Surface water temperatures were on the rise under the hot Sun this Monday. Beginning the morning at 72 degrees, I noted the temperature at 77 degrees when I loaded the boat onto the trailer at days end.
The combination of sunny skies, calm seas and clear water was less than ideal, but if I would have been under strict orders to catch walleyes or nothing, I think we could have scratched out a few. In fact we did catch 4 of them, but all 4 were in the 13-1/2 inch size range and we decided to hope for a re-match with them next summer instead of eating them now.
Those fish, along with some nice sunfish were caught by trolling the weedlines with spinners. But while trolling with the spinners allowed us to find fish initially, it was not the best way to present our lures to the largest number of fish; particularly the sunfish.
Fish occupied only small areas located within larger patches of dense weed growth and they were holding tight. The trolling presentation was helpful in that we could cover territory fast, but once we knew where there were some panfish, trolling would only keep us in the strike zone for a few seconds at a time. So after we located a few bluegills, we stopped the boat and tight-lined them using 1/16 Live Bait Jigs tipped with cut pieces of night crawler.
On most days, I can figure out if the fish prefer one type of weed over another. I can’t say that about yesterday though, the fish did not appear to have a preference. Any area of open space located within the heavy weed patches was potentially a good spot. Joe referred to them as “black holes” and whenever he dropped his jig into them, he usually pulled out some kind of fish.
Overall, the bluegill action was very good, but there were many more small ones than there were large ones. Our “keepers” ranged in size from 7-1/2 to 8-1/2 inches, with a few 9 inch bonus fish in the pail for good measure.
The word on the street is that both crappie and sunfish action has been very reliable during late evening. So if you have the time to spend on the lake, I would recommend planning an evening trip. I’d love to spend more time fishing in the veggie patches myself and while I’m not sure how many chances I’ll get, I will be angling in that direction whenever possible. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"We've seen a lot of cool fish catches. We've filmed a bunch. There is just something about making a split-second decision with a big bass on the line that gets the adrenaline going. Any fisherman can relate.
Our buddy Mike Gilbert of Working Class Zero shared this video on his YouTube channel of a big bass that came to the opposite side of the boat from his net, and he made the split-second, and often risky decision to boat flip it as opposed to try to play the big bass all the way around and run the risk of ... "
View Video >> The Best Boat Flip We've Ever Seen!
On Sunday, I fished with a couple, Kyle and Karen Reynolds, who have been coming up for several years now. They’ve become “old friends” over the years and always make an annual, multiple dates fishing vacation; typically in the fall. But this summer, they found themselves with some free time and decided to take a rare, one day trip to spend a day on the lake.
When I was quizzing them about which fish they would like to pursue, they first said walleye and pike. My response was that they’d have to pick one or the other; “there are walleyes biting on Red Lake and pike fishing opportunities closer to home. Then I threw in a third option, we could do the multi-species, weedline trip and catch a little bit of everything.
The Reynolds’ are accustomed to coming during the peak of the fall, prime time fishing period. Typically, we fish for one species the first day, a different species the next and so on. The idea of fishing for multi-anything was a foreign concept, but after further discussion, that was the final decision. So here’s the long story, condensed version.
Surface temperatures ranged between 74 and 77 degrees, the sky was crystal clear during the morning and clouds began developing sometime after noon. There was a light breeze that rippled the surface, but not enough to ever cause a chop on the lake.
We fished spinners along every weed edge I could get to in one day and except for one slow stretch of shoreline, most areas held at least a few fish. There was a definite pecking order; small perch inhabited the shallowest water (5-7 feet), sunfish occupied the inner edges of the weeds (8-11 feet) and larger predators inhabited both the outer weed edges (12-14 feet) and the deep breaklines.
Weaving in and out of the weeds, at 1.0 to 1.1 MPH, I temporarily focused on any opportunity that came along. Whenever we caught a “good fish”, I would make a repeat pass or two, but if there were lots of small, “stupid fish”, then I just kept moving along.
After a day of picking and choosing which fish they liked the looks of, the Reynolds’ creel contained 2 crappies, 12 perch, 16 sunfish, 2 pike, 1 smallmouth, 1 largemouth and 4 walleyes, Karen caught all 4 of them. They would have harvested a few more pike, but most of the fish we caught were 23 to 25 inches and were protected by the new slot-size restriction.
If you wondered why I chose to use the photo of the finished fillets rather than the live fish, the answer is simple. I was just way too busy to snap any photos during the day, between re-baiting hooks, landing fish steering the boat, I barely had time to keep my stogie lit.
The photo is useful though because it illustrates how much fish can be harvested without putting an extreme burden on any one particular species. I feel better when my customers harvest a reasonable amount for consumption and leave the rest alone. I think it beats the heck out of fishing a spot or a lake to the point that it stops producing fish; anyway, that’s just my opinion. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
The first really significant cold front of the open water season has passed. For days, strong west northwest winds blew in cold air, sent surface temperatures lower and scattered baitfish and gamefish alike. The big blow finally ran out of gas on Friday and a new period of stable weather has begun.
The Goettl/Pietras family, 20 in number, was in town last week for their semi-annual fishing extravaganza. Beginning last Sunday and wrapping up on Friday, the family split amongst themselves, 6 days of fishing with a humble servant, me. Ranging in age from 8 to 80, all 20 of them would spend time in my boat at one time or another and at the end; we’d celebrate with an all-inclusive family fish fry.
Since they were staying at Bowen Lodge for the week, I had big ideas about spending lots of time on Cutfoot and Winnie. Thanks to that big wind, we had to scrap that idea and spend our time searching for fish on smaller waters.
The shiny side of the coin featured definite moments of greatness. Throughout the week, we landed some very nice walleyes, a handful of big smallmouth bass and also gathered enough perch and panfish to feed the whole crew on Friday afternoon. After getting off to a really great start last Sunday, we did pay a price for the turbulent weather. Although we never got “skunked” on any trip, there were some hard-fought battles to win the attention of a few fish.
The week that featured hit-and-miss action taught me a few lessons and I think that I’ve got a few new tricks up my sleeves for the future. The lessons that I haven’t written about already will show eventually up in the reports, whenever the lessons are most timely.
Earlier I mentioned that the blustery weather pattern broke on Friday. Under sunny skies, with calm seas, walleyes remained scattered and finding them was a real chore. The good news was that when I did find them, they were feeding and that allowed us to end the week on a high note.
The arrival of warmer weather was especially happy news for Kailey (left), Jackie and Jessica (right) who had been waiting all week long for a few hours of quiet time together and an opportunity to show what a little “girl power” can do. Together, they staged a short lived, but sweet rally in the early afternoon that allowed all of us to return to camp with our heads held high.
Saturday was a recovery day for me, I caught up on yard chores, cleaned up the boat and made ready for another busy week. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t find the water. I, along with the Hippie Chick and her visiting friends and relatives, took them on a sightseeing tour from Pokegama to jay Gould and back again.
Surface water temperatures were already rebounding; after reaching a low of 71 degrees on Thursday they were back up the mid-70 degree range on Saturday afternoon. We could see panfish working the surface over weed tops and baitfish were beginning to gather in tighter schools again.
It should be interesting to see whether the fish, walleyes in particular return to the same mid-summer patterns that they were in prior to the cold snap, or if this forces them into a new pattern for late summer and early fall. I’m about an hour away from gathering my first clues and I’ll let you know more on that later.
Speaking of lessons learned I’m hedging my bets today; I have a crew who “wants walleyes” but love action. With a forecast of 80 degrees, calm and mostly sunny, I think Red Lake is the best place to accomplish that. If we decide not to make the ride up there, then I’ll bet my report tomorrow will be about mixed bag, weedline fishing. You will be the first to know. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Sorry for not posting fishing reports the past couple of weeks. One of the reasons is the fishing hasn't changed a whole lot, and another reason is we haven't had very many fishermen out there fishing.
The ones who are looking for walleyes are finding them with rigs and crawlers on the main lake structures. When it is calm head for the smaller humps, and when the wind blows, stick to the main bars. With the late spring, I believe that the perch minnows have not made it to the flats as in years past. So the bugs are the main forage for the Walleyes.
Northern fishing has been ok. Not wide open yet. Trolling spoon type baits has been the most effective way to catch the pike right now.
Fish the top side of the shoreline breaks staying within shouting distance of the dropoff will be the best areas for pike.
Perch fishing is hit and miss, as well. The perch seem to be in one place today and not there the next. This makes for a challenging
time for perch fishermen. It also is an opportunity for you to develop your skill in finding fish. I guess that is my glass is half full analogy!
All in all, it is summer fishing. You can catch fish if you put in the time. The problem is, the kids want to go swimming and tubing so the fishing sometimes get put on the back burner.
Fall fishing is coming fast. We offer a great 20% discount in all cabin rentals after Labor Day. Fishing should be good this fall.
Check our availability and give us a call." Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
My “big job” was a work assignment to help my customer Ed and his step-grandson Cooper their limits of both Walleye and Northern Pike. Long story short, I could not handle it, in fact we didn’t even come close.
Frequent visitors have likely seen examples of my reporting failures with equal enthusiasm as writing about successes. The way I see it, there’s no good reason for anybody to tell stories about great fishing experiences unless they’re willing to share news about the tough days too. The whole point of writing these reports is to share knowledge about fish and their behavior. So after a hard day on the lake, the question I ask myself is what did I learn from the experience?
The simple truth is that no one of us can win the game every time we go fishing. The fish don’t always do what we expect, the weather doesn’t always break in our favor and sometimes, (very rarely of course) we don’t use the best judgement.
That’s what happened to me on Wednesday, I didn’t use the best judgement. I allowed myself to be influenced too much by “the goal” and not enough by the reality of the fishing situation. I already knew that the wind was gonna blow at +20 MPH and I already knew that we were in the midst of the first really serious cold front of the entire summer.
I reasoned that by taking my crew to one of their very favorite lakes, one where we’ve accomplished these goals before, it would boost their confidence. In fact, my confidence was boosted too because I expected the strong wind to be an asset rather than a hindrance; it has been before on that lake. So although I knew too that the goal was a lofty one, in the back of my mind I was thinking “I can pull it off.”
What I didn’t take into consideration was the lake’s depth, water clarity and temperature. During extended periods of warm, stable weather, fishing on lakes with shallow, turbid water had helped me work around the effects of too much sunshine. Walleyes in these lakes have been less affected by the bright conditions and for me, have been more willing to strike than the fish living in clear water lakes.
The problem is that shallow, warm water lakes are also faster to be affected by a fast drop in air temperatures. The 20 degree drop in air temperatures combined with big white capping rollers on the surface sent temperatures plummeting down. The bait became scattered, so the fish became scattered too and even though they would bite when we found ‘em, I could not locate and spot where there were enough fish to get a “good bite” going.
Reflecting on the day as I drove home, it occurred to me that I should have done two things differently. First, I should have simply come out and said that our goals were set too high. I should have made a choice to either focus on catching walleyes or instead focus on catching pike, not both at the same time. By trying to accomplish both goals at the same time, I cut myself short on time and wasn’t able to focus properly on either.
The second thing I should have done differently is select a lake with deep, cool water. Not only does it take a lot longer to chill a lake with deep water, the wind and slate grey skies are helpful for all of the obvious reasons.
The lessons I learned on Wednesday paid off on Thursday when I abandoned any idea about being a walleye fishing purist. Instead, I headed for the safety of deeper water where the mixed bag weed pattern would permit the crew to catch something, even if all of the fish were not of the target species.
If you took any one species and asked whether or not yesterday was a good day, the answer would have been no. Most perch anglers probably wouldn’t have been happy with 15 keepers, a group of women who fish walleyes might have scoffed at getting only 7 keepers and a “Sunficiando” might have wished for more than a dozen of those too. Taken all together though, they added up to quite a creel of fish and provided us a lot of action along the way. At the end of the day, Phil summed it up succinctly; “that was a lot better than yesterday”, he said.
So I guess the upshot of today’s report is to learn what you can learn when you learn it and at the end of the day, you’ll have learned something. I hope you just learned something from my mistakes, I KNOW that I did! - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Dylan Van Hoosen Wrote; Hello Mr. Jeff! I don't often get a chance to go out open water fishing for walleye. Most of my walleye fishing is through the ice! When I do get to go out it seems like all we do is troll cranks. It works, it gets the job done but I'd like to try lindy rigging and slip bobber fishing for them too.
My question is what would be the "proper" size rod and line to use for rigging up a lindy rig or slip bobber rig? Any tips and tricks for beginner would be greatly appreciated!
A) Dylan, the beauty of Lindy Rig Fishing is its simplicity; highly specialized rods and reels are not a requirement. As long as you have a rod that’s rated for the range of weights most suited for the lakes you fish, you’ll be good to go.
In my area, walleyes are most often located in water depths ranging somewhere between 6 and 30 feet. It’s hard for me to cover every possible fishing situation with one rod and reel, so I have 2 “rigging rods” set up; one for shallow water and one for deeper water. I use 8 pound test monofilament line on both of them, so the primary difference between them is the range of weights that they are designed to be compatible with.
I do favor rods that have a soft enough tip to help cushion any sense of pressure that a walleye might feel when they pick up the bait. Avoid rods that have an “extra fast tip” and choose one with a fast or medium fast one. The cushioning effect is also why I favor the use of monofilament live over braid; in this application braid has a tendency to make “average” anglers a little jumpy. Combining a softer tip with monofilament lines gives me an extra couple of seconds to detect a strike and start feeding line before the fish “feels me” and drops the bait.
For fish on the shallower side, the Lindy Rig walking sinkers that I use range in weight from 1/16 ounce to ¼ ounce. So any decent 6 to 7 foot light action rod that’s designed for this line and weight range will work. In my case, TFO’s Professional Series 6-1/2 foot model TFG PSS 662-1 works well for this and can also be used for other jigging and small crankbait applications.
I always use heavier weights when I’m Lindy Rigging on the deeper side of the water column because I want the bait to be placed directly under the boat. If I see fish on my Humminbird, I want to know for sure that my bait is as close as possible to the fish. My most common fishing depths are 18 to 26 feet and it is not unusual for me to use ¾ ounce No Snagg Weights.
TFO’s Professional Series TFG PSS 763-1 is a 7-1/2 foot rod that’s rated up to ½ ounce weights, but I find that it will handle my ¾ ounce weights as well. I like this one because the rod doubles as a spinner rod and it gets a lot of use during the summer.
Rigging up and getting started Lindy Rigging’s is not complicated at all and rather than me attempting to write out the instructions, I’ve prepared a few links to some very useful videos. After you watch a few, you should easily be off and running, but if not, let me know and I’ll add some more info as needed.
I'm up against the clock this morning, so I'll go over the slip bobber set ups tomorrow, Saturday at the latest.
The surface water temperature was 76 degrees when we left the lake yesterday afternoon. That sounds warm, but it represents a decline of 6 degrees from the high temperature I recorded on that lake a couple of weeks ago.
Granted, the summer isn’t over yet, we could still receive another period of hot weather. But looking at the weather forecasts, I can’t see water temperatures warming up this week; if anything temperatures are likely to decline even more.
Surface temperatures are important in many ways, but right now, I’m focusing on how they affect annual fishing patterns. In this particular instance, the relationship between declining water temperatures and fish metabolism.
I always look forward to mid-summer and the mixed bag, action bite that occurs when water temperatures peak. For me it’s a great time to fish with folks who like catching a lot of different fish without having to learn a lot of different presentations. The warmer the water gets, the faster the action becomes, especially on lakes that have good sunfish and bass populations.
Over the past few days, I’ve noticed a shift in the mix of fish as the surface water cools. We’ve seen less sunfish, fewer bass, smaller pike and a noticeable reduction in the number of small perch that have been pestering us over the past few weeks by constantly nipping at our spinners. On Monday, Crappies unexpectedly began showing up amidst the weeds too and this typically signals that there’s a change in the works.
On Tuesday, walleyes appeared to be un-patternable, the fish were scattered willy-nilly all over the lake. We did manage a dozen keepers, but it took all day long to scratch ‘em out. Linking the scattered walleyes to water temperatures would be a stretch though and the two are probably not connected. Strong and gusty winds had the lake so stirred up that any conclusion I make would be suspect.
The upshot of my past couple days is that we’ll still catch some fish by trolling the weed edges. Spinners tipped with live bait will still be an effective presentation, but I’m keeping my eyes open for opportunities to test other presentations too.
I’ve got a big job on my hands today, I don’t know if I can handle it, but I’ll try. Whatever happens, you’ll definitely be the first to know! - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Fishing line is a critical component to successful topwater fishing. Choose one that sinks (fluorocarbon), and you'll negatively impact the bait's performance. Monofilament and braided line are your 2 options - both float, and when tied correctly provide freedom of movement to the bait.
Bass pro Drew Benton relies on both for topwater fishing, opting for braid for some baits, but switching to a strong yet supple monofilament line for others. He outlines both in this short, straightforward video."
When it comes to choosing the right lake to fish on any given day, weather and local conditions are the first thing to take into consideration. I was reminded on Monday how dependent I am on the weather service and how fast a plan can go bad if I guess the wrong lake on the wrong day.
After having a really good time on the last day of Daikin’s Fisharoo last Friday, I was chomping at the bit to make a return trip to one of my favorite clear water, multi-species lakes. The forecast looked good; it called for cloudy weather, a chance of morning rain and winds from the south at 10 to 15 MPH. I knew that it was supposed to turn sunny, but I calculated that the strong breeze would lessen the negative effect of too much sunshine.
At first, it appeared that I was on the right track. Phil caught a keeper walleye on the first trolling pass, small perch, rock bass and panfish were active and even though they came un-pinned, cooper had hooked and almost landed a couple of nice walleyes; that was encouraging.
Things started going south when the clouds disappeared and the wind did not blow. Calm seas, sunny skies and legions of 5 inch perch nipping at our worms were hardly the recipe for an action filled morning of big game fishing. Long story short, we scratched and struggled and picked away at the fish, adding a few crappies, bluegills and walleyes to the larder as they presented themselves.
At mid-day I had a scheduled crew change and very nearly switched lakes at that time. Something told me to tough it out though, there were a couple of youngsters involved and I thought that the panfish would help me keep them entertained.
As luck would have it, Alyssa, Nick, Ben and Laurel brought along more than just happy faces; they packed a lucky charm and used it to produce a nice west wind. Within an hour of their arrival, we were fishing in whitecaps and the longer the wind blew, the better the fishing got.
Long story short, what I feared would be a long, hot afternoon turned out to be a fun filled family fishing trip that featured smiling faces and happy conversation. We didn’t haul ‘em in left and right, but everybody got some “keepers” and we made an installment payment toward the big family fish fry scheduled for later this week.
Just remember, if you’re heading to the lake, do your best to pick the right one for the weather and hopefully, the weather service will steer you in the right direction. If not, try being like me and depend on the TRULY dependable; Good Luck!
I am up against the clock, but tomorrow, I’ll pick up where I’m leaving off. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"An incredible week for trophy walleyes. Walleyes super aggressive this week. Drifting and trolling spinners and crawlers in the morning/evenings on fire. Tends to slow down a bit for mid-day. Trolling cranks out in the mud in the afternoon has been really good. 24 - 32 feet. Some nice pike, many over 40" being caught amongst the walleyes. Some go to colors, hammered gold, chartreuse, pink, UV colors.
On the Rainy River, sturgeon fishing "keep season" is open until Sept 30. River is still chocolate milk which means very little visibility. Finding clean water for pike and smallies will increase odds, tributaries into Rainy a good starting point.
Up at the NW Angle... Walleyes are on fire on both MN and Canada side of lake. Lots of fish around structure. Some nice walleyes are being found in shallower water like 16-20' and also out deep in 26-30'. Spinners over rocks and reefs continues to put fish in the live well. Muskies being caught on bucktails on rocks and weeds. Trophy walleyes coming on muskie baits!" – Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"Great daytime temperatures and hot fishing has been the trend this past week. Fishing continues to be excellent.
The Walleye Master Guides have been working the lake and using all the tools this week! There have been a combination of methods working really well this week. The jigging has produced some fish, drifting with spinners and crawlers has been the main stay of the week. We have done some trolling with plugs, mostly we have started off each day drifting or trolling with spinners and transitioning to trolling with plugs if or when the morning bite slows.
Our Guides have spent most of the time this past week in Little Traverse Bay off of Little Oak Island although there has been time spent in the deeper 36-foot range of Big Traverse. On Friday the Guides had a consensus that it was definitely in the top 10 of best fishing days ever.
We are still on a no shore lunch agenda; the bugs have been so bad on Garden Island. The last shore lunch we did guests were in the water using the dock as a table to try and get away from the black biting flies and horse flies.
Again, we have another great week forecasted. Highs hitting 80 and lows in the 50’s coming up this week.
We have some availability through the rest of the season, give us a call and have us take you fishing!" - 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
Q) On July 23, 2018 Terry (last name withheld) wrote; "I read your article on line. I am 60 and have a friend whose dad still likes to fish and is 87. We go to Minnesota every year in September to (withheld) Lake in Brainerd and fish it, along with a couple lakes in that area. Fishing seems to have declined over the years.
Could you refer me to a lake and a resort that Bluegill and pan fish are good size with variety of good fishing? We like bobber fishing to Bass fishing even walleye fishing. But main focus bigger bluegill. We also fished (withheld) Lake which is a 5 bluegill limit, but last 2 years struggled on catching any there also. Thank you, Terry"
Terry, I'm sorry to hear that the fishing isn't keeping pace with demand in the area(s) you like to fish. These days it isn't easy for a lake produce fish fast enough to provide good action for everybody who wants to harvest them.
A) On the surface, your question seems simple and easy to answer; all you’d like from me is advice about where to go to enjoy a good fishing experience. If you think about it though, your question is actually a complicated and difficult one for me to tackle.
I’ve received dozens of messages from others who want to know the same thing and a lot of them share your sentiment. They’ve fished on a lake, or in an area where the fishing used to be good, but no longer lives up to its past standard. Now what they want to know about are locating new places to go where the fish haven’t already been over-harvested. The problem is that for many, the goal is to find new waters where they can harvest more fish.
See the conundrum; if I let too many folks in on a secret about a good fishing lake, then I have to be prepared to watch the quality of fishing in that lake decline too?
As a member of the Minnesota DNR Panfish Workgroup, not only have I learned a lot about panfish, I’ve also learned a lot about public opinion. In Minnesota, Sunfish are the most heavily pursued species of all fish (Read Published Report) and what most folks want to do with the Sunfish they catch is eat ‘em.
For most angler’s, their natural instinct is to target the largest sunfish that they can find. Unfortunately, the reason that panfish, Sunfish in particular, have declined is because we anglers have been slow to understand the importance of releasing large fish.
Releasing big sunfish goes against the grain for many, it just doesn’t seem right, but it is the right thing to do. Harvesting small sunfish doesn’t seem right either, it’s counter-intuitive, but for folks who want to eat a meal of fish while protecting their favorite lake at the same time, this is the better choice.
There’s not a lot that I can do to change public sentiment about where, why and how people fish. But I do feel a sense of responsibility to at least try to provide educational answers about some of the challenges we modern anglers face.
That's why it's become important for me to re-direct my fishing efforts toward a new ethic; one that focuses much more on the overall fishing experience and much less on delivering fish to the freezer.
In fairness, I have to point out that most folks; you included have never intentionally set out to harm the fish population of any lake. All anybody ever wanted to do was to get in on some good fishing action and have some fish to eat. Instinctively, they’ve caught and kept the fish that “feel” like the right ones. In the case of sunfish though, this practice just happens to be backwards.
I’ve gone the long way around to tell you that I don’t have a particular lake to recommend. But I hope my answer helps explain why I can’t just throw out the names of the better panfish lakes in the area. I’m doing the best I can to be protective of the better panfish lakes that still exist and I hope that I’ve influenced a few of you to join me in trying to do better. Related Article >> Bluegills What's The Value? - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
I don’t know how I could have dreamed up any better circumstances for the grand finale’ of the 2018 Dakin Fisharoo on Friday. The sky was Grey, the lake’s surface was choppy, there were fish in the weeds and I was fishing with a great crew.
The “fishing report” for that day doesn’t take up much space at all.
Water depths varied, we fished patches of cabbage weeds ranging between 8 and 14 feet of water. Our primary trolling speed was 1.1 to 1.3 MPH, but when we fished the deeper edges of the weeds, I slowed down to .9-1.0 MPH to allow our rigs to fish a little deeper. I had rods rigged with heavier weights, but we never had to depart from the ones rigged with 3/16 bullet sinkers; they were heavy enough to get our spinners into the strike zone.
The lures we trolled were Little Joe Red Devil Single Hook Spinners with either the hammered gold or firetiger #3 Indiana blades; model #LR338 to be exact. We tipped the hooks with ½ night crawlers, but also as a precaution, I was carrying both leeches and minnows, we didn’t need to use them either; we stuck with the night crawlers all day long.
This was the classic mid-summer, mixed bag action bite and it was rare to catch two fish of the same species in succession. In fact, I think we caught 1 perch, 1 rock bass, 1 bluegill, 1 smallmouth, 1 largemouth, 1 pike and 1 walleye and had 100 strikes from “little stuff” on our first trolling pass. Eventually, we’d boat 9 keeper walleyes, a dozen mixed smallmouth and largemouth bass, some pike and about 1000 panfish of varying shapes and sizes. We burned up a couple of hundred night crawlers along the way and there were numerous times when all 3 anglers were in line, waiting for new night crawler installations.
In other words, this is a very, very “busy” fishing pattern and if you’re a walleye purist, this may not be the presentation for you. That’s okay, you can leave it to the rest of us kids to play around in the garden while you dial in a “walleye of die fishing pattern”.
Some of the better performances for the Fisharoo crews who did pursue strictly walleye occurred on Winnibigoshish. The mid-lake structure continues to hold fish and some of the guides had very good fishing trips out there. I know that there’s a lopsided ratio favoring fish in the protected slot vs those of keeper size. But there are enough keepers out there to make fishing Winnie a good idea; typically, each of the guides that fished out there returned with 6 to 10 keeper fish, some reported catching double digit numbers of “slot-fish” along the way.
Upper Red Lake provided solid catches of walleye too. I think that there was only one day that any of the Fisharoo crews ventured up there, but the day they did, it was good. Spinners tipped with minnows were the reported weapons of choice for bagging walleyes.
Some of the Fisharoo guides and their crews ventured off into other territory as well. In fairness to the fish that live in those lakes, I won’t name names, but I will say that some of these crews turned in very good reports.
Each one of the guides has their own special way of rigging and fishing with spinners, but generally speaking, I think this was the predominate fishing pattern for the week. The setup was not limited to a single lake, of even within a particular region; it was just plain working on a wide variety of lakes in the greater Itasca area.
I think it’s fair to say that every one of us experienced some ups and downs throughout the week. In fact not all of the folks who hoped to return home with limits of walleye were actually able to do that. But overall, I think it was a darn good week, everybody did harvest some fish, and there were a lot of fish caught and released throughout the week as well. The 2018 Daikin Fisharoo, I think, was a success.
With everything that’s been going on, I’ve fallen behind on gathering and indexing all of the photos. But I will try to catch up throughout the week. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Fishing remains good in central Minnesota. The name of the game lately is weeds. Wether it’s blue gills, crappies or walleyes they are all relating to weeds. Crappies are being caught in 8-14 feet of water, the bigger blue gills are being caught in deep weeds in 14-20 feet of water while the walleyes are being caught anywhere from 8-20 feet. We are still catching walleyes deeper but it seems the weed fish are more aggressive.
Mille lacs, walleye fishing remains good on the mud flats pulling bottom bouncers and a spinner with crawlers and the trolling bite is starting to really pick up out in the main basin.
Smallmouth bass, most of the fish are being caught in that 8-12 foot range. Small marabou jigs or a tube jig have been great.
I still have openings for the last week of July and into August." Matt Klug, MK Fishing Guide Service 320-260-5494
Insects, like Mayflies hatch at both varying intervals and at varying rates of intensity. There are still hatches occurring on the big lake and these are the primary attraction for both baitfish and gamefish to structures that relate to areas of soft bottom that contain marl. As long as insect hatches continue, these temporary feeding stations will attract walleyes.
We’ve been comparing notes with some of the top pros and DNR Fisheries folks; the consensus among them is that walleye activity is ..." Read >> Bowen Lodge Fishing Report July 20, 2018
All things considered, Wednesday was one of those days that only come along a few times each month. It was a day of recovery for larger lakes where weeds and debris uprooted during last weekend’s turbulent weather could still be seen, but diminished steadily throughout the day. Surface temperatures were stable throughout the day, holding at about 76 degrees in the areas we fished.
There were moderate southerly winds that lessened any discomfort from warm air temperatures and that helped keep bugs at bay. The light “walleye chop” encouraged fish to be active, but still allowed for easy drifting and trolling presentations.
During the early part of the day, fish activity was good and while the bag was mixed, there were enough walleyes to allow my crew to gather their limit. By mid-day, we had decided to switch our specialty to the pursuit of perch and while we did bag some, that part of the day did not go as smoothly as our morning did.
Weeds and shoreline structures held some fish, but they were super scattered. We would troll through an area, get a few strikes, boat a few small pike and maybe a perch, then the action would die and I’d have to make a move. I have a few thoughts about why that happened, but I’m up against the clock right now and have to run.
I promise to share more about the entire experience, especially the scattered fish episode tomorrow. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Remember the motto that guides a lot of realtors; location, location, location? That same motto could be used for walleye fishing; figure out where the fish are, and then you can catch ‘em, right? Well, maybe, but be sure to remember adding the tag line; “when they want to”.
Take the past couple of weeks for example; there have been plenty of days when walleyes were biting even though the textbooks say they shouldn’t have been. For the most part, calm weather and sunshine didn’t seem to slow them down, they were in the mood to feed and that’s all there was to it, until yesterday.
On Tuesday, Day 3 of the Daikin Fisharoo, calm seas and sunny skies took their toll on some of the lakes where we’ve enjoyed good walleye fishing up until now.
Fishing for walleyes on a calm, sunny day presents challenges; that’s old news. But that said, we can all point to examples when the sun was shining, the water was calm and the fish bit anyway. I believe that’s because sometimes there’s more going on under the water than we’ve taken the time to understand.
Sure, we’ve had a lot of sunny days this season and the wind has been calm on lot of them. But until recently, most of those bluebird days have occurred during periods of stable weather. Anytime you string a few days of good weather together, fish become acclimated and their feeding patterns become more easily predictable. The mood of the fish turns positive and triggering them to strike becomes easier. The longer the weather remains stable, the more reliable the patterns become.
These are especially good times for anglers who haven’t had a lot of experience fishing for walleyes because they get much more opportunity to learn the nuance of each presentation. It doesn’t matter which presentation is being used, the more strikes any angler gets, the better they become at whatever style of fishing they are using. Repeat the process often enough and at some point, they would become an expert.
Sooner or later though, every weather pattern changes and the periods of stability come to an end. On Sunday the skies became overcast and the wind blew, fish were both on the move and hungry. By Monday, the skies turned blue and a blustery northwest wind had begun bringing in cooler weather, the turbulent water encouraged fish to keep moving and keep feeding, but the change was coming.
By Tuesday morning, the air was cool, the lakes were glassy calm and the sunshine was bright. The previous cycle of stability had been broken by a knock ‘em down, drag ‘em out feeding frenzy and now the fish were due for period of recovery. Finding fish wasn’t that much harder than before, seeing them on the screen of my Humminbird wasn’t uncommon. Catching them wasn’t impossible, but it really helped to be an “expert” and those anglers with the most experience are the ones who caught the lion’s share of the fish.
Understanding the fish’s behavior is every bit as important as understanding how to catch ‘em. When you’re faced with a day like yesterday, it’s tempting to become frustrated, but bear in mind that sometimes fish don’t bite and it isn’t always your fault. In my mind, what happened on Tuesday was normal; the fish acted like they were recovering from a drunken orgy and had no interest in doing anything but rest.
We had the location, location, location part figured out, we just needed to remember the “when they want to” part. The recovery process continues today and we’re in for another calm, hot, sunny day. Even if it isn’t the best day of this season, I think the fish will be in a better mood today than they were yesterday. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Walleyes have the feed bags on. MWC tournament anglers reporting strong numbers of walleyes and a very healthy lake. Numerous trophies from 8 - 11.5 lbs brought in. Drifting and trolling spinners and crawlers or trolling cranks in the basin in 26-34 ft best. Some fish on structure, others in mud.
On the Rainy River, sturgeon fishing "keep season" is now open until Sept 30. NABC bass tournament Sunday found conditions less than desirable with big rains this week turning the river into chocolate milk. Top team found smallies in tributaries with clean water, 5 bass, 16.12 lbs. If only the river was fishable!
Up at the Northwest Angle, Walleye fishing excellent. Lots of fish around Crow Duck, Four Blocks, and Little Oak Islands. Hammered gold, orange and chartreuse still hot colors. 8 - 24'. Crankbaits on Little Traverse Bay picking up. Ontario side, crawler harnesses on fire on reefs. Lots of muskies being caught as well. Smaller baits vs large best for most." – Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"Another wonderful week in the books! Fishing remains excellent, with a variety of big Walleye, slot sized, Walleye and great eaters caught. Our Walleye Master Guides have been doing a lot of drifting or trolling with spinners using, leeches, or crawlers. Trolling with the shad raps has been effective as well.
We are seeing the fish in deep spots of Big and Little Traverse Bays. There have been large schools congregating in the cooler water areas around the reefs as well as the deep water.
Congratulations to the Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit Anglers on a great event! It was a really close 2day event with the tops teams all within ounces of changing place.
Another great week is forecasted. Highs in the 80’s and lows in the 60’s." 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
With over a dozen guides carting upwards of 40 fishermen around the county, it doesn’t take very long to figure out if there are any “hot bites” going on, or not. I’m not sure if the word “hot” is the right one to use, but for the 2018 rendition of the Fisharoo, Winnibigoshish provided as good or better walleye action than anywhere else in the region.
I know what you might be thinking, something like; “yeah, maybe you caught fish on Winnie, but I’ll bet you couldn’t keep any.” Admittedly, Winnie is probably not the best place to go and fill out with limits of walleye, but there are more keepers being caught than you might think. I and my crew, David, Dillon and Cullen managed to bag 9 keepers, a number which was typical of most guides who stayed on the big pond yesterday.
There’s an upside of accepting half a limit, the average size of the “keepers” is exceptional right now. Our smallest one was 16 inches and our largest, 17-3/4 inches just missed escaping into the protected slot by a month, maybe less. When you add in the fun of catching, photo’ing and releasing another dozen fish in the 19 to 22 inch range, then I’d say it makes for a pretty well rounded experience.
On the lake, surface water is warm, ranging between 75 and 77 degrees, firmly locking the fish into mid-summertime feeding patterns. On Sunday, there was a stiff west/northwest wind churning up whitecaps. The turbulent water wasn’t enough to render mid-lake bars un-fishable, but I know that my boat could have been controlled more accurately with less wind.
Dale Anderson, who prefers the finesse approach, caught fish with his crew using Lindy Rigs and live bait. “You’re at the mercy of the wind when you try to drift”; Anderson said. That’s why you have to be devoted to keeping your boat under control by backtrolling, or controlled drifting, that will help hold your speed down.
We, along with most of the other guides and crews didn’t dabble with any finesse style fishing; we used heavy bottom bouncers, Little Joe Spinners and ½ night crawlers. I can’t say that the spinners produced more fish, but it could be argued that the bouncers and spinners are somewhat easier to use, especially for folks who don’t fish walleye a lot.
Perch, small ones, were constantly ripping and tearing at the tails of our night crawlers. In fact we burned through a 100 box of crawlers by mid-afternoon. I know that putting up the constant battering wasn’t a lot of fun for my crew and it’s not my favorite either; but it’s part of the game. With water temperatures this warm, the metabolism of every fish in the lake is racing and every small fish in the lake is competing for a bite of food. The best way I’ve found to deal with it is try and ignore those tiny fish and focus on knowing that sooner or later, a good one will take the bait.
The traditional ending of the 1st day of Fisharoo is a fish fry back at camp. There were plenty of fish to go around and as usual, preparation of the meal was excellent.
With the consumption factor already taken care of, most anglers will turn to doing something different today. Some, hoping to win the big fish contest will attempt to catch a larger fish. Others who like more action might head to one of the better pike or bass lakes in the area. My crew likes to mix it up, so we’ll be heading for a multi-species lake where we could catch anything that swims. Whatever happens today, you will know tomorrow. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Last year at this time, drought conditions made launching a fiberglass boat at some of the shallow water ramps was a dicey proposition. For me, getting into the water and horsing my glass boat off the trailer bunks got me through until about August 1st, but after that, I had to switch over to using the Alaskan almost exclusively until the end of the fishing season.
The drought conditions persisted this spring, especially in the area north and west of Grand Rapids where rainfall was lighter than it was further south. In fact one of the most common email questions before the fishing opener was; “can I get my boat into the Landings on Lakes like Bowstring, Round, Little Winnie and others.”
Happily, we now have vastly improved access to all Itasca Area Lakes which can be credited to frequent rainfall over recent weeks. It took a while for small streams and rivers to saturate dry backwater areas, allowing some of the rainfall to reach lakes. But overflow has finally reached the areas that needed fresh water the most. Anglers should have little trouble finding at least one launch ramp suitable for larger boats on bunk trailers at every lake.
Once you’re on the lake, you will notice that surface water temperatures are high. On Friday, we began our fishing trip with 76 degree surface readings and ended the day with temperatures crossing the 80 degree mark. You’ll notice too that weed growth in shallow water areas has been very good. In some cases, weeds are so heavy that it has become difficult to fish through them, especially in depths of 10 feet or less.
Conversely, weed development in deeper water, let’s say depth of 10 feet and more, is much less robust. I have had trouble finding really good stands of heavy weeds on mid-depth flats where they would typically be green and lush by now.
Lower visibility combined with a later start to the ‘growing season” and rising water levels have forced the better fishing action shallower than usual. Even on clear water lakes, I’m catching fish in much shallower water this summer than I have anytime for the past few seasons. Most of the walleyes we’ve caught in the past week were on shallow weedlines in 7 to 9 feet of water.
With water temperatures now near their summer peak, fast moving presentations have been the most reliable for me. Wherever we fish weeds, the standard Little Joe Red Devil Spinner tipped with ½ night crawler has been my mainstay. On flats where weed growth is light, Lindy’s Lil Guys tipped with whole night crawlers is working well also.
High metabolic rates caused by warm water temperatures cause fish to feed almost constantly during this warm water period. That’s good in the sense that predatory fish like walleye, pike and bass are super active. The downside to warm water temperatures is that small fish are also super active. Trolling a spinner along the weed edges has been a very, very busy game.
There are small perch, sunfish, and rock bass along with other fish nibbling at the worms constantly. Eventually, a nice walleye, pike or bass will pound on your offering, but if you don’t have the mind-set right, you could be frustrated by the little fish and give up before you hit pay dirt. I have just accepted the fact that I’m going to use up a lot of worms and irritate a few folks while I constantly remind them not to try and set the hook on those little nibblers.
Last week I wrote that bass, sunfish and crappies were so far absent from the deeper weed edges. On Friday, I got a text from the DNR Large Lake Specialist who wrote; “Just read your report about fish not in expected areas. I agree and think it might have something to do with higher water levels. It seems like this occurs on certain lakes whenever we have high water early in the season; just a guess.”
It will be interesting to see if the mixed bag bite improves later this summer, but for now, don’t count on catching great numbers of panfish or bass on the weedlines. The action will likely include a plethora of nibbling nuisance fish, but both walleye and northern will strike frequently enough to make your trip(s) interesting. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Chock full of insect larvae, small minnows and all sorts of microscopic aquatic food, mid-lake bars and humps are so attractive to walleyes, that they are reluctant to move away from them. On calm days, easy access to these structures makes them the most popular fishing spots on the lake.
Key water depths for the most active fish are 18 to 24 feet and targeting these fish will produce more consistent results than focusing on fish found in deeper water. Our guests have reported that Lindy Rigs, combined with lively leeches and night crawlers continue to produce consistently.
The allure of adding bonus pike to the ..." Read >> Bowen Lodge Lake Winnie Fishing Report July 13, 2018
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We've illustrated how to tie each fishing knot, and made it easy to view on your phone out in the boat. So be sure to bookmark this link for later and share it with your fishing buddies." Learn More >> 15 Fishing Knots Every Angler Should Know
Most folks know that deep, clear water lakes are slower to “turn on” than are shallow, warm water ones. Many know too that the Grand Rapids area has more than its fair share of clear water, deep basin lakes; these are the waters I’m thinking about this morning.
I think that seasonal progressions on these Grand Rapids area lakes are a bit behind schedule this year. Even though surface temperatures have risen into the mid-70 degree range, weed growth in many areas does not appear to be normal for this time of the season.
It’s not easy to explain why because as warm as the weather has been, one would think that weed development, fish migrations and insect hatches would have been right on track, maybe even early compared to an “average” season. But if I was to measure seasonal progressions based solely on what I’ve seen the fish doing, then I’d say that patterns are more similar to mid-June than mid-July.
On Wednesday, I watched Bass fisherman zipping around the lake, moving from one deep point to another. I watched walleye fishermen checking out mid-lake structure like deep bars and sunken islands. They were checking all of the typical mid-summer fishing structures just like I did last week; the problem is that these deep water spots were getting plenty of attention from anglers, but not from very many fish.
The fish, at least the walleyes that we were catching were still up in the shallows, along the weed edges in 8 to 10 feet of water. Even there, weed production is behind schedule and while walleyes appear to be satisfied with the sparse weed growth, populations of both bass and panfish have been sparse to say the least.
I haven’t fished with anybody recently who wanted to target strictly bass. But if I was to get a request for bass fishing tomorrow, I would head straight for the shoreline(s) and begin working shallow cover along the bank like docks, rocks and any thick weeds that I could find. There’s no reason for Largemouth Bass to suspend over deep water, panfish either for that matter, so I think that shallow cover must be where they’re hiding.
Now that I just told you that fish location and habitat is behind schedule, I’ll confuse you by saying that presentations, particularly for walleye are precisely on target for mid-summer. Fast moving baits like spinners, crankbaits and hybrid trolling lures are working like a charm. For the past couple of days, Little Joe Spinners tipped with ½ night crawlers is all I’ve needed to use and they have caught walleye, pike and the handful of bass that already found their way to the sparse weedlines.
I think I learned something about Northern Pike on Wednesday, I think they behave more like Muskies than I realized.
We often think of weeds as the prime location for finding pike and on Tuesday, in calm water under blue skies, that’s where we found them. But on Wednesday, under grey skies with a heavy chop, the pike were gone. In fact we only caught one pike during the entire trip on Wednesday; this after catching a dozen or more in the same areas a day earlier.
I think that I know the reason for this, but I’m going to do some fact checking today. In the meantime, you can think it over and in the next day or two; you can compare your theory to mine. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Drifting and trolling spinners and crawlers has been the go to method. Trolling cranks in the basin in 26-30 ft producing limits also. Charter boats and personal boats catching fish all over the lake. Congrats to all MTT anglers, top bag, 5 fish over 36 lbs. Welcome to all MWC tournament walleye anglers this week.
On the Rainy River, sturgeon fishing "keep season" is now open until Sept 30. Anglers can keep one sturgeon per year in the 45-50 inch range or over 75 inches. MN catch and release records continue to be broken, bring measuring tape and camera. Smallmouth bass anglers finding big smallies in typical go to areas, rock, bridges, current breaks, etc. Welcome NABC tournament bass anglers to the Rainy River for Sunday tournament.
Up at the NW Angle... Walleye, sauger, perch, northern, smallmouth, and of course muskie fishing are all hot on both sides of border. Walleyes being found in some shallow areas still but most trying off off shore structure. Area north of Garden Island to Four Blocks has been good. Orange and chartreuse are good colors to start with." – Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"Lots of slot fish caught this week! The majority of the fish have been caught while drifting with spinners and crawlers. If it’s eaters you’re looking for, North of Garden has been the place to be. Crank baits are working well in the basins.
We would like to send our congratulations to all the MTT participants. There were lots of fish caught, and a lot of fun had.
The weather remains the same this week. Highs in the 80’s and lows in the 60’s.
We still have a few openings for the end of July! Get your buddies together and plan a trip!" - 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
In previous posts about changing the Walleye limits, I understood you to not be in favor of lowering to 4 per day per person. Have I misread your past posts (winter/spring 2018) that you favored a 6 fish limit especially for out of state visitors like me & my family?
I only catch Walleyes during my short 1 week visit to your beautiful state and being able to take 6 home allows me to have a couple of meals until my next year. I think if they only allowed 1 Walleye per day per person (4 Possession) it would not make sense for me to drive 700 miles and spend thousands of dollars to come up every year.
Would that mean if I were out fishing alone and caught a keeper Walleye that I would have to leave the lake and go home?
I am all about conservation and I throw most large fish of any species back if caught, and I could live with a 4 per day per person limit, at least I could fish for Walleyes longer and have a fish fry and be able to get 4 more to take home. Thanks for all you do for our sport, Larry Brown, East Peoria, IL"
A) Thank you Larry and YES, you have read my past comments correctly. Generally speaking, I do not favor reducing the current Minnesota Walleye Possession Limit by further rationing. I believe that we can do a better job of increasing supplies of fish and for me, the idea that makes much more sense is to encourage DNR, legislators and other public servants to focus on enriching the supply of fish, so as to encourage tourism in Minnesota.
Not only would this make fishing more productive, but it would also help simplify regulations and that would encourage tourism as much or maybe even more than improved fishing would.
I can see why my comments were confusing on Monday; I didn’t intentionally mention the difference between “the Canadian possession limit” and the Minnesota one. At the moment, most lakes in Minnesota fall into the 6 fish, statewide bag limit and I do favor leaving that regulation as is. That said, whatever that number is or would be ought to be based on hard data, both economic and biological.
Monday’s post was one in which I intended to voice my support of splitting the daily limit vs the possession limit.
I believe that in the vast majority of cases, “local” pressure has a much more dramatic impact on fish populations than do visitors who only fish occasionally. If regulations allowed folks to keep a fish or two each day for consumption, it would satisfy anglers who want to get a fish dinner. But it would serve to slow down the number of fish being stockpiled in freezers on a daily basis.
Conversely, a regulation that allowed anglers an opportunity to add fish to their larders over time would provide opportunity to take a few fish home and give them a greater sense that folks in our state value their tourism dollars.
When you say that you’re all about having the conversation, I’m with you. For both the health of the fishery and for the sake of our fishing heritage, we do need to strike the proper balance between the rate of consumption and the time it takes to regenerate adequate supplies of fish.
My observation about the Canadian system for managing Rainy Lake is an easy comparison to make because anybody who wants to do the paperwork can fish on both sides of the border during the same fishing trip. We did that and from what I could see, their way works better than ours does; at least it does on that lake. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Fishing customers often ask me; “What do you do when you go on vacation?” More often than not, I go fishing, of course.
Folks who know me remember that in the past, I’ve used my oldest child, Annalee’s July 4th birthday as an excuse to take a few days off of “work”. It’s been a few years since we’ve been able to do it, but this year we were able to re-kindle the tradition, this time introducing some new family members to the tradition.
When your birthday falls on the 4th of July, viewing fireworks becomes a pre-requisite for any birthday party. And the way we remembered it, there are few places in our state that put on a fireworks show that compares with the one at International Falls MN. They did not disappoint us this year either, the display was awesome!
Once the fireworks were over, we shifted our focus onto the secondary consideration; fishing Rainy Lake.
Except for one calm day, the weather for our trip was pretty turbulent. Windy conditions with storms brewing in the distance were the rule, not the exception. That forced us to choose fishing spots that were manageable, rather than ones where we really wanted to fish. Luckily, we had planned ahead and were prepared to fish on either side of the border which allowed some extra options.
That was lucky because we were able to find shelter amidst the islands and bays on the Canadian side of the lake. We took advantage of the shelter and spent most of our fishing time north of the border.
Because of crossing back and forth between countries, we were only allowed to use night crawlers and that’s the only bait we used during the entire trip. Wiggle worming was the primary presentation and it was very reliable. But when the wind really blew, I used Lindy Rigs paired with ¾ ounce No Snagg Sinkers to hold our baits in the strike zone more efficiently.
Despite stormy weather, walleyes were active and generally, if we could see them on our Humminbirds, they would typically strike.
The water depths that we fished were shallow compared to previous years, ranging from 18 to 24 feet deep. The shallower fishing depths were favorable because they allowed us to easily release the fish we caught and gave us latitude to be much more selective about which 1 fish each that we decided to bag.
Speaking of the Rainy Lake, Canadian walleye bag limit, I have to say that it makes a lot of sense to me. We were allowed to harvest 1 fish per person, per day with a maximum bag limit of 4 fish. That meant that we were able to gather enough fish for two fabulous fish meals while we were there and still assemble a modest surplus of fish to take home.
I and Susan brought home 2, Austin and Annalee brought home 4; so did Chris and Heidi, Joelle headed home with 2 fish as well and Kate had to fly back to Denver, so she left empty handed. When you add it all up, this means that the 8 of us bagged a total of 19 walleyes in Canada and another half dozen on the US Side. In other words, 25 fish, all of them under 17 inches in length fed 8 people twice, and still allowed most of us to bring home enough for another meal at a later time.
In the meantime, we were able to catch and release lots of fish and that’s what we will remember. In my opinion, this conservation oriented approach to bag limits is something that Minnesotan’s should really take a close look at. If the 1 fish per day, 4 fish in possession split bag limits work for Canada, why wouldn’t a similar system work here? I know one thing, this type of system definitely favors tourism and that’s what makes the economy tick. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Q) Kurt Grobe wrote; “Jeff, I have spoken to you before, but haven't had a chance to fish with you yet. But this may be the year. I am wondering when would be the best (on average of course) time to come fish walleyes with you on Winnie/Cutfoot? Is it better to fish during mid to Late august, or into September?
A) Timing a trip for the best possible weather and circumstance is tricky. No two fishing seasons are exactly the same.
Generally, late August, especially the days preceding the full moon are good, both walleye and pike tend to be active along weed edges and there are still fish in deep water at the same time. In past years, I've referred to the late summer period as a "false start" to the fall fishing season. That's because this period of intensified fish activity is typically followed by a lull in the action that lasts into mid-September. That's when warm daytime temperatures finally lose their grip and water temperatures cool into the mid-60 degree range, the true fall fishing patterns begin to settle in.
During late summer, trolling presentations like spinners, crankbaits and hybrids are typically the most reliable.
Later in September, cold weather and declining water temperatures bring on the “fall bite”. During this period, anglers who use use trolling presentations experience a steady decline in action. Now jig and minnow combinations become the most reliable way to fish. Drifting, anchoring and back-trolling at slow speeds are the most widespread methods for fishing.
Weather is a factor to consider, late August most often features stable, warm weather, while September is more volatile. September weather can range from gorgeous to blustery and everything in-between. Preparing for changeable weather forces fall fishermen to prepare for a much wider variety of conditions.
For me, there’s nothing that compares to the fall period and if I was planning my own vacation, this is the period that I would choose. That said folks who prefer warmer weather have also experienced awesome fishing during late summer; so it really is a matter of personal preference.
I have another page on the website that helps explain more seasonal patterns and considerationsas well. So when it comes to planning a trip, be sure to view this page too >> Planning Your Walleye Fishing Trip for more useful information. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Another great week of fishing! Most of the time was spent drifting or trolling with spinners and crawlers or leeches. We had many days this past week with little or no wind. We have had great weather, for late June and July. We are not breaking any records for heat, but some records are best left unbroken. If you are stuck in a heat wave, maybe it’s time to think about heading North to the best Walleye lake in the World. Our forecast high of the week is 83 degrees!
Drifting and trolling on the sand bars has been really effective this past week, many large Walleye and plenty of great eaters! If you like eating Walleye, it is never better than caught fresh, cleaned and put right into a hot pan.
The major bug hatch seems to be over with and we have not been seeing signs of algae on the lake yet.
We are seeing a typical forecast for this time of year with overnight lows in the 60’s and highs in the 80’s with thunderstorms continually predicted. It seems there is always a chance for a storm, therefore the regular prediction, but they do not happen as often as predicted either. Generally, if they do come they do not last long and with the large lake weather pattern it is rare they effect the fishing." - 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
"Walleye fishing remains strong. Drifting and trolling on the sand bars very effective this past week, many large walleyes and plenty of great eaters! The major bug hatch seems to be over (for now). Some anglers using crankbaits on lead core but most still finding good success drifting with spinners and crawlers.
On the Rainy River, sturgeon fishing "keep season" is now open until Sept 30. Anglers can keep one sturgeon per year in the 45-50 inch range or over 75 inches. MN catch and release records continue to be broken, bring measuring tape and camera. Smallmouth bass anglers finding nice bass in typical go to areas, rock, bridges, current breaks, etc.
Up at the NW Angle... Fishing is excellent on both sides of the border. Walleyes being found in wind blown areas in shallow water or out deep in 24-27 feet. Spinners over mud working very good. Orange or hammered gold hot colors. Of course, jigs still producing in structure. Muskie anglers catching big fish over 50" this past week." – Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"The walleyes continue to bite on the midlake structures. Rigs with leeches and crawlers are the best bet. The calmer conditions look for the midlake humps and when the wind blows, the main bars seem to be the best. Many of the fish are falling in the protected slot, but some keeper size fish are mixed in with the larger fish.
Perch fishing has been a little strange this past week. They seem to be here today and gone tomorrow. This makes for a little bit of a challenge. You have to find a new school each day you fish. Look for the perch in the heavier new cabbage weeds, or on the flats in 13-15' of water. On the flats, look for schools of baitfish on your electronics and the perch won't be far away.
Northern fishing hasn't kicked into high gear as of yet. They are still very scattered and no patterns have developed, yet.
The storms that moved through the area haven't done much to help the fishing. As the weather stabilizes, look for the summer fishing pattern to continue." Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
Upper Red Lake was hit hard by the storm last Thursday. “Kelliher really got nailed; I think they got it the worst. But the storm hit really hard here too, I’ve got a dozen trees down”, the cashier at Roger’s Campground office said. “The wind never stopped blowing since, we had whitecaps all day on Saturday, the wind finally calmed down at about midnight last night.”
Those words weren’t exactly what I expected to hear because closer to home, Saturday was a fairly calm day, in fact a breezy morning on Friday was reduced to calm seas by Friday afternoon.
I know better than to head for Upper Red after the wind has been blowing hard, but since I hadn’t realized the contrast between conditions there vs the ones further south, I was caught in my own trap. I explained that we might have a slow morning as we waited for the lake to settle and added that if we got into too much trouble, we could load up and head back south for better action.
On the lake, shallow shoreline water was turgid; it looked like chocolate malt. As we moved further out and away from shore, it didn’t look as bad, the water was less muddy and the surface temperature was a uniform 74 degrees. That gave me a bit more confidence in the game plan.
Once we stopped and got everybody rigged up, we began trolling the breakline from 8 to 10 feet of water. Little Joe Spinners tipped with night crawlers was our presentation. During the early minutes of our trip, the walleyes actually made it appear as if the day would be an easy one. Joey Bergquist had 3 fish in the boat within our first 15 minutes of fishing.
For a time, the action dropped off though and it became tougher, but not impossible to get a strike. By about 11:20 AM, the time we were checked by the DNR Conservation Officers, we had 4 fish in the livewell. The CO’s told us that so far, we were the kings of the lake, the best report they’d seen so far was a boat with 2 keepers aboard. My comment was that we’d just keep chipping away and that’s exactly what we did.
While it never died completely, it never fired up to be a hot bite either. We’d troll for 5 to 10 minutes without action and then someone would get one. By day’s end, we had bagged 12 good keepers, 4 short of our 4 person limit, but a very respectable catch. We could have bagged our limit if we’d chosen to, but we respected our own self-imposed standard and held out for fish 15 inches or better. We’d released a dozen fish or more that fell short of that by only ½ inch, but nobody in this crew was disappointed by not harvesting those fish; they’ll be really happy to catch them next year.
Something interesting always happens on the water and this day was no exception. I don’t know how I fished Red Lake this long without encountering an odd looking fish called a Goldeye, but I hadn’t. That is until yesterday when we caught two of these interesting looking characters. They reminded me of Tulibee, but had a completely different mouth. I texted Gerry Albert, MN DNR a photo to see if he knew what it was; he gets the credit for leading me in the right direction.
I looked it up online to learn more about them and found an article on Outdoor Canada that starts off this way; “What they lack in size, goldeye make up for in numbers, fight and willingness to bite.
They have a savage strike and they’re a hoot on the line, pirouetting this way and that through the water as they try to throw the hook. They’re abundant, often found in schools, and they’re relatively easy to catch. Plus, they make for good eating out of the …” Learn More >> Why You've Got To Try Fishing For Goldeye
All things considered, we had a good day. The fishing was good enough to be entertaining and we had more than enough fish for the table. Even better, our decision to travel north took us out of the rain belt and while much of the Itasca Area was wet, we sat high and dry.
I'm guessing that this will have been my last visit for a while because my upcoming schedule favors shorter drives and more mixed bag action. But I wouldn't dissuade you from heading that way, as the weather settles, the action on Upper Red will surely improve and I think there’s good potential for some more productive fishing trips.
For today, I get to go see if the anglers who fished the Grand Rapids Area Hockey Asscocitaion's "Walleye Shootout" on Pokegama left anything behind. By all accounts the walleye fishing was good for most of the tournament anglers on Saturday.
It was especially good for my friends Randy Topper and Brock Anderson who not only captured the first place trophy, but will also be carrying a very heavy bag of coins to the bank this week! Congratulations Brock and Randy on a well deserved and hard earned win! - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
I'm always worried whenever I’m preparing to take people fishing for the first time. Naturally, I’m hoping for a chance to make a good first impression and in many ways, I’m dependent upon good fishing to help make that happen. That means that I worry about things that might make any fishing day “less good”.
I’m always nervous after heavy weather has passed through the area. In fact, the potential for a more difficult than usual fishing day is usually one of the first things we talk about before heading onto the water, especially when I meet new customers for the first time.
One common question is whether or not stormy weather is good or bad for fishing. The correct answer is; it depends.
More often than not, thunderstorms, lightning and heavy rains do not kill the fishing action. This is especially true when turbulent weather persists for several days, much like it has during the latter part of the past week. Persistent stormy weather is in its own way, almost the same thing as stable weather. The fish have some time to make whatever adjustment that is necessary and they become acclimated to the conditions.
On the other hand, cool, crisp, cold front mornings with high blue skies that feature cold breezes make me want to pull the covers over my head and go back to sleep. Cold fronts that are often the trigger for strong storms usually arrive in a sudden and highly disruptive way. I can’t recall having very many good fishing days on the arrival of a significant cold front.
Luckily for me, any impact from this weekend’s turbulent weather has been minimal; at least so far. Water temperatures remain warm, insect hatches continues to produce abundant food supplies on mid-lake structures and walleyes have continued to be cooperative.
On Saturday, I spent some time giving my crew the nickel tour of Lake Winnibigoshish, in particular some of the popular mid-lake bars and mud flats.
Surface temperatures were pegged at a steady 76 degrees; there was very little fluctuation from one area to another. There is a light, but noticeably growing algae bloom in the water and all of the bars that we scanned were filled with insect larvae, small minnows and occasionally, predator fish.
The approach we took to fishing the bars was very traditional, scan the structure until fish are spotted, stop the boat, drop in a Lindy Rig and move slowly through the small schools of fish until one of them strikes. On Saturday, it was just that easy, if I could see fish on the Humminbird, they bit and it didn’t matter if we used leeches or night crawlers, they both worked well.
My crew definitely enjoyed “catching” the fish, but there was disappointment that there were not some ‘keepers” in the mix. My sense is that the food chain is active enough to produce decent daytime fishing for larger fish, the ones that are highest in the pecking order. But to tip the odds in favor of getting in on a hot bite and bagging more smaller fish, the late evening and early morning hours would definitely be a better time to fish.
All things considered, I'd say that Lake Winnie is holding her own and barring a major weather event, should continue to produce good mid-lake walleye action throughout the week.
Toward the end of our day, we spent an hour or so in the weeds trolling spinners. Perch were most definitely active and it didn't take long to start catching them. An angler would have to sort through a lot of small ones to gather a meal, but there were enough larger fish to make me believe that there's potential. Populations of both walleye and pike in the weeds are very sparse right now. It can't be long before larger fish begin inhabiting shoreline weeds, but I think the insect hatches will have to run their course before fish will disperse from the mid-lake flats, bars and humps.
For today, I'm entertaining a boatload of kids, so getting back into high speed action mode what's called for. I'm the multi-100 plan; 100 spinners, 100 night crawlers, 100 minnows, 100 pike, 100 perch 100 ...
There have been a lot of calls and emails lately from readers asking for one sort of advice or another. I’m doing my best to keep up and at the same time, prioritize the list so that I get to the really pressing issues first.
Since the “busy season” is in full swing, my office time is really limited. So if you’ve dropped me a line and haven’t received a reply, I apologize, I will get the stack cleared up eventually, so please bear with me.
I’m usually checking messages during the wee hours of early morning, so my schedule tends to favor emails rather than phone calls. Also, I do offer The Early Bird Insider’s News List, an “opt-in” email list that I routinely use for announcing last minute openings, special announcement and fishing events. List membership is free and it only takes a few seconds to register. I can’t sign you up; you need to do this yourself by clicking the link to the news list.
One final thought, every fishing question that I’ve received for the past week has been about lakes and situations that I have already written about. The fishing archives are jam packed with information about the specific lakes and situations that you’ve been asking about. So if you want a jump start on your next fishing trip, go to Fishing Report Archives, select the month that you plan to fish and peruse the past reports. I promise that you will find the information you’re looking for, plus a lot more. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL