The sights, sounds and smells of autumn are certainly pleasant this time of year. On the homestead, we have finally started to get some fall chores done before the late open-water-fishing and hunting seasons consume us.
Fishing has been mostly positive for the past several weeks and we anticipate more of the same all the way until ice-up. Most area lakes have little to no traffic now. And that means it's a good time of year to travel to a destination fishing area. I assure you there are plenty of resorts with availability this time of year, one just needs to do some research. Honestly, the only thing that is really negative this time of year is the amount of daylight we are losing each day.
Mild weather continues to be on our side and I, for one, am not complaining. Someone reminded me the other day that we had snow and cold in October last year. I kindly reminded them to not remind me. Of course, we all know the inevitable, so, for the here and now, hopefully people can get out and enjoy what nice weather we have left. Here is our report:
Lake Superior lake trout season ended on a high note with many success stories coming in. The best bite at the end was spoon trolling near shore. But some anglers found some nice thick fish jigging baits over sunken reefs or steep North Shore sunken rocks. For the salmon anglers still getting out, trolling and searching for pods/schools of fish will continue to be the best route to take.
In the Chequamegon Bay area, anglers are finding good success for big, world-class smallmouth. Most techniques are working, but this time of year it’s hard to beat a simple sucker minnow dragged under the boat in waters of 12-25 feet. This technique will also turn some good pike and the occasional walleye.
Stream fishing popularity dominates most bait shop conversations lately, and for good reason. Many anglers are finding good success with nice quality catches of trout and salmon. Swinging flies or casting hardware are still the best routes to go, but what may be the most important is time on the water. Not to mention getting out to a spot early enough to beat other angler competition. If you head to a popular Lake Superior tributary, absolutely expect to see other anglers in October.
The St. Louis River estuary has had some good bites going on in all sections recently. Perch have been staying active, eating simple jigs and plastics in and around the 10-14 feet of water mark. This year has been a great year for good-sized perch in our system, and let's hope this continues. A few walleyes have been in similar areas, but best bites have come from deeper channel edges. Using your side scan will eliminate a lot of dead water. Musky anglers continue to give it their best with limited results. Most are catching some good-sized pike, though.
On the inland waters of Northwestern Wisconsin, some good walleye and smallmouth are coming boatside. Concentrating efforts near shorelines has been ideal. As mentioned last week, it is hard to beat a simple jig’n minnow, however, casting 3-5 inch stick baits can be dynamite. Other successful areas have been mid-lake humps where we are getting some good bites utilizing puppet minnow, tika minnow or jigging raps with snap jigging cadences. For whatever reason, this time of year you can always plan on running into some lights-out smallmouth fishing. As usual, don't be surprised to lock horns with some good fighting cold water pike as well. See you on the water.
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.