Our comfortable, mild temperatures were still a blessing this past week, unless, of course, you are a hunter banking on cold temperatures to get animals and waterfowl moving more frequently.
On most area waters, surface temperatures have been rather warm for this time of year. Obviously, we are seeing cooler temperatures in the mornings and warmer by late afternoons, but the range of temperatures is certainly warmer than usual for this time of year — although there is some change in the forecast for cooler temperatures.
We are now past peak fall foliage, but the shorelines still remain beautiful. Hunters are now routinely taking to the woods and waters often for their respective sports. For us anglers, we need to be cautious of this when we are making way through the woods to walk to streams or launch boats in the dark or navigate waters.
Fishing continues to be good, and no doubt this is a great time of year to be outdoors. Here is our report:
Lake Superior is seeing far less traffic now as charter boats and lake trout anglers alike begin to winterize their rigs. Some diehards will still be out in search of salmon and an occasional walleye.
For the most part, the Gitch will offer slow reports, except of course maybe some reports of smallmouth and other catches around the ports of the Chequamegon Bay area.
Of course, the local streams of Lake Superior continue to see plenty of action as anglers are wading out in pools in search of trout and salmon. We are seeing some good upstream migrations after the recent rains. Small spinner baits on regular spin casting rods and flies on fly rods are having equal success.
Remember, with the small size of these waters, we need to be courteous of other anglers. Also make sure of the importance of protecting these fish. It's best to keep them in the water and off the banks of the shorelines. These migratory Lake Superior fish are no doubt very delicate, so proper handling is important. Every angler should have a conservation-woven net and use it for every fish. Keeping these fish underwater and making quick work of catch and release will ensure their survival.
The St Louis River has stayed consistent this past week for walleyes and the occasional crappie. Similar to the other migratory stream fish of Lake Superior, walleyes have also started moving into the estuary system from the big lake. Both one-eighth ounce to one-quarter ounce. Current Cutter jigs tipped with crappie or fathead minnows continue to be a simple tactic.
We have been slow trolling bigger crank baits for the bigger fish and finding some limited success. Crappies are schooled up off of drop offs, but the challenge is getting them to go. I think the late warm water temperatures had them in a funk. I’ve said it before, but what is nice about this time of year is you don't really need to be "up and at ’em" early in the day. Giving water temps some time to rise can be the way to go.
Smallmouth are also being targeted on various types of rock and wood structure. Musky anglers are finding some mixed success casting and trolling a plethora of baits near channel edges and in the flats throughout the system. Sticking next to weed patches will pay off, even though it gets frustrating having to continuously clean baits.
Inland waters have been good, and empty. If anglers are looking for easy success, this is the best bet. Fishing deep transitions off of wind blown points has been best. Best bite seems to be the 8-18 feet of water for crappies and a few bluegills. Mostly fish have been on the shallower side, especially on the overcast days. Several jigging tactics are working.
Anglers shouldn't be afraid to use ice fishing tackle tipped with plastics. Pike and bass are also coming boat-side by casting cranks and plastics. Wacky worm rigs (rigid plastic worm hooked in the middle of the body) have been a great tactic. Inland musky angling has also had some mixed reports, but similar to river fishing, look for vegetation near basins for most predator fish.
Be kind, courteous and enjoy the fall colors Mother Nature has painted for us.
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.