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Paul Nelson column for Nov. 6: Deer hunting starts; anglers lament season's end

The rifle deer season opens Saturday morning in the Bemidji area and most of Minnesota.

It has been predicted there will be fewer deer in the woods in many areas after a tough winter last year. There will be a reduced number of antlerless permits available to hunters this season in many areas.

There are changes in the regulations every year, so hunters are reminded to get a copy of the regulations and review them before they head out.

Many anglers are not ready to put their boats away for the season and are feeling cheated by the cold and rainy weather this October.

The extended forecast for early November is for warmer temperatures, so there may be more opportunities for anglers to get on the lakes before the lakes freeze.

Some people really enjoy deer hunting and savor every moment they get in the woods. Other hunters actually like fishing better and would be happy if they got their deer quickly and were able to do some more fishing.

The weather is the key to fishing late in the season. The best fishing is on the warmest days when the winds are calm and there is as much sun as possible.

Fishing in November is almost like ice fishing from a boat. The same areas where large groups of fish houses will be when the ice fishing season arrives are the areas anglers should be checking in their boats late in the open water season.

Anglers with poor electronics are at a big disadvantage when it comes to looking for fish. Low end chart graphs can give unreliable signals that are tough to interpret.

Flasher sonars are much simpler than the new high-end graphs, but they are very accurate when anglers know how to read them.

Flashers are multi-purpose units that can be used year 'round if anglers buy high-speed transducers for their boats and puck style transducers for the winter.

Anglers still out on the lakes will notice that most of the docks have been removed from the public accesses. It's often easier for two people to launch a boat without a dock, so bring along a friend to help make the task of launching easier.

Anglers can usually launch a boat alone without getting their feet wet if they wear a pair of tall rubber boots. Oversized boots are easier to take on and off, so if you don't plan to do a lot of walking in the boots, don't be afraid to buy a larger size.

Anglers have been catching walleyes out of deep water in most lakes. The walleyes are almost always close to their food in the cold water, so anglers should watch for the big schools of baitfish when they are searching for walleyes.

Jigs and minnows are the bait of choice for most anglers late in the fall, regardless if they are fishing for walleyes, crappies or perch. Some anglers even use ice fishing techniques like jigging spoons or jigging minnows late in the open water season.

Crappies have been active in deep water in many lakes, where they have been tightly schooled. Some crappies have been close to the bottom, which makes them easier to catch, while other crappies have been suspended farther from the bottom.

Anglers can catch the suspended crappies if they can get their baits into the right zone. Crappies like to feed up, so baits at or just above their eye level are more likely to attract bites.

If the crappies are in really deep water, it is sometimes easier to drop the jig all the way to the bottom and then raise it back up to the level of the crappies. Anglers that can see their baits on sonar have a big advantage and can get their baits to the level of the crappies more easily.

There are still a few muskie anglers on the lakes, too. Many of them will cast until they get cold hands and then spend the rest of their time trolling baits. The key areas for both muskies and big pike have been where ever there are tulibees and whitefish spawning.

Paul A. Nelson runs the Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service. He can be e-mailed at