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Outdoors Report: Fall walleye fishing on the upswing, waterfowl hunters have mixed opener

A Minnesota angler holds a walleye before releasing it. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials are considering reducing the state's walleye limit from six to four. News Tribune file

Lake of the Woods

Walleyes are following emerald shiners as they move shallow and into the Rainy River, and anglers report an increase in walleye numbers at the Lighthouse Gap and along the south shore, Lake of the Woods Tourism said in its weekly update. Some of the more successful areas include the main basin of Big Traverse Bay and Morris Point Gap, where fish are hitting jigs tipped with shiners in 27 to 30 feet of water. Big numbers of shiners are moving into the Rainy River, the report said, and anglers are catching lots of walleyes in these areas, especially during the morning and evening hours. Up at the Northwest Angle, walleyes are hitting jigs and shiners in 20 to 24 feet of water.

Bemidji

Walleyes are hitting jigs and minnows in 12 feet to 14 feet of water off the weed edges or in 17 to 21 feet off the sharp breaks. Pike are on the prowl in these areas, as well. Look for bass along 12- to 14-foot weedlines or the edges of midlake humps and bars. Crappies and bluegills continue to hold in and along the green cabbage in 8 to 12 feet of water, where jigs with plastics are the ticket. Crappies will suspend over deep water once water temperatures drop below 60 degrees.

Devils Lake waterfowl update

Waterfowl hunting was mixed over the opening weekend in the Lake Region, reports Mark Fisher, wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Devils Lake. Rainy weather with accumulations nearing 2 inches were reported across the Lake Region, which limited access to many hunters seeking ducks in grain fields, he said.

The outlook for this weekend is dry, and access to grain fields should improve. There are many ducks spread out across the region, Fisher said, and green-winged teal, gadwall and mallards are abundant, as well as local giant Canada geese.

Wetland conditions remain very good, Fisher said, and opportunities look promising. Hunters seeking divers such as lesser scaup may have to wait, as those birds are not abundant at this time, he said.

Minnesota waterfowl update

• Roseau River Wildlife Management Area north of Badger, Minn.: The Roseau River has risen 3 to 4 feet in the past week, flooding backwaters and oxbows and improving access, the Department of Natural Resources reports. Good numbers of geese and cranes are in the area, and a modest number of mallards have moved in; teal and wood ducks are abundant, and the first buffleheads and goldeneyes have appeared in recent days. Hunters averaged 2.6 ducks per hunter opening weekend, down from 3.2 last year. The basin of Roseau Lake continues to fill, which will provide prime habitat for dabbling ducks.

• Thief Lake WMA near Middle River, Minn.: Canada geese and mallards are common in large groups, especially near areas with wild rice. Overall wood duck numbers increased, and ring-necked duck numbers are holding steady, the DNR said. Hunters averaged 3.5 birds in the bag opening weekend, up from 2.7 last year and the highest ever recorded, the DNR said. Recent rains have pushed the level of Thief Lake near target levels.

Fall colors update

• Turtle River State Park: Most of the yellows are at peak, but oaks haven't started turning, North Dakota Tourism reported in its weekly update; about 60 percent of the leaves have changed.

• Pembina Gorge: Leaves are about 60 percent color, with an abundance of yellows, golds, browns and reds showing up.

• Devils Lake: About 35 percent color, with lots of yellow.

• Old Mill State Park, Minn.: Leaves are at 75 percent to 100 percent color.

• Lake Bronson State Park, Minn.: 75 to 100 percent color.

• Red River State Recreation Area: 50 to 75 percent color.

• Lake Bemidji State Park: 50 to 75 percent color.

• Itasca State Park: 50 to 75 percent color.

• LaSalle Lake State Recreation Area, Minn.: 50 to 75 percent color.

• Zippel Bay State Park, Minn.: 25 to 50 percent color.

• Hayes Lake State Park, Minn.: Past peak.

-- Herald staff reports

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