies, it's fun to drop the vexilar transducer and fish them "ice-fishing" style.
Inland waters continue to hold up as well. Slip bobber fishing has been the staple the last several weeks and continues to bring fish boat side. My set-up is a 6'-6" ultra light panhandler type rod with 4, 5 or 6 pound monofilament, small red hook and red bead under a split shot and Venom float. Bait of choice is almost exclusively fathead minnows. This has been a golden late season crappie set-up.
For walleyes, we are continuing to fan-cast shorelines and drift/jig reefs with 1/8 oz Northland RZ jigs tipped with a boot tail plastic and/or live bait. We of course are getting a few bass and pike to go as well. It's best to get back to the early spring type locations as fish are more-or-less back to their familiar spring routines.
We need to end this report by paying our respects to the great Paul Nelson of Bemidji. Paul, among other things was one heck of an angler, fishing guide, and Bemidji Pioneer fishing columnist. More than that, he was a friend and role model to anyone that ever knew him. Our condolences.
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.