Jarrid Houston column: Tie on spinnerbait, saddle-up for hot pike action
Lake trout are off-limits in October, but the Gitch still offers browns, splake and more in Chequameogn Bay.
Crazy how the last few days have given an abrupt change of seasons. One would think we would casually climb into the autumn weather. But with overnight freezing temperatures and shoreline color changes, I would say we are full blast into the fall season. Sure, we may have some more warm afternoons. But I don’t think we’ll see summer temperatures again until next year.
Fishing continues to pick up on many local waters in the region. It can be challenging to decide which type of fish to chase this time of year as most species will continue to bite aggressively as water temperatures continue to drop. This is my favorite time of year, no doubt, and I am extremely excited to enter "Rocktober."
Let's dive into the fishing reports.
Lake Superior's lake trout season will now be closed to protect fall spawning. Next time we run into a laker will likely be through the ice. Many charter captains are pulling boats and preparing for winter storage.
If your heart is still on a Lake Superior chase, you do still have options. One of my favorite fish to chase on the Gitch is smallmouth bass over near Ashland, with fun fall bites for walleye and pike there, too. Throwing, drifting or jigging your lucky hard water baits will work.
I love the new Rumble Bug series of baits by Northland fishing tackle. Another proven stick is the Shadow Rap by Rapala. Other lures can certainly work as well. The Chequamegon Bay bite is just getting going and will get better all the way to ice up.
Out near the islands, you can certainly still take a stab at a roaming splake or brown trout as they will continue to be very active these next several weeks.
One thing for sure, the big lake will hold little traffic from now on. Stream angling will be busy for a lot of anglers chasing fall-run fish. This past week we have seen a boost of active browns, steelhead and brookies. Casting small spinner baits or flatfish has been a good tactic. Some anglers are drifting fall pattern flies and finding some success as well.
St. Louis River angling had a bit of a slow-down due to last week's rains. Any avid river rat knows that rain, mixed in with continuous dredging operations, turns the color of the river from root beer to a brown mess. If you stick to the upstream areas for smallmouth bites, you will find some success. They have been schooling up over rock and wood.
It is important to try and position the boat upstream and work your bait moving up current. A few walleyes can be had this way as well, but a better bet is to concentrate on channel edge trolling. Shads in the No. 5 or No. 7 continue to be good bets. If you're not opposed to catching channel cats, simple live bait rigs working the bottom will turn a few fish.
Muskie angling has not been noisy lately, but some are trying. We hope to log some hours sometime these next few weeks at a fall muskie as well. Stay tuned for that.
Inland lakes continue to put out a nice panfish bite: same as last week with the deeper weeds. It is important to stay on the greenest stuff you can as we climb further into fall. At some point, many panfish will move toward wintering holes, so be prepared for that.
For walleyes, we are certainly back to a rip-jigging, hard body bait. I prefer a Puppet Minnow, Moonshine or a Jigging Rap. Matching bait fish is important, so I prefer a perch scheme or something in firetiger. Jigging live bait will get fish as well. Concentrate your efforts in the deeper rock to sand or mud to rock areas. In the mornings and late afternoons, stay shallow. At midday, fish deeper.
If you are not too proud to chase pike, buckle up — the salad cutting spinner bait bite is on fire. Cast weed edges and get ready. This tactic will nab a few bass along the way as well.
Fishing is heating up as the weather cools down!
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.