As one season ends, another begins

While the first official day of fall still is a couple weeks away, September marks the end of summer and the start of fall for most of us.
The daylight starts to look different than it did just weeks earlier, the nights are starting to really cool down, and the birch leaves have began changing colour.
For more than 20 years, at least part of my Labour Day weekend has been spent in Sioux Narrows getting ready for the annual “Bassin’ For Bucks” tournament on Lake of the Woods.
The tournament, which always takes place over the second weekend in September, was started back in 1996 by Mel Geisbrecht and Chris Bell as a way to extend the summer season in Sioux Narrows by an extra weekend.
Many years ago, the torch was passed to Debbie Ducharme and Barb Salvador, who lead a team of volunteers and put on one of the best bass tournaments in Sunset Country.
Mike Reid and I were 13 years old that first year and have fished the tournament together every year since it started. Mike is from Sioux Narrows but now lives in Manitoba, so it’s always a good reason for us to spend a few days together in the boat.
Over the years, we have had quite a few good tournaments, including a win in 2013 and several second-place finishes. We’ve had a lot of fun.
“Bassin’ For Bucks” kind of marks the start of fall with regards to the bass-fishing season because by this tournament, a lot more fish have moved to deeper, main lake structure, where they will spend the rest of the fall and then the winter months.
We mix up fishing for both smallmouth and largemouth bass, but we spend most of time fishing deeper than we did a few weeks earlier during the KBI.
This year’s tournament, featuring a full field of 120 boats, takes place Friday through Sunday, with weigh-ins taking place each day under The Big Top pavilion in downtown Sioux Narrows.
Fall also marks the start of hunting season, with archery deer and some waterfowl seasons already underway. Grouse are my favourite thing to hunt because I enjoy eating them so much and that season gets underway Sept. 15.
I anticipate goods numbers of grouse again following what have been a great past few seasons.
Some of my buddies already have been hitting the woods scouting some of their deer-hunting areas and the results have been positive, with some nice bucks showing up on their game cameras and good numbers of deer in the bush.
After a couple of bad winters four and five years ago that severely depleted our deer numbers, things are back on the rise thanks to some easier winters over the past few years.
Walleye fishing on Lake of the Woods was pretty good last week on a couple of guide trips that I did. We found most of our walleyes in 22-28 feet of water on main lake humps and fishing was as good as it has been all summer for me.
Orange jigs were the ticket, tipped with both leeches and minnows. Look for the deeper main lake stuff to continue getting better in the coming weeks as more fish move out to these types of spots.
The hot crappie bite probably still is a week or two away, as they just now are starting to show up in the deeper fall and winter holes, usually in the deepest basins of the bays and lakes that they live in.
You will know when they are there because the tightly-grouped schools are easy to spot on your electronics.
Finally, if you are on the musky hunt, start moving out of the shallower bays for them, as well, to nearby main lake rock piles, points, and narrows where they are going to start focusing on eating ciscos and whitefish, which they gorge on in the fall.
While it always is sad for me to say goodbye to summer, there is plenty of fun stuff to keep us busy in the fall so go and enjoy it!

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