One would expect to see rising surface temperatures during a period of warm, 80 degree days. That hasn't been the case over the weekend though; cool overnight temperatures combined with strong winds have kept surface temperatures holding steady at about 65 degrees.
The cooler, stable temps meant that the Jig and Minnow bite held steady for us and despite observing other fishermen who were successfully using the familiar spinner and minnow pattern, we stuck with 1/16 ounce Lindy Jigs tipped with Fatheads. For my crew, that meant heading home with their bag limits of Walleye, Crappie and some bonus Perch.
From what I could see, I believe that we were catching fewer fish by using the jig and minnow. But the payoff was that that our average size fish were larger, at least that's my belief. What I can say for sure that our average fish, especially Walleye, was better than the ones we've been catching using spinners in recent weeks. Plus, we were enjoying steady action, along with the simplicity of the jig and minnow pattern.
Walleye and Perch were located on the weed edges in water depths of about 8 feet. There were Northern Pike on hand too and if we fished in the heaviest weeds, the Pike became problematic. The Walleye and Perch held along the clean outside edges of weed beds.
Crappies were holding further outside the weeds in water depths of 16 to 20 feet. We stuck with the 1/16 ounce jigs for Crappie too and tipped them with the smallest Fatheads we could find in the minnow pail. In some areas, we noticed the effect of fishing pressure on the Crappies; they were much easier to see on the Humminbird than they were to catch. But by searching, we did eventually find enough fish to consistently bag limits of them for everybody.
Jig and minnow combinations fished in 8 feet of water added some bonus jumbos to our larder.
Crappies held deeper, in water depths of 16 to 20 feet.
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Fishing Report August 28, 2015 - Answering The Answerable and Guessing The Guessable
Have you ever had somebody hit you with a bad question at the exact wrong time? I have, but luckily it hasn't happened since last night.
I'd been home for an hour or so, almost recovered from a tough day on the water; I'd wrapped up my chores and came into the office to check emails and found this; Q) Jeff, I sent you a message back at the end of June asking about walleye fishing in late August or September. We decided on coming up this next week to try and find some walleye. After reading your fishing report for today, it appears we may have picked wrong. Sounds like we should probably make sure to have a lot of crappie minnows along. If we are going to fish walleye, do you suggest getting out on the big lake of Winnie as long as the wind allows us or are we better off trying to find them in Cutfoot? Again, any suggestions are greatly appreciated. The flashback was incredible, after a couple of days struggling to bag some lock-jawed walleye myself, the last thing I wanted to do was tout myself as an authority about what to do this weekend.
In a nutshell, my original response to the question was something like; "Well, I think that we'll have to hope that we get lucky and stumble into some un-expected good fortune". AND YES, if you read these reports, YOU KNOW that stumbling into un-expected, good fortune is very much a part of the Cub Reporter, Staff #003, authorized book of game plans.
After sleeping a few hours and having time to think it over, and after looking at the weather forecast, I have something of a more scientific answer. With warm temperatures and sunny skies in the forecast, my best educated guess is that there will be more fish pulling back into the weeds. The deep weed patterns that I mentioned a week ago are likely to be in play again this week. Assuming that the forecast is accurate and that we do have sunny skies and calm seas, the fish will probably be most active during the evening and/or early morning.
On Thursday, Surface Temperatures on Winnibigosh were heeded back toward 70 degrees and that means the spinner and minnow combination could be back on the agenda, especially for the mixed bag of Pike and Walleye.
Another late summer presentation to remember is the "wiggle worm", a 1/16 Lindy Jig tipped with a night crawler. The light weight jigs are perfect for getting into those hard to reach places like deep weeds and they won't get hung up all of the time. It is a presentation that many of my customers have used to beat the odds during a tough bite.
The news about Crappie fishing has become common knowledge and there will be some added pressure on the few schools of deep water fish. Remember what I wrote yesterday, there are still Crappies in the weeds too. So fishing the weed edges with small jigs and action tails may get you into some un-tapped schools of fish. On Cutfoot, using this approach during low light periods may also get you into better position for stumbling into one of those unexpected episodes of good luck. That's because Walleye, Pike and Bass inhabit the shallow weed edges too and there are probably some early rising fish that haven't seen a fisherman in weeks.
As an authority on being optimistic and as someone who has witnessed the unexpected, happy endings of fish droughts before, I AM going out today with a positive attitude and renewed enthusiasm. Of course, whatever I learn today, you will be the first to know, tomorrow.
DNR NEWS - August 2015
DNR redoubles Mille Lacs Lake walleye management efforts
The DNR announced today it is implementing several concrete steps aimed at improving the Mille Lacs Lake walleye population, while building a closer working relationship with the Mille Lacs community.
“Mille Lacs is an incredibly important fishery for Minnesota,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr, “and we are redoubling our efforts to ensure its long-term health.”
“I strongly support the actions Commissioner Landwehr has taken today,” said Gov. Mark Dayton. “These measures will be essential in restoring Lake Mille Lacs to greatness, and in earning the public’s trust.”
Mille Lacs Lake, known as a “walleye factory” for many years, has seen a steep decline in its walleye population, which is now at a 30-year low. On Aug. 3, the DNR closed the lake to walleye fishing after state anglers exceeded the quota of 28,600 pounds.
The intensified focus on the lake calls for action on several fronts. Some of this work is already underway:
Mille Lacs Staffing and Facilities Changes
• New Project Leader and Additional Staff: The DNR will create a new fisheries office to focus exclusively on Mille Lacs; assign a new Mille Lacs project leader; add a new outreach specialist; and provide more staff support for monitoring and technical analysis on the lake. These staff will provide more capacity for monitoring, foster better communication with local stakeholders, help with hatchery and stocking efforts, and assist the community with outreach and marketing efforts.
• New Fisheries Facility: The DNR will work with the Legislature to secure funding for a new fisheries management facility that will include a cool-water hatchery. The facility will be built in the Mille Lacs community and will provide room for monitoring equipment and staff. The space will accommodate educational, visitor and interpretive functions as well as serving as a location for public information meetings. Bond funds will be requested during the 2016 legislative session for facility construction. Until a new facility is available, the DNR will lease an office in a community near the lake to house the project leader and other Mille Lacs Lake staff.
Biological Actions on Mille Lacs
• Pilot Stocking Effort: The DNR will stock walleye fry in Mille Lacs in 2016 in a pilot effort to develop and refine techniques. While stocking is not necessary today with the abundant natural spawning, the DNR wants to be ready to go if and when such stocking becomes necessary. The pilot will help develop techniques to maintain the unique genetics of the lake, ensure that aquatic invasive species in Mille Lacs are not spread to other water bodies, and identify appropriate stocking levels. The DNR staff will chemically mark walleye fry to study their survival throughout their lifecycle. Egg-take, hatching, and stocking will occur in spring of 2016.
• Cormorant Control: The DNR is already in discussions with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to secure control permits for double-crested cormorants.
Community Outreach on Mille Lacs
• New Advisory Committee: The DNR will create a 12- to 16-member panel representing businesses, anglers, local officials, and others to help guide future management decisions. A draft charter is under development now and the commissioner will appoint members in September.
• Increased Transparency of Quota Setting: The DNR will increase the transparency of the quota-setting process by inviting two advisory committee members to attend and observe fisheries technical committee meetings.
• Promote Other Fishing and Outdoor Recreation: The DNR will promote other great fishing opportunities in the lake, including northern pike, smallmouth bass, and muskellunge, and the many recreational resources in the region. The DNR offers a wide variety of options for outdoor recreation in the Mille Lacs area including other lakes, hunting lands, state parks, bike trails, ATV and snowmobile trails, and paddling opportunities. In an ongoing partnership with Explore Minnesota Tourism, the DNR is collaborating on the Do the Lake outreach campaign.
Fishing Report August 27, 2015 - Pre-Fall Walleye Run; Closed?
They say that hind sight is 20/20 and yes, I can see it clearly, looking backwards does make forecasting a lot easier!
On Wednesday, it was easy to see that one of mine had come true, even though I wished it hadn't.
In my fishing report on August 11, I wrote; "Every summer, the transition between late summer and early fall causes a few hiccups. There are days when the fishing seems really easy, but then there are some zingers too. As the water temperatures cool and the days become shorter, fish respond by staging a very brief, “pre-fall feeding run”; at least that’s what I call it. The event typically hits full stride somewhere between the 3rd and 4th week of August, so if we’re not there yet, we are very close. It will be followed by another lull, one that makes it feel like we're fishing on the dead seas. The good news is that after that lull, then the real "fall runs" will begin and that will last a lot longer."
That window of opportunity for anglers to enjoy the "pre-fall Walleye run" has apparently closed, temporarily. I KNOW, I don't like it either, there are certain times when I wish I was wrong, but these seasonal transitions do come along, it's a fact.
Crappie provided our entertainment Wednesday. They were found along shoreline breaks in 18 to 22 feet of water. We caught most of the fish on 1/8 ounce Pink/Yellow Lindy Jigs tipped with minnows.
The fact that there was no wind and no cloud cover served to heighten the effect and for me, trying to catch Walleye was about as tough as it gets. Luckily, my crew, Brandon Watson and Abbie Smith
were both understanding and interested in Crappies.
Every year, there's a certain part of the summer where Panfish help carry me through tough Walleye fishing times. Yesterday was one of them and for me, it served to prove why it would be easy to just slip into panfish bliss for a couple of weeks and wait out the next big Walleye runs.
One of the interesting aspects of our trip yesterday was that while there were fish in deep water, there were still a lot of fish in shallow, weedy water too. In fact, there were fish in water so shallow and so weedy that I couldn't figure out a way to fish for them. That will have to be an on-going project, one that I'll report about more in the coming days.
For us, the easiest Crappies
to catch were located on shoreline breaks in water depths of 18 to 22 feet. Small packs of fish appeared on the screen at random intervals; they showed a slight preference for holding on the tips of points.
We caught most of the fish on 1/8 ounce Pink/Yellow Lindy Jigs tipped with minnows. I experimented with an Ice Worm tipped with a small artificial tail and that worked too, so did the 1/8 ounce jig with a piece of nightcrawler.
Surface temperatures were rebounding throughout the day, ranging between 67 and 69 degrees. The warm weather will slow down the migration and with more warm weather on the way, it would not be a surprise to see that the weeds become a primary target again.
From Lake Winnibigoshish (8/26) Bowen Lodge; Musky, Pike Fishing on Winnie and Cutfoot
"Todd Carlson had a very successful week of Muskie fishing at Bowen Lodge. He caught numerous fish of all sizes and was willing to share his secrets with other guests. Todd has been one of the most successful Musky Fishermen we've ever encountered in our 33 years at Bowen Lodge". - Way to Go Todd!! Jeff (Cubby) Skelly was on the water with Bowen Lodge guests on Tuesday. This group was targeting Muskies too and they were fortunate to see 2 of them. The Muskies were teasing instead of striking, but a couple of Pike, one 32 and another 35 inches were caught during the search as a bonus.
Later, the group fished weeds on the big lake and found some Walleyes, along with more Pike. Despite the chilly, 62 degree Surface Water temperature, they were able to catch fish trolling with spinners. Mid-60 degree water temperatures are probably going to be the norm for a while and these cooler conditions should encourage a jig and minnow presentation.
temperatures will rebound
a little, especially if we get one of the warm, early September weeks that we've enjoyed during recent seasons.
Photo of Todd Carlson, courtesy Bill Heig, Bowen Lodge.
"Todd has been one of the most successful Musky Fishermen we've ever encountered in our 33 years at Bowen Lodge". - Way to Go Todd!!"
Panfish are responding to cooler temperatures too and according to another local guide, Jeff Sundin early signs of fall fishing patterns are emerging.
After returning to the dock from a fishing trip with Bowen guests, Mike and Atcha Nolan on tuesday, the group reported surface temperatures that were warmer than Winnie, ranging between 65 and 67 degrees, depending on the location.
Fishing in Cutfoot/Little Cutfoot, the Nolans also reported catching their 2 person limit of 20 Crappies and another bonus, 15 Sunfish. Sundin reported that the Crappies they found were located primarily along the breaklines, between the weeds and deep water, their eventual fall destination. Key depths for Crappie ranged between 12 and 18 feet and there were signs that some of the fish were starting to group together in schools.
About the Sunfish, Sundin said that it was a little early for finding big schools of fish. They were able to locate some small packs of fish though and when they did, these fish were vulnerable to vertical jigging.
A 1/8 ounce black Lindy Jig tipped with a small piece of night crawler allowed the anglers to control their delivery in the breezy conditions. Sunfish preferred shallower water, the 12 to 14 foot range was most productive.
With stabilizing weather patterns, Walleye fishermen should have better access to the big lake. We're expecting to see reports about an uptick in the Walleye action as anglers enjoy better conditions. It shouldn't take long for the action to recover, providing another good week like the one we enjoyed before the recent cold snap. - Bowen Lodge
Even for us cool weather fans that look forward to fall, the recent cold snap has been more “good news” then we were ready for.
Rain, wind and chilly air temperatures have forced surface temperatures down and although they’ll recover somewhat, summer Walleye patterns are eroding and will soon give way to fall presentations.
So for me, the past few days have marked the end of the 2015 “spinny and minny” presentations. Not because that presentation won’t catch fish, no, it’s because surface temperatures have fallen into what I call the jigging zone.
With surface temperatures in the mid 60 degree range, Walleye metabolism slows down a bit. Their appetites won’t be diminished; they’ll be feeding heavily in preparation for winter. But their willingness to chase down fast moving baits will taper off and we already saw it play out over the past weekend.
As the effects of cold front took hold, Walleye that had been eager to strike spinners late last week, allowed me to pass by without giving us a sniff. They were still holding along the edges of Winnie’s deep weed beds in 11 to 13 feet of water and were easily visible on Humminbird.
I should have dropped everything and tried to catch them using a jig and minnow, but the wind was ugly enough to force me into Cutfoot Sioux instead. That’s where we discovered that some of Cutfoot’s Walleyes were indeed ready for jigging, but not in large numbers.
Luckily, the plummeting water temperatures played into my hand in terms of Crappie and Sunfish, providing an alternative to fishing for Walleye and Pike on the big lake.
It would be too soon to say that there’s a full scale, fall Panfish rampage under way. But for Crappie fishermen who are willing to do some searching, a limit of good fish can be accomplished.
A handful of the fish we’ve found were gathering in vertical schools along the sharp breakline edges of holes located near the shore; 18 to 24 feet is the magic number. More of them are currently holding on the shallower shoreline breaks located near shallow weed flats.
The cool water temperatures have forced Panfish out of the shallow weeds, but with temperatures rebounding, don’t be surprised if they run back into the weedy cover one more time before the real fall fishing patterns become firmly established.
Presentations are in a state of flux right now too, but in a good way. On Monday, we used 4 presentations and caught Panfish on all of them. First, we found a small school of Crappie and caught them by vertical jigging with a 1/8 ounce Lindy Jig tipped with a minnow.
Next, we found another small school of Crappies holding in 18 feet of water, but high above the bottom, about 6 feet below the water’s surface. We used slip floats to hold our baits at the correct depth and it worked like a charm.
Next, we found another small school of fish spread out horizontally along the shallow break in about 12 feet of water. This school was susceptible to trolling and we caught Crappies using a Redtail color Lindy Spinner and minnow trolled at about 1.0 MPH. That episode finished off our 3 man bag of Crappies, but we weren’t done fishing yet.
I’d been watching some fish on my Humminbird that were hugging the bottom, they didn’t look liked Crappies. So presentation #4, a 1/16 ounce Lindy Jig tipped with a pinched off piece of night crawler was sent down to investigate. The bottom huggers were Sunfish and they were willing to bite, but there were few giants among them. We found quite a few Bluegill and some Pumpkinseeds in the 6 to 8 inch range. There were a handful of fish in the 9 inch range too and the prospect of ferreting them out kept us at the task for a good while. We did bag some keepers, but I doubt that I could have made a full day out fishing solely for Sunfish.
For today, the prospect of finding some large size Perch is on my radar screen. With a lighter wind and little luck, I’ll be able to work the big lake effectively. You know, that when I know, you’ll know.
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Fishing Report August 22, 2015 - Winnie's Winning Weather
Weather is unpredictable, we all know that. But recognizing seasonal patterns that occur on or about the same general time every year isn't too tricky.
You may have already noticed, there's a pattern in play right now and it benefits Walleye fishermen on Winnibigoshish, in fact most of Minnesota's "Walleye Factories", surface temperatures are dropping.
A recent series of cool, rainy days kicked off another downward trend in surface temperatures and by Friday morning they were holding at 69 degrees. Only a few days earlier, they had been heading up, reaching 76 to 78 degrees on several area lakes, and somewhere around 75 degrees on Winne.
After the nose dive, a strong South wind tossed us up a couple of classic late August days; Grey, but warm. The warmer air temperatures helped stabilize surface water and once that happened, Walleyes began getting active again. I'd say that the bite has been dependable, providing that you can navigate to a place where you are able to fish.
On Friday, I got lucky-(er), when we were able to find manageable seas and active fish, both located in the same area at the same time.
The entire stretch of water along the east side of the lake contains scattered schools of fish. The weedline, now much deeper than it used to be, runs 12 to 13 feet deep and covers a span of at least a mile, maybe more.
There are gaps between the weed patches, making these fish very easy to spot on my Humminbird. Most of the time, a sighting of fish would result in somebody getting a strike, but not always. I would say that the fish were in a neutral mood, for us, plodding along with determination was the secret to catching fish.
Here we go, broken record time; our presentation was a Gold Little Joe Spinner tipped with a fathead minnow. Its still doing the job, so I've stuck with it, but when surface temps fall a few degrees more, I'll be ready for a switch.
In fact, there were times that I almost tempted myself into jigging instead, and as soon as it's practical, that presentation is going to make the agenda.
Fish in the "keeper range" are not big, but they are tasty. I'd say that most of them were 13 to 14 inches with an odd fish in the slightly larger range. On Friday, we did not catch a single fish that was within the protected slot size.
There were some Pike located here too, in fact some of them were nice, like the 35 incher that Esa Goettl CPR'd, aided in no small way by the perfect placement of the spinner, cast into the water for her by Erik, her dad.
With even stronger winds predicted today, I'm not sure how, if at all, we'll manage out there. But if it works out, you know that you will know as soon as I know.
Water temperatures remain warm, summer spinner fishing patterns continue to produce a mixed bag on Winnie.
Isa Goettl stirred up quite a ruckus with a Little Joe Spinner and Fathead minnow along Winnie's deep weedline. The key depth was 12 feet.
Between 69 and 70 degrees, holding steady.
Fishing Report August 21, 2015 - Getting Even With Mr. Big X 2
When you read my report on August 19, you may have felt my sense of disappointment about the Musky that James Merenda almost caught.
That's partly because the Merenda’s, Jim, Gloria and James are such nice folks; I really wanted them to have a fantastic trip. In part, I wanted to know that I could accomplish my goal too, you know what I mean, and nobody likes to work really hard at any sport without winning.
So here's the good news, my goal for the Merenda’s was more than just to provide a one day fishing trip. No, they were here for the whole week, I happened to have one day available to fish, but they needed 3 more. Luckily for me, I have friends, friends who took such good care of the Merenda family that they made me proud.
Bryan, Sue, Gunnar and Anneka Harris at Eagle Nest Lodge had the red carpet rolled out. The setting, the cabin, everything about Eagle Nest fit their needs perfectly and provided them with the perfect platform for having a great vacation.
My longtime friend Jeff "Cubby" Skelly fished with the Merenda’s on day one and returned them to the dock with their full bag limit of Lake Winnie Walleyes, Northern Pike and some bonus Perch.
On Day 3, owner of 1000 Lakes Sporting Goods, Grant Prokop, AKA “Golden Horseshoe”, lead the Missouri family to not only 1 Musky, but 2. Yes, James may have lost the grip on the Mr. Big that ate his Bucktail on Tuesday, but made up for it double on Wednesday.
Prokop’s comments about the fishing started with; “The day was windy and wet, so I knew I needed to fish weeds in protected parts of the lake, where we could get out of the wind.”
Fishing in only the calm areas meant that the crew would spend their time working the spots slower than normal, making sure they were covering both the weed edges and the weed tops thoroughly. The area where they were fishing had weeds that grew out to about 14 feet deep.
Buck tails with # 8 blades were Prokop’s bait of choice. They retrieved them at a steady pace, but not burning them until they could see the fish coming up behind. It’s the sudden increase in speed that helps trigger a Musky to strike before they see the boat.
James Merenda is one lucky young feller. One Musky, nearly caught on Tuesday, two in the boat one Wednesday.
Buck tails with # 8 blades were Prokop’s bait of choice. They retrieved them at a steady pace, but not burning them until they could see the fish coming up behind.
Prokop closed by saying; “James was fortunate today to catch 2 muskies, both using the figure 8! These were his first two muskies, which is very exciting.”
By the time I get on the water today, I’ll probably know how their fishing trip went on Thursday. But for now, I don’t know if it ended with a GRAND finale’ or if it was just another beautiful day on the water. But, what I DO KNOW, is that this family was in good hands. They have been treated to fantastic service ever since they arrived and for that, I AM thankful!
Without putting too many words in other people’s mouths, I'll say I’m guessing that the Harris’, Cubby and Grant all share my sentiment; hopefully, with a little luck, all of us will get another chance to entertain the Merenda family, soon!
Fishing Report August 19, 2015 - A Close Call For Mr. Big on Cutfoot Sioux!
There, take that and don't ever try to eat that Bucktail again!!
Those are about the only words that I could think of when James Merenda hooked into a lucky Musky on Tuesday. That fish managed to shake the hooks before we could land it. That's how it happens sometimes, a plan comes so close to coming together that you can almost feel the victory, but it falls apart before you actually win.
If there's anything I learned this week, it's that Pike and Musky on Winnie and Cutfoot have learned how to tease us fishermen. Days of casting for toothy critters lead us down a path of near misses, close calls and coulda-woulda-shouldas.
It's not because there's a lack of fish, nor is it not knowing their location; holding along the deep weed lines, they are fairly easy to find. The fish can be caught too; trolling the weed lines with spinners has been working fine. But there's something holding them back from starting into a "full scale", active feeding period.
For anglers like us who would rather get up close and personal to catch them by casting, it takes a lot of perseverance to get a strike.
I'm not too sure what's holding them back, making them so shy about rising up to attack casted lures, but nipping, sniffing and almost eating hasn't helped put very many fish images on the camera.
For the moment, if you want to catch Pike, it's gonna be a lot easier if you root them out of the weeds using live bait or by trolling. If we hadn't been so stubborn about casting, we would likely have caught a lot more fish. (8/19) From The Deer River Area, Brian Castellano's report appears to echo the sentiment, he wrote; "Mary, Amanda, Alaina, and I headed to a local Lake yesterday with a dozen big Sucker minnows that were destined for a bad day.
Some of our old, reliable hot spots weren't too hot and surprisingly, we had a slow start. Luckily, we kept searching fresh territory and did eventually find some fish. They were holding in deeper water, anywhere between 10-25 feet deep. Most of the fish were relating to a saddle that lays between 2 shoreline points.
Our presentation was Lindy rigs with 1/2 oz slip sinkers, a 6 foot leader tied with 25 pound monofilament and size 7/0 circle hooks. There were a few bite offs, so I'm gonna have to look into some of that tieable leader wire.
We've had real good luck with those big circle hooks as the pike have a hard time swallowing them and a majority of the time, they are hooked right in the corner of the mouth.
At first the girls were having a hard time hooking up, so I told them how in the old days, fisher people would get a bite and then smoke a cigarette (cigar in your case), before they'd attempt to set the hook.
So when the bait clicker would sing, they would use their imaginary cigarette to kill time, after that, hooking percentages went up! LOL
We ended up catching and releasing 10 gators that ranged in size between 25-29 inches. Amanda took top honors with her 29 inch gator; Mary was a close second with a 28 inch fish." - Brian Castellano
*Photos courtesy Brian Castellano; "Amanda took top honors with her 29 inch gator. We ended up catching and releasing 10 gators that ranged in size between 25-29 inches.
Mary's 28 inch Pike caught
using Lindy Rigs, circle hooks and live Suckers came in a close 2nd. The fish were holding in deeper water, anywhere between 10-25 feet deep.
Surface Temperatures on Tuesday Ranged between 72 to 74 degrees, trending downward.
Fishing Report August 18, 2015 - Temperatures Cooling Down, Action Heating Up
Falling air temperatures began fueling my tank for the upcoming "second wind" of the season; it’s that sense of renewed enthusiasm that arrives along with the first signs of fall.
On Monday, the fish helped add fuel not only to my tank, but to the tanks of others too. Walleye, Pike, Crappie and Perch held simultaneous pre-fall rallies along the weed edges of Lake Winnie, Bowstring and Leech Lakes.
For me and my crew, Claudia Burkholder and Misty Nelson, Bowstring Crappies led the way. I couldn’t say that the weed edges were teaming with fish, but there were enough to provide steady action. We picked up fish at random intervals throughout the day, allowing us to bag 10 for each of my crew and 5 for a shore lunch.
The fishing pattern, trolling Lindy Spinners with Fathead minnows hasn't changed and since I've written so much about that lately, I'm going to skip over that, because you can read all about it by scrolling further down this page.
The bigger news was that friends of mine, fishing on both Winnibigoshish and Leech Lakes reported catching limits of keeper Walleyes and Northern Pike.
For folks who have been following recent reports, you already know that fishing action on Winnie has been improving steadily. Yesterday, the situation improved even more and I heard stories that conjure up all sorts of memories, ones about late summer action bites that have occurred on the big lake before.
The weeds grow deeper now than they used to, so the action has moved away from the classic spots that you may remember. But if you follow the weeds, they will lead you to the fish. The best depths have been 10 to 12 feet and there are productive stretches along the north shore, Highbanks, tamarack point and southwest shoreline.
Leech Lake started off really strong this season and continued to produce great action until just after the 4th of July. Recently she's been a struggle for many, but for one lucky crew, generosity was her middle name on Monday. A dozen Walleyes, some nice Perch and a handful of bonus Crappies produced more than a few smiles for my friends who fished the weeds in Portage Bay.
The "spinny and minny" pattern remains effective and produced Monday's action on Winnie, Leech and Bowstring. Most all of us will be on the water again today, and if today's reports are similar, we may be looking at the start of the "pre-fall" action pattern that I mentioned last week. As soon as I know, you will too.
For Claudia Burkholder (above) and Misty Nelson, life on Bowstring was good. Trolling Lindy Spinners tipped with Fathead Minnows produced steady action throghout the day.
Key depths ranged between 6 and 8 feet, trolling speed was 1.1 to 1.3 MPH.
Surface temperatures ranged from 73 to 75 degrees.
Fishing Report August 14, 2015 - "Sometimes I Wonder ...
... what I'm gonna do, cause there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues".
The words were originally written about a frustrated young fellow who wanted to spend less time on the job. But for me, Thursday's fishing trip ended too soon, leaving me frustrated because I needed MORE time on the job; if I wanted to get it done right.
Fitting a square peg into a round hole, that's a jam I get myself into sometimes and this was one of those times. The mission, (that I chose to accept) was casting for Pike, and hopefully Mr. Big.
The planned return visit to Winnibigoshish where Pike have been plentiful, was supposed to be a chance to “get even” with the dozen or so scissor bills that snipped off our spinners on Wednesday.
Almost as if it was pre-ordained, the weather conditions for accomplishing this were 180 degrees out of phase with what we needed. The sky was blue, the sun was hot and the water's surface was smooth. I already knew that getting the fish to move was gonna be tough, and it was proving to be true. By noon, it was getting seriously hot out there, discouraging to say the least.
We started by casting Bucktails, that wasn't working at all. Trolling crankbaits, that really wasn't working and drifting with live Creek Chubs would not turn the head of a single Pike.
Luckily, I hadn’t given up yet and decided to take a stab at jigging using a large plastic paddle tail.
I tossed the jig into the water, started jigging ... and WHAM! It wasn't the biggest Pike I'd ever seen, but it was a nice start and it came quick, it looked nice in the live well too. And it did help encourage the crew to sit up straight and pay attention too, that was good.
Introducing Owen Cheatham in the process of making history by being the first person EVER to take control of frying the fish. It was a blast!
I tried that again and it wasn't too long before the jig and plastic tail produced another Pike, this time a bit bigger and soon, all of us were jigging.
The problem was that only one of us was catching them and for the life of me, I can't figure out why. I was doing my best to teach the boys how to do it, but somehow the information just wouldn't transfer; at least not as fast as I needed it to.
Now I KNOW that if you work at something hard enough, long enough, you will eventually win. The trick is to keep EVERYBODY in the game until that finally happens. Maybe that's what went wrong, by the time I figured out what we needed to do, the boys were already out of the game, mentally.
Long story short, I continued catching fish, the Pike loved me; they just had a sweet tooth for the way I did it. Rick was catching on too; he caught a couple and had another bite off as well. But, that was all she wrote, the fickle fish bit fine for me, and that drove me crazy, right up to the minute that my crew made me leave. Yes, they made me take them home before I finished teaching them how to do it.
Later, still trying to figure out what happened, the event led to a conversation about "left-brain" vs. "right-brain" vs "whole-brain" and after it was all said and done, it boiled down to this; “ya gotta think like a fish” and I do.
The good news is that despite something of a frustrating finishing day, the rest of the week had been a good one for this crew. We caught tons of fish on Monday; Wednesday wasn't bad either and the family fish fry, that was excellent! By the way, young Owen Cheatham made history by being the first person ever to take control of frying the fish. It was a blast and it makes a great story and … I'll save this one for the book.
Oh yes, a quick bit of business about the presentation. We were fishing in 12 to 16 feet of water along the edge of a large, shallow flat on the west side of Lake Winnie. If there was a "key" depth, I couldn't recognize it; high or low, as long as I hugged the breakline, the fish responded.
The bait was a ¼ ounce Lindy Jig tipped with a white 4 inch paddle tail. The trick was to jig the bait very aggressively, like rip jigging using a sharp Whap ... Whap ... Whap motion. When a Pike sees the bait zoom past his face, the reaction is instant and aggressive. If your presentation is too subtle, if you try to use finesse, then it won't work; aggression, that's the magic.
Side note: From where we were fishing, I could see two young men working the same flat. They were casting wood jerk baits and I saw them catch several Pike too. If you think about it, fishing wood is an equally aggressive, bull in a china shop presentation. Tuck that little FYI into your shirt pocket, because if jerk baits are more your style, then this is likely the time.
From Lake Winnibigoshish (8/13) Bowen Lodge; "A week of warm weather is forcing surface temperatures up again, by Wednesday they had reached 74 degrees. That remains lower than the peak of 78 degrees that we saw a couple of weeks ago, but the warming trend has encouraged a re-birth of summertime fishing patterns.
The most exciting catch of the week has been the gigantic Musky caught by Mike Moening. Mike was casting the breaklines in Cutfoot Sioux, using his Warlock jerk bait when the monster struck.
Warm, stable weather encourages Bass and Panfish too, and we're beginning to see some evidence that guests are locating Bluegill. Small schools of Sunfish are holding tight to weedy cover in water depths of ... " Read >> Bowen Lodge Lake Winnie Fishing Report August 13
Fishing Report August 12, 2015 - Lake Winnie's Mixed Bag Fishing - Gathering The Gatherable
It's not all that often that I can start any fishing report by saying that I've just shared 2 days of fishing with the ideal fishing customers, but today I can.
Bob Slager's been coming to fish in the Grand Rapids area for a long time, well before I arrived on the scene 30 years ago. He's already been to most of the lakes that I fish and he's been to some that I've never even seen. Still, when he boarded my boat, he was all ears, all he wanted was a fun day and it didn't matter much how we went about it.
It's that kind of open mindedness that allows a fisherman to really enjoy what a lake has to offer. Making the most of poking around, scrounging a few bites here and there can be a blast if your mind is wired this way and both Bob and Joe have that kind of wiring.
We'd heard some good reports from fishermen about Monday, there had been a great breeze that day and it encouraged fish to get active in the shallow water. That breeze was gone though, replaced by calm, clear water that was most un-inhabitable to most fish. So after re-tracing a few steps taken by others, it didn't look to good for I and my crew.
For me, the day really got good after I realized that I'd be better off looking for my own fish instead of chasing down rumors about where "they got 'em" yesterday. From then on Lake Winnibigoshish rewarded us with a series of "Lucky" breaks. It was one of those times where we never went to any one place and really nailed the fish, but almost every place we stopped provided a short spurt of action.
There were some fish on the lake's secondary breaklines; the areas where water depths drop from 12 to 18 feet. In fact, that's where the first Walleye of the day came from, a stretch of water along the East side of the lake. We were trolling with Little Joe Spinners tipped with medium Fatheads when Bob caught his largest Walleye to date, a plump 25 inch fish. We caught an "eater there too and I think a Pike, but the action fizzled fairly quickly.
There were some fish in the weeds too; trolling the spinners along heavy weed edges produced lots of Pike and a few Slot-sized Walleye. The best depths were between 10 to 12 feet and the presence of weeds way the key.
We could have stuck with the weed pattern for the remainder of the day, but an attack of curiosity led me to the luckiest break of the trip. I decided to take a look at a few of the humps and that's where we discovered some respectable Perch and some more eater sized Walleye.
The best approach for fishing these structures was to use a jig and minnow. We were using 1/8 ounce Lindy Jigs tipped with a hodge-podge of assorted minnows including Rainbows, Leatherbacks, Dace and small Creek Chubs. It didn't seem to matter much to the fish, they struck all of them. But we did have some trouble setting the hook when we used the largest ones.
The weather has been stable, so the surface temperatures are rebounding. Yesterday it reached 73.9 degrees, but I never saw the 74 degree line crossed. For me, that means that we should be able to re-create the scenario today, and if we do, I'll let you know tomorrow.
For now, let me give you one more sales pitch for the mixed bag fishing trip. Setting your sights on having fun seems to be the trigger that gets the fish biting. I am absolutely convinced that if we would have set our minds on a “Walleye or Die” fishing trip, we would have spent the whole day struggling. For us though, all fish were good fish, so instead of being an unwanted nuisance, the Pike and Perch were our friends; tasty friends by the way. At the end of the day we had 6 keeper Walleye, 6 Pike and 30 Perch, more than enough for a fabulous family fish fry.
Skeptical? Of course, that's understandable, but if you get curious enough, you might stumble into some fun. YOU KNOW the old saying; "Ya Can't Win, If You Don't Enter!"
The quintessential Lake Winnie "Mixed Bag" of Walleye, Perch and Pike
Joe shows off a nice Lake Winnie weedline Walleye.
Bob Slager started the day off right. His Little Joe Spinner found its way to this, Bob's personal best Walleye to date.
Fishing Report August 11, 2015 - Summertime Mixed Bag - Pre-Fall Walleye Run?
There was a lot going on this Monday, it was one of those days when all of the fishermen we encountered seemed to have a bit of good news.
For my crew, the good news was that the shallow weeds provided another good day of mixed bag fishing. For others, there was good Perch fishing on the weed edges using jig and minnow combinations. Walleye fishermen on Lake Winnibigosh had a good day too, finding a school of those "13's" on the shallow weedline and returning to the dock with a tasty bag limit.
Smaller waters in the Lake Winnie region were productive too and with surface temperatures hovering just about 70 degrees, fishing action is liable to become more consistent.
Every summer, the transition between late summer and early fall causes a few hiccups. There are days when the fishing seems really easy, but then there are some zingers too.
As the water temperatures cool and the days become shorter, fish respond by staging a brief, “pre-fall feeding run”; at least that’s what I call it. The event typically hits full stride somewhere between the 3rd and 4th week of August, so if we’re not there yet, we are very close.
The short spurt of good action will be followed by another lull, one that makes it feel like we're fishing on the dead seas. The good news is that after that lull, then the real "fall runs" will begin and that will last a lot longer."
For today, I’m going to let the good news about Winnie Walleye’s fishing trip influence me. I’m hoping that the weather will become a little breezier than the prediction, but if it doesn’t, I have a few Panfish spots that I’d like to check out and the calm water may play into that hand.
Since Winnie got the nod, we’re gonna start earlier than usual too, so I’m cutting the report short this morning. Don’t worry though, however it works out today, You Will Be The First To Know!
Bob Slager shows off some inhabitants of the six foot weed edges.
A half dozen of our better Crappies. Perch, Walleye and Pike hit our spinners too.
Fishing Report August 8, 2015 - A Race Against Time On Lake Winnibigoshish
They say that a picture is worth 1000 words and I believe that. So, look left for a picture that explains why I'm most at ease on a day that's cloudy, gloomy and Grey.
Never mind about the sun screen, don't be worryin' about black flies nipping at your ankles and most of all; forget your fears that the fish won't bite, they will ... until the sun comes out.
The theme is not a new one, but for folks who love fishing on Lake Winnie, it bears repeating; it is the current reality. Water in the big pond has cleared up, food for the fish is more than abundant than ever and fish have evolved, adapted to their new environment. Adaptation is the watchword for we who want to catch fish within her shores.
KNOWING and DOING can be a tough match up, I KNOW, I AM trying though, and on Friday, my friend Gary Stueber, along with his sons-in-law Jake and Dustin joined me to further prove the theory.
"It's a race against time boys"; the first words that rolled from my mouth as the crew approached the dock. Even before we'd been introduced, Jake and Dustin knew that I was in a hurry to get on the water before the weather would catch up to us. A few hours of cloudy skies would be our morning window and during that time, we'd have to do our best work.
And good work it was, at least for our first trolling pass or two. The deep weeds held fish and within our first hour, they were smashing our spinners, our prospects looked good. But the clock was ticking, the water was calm, the fog was lifting and the brighter the sky became, the longer we waited between strikes.
Like I said, KNOWING and DOING can be a tough match up. We all knew that the fish were there, we had some keeper Walleyes and nice size Pike in the livewell. Those, along with CPR images of Dustin's moment of glory, that nice Walleye you see here, helped to prove that we were on the right track.
By noon though, the sun was high in the sky, the seas were calm and watching my clock reminded me of looking at one of those movie scenes where someone is trying to clip the correct wire before the time bomb blows up.
I decided to clip the green wire; “Green for Go” that is, back to Bowstring Lake. Where hopefully, the darker water and carpet of lime green Algae blooming on the surface would provide enough shade to encourage an afternoon of decent action.
Long story short, conditions were tough there too, but not so tough that we couldn't gather a few more fish for the crew's larder. Some Perch, Crappie, another Walleye and plenty of Pike graced us with their presence. The catch was modest, but it was a catch and that helped us end the day on a positive note.
Photo courtesy Kim Giesen (8/7) shows Bowstring Lake at it's calmest, a beautiful day on the lake; for a fisherman, not so much.
If there's anything that you take away from this report, I hope it is this; Lake Winnibigoshish has a lot of potential right now. Walleyes from the 2013 year class are showing up in good numbers, Pike are plentiful and the Perch are becoming more desirable too. If you have the ability to adjust your schedule, to fish the lake during prime times, you can have a lot of fun out there.
Granted, the daytime action may not be like the "good old days" where the hot bite occurred during mid-day. But for folks who evolve with the lake, there are a lot of good fishing stories still to be had out there. I'd encourage you to prove it to yourself, become a bit more adaptable and you might just get a real nice surprise.
Fishing Report August 7, 2015 - Cool Down Continues, Winds Reverse, The Clock Is Ticking
Conditions at Bowstring Lake this Thursday reminded me of the quintessential August fishing trip. Southeast winds blew at a brisk pace, Grey skies threatened rain and the water temperatures were cooling. At 69.9 degrees, it barely qualifies, but this was the first surface reading below 70 degrees in over a month.
The fishing patterns that have been well documented for the past few weeks are showing signs of collapse. No, I didn't say they were already over, I said that they are showing signs of an imminent collapse.
It's the hot weather and Oxygen robbing Algae Blooms that force baitfish and predators to move into the shade provided by the shallow weeds. As water temperatures cool, fish will find it increasingly comfortable to move back into deeper territory.
Many Walleyes may have made the move already because they are becoming less and less available along the weed edges. We still caught a handful on Thursday, but if you asked me to take you on a "Walleye or Die" fishing trip today, I could not suggest fishing the weed lines on Bowstring, we'd mostly be fishing memories, I think.
Crappies still inhabited the breakline, just outside of the weeds and they remained fairly active. But the rampage bite that we experienced a few days ago had really tapered off and now the fish came to the boat one at a time, at random intervals. There was one hot Crappie bite on the lake; it was reported to me by a friend. But it was occurring at one of the popular "community holes" and since we were catching enough anyway, I never felt the need to barge in on that party.
Perch, in the shallow water, were the one quarry that appeared to be building in numbers rather than declining. This was the first day that I recall catching more Perch than all of the other fish combined. There were some Jumbos, but there were small ones too; ranging between 9 and 11 inches, they'd make a great fish fry.
Insects were apparently attracting the Perch to the shallow water, that’s what I observed as I cleaned the fish that we'd bagged. I didn't see any evidence to help identify what kind of bugs they were, only some black goo in their stomachs. When the Perch are feeding on bugs, they typically remain in the area until whatever's hatching runs its course. That means that you may be able to get in on a good shallow water Perch bite this weekend.
Our presentation and water depths were the same as I reported last Tuesday, so if you missed that, just jump from here to the Fishing Report of August 4.
For today, I see a window of opportunity to get after the weeds and mid-depth flats on Lake Winnibigoshish. There have been some optimistic reports lately, including my own that resulted from a 1/2 day on the big pond last Sunday. I think that there's a lot of potential out there and with any luck at all, I'll be able to tell you all about it tomorrow morning.
Photo John Sorenson, Gus' Place Resort. Gus Sheker reports; "The strong bite on Ball Club Lake continues for Walleye, Perch and Northerns." Gus' Place Reosrt
On Bowstring Lake, Crappie still inhabited the breakline, just outside of the weeds and they remained fairly active. Lindy Spinners tipped with minnows produced reliable action.
(8/7) From The Marcell Area, Frontier Sports, Paul Larson said; "It was quite windy this past week but happily, fishing didn’t suffer an abrupt downturn like those we experienced in June and July whenever a cold front happened by.
On most of the area lakes, fishing has been good. Crappies seem to be the number one target in the area now and the results have been good. Chiefly relating to the deeper weed edges, Crappies can also be found close to the weeds but these will principally be smaller fish. The deeper water outside the weeds, 18 feet or so, will hold larger suspended fish. Trolling is a great way to reach suspended Crappie. Reports of dinner plate sized Sunfish have been coming in all week. Depths of fifteen feet or so and once again off the weeds, would be a good place to start. Small jigs with a piece of nightcrawler seem to do the trick.
In the big deep lakes of the area, Walleye and Smallmouth Bass can be found inhabiting the same water depth and structure. It’s not unusual to catch one species while fishing for the other. Crankbaits and paddletail swim baits have been very productive.
Speed trolling for Pike has been gaining momentum as the water warms and it’s a great deal of fun too! Finally, Musky fishing last week was very good in the area. A full moon and rising water temperatures flipped the switch on these big predators. Casting large swim baits like the Savage Gear Line thru Trout and Line thru Pike worked well. Trolling large cranks at night was also productive.
I had a report and pictures of one angler boating nine Muskies last weekend. That’s good fishing in anybody’s book."
Frontier Sports features a complete and fully stocked Sporting Goods department and Bait Shop, Gas, Grocery, Deli and Gift Shop. Frontier Sports is an authorized LIVE TARGET and SAVAGE GEAR dealer. Frontier Sports 218-832-3901 or Email .
Fishing Report August 4, 2015 - Pre-Fall Crappie Chop?
By all accounts, conditions at Bowstring Lake this Monday should have presented the perfect opportunity to catch Walleyes. Grey skies, whitecaps quartering the shoreline and surface temperatures hovering at 70 degrees. Walleyes were there, some of them anyway, but it was a "Crappie Day" to say the least.
It's not unusual for the big lake to produce good Crappie fishing during August. This pre-fall, weedline Crappie pattern usually holds for a couple of weeks, so I think you can expect it to be on again, off again as the conditions warrant. Apparently, conditions warranted an above average run for us yesterday.
What stumped me was that Walleyes have inhabited the same weed lines, in good numbers for several weeks. On this day they were either absent or else the Crappies were so aggressive that the Walleye never stood a chance to beat them to our spinners. We did catch some, but we never came close to calling it a hot bite.
I do believe that there were Walleye on the move; I saw a group of boats that were netting some fish. But in my judgement, there wasn't enough room at that spot for me to barge in on them, my crew understood about that decision.
A departure from my typical presentation on Monday was that the fish showed a preference for larger spinner blades, trolled at a slower pace. I clipped the back hooks off of #4 Golden Shiner and the #4 Perch Pattern Lindy crawler harnesses to produce single hook spinner rigs, while retaining the larger blades.
My crew, Jessica and Bud Drewlow had theirs tipped with medium size Fathead minnows. I stuck with night crawlers instead, hoping that the yard bait would illicit more Walleye strikes. The crawlers did not encourage that many extra Walleyes, but they did help me bag more Perch, some of which were in the 10 to 11 inch range.
Trolling at speeds of 1.0 to 1.1 MPH worked better for me than when I picked up the pace. The Grey sky and whitecaps were encouraging the Northern Pike and the faster speeds seemed to bring out the best in their instinct to search (AND DESTROY) faster moving baits. Slowing down helped solve that problem, but the larger blades are required to help keep thumping at lower speeds.
Naturally, the conditions today are 180 degrees out of phase and on calm water, under a sunny sky, I don't expect that the Crappies will be as voracious as they were yesterday. They may however be coax able by rooting around in the weeds, especially as the sun warms the surface and produces an Algae bloom.
Tackling Crappies under these conditions is not as hard as you think and just in case you missed it, I recently wrote an article about how to do it. Here's a link to >>
Catching Summertime Crappies In The Weeds
For Jessica and Bud Drewlow, timing was perfect of an episode of pre-fall, weedline Crappie fishing. Large blades and slow sppeds were the secret.
Crappies showed a preference for larger spinner blades, trolled at a slower pace. I clipped the back hooks off of #4 Golden Shiner and the #4 Natural Perch Pattern Lindy crawler harnesses to produce single hook spinner rigs, while retaining the larger blades.
Fishing Report August 3, 2015 - A Taste Of September On Lake Winnibigoshish
On Sunday, a stiff Northwest wind, air temperatures dipping into the 60's and whitecaps slapping into the Wave Wackers made it feel a lot like September on Lake Winnibigoshish.
Don't look now, but the "Dog Days" of summer have peaked and are already behind us. Yes, all of the hoopla about warm water, mid-summer fishing patterns peaked last week. Don’t worry, these patterns will still be hanging on for a while, but there's already a downward trend in water temperatures. With daylight becoming shorter and nights becoming cooler, it's unlikely that temperatures will rebound to the 80 degree mark, where they were last week.
It will be interesting to see what the cooling trend means for Lake Winnie in the long run. Generally, it is the hot weather that forces fish out of their deep water haunts. It’s a chain reaction and I this is an over-simplified description of the process, but in a nutshell; Algae blooms in warm water consume Oxygen, levels decline and fish move toward the weeds where they can breathe and where they are easy to pin down.
Cool water temperatures combined with strong winds have a mixing effect that can cause “mini-turnovers”. That can rejuvenate Oxygen levels in deeper water and these conditions would allow fish to linger longer over open water. That set of circumstances would make them harder to locate, in the long run.
For right now though, there are still lots of fish in the weeds and the turbulent weather has been good for anglers; at least the folks who are able to manage the waves.
On Sunday, there was a 3 or 4 hour window of good fishing conditions, 5 to 10 MPH wind with a partly sunny sky. During that time, trolling the deep weed flats with spinners produced steady action for a mix of Pike and Walleye. The wind steadily increased though and by noon, we were forced off of the big lake and into Cutfoot Sioux.
Our morning window of good fishing conditions worked out well for Ella Seger. Lake Winnie's deep weed beds provided steady Walleye and Pike action.
Catching Walleyes during mid summer calls for action baits that fish aggressively. This week, Jon shares tips for fine tuning the Li'l Guy, a presentation that will to help you put more Walleyes in the boat.
Before we were forced away from the whitecaps, we already had a half dozen keeper Walleyes, some decent Pike and had released a couple slot-fish. Assuming that conditions would have allowed us to keep fishing, there isn’t any doubt in my mind that we would have we would have met our goal of gathering a dozen Walleyes.
I wish that I could say that we found something really cool to do in Cutfoot, but the story got sketchier during the afternoon. There were spurts of action that piqued our interest, but also long dry spells without any action. For now, if there is any kind of hot daytime bite on Cutfoot, I haven’t discovered it.
The week ahead of us promises to deliver more cool weather and that means the trend toward fall-like weather will continue. If my crystal ball is tuned correctly, we’re going to experience a week or two of head scratching about the sudden lack of action. That will be followed by a spurt of good fishing; I call it a pre-fall bite. That will fizzle out too and after one more lull; the real fall bite will begin.
I can’t believe that I’m already talking about fall, but the calendar pages are flipping over faster than a Black Jack deck. Check your inventory; make sure that you’ve got plenty of fall fishing essentials on hand, some of the most beautiful fishing days of the season are just around the corner.
Fishing Report August 2, 2015 - Bowstring's "Plan B Bite" Produces Smiley Faces
On Saturday, calmer weather and sunny skies brought surface temperatures back up to 75 degrees. By the end of the day, the Northwest breeze, was gradually swinging to a more southerly direction and that created a lot of calm water in areas that had been very turbulent in recent days.
Our original idea had been to attempt some "Walleye or Die" fishing by heading for deeper water, mid-lake structures. These areas were good a couple of weeks back, but with all of the windy weather, I'd not been out there too much recently.
Scanning over free standing mid-lake humps, the Humminbird revealed that there still are fish using the open water structures. There were not any fish holding on the tops of these structures, typically topping off at 18 to 22 feet of water. Instead, they were holding along the base of the bars, at the outer edges in 24 to 27 feet. This is the "transition" where the soft bottom meets the more solid sand/gravel that lies on top.
For a time, it looked like we might be able to make a game out of it, using Lindy Rigs, some tipped with leeches, some with air injected night crawlers, and we got several strikes almost immediately. The learning curve was working against us at first, so our potential for an early start was offset by the time required to get the knack of the unfamiliar presentation. By the time my crew was becoming comfortable using the rigs, we had just enough time to bring in some "sot-fish", including the nice double by Jim and Chuck that you see pictured.
Our only problem was that the fish were becoming comfortable with the idea of taking a mid-morning nap. Finding them was relatively simple; we spied them in several locations. But the higher the sun rose, the harder it became to illicit a strike and by 11:00, it was apparent that Plan B was gonna have to save our day again.
Moving back to shallow water and re-rigging with the spinners actually took longer than it did to catch our first half dozen fish.
The influence of the calm, sunny weather encouraged fish to hunker into the weeds. They remained catchable, but for me, allowing the boat to wander away from the weeds was strictly a no no. In fact, the presence of weed growth was so important that the fish didn't seem to care how shallow they were. There were fish in weeds as shallow as 4 feet of water; they were also present at depths of up to 8 feet, providing that there were plenty of weeds there too.
The mix of fish was similar to what we've seen in recent days; Walleye, Perch, Pike and Crappie and they strike in random order, you never know what the next bite will be. If you're a Walleye purist, this may not be the bite for you; that's because you're going to catch a lot of small Pike and Perch. But if you have a couple of kids, no matter the age and just want some action, I think that the "Plan B Bite" will definitely help wipe a smile onto their faces!
Fishing Report August 1, 2015 - Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth IS
If the lake's wind driven whitecaps weren’t enough of a challenge, then asking a couple of inexperienced fishermen to hop in the boat and "learn while you churn" may have put us over the top.
Even if Chris Bodenstab had just tackled the toughest golf course in North America and scored a hole in one, asking him and his 10 year old son Zack to learn the wiggle worm system in 20 MPH winds, was a bit much. After giving a few hours without producing much good news, I knew that Plan B was imminent.
The only way that I could see to fix the problem was to leave the lake and trailer over Bowstring; the one lake that I knew for sure would provide some kind of something for the boys to catch. Maybe they wouldn't be Walleyes, but trolling with spinners in shallow water provides a lot faster action than trying to wiggle a Walleye or two out of 20 feet of water.
So, we sort of picked up where the report on July 29 left off, spinners in hand, engine in reverse, covering water fast. Luckily, Plan B was a better idea and the mixed bag of Crappie, Walleye, Pike and Perch was both simpler and more entertaining.
Billed as an enthusiastic fisherman, Zack lived up to his reputation; he never skipped a beat and for most of the afternoon, he was the only one in the boat who had the knack for bagging Walleye. By days end, we'd released a couple of dozen small fish, bagged a few Crappie, Perch and Walleye, part of the story ends here.
BUT, the rest of the story, the best part of it cannot be revealed just yet. That's the part about how this fishing trip came about in the first place.
It all ties into a special project that I was working on last Thursday. When I twisted my friend Carl Bergquist's arm into volunteering help with the project, he did, and while he was ... well the rest of this story just sort of smacked us in the nose. I'm sure you'll like it and as soon as it's ready, YOU KNOW that you'll be the first one to see it!
OH, yes the business end of today's report; in a nutshell. Surface temperatures ranged between 73 and 74 degrees, down from the near 80 degree water we fished last Wednesday.
Our presentation, Gold Little Joe Spinners tipped with Fathead minnows and trolled in 6 to 8 feet of water. In the most turbulent places, 5 to 6 feet was even better if we were willing to put up with the pounding whitecaps.
Zack lived up to his reputation; he never skipped a beat and for most of the afternoon, he was the only one in the boat who had the knack for bagging Walleye.
Do You Know that you can even post your own helpful hints to our fishing reports page on facebook? YES! You Can! You don't have to tell us your secrets, just go ahead and brag a little when you get a whopper! Click >>> Fishing Reports Minnesota .
And ... did you know that Jeff's Thursday Morning Program is available for two weeks after the air date? Yes, you'll never need to miss the show. Click the image and then select the 6:00 hour on Thursday. Scroll in to about 6:20 AM and you're in business!