Great fall fishing still awaits

Since the bass tournament season ended a few weeks ago, I’ve had the chance to get out on the water on some of the nice days we’ve had of late.
The fishing has been good, in general, especially for crappies. There have been a few good outings for walleye and pike, too.
Since my summer was so busy, I fell a little bit behind on getting the 13 episodes of Season 4 of my TV program, “Fishing with Gussy,” done. As such, we’ve been shooting a few shows recently to get caught up.
They will start airing in January.
A few weeks back, I wrote about where to find crappies in the fall–usually in the deepest holes of the bays and lakes that they live in, especially if they are in the 20- to 40-foot range.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been crappie fishing several times and these little panfish definitely are loaded up in these locations (where they will spend the winter).
I’ve been using a new bait to catch these crappies that I’ve not really fished with much during the open-water season before—and it has been red hot.
The Northland Puppet Minnow is a swimming jig designed to be used as an ice-fishing bait. It is a popular style of lure amongst walleye, lake trout, and panfish anglers during the ice-fishing season.
I was using the smallest #1 size in the gold colour, and it has worked great on several waters that I’ve been fishing. It’s good because it’s heavy, so it falls to the bottom fast, which is good for when you mark crappies below the boat on your depth finder.
As well, because of its horizontal profile, the bait itself shows up good on your sonar screen, so you can watch it easily and always keep it just above the fish, which is important with crappies.
These baits work great all winter, as well.
Walleye fishing has been heating up, too, particularly around some of the current areas on Lake of the Woods. If you wanted to get out a few more times before things really cool down, Keewatin Channel, just south of Kenora, is a hot spot right now.
It always is in the fall, particularly for good eating-sized fish.
Down on Rainy Lake, I’ve been getting some good reports from friends that walleyes are all over the humps in the north arm. Most anglers aren’t even using live bait, instead fishing four- and five-inch soft plastic minnow imitators on a 3/8 oz. jig and jigging them near the bottom.
The average size of the walleyes on Rainy Lake is better than any other lake I’ve fished, so sometimes it can be tough to find smaller eaters. But if you move around, you’ll run into schools of them.
Heck, what’s bad about catching a bunch of big walleyes, right?
Meanwhile, we filmed what I think is going to be one of the best TV segments we have ever done recently—fishing for pike with suspending jerkbaits. We were casting around main lake rock piles and fishing the wind-blown sides of them for the most part.
Most of the pike, especially the bigger fish, have abandoned the weeds and now are on the prowl for baitfish on main lake rock structure.
The bait I was using was a Jackall Squad Minnow suspending jerkbait. It’s a good one because it’s the right size and it’s aggressive with regard to its action and noise.
Although it’s a bait designed for big bass, it’s also great for pike. Just remember to put a leader on in front of the bait because these are high-end lures that you don’t want to lose to bite-offs.
The highlight of the fall for me, so far, was catching my biggest musky on this same jerkbait during one of these pike trips. I did not have a measuring device with me but I estimated it to be in the high 40-inch range.
It was beautiful, heavy fish and we got it on camera so that was pretty cool.
We are starting to run out of nice days, so take advantage of them and get out in the boat if you get the chance.
Some great fall fishing awaits!