October has everything for athletes
If only there were six October. With so many opportunities available this month, trying to cram it all in just 31 days is an unfair test for any outdoor enthusiast. The fall fishing bite is hot throughout the Midwest, and big game archery seasons are in full swing. You can’t ignore the amazing wing shooting, but waterfowl hunting is calling you too. If you are a complete sportsman, October is when you travel with a bow, shotgun, and fishing rod in your truck at the same time. That’s it. Prime time. Make the most. Here are some of my best suggestions.
South Dakota: pheasant opener
The South Dakota pheasant opener is one of the biggest hunting businesses in North America. This year it takes place on October 16. Filming begins at 10 a.m. and lasts until sunset.
With plenty of public land and private land listed in the state’s Walk-in-Area (WIA) program, hunters should be able to find a place to hunt without the need for an outfitter. That said, the state is home to many top notch guides and private lodges that meet all the needs of a pheasant hunter. In 2019, nearly 500,000 pheasants were harvested in South Dakota.
Indiana: Patoka Lake Crappie
With an area of 8,800 acres, Patoka Lake is Indiana’s second largest reservoir. This lake is an incredible fishery, with quality bass, bluegill and catfish. But with deep coves and standing woods scattered all over, it’s best known for crappie fishing. Crappies are fun to catch and good to eat. Using minnows under slip-bobbers is a common tactic, but jigs often work just as well. At this time of year, you will regularly catch fish in 10 to 15 feet of water. Use your sonar to locate the brush piles and you should be in the money. The crappie bite should stay strong all month.
Michigan: Walleye from the Little Bay of Noc
Michigan’s upper peninsula is a special fishing destination. Wedged between two Great Lakes and littered with rivers, streams and inland waters, the UP offers a variety of fishing opportunities that are difficult to compare. Little Bay de Noc is a 30,000 acre bay on Lake Michigan near Escanaba, known for its strong walleye population. If you’re looking to catch a giant trophy-sized walleye then Little Bay de Noc is the place to go and October is the month to be there. Walleye stuff themselves in October to prepare for the long winter months. Trolling around river mouths is a better bet.
Kentucky: the first mouth-loading Whitetails
The idea of Daniel Boone crossing Kentucky with his muzzle-loading pistol inspires a sense of nostalgia and the desire to try your luck by taking money under the same limits centuries later. Still, if buckskins and flintlock guns aren’t your bag, you can chase White Tails with modern smoke poles in Kentucky at the start of the Muzzleloading Season which runs from 16-17. October. Hunters can harvest a deer of either sex in zones 1, 2 and 3. Hunters can only harvest antler deer in zone 4.
Missouri: Taneycomo Brown Trout
The Missouri state record for brown trout changed hands twice in 2019, with the new record being a giant 40-pound, 6-ounce fish that fell just below the world record under two pounds . In October, brown trout leave the depths of Lower Lake and ascend to Table Rock Dam to spawn. Targeting them with jerkbaits this month will produce many of the biggest fish of the year. With every throw there is a realistic possibility of snagging the next brown trout world record and returning that honor to the United States from New Zealand where the current record of 42 pounds and 1 ounce sits.
The Missouri Department of Conservation stores approximately 750,000 trout in Taneycomo each year. These stocked fish allow the lake to actively serve trout fishermen who want to keep their fish to eat. While focusing on targeting big browns, you can still fill a cooler with pan-sized rainbows.
Meet on the trail.
Brandon Butler writes an outdoors column for The Republic. Send your comments to [email protected] For more from Driftwood Outdoors, check out the podcast at www.driftwoodoutdoors.com or wherever podcasts are streamed.