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Although the first day of fall isn’t for a few more weeks, the Labor Day weekend has always meant the beginning of the fall season for me. Football season begins after that holiday and the deer hunting archery season begins on Sept. 13th and runs through the 31st of December. This means the open water fishing season is now on a relatively short leash. Don’t put away the fishing poles and tackle boxes just yet because there is still plenty of action to be found on the water.

I’ve never been an avid deer hunter like a lot of folks in our area but I can understand what folks see in the sport. It definitely takes a lot of patience to sit in the woods hours on end waiting for that perfect shot. On the other hand, spending time in the woods watching wildlife and anticipating the trophy buck you are seeking may be just over the rise or behind a clump of trees can be fulfilling in itself.

My son Brian first started bow hunting with his Uncle Lynn when he was in high school, and Lynn taught him a lot about the sport, but most importantly he taught him to appreciate the outdoors and when to take a shot and when not to. Taking a bad shot can result in crippling a deer, causing it to run off and maybe not be found for days, if at all.

After Lynn moved away Brian kept bow hunting for a couple of more years before deciding to put bow hunting on hold. He has been talking about starting to bow hunt again, but so far it hasn’t happened. Hunting is not as uncomplicated as fishing because you have to either have permission to hunt private land or use public land. Fortunately for area residents that like to hunt there are at least 11 WMA’s (Wildlife Management Areas) available to outdoorsmen in Freeborn County.

One crisp and sunny October morning when Brian was still hunting, he asked me if I’d like to go with to see where he was hunting. If you were to make a prototype of a perfect fall day, that day would be as close as you’d get. We drove to an area between Bricelyn and Frost that Lynn and Brian had been hunting. Brian didn’t plan on hunting that morning; he just wanted to show his dad the beauty of those woods so I could understand how attractive it could be to anyone that truly enjoys the outdoors. He didn’t have to do much selling before I realized how much enjoyment a person could get out of just sitting in a tree stand on a day like this and although it didn’t make me want to go out and buy a bow, it did remind me of how much I truly enjoy spending time in the outdoors on crisp, sunny fall days.

I’d have to say that this is one of the many reasons that fall has always been my favorite season. In a way there is something a little bit lonely about fall because it signals the end of summer and the end of the growing season. It is probably the reason why when a person reaches that “golden age,” which I like to think of as a state of mind thing; it is referred to as the autumn of your life.

I have known some folks that liked to combine duck hunting and fishing so they could have the best of both worlds. One guy fished for walleye and hunted waterfowl on Lura Lake in the fall and had good success with both. Another would make an annual late fall trip to Lake of the Woods for a combined hunting and fishing vacation; what a great way to get the most out of the outdoors experience.

I plan to head north a couple of more times to do a little fishing and maybe even a little grouse hunting. I have seen numerous grouse in the area by our cabin all summer so you just never know. Fishing in the fall can sometimes be challenging, but it’s all good when you’re spending time on a lake. I have not found anything better than being on the lake enjoying the cool crisp air while taking in the beauty of the leaves as they change colors; it just makes everything seem right.

If you have ever enjoyed the smell of the fallen leaves in the forest, you know that there is definitely a different smell in the air after the first hard frost. This is when the foliage begins to turn brown and in most cases the lake vegetation also begins to die. Fishermen, at least “the old-timers” used to say that fishing got good again after that first hard frost. Somewhere along the way someone decided to analyze this and came up with the ph system or “turn over” as an explanation. I know that this is probably a scientific true-ism, but I’m sticking with the old-timers and using the first hard frost as a measuring stick. Whatever you want to believe, the bottom line is that fishing can be pretty darned good from mid-September ‘til ice-out and it’s one of the best times to land that trophy fish you have been seeking.

Until next time; there is still plenty of time left to enjoy the great outdoors with a weekend camping trip, do some fishing or just spend a day at one of our areas lakes.

Please take a little time to remember those who served and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today. 

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