Jarrid Houston column: Crappies going dynamite over weeds
Recent rain has brought trout into Lake Superior tributary streams.
It's getting to be time for pumpkin spice-flavored foods, chili and great fall fishing. Ladies and gentlemen, we have officially crossed the fall solstice.
Last weekend at the local fish fry, many great conversations were had (thanks, Roger, for telling me about the nice bluegill) about how fun autumn can be with all the outdoor opportunities. It's arguably the best time of year to be on the water. Most lakehome and cabin owners have now started the process of pulling docks and fall cleanup. The biggest challenge a sportsman has is deciding on what activity to pursue. For us, we are still full throttle in the fishing world, and things are getting good.
Let's dive in:
Lake Superior is getting a lot of attention these last days of the lake trout season (the Lake Superior lake trout season ends Sept. 30 in Wisconsin and Oct. 2 in Minnesota.) On the North Shore, many anglers are trolling in 70-150 feet of water, but some are starting to fish even shallower than that, especially in the later afternoons, as lake trout move shallower to spawn in the fall. Downriggers are not necessary as many trollers are still getting fish on the lead line and Dipsy setups.
Another great tactic is deep jigging off deep reefs. It is important to use a heavy rod rigged with a heavier braid line and a good-sized swim bait. Yes, you may find dead water for a while, but once you lock into a fish, it will certainly be a fun battle.
Lake Superior tributary streams are beefing up with a few more migratory fish thanks to some recent rain. Cohos, steelhead, browns and brookies are all being caught in many sections of popular tributary streams on both the Minnesota and Wisconsin sides. We are even hearing of some humpbacks (pink salmon) runs taking shape.
On the St. Louis River, we continue to catch fish in all sections of the river (even up above the dams). For the lower sections, we are still trolling crankbaits in the No. 5 size. Best color has been firetiger, but also getting some bites on perch color schemes as well. Some nice crappies have been surprising us with some trolls, which has been a fun bonus. In the faster, shallower waters, many smallmouth can be had. Best setup is a braid strung up on a medium-heavy rod with shallow-running crankbaits or jerkbaits. Find snaggy water and you will find some fish. Live bait rigging continues to turn catfish, perch, a few walleyes and the occasional pike.
Inland lake fishing has been dynamite for crappies and other panfish that are starting to put on some feed bags. When water temperatures are highest during the day, slip your bait over deep weeds with worm chunks or leeches (if you can find them).
Walleyes continue to be caught in similar areas with similar set-ups, but I prefer a bigger soft plastic in hopes of tagging a bigger fish. Those who know me know that I prefer bigger baits for bigger fish and vice-versa. The live bait jig bite is certainly starting to come around again as well.
For big pike and muskie chances, it's hard to beat slow-rolling a big sucker minnow this time of year. Look for this bite to pick up as we continue to get cooled down moving forward.
Be safe and courteous to each other and all the best hooksets.
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.