Still some fish being caught

?When I was younger, during my last years of high school and my first few years of university, my friends and I always would fish open water until we couldn’t get a boat in anymore.
We even broke ice on occasion to catch walleyes, crappies, pike, and bass.
The reality is it’s a long winter here in Sunset Country, so you can’t blame someone for wanting to get in that one last trip in the boat.
These days, my fishing has dwindled late into the fall. I have been totally consumed with searching for deer the past couple weeks while I’ve been guiding American hunters.
I also sold my boat recently so I can make plans to get a new one for 2012.
And since I haven’t gotten any calls, it doesn’t seem like anyone wants to take me fishing.
My last outing on open water was with long-time fishing buddy Frank McClymont. We got out on Shoal Lake and caught some nice smallmouths on one of the many beautiful afternoons we had in October.
I learned a pretty neat trick, too–instead of using the traditional four- or five-inch soft plastic jerkshads that are deadly for fall smallmouths, Frank was using a giant seven-inch jerkshad and he kicked my butt.
The fish were looking to forage on big stuff and the larger bait definitely was getting their attention and triggering them to strike.
I actually didn’t even own one of these big baits but that’s going to change for next year. It was a real eye-opener.
Over on Rainy Lake, my friend, Paul Visser from Fort Frances, reports the walleye fishing continues to be great. He mentioned that this past weekend, they caught great numbers of fish, as well as some big ones, focusing on main lake humps.
If you ice fish, now is a great time to get out on the water to find new spots for winter because it’s much easier to cover water in a boat than by foot on the ice.
Or if you want to find fish fast in the boat, try places where you usually catch fish early in the ice season as they will be there now.
Anglers still are catching muskies on area lakes, as well. Ryan Marlowe, a local musky nut, caught a 54-inch monster last week on Eagle Lake.
?He was fishing with a new prototype reel that Shimano has designed specifically for musky anglers—and he told me it is amazing. More details on that later.
Meanwhile, Mike Reid, one of my regular fishing partners from Sioux Narrows, is working out in western Manitoba these days but has been making trips back every weekend to chase muskies and he shared a hot new tactic with me that I had not heard of anyone doing before.
He has been catching big fish by burning giant soft plastic musky baits, like a Bulldog or Storm ThunderBeast, about six inches to a foot under the surface and fish are just clobbering them.
We’re talking about 12- and 14-inch baits here. Traditionally, anglers cast these magnum-sized soft plastics out, let them sink, and then reel them in slowly, close to the bottom. So by burning them near the surface, Mike is giving them a different look.
Alas, time is running out for us to get out on the water. But if you do manage to sneak away one last time, there definitely are some fish to be caught.
The water is cold now, so you definitely don’t want to go in. Wearing a lifejacket or, better yet, a warm floater coat is a good idea.

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