Get on the water in fall

This yellow streamer, made from bucktail, is meant to imitate a baitfish in the water. (RosaLin Alcoser/Fannal Shirts)

For many fall marks the beginning of hunting season whether it is for deer or other wildlife. However, fall is also a good time to keep fishing as the fish prepare for the long winter ahead of them.

“You have a lot of things happening in the fall,” Todd Cameron, a Walleye Fishing Guide with PTS Fishing Guide Service, said. “Bear season opens on Sept. 1, early fall goose season following up right behind it that Saturday. Two weeks after that you’ve got the archery deer season taking place. Mourning dove season that’s going to be opening shortly, grouse season, duck season, pheasant season. A lot of people like to hunt, lots of people like to fish.”

“As people start focusing on hunting, I’m looking at white tipped tailed fish and other people start thinking about white-tailed deer,” Cameron said. “ The walleye has a distinct white-tipped tail but other people are starting to focus on hunting.”

“The fall can be a very good time to fish,” Doug Harthan, Front 20 Outfitters’ fly fishing guide, said.”Not as many people do it because everybody hit the woods and the fields so it tends to not be as crowded on the lakes.”

Fall fishing is the last opportunity to get out on the water before winter, making fall fishing especially good with more people out in the woods then are out on the water, according to Harthan.“Fall fishing is weather dependent and it’s temperature-dependent,” he said.


“Fall’s a good time because fish are eating,” he said. “You just have to work with the weather because you get cold fronts moving through and the weather gets bad. But on the nice days, it’s very good fishing.”

According to Cameron, as the water cools the warm water that is currently on the surface changes places with the cooler water that is at the bottom. When the water circulates around more oxygen is available in deeper water allowing fish to swim more freely.

The same applies to river fishing, in activities such as river fly fishing, as it does in lake water. “Fish in the river as the weather cools tend to swim a little deeper to the first break or deeper weed lines,” Harthan said. “ They tend to school up and when you find them ou tend to caught quite a few.”

According to Harthan, the larger fish will follow the smaller baitfish into the deeper water as they continue to feed. Making the key to catching fish in the fall, “mostly just following the baitfish,” he said.

According to Cameron, baitfish are mainly any small fish such as minnow and young perch. Larger predatory fish do not care what kind of fish the baitfish are when they feed, they care more about if they are the right size, he said.

“ I use three words all the time when I’m fishing, especially in the fall of the year, it’s location, location, and location,” Cameron said. He says it is typically a good rule of thumb that if the fish are not biting after being in a location after five to ten minutes that it is time to move locations. “All fish have fins and tail,” he said. “Just because they were here today doesn’t mean that they’re going to be here again tomorrow. They do relocate.”

Outside of the weather changing fall fishing is not that much different from fishing at any other time of the year, according to Harthan. Especially with fly fishing. “Fly fishing is just like any other fishing only we use different equipment,” he said. The rods used for fly fishing are longer, the line is weighted instead of the lure, and flys, made out of natural and synthetic materials, are used to lure in the fish over bait, according to Harthan.

This makes fly fishing only a little different from regular fishing. According to Cameron, when it comes to fishing the lakes for walleye he likes to use a lift drop method, which produces a poof of sediment in the water, and a baited fishing jig. “A walleye sees that kind of presentation that lift and drop and that poof of sediment on the bottom of the lake, they’re going to smack that jib. So hang onto the rod because you’re going to have old marble eyes coming to the surface.”


“The fish are where they are no matter what kind of equipment you using you have to get then lure to them and they have to bite it,” Harthan said.

Hunting season:

  • Bear, Sept. 1- Oct. 18; Permit areas and no-quota area.

  • Mourning dove, Sept. 1- Oct. 29; Statewide.

  • Crow- first season, Sept. 1- Oct. 31; Statewide.

  • Canada geese- early season, Sept. 5-20; Statewide.

  • Youth Waterfowl Hunt, Sept. 12-13; Statewide.

  • Ruffed and spruce grouse, Sept.19- Jan. 3; Statewide.

  • Deer- archery, Sept. 19- Dec. 31; Statewide.

  • Sandhill crane, Sept. 19- Oct. 25; Northwest goose zone.

  • Woodcock, Sept. 19- Nov. 2; Statewide.

  • Sharp-tailed grouse, Sept. 19- Nov. 30; Northwest zone.

  • Squirrel, Sept. 19- Feb. 28; Statewide.

  • Ducks- season 1, Sept. 26- Nov. 24; North duck zone.

  • Fall turkey, OCt. 3- Nov. 1; Statewide.

  • Pheasant, Oct. 10- Jan. 3; Statewide.

  • Raccoon, red fox, gray fox, badger, opossum hunting and trapping, Oct. 17- March 15; North furbearer zone.

  • Beaver, Oct. 24- May 15; North furbearer zone.

  • Otter, Oct. 24- Jan. 24; North furbearer zone.

  • Mink, Oct. 24- Feb. 28; North furbearer zone.

  • Deer season opener, Nov. 7; Statewide.

  • Deer- firearm season A, Nov. 7-22; 200 and 300 series permit areas.

  • Deer- firearm season B, Nov. 21-29; 300 series permit areas.

  • Deer- muzzleloader, Nov. 28- Dec. 13; Statewide.

  • Crow- second season, Dec. 15- Jan. 15; Statewide.

  • Bobcat, Dec. 19- Jan 24; North of I-94 and U.S. Highway 10.

  • Fisher, Dec. 19-27; North of I-94 and U.S. Highway 10.

  • Pine Marten, Dec. 19-27; North of I-94 and U.S. Highway 10.

Fishing season:

  • Smallmouth bass catch-and-release, Spet. 14- Feb. 28; Statewide.

  • Lake sturgeon catch-and-release only- North Dakota border waters, June 16- March 14; Minn. waters bordering N.D.

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