No doubt about it, Jack Frost was nipping at my garden.
Despite having frost on the Pumpkins, warm water protected submerged vegation
from a die off, at least so far.
Fishing Report September 30 - Frosty Morning in the Northland V 2.0
Funny thing about Mother Nature, she always leads us to our destination, but she doesn't always like following the same trail to get there.
Last week I wrote about paralells between fishing patterns that occured this season and the 2009 fall fishing season. This week I'm having deja vu all over again. Almost to the same day as in '09, frosty overnight temperatures sent water temperatures into a nose dive.
The frost arrived just in time to preserve our record for this region; the record is that to date, we have never made it out of the month of September without receiving our first frost.
There is one difference between this year and 2009 and it's a big one. This year the cold snap is arriving quietly, like a whisper, back in '09, it came in with a thunderous roar.
On September 29, 2009 I wrote; "Winter blew in hard during the past couple of days and our long run of summer weather is now behind us. It's a little early to know for sure how this affects fishing for the next day or two, but in the long run, it's the push that our lakes will need to shift the fall fishing into over drive. Surface temperatures dropped rapidly on Sunday and Monday as we moved from the low 70 degree range to just above 60 degrees by the end of the day on Monday."
Yesterday, after an eerily beautiful morning filled with images of steamy shorelines and boats nearly hidden from view by the fog, sunshine and calm seas forced a recovery. Unlike my garden, which showed visible signs of of frostbite, submerged vegetation on the lake remained green and healthy. By late afternoon, sunshine and calm water allowed me to spy on numerous schools of minnows and small fish swimming happily in the weeds.
That means that the frost still hadn't taken a big enough bite out of the surface temperatures to force all of game fish away frome vegetation and into open water. So in my estimation, even though there are some schools of fish migrating toward open water, the mass-movement is still to come. If I'm right, then the best fishing of the fall season still lies ahead too, I hope I'm right, don't you?
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New Season Debut Fish Ed TV October 3rd Lindy Land Anglers Get Open-Water Ice-Fishing Excitement
Lindy Land, September 2015; "The second season of Lindy Legendary Tackle's Fish Ed TV hosted by longtime fishing guide Jon Thelen begins Saturday, Oct. 3 at 8:30 a.m. Fish Ed TV airs on Fox Sports North and Fox Sports Wisconsin. On Jan. 2, the airtime moves to 12:30 p.m. each and every Saturday afternoon through the end of March. "We had a great filming season for Fish Ed TV," Thelen said. "This season's tips and tactics are sure to help every angler catch more fish no matter where they fish. Fish Ed TV is filmed on ... learn more >> Fish Ed Winter Season Debut
Fishing Report September 24 - Rockin' and Rollin' on Lake Winnibigoshish
Waiting out a series of morning thunderstorms gave me plenty of time to read the forecast, high chance of rain, east wind at 5 to 10 MPH. That weather report was just like giving me a gold engraved invitation to harvest some Northern Pike on Lake Winnie with Kyle and Karen Reynolds. I knew that fishing for Northern Pike would be perfect for the conditions and maybe, if we were lucky, the Walleye would provide some bonus action too.
Well the breeze turned out to be a little bit more than we bargained for, but for us, fishing on choppy seas was well worth the effort.
On recent trips, I've focused on using artificial baits for Pike fishing. But on this day, aggressive presentations using the large artificial lures would have presented too many physical challenges. Instead, I rigged up the old reliable; Lindy Spinners tipped with minnows.
I never know exactly how cold the water has to get before using spinners becomes impractical, but on Wednesday the 64 degree surface temperatures were still warm enough for the fast moving baits to trigger strikes. Even if the spinners weren’t “the best” baits to use, they were plenty good enough to produce a bag limit of decent Pike and some very nice bonus Walleyes too.
Most of our fishing action came from the outer edges of the weeds in water depths of 12 to 14 feet. I do think that the Pike populations inhabiting these deep edges has declined over the past few weeks, but there are still enough of them to provide consistent catches. As long as the forage, Tulibee, small Perch and other small fish remain present, predators will continue to hang around too.
To a lesser extent, Walleyes are also using these deep weed edges and they too were willing to strike the spinners, albeit less frequently.
Don't be alarmed if you spot a couple of boats with Yellow lights flashing. It's a survey crew working on a harmless, routine mapping project.
On Wednesday, there were still Pelicans flying over lake winnie. The big birds will be among the first to leave when the weather turns cold.
For better Walleye action, we found water depths of 8 to 9 feet to be much more consistent. In fact, if I hadn't abandoned the shallow water to go back on the prowl for larger Pike, we may well have filled our Walleye bag limit in the shallower water.
I don’t believe that you have to be an expert to catch Walleyes out there right now either. There wasn’t a lot of traffic on the lake, but the anglers that we saw were catching fish too and that’s always signals me that the bite is good.
By now, you probably know the drill, but here’s a reminder. If the weather is beautiful, find something else to do. If you see crummy weather in the forecast, get the boat ready and head for Winnie, that’s where they’ll be biting.
Oh, by the way, it looks like we can expect to see a new player in the GPS charting of Winnibigoshish. You may have seen a couple of boats with flashing yellow lights and wondered what they’re up to. I was wondering that myself, so I got up close to them on Wednesday. It is the survey crew from Garmin and they’re producing their own chart of the lake. So if you them out there, don’t be alarmed by all of the flashing lights, it’s a harmless, routine project.
Fishing Report September 22 - Leech Lake Fishing Update, A Fall Bite Brewing?
On Monday, my little voice was telling me that I've been to the same few places too many times lately. Hungry for some new scenery and hoping to take advantage of a fantastic south wind for drifting, I high tailed it for Leech Lake.
For the experiment to work, we needed to find a spot fast and I without any prior knowledge about what was going on over there, I have to admit that I was hoping to get lucky.
Surface temperatures on the stretch of water we fished, from Federal Dam and Five Mile Point ranged between 64 and 66 degrees. There was a fair chop on the water and the sun was high and bright.
Watching the screen of my Humminbird, I was really optimistic; baitfish was plentiful on the breaklines. Larger fish appeared along the breakline at random intervals too. Ten feet of water appeared to be the preference for the largest concentrations of both bait and predators.
Northern Pike were willing to cooperate, but the areas we fished did not contain any Walleye willing to strike either a jig and minnow, or a spinner/minnow. At the landing, I compared notes with others who had roughly the same experience, Pike and Perch appear to be what's holding the attention of most folks at Federal Dam.
I didn't want to use Mr. C's entire day experimenting, so we cut the trip short and returned to Bowstring where producing a fish fry has been more reliable lately. But my friends Chris and Justin covered some of the territory further south, Battle Point to Bear Island and they did pick up some Walleyes. They reported that jigs and minnows in 4 to 5 feet of water produced their fish.
Later, there were some more reports about Walleyes coming from "the rocks", a term that's confusing if you don't which rocks. Still, that is a clue and it does help prevent choosing some areas that could turn out to be time wasters.
More reports from around the lake indicate that there are Crappie, Perch and Pike coming in, primarily during the evening. These are clues too, the Panfish pattern usually hits full stride during late August and is running late this season. That means that it's likely that Walleye fishing will continue to pick up as water temperatures cool.
Personally, Leech is one of my favorite places to be during the fall, so it's likely that I'll keep experimenting over there until I hit the right combination. Stay tuned more on that later!
Fishing Report September 21 - Dipping Into the Cabbage Patch For A Mixed Bag
It's been a lot like summer lately and I've been having a case of Deja Vu. I think some of the fish might have it too, that is if they're old enough to remember seeing me before.
Even if the calendar does say that this is the week before harvest moon, a mixed bag of fish can still be found tending to their gardens.
On Sunday, along with my crew, Justin John and Chris Andresen, we did our best to prove that there were fish somewhere else. We fished shoreline breaklines, mid-lake bars, isolated humps and even deep water holes. But in the end, 5 feet of water, smack dab in the jungle of weeds was still the best game in town.
Longtime followers of these reports have heard about this pattern before. In fact, if you've been reading long enough, then you may recall an excerpt from my Fishing Report on September 25, 2009 that says; "If anything could be called a major change in Walleye fishing, it's been a shift away from some of the deeper main lake structures in favor of a more concentrated presence in the weeds. We continue to do well in the heavy, sloppy weeds that most folks associate with August fishing. Mixed bag of Walleye, Crappie, Perch, Bluegill and Pike has not been uncommon. Throw in a few Bullheads, Dogfish and Rock Bass and we're keeping pretty busy fishing in 5 to 7 feet of water. My best pattern has been to stay in heavy weed cover and fish the pockets with a 1/16 ounce jig and minnow combination. I've been just creeping along the weed edges and working the jigs slowly by either pitching or flipping the bait into position."
I guess history does repeat itself, because here we are 6 years later, and I could have just taken the entire report from 2009 and plugged it in right here.
There is one difference this year. Although there was a mixed bag of fish in the weeds, the population of Crappies was far better than Walleye, Pike and especially Perch. Maybe I will find additional places to fish where there is a broader balance, but for today, I'd say that this is primarily a Crappie pattern that also provides a chance at some bonus Walleye and Pike.
Our presentation has changed a bit since 2009 too. These days I realize that heavier jigs are better when you're fishing the sloppy weed mats. The key to getting fish to strike is to force your lure into open pockets of water located underneath the vegetation. If the jig you're using is too light, or if you attempt to move the bait horizontally, the weeds will gobble you up and this pattern will become a nightmare. On Sunday, the water depth was only 5 feet, so we used 1/8 ounce jigs tipped with fathead minnows. However, even in this shallow water, se were very tempted and very close to using even heavier weights.
All you have to remember is that the fish will not be bothered by you or your boat. What you want to do is drop the right straight down, right alongside your gunnel. Don't cast, don't use a float, and don’t move it sideways. Just dip into every little hole and alongside of every weed patch that you can find. Sooner or later, it will be the right spot. I KNOW, it sounds easy when I say it, there will be some frustration. But like Chris said yesterday; "The reward is worth the search".
In my email inbox this morning, there were more reports about finding fish in the weeds too. But there was also talk about finding some fish, particularly Crappies in deeper water as well. So what I'm saying is that the my shallow water weed pattern is not the only way to fish right now, but for me, it's gonna be the "go to pattern" for the rest of the week. With surface temperatures remaining locked into the mid-60 degree range, there's little likelihood that the pattern will fizzle out until the weather gets cold again.
On Sunday, I did note the coolest surface reading so far, a 64 degree reading at about 9:00 AM. By mid-afternoon, 66 to 67 degrees was the norm and more sunshine today is sure to hold them in that range again.
Primarily a Crappie pattern, for now, dipping also provides a chance at bonus Pike, Walleye and Perch.
Use heavier jigs, 1/8 or 1/4 ounce and force your lure into open pockets of water located underneath the vegetation.
For Justin John, dipping into the Cabbage Patch beat the heck out of fishing over mid-lake structure. Some guys have the touch and for Justin, dipping the Cabbage was the prescription for success.
Fishing Report September 20 - "Lake Wind-E-Bi-Gosh" Fishing Reports
Yes we did fish Lake Winnibigoshish on Saturday. The surface temperature was 66 degrees and the water has become very clear after losing most of its Algae bloom. We could easily see the bottom in 8 feet of water and for most of the morning, there were precious few fish being captured on the big lake. The problem, sunshine and calm seas has become old news, so I won't won't bore you with that again.
I'm always going to wish that I'd done things differently yesterday because somehow, I managed to trap myself in an awkward location by leaving
our preferred fishing spot too soon.
The forecast that called for breezy conditions didn't appear to be panning out, we weren't getting enough wind to start the fish moving, so I left. About a half hour later, I was sitting on the north shore of the big lake when the southwest wind finally arrived. Rollers with breaking whitecaps forced me off of the lake, we headed back to Bowstring where conditions weren't perfect either, but they were manageable; the fish here helped rescue me.
Surface water on Bowstring was 65 degrees and although there were still some fish on the shallow weedlines, it was obvious that Walleyes, at least some of them had been forced into deeper water. The Northern Pike were there though and they were on a rampage, this could have given us a false impression that there were'nt many other fish. The others just might not have had time to find our lures.
Toward evening, I switched to using wiggle worms and I did manage to catch some Walleyes. It made me think about what would have happened if that was our main presentation instead of the jig and minnows?
As usual, I'm up against the clock, so I'll have to pick the subject back up again on Monday morning, see you then.
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Fishing Report September 19 - Fun With Dick and Paul; 2015 Season Finale
The grand finale of fun with Dick and Paul, v.2015 took place under the influence of a cold front. It was the cool air mass that had triggered a series of thunderstorms that rolled through the Itasca area on Thursday and while it did seem to have an impact; it was less dramatic than a typical series of storms that might occur during mid-summer.
Since bagging “eating fish” had already been accomplished during the first three days of the trip, this day was scheduled to be a play day, so that means that there's no actual comparison between our previous three days of fishing and any possible effect of the storms passing at the locations we had fished previously.
Instead I had selected a small, clear water lake that we hoped would provide action for catch and release Smallmouth Bass. At this lake, the effects of the crisp, sunny morning were evident.
The 300 acre, clear water gem typically provides good smallmouth bass fishing. Typical Smallmouth behavior, especially on this lake would be to display more characteristics of pack hunting; catch one and the rest aren’t far behind. On this particular occasion though, despite marking multiple fish at several deep water points and mid-lake locations, the best that Dick and I could do was to watch Paul catch them one by one.
One surprise for me was the presence of a viable population of Largemouth Bass. I couldn’t recall catch those on this tiny lake, but obviously they've been there for a while; one of the fish weighed in at 4.0 pounds on Dick’s Boca Grip and measured about 20 inches; that fish surely wasn't born recently.
One surprise for me was the presence of a viable population of Largemouth Bass. Found on a deep point, 24 feet of water.
After a few hours on the scene, I decided that we'd covered this territory fairly thoroughly. Thankfully, I’m capable of “multiple excursionisms”, so I had another lake up my sleeve just in case we needed it.
Lake Wabana is a lake that provides much greater variety and larger numbers, albeit typically smaller size fish. There was action though and throughout the day we were able to catch and release many small Bass. In fact, most of them would be considered too small to waste time on by most Bass fisherman’s standards but catching them still made us guys giggle.
Along the way, I also stumbled into some walleyes and we were able to capture a few of them using a 1/16 Lindy Jig, tipped with a night crawler. One Northern, a fat 25 incher or gave Dick a tussle and while we were there, a couple other Pike that bit off our jigs as well.
Late in the day, somewhere around 4 PM, it was apparent that a recovery was in progress. Many of the fish became much more active and much more aggressive.
Suddenly, inactive Panfish that I had been viewing on the screen of my Humminbird all day long rose from the bottom and began to strike. By about 4:30 we had concluded our four days of fishing, but I'm convinced that if we would have stayed a couple more hours, we would have enjoyed much better success rate during the evening, than we did during the first few hours.
I’m gonna take that as a clue that the passing of Thursday’s storms didn't really have a great it impact on the water. Maybe they were just enough to cause a hiccup for the first half of this cool sunny day.
The Surface Temperature at both lakes was locked in steady at 68° and there was very little variation from one end of the day to the other. I’m sure they settled more overnight, and I’ll bet that they’re cooler on shallower waters too. This should be good news for everybody who looks forward to the fall jig and minnow patterns.
For today a trip back to Lake Winnibigoshish will provide more answers. I’m heading that way with the hope of a rematch with Northern Pike that we missed on Wednesday when we got blown off of the lake by that gigantic west wind. Missing the boat, literally, some of those Pike might just be in a scrappy mood today!!
Fishing Report September 17 - Fun With Dick and Paul; Plus Scott and Jeff and Jeff and Jeff
I can't quite put my finger on it, but for days 1 and 2 of the fun with Dick and Paul, fall excursion, there's been a certain sense of calm, a feeling of contentment that doesn't typically happen on a fishing trip. So far, a chart of our fishing activity would look more like an image of gently rolling hills, rather than mountain peaks and valleys.
We've had some of the routine challenges; too much wind on Tuesday, not enough wind on Wednesday but still, fishing has been productive. We've had plenty of fish, lots to smile about and the company we've been keeping, that's been the best of all.
The introduction of Paul's sons in law, Scott and Jeff, gave us an excuse to enlist the help of my longtime friend Jeff "Cubby" Skelly. I guess we've known each other for about 30 years now and we really don't get to spend enough time together, so it's been good to team up, that's made it fun.
The cooler, but still not cold water temperatures are encouraging the onset of jig and minnow fishing as a primary presentation on Bowstring Lake.
The six of us have spent two days at Bowstring Lake where the fishing hasn't been dramatic, but it's been steady. Walleye, Perch, Crappie and of course ... lots of Pike have kept us busy. So despite the sensation that we haven't had a "hot bite" going on, our larder now includes bulging bags of Perch, Walleye and Crappie fillets.
Surface Water Temperatures have ranged between 67 and 69 degrees, the trend has been rising throughout the day, falling back overnight. One could say that the water temperatures are nearly ideal for almost everybody who wants to be on the water fishing. The cooler, but still not cold water temperatures are encouraging the onset of jig and minnow fishing as a primary presentation. Still, the water remains warm enough to encourage fishing with spinners and crankbaits for fishermen who prefer to troll for their fish. It's like having the best of both worlds; everybody is coming in with some fish, at least that's the way it looks to me.
Cabbage, Coontail and Eelgrass patches continue to provide cover for all species of fish, but there are some fish located in deep water too. In fact, there was news on Wednesday about fishermen who bagged their Walleye limits fishing over mid lake structure using Lindy Rigs.
That was true for Crappies on Wednesday too; we caught some good ones from a cabbage patch located in 6 feet of water. While we were doing that, Cubby and his crew caught Crappies in open water, about 20 feet deep. That’s just another example of why you should be licking your chops to get out onto the lake, you can probably fish using your favorite presentation and expect to catch some fish.
For today, Scott and Jeff are on their way home and that means that fun with Dick and Paul will be moving into fresh territory. After 2 days of catching Bowstring size Northern Pike, we're a little bit hungry for some lager ones. I think Winnie will be on the agenda, but that depends on how the weather shapes up as the morning unfolds. Thunderstroms and lightning have already begun to roll through Deer River and that may force a change of plan. However it works out, you know that you will know as soon as I know!
Fishing Report September 14 - Lake Winnie Weekend Report
They say that you're supposed to be careful what you ask for; you might just get it!
Let's just say for example, you asked for some sort of Quantum Enlightenment and then all of the sudden, you realized; HEY! I did, I got it; well that would mean that you're very lucky.
On the other hand, you could wish for a breeze that would help make the fish bite and get a hurricane instead, not so lucky. Okay, hurricane might be a bit of exaggeration, but we definitely got more than we bargained for by asking for a breeze on Sunday.
Hoping for a re-run of my most recent trip to Winnie, our destination was the east shore, near Highbanks. I'd hoped that we could find some of the Northern Pike that had stolen so many of our jigs last week. I had plans for a couple of them; we'd get even by making them the centerpiece of an all-time favorite meal, blackened Pike.
When we launched the boat at Richard’s Townsite, the sunshine was high in the bright blue sky. The water was calm and very clear; the surface temperature of 66 degrees was encouraging.
By the time we got halfway into Musky Bay, I realized that we already had too much wind, instead of a nice drift along the breakline, the boat was tossing and turning, this wasn't gonna be fun, only work. So I did the un-thinkable (for me) and headed toward the calm side of the lake to see what we could drum up.
We found out that the stretch of water between Richard's Townsite and the Mississippi River mouth still has lots of good vegetation growing anywhere between 10 and 15 feet. There were lots of signals on the Humminbird that fish were still chowing at the west end salad bar and there were half dozen boats, most of them trolling for Pike.
I think that if the water had been stirred by wind from another direction, this may have been a productive area. But today, the calm water and sunny sky was working against it, so we kept moving north, looking for the first stretch of breakline where there was an attractive drifting wind.
1/4 ounce Lindy Jigs tipped with large Fatheads produced enough Northerns to provide for an all time favorite meal, blackened Pike.
Questions? All ya' gotta do is ask and ya' never know, the answer might be featured right here in tomorrow's report. Just click >>
By the time we approached the Mississippi River mouth, the wind was just about right, our drift speed was .9 MPH when I deployed the Drift Sock.
There were some fish along the breakline in 10 to 12 feet of water, a mix of Perch, Pike and Walleye. While we couldn't all it a bonanza, there was enough action to provide entertainment. In light of the alternative, heading back into the really big waves, this territory looked pretty darn good, at least under the circumstances.
Our presentation, jig and minnow combinations produced a little bit of everything, so we stuck with it. At times, we needed 1/4 ounce Lindy Jigs to stay in contact with the bottom.
Sometimes, the heavier weights caused trouble though. There is a fine moss, maybe a form of algae that grows on the submerged plants. Whenever the wind speed slowed, we had too much contact with the bottom, forcing us to clean off our hooks frequently. By switching to lighter jigs, we cleaned up the moss problem, but then began catching more Perch. That would have been fine if the Perch had been larger, but at 6 to 8 inches, they were simply a distraction on this trip.
By the time it was all said and done, we accomplished our goal, the meal of blackened Pike did become a reality and there's a bonus, another meal of Walleye packed up for the freezer too.
With a calmer breeze and Grey skies, the re-match with East Side Pike, may just occur today instead. We'll see how the crew feels about chasing Pike and if we do, you'll be the first to know!
Fishing Report September 13 - Clearing Up The Clearable
Whenever I think about how to gauge the quality of fall Walleye fishing, the first thing that comes to mind is a simple test. Can I catch some Walleyes even when conditions are less than ideal? If the answer is yes, then I take it as a signal that that trend is positive and that if conditions were to turn good, then the fishing action will be good too.
So for I and my one man crew, when Saturday's visit to a gin clear lake, under sunny skies and calm seas produced 7 nice Walleyes, it was a pretty happy occasion.
Oh I know, there are lots of days when we do better than that, but any accomplishment on any day that isn't supposed to be good, is way more rewarding. I feel qualified to say that because I've learned it the hard way, by losing more than my share of battles with fish.
At the landing, the Surface Temperature was 67 degrees. Like I said, the water was very clear, I could easily see numerous small fish milling in and out of the shallow weeds. Shallow water vegetation was still green and lush, showing little sign of decay.
The wiggle worm, a 1/16 ounce Lindy Jig tipped with a whole night crawler was the only presentation we used. It worked well though and when the element of surprise was on our side, the fish that struck did it with authority.
I was concerned about the conditions, but the whole point of this trip was to provide reconnaissance for an upcoming trip. So if we didn't catch a ton of fish, it wouldn't matter, we just needed to wind up learning something; we did.
One interesting part about our fishing trip was that some of the pre-conceived ideas that we have about fishing for Walleyes in Gin Clear Water were wrong.
The fish were not located in deep water; in fact, no matter where I looked, I couldn't mark a single fish on any deep, mid lake structure. They weren't found along the deep shoreline breaks either, except for some small pods of baitfish, I couldn't see 'em there either.
As it turned out, I didn't need to mark them, they were in less than 10 feet of water and at one stop; I could actually see the tails with my eyes.
It was the weeds that held fish; they were located just barely outside the edges of mixed cabbage and Coontail patches. The fish were spooky, retreating deep into the weeds when they saw us, they only offering one chance at a time, we had to catch them on the first pass, or not catch them at all.
It wouldn't be fair to say that "wiggle worms" were the best presentation, that's because the 1/16 ounce Lindy Jig tipped with a whole night crawler was the only presentation we used. It worked well though and when the element of surprise was on our side, the fish that struck did it with authority.
Surface water temperatures remained stable throughout most of the day. By late afternoon, a breeze blowing warm surface water to the eastern shoreline managed to trigger one 68 degree reading that was the warmest reading of the day.
While we were doing our thing, I was getting some reports from friends who were fishing on Lake Winnibigoshish. A good breeze combined with stable conditions produced good action over there on Saturday. In fact, for many, it was one of the better days of these past few weeks. Since I didn't get a lot of details, and since I'm heading there today anyhow, we’ll save a detailed report about Winnie for tomorrow morning. But if you're planning to fish today, I would not hesitate to travel to the big pond with confidence.
Fishing Report September 12 - Temperature Dips, Panfish Action Heats Up
If you're one of the lucky anglers who has this weekend slated for a fishing trip, then you should be able to drum up some Crappie and Bluegill action on your favorite Panfish lake.
By now, there isn't much mystery about what gets Panfish going in the fall. Cooling water temperatures force fish out of shallow vegetation, into open water where finding and fishing for them is easier than rooting them out of heavy cover. The downward trend in surface temperatures has gotten the ball rolling and while they might not be wide spread, at least so far, there are some early migrations of Crappie and Sunfish showing up in open water.
On Friday, we found surface temperatures hovering at 68 degrees, down from the 72 degree water that I found on my last visit to Cutfoot Sioux a few days ago.
It didn't take too long to find a school of fish, but it did take some figuring out before we could get the action going. The fish were located on the shoreline break at about 18 feet, what appeared to be one single school of Crappies that was spread out, actually turned out to be one school of Crappies and a separate school of Sunfish.
What tripped me up for a while was that while we could get the Crappies to strike our lures, #6 Lindy Ice Worms
tipped with Waxies, there were lots of fish on the Humminbird that didn't seem to want anything to do with us.
One simple adaptation changed everything; adding slip floats and some extra weight.
On this particular day, Crappie tolerated some movement of the lures, but Sunfish refused to strike unless the bait sat perfectly still. Once we had the depth set correctly, a Wax Worm tipped 1/16 ounce Lindy jig combined with a #4 split shot sinker got bit every time it settled into place.
The size of the fish was mixed, ranging between 7 and 9 inches, with an occasional fish over 9. I don't insist on capturing the largest ones, so we don't do too much sorting. The lake gave us what we needed, on this trip; 8 to 9 inch fish were perfect for both action and good eating.
Our Panfish adventure lasted until lunchtime and after a break, we decided to make a run onto Winnie to see if we could drum up some Pike. They did not let us down either, fishing vegetation in 12 to 14 feet of water with a 1/8 ounce jig and minnow was fairly easy. The scissor bills disappeared whenever the plants were not visible on my graph. All I had to do to locate Pike was to make sure that I could see a healthy stand of the remaining Cabbage and Coontail growth on my Humminbird.
By the way, some of the plant growth has already disappeared along the deeper breaklines. If you were on the lake a month ago fishing the deeper edges, some of the fishable territory may be missing on your next visit. That should actually make your life easier as long as you insist on finding good cover before you begin fishing. That’s because less submerged cover means that there will be more fish crammed into tighter places and that is liable to produce faster action for you.
Walleye fishing was off on both Winnie and Cutfoot yesterday, but I didn't expect it to be good. Sunny skies and light wind discouraged any hot daytime bite. Still, there was good news; we did mark fish in several areas on Cutfoot, and managed to capture a handful of them. There were enough sightings to make me believe that a couple of hours during prime time could have been fun; more about that as time allows.
Have a great weekend, stay safe out there and remember how lucky you are to be on the water at this gorgeous time of year, savor it!
From Lake Winnibigoshish (9/11) Bowen Lodge; Cutfoot Sioux and Lake Winnie Report
Surface Temperatures fell below 70 degrees on Wednesday, settled at 69 degrees on Thursday and by this morning we should be looking at an even cooler water temperature.
The drop, resulting from a week long cold front, hasn't been dramatic, but it has begun to move some fish out of the heaviest submerged vegetation and into open water. This is good news, especially for our guests who enjoy fall Panfish on Cutfoot Sioux and its connected waters.
The first sign of an early fall Crappie pattern occurred a couple of weeks ago, just after another cold front has blown into the area. As the water temperatures warmed, Crappies eventually found their way back into the weeds, where they've stayed until now. On Thursday, there were some fish beginning to show up in ... Read >> Bowen Lodge Fishing Report
Fishing Report September 10 - The One After Nine O Nine
After the ruckus caused by Tuesday's strong winds, the lake laid back a little bit on Wednesday. Calm wind and sunny skies aside, the Walleye action didn't fade out completely and that's good. It's good because it adds another indicator that the fall patterns are beginning to take hold.
Cool overnight temperatures nudged the surface water lower, but it was still a warm 70 degrees on top. A light Algae bloom continued to color the water, but plant debris cleared up significantly after Tuesday's winds subsided.
The jig and minnow presentation provided steady results, but as the wind disappeared, action tapered down to only an occasional bite. After I switched back to the "Wiggle Worms", a 1/16 ounce Lindy Jig tipped with a whole night crawler, it felt like my action picked up a bit. Even then, my crew continued using the 1/8 ounce jig and minnow combo and they too continued to enjoy some action.
By the end of our day, we'd managed to bag some Walleyes, but this particular day was one that the protected slot limit saved some of the Walleyes that we might have ordinarily bagged. We released fish that were too small as well, so our action was really better than an image of our creel would have revealed.
Just Like Magic, Joe Stevens drops a jig in the water and pulls a Walleye out of the lake! How does he do that?
Key locations were deeper on Wednesday too, ranging between 12 feet for weedline Walleye and 20 feet for the fish that we found on points and submerged structure. Generally, if I could see fish, we could get them to strike and that is yet another indicator that fall patterns are becoming real. Under calm seas though, the fish were scattered and tracking them down one by one was a bit time consuming.
Over all, I'd rate the day as an optimistic one and I'm looking forward to seeing how today pans out. With a forecast of mixed clouds and light winds, it could be a really good day to measure the progression without any major influences of wind or weather. Either way, You Know that You'll be the first To Know!
Fishing Report September 9 - Northern Lights Guide Anglers Into Fall Fishing Season
I hope that you had a marvelous Labor Day Weekend! I did, and was especially grateful as it ended with a display of Northern Lights towering over the back yard at my house. Signaling the arrival of fresh, cool air, it was almost as if the Northern Lights were whispering; "get ready, all systems are green for go, fall fishing is about to roll in!"
The fish must have spotted the display too because despite the lake's reluctance to let go of her warm, summertime surface temperatures, Walleyes responded to the strong Northwest wind and went with the flow, in the direction of traditional fall fishing patterns.
When we arrived at the lake, the Surface Temperature was hovering at 72 degrees, still a bit warm for this time of the season. Whitecaps, stirred by the strong northwest wind, combined with cool air temperatures nudged the surface temperature down throughout the day. By the time we left, temps had fallen to about 70.5 degrees and we'd seen solid evidence that the fish were ready to let go of summer, albeit not completely.
During our fishing trip, we'd seen evidence that all of the reliable late summer fishing patterns were producing fish. Night Crawlers allowed us to capture our first few Walleye, crankbaits were putting fish in the boat for a group of anglers that we could see in another boat, and some others were bagging fish with spinners too. But for me, the best news of the day was delivered when a nice fat Walleye ate a jig and minnow.
Catching one Walleye on a jig and minnow encouraged me to get a second opinion, so I asked Mr. C to abandon his "yard bait" and switch back to the jig and minnow too. Gradually, the momentum shifted and production using 1/8 Lindy Jigs tipped with nice sized Fatheads became more and more reliable. By late afternoon, we had a full scale jig and minnow bite on our hands.
Weeds, dislodged by the waves were floating on the surface and provided another sign of fall too. Even though there were lots of floaters, there were still plenty of weeds to provide the fish with cover and that's where we bagged the lion's share of our fish.
Key depths ranged between 10 and 13 feet, contact with the weeds was important, but the wind allowed us to range away from the heaviest growth as long as we didn't get too far away from the edges.
I've mentioned before that I honestly believe that if you have the right size minnow, then it doesn't make a lot of difference what kind of minnow it is. I already mentioned that we were using Fatheads and that they were nice size; these minnows worked wonderfully.
Thanks to recent shortages of the old reliable, Spottail Shiner, we've all been forced to re-train ourselves about what "good bait" is. During the past couple of years, I think that there are times when having Spottails would have actually been a disadvantage. Some of the alternatives, Rainbows, Dace, Fatheads and others are actually more durable, less expensive and equally effective.
The takeaway for you should be not to worry about what kind of minnows that you can get. Instead, pay the most attention to what size they are, for me, 3 to 4 inches is the ideal range for jigging. If I have to make a mistake, I'd rather bring minnows that are slightly too small, rather than too large. Minnows over 4 inches long are best used for tipping a Lindy Rig instead of a jig.
With predictions of a downward trend in temperatures, there will be lots of opportunity to talk about minnows and I will. But first let’s see how today goes and if the fish continue yesterday's encouraging behavior.
Fishing Report September 5 - Warm Weather Walleye Patterns, Summer's Last Hurrah?
Surface Temperatures over 70 degrees greeted us at Bowstring Lake on Friday. That combined with a strong Southeast wind, and a crew of 4 including 7 year old Griffin Raitanen, encouraged me to unpack the Little Joes and get into spinny and minny mode for the action bite one more time.
We headed for the weed line, I positioned the boat in about 6 feet of water, and my crew tossed their spinners into the water and Holy Mackerel! I swear that every single Northern Pike in Bowstring Lake struck our lures, before 10:00 AM. After that, they all swam back into the waiting line to attack our baits again and then did it some more. There were hundreds of them and Pike were so aggressive yesterday that it makes me wonder how we ever caught anything else; we did, albeit after a lot of sorting along the way.
After an action filled morning and a shore lunch of Pike, Walleye and Perch. We had gathered a respectable mixed bag of Walleye and Jumbo Perch that will be providing protein at the Raitanen household for several days to come.
Walleyes were running on the small side for us, many of them were measured at 11-12 inches long before being released. Some were larger; we did manage to capture fish up to around 20 inches, but we were far from a limit of “keepers” when we left the lake. Since action was important, I liked the spinner presentation, but if was there with a “Walleye Purist”, I’d probably use an alternate presentation, most likely wiggle worms.
Meanwhile, anglers on Lake Winnibigoshish were enjoying the action produced by the strong winds. I heard from a friend at lunchtime, his noon-time report was that his crew had captured 14 Walleyes and a Pike in the 6 pound range. Like us, they were fishing with Gold Little Joe Spinners too, and the key water depth was 10 feet.
They didn’t provide a surface temperature, but my observation on Wednesday was 68 degrees. For me, Winnie is on the agenda today, so I’ll be able to provide a more up to date report in the morning.
On Leech Lake, ideal conditions helped too, although not as much. According to a friend that was fishing over there, it looks like the fishing action might be on the verge of ramping up, but so far the fish; Walleye in particular are coming in one at a time, mostly for folks who work at it.
For best results, waiting for the evening run and trolling the weed edges and sharp breaks using crankbaits will produce a mix of Walleye and Pike. Spinners tipped with night crawlers is producing some Walleye too, but be prepared for small Perch, their presence will test your patience.
According to the weather forecast, we're in for some changes and that is likely to force some new fishing patterns for next week, maybe for the rest of the fall.
So for those of you who aren’t already up north, out on the lake, or just plain playing around this Labor Day weekend, I’ll get some updates for tomorrow morning. If you’re headed for the big lake today, be sure to give us a wave and a thumbs up as we pass by!
From Lake Winnibigoshish (9/3) Bowen Lodge; Winnie Walleye, Pike and Panfish Report
We've had several guides at the resort, fishing with groups of guests this week. The consensus among them is that fishing on the big lake has been good, especially for guests who allow the lake to "make suggestions" about what they should fish for, and when. One thing we know for sure is that we've been watching all of them eat a lot of fish.
Whenever the timing is right, Walleye fishing on Winnie has been very good. Early this week, cloudy skies and windy conditions provided perfect conditions for daytime Walleye fishing. Feeding heavily throughout the day, fish were caught on jigs & minnows, spinners & crawlers and crankbaits. Key depths ranged between 9 to 11 feet and the east side of the lake provided the most consistent action.
Mid-week sunshine has shifted the best Walleye activity to the evening and early morning hours. On Wednesday, Dale Anderson was on the lake for a late afternoon trip and was able to produce a nice mixed bag of Walleye and Northern Pike. Northern Pike provided the best action during the daytime; the Walleye were caught later, during the early evening.
For Dale and his fishing party, spinners tipped with minnows were the best presentation and for them, the east side of side of Winnie produced spurts of action.
Fishing with John Surber along with his sons Mark, Todd and Kirk, Jeff Sundin was on the opposite side of Winnie taking advantage of the east wind. The group found lots of Pike and Perch on the breaklines, Perch were located shallower than the Pike. Exploring water depths from 6 to 12 feet, using jig and minnow combinations was the most productive way to fish. "Even if we could have caught fish using other presentations, the jig and minnow is best for helping the large group organized", Sundin said.
Winnie's west side appears to have fewer Walleye prowling the shoreline, but there were a handful of them caught too. When the strongest wind appeared on the scene, a brief spurt of Walleye action started up. As the wind faded, the Walleye action gave way to a period of vigorous Perch activity. Some of the Perch were very nice sized, but it required sorting to get them. Sizes ranging from 8 to 12 inches and everything in between provided an hour long episode of steady action. The key depth for Perch was 6 feet of water, with some fish found as deep as 8 feet.
About a week ago, there was a spurt of cold weather that started up an early run of deep water Panfish in Cutfoot and Little Cutfoot. Many of our guests enjoyed a period of good Crappie and Sunfish fishing last week. During the past few days, Panfish threw our guests a curve ball by retreating back into the weeds.
For now, catching Crappie and Sunfish will be easier if you fish the weed edges at early morning or late evening. Jigs tipped with small action tails, spinner jigs or live bait suspended below bobbers will all produce some fish. Key depths for Panfish range between 6 and 9 feet, depending on the weed growth present.
When the strongest wind appeared on the scene, a brief spurt of Walleye action started up. Mark Surber shows off his new found aptitude for fishing with a jig and minnow.
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Fishing Report September 2 - Fickle Winnie Walleye "Gone With The Wind" ... sort of
After struggling against a calm, sunny day on Tuesday, picking up on the theme of yesterday's fishing report about the great migration isn't all that easy. But I promised to pick up where I left off and I always keep my promises.
Before I do that though, the report from yesterday's fishing trip on Winnibigosh is a short one. The sunshine and calm seas served to raise Surface Temperatures up to about 74 degrees. There was a fairly heavy Algae Bloom on the surface and from our vantage point, there was no sign of September anywhere in sight.
Walleye and Pike were still swimming in the same general area where we'd found them on Monday, but they had scattered accross the flat, making them tricky to pin down. Despite calm seas and sunshine, we did manage to catch some fish and I think that ought to tell you something, especially in light of reports about fishless trips under these conditions from earlier this summer.
In my view, if we could catch some fish yesterday, then they will be snapping well again as soon as the wind blows.
Getting back to yesterday's comments about the late summer/early fall migrations, I added a simple map that illustrates what's happening for me right now. Follow the contour lines and you can see that the Bena Bar has a direct connection to the shoreline. The deep water hole that separates the “main bar” from the shoreline at Musky Bay serves as something of a road block for fish. So for most of them, the breakline becomes their highway.
During the early fall, it’s the fish’s instinct to move toward shallow water influences their behavior. But it’s the wind direction that influences their travel plans. In other words, they could arrive at this particular shoreline sooner if there are strong South winds for an extended period of time.
That’s what happened early this week, 3 days of wind produced and sustained an early flight of fish. There will be more as the wind re-gains momentum and there will be similar patterns developing around the lake whenever the winds switch direction.
I’ll be sticking with this little project and bring you more tomorrow, but I gotta get out of here and pick up today’s crew. Thank you for bearing with me, I’ll be back with more tomorrow.
The earliest stages of fall Walleye migrations from deep water toward the shallows begins in areas where the lakes largest deep water bars connect to the shoreline, Bars like Sugar Bar, Bena Bar and the gigantic flats at Stony Point are examples, but there are others too.
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Fishing Report September 1 - Fickle Winnie Walleye, The More They Change The More They ...
Lake Winnibigoshish, without a doubt, has caused more than her fair share of head scratching over the past couple of seasons. Environmentally, the lake has changed and for many of us, re-adjusting to her personality has been challenging.
No matter what has changed though, some of Winnie's rules of the road are the same now as they've always been. Enter the late summer, "hurricane pattern" that's had the Walleyes snapping for the past couple of days.
I call it the hurricane pattern because the Grey skies, south winds and humid summer air always coincide with hurricane activity brewing in the Atlantic Ocean. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit to learn that this is the pattern that gave birth to the familiar saw “When the wind is from the South, it blows the bait in the fish’s mouth”.
However you describe it, the pattern is always the same and it has been reliable as clockwork for the entire 30 years that I've been guiding on Lake Winnie. Nowadays, the pattern is more important than ever because it plays into the hands of fishermen who are searching for ways to stay ahead of Winnie’s clearer water.
The earliest stages of fall Walleye migrations from deep water toward the shallows begins in areas where the lakes largest deep water bars connect to the shoreline, Bars like Sugar Bar, Bena Bar and the gigantic flats at Stony Point are examples, but there are others too. As long as they connect to the shoreline, they are liable to be productive migration routes.
It’s the south wind that makes me focus on fish moving toward the shoreline from the Bena Bar and its deep water breaklines. My friend Joe Thompson put his finger on the concept 25 years ago when he said; “the longer the wind blows from the south, the further south the fish will move”.
If you think about that it makes sense; Walleyes are fish that like to feed by moving upstream, into the current. So a strong wind, from any direction would encourage them to move forward until they come to the areas where the water becomes calm.
I promise to pick up where I’m leaving off, but for now the clock is ticking and I gotta run, more tomorrow.
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