Fall fishing heating up

It looks like the extended summer weather we’ve been experiencing recently across the Sunset Country Region is finally going to turn to typical fall weather this week with cooler temperatures creeping in as the week goes on. As nice as it’s been to be on the water over the past couple of weeks, the cooler weather is going to make the fishing better for all of the anglers out there.

It’s funny because during the summer months we want the nice, hot weather. The nicest days of the season often provide the best fishing. Once we roll into September, things change and the hot weather is similar to a cold front during the summer. The fishing is never as good on the really nice days as it is on the cold days. I think the fish just know that another long winter is coming and those cold days remind them that they better start feeding and bulking up to prepare for it.

Now that fall is officially here, we are faced with some excellent fishing options. Lake trout season is now closed across the region but all of the other species we like to catch are good to go, with exceptions on certain bodies of water that have special regulations of course. It’s always a good idea to check out the Ontario Sportfishing Regulations Summary to keep up with the latest regulations for our waters.

Bass anglers love the fall fishing because both largemouth and smallmouth bass start to congregate into bigger groups and they are active. Fishing is really good and we often see the biggest fish of the year in October. Look for smallmouths on deeper points and humps as they start to make their way towards the deeper holes where they’ll spend the winter. Largemouth bass will show up on points and reefs in four to ten feet of water, on the way out of the weedy bays where they spend the summer.

Walleye anglers can be happy because our most popular fish across the region start to show up in predictable locations. The best advice I can share for walleye anglers is to look a little bit deeper than where you have success during the summer months. Many of the same spots that hold fish during the summer remain good in the fall but the fish move a little deeper. Walleye and most of other species go where the food is in the fall so pay attention to your electronics and if you see balls of baitfish on your screens, you might be around some fish. I really like fishing current areas in the fall for walleye, especially if you want to catch big numbers of fish.

Bryan Gustafson and Jay Samsal hold up part of their winning catch from the Whitefish Bay Fall Classic that took place on Lake of the Woods this weekend.

Fall is prime time for crappie fishing because these tasty panfish group up in the deeper holes of the bays and lakes that they reside in. They are easy to find with electronics and they are often in the mood to bite. It’s a good time to find them because they’ll often remain in the same locations from now through the ice season. Crappies are great eating but they are the easiest fish we have to exploit because they school up in such large groups. Just remember it’s okay to keep a few for dinner but if you take limit after limit from a location, it doesn’t take long to clean out an entire area. Especially with how good our electronics are today, as anglers we have a responsibility not to exploit these fish.

Finally, it’s prime time for pike and musky fishing. These predators take advantage of baitfish showing up in shallow water and they are often eager to bite as well. Areas with current are my favourite, but if those aren’t available, try big pieces of structure or saddles between islands and reefs, areas where a number of muskies or pike can patrol a large area and pick off food whenever they feel like it.

There were a couple of area bass tournaments this weekend. At the Labelle’s Fall Classic on Rainy Lake, Jeff Bragg and Ross Steele won with a three fish total weighing 13.04 pounds. The big fish was a 5.50 pound monster caught be Ryan and Gabe Hyatt. On Lake of the Woods, at the Whitefish Bay Fall Classic, Jay Samsal and Bryan Gustafson repeated as the winners with a two-day total of 39.76. The big fish at that event was a 4.91 pound largemouth brought in by Rick Savage and Greg Janzen.