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Water is cooler this fall; fish have moved

By Gary Korsgaden / Guest Columnist for the Enterprise

Recent cooler temperatures put area lakes in the fall mode.

Compared to last season, water temperatures are five degrees cooler, 57 degrees, when compared to last year at this time. Cooler water temperatures coupled with less daily sunlight puts fishing action into high gear.

Shallow weed growth comes to a halt and vegetation that once produced oxygen begins a slow die-off.  A die-off that pushes fish that have been harboring in the weeds, out on the edge or into open water. The die-off starts in the shallow weeds first and continues towards the deep water edges as the water temperature cools down.

Walleyes, northern pike, bass and pan fish will transition to the outside or still green edges as water temperatures continue to cool. Still green coon tail and cabbage weeds become fish magnets for game fish and the forage they feed on.  Game fish like walleyes are in tune with the movements of their food and will not be far away.

For starters, fishing yesterday’s windy shorelines and points are key fish magnets. Using the electronics, it is a good practice to cruise the area and watch for any signs of bait fish or larger hooks on the depth sounder screen.

At times, if you don’t locate any activity on the lip or close to the weed edge, move out onto the base of drop-off. At times fish will congregate here after a stout wind the day before.

This time of the year I’m a huge fan of a 1/8 to 1/4 oz.  jigs and a rainbow minnows: cast or trolled along the edge weed line, then “straight” line vertically jigged over the deep water. Jig or drag the jig minnow offering along, fish it fast first, moving along quickly snapping it with your wrist up a few inches and letting it set a few seconds, then repeat. At times just slowly dragging the jig along the bottom is the only way to trigger bites.

I’m fortunate to find 4” to 6” chub minnows, trying them on a live bait rig. My choice is a #4 or #6 red hook with a small glow in the dark chartreuse bead just ahead of the hook.

To ensure the minnow can swim freely, place the hook through the lower lip first. Experiment with leader lengths. Start with two to three feet between the sinker and hook and shorten or lengthen until you find which is the most successful.

While trolling, if your minnow becomes extremely active, stop, indicated by feel or twitches on the rod tip. The minnow is telling you a walleye has its eyeballs on it.

Walleyes in deep water can’t resist the live bait offering put right in front of them with the sinker anchored to the bottom and the minnow allowed to swim freely around. Patience and letting the minnow do what it does naturally entices fish that would snub other offerings.