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Jarrid Houston column: St. Louis River Estuary has been good up and down

Cooler nights, and a little rain, will have the tributary trout bite improving soon.

Jarrid Houston
Jarrid Houston
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We hope everyone had a fun and safe Labor Day weekend. September has been off to a great start with great weather and good fishing. Although some waters have slowed down this last week, for the most part fishing continues to be good. The cooler overnights are really starting to affect the water temperature. I have even noticed some leaves starting to hit my lawn.

In conjunction with that, some fall hunting seasons are underway. Last weekend, we shared many areas with some early waterfowl hunters on the Wisconsin side of the St. Louis River. Looking ahead, small game and archery is about to start as well. So, be cautious as we move further into the fall season.

Lastly, before we dive into the report, enjoy the border battle between the Vikings and the Packers: "skol" or "go Pack go?"

Lake Superior has had some great days welcoming anglers to successful trout and salmon fishing. Most have been getting fish trolling spoons on lead-core line. Quantity of line colors depends on depth and speed, but I prefer to keep my bait somewhere in the middle or closer to the bottom.

A good tactic when trolling lead is to get depths set about halfway down and mix in an occasional zig-zag. That way your baits will drop and pick up speed as you straighten out. This can certainly trigger some bites. Downriggers and Dipseys are still getting some fish as well. Most catches include lake trout, but a few salmon and the occasional brown and walleye are still making a presence.


Again last week, the South Shore walleye bite was hit and miss. But continuing to troll long billed crank baits over 25-35 feet of water will catch some fish.

Stream fishing is very much picking up as the cooler overnights are triggering some return fish into the rivers out of lake Superior. We could definitely use some rain to help boost a good fall run, but we still have plenty of time. Best catches have been in the form of colorful brook trout and native browns. However, some big Gitch browns are just starting to trickle in. Fishing the tributaries should continue to get better and better.

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Get out and explore the day after Thanksgiving.

St. Louis River angling was productive this past week with trolling, casting, drifting and jigging for walleyes, pike, perch, crappie and bass. Best fishing for numbers has been trolling and casting crank baits on channel edges, but the bigger fish have been coming off of jigging and drifting presentations. Minnows have finally started to take a few fish now that the water temperatures are getting cooler. Best bites have been in the mid-morning and later afternoon. No area seems to be dead water, as we have found fish from the Fond du Lac neighborhood to the entries. We’re looking forward to more fall river success as the days grow shorter.

Inland lakes north of Duluth have had a good walleye bite when slow moving live bait over deeper flats. Bottom bouncing with a 2-3 foot lead has been best. Once you are locked into a good bite, don't be afraid to anchor up and jig for those pockets of fish. A few bass, pike and perch are being caught with the same setup as well. But if you are targeting bass, keep your target areas over structure like timber and rock.

Also, don't ignore the shallower dock areas or overhanging trees. Wisconsin inland waters have been putting out some good panfish bites. Look for deeper vegetation and, if you can find leeches, you're in business. Best setups have been a smaller leech fished under a float. During the low-light periods, you may find yourself bumping into a nice walleye too. Tight lines!

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.

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