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Make sure to adjust the clocks to fishing time this fall

Charlie Wasley (left) with the aid of net man Andi Dickson landed and released this big walleye in the Park Rapids area last week. The female fish had a large belly, which will only get bigger as her eggs continue to develop over the next 6 months.

The actual, physical process of fish spawning might be several months away, depending upon the species, yet the beginning stages of reproduction have already begun.

For anglers who have ventured out on the water to experience a wonderful, seasonally pleasant fall over the past month, or headed face-first into the waves over the previous few days, fall offers a lot for the angler.

Sure, line guides occasionally freeze and engine water pumps must constantly be monitored, but fall greets some of the best fishing of the season.

Granted, you won't get as many bites from some of the smaller fish species, such as sunfish, but when a fish bites in the fall, it's often a big one.

If you've filleted a fish this fall, you may have noticed an out-of-the-ordinary looking strip of yellow or white in the abdomen of several different fish species.

The white strip is a collection of milt (in male fish) and the yellow strip, if you look very closely, are thousands of miniscule eggs, which will gradually mature over the course of the winter.

Though milt and egg remnants are often internally visible immediately following the reproductive process in the spring, the eggs and milt seen this fall aren't "leftovers." It's a new beginning to a lengthy process.

As certain fish become increasingly plump during the latter portion of winter, the catch-and-keep season and angler harvest is halted to provide fewer variables that could limit spawning and subsequent fish hatches.

However, not all fish spawn in the spring. There are certain species, such as brook and brown trout that actually spawn in the fall, and others, like the lowly burbot (eelpout) that reproduce under the cover of an ice sheet in February and March.

In another two weeks, many of us will rejoice to "fall back" as daylight saving's lengthens a late-fall night by an hour. Yet don't expect the fish to notice the adjusted digital numbers on you combination wristwatch & calculator. Time in a numerical representative sense means nothing to fish, even though time is a very important influence on their behavior.

The photo period, which refers to the amount of time throughout a 24-hour period in which a plant or animal is exposed to light, naturally influences fish behavior. This includes reproduction, feeding patterns and migration.

Although fish may not know much literal time, as humans and lifetime learners we can all learn something about "fishing time."

Though affectionately called the land of 10,000 lakes, Minnesota actually has 11,842 lakes over ten acres, with 5,493 of them deemed "fishable". There are an additional 6,564 streams.

Minnesota's watercraft registration per capita is one for every six residents (ranked #1 in the nation).

The most frequently caught fish in Minnesota is the sunfish. Hubbard County holds the Minnesota record weight for a bluegill, a member of the sunfish family, weighing 2lbs. 13oz. caught on Alice Lake in 1948. The only other current record fish from Hubbard County is a 3lb.4oz. perch from Lake Plantagenet in 1945.