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OUTDOOR REPORT: Walleye action gathers steam, waterfowl migration updates, fall colors past peak in many areas

Lake of the Woods

Walleyes are showing up in increasing numbers along the south shore, including areas near Long Point, Zippel Bay, Lighthouse Gap, Four-Mile Bay and the Rainy River, Lake of the Woods Tourism reports in its weekly update. Anglers are picking through small fish, especially on the lake, to find keepers, and best action is in 18 to 30 feet of water. Anchor up and jig with a shiner minnow. Fishing along the Rainy River continues to improve as more shiners move into the river, the report said, and vertical jigging or trolling crankbaits both are producing fish.

Up at the Northwest Angle, look for walleyes in Minnesota waters between islands in current areas in 13 feet to 26 feet of water, Lake of the Woods Tourism said. Walleye fishing also is good in Ontario waters, where jigs tipped with a chub or shiner minnow are producing fish in 18 to 26 feet of water off points, the report said.

Devils Lake

Recent reports are hard to come by as more anglers shift to hunting mode. Current areas near bridges and deeper structure are good bets for walleyes this time of year. Vertical jigging is a favorite technique among many fall anglers, but live bait rigs and crankbaits also can be productive.

Bemidji area

Water temperatures now are in the low to mid 50s, and the walleye bite has "kicked into gear," Dick Beardsley of Dick Beardsley's Fishing Guide Service reports. Walleyes are hitting jigs and minnows in 12 to 14 feet of water, Beardsley said, especially along wind-blown weedlines.

Bass are still active off the deep weed edges on most area lakes, Beardsley said. Crappies continue to hold in 8 to 12 feet of water around green cabbage, but some fish now are beginning to move into their traditional fall haunts suspended above deep basins, Beardsley said.

Waterfowl update

• Devils Lake region: Migration has just begun, and skeins of Arctic-nesting Canada geese and tundra swans have been quite noticeable throughout the area, according to Mark Fisher, wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Devils Lake. Diver duck numbers began picking up, and many hunters on big water had success primarily with lesser scaup, Fisher said. Hunting success slowed down compared with the opening weekend despite breezy conditions, Fisher said. Federal Wildlife Officer Alli Goldman reported hunters averaged between two and three birds per gun with mallards, northern pintails and gadwall being the most abundant birds in the bag. Hunters who hunt over water are cautioned to be safe when venturing across open water because winds can increase or change directions rapidly. Be sure to wear personal flotation devices, don't overload the boat and check weather apps regularly, Fisher recommends.

• Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area near Middle River, Minn.: An estimated 2,100 Canada geese are using the lake, based on a ground survey Tuesday. Hunter pressure has increased, and bag checks have varied from 2.19 to 3.07 ducks per hunter per day. Ringnecks and redheads are the most abundant birds in the bag.

• Roseau River WMA north of Badger, Minn.: There was a significant influx of Canada geese, mallards, ringnecks and gadwalls into the area last Thursday and Friday, and thousands of mallards were holding in Roseau Lake as of midweek. Ringneck and redhead numbers are good in the western pools. Hunting pressure was light last weekend, with hunters taking an average of 2.6, 2.1 and 3.2 ducks per hunter Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Ringnecks, gadwall, wigeon and mallards were the most common birds in the bag.

Fall colors update

• Red River State Recreation Area: False and woodland sunflowers are in bloom, and cottonwood and aspen leaves have turned golden; 75 to 100 percent color.

• Itasca State Park: Colors are past peak, but red oaks remain a burnt red and orange color. Aspen trees are losing their leaves, and bur oaks are nearly bare.

• Old Mill State Park: Trees are quickly losing their leaves, and colors are past peak.

• Lake Bronson State Park: Colors are past peak, and forecast windy conditions will accelerate the rate at which trees lose their remaining leaves.

• Hayes Lake State Park: Most of the trees have shed their leaves, but flashes of color remain; past peak.

• Zippel Bay State Park, Minn.: Leaves are at 75 percent to 100 percent color.

• Lake Bemidji State Park: Maples are past peak, but oaks are coming on strong with dark red and copper colors. Tamaracks are beginning to turn gold.

• Big Bog State Recreation Area near Waskish, Minn.: Tamaracks are bright yellow and orange, and trees are holding on to brightly colored leaves; 75 percent to 100 percent color.

-- Herald staff reports

Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken is editor of the Herald's Northland Outdoors section and also works as a copy editor and page designer. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998. He also writes a blog called Compass Points. A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

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