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Sakakawea - Sep 14-23

If I were writing this post four days ago, I'd be saying things are still a little slow, the fish are super deep, and you can get a few here and there but we're waiting for a shift. As it stands now, though, the last four days have slowly progressed and gotten into a pretty good early fall bite. We've had limits of good fish the last three days on the water (Saturday being a wash out), the size and quality is much improved, and the fish are coming up to more manageable depths like 20-30 rather than 35-55. We've also started marking the baitfish schools up there too, so the gamefish likely follow.

I've fished both the Deepwater Bay area (Shell Island, Independence Point, East Slides, etc.) as well as the river by the Four Bears Casino (mostly the steep bluffs), and both have put out numbers of 17-22 inch fish for a few days now. Still getting some on crawlers, but minnows have started being more prominent. I haven't really gotten on a good jig bite, though, still mostly pulling bottom bouncers but rather slow at 0.8-1.0 mph. The minnow bite can be finicky, so make sure to give them time to really get ahold of it before pulling the trigger as you're sure to get some short bites otherwise.

I've also had luck with leadcore trolling as well as just pulling cranks slowly behind bottom bouncers. To the extent that color matters to anyone, I have noticed that anything orange and brown does seem to produce quite well right now be it a spinner color or a crankbait color. Water surface temps are around 62-64 degrees most locations.

The areas that have produced best have started to become the traditional fall "steep & deep" structure. Flats and slow, tapering structures are best left behind until next year; instead I've found most fish on steep, main-lake cut banks or the steep breaking sides of submerged islands, especially those right near the old river channel as fish are likely using that highway as they migrate and stop off at these spots to feed.

It's also worth noting, if you're a smallmouth bass fisherman, find a rock pile in 15-25 feet of water with some marks on it, drop down a jig and minnow, and you'll have some extremely fast and furious action right now. We're talking a fish every other minute if you hit the right time and place as the smallie bite is on fire right now. You have to stop and probe those spots, though, as a quick trolling pass might not get a bite or reveal any marks on your electronics in the midst of the rocks.

It should only get better from here on out, so I'd love to see you on the water with me this fall!

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