By now the hot early ice walleye bite has passed on many lakes and many ice anglers are looking for some biting fish. One bite that is often good this time of the year is a deep-water basin bite for crappies. Mid-winter crappies roam deep basins searching for food. Lots of the basin areas I fish are in the 20-to-30-foot depth ranges, some of the deepest water available in my favorite lakes. Other lakes, however, have deeper basins where crappies can be found.
I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to travel across the Midwest sampling some of the good walleye fishing this region offers. This past summer, I got in on several good bites. Here is a look back at some of those trips. These walleye destinations might be places anglers want to consider visiting and fishing in 2018. Rainy River Last spring, a friend from Minneapolis, Kevin Kerkvliet, met me at the Rainy River on the Minnesota-Canada border for the spring walleye run that occurs there each spring.
A great time to catch winter walleyes is during the month or so after when safe ice first forms. Walleyes now are often still feeding aggressively before the tougher bite of mid-winter usually sets in. Here are some suggestions for finding and catching walleyes during this often-productive period. I target lakes at early ice that had a good fall walleye bite as the fall open-water action usually continues to early ice. On some of the shallow "prairie lakes" I fish, that usually means walleyes holding on the edges of flats with remnant weed growth.
With another open-water fishing season nearly in the books, now is a good time to look back and see what the season brought, what was learned, and which of those lessons can be of good use for future fishing seasons.
My fishing experiences tell me that October is one month to spend as much time on the water as possible. In fact, some of my best fishing days for walleyes, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and crappies have all occurred during October. Once October gives way to November and the water gets downright cold, however, the fishing often seems to get tougher. One pattern that I still rely on for good action now is crankbait fishing for bass.
One of my favorite fall outdoor activities is fishing for smallmouth bass. These fish often school tightly on small structural elements. Sometimes they can be tough to find, but once found they are often cooperative biters. Once hooked, there may be no more exciting fight than an acrobatic smallmouth struggling against an angler!
A fishing partner and I were on Lake Vermilion in northern Minnesota fishing walleyes recently. We started our morning searching mid-depth structures like sunken islands and humps. Around noon, with no walleyes in the boat yet, we came across what could best be described as a shoreline point with a saddle that extended to a hump. Our sonar unit revealed the presence of several schools of baitfish on the hump, and when we pulled across the saddle, what appeared to be several walleyes came on the screen.
One thing that consistently successful anglers usually do well is assess the area the fish are holding in, and then they use baits that efficiently cover that area. For example, bass anglers often throw crankbaits as they search areas for scattered largemouth bass relating to the weedline. Smallmouth bass anglers, on the other hand, often experience great success by using a drop-shot presentation fished vertically to target a school of fish tightly relating to some hard bottom structure, maybe a small rock spine, or even single boulder, off the main rock pile.
Last week I traveled to western South Dakota for my first-ever pronghorn antelope archery hunt. Rob Parmentier, a friend from Minnetonka who has hunted across North America, knows my love for archery whitetail hunting, and invited me to experience this hunt.
A wide range of topics can be discussed when it comes to offering suggestions for more fishing success. Using the right lure size and color is obviously important, as is presenting it on an appropriate rod and reel combination. Presenting baits at a speed the fish will eat is another important factor. However, before any of these come into play, the most important factor is the need to locate fish. If your bait isn't around fish, all the other ingredients don't matter.