As we slide into mid September and woodland color and cool nights and fall sports and hunting and fishing are in the midst, just don’t put that fishing boat away just yet. This is a great time to fish, especially for panfish. As the water cools, fish crappies on the edges of shoreline weeds with anything flashy. Cover lots of water and when you find a school, work it. Once the crappies have made the dash deep, look for the deeper pools and bays but don’t fish until your sonar features Christmas tree-like masses or layers, using a variety of jigs and tips, like leeches, minnows and bits of crawlers or plastics.
Use a 1/16th or 1/8th ounce jig tipped and then “hover” over the located pods of fish with your electric motor. When you do, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how effective slowly lifting your jig off the bottom up a foot or two and then dropping back down, pausing in the middle and waiting to feel a “doink” on the end of the rod, will result in a nice crappie. A light action “noodle” style rod will work best in these situations when fishing for crappies. Anchoring might work, but that big splash and thud down below tends to spook crappies. Added to this is crappies tend to move and you need to follow them.
For walleyes, start frequenting shallow shoreline structure and then sliding off the edges into deeper water. A live rig set up with a creek chub, crawler or a leech will catch the attention of feeding walleyes. Even a slip bobber set at the right depth will work wonders. When working shoreline weedlines, pulling spinners by trolling or drifting, if the wind is right, will give you your best speeds between 7 and 1.5 mph. Vary your colors, but hammered copper and gold seem to work best. Buy a bunch of different spinners and experiment. Use a bullet sinker and vary your weights according to the depth, lighter when shallow, heavier when deeper. If spinners don’t work get “cranky,” go with the crankbaits in the same areas.
Don’t rule out trophy pike or walleyes at this time of year, either. From mid September to freeze-up, big fish feed heavily. Most importantly, however, as school nears, remember it is all about spending time on the water with family or friends and balancing that time as you start thinking about the hunting seasons.
Good reports are coming in from Pokegama, Winnie, Wabana, Trout and many other area lakes. As always, check your local bait shops/sporting good stores to find out the latest updates from our area lakes. Good luck fishing and remember, we’re proud to be in Minnesota’s nature.