Sometimes things just work out, as they did for me two weeks ago when I had a chance to return to northern Minnesota to do some fall fishing for the first time in many years. I began reviewing all the information I had compiled over the years about late-season patterns on northern lakes for bass, northern pike and walleye.

Fall brings cool water and decaying weed beds, which force bluegills to look for deeper cover. Young fish, too, must relocate – not just because of lack of cover, but because decaying weeds reduce the oxygen in the water. Bass begin their search for a deeper habitat for when the water freezes, and as food becomes scarcer, all species will start feeding heavily to put on food fat for the winter months. Northerns and muskies begin cruising the remaining weed-bed edges in search of a meal. With all this data, I pulled out my largest deep-diving crankbaits, 1/2-ounce and 3/4-ounce jigs, and my large northern and muskie baits in preparation for the trip. I peeled a bunch of my light line off the reels and put on 20-pound braided line for the bigger fish.

We arrived Saturday afternoon. It was great to see the lake again, but I noticed the trees had not much changed from earlier this summer. I had anticipated the start of some fall color. The 60-degree afternoon air felt great as I put the boat in the water, but that is when all my preparation went out the window. The water temperature, instead of being in the low 60s or even upper 50s, was 72 degrees. So much for fall fishing. I took a little run around the lake and found a lot of weed beds still green and strong.

It turned out to be a great week of fishing, but I had to go back to my summer patterns and lures. I caught some of the biggest fish of the season. It just goes to show that a fisherman has to be flexible. With all my preparation, the lake, the fish and Mother Nature had other plans for the week. Until next time…keep a tight line.

P.S. This is a reminder not to miss this last weekend of fishing at Lovelace Park.

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