OUTDOORS REPORT: Winter's early arrival sets back fall activities
Lake of the Woods
Good fall walleye fishing continues, but stormy weather this week, including strong north winds, likely will stir up the water along the south shore for a few days. As of early this week, walleyes and shiners were staging in 20 to 29 feet of water near Lighthouse Gap at the mouth of the Rainy River. Good reports also are coming from the Rainy River. It's a typical fall pattern: Anchor up and jig with a minnow or frozen shiner.
Up at the Northwest Angle, fishing remains excellent, with limits of walleyes reported in 17 to 25 feet of water, Lake of the Woods Tourism said. Jigging remains the go-to technique, and anglers should look for pinch points and areas of current outside of bays. Crappie activity has been strong in Ontario waters, where fish are suspended over mud bottom areas in 24 to 28 feet of water, Lake of the Woods Tourism said.
The water temperature at Wheeler's Point was 44.3 degrees on Thursday morning.
Another cold week with rain and snow has sped up the cooling process on area lakes, and many deeper lakes are beginning to turn over, according to Bemidji area fishing guide Paul Nelson. During fall turnover, colder water at the bottom of the lake rises to the surface, mixing with warmer water and creating equal water temperatures from top to bottom. This time of year, walleyes in the Bemidji area often can be found along the steep edges of structure or along shoreline breaks that have direct access to deep water, Nelson said.
Devils Lake waterfowl update
Snow, rain and cold has dominated weather patterns since late last week, bringing many new birds into the Lake Region, reported Mark Fisher, district wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Devils Lake. Most noticeably, snow geese and small Canada geese in many locations arrived by the thousands and took advantage of chisel-plowed wheat fields, Fisher said. More mallards appeared but are widely scattered, he said.
With the recent precipitation, access to prairie trails and fields has become horrible, Fisher said, and hunters either should use all-terrain vehicles or not go into fields at all because they are wet and soft. Diving ducks have arrived on Devils Lake as well as numerous tundra swans, Fisher said. Last weekend, hunter pressure was very light with very few nonresident hunters observed around the area, he said.
Northwest Minnesota waterfowl update
Roseau River Wildlife Management Area north of Badger, Minn.: Duck and goose numbers have been low over the past few days, the Department of Natural Resources reported Thursday in its weekly waterfowl update. Hunters took 3.1 and 0.5 ducks per hunter last Saturday and Sunday, respectively, with ringnecks and green-winged teal the dominant birds in the bag. Snow and brisk winds should bring additional birds down from Canada. Access remains good on the managed pools, but the Roseau River still is very low.
Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area near Middle River, Minn.: Many birds left the area over the weekend and early in the week, but there has been an uptick in geese and ringneck ducks since Wednesday, the DNR said. Bag checks have ranged from 1.05 to 4.4 ducks per hunter over the past week. Success has declined after high weekend hunting pressure. Ringnecks and redheads are the top two birds in the bag.
Fall color update
Thanks to winter's early, unwelcome arrival, this will be the last fall colors update of the season, but here's a look at conditions across the region as of early this week as reported by North Dakota Tourism and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources:
• Northern Red River Valley: About 85 percent of the leaves have turned.
• Turtle River State Park near Arvilla, N.D.: About 85 percent of the trees are showing browns, yellows, golds and rusts.
• Pembina Gorge: Golds and yellows are appearing, and about 95 percent of the trees have turned shades of gold, red and orange.
• Devils Lake: About 80 percent of the trees have turned various shades of yellow and orange.
• Red River State Recreation Area: Leaves are at 75 to 100 percent color, but white is the dominant color on the landscape after this week's snow.
• Lake Bemidji State Park: Maples are peaking, and birch and aspen trees have turned a brilliant gold; white from this week's snowstorm offsets the reds, yellows and golds.
• Zippel Bay State Park, Minn.: Trees are at 75 to 100 percent color, offering an array of yellows and golds.
• Itasca State Park, Minn.: Trees are at 75 to 100 percent color, but the recent wintry mix of snow, rain and strong winds will accelerate the dropping of leaves.
• Hayes Lake State Park, Minn.: Colors are past their peak, with the yellow leaves now turning brown and starting to fall.
• Lake Bronson State Park, Minn.: Colors are past their peak, and there may not be any leaves left by this weekend after this week's wet, heavy snow.
• Old Mill State Park: Colors are past their peak, and white is the dominant color after this week's snowstorm.
-- Herald staff reports