September is already here. Another summer is passing by quickly, so take time to enjoy the fall, because winter will be here very soon.
Surface water temperatures have started to drop, with most lakes now having surface water temperatures in the mid- to upper 60s and falling.
Fishing for all species has already started to improve, although the number of boats on the lakes has been dropping, especially on the cooler days with lots of wind and rain.
The best fishing of the fall is right around the corner. An ideal fall would involve a slow cool down, so the fish have enough time for a smooth transition, rather than the shock reaction the fish often have with a fast cool down.
Stable weather is almost always better for fishing than unstable weather. Shifting wind directions, up and down barometer readings and quickly changing weather patterns can scatter the fish or move them to different locations, which can temporarily shut down the bite.
The hunting seasons are starting to open up too, so there is more competition for multi-sports outdoor people to divide their time.
Bear hunting opened on September 1st, with grouse, small game and archery deer seasons opening up on September 14, 2019. Check the regulations on the Department of Natural Resources website for other hunting seasons opening soon.
School is back in session in most areas, with the rest of the schools opening up soon. Fall sports and other school related activities have already begun, so that spreads out the people that like to fish even further, because they don’t have as much time to be on the water.
Most fish feed more heavily as the water begins to cool down in the fall. Fish go through one of their largest growth spurts of the year in the fall, as they try to put on more weight before winter arrives.
Fish begin to form their eggs and spawn in the fall too, which also increases the amount of calories fish need to consume.
Many anglers switch from bottom bouncers and spinners to slower presentations as the water temperatures begin to dip below 70 degrees.
Walleyes are less likely to chase baits from longer distances when water temperatures cool down, so most anglers use slower presentations for walleyes in the fall.
Northern pike and muskies will still chase baits, so speed can depend on what species anglers are trying to catch.
Jigs and minnows are fast becoming the “bait of choice” again for most walleye anglers, with walleyes starting to move into deeper water and gather into larger schools.
Live bait rigs also work for walleyes late in the season, with leeches, nightcrawlers and larger minnows all potentially productive baits for walleyes in different situations.
If hunting, walleye fishing and fall sports weren’t enough to occupy your time, there is also a good bite going late in the season for muskies, big pike, large and small mouth bass, crappies, sunfish and perch...not necessarily in that order.
Most panfish begin to gather into larger schools as they move out of the shallows. The first move for crappies and sunfish is to abandon the patches of vegetation that are starting to turn brown and die.
Most fish prefer the greenest and healthiest patches of weeds, which provide the most oxygen and the best cover for the fish. The best weed beds late in the summer are usually the ones with direct access to deeper water.
Anglers can fish for crappies and sunfish on the edges of the deep weeds or by slow trolling small jigs on the weed edges late in the summer.
Once the water begins to cool down, some panfish move off the shoreline and gather on hard bottomed areas close to the mud basin..
Perch like crayfish and minnows, so shallow rocks with weed or chara edges are ideal for late season perch. Anglers can use small jigs with fathead minnows or a piece of worm and catch a mixture of perch, walleyes and northern pike in the same areas.
Paul A. Nelson runs the Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service. He can be contacted by calling or texting 218-760-7751 or by email at email@example.com