Some helpful pointers for fall fishing

It’s a funny time of year for anglers. The summer that we dream about all winter has come and gone again for another year, yet fall fishing brings on some of the best bites of the year for nearly all species so it’s a pretty good trade off.
As the water starts to cool most fish are triggered to start eating in order to put the feedbag on in preparation for winter. Because of this eating binge most fish are as big as they are all year. So, despite the cooler weather I can tell you that I have caught just about all of my biggest fish of each species during the fall months of September and October.
Let’s take a look at some of the best strategies for landing the biggest fish of your favourite species.
Pike and musky make predictable locational moves as the water starts to cool off that anglers can capitalize on. Most big fish are going to move out of the shallow water that they occupy during the spring and summer months and they move out to main lake and main basin areas.
The key thing is to look at major structural elements like big reefs and humps, funnel areas between islands and large flats adjacent to deep water.
Big fish are looking for big meals so choose large baits to get their attention. =I like to cast throughout June, July and August but now it’s time to start trolling.
Because a lot of fish are in deeper water, trolling is going to put your bait into contact with more fish that casting will.
My favourite bait is a Rapala X-Rap Mag 30 minnow bait. It is a large bait that can be trolled fast and covers depths to 30 feet easily.
Walleyes, especially big ones like to follow what the big toothy critters do and move out the main basin structural areas where they can also feed on large baitfish, in particularly smelt on Lake of the Woods and Rainy Lake.
Walleyes may not necessarily be in deep water but they like to hang around main lake rockpiles and humps.
We have scored a lot of big walleyes in recent years while bass fishing in the fall on jerkbaits like a #10 X-Rap and four and five inch soft jerkbaits that imitate smelt.
A lot of these big walleyes, I’m talking 25 to 30 inch fish, have come from as little as four to eight feet of water, especially on windblown reefs and points. For numbers of fish, stick to the traditional humps in 20 to 30 feet of water.
Crappies are a fish that are largely ignored throughout the summer months because they spread out in random locations like large weeds beds and shallow bays where they are hard for anglers to connect with.
In the fall they move to predictable locations that become traditional spots for them year after year.
Generally, they move to the deepest water in the main basins of the bays that they live in.
In most cases these fish will be found in 20 to 40 of water and they are looking for food in the form of small minnows, crayfish and invertebrates.
I’ve found a smorgasbord of bait in the bellies of crappies that I’ve cleaned in the fall.
The biggest thing anglers can do to get on these fish is to utilize their electronics to find fish before they begin fishing.
Crappies are almost always found suspended off the bottom and they show up on sonar better than any other fish.
You can catch them really good on small spoons and jigs tipped with plastic bodies.
The biggest bass of the year consistently show up in the fall, evident by the larger than average weights that come across the scales in the all of the fall tournaments.
Anglers gain an advantage over both largemouth and smallmouth bass this time of year because they are looking to eat and they really start to school up in large groups.
If you find one, you usually find some, so always pay attention to where the fish come from.
It’s amazing how small of a spot will hold big numbers of bass this time of year. With smallmouths, the key is to use minnow imitating baits that emulate the smelt, cisco or perch they are foraging on.
With largemouths the most important thing to look for is green weeds. The last remaining healthy weeds kick out a lot of oxygen that attract baitfish and in turn bass. Find these things to up your odds at catching a five pound bass.
Bass anglers from across Sunset Country are in Sioux Narrows this weekend for the annual “Bassin’ For Bucks” tournament.
The cooler weather should make for some good fishing for both smallmouth and largemouth anglers.
Weigh-ins begin each day at 3:30 in downtown Sioux Narrows.
Look for a full report next week.

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