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Fall Fishing on Sand Lake – Walleye, Northern, Perch, Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, Crappie & Panfish

by Jason Boser,Professional Guide with Minnesota Fishing ProsFall fishing on Sand Lake in Itasca County. What a great time of the year to be out on the water! It’s a time for enjoying the changing colors of the leaves, the smell of fall in the air, cool but not cold weather, wildlife all around and usually very active fish.

When I am fishing Sand Lake in the fall for walleye I usually look for big flats and bars that drop off into deep water. The structure needs to drop fast, not the usual slow sloping drops you would look for during the hot summer months. I like both weeds and rocks this time of the year. The weeds will be starting to die off so you need to find some that are still green as they will hold the fish. Sand Lake has an abundance of such structure. The nice thing about fall fishing is that when you target areas for walleye you will also catch northern pike, crappie and perch. When you find a perch or two, stay in that area awhile because there will usually be more. The perch in Sand Lake are world class with lots of them coming in at 11 to 13 inches and some even in the 14 inch range. The northern will be cruising the flats looking for food and you can expect to catch a few during every outing.

What should you use for bait on Sand Lake in the fall? I always start with a jig and minnow. A 1/8 oz. Northland Gumball is my first choice. I like a longer shank hook in the fall. If we have lots of wind or I am going fishing really deep water I will switch to a ¼ oz jig. I will pick a color that has a little flash to it – my favorite being Glow/Blue. I will try to find a shiner but as we all know that can be difficult in the fall of year so instead I use a Rainbow, light sucker or a chub. Just remember that in the fall the baitfish will be bigger so you want to use a bigger bait if possible. You can also use a crawler in the fall. Tie up a Lindy Rig with a crawler. At times this can be a deadly bait.

Now that we know where to catch walleye, perch and northern in the fall lets talk about one of my favorite fall fish to target, the crappie. They are schooling up this time of the year in the deep water off humps and deep-water dropoffs. You can cruise around on the edge of the deep-water drops or the multiple humps on Sand and look for schools of crappie on your depth finder. When you find them just throw out a marker and try and stay on them. Vertical jigging is the key. Drop down a 1/32, 1/16, or even as heavy as a 1/8 oz. jig tipped with a crappie minnow and let the fun begin. In the fall these fish are active. If you get the bait to them they will bite! When you are jigging for crappie you just never know what you will bring in. Walleye, northern pike, perch, smallmouth bass and even rock bass will be schooled up in the same deep water.

Last but surely not least is the bass. Both largemouth and smallmouth bass are in Sand Lake. The smallies in Sand Lake are of average abundance and when you catch one it’s usually a dandy. Look for them on the edge of the deep rocks. Use a jig and minnow to get them to bite. Largemouth bass are a different story. There is a large population in Sand Lake and fall is the best time to go after them. You can do this two ways. Either cast a weedless jig, or a worm harness that will go through the weeds and bring it back over a drop. Or cast a floater and run across the tops of the weeds past the dropoff and you will find some good action.

So there you have it! Fall fishing on Sand Lake – the best there is!!! Good luck fishing…

A Word About Lakewood Lodge

I have worked with Lakewood Lodge for the past year. I can say I have seen them in action and you will have a hard time finding a more customer-oriented family than Steve and Danielle Casselman. Not only do they have a great spot to fish, swim, play or just relax, by the time you leave you will feel like part of the family. It is truly an Up North experience.

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