Fishing Report June 30, 2015 - Howling At The Moon! Flipping the Switch On Walleye Patterns
Can you imagine arriving at a boat landing at your favorite lake, walking up to the dock and flipping the switch that "Turns On" the Walleyes? YES, I KNOW, that would be enough to wipe a smile onto anybody's face!
Well, it might not be quite that simple, but Mother Nature's recipe does include phases of the Moon and they do send signals to her children when it's time for a change. The trick is to be reading the signals, and be ready to go with the flow of these changes.
I wish I could say that just because we will have a Full Moon tomorrow, that the fish are going to go on a rampage and that when they strike your bait, that they'll be ripping the fishing rod out of your hands. They might do that, but then again, they might not; the changing moon phases don't always signal that sort of turbulent change. In fact sometimes, the effect of a Full Moon on fish is the opposite, calming and peaceful.
What they really do do, is initiate a new trend, a fresh seasonal movement from one pattern to another.
For Walleye fishermen, making educated guesses about what they might do can help get you into the action faster. For me, today’s educated guess is that I'll be noticing that Walleyes in the deep, cool waters of Grand Rapids' most popular Walleye lakes will be migrating onto mid lake bars and sunken islands.
On warmer, shallower waters in the Itasca area, these transitions occurred weeks ago. But deep water takes longer to warm up, the whole food chain progresses more slowly. That means that just when the action on shallower Walleye lakes begins to lag; these deep water lakes are poised to hit their summer peak.
If you're lucky like me, you can load up on Lindy Rigs, Spinners and pick up a bucket full of big minnows and then put the boat in the water today to test my theory. But even if you can't get out there right now, you're still lucky; you'll be the first to know all of the secrets and you'll only need to wait until tomorrow morning to find out.
By the way, Walleyes in shallower, warm water lakes may be doing just the opposite. For them, the changing moon phase might actually trigger a movement away from deep strucure and toward the weeds.
That's a trend that I've already noticed on some lakes. In fact, during my last couple of Walleye trips, we've found some fish on mid lake humps and bars. But we have found an equal number of fish on the weedlines, especially in areas that contain Cabbage Weeds.
Many of the Itasca area's better fishing guides turn to trolling with spinners for fishing the weeds. For me, fishing the weeds
using "wiggle worms", 1/16 ounce Lindy Jigs tipped with night cralwers is still more fun. Either way, fishing the weeds is a very good idea, especially if you love a mixed bag of Walleye, panfish and Pike.
Mother Nature's recipe book includes Moon phases and they do send signals to her children when it's time for a change.
Walleyes in the deep, cool waters of Grand Rapids' most popular Walleye lakes are beginning to migrate onto mid lake bars and sunken islands.
Fishing Report June 28, 2015 - Cook Book Crappies
Crappie fishing in the Grand Rapids area has been reliable this week, but there’s more than one way to find schools of feeding fish. Some folks are finding them over open water; some are finding fish in the shallows. Until fall, I prefer to pursue fish that occupy shallow water weed flats.
Following a simple pattern that will lead you to them is almost like using a recipe to bake a cake; once you know it, you can repeat it over and over again.
For me, fishing on weedy flats during mid-summer is one of my favorite patterns and on Saturday, we found a nice school of fish on a textbook spot. Finding areas like this one is not hard at all and I think it’s good recipe to follow as you search your for Crappies on your favorite lake.
Any flat that is surrounded by deep water and contains a mix of Cabbage weeds, Coontail or Eelgrass has potential to hold schools of fish. Typical depths in the Grand Rapids area would be in the 6 to 10 foot depth range, but a spot on your lake could be deeper or shallower depending on water clarity and weed growth. No matter the depth, the best ones are large, lay adjacent to shallow water Crappie spawning territory and have direct access to deep water.
The problem with testing them out is that Crappies have the irksome habit of not biting when you want them to. In other words, there are times that you may have found the perfect spot, but not KNOW it. The trick is to understand where they live and then to drop by, occasionally during one of their feeding runs.
One of the easiest ways to identify potentially good spots is to watch these flats during calm, low light periods. Minnows ride high above the weed tops and Crappies will cruise over the weed tops too; it is not at all unusual to confirm their presence visually.
Figuring out if there are predators feeding on these small baitfish isn’t tricky at all, being sure that they are Crappies? Watch for the fins of cruising fish, they sometimes look like miniature Porpoises moving along the surface. Bear in mind too that even if you don’t find Crappies, you could stumble into Bluegills, Bass, Pike; maybe even a new Walleye honey hole.
Once you find some spots that look good, the simple way to check them out is by using a slip float and small jigs tipped with live bait. I like to set the float to ride at least a foot off of the bottom, maybe more depending on how thick the weeds are. Working through the leafy, upper half of weed plants is fairly easy, but if you fish too deep, you can get snagged on the stronger stems and that gets frustrating. Besides, fish that are feeding seldom occupy the territory near the bottom, they are typically higher in the water column where they can see and move more freely.
Okay, so that’s the recipe; I followed it myself one morning about 25 years ago. That’s how I found the flat where we caught our Crappies on Saturday and ever since the first season that I knew about it, this flat has produced fish.
If you don’t already have a handful of these old reliable spots of your own, try taking a quiet ride on a calm morning and see for yourself. It is not rocket science, everybody can do it.
Once you find some spots that look good, the simple way to check them out is by using a slip float and small jigs tipped with live bait. I like to set the float to ride at least a foot off of the bottom, maybe more depending on how thick the weeds are.
The walleye fishing definitely picked up this past week. Fishermen were able to target fish on the midlake structures. These fish are foraging for the bugs that are coming off of the bottom. Rigs with leeches and crawlers have been the preferred bait for the fishermen, but some folks are still using jigs and minnows for the action bite.
The shoreline drops are still holding shiner minnows and thus the fish are right there, as well. Even the old guide himself got in on the action catching this 28" walleye on a jig and fathead minnow. The fish was caught on the shoreline drop south of the River in 17' of water.
Joe Thopmpson, Four Seasons Resort shows off a super, 28 inch Walleye caught on Lake Winnie.
The walleyes have been caught on the bottom side of the breaklines at times, so don't be afraid to venture out from the top side of the break. These fish have been deemed uncatchable in the past (we always thought they were not feeding), but lately have found that not to be the case. This goes for the humps, bars, and breaklines.
We have been experiencing the best early season northern fishing that I can ever recall. Northerns are being caught on the breaklines fishing for walleyes with jigs and minnows, but they are also being caught along the emergent weedbeds using all of the normal hardware. It is almost like a report coming straight out of the end of July! Whatever it is, the guests are loving the action. When de-boned, these fish are every bit as good as any other.
Perch fishing is still going strong. Jigs and fatheads will do a nice job catching these fish. The flat areas just before the breaklines is a good place to start to locate a school of biting perch. The area off of the Birdhouses was especially good this week.
We are coming into our busy season. We still have some openings if you have a chance to get away, give us a call. ... Read >> Four Seasons Fishing Report .
Fishing Report June 27, 2015 - Whiter Whites and Bluer Blues With the "Snyder Effect".
For long time readers, the "Snyder Effect" is a familiar term for what happens when the fish really aren't supposed to bite, but they do anyway. Reading about one of these fishing trips could easily be mistaken for a cute anecdotal story about any given day on the lake; a story about a fluky, lucky day.
It doesn’t explain away that easily though, not for the Snyder family and you shouldn't pooh-pooh the theory because for them, it works every time. On Friday, the theory of the “Snyder Effect” was tested and proven once again.
Warren Snyder's family has been fishing with me for a long time, so long that we can't exactly figure out when it started. Nowadays his son Nils and grandson Bjorn have formed a trio that's become sort of the "A Team" of the family for these annual trips.
On Friday, the water temperature of Bowstring Lake was nearly 80 degrees and the surface of the lake was like a mirror. There had been a big thunderstorm the night before, but now there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky. The air was already warm and muggy; I could tell that we were in for a scorcher. I remembered all too well, the cloud of little green looking bugs that swarmed us out there on Thursday too. Seasoned fishermen recognize this as the recipe for a tough fishing day.
That doesn’t work for the Snyder family, they don’t know what a tough fishing day is, they never let it enter their mind and after a little coaching about how to use their Lindy Rigs properly, they sprang into action.
“Okay, I’m feeding line” Warren said, “now I’m taking up the slack … I got one, this one is pulling, I think it’s a good one”. I think you know the rest ….
Now before I make this sound too good, I do have to say that there was some work involved, the fish didn’t just jump into the boat. But by keeping our baits in the water, well mostly, and following the advice outlined in yesterday’s Trails End fishing report, we were able to gather 13 decent keepers and another dozen or so good size Perch. Yes, I know, we didn’t get our limit, but we did have plenty for a great shore lunch and plenty more left over to take home for the family fish fry too.
I’ll bet that there are a lot of you that know just what I mean when I say that there have been many days just like this one, where I have worked a lot harder and come back to the dock with a lot less.
Reading the Trails End report really does cover most of the bases, but here’s a quick summary.
Nils Snyder showing off some of his better work, a 21 inch Walleye caught on a Lindy Rig and Night Crawler in 22 feet of water.
For long time readers, the "Snyder Effect" is a familiar term for what happens when the fish really aren't supposed to bite, but they do anyway. Left to rigt; Warren, Bjorn and Nils, 3 generations of Good Luck!!
We avoided all of “the popular spots”, concentrating instead on finding offbeat areas where the lakes large mud flats dropped off into deeper water. The key depths were from 20 to 24 feet and the best areas were where the breakline was steep instead of gradual.
If there were any large schools of fish out there, I either missed finding them or it was my insistence on staying away from crowds that kept us from seeing them. Instead, it was small packs of Walleyes holding along small points (fingers) that protruded off of the breakline that entertained us.
Without a breeze for drifting, having a system for keeping the lines organized is important. When I’m backtrolling with the MinnKota and have 4 lines in the water, I rig two rods with ½ ounce Lindy No Snagg sinkers and 2 rods with 3/8 ounce No Snagg weights. The fishermen in the 2 seats closest to the bow are using the lighter weights. The two fishermen near the stern use heavier weights, one fishes the port side, and the other fishes the starboard side. The lighter weights are forced to fish just a little bit further away from the boat, which allows the heavier weights to swing under them without getting tangled.
As usual, I'm up against the clock so I have to cut this short, but keep scrolling and read the Trails End Fishing Report below for more details about the pattern.
In closing, let me say that more folks should be like the Snyders, Yes, I believe that. The Snyder Effect isn't some mystical spell or fancy mathematical calculation, nope; it's way simpler than that. The truth is that they really don't know that the fish aren't supposed to bite sometimes. They just show up KNOWING that everything will be good and for the most part, it is.
So thank you, I usually do my best to be that way too, but I think that I’ll try to be even more like that myself!
(6/26) From Bowstring Lake, Geiger's Trails End Resort; "The surface temperature on Bowstring Lake has risen above 70 degrees and the lake is beginning to "bloom". All you have to do is watch the screen of your graph to see that here's an awful lot going on under the surface right now. You'll see insect hatches, swarms of small baitfish and Walleyes, lots of Walleyes.
Bowstring's supply of small fish is abundant and we're seeing lots of fish in the 10 to 13 inch range; for most of our guests, it doesn't matter whether they fish deep or shallow, the smaller fish will be there. There are some better size keepers out there and the secret to catching them is to abandon convention Walleye wisdom and stop looking for places where there are lots of fish.
According to one of our preferred fishing guides, there is a strategy for finding better size fish on Bowstring. His strategy is the complete opposite of what he’d be doing if he was fishing on a lake that has protected slot size regulations.
The older each year class of Walleye get, the smaller that particular school of fish becomes. After enough time passes, what used to be a huge school of fish dwindles down to a few large fish that represent the last of their class. That means that on lakes that have protected slot limits, seeking out isolated structure where there are only singles and doubles would be a sure way to guarantee never catching a keeper size fish.
On those lakes, the key to finding keepers would be to watch for the largest school of fish that you can find. That's because the larger the number of fish, the younger they are and the more likely to be “keepers” they are.
Bowstring Lake doesn't have a slot, so there's more pressure on the high end of the size spectrum. It's fairly easy to find and catch smaller fish, but trickier to figure out where the larger ones are.
For our lake, he’s reversed the slot-limit strategy and intentionally seeks out areas where the screen of his Humminbird reveals fish in small numbers. If there are too many fish on the screen, the odds are that they will be too small to be of interest. But when he spots 2 or 3 fish, he'll stop and give them a little attention.
Checking out small isolated points adjacent to deep water, sharp inside corners in the drop off and even marking packs of suspended fish on the mud flats will all lead to success. One key is that on Bowstring, fish do not have to be on structure. If you’re moving around the lake and see a few fish on your graph, throw a marker and fish for them. You will be surprised at how often you can stop and quickly catch a couple of fish before they get spooky and wander off.
Presentation matters when it comes to catching larger fish too and super healthy, super big leeches and night crawlers will help attract the attention of larger fish. Lindy Rigs set up with 3/8 or ½ ounce size “No Snagg Sinkers” have been the standard presentation. Slip floats will work too and can be a fun alternative; move your boat slowly until you see fish on the graph, then drop your baits right on top of ‘em". - See you on the water". - Bill & Erin Charlton, Trails End Reosrt .
Checking out small isolated points adjacent to deep water, sharp inside corners in the drop off and even marking packs of suspended fish on the mud flats will all lead to success
We wouldn't expect to see many Smallmouth Bass caught on Bowstring Lake. But no matter where it came from, whenever one of our guests catches a whopper like this 23 inch monster, we just have tro share.
(6/26) From Bowstring Lake, Darv Oehlke, Bowstring Shores Resort says; "Bowstring Lake has been good. The Walleye action on the humps and the bars continues to be good.
Minnows, crawlers, Leeches; it does not seem to matter what you use, if you find the fish, they will bite. Jig and minnow or Lindy Rigs will both work.
Crappies are doing good also in the bays with a jig and a minnow. Perch have been nice size, providing good bonus action, mixed in along with the walleye. Northern Pike bite all the time." - Darv Oehlke, Bowstring Shores Resort. 218-832-3101 .
(6/26)Gus' Place Resort, Ball Club Lake; "The biggest news from Ball Club Lake is the increase in the Walleye bite. Anglers are finding them anywhere from 8 to 25 feet on Lindy rigged live baits or slip bobbers with leeches and crawlers.
I usually recommend leaving the crank baits in the box until July, but one of my customers just caught a limit of 14-17 inch Walleye on a Perch pattern, Rapala T-9.
I also tell my customers that the best Walleye bite is early and late in the day, but this week they are catching great Walleye even at noon. Typically when the Walleye really turn on like this on Ball Club Lake the bite will carry well into the rest of the summer, due in part because the lake is deep and cold.
Perch and Northens remain active in 6 to 12 feet during the day light hours and we are getting quite a few visitors coming in for the day to fish Northerns, live sucker minnows or artificial will both put limits in the boat. Look for deep weed edges.
The Crappie bite has tapered off over the last 10 days and I haven’t seen any in the gut buckets, but they might pick up in late August as the Fall bite starts. It’s a great time to get on the water!" - Gus Sheker, Gus' Place Resort 1-888-246-8520
Fishing Report June 24, 2015 - Mixed Bag Walleye, Smallmouth at Sleepy Hollow
On Tuesday, I met up with my friends Kirk and Mari Petersen at Sleepy Hollow Resort in Northome. The purpose of our fishing trip was to help Kirk cash in his Valentine’s Day gift; me.
I'm not sure how we could have gotten a more gorgeous day for the fishing trip. It was mostly sunny; there was just enough wind to make just enough waves to help us catch just enough fish.
The surface temperature on the lake was 69 degrees and the water has a slight Algae bloom, giving the water very good color. The chop on the surface was enough to provide Walleyes with cover from the sunny conditions and that was good. I had hoped to do some premeditated Smallmouth Bass fishing, but he chop made conditions a bit too rough for what I had in mind. Instead, we settled for a half dozen Smallmouth that were part of the mix while we fished for Walleyes.
One of our goals was to explore mid-lake structures, so I avoided some of the popular shoreline areas. That means that if there are still fish on the shoreline, I don't know about them. What I do know, is that during the morning, it was fairly easy to find fish to catch. Walleyes were holding along the deeper edges of main lake bars at water depths ranging between 14 and 18 feet.
There wasn't a large number of fish on any single spot; they appeared to be distributed fairly evenly around the lake. That meant that we couldn't linger very long anywhere, we made frequent moves, cherry picking the active fish on the first drift or two.
For me, the most reliable bait on recent trips has been night crawlers and that's the way it turned out yesterday too. From the beginning, we fished with jigs tipped with night crawlers and they provided plenty of opportunity. After we had some momentum, I began dabbling with alternate presentations and there were some fish caught using other methods. Overall, the performance of the night crawlers was by far the best.
The lake has a protected slot size of 17 to 26 inches and like most lakes which have slot limit regulations, gathering eaters does require some due diligence. By making frequent moves, we were able to sort through a mix of sizes and wind up with 5 keepers before lunch. Along the way, I'd guess that we released 8, maybe 10 larger fish and picked up a few Smallmouth Bass that happened to be using the same territory as the Walleyes. For lunch, a couple of Walleyes and one Smallmouth made the list of the top 3 meals that we'd eaten all day long!
After lunch, there was a little lull in the action; I made 3 or 4 stops without producing any significant action. Eventually, we did get back on track though and once we did; our afternoon performance was about equal to the morning. By the time we were wrapped up, we'd managed 10 keepers, a dozen or more slot fish and a half dozen Smallmouth. I thought it was good showing for a sunny, mid-summer day.
In case you haven't visited Sleepy Hollow Resort, you should think about it. Kirk and MARI have done a great job, the grounds are in fantastic shape and they made me feel right at home. Looking around, I spied some of their guests and I know that mine wasn't the only smiling face
Kirk and Mari Petersen
reccomend night crawlers for bagging some eaters at Sleepy Hollow. On Tuisday, wiggle worms produced most of our action.
The "Walleye Chop" held us back from pre-meditated Smallmouth fishing, but there were a half dozen or so that were mixed with the Walleyes. The wiggle worms fooled some of them, like this nice 19 incher caught by Mari Petersen.
Fishing Report June 23, 2015 - Lake Winnie Walleye, Lessons In Humility
Sometimes there's just not a lot a guy can do fix the weather and on Monday, the lesson was reinforced.
When I picked up my friends Keith and Diane Eberhardt at Bowen Lodge, we knew that conditions would deteriorate eventually; a strong Northwest wind was predicted. But the wind hadn't begun blowing yet and it looked like we might have a short but sweet window of Walleye fishing opportunity.
I high-tailed it out to "the humps" and yes, there were fish on the first couple of spots we fished. Our adventure started out looking good, a couple of slot-fish, then a keeper and then, the wind switched. It took the Northwest wind about 10 minutes to get the whitecaps rolling and within a half hour, fishing the deep mid-lake structure had become unmanageable.
That's happened to me plenty of times before and I wasn't too worried, especially in light of recent reports about Walleye action in the weeds, in shallow water. So I started working my way into the shallows, expecting that the strong winds would help get an action bite fired up somewhere.
Long story short, if there was a shallow water Walleye bite to find, I didn't figure it out in time. Rocks, weeds, breaklines, sand flats; no matter where I looked on the North end, it was wrong.
A move into Cutfoot helped a little; at least we found some calm water and caught some Perch that were hiding in the weeds. There were a couple of Walleyes on a small hump too, but still not enough fish to help me stage an 11th inning rally.
It would be really unusual not to find some fish on the shoreline somewhere. So I really don't believe that Lake Winnie's deep water, mid-lake structures are the only game in town, but for me, that's the most reliable bite I know about.
On Monday, the fish that we did catch were located on the high side of the breakline in water depths of 20 to 24 feet. They temporarily reverted away from the night crawlers and leeches; today they wanted to eat 1/4 ounce jigs tipped with minnows.
My observation about fishing on Winnie over the past couple of season is that the fish are so fat, so well fed that conditions need to be nearly ideal before there can be a "hot bite". I've seen this before on other lakes and that's why I'm going to step out on a limb (my favorite place) and make a prediction. One of these seasons in the foreseeable future, the predators are gonna catch up with the forage and this lake is going be on fire. I'll let you think about the water conditions that we've seen over the past couple of years, and you might realize what I mean. If not, I'll explain more about that tomorrow.
I think that there will be "mini-bites" occurring during peak times and under ideal weather circumstances. For now, I've been humbled by the big lake, but one of these days Alice, ...
Q&A (6/23) Jeff Stagg wrote; "We are planning a trip up to Winnie towards the end of the year. Deciding if late August or late September is a better bet on catching Walleye. Late August will they still be on the humps in the middle of the lake? Late September will they be back in similar to a spring fish on Winnie? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
A) Jeff, there's more than one way to answer this question, so I'll start with my own, personal preference. Fishing on Winnibigoshish can be very good during either of these two periods. For me though, fishing in September is the most ideal time of the entire year. The fish can usually be found in a variety of locations including shallow water, like in the spring. As a bonus, there are no bugs and if the Walleye don't bite, something else will.
That said, late August presents some darn good fishing opportunities too and if you like fishing faster action presentations like spinners or crankbaits, these late summer days can be awesome for a mixed Walleye, Pike and Perch bite along the weeds.
After insect hatches run their course and water in the middle begins to stratify, fish that inhabit "the humps" during early and mid-summer typically migrate toward the lake's larger bars and toward shoreline weeds. Shallower water on top of sprawling structures like Center Bar, Bena Bar and similar structures continue providing adequate Oxygen and plenty of forage. It's not unusual to find fish scattered all over these large flats, occasionally moving toward the edges where fishing the breaklines can be excellent during late summer.
The weather in August tends to be stable and warm too, so for folks who prefer warm weather, August would prove to be better than late September.
So, for folks who like it cold, don't like bugs and prefer the jig and minnow style presentations, September gets the nod. Warm weather fans, who don't mind slapping a few flies and love to troll, would probably think that August was just about perfect.
June 23, 2015 MN DNR aquatic invasive species training trailer decal repealed; affirmation passed
"The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources aquatic invasive species (AIS) training and trailer decal program, which was due to launch this year, was repealed by the Minnesota Legislature during its recently completed special session.
In its place, the Legislature added an AIS affirmation provision to some licenses The affirmation will be added to new watercraft and nonresident fishing licenses beginning in 2016, so no immediate actions are required under the new law.
“We appreciate the aquatic invasive species affirmation passed by the Legislature,” said Ann Pierce, section manager, for the DNR Ecological and Water Resources Division. “We will continue to use all educational and outreach tools available to reach out to Minnesotans and visitors to help keep our lakes and rivers healthy.”
Starting in 2016, all newly issued watercraft licenses will have an AIS affirmation section. All nonresident fishing licenses will also include the AIS affirmation section beginning in March 2016. License applicants after these dates will receive a summary of AIS laws and will be required to affirm that they have read and understand the summary in order to receive their license. No fees are associated with the affirmation.
The repealed law applied to anyone trailering a boat or water-related equipment, such as docks and lifts, in Minnesota. It would have required these individuals to take aquatic invasive species training and display a decal on their trailer starting July 15.
Don't be disappointed when the Crappies wrap up their spawning run and disappear from shallow water cover. They might seem trucky to find, but searching along the lakes first breakline into deeper water will lead you to them.
Join Jon Thelen and learn how to find them during post-spawn. Learn >> Post-Spawn Crappies On The Little Nipper
Fishing Report June 22, 2015 - Another Day To Remember
After travelling all the way from their home in Virginia for the wedding, my friends Pete and Bonnie Raquet took a chance on me this Sunday. Knowing that I might need an "easy day" on Sunday, and since they were in the neighborhood anyway, we might as well do a little bit of fishing.
I wish that I could say that I worked like a wild man to pull the proverbial rabbit out of a hat, but I didn't. We just had a nice easy float around the lake and then a nice, easy shore lunch.
Today, it's back to the real world and tomorrow, I'll be telling you all about it.
Knowing that there was just enough time for a quick float around the lake. Bonnie Raquet
worked as hard as she possibly could to catch some Walleye for shore lunch.
Fishing Report June 21, 2015 - Welcome To The Family
I took the day off on Saturday, but I had a good excuse; I had to go to a wedding.
The world just came up short one Sundin and now, I'll be spending my time "keeping up with the Jones'."
Please join me in welcoming Austin Jones to my family, I'm sure that you'll be seeing a lot more of him. I KNOW that I will be!!
Austin and Annalee Jones 6-20-15
Fishing Report June 20, 2015 - Once In A Lifetime Fishing Trip
There are certain opportunities that only roll around once, and when they do, "Ya Gotta Savor the Moment"; I had that in mind a lot on Friday.
Knowing that she'd probably need a day to relax before her wedding (she's so smart!), my daughter, the Lovely and Gracious Annalee Michele Sundin put in a special wedding gift request. She asked me to organize a day on the water with 3 of the most wonderful, warm and caring men that anyone could ever hope to know.
These are the sort of men who have been so influential in our lives that my little girl just knew that they needed to meet each other. All of them started out as fishing customers, but became much more; they are family. For Bella, it's been the same thing as having 3 extra Grandpas, but Annalee's 3 grandpas had never actually met each other; it was time for that to change. So we organized a nice little pre-wedding fishing trip for the 5 of us.
I could write a whole book about the experiences I've shared with these 3,
but I’m sure that they'd all agree, this was Annalee's day. They wouldn’t want me calling too much attention to them, we can do always that later. Besides, if you've been reading these reports over the years, you've seen 'em before; you may feel like you know them already.
Usually, fishing with me on my "day off" is pretty risky business. So I always issue a disclaimer, catching fish is not very high on my list of priorities. Sometimes though, the day is so special that things just work out anyway and this time they did.
We, along with a couple of boats worth of "In-Laws" were going to head for Bowstring Lake. That was because we needed to pick up some "eaters" for the wedding rehearsal dinner, a fish fry at the Gosh Dam Place.
But I was nagging myself about wanting to get some pictures too and I decided that I'd rather see everyone catch some larger fish, even if it meant that the "protected slot size" would require us to release them. Shifting gears, we headed for Round Lake where catching "slot-fish" hasn't been too hard lately, catching "eaters", that's another question.
When we arrived, the surface temperature was 68 degrees and there was a fairly stiff wind stirring up some whitecaps. For me, that was good news because of having 5 lines in the water. Drifting is about the only good way to keep everybody organized and luckily, we were able to do that. For the same reason, we opted to keep the presentation simple. Most of the crew was fishing with jig and minnow combinations, one used a jig and crawler and I was using a Lindy Rig and night crawler.
Everybody in our boat caught some fish, so it's hard to say which presentation was the best. But I had the sense that the night crawlers had a slight advantage over jig and minnows. Later, I compared notes with all of the "In-Laws" and they were all fishing with night crawlers, they all caught fish as well. So barring a major change in weather, your minnow bill could be going down for a few weeks.
We spent the morning drifting along the lakes main breakline in water depths of 10 to 12 feet. The action wasn't fast because the fish were scattered along the drop off in small groups. There were intermittent spurts of activity, followed by 5-10 minutes of quiet time.
As expected, the lion's share of the fish caught by our group fell within the protected slot. But on this particular day, the "fishing with Jeff on his day off handicap" was waived. They lake gave us just what we needed, I got my pictures and all of the boats were able to slip a few eaters into the coolers. The fish fry at Gosh Dam Place was secure, everything worked out perfectly.
By the way, the crew at the GDP was already swamped well before our group of 35 people arrived. If you ask me, they did a stellar job of accommodating everybody, it was a fantastic meal and the service was great.
You’ve heard the term “once in a lifetime” fishing trip. Well this one really was and I can’t begin to say how lucky I Am. I can’t speak for everybody, but it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if everyone on that boat said the same thing. I Know that if you’d been there, you probably would too!
Annalee Sundin, 3 extra Grandpas and a beautiful day on the lake.
Fishing Report June 18, 2015 - Recovering from Turbulent Weather
On Lake Winnibigoshish, Walleye fishing presents some interesting dilemmas for anglers. For many, fishing mid lake structures; humps and bars that top off at 20 to 25 feet of water have provided lots of good fishing over the years. The pursuit of Walleye in these open water areas suits their style of fishing and is their preference.
Fishing in these traditional summer peak areas will provide enough action to keep your fishing trip interesting, assuming that you enjoy catching and releasing large size fish.
On Tuesday, we spent most the day moving around the middle of the lake from one of the smaller humps and bars to another. With a couple of exceptions, every stop we made produced a fish or two, we even found an occasional spot that produced three or four fish. All of the locations that we checked showed signs of life like baitfish and/or insect larvae.
The lake was just beginning to recover from the cold front that passed through last weekend, so our “numbers” didn’t reflect the true potential. It’s hard for me to say precisely; but I think that under stable conditions, the fishing is liable to be quite good out there right now.
Most of the fish that we caught were in the protected slot between 18 and 23 inches, but not all of them. Through determination, we did manage to bag 5 keeper Walleye by the end of the day. The good news was that all 5 of them were very good quality fish, ranging in size between 16 and 18 inches.
On this particular day, the Walleye did not want to see jigging baits at all. Every single fish we caught were taken by live bait presentations. The methods varied; some fish responded to a spinner tipped with leeches and some fell for a rig with an orange carrot float. I think that overall, the most productive approach was a straight Lindy Rig tipped with an air injected night crawler.
For me, catch, photo, release fishing is a blast, so I’d probably fish the same structures again and again. For folks who prefer to pursue “eaters”, I think that fishing the shallow water weeds is a better idea.
Before we headed out to the middle, we spent a couple of hours casting to the weeds using 1/16 ounce jigs tipped with 2 inch shad bodies. The intent was to try and catch some Crappies, but instead of Crappies, we caught several small Walleye and 1 keeper size fish. There were Pike and some Perch in the weeds too, including one Pike in the 27-28 inch range.
It looked to me like an early morning or late evening trip around the weed edges would provide better action and may be just what the doctor ordered for folks looking to bag a meal.
I may have a chance to test the theory, but not today. A Smallmouth Bass and Walleye combo trip is on the agenda and that means I won’t be headed for the big lake.
Fishing Report June 17, 2015 - Doing the Doable Under Turbulent Conditions
Well, fishing in the Itasca area over the past few days has been interesting to say the least. We’ve been treated to weather that’s been too hot, too cold, to calm, and too windy all at the same time.
Somehow, through all of these screwy changes, we have still managed to catch some fish albeit not as many or as pretty as the ones we were looking for.
On Bowstring Lake last Friday, calm, hot weather produced the best fishing results we’ve had recently. When the surface temperature reached nearly 75° and the Algae bloom started getting thick, we were able to do our best work, catching keeper size fish. I think that’s because we were able to work the baits slow enough to get some of the larger fish interested.
There are so many very small, aggressive fish in that lake right now that they don’t allow the few remaining “keepers” to find the bait and strike. So the key has been to massage the spots, working very slowly and deliberately.
For me, a 1/16 ounce Lindy Jig, rigged with a night crawler and fished at .5 mph or less produced good size fish. Depths varied between 16 and 24 feet of water, each spot had its own nuances, so careful analysis of the Humminbird was required.
Most of the fish that I know about are feeding on mid-lake bars, small humps and adjacent mud flats. So are most of the fishermen; fishing pressure on the lake is fairly robust and with steady pressure on the keepers, the jury is out about whether or not there are enough 14 to 17 inch fish in that system to keep anglers happy.
Proof of that theory came on Saturday. When the wind began to blow, the bite was on. When that happened, it transformed this body of water into a small fish factory that produced numerous fish in the 10 to 12 inch range, but 14 inch + sizes were few and far between. The small, 10 to 12 inch fish that were on a rampage prevented most of the better fish from finding our baits. By concentrating and making frequent moves, we did manage to bag 10 fish in the 14 to 17 inch range.
The problem reared its head again on Monday when the wind was even stronger. This time a return trip yielded virtually nothing but small fish. On this occasion, we were able to keep a handful of 13 inchers for a fish fry. Under normal circumstances, even the best fish that we had would have been considered too small to keep.
That’s why we left and drove up the road to Round Lake, where we hoped to improve the quality of fish. That worked, but now the problem was that we were catching slot size fish, mostly between 20 to 22 inches.
This was a better problem to have because at least now catching a fish was worthy of the effort. However, trying to catch fish to eat was still a problem and at the end of the day, the creel wasn’t exactly over flowing.
When it came to presentation, there was more than one way to skin a cat. We were able to catch some fish on Lindy Rigs of Jigs tipped with night crawlers, but the lion’s share of the action was accomplished using jig and minnows. In the strong wind, that was simpler for the crew, allowing them to be less prone to making a mistake.
By Tuesday, Lake Winnie was on the agenda and by Thursday, I should be getting caught up enough to tell you all about it. So please check back again in the morning.
(6/15)Gus' Place Resort, Ball Club Lake; "Recent warm weather has pumped up the surface temperature on the lake to near 70 degrees and we are changing bait presentations to go with the summer time conditions. Walleye fishermen are breaking out the spinners for their live baits as we watch fish start to go into deeper water 18-25 feet. Lindy rigged crawlers and leeches worked along the newly emerged weed lines are producing a good early morning bite.
The Crappie bite isn’t over till it’s over this year; anglers are still getting into nice fish when they find the schools. The Crappie bite is not an all-day event and you need to be in the right spot at the right time.
Perch and Northern Pike seem to still be holding shallower than the Walleye at 6 to 12 feet near their early season spots and both are very aggressive with anglers taking easy limits of both species of fish. Multi-species fishing on Ball Club Lake is excellent at this time...." - Gus Sheker, Gus' Place Resort 1-888-246-8520
Fishing Report June 14, 2015 - Cranking For Nocturnal Walleyes, Going Overboard or Going For Good Fun?
Jake Macken wrote; "Jeff, I read that interesting article that you posted about the exploitation of aggressive bull sunfish guarding their spawning beds, and the argument that fisherman need to better respect the fish resource.
I was wondering your opinion on fishermen trolling for walleyes at night utilizing crank-baits (e.g. Shad Raps). I know several fishermen that routinely use this technique to catch as many as 100 walleyes a night.
My concern with this type of fishing is not only the routine harvesting of 18-24 walleyes a night, which I believe greatly exceeds the average harvest of standard techniques of fishermen utilizing more challenging methods of fishing for walleyes: jigging, lindy rig, etc., but the potentially high kill rate of fish that are caught and released.
I had a friend over Memorial Day Weekend, who noted that of the two boats that went out and fished utilizing the trolling technique, 30% of the fish in the live well were dead by the time they returned to the dock.
I truly question the ability of "The Lake" to handle this pressure and am absolutely confident, as word spreads of the effectiveness of this technique, could not handle the pressure of 10-20 boats using this method. The walleyes are just too vulnerable fishing this way and at this time of the night. I kind of see it as one step below netting fish." Question; "What are your thoughts? Thanks, Jake" Answer) Jake, I can't claim to be the foremost authority on the subject of night fishing for Walleyes, simply because I don't do it often enough. That said, I do know something about Walleyes and the habitat in which they live and I have caught and released an awful lot of fish on crankbaits during daylight. I feel confident about my answer, but I am certainly open to hearing other viewpoints too.
I honestly do not believe that the use of "crankbaits" were the reason for the anecdotal report about 30% of the fish in the livewell being DOA at the dock. In fact, the point is moot, once the fish are in the livewell, it really doesn't matter what the ratio of live to dead fish is. That's because their next stop will be their last, once they arrive at the cleaning station, 100% mortality is assured. Since culling is illegal in Minnesota, there should never be any expectation for any fish to arrive at the dock in healthy, releasable condition.
My personal observation about hooking mortality is that it isn't as closely related to how the fish was hooked, as it is dependent on how the hook(s) are removed. For far too many fishermen, understanding how to safely remove hooks from fish is woefully neglected.
Sometimes, even some of "The Experts" who have spent hundreds of hours learning how to find and catch Walleyes; still don’t get a good grasp of how to handle fish safely.
But comparing hypothetical scenarios; I would still much rather trust the fate of these fish to anglers who catch them at night, in shallow water, using crankbaits, more than I would trust it to folks catching them in 30 feet of water, during broad daylight, using live bait. Deep water, sunlight and fish hooks in the gullet are far more likely to do damage to the fish. That’s especially true if the fish is caught by someone who lacks the experience or expertise to remove, or cut the hook safely.
Your comment about vulnerability is valid; Walleye do tend to strike aggressively during the night. But even considering the effectiveness of fishing during the wee hours, there aren't enough people fishing at night to sway me. I'd be willing to bet the farm that the harvest of fish during a hot daytime bite, over a busy holiday weekend, would exceed the sum total of all fish harvested at night by an overwhelming percentage.
I am grateful to you Jake for raising the question, this is a topic should be on our radar screens, especially in light of your concern about an increasing number of fishermen heading out for the night bite.
As more folks adapt to clearing water conditions and take up an interest in fishing after dark, there may well be a time when the impact warrants some special regulation. I don’t think that time has arrived, but keeping an eye on trends in fishing is always a great idea.
In the meantime, you and I are gonna have to trust the folks who are already participating; trust them to be good stewards of the resource.
Fishing at night, using crankbaits is not the issue at all, that can be accomplished safely, I’m sure of that. Scenarios like this one always boil down to one thing, trusting people to do their best.
I Know that you can trust me and I Know that I can trust you, that's a pretty good start, anyone else care to join us?
(6/14)On Lake Winnibigoshish, Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort says; "The walleyes have definitely made their transition to the deeper structures. The best areas are the primary breaklines off of the shoreline. River Bar, Snag hole, Moxies hole, etc. There are loads
of shiner minnows on these breaklines and the fish have followed them.
Most of the fish caught continue to be the larger ones. We had a couple of 28" beauties caught this week. The smaller fish have still been elusive. Fish have been holding along the break when they are in the feeding mode, and on the deeper side when not as active. Jigs and larger minnows such as shiners, small suckers, and rainbows have worked well. That presentation will catch northerns and jumbo perch on this structure, as well.
Leeches and night crawlers on Lindy type rigs are doing the trick, also. One thing to keep in mind, there is alot of mossy type weeds on the bottom, so dragging the rigs are picking up these weeds in a hurry. Try to hold the sinker off the bottom a few inches. This will require a heavier weight and less line out. Keep in contact with the bottom from time to time to ensure that you are in the strike zone, but that will keep these weeds off of the hook.
Northerns are really biting! Trolling, casting, and fishing with jigs and minnows have all been working. The fish have been on the small side, but have been some great action and good eating.
Perch fishing has been good for the nice fish, but there have been no real large schools of fish found. If you move around and pick away, you can manage a nice bunch of perch. The fish are being found on the deeper flats. The flat off of The Birdhouses in 14-17' have been reliable.
All in all, with the calm conditions we had this past week, fishing was pretty decent. Everyone who fished, caught fish. It may not have been exactly what they were looking for, but thats fishing!
We have openings for this coming week. If you want to make a quick trip up north, give us a call." Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort.
Fishing Report June 13, 2015 - Walleyes Want Meat During Summer Peak
As sunshine warms the waters of area lakes, they become rich with food. Swimming critters of all shapes and sizes show up en masse to gulp down the bounty. Plankton, young minnows, hatching insects, you name it, if it's in the water, there's a fish that will eat it. More than a generation ago, In-Fisherman coined a phrase describing this as the "Summer Peak Period" and that's where we are right now.
Walleyes respond to the freshly established food chain much in the same way that we would respond to a field of ripened Strawberries, free for the picking. Most of us would just have to get some, finding it too tempting to pass by without diving in for the feast.
Walleye feeding patterns are changing now and the jig and minnow fishermen like me will need to make some adjustments if we want to cash in on the summer peak period. Like I mentioned a week ago, Walleyes will continue to feed on jig and minnow combinations for a week, maybe two, after they move away from the shoreline and become established on mid-lake bars and humps.
Over the past several days though, we’ve been noticing a wholesale change in what the Walleyes that we’ve been fishing for have wanted to eat. Leeches and night crawlers, Lindy Rigs and Spinners, slip floats, crankbaits … almost everything except jigs and minnows.
That’s why on Friday, I became convinced that I could probably show up without any minnows at all and expect to catch my fair share of Walleyes. I won’t do that because I can’t take a chance on getting caught short handed; I’ll have minnows every day, no matter what.
On Friday, the sun was high, the sky was blue and the water was calm. Surface temperatures were in the high 60’s when we arrived and by late afternoon, we’d seen readings as high as 78 degrees.
There wasn’t much point in beating our heads against the wall, trying to fish in shallow water, so I headed straight for the middle of the lake and did a bunch of “hump jumping”, moving from one mid-lake structure to the next.
We found several different schools of Walleyes holding high on the breaking edges of mid-lake humps in water depths of 17 to 20 feet. When fish are located “on top” of the breaklines, they’re usually feeding and they were today; whenever we found a fresh school, they were very aggressive.
My best presentation was a 1/16 ounce Lindy Jig tipped with night crawlers. Lindy Rigs tipped with leeches produced fish too and so did rigging with night crawlers, injected with air by the worm blower. We could see that there were other fishermen catching some fish by jigging, but I don’t know how their successes stacked up against the crawlers and leeches.
For today, conditions appear to be similar to what they were on Friday so I’m guessing that a repeat performance is in my crew’s very near future.
Walleyes, responding to emeging insect hatches are changing their feeding habits. During this "summer peak period", Walleyes want meat!
Fishing Report June 13, 2015 - Another Place To Find The Findable!
Oh by the way, there is another place where you can go to find even more pictures and notes from our daily fishing adventures. You won't find 'em here, nope. For more exclusive photos and blog posts from "Lindy Land" follow the feed frome Lindy's Facebook page. Just click the image, check it out now and enjoy!! >> Lindy Legendary Fishing Tackle on Facebook
Fishing Report June 12, 2015 - Tackling Clear Water Walleyes
I'm just home from a 3 day road trip to Park Rapids where I received another full set of fishing lessons and another dosage of Mother Nature's offbeat sense of humor.
Fishing for clear water Walleye on a bluebird day is not on my top 5 list of favorite circumstances. Luckily though, we were able produce some evidence that tackling clear water Walleye under bright blues skies isn't impossible, especially when you're creative.
In my opinion, the fishing was fairly good, even though that opinion is based on the quality size of the fish, not on the number of them that we caught. In fact, even on our best day, day 3, we boated only about 15 Walleye. That's a far cry from what this crew has been capable of producing, but it was still good enough to make the day feel like a success.
Even if it takes more effort to catch fish, there's a certain appeal to testing your skills on a gin clear lake. For me, watching a nice walleye coming up from the deep, in the super clear, sea green water makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Fishing this kind of water seldom produces one of the "hot bites" that we may find in some of the Walleye factory lakes, but each and every catch is rewarding; at least I think so.
If I never had to entertain anybody except myself, I honestly believe that I would choose this kind of quality over quantity fishing, any day of the week.
On the lake, surface waters have reached into the 67-68 degree range. The lion's share of the fish that I located were using mid lake structures in water depths of 22 to 30 feet. There may have been fish located even deeper, but I don't know about them because I purposely set my depth range to 30 feet.
For me, fishing at 26-28 feet deep is the limit, that's because this lake has a protected slot size and I want to be assured that we can release the fish safely. On this lake, it's common to catch fish that are too big to keep. I have been doing what I can to avoid catching fish that will be harmed by bringing them up from the depths.
Under the circumstances, we didn't expect to find many fish in shallow water and we didn't. We did pick up a couple of "eaters" in a patch of Cabbage weeds, but if there were any large number of are fish lingering near the shoreline, they were too shy to reveal themselves to us.
By the middle of day 1, it was evident that there were enough ways to catch them so that almost anybody could pick up a few. Jig and minnow, slip-floats, night crawlers, leeches; they all worked a little bit.
I couldn't say that we figured out one particular presentation that really drove the fish wild, but one of my favorites, 1/16 ounce jigs tipped with night crawlers was productive. Especially for Larry Lashely who used the wiggle worm on a 1/16 Green-Black Lindy Jig to produce his largest Walleye to date.
The next best presentation was spinners tipped with 1/2 night crawlers. We used 1/2 ounce No Snagg weights to find the bottom and fished at 1.1 MPH in 26 feet of water. I think that overall, the spinner and crawler combination may have overtaken the wiggle worms as the preferred presentation. But there were places where the structure was too intricate for fishing spinners. So to be effective, we needed 3 rods rigged and ready for action. One rod rigged with a slip float, one with the wiggle worm and one with the spinners. Jig and minnow combinations produced some fish too, but most of those fish were a mixed bag of Pike, Rock Bass and Smallmouth.
I'm obviously playing catch up on the reports, but now that I'm home, I'll be back up to speed in a day or two. For those of you who have asked questions via email, don't worry, the answers are on the way, I just need some time to get caught up.
Oh, by the way, if you're heading for the lake this weekend, have a great time!
Larry Lashely who used the wiggle worm on a 1/16 Green-Black Lindy Jig to produce his largest Walleye to date.
On day 3, Tim Fischbach provided us with a spinner fishing clinic and proved that you can catch Walleye for the frying pan on his home water too!
Don't sell yourself short, tackling clear water Walleyes on a bluebird day may call for creative thinking; but don't think that that you're not up to the job.
Fishing Report June 7, 2015 - Good Vibrations; Walleyes Get Tingly Over Stormy Weather
When Dick Slater arrived for our long overdue fishing reunion, the Arizona resident told his friend Lee Jameson and me that he wasn't going to be happy unless he wound up being cold and wet before we headed home. He just wanted to relive the days of being a Minnesota resident one more time.
Little did we know, cold and wet was gonna make us all happy; in fact, it might have been what wound up saving our fishing trip.
I would love to have a dollar for every time someone has asked the question; "Walleyes bite better in the rain, don't they?" Most of the time, my answer would be have to be; "not necessarily". I do admit that on most days, I'd rather fish in the rain than under a bright, sunny sky, especially during mid-summer. But there are a lot of variables and sometimes just because it's raining, doesn't mean that the Walleyes will be in a hungry mood.
On the other hand, there are certain instances when conditions come together in such a way that force one to pay particular attention. That's what happened to us on Saturday when the fish served up a stunning example of how dramatically they can be influenced by weather.
On Bowstring Lake, our fishing started off okay, we weren’t killing them, but the prospects for a successful day looked good. But not long after our trip began, a strong southeast wind began making boat control sort of complicated. For my crew, managing the invisible fishing line in the strong wind was tricky and the heavy seas were working against keeping our baits in front of our quarry.
Doing my best to find a more pleasant place to fish, I started snooping around the lake, looking for a spot that offered both calm seas and fish. The problem was that this was one of those days when there just wasn't any such thing as a calm spot; every place we went offered a new challenge.
It was beginning to look like one of those days … until Dick's wish began to come true. A series of dark clouds were moving our way, and with them, the stalling of the wind, soon the desired rain began to fall. Life was getting easier, but the fishing action was still only so-so. That is until we started hearing the rumble of thunder, we never saw lightning, it was somewhere high over the dark clouds. I can't say that I know why, but those rumbling claps of incoming thunder triggered an all-out offensive against our lures by the fish.
I KNOW what you're thinking, that it was probably just a coincidence, one thing didn't necessarily have anything to do with the other. But then you’d have to explain why when the thunder stopped, the fishing action slowed back down too. And then when the next thunder boomer moved in, the fish got silly again and then how after another lull, the third series of storms started the whole offensive up again. Something about those thunder clouds was giving these fish a thrill and when they got all tingly, we got our strings stretched.
Oh, by the way, I guess I should mention a few details about the fishing.
Surface temperatures ranged between 61 and 63 degrees and fish were widely scattered along the breakline at 10 to 12 feet of water.
This was not one of those situations where we had to fish a "spot-on-a-spot", not at all. We made long 1/2 hour long drifts before going back up the shoreline to start again. Sometimes it seemed like that was unnecessary, it might have actually better to just keep moving, waiting to encounter a fresh school of fish. For all I know, we could have followed that 10-12 foot shoreline break all the way around the whole lake, stumbling into small schools of fish at random intervals.
I know that there are quite a few fishermen out there using Lindy Rigs tipped with leeches. But like I said the other day, the fish are still striking jig and minnow combinations too, I like fishing that way, so that's what we used. We were able to get away using 1/8 ounce Lindy Jigs, but if we'd found fish much deeper, the wind would have forced a switch to 1/4 ounce sizes. On this particular day, there was something magic about the yellow/lime 2 tone color.
By the time it was all over, everybody's wishes were coming true, we got our fish and that was fun, but there was more. I was lucky because I got to show my great friends a good day on the water. Lee was happy because Dick got both his fish and his wish, Dick was wet and happy. And everybody loves a wet, happy ... :)!!
"The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope." - John Buchan
(6/6)On Lake Winnibigoshish, Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort says; "The fishing has been slightly different than in years past. The walleyes are transitioning from the shallows to the deeper water. Fish are being caught on the secondary breaks in 12-15' of water before the main drop offs. They are also showing up on the main bars, as well.
We have had a lot of bigger fish caught this past week. Most of the fish are in the 18-23" slot. There have been several "overs" caught. With the slot moving from 26" on the top end to 23", I am seeing many more larger fish brought in. Fish in the 23-25" range. You are allowed one of these in possession and people are taking advantage of this.
Jigs and minnows as well as rigs with leeches and crawlers have been the best bait. When the conditions are favorable, some fish can still be found roaming the new weeds on the shoreline breaks.
Perch fishing continues to carry the day in the fish fry department. Many perch in the 10-12" range have been caught on the flats in 12-14'. They are gorging themselves on crayfish and jigs with fathead minnows have done the trick when finding schools of feeding perch.
Northern fishing is also very good. Most of the fish have been running 21-30" and have provided excellent action and helped with the fish fries, as well. Jigs and minnows and assorted plugs have been the ticket to catching these fish.
We are facing some stable weather this coming week. The walleyes should settle into a early summer pattern and should be ready to bite.
The perch and northerns will continue to provide action. We have openings for the coming weeks. Check out our availability and give us a call. If you are coming soon and want spottail shiners, you should pick them up along the way. We have gotten our last shiners for the year unless the bait man comes up with a miracle. We will continue to have fatheads, leeches, and nightcrawlers available." Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort.
Finding and Catching Big Water Panfish Ted Pilgrim and Joe Balog
"It’s one thing to find spring and summer panfish in a pond, creek or small lake. But what do you do when your home water is one of the Great Lakes? Or a giant reservoir? Or a sprawling water body best known for bass, walleyes, trout or other predators? Good news pan’ fans. Even on big water, finding sunfish, crappies and even perch can be simpler than you think. And once you find them, these sweet species can be among the most palm-stretching specimens found anywhere.
Especially in sprawling freshwater environs, sunfish and crappies tend to be homebodies, haunting relatively confined zones throughout the calendar year. No matter how big, deep or intimidating a water body, most contain prime shallow habitat used by panfish: boat harbors, marinas and other manmade backwater locales, plus natural bays, coves and creek inlets.
Beginning in spring, nothing could be simpler than laying out a lake map and ... Read >> Big Water Panfish Joe Balog Ted Pilgrim .
Fishing Report June 6, 2015 - Fun With Dick and Paul Day 5, Ending Happily In Grand Rapids!
After 4 days of fairly intense fishing, a visit to Grand Rapids' Pokegama Lake helped wrap the 2015 spring road trip on a more relaxing note.
With "the eating fish" already wrapped up and frozen for the trip home, Largemouth Bass would be responsible for providing the entertainment on Dick and Paul's last day in the Itasca area. After a bit of hide and go seek the lake provided just what we needed.
Surface temperatures on most of the main lake ranged between 60 and 63 degrees, so I was skeptical about finding many Bass out there. That instinct turned out to be correct; not only did we have to get off of the main lake; we had to get so far into the back bays that we were literally rooting around in the mud.
The search for warmer water led us into territory that I typically don't fish, bays with water so shallow that we could barely navigate. For most of the day, we could see a trail of soft debris rolling off of the bottom, caused by the thrust of the trolling motor. Surface temperatures in the super shallow water ranged from 64 to 67 and that was just enough extra warmth to attract both Largemouth and Rock Bass.
Another departure from my typical fishing style was slipping along the edges of Lily Pads to catch Largemouth. For me, most of the Largemouth fishing doesn't occur until the water warms and the Bass move into deeper weed cover. Even when Largemouth Bass are present in the pads, I usually don't need to fish there. That’s because I can find other alternatives; but not this time.
The heavy, shallow water cover appeared to be the only game in town, so we put up with the snags and the tangles and rooted the fish out one by one. Occasionally, we found small groups of fish, but never any large schools.
The Lily Pads are not fully developed, so we were able to catch most of the fish using Yum Dingers rigged with exposed hooks, "Wacky Style". The Bass liked that presentation; we stuck with it and were rewarded with just enough action to call it a good day.
Later, a trip to another small lake for the evening run of Panfish ended happily too. I'd love to tell you more about, but I am up against the clock. What I can say is that an excursion into the shallow water with Bass on my mind, led me to stumble into a network of Sunfish beds. Some of them were already occupied; some of them had moving vans parked in the front driveway, preparing for the move in. I'll be doing my best to follow up, but for now, I gotta run!
A visit to Grand Rapids' Pokegama Lake helped wrap the "Fun With Dick and Paul" 2015 spring road trip on a relaxing note.
Moving into shallow waterf with Bass on my mind, I stumbled into an unexpected discovery, Sunfish on beds.
This, along with all of the other Sunfish we caught were released. For me, volunteering to protect bedding Sunfish is a priority.
Fishing Report June 5, 2015 - Fun With Dick and Paul Day 4, Timing The Time-able
They say that timing is everything and I really believe that. The problem is that sometimes the only way to prove it is when you experience a case of "bad timing". This time, we didn't show up too late for the last good episode, we just showed up too early for the next one.
Fishing on one of Grand Rapids most beautiful clear water lakes, we found a uniform 60 degree surface temperature at every spot we stopped. The Grey skies and calm seas should have helped make catching Smallmouth Bass a fairly easy job, but today, it didn't.
Since it was my first visit to the lake this season, I'm not exactly sure how far the Smallies had progressed into the spawning season before the recent cool weather set in. From what I could see though, they apparently had begun to fan out beds, but then retreated to deeper water before they started using them.
The evidence was numerous fresh looking beds that appeared to be ready for prime time except for one thing, there weren't any fish near the vast majority of them.
Walleyes appeared to be in the neighborhood, I could see fish in several likely looking spots adjacent to the shoreline. But except for one healthy looking specimen that Dick caught, they were mostly snubbing us too.
We kept our nose to the grindstone, checking a series of spots until about 1:00 PM. After I realized that even most of the Rock Bass were turning up their noses at our baits, it was time to cut and run.
They say that timing is everything and LUCKILY, sometimes the best way to prove that is when you stumble into a case of "good timing". That's what happened when we arrived at Bowstring Lake.
At first glance, the lake looked calm, the water was clear and now, the sun was peeking out too; it didn't look like I'd be getting too lucky. But there was a breeze tickling the back of my neck, telling me that heading across the lake might get us into a breezy spot.
When we arrived, the surface temperature was 62 degrees, the waves were tiny, but at least there were enough to help drift the boat. At the first stop, I couldn't see fish on the Humminbird, but I could see some baitfish. I decided to take one quick drift along the breakline, just to get a better look. Within a few minutes, Dick had bagged one nice Walleye, we'd caught a few decent Perch and it was beginning to look like the territory had potential.
By the time I was ordered to go back for another drift, the wind was picking up and the small waves were beginning to get a few whitecaps on them. The fish responded and for the next hour, the action got better and better, allowing us to stage a full scale, 11th inning comeback.
The lake gave us just what we needed, but that was it, once the whitecaps were fully developed, the action tapered off. On this particular day, it was the Walleye Chop, caused by the fresh breeze that allowed us to get in on this spurt of action. If we'd been there an hour earlier, we might have given up before the fish began to move. If we'd been an hour later, we'd have gotten in on the last few strikes before the run fizzled out. Luckily, our timing had been perfect.
With smiles on our faces, we decided that it was a good time to find a calm spot on the island; a nice place to rest. The day ended with sunshine, blue skies, birdies all around us and a bucket of fish, sometimes ya just can't make it up!
Q&A (6/5) James Friedrichs wrote; "Hey Jeff Why are we so quick to put our ice-fishing jigs away when we move into the open-water fishing season?" >> Read Answer
Q&A(6/5) James Friedrichs wrote; "Hey Jeff here's a good question for you but probably one you've tackled before. Why are we so quick to put our ice-fishing jigs away when we move into the open-water fishing season? Reading your article today on the crappies and seeing your pink jig under the slip bobber made me think about it. Why not a foo-flyer, frostee, or a rattl'n flyer? So do you ever get your ice fishing tackle box in the boat with you and what are your thoughts on that?"
A) James, first of all, I love the pun and Yes, I have "Tackled" this one before. In fact it wasn't too long ago, May 2nd that I wrote about catching Bluegills on a Tungsten Toad below a slip float. Last fall I wrote several times about using heavy #8 Ice Worms to reach suspended Crappies over deep water. In other words, yes, the ice tackle is in the boat at all times, even as I write this.
The #1 reason that I do my best to stick with more "conventional summer presentations" during the open water season is because if I use my favorite ice fishing tackle to catch fish, and then write a report to tell you all about it, odds are that it won't help you.
During the summer, most of the stores, especially big box stores take their ice tackle off of the shelves during summer. So unless you're a planner, and you stocked up on ice tackle last fall and winter, you wouldn't be able to go get the right baits right now.
Folks, who know me, understand that if I didn't catch a fish on a particular lure, I won't say that I did. So for me, there's a good reason to stick with proven baits that are available right now. There’s already a more than adequate array of conventional summer baits that perform very well. I do my best to use those. That way, just in case I stumble into a hot pattern, I can write about it and you'll be more easily able to access the supplies needed for copying the presentations.
That said; Even though I may not mention it all that much, I do and will continue to use my favorite ice baits during the summer and I encourage you to fish with them too.
Good Luck out there, send pictures!!
Fishing Report June 4, 2015 - A Crappie Day With Dick and Paul
Fun with Dick and Paul, Day 3, was just a little bit too easy. It was one of those times when my little voice offered good advice and I followed it. Luckily, I don't mind admitting that I Am Lucky!
Before I left the house on Wednesday, I would have bet you a Walleye dinner that we'd be heading for Leech Lake again. But when I arrived at Fred's to pick 'em up, the wind didn't feel right, it was just too calm.
I'm not sure what happened, but along the way to alternative plan B, I just took and un-expected turn, something told me that we should take a whirl at the Crappies; I'm glad that I did.
It wasn't totally unexpected, I'd gotten a good Crappie fishing report on Tuesday from a friend, and he’d done well on another lake. So I had Crappies on the brain anyway and I hoped that maybe we'd be able to find 'em on Lake Oldfavoriteone.
It was sort of ironic, I found 'em, but not where I expected, and not on purpose either, at least not at first. While I was sneaking into the shallow, weedy "honey-hole", I literally stumbled into a school of fish that was holding in deep water. Maybe it was the overnight thunderstorms that forced them out, or maybe they just always move into the deep water overnight. Either way, for about 1/2 hour, that's where they were and that's where we got a good head start on gathering our fish.
All at once though, they disappeared from the screen of my Humminbird and the deep water game was over. A reconnaissance mission into the weeds provided the explanation. The day is here; my favorite pattern of the entire year has arrived. The Crappies are in transition between their shallow water spawning areas and patches of weeds that lay adjacent to them.
For the next couple of weeks, these fish will be feeding heavily and for hard core Crappie fishermen, this period provides some of the fastest action of the year.
If you're like me, you already have a couple of favorite Crappie fishing lakes and you’ve probably already got a good idea about where they spawn.
What to look for now are weedy areas that lay between the shallow spawning grounds and deep water. Crappies will use whatever cover the lake has to offer, but if I can find Cabbage weeds, I like them the best. For me, Eelgrass is a close #2 and whenever I encounter patches of the long, stringy weeds I always mark them on my map.
To locate fish, we moved slowly through the weeds, fan-casting jig and minnow combinations until we catch a fish. Once we get the first one, the anchor gets slipped into the water and the slip-floats get rigged up. A 1/8 ounce Lindy Jig set about 5 feet below our bobbers kept Paul and I in action. Dick never used a float, he continued to fan cast using a 1/16 ounce collector’s item tipped with a minnow; his presentation was equal to ours.
Day 4 of Fun with Dick and Paul is about to unfold and I could only hope to get as Lucky. But who knows, maybe sometimes lightning does strike twice? I Know that You Know That if you follow me, then You'll be the first to Know!!
Crappies will use whatever cover the lake has to offer, but if I can find Cabbage weeds, I like them the best. A Lindy Jig tipped with minnows and suspended below a slip float makes fishing weeds easy.
Q&A(6/4) Andy Bice wrote; "Hi Jeff, headed up to the Northland today for my yearly fishing trip with my dad. We stay in Grand Rapids and usually fish the lakes around town (Poke, Deer, Trout). Of those 3 lakes, do you think we should target one over another? Any idea what depth we should target? since those lakes are clear, i was thinking anywhere from 7-25, depending on how high the sun is, sound about right to you? Appreciate any help you can provide. Love your reports and website, Thanks!" A) Andy,
I don't think that I could choose one of those over another. In fact, I'd probably try to figure out how to get to all 3 of them in the same weekend. Right now, surface temperatures are hovering near 60 degrees and on all 3 of these lakes, that indicates that you're likely better off fishing shoreline points, weed patches and possibly a few of the bars and humps located nearest the shoreline.
Your range of depths could be narrowed down just a bit, but you're on the right track. For me, 8 to 20 feet for Walleyes and 4 to 12 for Smallmouth Bass usually gets me into the right neighborhood.
We're still focused on jig and minnow fishing, but I would definitely have some 1/16 ounce Lindy Jigs and night crawlers on hand too. All 3 of those lakes have Walleyes which have been known to have a sweet tooth for worms. Good Luck out there, and don't be surprised if you spot us somewhere in your travels.
Fishing Report June 3, 2015 - Rockin' and Rollin' on Leech Lake
Fun with Dick and Paul, Day 2 had its ups and downs, literally!
You may recall Monday's report in which I said that I'd be waiting for good fishing conditions before I'd re-visit Leech Lake. Well on Tuesday, the wind was blowing, the sky was Grey and the whitecaps were capping; conditions were good. Especially after we swallowed hard and took the decision to risk toughing it out on the windy side of the lake.
The surface temperature over most of Portage Bay was 61-62 degrees and did not vary throughout the day. The wind, South Southeast at 10 to 15 MPH was blowing slightly off of the eastern shoreline. There was enough wind for a fairly good drift, and to a degree, that made the fish cooperative. My only problem is that we kept finding small schools of fish that provided short-lived spurts of action, followed by significant lulls.
So the question was; if I headed for the windy side of the bay, would I wind up being Paul's hero or Dick's zero?
Luckily, this time I guessed right and even though the waves were a lot bigger on the West side of the bay, they were manageable. If you've fished big water then you know that there's a time when the swells become large enough to be an advantage instead of a hindrance. That's how it worked out, using the Drift Control Sea Anchor to steady the bow, I was able to use the outboard to back into the swells. Our drift speed was .7 to 1.0 MPH allowing us to use 1/8 ounce jigs, even in the heavy water.
My luckiest break of the day was that the fish were there, right in the same spot where we left 'em last Sunday and this time, the turbulent water had 'em stirred up and biting.
The water depth was 8 feet and there were scattered patches of weeds, along with some scattered rocks. The fish didn't really have a single, defined area to concentrate the feeding. Instead, they were scattered all along the breakline. For me, there's a certain element of randomness that comes with fishing these flats, ya just gotta keep covering water, catching fish as you encounter them. The good news for us is that on Leech Lake, it's a pattern that works really well.
I'm up against the clock and gotta run, but first, just one last note. This is where I really have to put in a plug for my tiller setup. I honestly believe that using the Opti Max tiller on the back of my Alaskan and the Drift Control on the bow allows me to control my boat in water that I could not accomplish any other way.
There's a certain sure-footedness that I can feel and it allows my customers to maintain excellent contact with their baits. That's why most of the time; they actually out fish me under these circumstances. It’s because I can use the boat to keep THEIR baits in the right place, so even when the coxswain gets busy, they can keep having fun ...
... with Dick and Paul day 3 coming up.
Thanks to rigging the OptiMax Tiller on my Alskan, I can keep THEIR baits in the right spot. So even when the coxswain gets to busy to fish, Dick and Paul can keep having fun.
Dick Williams shows off a bit of his handywork. One of many Leech Lake "Slot-Fish" that took notice of the collectors item he fished with.
Fishing Report June 2, 2015 - Fun With Dick and Paul 2015 Day 1
The first movie quote that comes to mind is; "Honey ... the Griswold’s are here". That's because whenever Dick and Paul show up, it means that 5 days of general silliness is about to ensue; day 1 was a step in that direction.
For us, the fishing report from Monday is a good one, there were a lot of fish boated and despite a significant shortage of legal, "eater size fish", we did manage to wade through enough "slot-fish" to produce a good fish fry at the Outpost.
Luckily, 5 days of fishing is plenty of time to gather fish for their trip home, even if we do only capture a few for the freezer each day.
For me, recent reports reflect all of the same fishing patterns we used on Monday, presentations haven't changed, and neither have key depths.
Surface water was given a thorough mixing by a strong south wind, so I'm confident that the 62 degree surface temperature is a solid reflection of the lakes disposition. For me, that means that we can keep jig and minnow fishing for a while longer. I like it; it is typically the most fun for my customers too, so I tend to stick with jigs even if there are other presentations that we could be using.
The reason that I'm mentioning that is because during the past few days I've spied several groups of anglers using Lindy Riggs. Most of them have been using leeches on a plain hook and from what I've seen, they are working well.
At Leech Lake on Sunday I also spied a couple of boats that were fishing with Lindy Rigs tipped with large minnows. It's no big surprise that fishermen would use that presentation, but for me it's typically something that I don't turn to until later in the summer, during the warm water period. On this particular occasion though, the large size minnows were producing some healthy looking, big fish.
If you're the type who'd like to try and land something big, then it might be worth your trouble to try some large Creek Chubs or Horny Headed Chubs when you can get them.
For today, the wind is supposed to blow and the dark skies are encouraging me to give Leech Lake a re-match. So that's the direction we're headed. If we're lucky, we'll have good luck!
Fishing Report June 1, 2015 - Leech Lake Fishing Report; Nothing Lasts Forever
For most of the past 3 weeks, Leech Lake has been the most reliable game in the Itasca Area. On Sunday though, it showed us signs of a tapering off; a return to more typical patterns for the early summer period.
Don't get me wrong, I didn't say that the fish weren't biting, only that the action is becoming more dependent on favorable weather conditions.
That's nothing new for folks who fish Leech a lot; we all know that the classic Walleye chop is what makes the fish really start chomping. But when the sun comes out and the lake goes flat, Walleyes can get the idea to zzz...
That's how the day went for us on Sunday, when the conditions were favorable, I was able to locate fish, we managed to get them to strike and we even landed some of them. But somewhere around 2:00 PM, the breeze calmed, the sky became bright and from then on I just plain could not figure out where they went. At least I couldn’t do it within the remaining time that I had to work with.
You're asking what's new about that, Walleye fishermen see this phenomenon play out all of the time. Yes, that's right. But what was different this time is that up to this point, creative fishermen were having good action, even on calm, sunny days. The fish were active and hungry; the bite was on.
Now that they've had a few weeks to start fattening up, the fish are getting more particular about their meals again. The scattering effect caused by improving food supplies, i.e. emerging insects, Crawfish and baitfish hatches, helps explain why the fish undergo these routine seasonal changes in both mood and location.
On Sunday, the situation that heightened the effect even more was that the wind was blowing in the morning, for several hours before the weather calmed, these fish were feeding. They were already full, so for them, there wasn't any emergency. They weren't watching the clock, hoping to get stuck in the face by a hook before quitting time.
I know better than to get all shook up about it, we were lucky to have had most of a good day already. For me, Leech Lake isn't getting downgraded on the list; I'm just going to pay more attention to weather and attempt to plan on being there during prime conditions. When I see a calm day in the forecast, I’ll plan on fishing darker, deeper, weedier waters.
For folks who prefer to fish Leech no matter if conditions are favorable or not, I think that it's time to start moving away from some of the shallowest shoreline structures.
Start checking out some of the deeper, soft bottom flats where insect hatches will soon be occurring. Move toward deeper points, rock reefs and when it's calm, the deepest weeds you can find.
If you're staying on the lake or live there, then you have another advantage; sunset. I can remember more than a few occasions where waiting out the sunset has helped save a fishing trip. The same is true for early morning, but these days, early morning arrives really early, so be sure you get your bait the night before you plan to fish.
Luckily, on Sunday, we were there while conditions were favorable for most of the day. From here on out though, I just have to remind myself that the fish are still there, they still have to eat, we're just gonna have to work a little bit harder at being in the right place at the right time.
Does this scene look familiar? Cold, windy and Grey. On Leech Lake, when the wind blows, the Walleyes prowl and luckily Bob Baird was in the right place at the right time, mostly.
Under the careful tuteledge of the world reknown, "B-Minus Guide Service", Kevin Scott proves that at times, he is coachable!
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