As we enter into October, the local forecast is calling for warmer than usual temperatures and there’s not too much chance for precipitation. The fall colors will likely peak within a week or so and the mild weather will certainly get some folks out for a scenic drive or a fall color hike. Some of those hikers will wear blaze orange on and are looking for the elusive ruffed grouse. Grouse drumming counts were up this spring and there’s speculation it will be a very good season. So far though, there’s been a lot of cover and the birds have been holding tight. As the cover comes down, they will be more inclined to flush.
The mild weather is also a blessing for anglers, as the fall bite is usually pretty good. Walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike and crappie are all trying to take full advantage of the fall forage in the lake. You can do well fishing for walleye and crappie around the reef and structure, while the smallmouth and northern pike will be more likely around the shallower shorelines and weed beds.
The navigation bouys on Rainy Lake are being removed and the Voyageurs National Park Visitor Centers have gone to seasonal hours. The Rainy Lake Visitor Center is open Wednesday through Sunday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. The Kabetogama and Ash River Visitor Centers are closed until the spring.
Fall colors are showing in about 25% of the forest and some of the maples are downright show-offs. Expect to see more colors joining the palette as we officially enter autumn. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources expects we will have excellent fall colors due to the abundant rain this summer. The leaves will last longer if we have fairly mild weather, no overnight frosts and limited wind gusts. Right now, the 10 day forecast calls for moderate daytime temperatures and no hard frost. Sure there’s some rain in the picture, but also many days with bright sunny conditions.
Fall is a time when Rainy Lake fishing gets a bit better. Although there’s plenty of forage in the lake as we head toward winter, the fish are also aggressively feeding precisely because we are heading for winter. Walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike and crappie are the main game fish.
Hunters are getting out to enjoy the fall too, the small game season opened with many reports of flushing ruffed grouse from the likely coverts. While hunting is banned within Voyageurs National Park, Koochiching County is blessed with vast tracts of public land open to hunting and accessibly by forestry roads and hiking trails. Forest cover does remain fairly thick and hunters say they can almost be on top of the grouse before they flush. That will change as the cover comes down. Broods from the summer are also starting to disperse and find their own new areas, so you might find birds in areas that just don’t seem to be the right habitat.
Wildlife watchers are taking advantage of the start of migrations bringing all sorts of songbirds and waterfowl making their way through our major fly-way area. Whitetail deer are browsing a bit heavier and black bear are feeding heavily.
Very Cool Interactive Website!
The Heart of the Continent site is a National Geographic Geo-tourism site where points of interest, scenic vistas, unique places to visit or eat or stay have been listed. The site is fairly easy to navigate. Zoom in on an area, Like International Falls and you will see icons representing things to see, places to eat, recreational opportunities and the like. Those icons can be filetered so if you want to see only Recreational opportunities, you can do that.The Heart of the Continent area stretches from International Falls and Fort Frances (and the historic Rainy River mounds west of here) to Duluth in the United States and Thunder Bay in Ontario, Canada and all the points within that rough triangle.The site is also mobile friendly so you can use it while you are traveling. See the “Travel the Heart” site here.