About all the leaves have turned now, and the contrast to the remaining evergreens is about at the peak. This is the time to take in the fall colors, they will be coming down now as the cooler fall weather sets in. Koochiching County has a variety of mixed forests providing splashes of peak color on a scenic drive. Many visitors are interested in the tamarac of our northern forest. Tamarac look like the coniferous evergreens, but are actually a hardwood with needle like leaves that do turn a tawny gold and fall off.
Get out and hike one of the nearby trails, you might spot some wildlife among the peak colors. There’s a great paved recreation trail from the Voyageurs National Park Rainy Lake Visitor Center to Minnesota 11 on the south shore of Rainy Lake. That trail connects with one that heads west to International Falls about 11 miles away if you’re more into a bike ride.
Grouse hunters have been getting out on the hunter walking trails in the area, and they are certainly flushing some birds. The spring drumming count helps estimate the population and the counts were up this spring. There are better than a dozen maintained hunter walking trails in Koochiching County and dozens of forestry roads that pass through old harvests showing various age classes of regeneration. The most ideal grouse habitat happens to be the edges where aspen regeneration about the size of your wrist meets with older sections of the forest. Peak fall colors usually signals that underbrush will be thinning making grouse more inclined to flush.
Some anglers are getting out on Rainy Lake with the still mild fall weather and they are having some success too. Walleye have been most active in the morning and evening. try a jig and minnow if it’s fairly calm and slow troll with a minnow if there’s a bit of a chop on the water. Crappie and northern pike are most active around Black Bay. Smallmouth Bass are most likely along the rocky shoreline from around Dryweed Island to Lost Bay.