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.