This page contains all of KAB Outdoors' saved fishing reports and articles from the calendar year 2020. For current, up-to-date reports from Kabetogama, please bookmark this link to the >> 2021 KAB Outdoors Fishing Reports Archives
Happy New Year Everybody !! For More Information >> Contact KAB OUTDOORS or Call 218.875.2281
We have located one decent stretch of ice that’s 12 to 13 inches thick, that is the best so far. But we’ve also uncovered large areas of ice that is thinner, 7 to 8 inches as of Monday 12-28-2020. In a couple of areas, the thinner ice, combined with some snow cover, have forced water to the surface.
Unless we get a lot of snow soon, these flooded areas shouldn’t pose a problem down the road, so, we have our fingers crossed and will provide updates about that.
There are no plowed areas on the lake as of today, and there is no federal ice road yet. So there is no access to the lake for anglers towing wheel houses or heavy, homemade shelters. As the ice thickens, we’ll provide updates about the government ice road when it’s developed.
We did manage to get a couple of our rental units out on the ice today. But for now, the best way to access and fish on Kabetogama is still using snowmobiles with portable fishing shelters.
They are fishing a variety of depths but seeing most activity 25 to 30 feet deep on the outer edges of rock piles and deeper points extended away from the reefs. There are folks fishing shallower though and they are catching some walleyes also.
Trusted, proven presentations have been the order of the day. Kent has been fishing primarily with Lindy Glow Spoons and Quiver Spoons. It’s not a bad idea to have one of each rigged and ready for jigging. It’s not a bad idea to have a dead stick ready for action either. A simple jigging spoon or large blade bait, below a slip float and tipped with a live minnow can be amazingly effective.
Shiners, rainbows, and fatheads, in that order of volume going out the door at the bait store. This winter, we stocked some larger minnows that would not typically be our first choice for fishing. But we might be changing our minds about that as these larger minnows are fast becoming our favorites! Stop by the store on your way to the lake and we’ll explain why.
Conditions for fishing have improved daily and there is colder weather on the way. So, get your gear packed up and be sure to check back for more frequent updates. " — The shelves are stocked with everything you’ll need to convince those fish to bite; so be sure to stop in and let us help. For More Information >> Contact KAB OUTDOORS or Call 218.875.2281
"Winter is slow to arrive at Kabetogama this season, ice conditions improve daily, but at a slow pace compared to most years. Mid-lake, main basin areas over deep water and areas with current are sketchy. It wouldn’t be a surprise to find areas covered by 8 to 10 inches of ice turn quickly into stretches with only 2 to 4 inches.
We depend on getting thicker ice because getting our fleet of Ice Castles into position requires some heavier equipment. So we’re forced to play it safe, extra safe, some would say.
Admittedly, there are probably some places on the main lake already suitable for light traffic. But since most of it has been un-explored, we don’t feel comfortable giving anybody the “green light” to begin traveling out there.
The story closer to shore is more optimistic. Shallow water, adjacent to shoreline breaks, along with back bays have good ice already. Dark house anglers have been spearing northern pike for a couple of weeks already and continue to do so.
Snowmobilers are counting the days too, so far, the snow cover is about ankle deep. Travel by snow machine on the ice or in wide open areas will be okay, but none of the snowmobile trails have begun to open yet.
Impeding one person’s progress sometimes offers opportunity to another. So instead of fretting about the slow formation of ice, you could consider taking a walk in the woods this weekend. The Ruffed Grouse season is still open and there have been plenty of them in the woods this fall.
We’re using the bonus time to hustle through some work projects around the resort. Don’t worry, we have the entire fleet of rentals ready to go, and as soon as we see enough ice to get rolling, you’ll see the announcement.
The store is open, so if you’re out and about in the areas this weekend, stop in for an update, or to stock up on supplies." — The shelves are stocked with everything you’ll need to convince those fish to bite; so be sure to stop in and let us help. For More Information >> Contact KAB OUTDOORS or Call 218.875.2281
Whether driving to work or heading out fishing on a sheet of ice, there is an inherent risk in many of our daily activities. And while you can never label ice as 100% safe, having some basic knowledge, gear, and commonsense makes it a safe and enjoyable activity.
Famed multi-species fishing guide, Tony Roach, discusses some essential clothing, equipment, and, most importantly, key ice thickness criteria related to different modes of transport (foot, AVT/UTV/snowmobile, truck).
"Looking forward to the ice fishing season doesn’t require looking quite as far forward as it did a week ago. After going through a cycle of freezing, then re-opening and then re-freezing, the ice is finally taking hold on Kabetogama.
Calm bays, away from current areas are fairly solid now and folks have been able to walk out on them. With ice thickness of 5 to 6 inches, dark house anglers are getting their shelters set up over their favorite first ice pike locations.
The ice over deeper water and necked down areas where there is current are still sketchy. Nobody has ventured far from shore to explore the newly forming ice, so we’re not sure about thickness yet.
The good news is that whatever ice we have today is clear and solid. Beyond that, there is no snow in the forecast for the next week and we’re hopeful that this will provide enough time for the lake to build a strong, solid base layer of ice before the first heavy snowfall arrives. The tradeoff of having good travel conditions vs getting out on the ice a few days early will be well worth the wait.
If we could impress you with one thing, it would be this. Ice fishing on Kabetogama is not the same as fishing most other lakes. What we provide here is a unique, remote experience that we can custom tailor to your needs. You won’t be fishing in a crowd, and you want hear trucks driving past your shelter all day long. You will be in nature, but comfortable, remote, but accessible.
Planning is important, today, we still have a few openings for sleepers and day shelter rentals. But anglers are getting the itch and our phones are ringing a little more every day. Soon, we’ll be in the heat of the action and securing a spot will get tricky.
We’re cautiously optimistic that the ice will gain strength this week. When it does, we’ve already got our ice machines tuned up and ready to go, so getting the rental fleet into service won’t take long at all.
We’d love for this to be the season that you find your way to Kabetogama for a remote, but accessible ice fishing trip. So be ready, call about available dates and make your reservations today."
We know that some folks like 'going it alone", so matter whether you're planning to fish with us or not, remember that we have the shelves in the KAB Outdoors Store stocked with everything you’ll need for a successful ice fishing trip on Kabetogama. So be sure to stop in and pick up your fishing supplies and live bait.
While you're here, let us help with advice about how to get on the lake and where to go when you get there.. For More Information >> Contact KAB OUTDOORS or Call 218.875.2281
Overnight Monday, the shallow bay from our resort out to the main lake breakline froze over. The west end of the lake has already been iced up for 5 or 6 days now and the ice-line is migrating East. We had estimated being about halfway to seeing the entire lake frozen over. But yesterday, a stiff breeze blew the bay open again, so it's going to be a while longer before we see it locked up.
Because our typical ice fishing season begins after Christmas, this shouldn't cause problems, but we'll be keeping an eye on the ice as it develops.
This year, the mild weather has been a blessing and we definitely are taking advantage of the downtime it's provided. First, we worked on all of the cabin exteriors at the KAB Outdoors resort. Then we began sprucing up the grounds, clearing some tangled trees and over-grown brush. Next, we extended the turnaround at the end of our driveway, added some nice boulder retaining walls and put in a winter landing ramp for the SnoBear.
Preparing for the ice season, we picked up some new ice castles to add to the winter rental fleet and then got the ice fishing shacks all loaded up and ready. Now we’re putting the finishing touches on the SnoBear, adding a live scope to it for this winter and looking forward to having some fun with that. We may do some more tweaking to the SnoBear too, we'll see about that in upcoming days.
While we wait for the first ice fishing trips to begin, it’s time to get back to work on the resort. Upgrading kitchens, bathrooms and flooring should keep us busy as the ice gets thicker.
Christmas sounds like a long time from now, but it's not. Folks are beginning to think about ice fishing and the phones are starting to ring. Thanks to the addition of more rental shelters, we have some fresh openings to work with, but they won't last long. So, for the best dates, give us a ring soon and lets get together this winter.
At the store, we're getting the shelves stocked with everything you’ll need for early ice. Be sure to stop in and let us help you get your trip off to a great start." For More Information >> Contact KAB OUTDOORS or Call 218.875.2281
At Kabetogma, the chilly northwest winds have blown autumn onto center stage. Surface water has fallen below 60 degrees, weeds are losing their grip on the shallow flats and walleyes are dispersed throughout the lake.
Nowadays, we still hear the phrase “I got one!” but it means different things to different people. For folks like Terry Lee, the proclamation could ring out as he set the hook on a 40 inch pike like the one you see here.
Recently, 19 of our customers used the same phrase after filling their 2020 black bear tags and this week, Kolby has used the term more than once as he and his friends have bagged ruffed grouse. According the the boys, grouse are plentiful in the woods near Kabetogama this fall.
For us, the pace becomes a bit more relaxed, but when we’re not in the woods, we’re still on the lake, enjoying the fall fishing with customers who like cooler weather.
The fish just won’t respond to any fast moving presentations right now, in fact, Kent has been doing his best work using an open water modification of dead sticking, a presentation made popular during the ice fishing season.
“What I do first is to find a school of fish using my electronics, typically they’re in 18 to 25 feet of water these days. After I find some fish, I use the anchor feature of my trolling motor to lock my boat in position on the spot. I tip my ¼ ounce jig with either a shiner or rainbow, drop it to the bottom and then place the rod into a rod holder. The only motion put on the jig comes from wave action and motion from the MinnKota’s adjustments to my boat’s position. When the rod tip signals a walleye pick up, I gently remove the rod, set the hook and reel in my fish.”
Anglers without spot-lock equipped trolling motors could mimic the presentation by anchoring and vertical jigging. Use a super-slow, lift-lower-lift-lower motion to attract fish to your lure and give them plenty of time to inhale the bait before attempting to set the hook.
Folks looking for more pro-active fishing presentations might be happier in the pursuit of pike and smallmouth bass, or maybe even a mixed bag of yellow perch and crappie.
Crappies are coming alive on deeper flats in open water where the key depths range from 18 to 25 feet of water. The best presentations have been 1/8 jigs tipped with small rainbows or using Lindy Rigs tipped with lively minnows. When rigging, use a short, 36 inch leader and a #6 hook.
Northern pike are hungry this time of year and find their way back into shallow water weed beds. Casting Suicks or other large jerk baits is a preferred presentation on Kabetogama. Don’t overlook throwing spinnerbaits either, they can produce great pike action during fall and there’s always a chance at catching a few big smallmouth bass at the same time.
Yellow perch are where you find them, but when you do, they are liable to be true jumbos. Most anglers are happy to catch them as part of a mixed bag while they search for walleyes. But if you’re interested in jumbo hunting, do it on days with heavy cloud cover and breezy conditions. Crawfish lovers by nature, perch roam gravel bars and rocky flats when the crawdads are most active. Smallmouth bass will inhabit the same spots, on the same days, for the same reason.
Jig heads tipped with minnows is the standard presentation. But any crawfish imitating lures would be worth trying as well.
The last thing we want to do is wish away the gorgeous fall fishing weather that still lies ahead. But we do know that being prepared for winter is a good idea. So, we’re tuning up the SnoBear, cleaning up the ice castles and checking over our snowplows; soon, we’ll be using them all.
The phones are already ringing, and folks are locking in reservations for the upcoming ice fishing season. If you’ve thought about an ice trip on Kabetogama, this is the time to jump on board. Customize your trip to create the ice fishing experience that best suits your needs. Overnight sleepers, guided ice fishing packages and even day rental shelters are all options that we offer.
Most folks don’t get the chance to enjoy good ice fishing, combined with tranquility and gorgeous scenery, all within easy driving distances, but on Kabetogama, you can. Remote, but accessible is the term Jeff Sundin used to describe the Kabetogama ice fishing experience. Click here to read the article >> Kabetogama Remote But Accessible Walleye Fishing
Whether you’re in the area for fall fishing, grouse hunting or to try and bag a trophy buck, be sure to stop by the store. We’ve got the supplies you’ll need and we’d love to hear about how your trip is going." — For More Information >> Contact KAB OUTDOORS or Call 218.875.2281
Falling air temperatures have forced surface water in Kabetogama down into the mid-60s, and the surrounding woods now have the added autumn crispness that has critter on the move. No matter whether they’re fishing, or hunting, our guests are enjoying the bounty of harvest time in the Northwoods.
With water temps hovering in the mid to low 60s, walleyes are starting to really move out. Some of us are still catching fish around the weed edges, but these days many are also doing well in deeper water. Water depths of 12 to 20 feet are what we hear talked about most at the tackle shop.
Kent says that he still favors jigging and jig-minnow combinations are turning on. But there are folks doing well with Lindy Rigs and live bait too. Trim the Lindy Rig leader down to about 60 inches and tip it with ½ night crawler; right now, this presentation has produced a very reliable, some would say better bite than jigging.
As you can see in the accompanying photo, northern pike of quality size are showing up on the weed edges again. Feeding heavily during fall, large pike often grab large lures. Casting large topwater jerk baits like the Suick is producing big pike right now. Casting large, topwater lures is especially effective during periods of grey, drizzly weather when pike activity ramps up.
Right now, the larger pike seem to be favoring weed edges in 7 to 10 feet of water. Some pike anglers are also pulling fish off of the rocks, but most of these fish are running smaller than the weed fish.
When the sun shines and the water calms, try slower presentations that allow you to reach pike holding deeper in the water column. Slow rolling large spinnerbaits can be very effective, so are large swim baits like YUM’s Money Minnow or similar swimming artificial lures. Don’t forget live bait either, larger sucker minnows suspended below slip floats will produce pike on those off days when artificial lures can’t make the big pike move.
We rarely go out of our way to pursue perch as the primary target, but we will take them when they come along. Lately, there have been more of them showing up in the mix of walleye, pike and smallmouth. Once encountered, they may be targeted specifically by slowing down and staying close to the areas where you find them.
One way to try targeting perch that you happen across is to rig up short-snelled Lindy Rigs tipped with minnows. A 24-inch leader with a #4 or even a larger, #2 hook, tipped with lively fatheads will be productive. Jig and minnow combinations fished vertically are good too, try a 1/8 ounce jig tipped with larger fatheads.
Smallmouth bass appear to be following walleyes into deeper water. The same Lindy Rig and ½ crawler presentation that catches walleye, will produce some bonus smallmouth too. Smallies like live bait rigs tipped with larger minnows too. You’d be amazed how many bass you can catch by rigging 6 inch sucker minnows on a 5 foot minnow snell with a #1 or #1/0 size hook.
Bass fishing pros say that smallmouth almost always pay a visit to the shallows at some point in every day. So, don’t overlook shallow rock points and the high tops of rocky reefs or sunken islands. A few casts into good looking shallow water structures using plastics or crankbaits can pay off.
Crappies, another fish species that don’t get a lot of pressure on Kabetogama are beginning to school up in open water. Small, tightly formed schools of fish can be found stacked up in water depths of 20 to 25 feet. Cruise slowly and watch your electronics, when you spot a school, try fishing vertically using small jigs tipped with minnows, like small fatheads.
The bear season opened on September 1st and started off with a bang, pun intended! Our guests enjoyed a 100% success rate during the first week and so far this week, they have already bagged 6 more.
Despite the horrible weather to hunt in, we’ve managed to make it happen. Wind, rain and stormy weather seldom encourage big game movement, bit we did a good job of baiting this year and we’re blessed with a strong bear population too. When we add it all up, the final quotient has equaled success.
As a family, the bear 2020 bear hunt is a special one. Kent’s 88-year-old dad “Cork”, who drew his 2nd ever bear tag this year is overseeing 4 generations of hunters this season. Guided by papa, nana and uncle Kolby, our 14-year-old grandson, Brayden Hofer was on his first bear hunt when he connected with one just minutes apart from another one bagged by his great grandpa on the same evening.
Not only does this make the season for us personally, as a true family experience, but it also denotes the season that features both our oldest and youngest hunters to date.
— The shelves are stocked with everything you’ll need to convince those fish to bite; so be sure to stop in and let us help. For More Information >> Contact KAB OUTDOORS or Call 218.875.2281
Preparations for bear hunting have become part of the daily routine at KAB Outdoors. We were proud of our track record during the 2019 season, 100% of the hunters that we hosted had an opportunity to harvest a bear. Not every bullet fired found its mark, but there wasn’t anyone who didn’t get the chance to test their marksmanship. All in all, we harvested 21 bear and watched a few more escape to the safety of the woods.
Who knows how many customers will fill their bear tags this fall? But we’ve already had a lot of sightings throughout the summer and now we’re on the trails every day by noon, setting baits and preparing for the season opener on September 1, 2020.
Even with hunting customers scheduled to arrive soon, fishing traffic on Lake Kabetogama is still robust. Most days our guides remain busy, fishing morning trips with customers before taking to the wooded trails in the afternoons.
Most days, there is little separation between fish species in terms of location. On a typical guided fishing trip, walleye, smallmouth bass, pike and perch can come to the landing net in any random order. As you can see in the accompanying photo, there’s even a chance at crappies whenever the lure lands in the right spot.
Recently, there’s been a trend toward fishing slightly deeper water. We’re finding more fish in water depths of 15 to 20 feet and we’ve noticed that the live bait preferences are changing too. Walleye in the protected slot are showing up more frequently too, it has become more common to catch larger fish in the mix each day.
Some fishing patterns and presentations have been consistent over the past several weeks. “Mud Raking”, the super-slow, jig and night crawler presentation remains the mainstay for our guides. Using 1/16 to 1/8-ounce Lindy Live Bait Jigs tipped with ½ night crawlers, we pitch our baits out and away from the boat. Once they reach bottom, we fish them with a slow and gentle hop-drop-hop-drop motion.
We think that these baits remind the fish of crawfish moving on the bottom; who knows for sure about that? But we do know one thing, fish will eat them, this presentation has been very reliable for us and our customers. As reliable as it is, this is now ranked #2 in our list of presentation options.
Leeches have taken over as the #1 live bait choice of a lot of walleyes these days. The leech is a versatile bait and can be combined with several lure presentations to produce fish. As long as you fish them slowly, you should be free to demonstrate creativity in your presentation. Combine them with slip floats, Lindy Rigs or jigs and you’ll produce some strikes. We’re keeping it simple, all we’re using is a straight 4 foot long leader with a small hook.
Smallmouth will eat the leeches too, but some of our customers are doing well using both the new topwater bait from BOOYAH and HJ 12s too. Not familiar with these lures? Swing by the store on your way to the lake and we’ll show you, plus we can reveal the hot colors too.
Northern Pike are scattered and a lot of them are roaming over deep, open water. For us, locating catchable fish has been best accomplished by searching rocky reefs and deeper rock points.
The calendar may say that summer will end soon, but the lake may not agree. Water temperatures are still in the low-70 degree range and the fish are still on the prowl over summertime haunts. From our vantage point, there’s still a lot of fishing to be done.
As always, be sure to stop at the store before you head out on the lake so we can help you with the most up-to-date trends and presentations. the shelves are stocked with everything you’ll need to convince those fish to bite.
For More Information >> Contact KAB OUTDOORS or Call 218.875.2281
Last fall, my longtime friend and fishing customer Carl Bergquist gave me a fishing assignment. He wanted to set up a fishing trip for “the cronies”, a group of friends and relatives who get together periodically to enjoy each other’s company while they fish.
The idea for this trip was that he-they wanted us to be situated where we could fish for 3 days but check out a different lake each day.
The first thing that came to my mind as the headquarters for our trip was Lake Kabetogama. If we stayed there, we could fish Kabetogama one day, Rainy another one and the 3rd day, maybe Crane, Namakan or any another lake within reasonable driving distance.
Last December, at the St. Paul Ice Show, I ran the idea past Kent Keeler, owner operator at Driftwood Resort and he thought it sounded like a good plan. So, we, the cronies, reserved a couple of cabins at Driftwood Resort and enlisted Kent to be our fishing guide for the 3 days of fishing.
Last Monday, August 3rd, marked the beginning of our adventures when we arrived at the resort and met with Kent and Dawn. It didn’t take long for the Keeler’s to learn that they were dealing with a group whose priorities are a little different than most fishing groups.
Kent likes to get started early, most days he leaves the dock at 6:00 AM, so you can imagine what he was thinking when Carl’s reply to his inquiry about our Tuesday morning start time was; “How about 10:30?” Everybody knew that we’d leave earlier than that, but these negotiations are part of the banter that makes these trips fun. At the end of it, we decided to meet at the dock at 8:00 AM on Tuesday, a workable plan; we thought.
Before we left the dock, Keeler filled me in on his game plan. On most recent trips, he had been fishing the weeds, using 1/16-ounce Lindy Live Bait Jigs tipped with night crawlers. Well if anybody knows how to do that, it’s me; I thought. So when we left the dock, I enthusiastically followed Kent as he headed straight for a patch of shallow weeds he’d been fishing lately.
When we arrived, I learned that my mission up the learning curve isn’t quite over yet. Despite years of experience wiggle worming, there were a few tricks about fishing Kabetogama that I would have to learn.
Slowing down the speed was the first trick I learned from Keeler. One would not think that moving at .5 MPH is too fast, but on Kabetogama, especially under sunny skies and calm seas, it was. Over the years, I’ve told a lot of anglers to slow down their presentations, so I was surprised when he told me to slow down. “Get rid of the ,5 MPH trolling speed and replace it with .1 MPH and you’ll do betrter,” Kent said.
That advice was right, we had to be practically sitting still to entice fish out of the weeds. Carl coined the term “Mud-Raking” and it sums up the presentation well. Pitch the light jigs toward the weeds and retrieve slowly using a hop-bump-drag presentation. Under the bluebird conditions, fish struck periodically, but the hits were lazy and slow. We had to take every strike seriously because they almost all felt the same. You could catch a 6-inch-long sauger, followed by a 19-inch smallmouth, followed by a 15-inch walleye; they were all mixed together.
Figuring out the right position, in the right weeds, was trick #2 for me. The fish were holding in the weeds but going too far into them was not necessarily the best way to entice strikes. Remember, on this trip, I was the follower and not the expert, so I don’t know all the answers. For me though, the secret was to find small patches of clear sand or gravel that laid between heavier patches of weeds. I imagined that pitching the jigs toward the weeds and letting them sit practically still gave the lazy fish time to move out and investigate the bait.
Anyway, after I slowed down and moved out of the weeds, we began to do better. By the end of the first day, we had caught and released a lot of smaller fish, but there were a few nice “keepers” in the livewell too; we were off to a start.
More calm seas, more sunshine and even warmer air temperatures were predicted to greet us on day 2. Keeler negotiated a little earlier start time, with luck, that would help get us in on a more active “morning bite”. Maybe it did help a little, but as we got better at the “Mud-Raking” presentation, fish continued to come into the boat throughout the day.
Someplace along the line, I stumbled into a school of fish in deeper water. They were holding along the breakline of a small reef in about 26 feet of water. We picked up a few fish in that spot and it served to wet the appetites of Joe and Curt who were fishing with me that day.
From then on, the emphasis shifted to deep water structure and for us, it was a good decision. Moving from reef-to-reef, checking the Humminbird for schools of fish, we’d stop when we found ‘em. Lindy Rigs tipped with air injected night crawlers produced better average size fish, but not greater numbers. Because the deep water rigging bite is especially comfortable for this crew, they were happier doing that, especially “deep water Joe”, who you see pictured above.
Planning a fishing trip for mid-August is hardly the best way to ensure getting in on the best fishing action of the summer, especially if you happen to hit 3 days of sunny, calm weather. But I was impressed by the fact that despite less than ideal conditions, we were able to find as many fish as we did. We had two nice fish fries while were there and the boys each took home 4 walleyes, the legal limit for Kabetogama.
Smallmouth Bass don’t usually wind up in the creel on my fishing trips here at home. But I have to say that based on Kent’s recommendation, we ate some while we were there, and they were darn good. We caught quite a few of them while we were searching for walleye, so if your primary goal is gathering fish to eat, keeping a few smallies would always be an option too.
As you know, a lot of plans changed over the past several months, including some of the details about our fishing trip. The size of our group was smaller than originally planned and because of the Kettle Falls portage being closed, the range of our fishing travels got shortened up a bit too, we never did fish on Rainy Lake. But between Kabetogama and Namakan, there was more than enough water to explore.
I’m glad that we were able to pull the trip together because our experience was a good one. Our cabins at Driftwood were basic, but they were completely functional and the view from our deck was awesome. Johnathan and Blaze, the dock hands were super helpful and very courteous. Dawn and Kent are knowledgeable, professional, and very personable, I’m sure that you’d enjoy being around them.
It sounded like Driftwood may already pretty booked up for the rest of this season, but if you’re looking for an adventure into new territory, I’d definitely suggest making a phone call to ask about availability. If not this season, then maybe Kabetogama might wind up on your to-do list for 2021. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Folks are still getting on the lake early these days. Typically, our guides have their crews on board by 6:00 AM, and are headed for the first stop of their morning fishing trips.
With sunshine and calm water in abundant supply, the early morning plan has been the most practical way to ensure the most action and for most, the morning bite has been paying off. We have heard from guests that their best fishing action usually occurs before 11:00 AM and that’s why some are leaving the docks even earlier than our guides are. In fact, it’s 5:15 AM right now and there are already boats travelling across the water.
Most days, anglers are making their first stop at one of the lakes numerous weed beds. Smallmouth Bass, Walleye and perch are sharing the habitat and being caught at random intervals. Fish can be found holding along the outer edges of thicker weeds like Eelgrass and Coontail. Be sure to check out the gaps and pockets located in the Cabbage weeds too, these sparce weed patches offer fish better visibility for setting up ambush points.
The sunshine and calm water is what keeps the tucked into the weeds, but the weather and water temperatures are stable. With surface temperatures ranging from 73 to 75 degrees, fish are fairly active, we just have to learn which weed patches have fish and which ones don’t.
Under these conditions, the best presentation has been small, 1/16-ounce Live Bait Jigs tipped with ½ night crawlers. Pitch the jigs into the outer sections of weeds and work them back toward the boat s-l-o-w-l-y. Once fish are located, boat speeds of .1 to .2 MPH are best. Even when searching for fish, boat speeds should not exceed .5 to .6 MPH.
Some folks are finding fish on deeper structure during mid-day. Sunken islands, tapering points extending into deep water and even along shoreline breaks. Key depths are 16 to 28 feet, use your electronics to locate fish and don’t stop to fish until you find some.
Lindy Rigs tipped with night crawlers are effective, jig and minnow combinations are catching some fish too.
Smaller pike remain in some of the weed beds and shallow bays, but for now, large pike are located offshore, in deep water. Trolling large plugs over open water would be the best way to catch trophy size fish. Lures that run to depths of 16 to 24 feet and at speeds of about 2.0 MPH are good choices.
Believe it or not, fall is just around the corner and soon, there will be a cooling trend. As water temperatures fall, fishing patterns and presentations will change, so be sure to stay in touch for the latest developments.
As always, we welcome you to stop by the store, the ice cream counter is still really popular. Stop in for a cone and a chat about where the fish are hiding and how to catch them." — The shelves are stocked with everything you’ll need to convince those fish to bite; so be sure to stop in and let us help. For More Information >> Contact KAB OUTDOORS or Call 218.875.2281
"The travel ban imposed on US Citizens by the Canadian government has resulted in jam packed resorts on Kabetogama. Folks scrambling to find alternatives to their cancelled Canadian trips have taken note that our lake is one great place to do that.
Naturally, resorts bursting at the seams with guests has been good for business at the store. We’ve had very robust traffic, with everyone in the family working 16 to 18-hour days, we might have even used the term “overwhelming” at times. Somehow though, we’re managing to keep up and we’re bracing for a busy late summer and fall.
Guide trips have been off the charts, both Kent and Kolby have been guiding every day, rain or shine. There doesn’t appear to be a morning sunrise that doesn’t include fishing anytime in the foreseeable future either.
On the lake, surface water temperatures have risen into the low 80s and that warm water has triggered a lot of activity among all species of fish, especially Smallmouth Bass. Kent says, “Smallies are on fire, they seem to be everywhere, weeds, rocks, shallow, deep; it doesn’t really matter right now. Lately, they have been smashing top water baits, folks who are throwing Whopper Ploppers are really hitting paydirt.”
On guide trips, the boys have been primarily focused on walleyes. Their key early morning and evening presentation has been wiggle worming, the lightweight jig and crawler combos have been good producers of walleye in the 15 to 18-inch size range. Smallmouth Bass, perch and even the odd pike come along at random intervals too, making this a good presentation for anglers who like catching a variety of fish.
Popular during the summer peak period are mid-lake structures like rock bars and sunken islands. Attracted to deeper water by increasing food supplies and cooler water temperatures, walleyes can be found at the tips of points, in pockets formed by sharp inside corners and on small patches of clear sand, sandwiched between the areas of heavier rock.
Key depths on mid-lake structure range between 20 and 30 feet. Most folks targeting mid-lake fish are either buying Lindy Rigs and tipping them with big leeches or stocking up on ¼ to ½ ounce size jigs and tipping them with shiner minnows. There are some anglers fishing deep structure using bottom bouncers and spinners as well.
Eater size fish aren’t the easiest to come by in the lake’s mid-section. We’ve heard from many anglers that there are lots of fish in the protected slot and also tons of small fish, 12 inches in size and below. Apparently, 2018 was a good spawning season for walleye because we’re seeing a bumper crop of the young up-and-comers.
To help minimize stress on released fish, we suggest fishing the shallowest areas possible, particularly during this warm part of the summer. It’s also a great idea to stop by the store for some tips and advice on how to safely remove hooks; we have the tools you need to release fish like a pro.
Northern pike are on the prowl in deep water too, anglers are catching some good fish by trolling crankbaits. There are lots of crankbaits that will work for pike, but we prefer long, large profile baits that emulate deep water forage fish. Blue-silver, black-silver and other patterns that resemble tullibees are good. So are perch or fire tiger patterns. One pattern often overlooked by pike anglers is crayfish, pike love to root around in the rocks feed on crawdads and when they do, this pattern in an awesome pike catcher.
Key depths for open water pike range between 10 and 25 feet deep. The fish, especially larger ones will suspend in open water, out and away from mid-lake bars. One good trolling strategy is to plan a route that that takes your lure between structures, but not necessarily over the tops of them.
For folks who prefer casting for pike, there are still some fish available near shallow water. Casting large plugs like the Suick is one of Kent’s favorite presentations. Big spoons or large spinnerbaits are also good options.
We’ve got the info that will help you locate fish and the gear that will help you catch them. So be sure and stop by the store for a chat about up-to-the-minute fishing conditions and patterns before you head onto the lake. Bring the whole family, we’ve got ice cream, air conditioning and any last minutes supplies that you might need to make your trip a fun one."
The shelves are stocked with everything you’ll need to convince those fish to bite; so be sure to stop in and let us help. For More Information >> Contact KAB OUTDOORS or Call 218.875.2281
"Surface water temperatures have pushed above 70 degrees and mayflies are emerging everywhere on Kabetogama. You know what means, baitfish are on the move toward deeper water, so are other gamefish, especially walleyes!
In-Fisherman, the original authority on seasonal feeding patterns referred to this as “The Summer Peak” period. It is the time when food supplies are the most abundant and fish metabolism reaches its peak. Over the next several weeks, fish will focus on one thing: feeding!
During this period, anglers can catch walleyes using a variety of presentations and that’s been the trend we have seen out on the lake.
Our guides have been attacking the weed lines, catching lots of fish wiggle worming using both 1/8th and 1/16th ounce Lindy Live Bait Jigs. Not only are the “Wiggle Worms” catching walleyes of all sizes, but we’re also catching smallmouth bass, perch and occasionally, even a smattering of crappies using this presentation.
Some anglers are targeting walleyes as they migrate toward deeper mid-lake structures. Some are catching fish using jig and minnow combinations, a 3/8th ounce jig tipped with a shiner or rainbow chub can be used to zero in on fish that hold tight to structure. Small points, inside corners and clear sand patches located between heavy rocks are good places to use jigs.
Lindy Rigs tipped with lively leeches or night crawlers is another great way to target fish in small, spot-on-a-spot locations. They allow anglers to place and hold the bait in place with precision. Hungry walleyes have a hard time saying no to the action of a healthy leech that’s swimming like crazy. Keep plenty of them on hand and remember to keep your bait fresh, lively bait will increase your catch rates exponentially!
Fish that spread out along flatter, slow tapering breaklines and feeding shelves can be more easily targeted using spinners. Trolling allows you to cover more water, faster and when fish metabolism is high, can result in better catch rates. Use a bottom bouncer to control depth and maintain boat speeds between .9 MPH and 1.3 MPH; often times, 1.1 MPH is “the sweet spot”.
The rule of thumb for bottom bouncer weights is to use 1 ounce for every 10 feet of water depth. For most anglers fishing mid lake structure on Kabetogama, a supply of 1-1/2-ounce, 2-ounce, and 2-1/2-ounce bouncers should cover most situations. We have them in all sizes and we can help you fine tune the sizes that best fit the areas you are fishing.
Ppl are still throwing crankbaits too, but HJ-12 and X-Rap 10s are by far the hot choices for this time of year.
When we’re not fishing for walleye, we have been out chasing big pike. We have been throwing both large, in-line bucktail spinners and big Suick jerk baits. If you’ve never caught a big pike on heavy wood jerk baits like the Suick, then you should really book a trip with Kent and try it. There is nothing more exciting than seeing a monster pike explode near the surface and when they hit these jerk baits, they really do explode!
If you’re the type that would rather go-it-alone, then stop by the store and we’ll help get you set up with the right lures and tackle for catching big pike.That advice goes for everybody, we’re here to help teach you how to catch more fish on your trip. Our guides know their way around the lake, and they follow the seasonal patterns, so please do stop by for advice and demonstrations. Whatever the hot bait is, advice about selecting the perfect lures and colors, or where are the best areas to fish; we have you covered.
Not unlike a lot of anglers who visit Kabetogama, catching a trophy pike was on this year’s “to-do” list for this guy. For most folks, catching a fish like this 43-1/2-inch monster could easily be the fish of a lifetime and if you would like a shot at it, this one was released. Who knows, could your next cast be the one that entices her to strike again?
Kabetogama is part of Minnesota’s northeast pike zone, an area where trophy pike still exist and can be caught by anglers who pursue them. The pike regulation here allows anglers to keep 2 pike. All from 30 to 40 inches must be released and only one over 40 inches is allowed in possession. According to the DNR, “The approach here is meant to maintain harvest opportunity and protect large fish already present.”
While we can’t promise that everybody who fishes here will catch one, we can definitely say that the fish are here. Your odds of catching a giant pike are better here than they are in any other area of the state.
This week, pike anglers have reported lots of action, they are catching strong numbers of fish, mostly in the 20 to 24-inch range. Several larger fish have come along the way as well, so catching a couple of fish to eat has not been a problem.
Mayflies are beginning to emerge; we see small numbers of them each morning and evening. As the insect hatch intensifies, more fish will be drawn away from the shallow water areas where we have caught them recently. Migrations toward mid-lake structure peaks as the insects reach full maturity and this period will present anglers with renewed opportunity for locating good concentrations of walleye.
Although we are still catching fish in shallow water, the Lindy game is starting to come alive. Lively leeches on Lindy Rigs have been the bait of choice for most deep-water walleye anglers. Keep depth ranges from 18 to 26 feet, 25 feet is commonly mentioned in the reports we hear.
Elsewhere on the lake, we continue to find fish in a variety of depths, we are primarily fishing shallow, under 15 feet of water. Early mornings and evenings have by far been the most productive times to fish. Pitching jigs with a shiner or ½ night crawler have been productive. Slip bobbers off the dock is killing it still, during the evening especially.
High winds and high air temperatures discouraged daytime action on the lake early this week. A lot of guests have chosen to hide from the midday heat inside. We see a lot of action at the store from families stopping in to enjoy an ice cream in the air conditioning.
The conditions finally improved on Thursday and for many, this was the best fishing day of the week. Moderate conditions are forecast for today as well, so we expect that most will find some fish again.
One tip for action right now is to tie on a crank bait and cast with the wind. Folks report catching a bit of everything, pike, walleye and some good smallmouth bass are all being caught using this casual approach. The choice of crankbaits varies, there’s a good chance that you already have something in tackle box that will work. But don’t be bashful to stop by the store and ask for advice, we can help get you pointed in the right direction.
The bait selection is good, we have nice fatheads on hand and shiners are still available as well. The leeches and crawlers are looking great too, we have you covered for any situation. — The tackle shelves are stocked with everything you’ll need to convince those fish to bite too; so be sure to stop in and let us help. For More Information >> Contact KAB OUTDOORS or Call 218.875.2281
"Like most Minnesotans, we weren’t too thrilled with the turbulent weather in recent days. Going from sunny and stable weather with air temps in the high 80s to thunderstorms, cold-fronts and blustery northwest winds is not the recipe for consistent fishing patterns.
Fortunately, a more stable weather pattern appears to be setting in and that will help us pin down more consistent, predictable locations and presentations.
We find surface water temperatures consistently above 61 degrees everywhere on the main lake right now; still cool enough to encourage fish to remain in traditional spring and early summer locations.
We continue to catch walleyes in shallow water early and late in the day. But there are early migrations of small schools of fish heading for deeper, summertime structures and during daylight hours, these fish are easier to target than are the shallow ones.
Presentations vary, for shallow water fish and those locating on deeper, shoreline related points and reefs, jigs and shiners are still Kent’s #1 choice. Some of the guys are choosing to use spinner rigs tipped with leeches and have had success. We’ve even had some success fishing in deeper water using Glow Streaks, an aggressive rip jigging presentation. These worked well for us in 20 feet of water, under a high, sunny sky.
Pike are still shallow and they are hitting anything and everything, especially lures with lots of flash. The old familiar saying “big bait, big fish” applies, especially for the monster pike that are often loaners. Larger fish cruise the shallow edges of shoreline related rock points and other, well defined structures and will set up shop on strategic ambush points.
For more action, locate submerged weeds at the entrances of shallow water bays. There is often room for more fish in the weeds flats and while many will be smaller, there’s still a chance at attracting larger fish in these areas too.
Smallmouth Bass are still crushing it shallow in shallow water too. Jerk baits and X-Raps have been the most popular choices, but folks who know what they’re doing with plastics have been doing okay as well.
Some of the male smallies are on beds, guarding eggs against predatory attack. Females are roaming the edges of shallow flats, Crawfish and bottom hugging minnows are their main food sources, so be sure to check out stretches of sand and marl wherever mixed gravel and broken rock can be found. Bulrushes often grow in areas like these, so seeking them out and cruising the edges of newly emerging plants is always a good idea.
Crappie and perch reports are in short supply. But we think it’s likely that these fish have moved away from shallow water by now. Turbulent weather works against crappie spawning and emerging insect hatches attract perch to soft-bottom areas further out in the main lake.
To target crappies, timing is everything, you’ll need to find areas where weed beds lay adjacent to deep water. Fish the breakline during the last couple hours of daylight when crappies will make short, but intense feeding runs. Searching for them using Little Joe spinners or with jig spinners can be effective. Once located, fishing with small jigs and plastics can be more efficient.
Our bait supplies are incredibly good, the minnow tanks remain stocked with shiners, rainbows, fatheads and crappie minnows. We have extra large leeches, plenty of night crawlers and all of the rigs and accessories you’ll need to use them effectively.
Be sure to stop at the store for and ice cream cone and for more specific, up-to-the-minute fishing updates. We’re here to help you have the most enjoyable fishing experience possible, so please do take advantage of it!
" — The shelves are stocked with everything you’ll need to convince those fish to bite; so be sure to stop in and let us help. For More Information >> Contact KAB OUTDOORS or Call 218.875.2281
Sunny and hot describes the weather pattern that settled over Lake Kabetogama this week. Surface water temperatures have risen above 70 degrees in some of the shallow water bays and most of the main lake surface readings now range from 65 to 68 degrees.
Beating the heat has become the focal point not only in terms of fishing patterns, but also in terms of personal comfort on the water.
Walleye anglers have reported that the most comfortable and productive fishing occurs early in the morning. Start fishing as early as you can, and you will find steady action in shallow water until about 9-9:30 AM. After 10:00 AM you will feel the beginning of a slow-down. That’s when you’ll want to switch to fishing another species, or maybe head back to the cabin for breakfast.
Key depths during the early morning remain shallow, stay within the 2 to 10 foot range and you’ll find fish on the move.
Kent’s observations during his recent guided fishing trips echoes those reports; “After 9, it gets tough for the most part. Fish will be deeper and scattered. I’ve noticed that I can first find some active fish in 15 feet of water and then at the next spot, fish will be in 25 feet. You just have to keep your eyes glued to your electronics and be creative, move frequently to explore fresh territory.”
Jigging is always a mainstay presentation during the early season, but while there are still plenty of fish caught on minnows, leeches are becoming a more important item on the fish’s menus. Small scale insect hatches are beginning to emerge around the lake. Walleye anglers are already reporting good success using Lindy Rigs and spinners combined with leeches. As the bug hatches intensify, walleye feeding preferences will turn increasingly toward lively leeches and night crawlers, so pack a few of each in your cooler.
During the daytime, northern pike are still getting after it in the shallows. Like we mentioned last week, there are a variety of locations and presentations have varied with recent weather changes. We think it’s a good idea to stop by the store for details about up-to-date, daily trends. We can share some advice about the selection of our favorite baits and how to use them most effectively.
Fishing for smallmouth bass is another popular daytime pursuit and they are moving up. You will find some fish already on spawning beds, and there are others still exploring the shallow breaklines and areas of small, broken rock. Crank baits, jerk baits, spinner baits and soft plastics are all popular presentations.
Crappies should be in or near shallow spawning territory right now, but few have reported seriously pursuing them. If you’re on the lake and the seas are calm, this would be an excellent time to scout the shallows. Bulrushes, emerging lily pads and shallow rocks will attract fish that are in spawning mode. Cabbage weeds will hold crappies that are in pre-spawn, or post-spawn mode.
Casting small jigs tipped with plastic action tails are good for searching the cabbage and outer edges of spawning habitat. Slip floats are better for fish spawning in heavier cover, they allow you to keep your bait in position without snagging on the shallow structure.
As evening approaches, return to shallow, 2 to 10 foot water depths where the walleye pattern remains more spring-like. Light jigs and slip bobbers will produce fish as the cruise the shoreline. Anglers report catching them mostly on shiners still, but leeches and crawlers are also viable options.
Beating the heat takes a little planning, but nobody can always remember everything. Forgot your cooler? No problem, we have those, we have plenty of ice and cold beverages on hand too. And who wouldn’t love getting some expert fishing advice over a giant ice cream cone in the comfort of our air-conditioned store?
Oh and by the way, pine flies and other flying insects are going strong, especially the mosquitos. We have plenty of insect repellent on hand to help with that as well.
Our minnow tanks are stocked with shiners, rainbows, fatheads and redtails. The coolers are filled with jumbo leeches and night crawlers and there’s a huge selection of jigs in the “buffet”. Whatever you need, we have you covered, so stop in on your way to the lake!
For More Information >> Contact KAB OUTDOORS or Call 218.875.2281
Many anglers would rather sit it out at home than try to catch fish during a major bug hatch. The trick though, is to figure out where the maturing insect larvae is located. Once you know that, you'll have the chance to cash in on one of the best walleye bites of the summer.
This week on Fish Ed, host Jon Thelen shows you a great technique to beat a bug hatch and put tons of walleyes in the boat.
Don’t let a bug hatch on your favorite lake keep you home, get out there and cash in on the soft bottom, walleye bonanza!
"Water temperatures on Kabetogama got a jump start this week under flat and sunny conditions. Move into the shallow back bays and you can find 70 degrees, check out the center of the lake and 58 to 59 degrees will be the norm. The gap between those readings will narrow as cooler, more turbulent weather breezes in for the weekend.
The summer-like conditions have heightened the importance of fishing for walleye early and late in the day. Some anglers have managed to catch walleye during the daytime, but most agree that fishing the crepuscular periods is the way to go.
During the daytime, you’ll have more fun fishing for northern pike, smallmouth bass and if you’re persistent, maybe even some crappies.
Smallmouths are up in the shallows and active, this is the pre-spawn period for them and the time when you can encounter multiple schools of fish roaming the shallow breaklines. When they’re on the move like this, slow trolling and casting minnow imitating baits is a blast. The competitive fish will run considerable distances to smash your lures.
Many shallow running stick baits will work, so will soft plastic jerk baits or plastic worms rigged “wacky style”. Toss them out over the shallow flats, twitch them, and then let them sit motionless, then twitch again and repeat. Smallmouth get curious and cruise over to inspect your offering, many of them will pause for a moment before pouncing, so be sure to allow plenty of time between twitches.
Northern pike have been active in the shallows too and this week, anglers have caught some monsters. There have been a number of fish in the mid to upper 30 inch range and even a few fish over 40 inches. Pike like these are definitely worth pursuing and Kent ranks this high in his list of favorite things to do. Kent’s passion for catching big pike, has led to him learning a lot of trick and tips. He’ll cast large, wood jerk baits like the Suicks, musky size spinnerbaits and a variety of other lures.
We’d encourage anybody who shares Kent’s passion for big pike to stop by the store for a chat. We’ll show you the gear and his favorite lures for catching pike and share some of the fine points of his presentations. Don’t forget, you can always get your own firsthand information by booking a guide trip, there’s no better way to learn the lake than that.
Finding crappies on KAB takes some perseverance, but it can be done. If you’re the adventurous type, research the shallow vegetation in dark, soft bottom bays and inlets. Bulrushes can be good, so can areas where newly emerging lily pads are found. Occasionally, anglers will locate dormant spawning beds, shallow depressions fanned out by crappies during a previous season. Even if fish are not present at the moment, mark those spots because crappies will eventually return; weather permitting of course.
If you’ve located spawning territory, but the fish are not there, then check the adjacent breaklines that lead into deep water. Crappies, staging for the spawn can often be found feeding along those breaks in water depths of 15 to 30 feet.
What will you do if you encounter a Mayfly hatch? That question is timely because we’re seeing small, intermittent hatches of the large flies already. In their nymph or “Naiad” form, they inhabit soft bottom flats and just before they hatch, attract feeding fish like a magnet.
Follow the breaklines on mid-lake structures that coincide with the soft bottom flats areas. It’s common to locate clouds of the emerging insects on our electronics and when we find them, we know that we’ll find feeding fish.
Let’s not get too far ahead of the season though; most of the best walleye fishing is still taking place in shallow water. Fishing the shoreline breaks and related points in water depths of 3 to 8 feet is a solid plan. Pitching jig and minnow combinations is good and during twilight, slip floats remains one of the best presentations.
Bait supplies at the store remain excellent and so is the supply of good cheer! Stop in when your bait tanks need re-stocking, or whenever you just want a little friendly fishing advice, we’d love to see you." — For More Information >> Contact KAB OUTDOORS or Call 218.875.2281
Any fear you have had in anticipation of running into a shortage of shiners can be laid to rest. Spring runs of spawning spottails are in full swing and right now, we have an unlimited supply at KAB Outdoors.
We find surface water temperatures are in the high 40 to low 50-degree range, depending on the area we fish. With those temperatures, one might not expect to have fishing action as good as it has been, but the stable, warm weather pattern has really helped fire up the fishing action.
Walleye location varies wildly right now, we have reports of good fishing in 3 feet of water and we also have reports of good fishing in water depths of 25 feet or more.
The populations of deeper fish consist primarily of spawned out females, along with a smattering of smaller 1 and 2-year-old fish. In the shallows, there’s a more diversified mix of sizes, “eater size” males are feeding in the areas where shiners and other small baitfish are spawning. Sandy flats, especially large ones with a slow taper into sparse weed growth are good at this time of the season. Shallow points, rocky shoreline structure and current areas continue to produce walleye too.
Right now, dock fishing at the resort is excellent. During a typical spring, we see guests getting in on the action, primarily during the evening bite. Daytime has not been bad either though, in fact we’ve seen folks catching fish from the docks most anytime of the day.
Jigs and shiners are the preferred presentation for anglers fishing on the main lake. Shallow water anglers are turning to bobbers to help keep their lures in the strike zone over shallow rocks. We’ve mentioned before that it’s a good idea to prepare for fishing both presentations every day. Jig and minnow by day, slip floats and live bait by night.
Most other gamefish species haven’t gotten much attention so far. But they soon will be, northern pike, recovering from their spawning runs are beginning to set up shop in areas adjacent to the main lake. Shallow, weedy bays get a lot od attention, but never overlook the tips of rock points that feature steep breaks leading into deep water. You could easily catch a monster fish using large spoons, spinnerbaits or large, shallow running minnow type lures on those structures. Casting for pike is never a bad idea, but large sucker minnows suspended below a slip-bobber bobber is also an exceptionally reliable method.
Bass are beginning to roam shallow water too, primarily to feed and explore territory for spawning. We’re a couple of weeks away from the bass spawn, crappie spawning will begin at about the same time. We will keep you updated as the season progresses.
Information is a valuable resource, so take advantage of it. The staff at KAB Outdoors is knowledgeable, friendly and helpful. Be sure to stop in for the most up-to-date reports about trends and presentations. We have all of the gear you'll need and we can provide expert advice about how to use it! — The shelves are stocked with everything you’ll need to convince those fish to bite; so be sure to stop in and let us help. For More Information >> Contact KAB OUTDOORS or Call 218.875.2281
"Dock fishing is a huge part of what attracts customers to Driftwood Lodge. For many, gathering on the pier for “the evening run” is as important a part of the tradition as is fishing out on the lake. After a day on the lake, guests love to unwind as they watch for the slow-but-steady pull down of their bobber.
The tradition began anew for 3-1/2 year old Des Yeager on opening morning. On the dock, using the brand new fishing outfit that Dawn helped set him up with on Friday afternoon; the youngster landed his first fish using the new rig.
As the accompanying photo illustrates, Des was more than pleased with his catch, a healthy 20-1/2 inch walleye. Way to go Des, that’s a nice looking fish you caught!
Shallow water locations are producing walleye on Kabetogama too, especially for anglers who use persistent, controlled presentations. For example, a 1/8-ounce jig, tipped with a minnow and pitched toward shallow shoreline points will always produce some fish. But right now, the water temperature remains chilly and the same jig and minnow suspended below a Thill slip-float will produce more fish, faster.
Typical key depths during spring are 4 to 8 feet and fish are using typical early season structure. Shallow points that extend into the lake, shoreline stretches of mixed rock and gravel and areas with current are all producing fish.
We haven’t had a lot of reports from folks fishing in deeper water. But we’d suggest slowing down the presentation there too, at least until the water warms up. Over the short term, it’s likely that a Lindy Rig tipped with a lively minnow would be a better choice than a jig and minnow. The advantage of the live bait rig is that the minnow does all of the work, allowing you to focus on moving slowly, in search of fish.
Over the opener, Spottail Shiners were the bait of choice and we do have them on hand, so we’d suggest having a few of them in your mix of baits this week. Kent still loves his rainbows though and suggests not putting all of your eggs in one bait bucket. Having a few of everything is often better, diversifying protects you from getting caught flat-footed when the fish’ feeding preferences shift.
Early in the season, most folks have walleye fishing in mind. But don’t forget about Kabetogama’s monster pike. During spring, pike roam up into the corners, pockets and small creeks for spawning. As they migrate back toward main lake structure, they can be caught both by casting and by using live bait with slip floats.
A few hours in the pursuit of pike can be a blast. But as you can see, even anglers who are not in hot pursuit of pike have the chance to catch one. This fat pike caught by Johnathan McKeever off the dock over the weekend is not unusual; Kabetogama holds a lot of fish like that.
Kent loves to chase pike too, so if you’re curious, be sure to catch him at the store for some pointers; he can get you pointed in the right direction.
It feels good to have the season underway and we’re off to a good start. When you’re thinking about a destination for a fishing trip, get in touch and let us know how we can help. And if you’re already on your way, please stop in, we’ve got everything you’ll need for a fun and successful trip." — For More Information >> Contact KAB OUTDOORS or Call 218.875.2281
"We’re ready for the fishing opener and we have an announcement that will please many of you. Spottail Shiners arrived at the store this morning and we have them in the tanks, ready to help you catch fish on Kabetogama tomorrow morning!
Besides the shiners, we have excellent an excellent stock of nice fatheads and plenty of Kent’s favorite minnow, the rainbow chub. No matter your preference, we’ll have you covered for the opener.
Water temperature on the lake remains cold, so it won’t surprise us if some anglers find walleyes in their shallow water spawning locations, especially early in the day on Saturday.
On your way to the lake, stop by the store and we’ll share the last-minute tips and tricks about where to find and catch the walleyes this weekend. After your trip, stop in, get an ice cream cone and let us know how you do. Remember, we always love sharing photos of our customers and guests, so don’t forget to snap pictures of your catch!
Good luck on the water this weekend, we hope your fishing is fantastic." — The shelves are stocked with everything you’ll need to convince those fish to bite; so be sure to stop in and let us help. For More Information >> Contact KAB OUTDOORS or Call 218.875.2281
"Judging by the view from our docks, you would think that the fishing opener is still a way off. But in just 9 days, the walleye season will open and our docks will be the focal point of walleye action for our guests. During the early part of the fishing season, we have some of our most memorable moments of fishing right here.
During a typical spring, we can gauge the ice-out date of Kabetogama by looking back at the date of Ash River’s ice out. And if everything tracks as usual, we should be looking at an ice-free Lake Kabetogama by this weekend. That will give us plenty of time to put the finishing touches on lake front amenities in preparation for the opener.
Since the end of the ice fishing season, we’ve used our time wisely; so the cabins are cleaned, the store is stocked up and our rental boats are rigged and ready to go. For the most part, everything is ready to go for opening day.
With a slightly later ice-out and a fishing opener earlier than usual, predicting a shallow water bite is fairly certain. We’re betting that anglers will encounter some walleyes that are still spawning, and some that are in the post spawn period. This should provide opportunities for catching good numbers of eating size fish along with chances to catch larger females along the way.
Anglers have asked if there’s a way to zero in on one or the other. The answer is yes, female walleye behave much differently during the spawning period than male walleye do. Females, typically larger, are performance oriented; they move in, get the job done and move back out. Male fish, typically smaller, will linger in spawning areas much longer in the hope that more “ripe” females will move in.
For anglers seeking ‘eaters”, locating the actual spawning sites is most important. Finding migration routes to and from the spawning sites are the secret for anglers hoping to reel in a trophy.
Kabetogama is unique in that walleye spawning occurs almost everywhere on the lake. In our 2019 fishing outlook, we interviewed MN DNR Area Fisheries Supervisor, Kevin Peterson. One the questions we asked was; “Where do walleyes spawn on Kabetogama?
“They spawn everywhere”; said Peterson. “Kabetogama is unique in terms of spawning structure. There are 190 miles of shoreline and numerous stretches of it contain ideal spawning habitat for walleyes. Unlike lakes that have a major river or destination spawning grounds, Kabetogama offers fish suitable spawning areas in a wide variety of locations”.
On opening day, you can use this information to your advantage. Select a stretch of shoreline and search for shallow patches of gravel or small rocks, particularly those located in areas exposed to current. Breezy points, narrows between islands, feeder creeks; anyplace where small rock and current coincide.
Key water depths could be anywhere from 2 to 8 feet of water, so fishing with light gear is ideal. A 6 to 6-1/2 foot spinning outfit spooled with 4 to 6 pound test line is perfect.
Jig and minnow is the mainstay presentation during the day, 1/16 and 1/8 ounce sizes will probably be best during the opener. Heavier weights will come into play later, as the fish move away from the shoreline. Kent says; “On Kabetogama we like “glow” colors for our jigs. Glow/Blue and Glow/Pink combinations are good. Chartreuse Greens and Yellows are always popular too and when it sunny outside, gold jigs with lots of flash is deadly.”
As the sun hits the tree tops in the evening, switching over to slip-floats is super effective. Small jigs tipped with minnows and sometimes night crawlers produce a lot of fish. Don’t be afraid of shallow water, walleyes move in and become aggressive in depths of 1 to 3 feet. Focus on those same stretches of shallow gravel and rock, but fish shallower and slower. Position and anchor your boat, or hold position with the trolling motor within casting range. Toss the floats over likely looking ambush points and let your lures do the work; let the fish come to you.
That shallow slip float bite is one reason why we see our guests having so much fun fishing off the docks during evening. The walleyes come cruising in, ready for action, so all we have to do is relax and enjoy the show.
We’ve been in touch with our bait dealers and so far they haven’t begun trapping minnows; that will begin early next week. They don’t seem worried about supplies though and have assured us that our bait tanks will be filled in time for the opener. We will definitely provide updates as they begin their trapping and deliveries.
We can hardly wait to begin greeting our guests and would like to remind you that KAB Outdoors is on your way to the lake. Whether you need fishing gear, bait or last minute items, we’ve got you covered. And when it comes to getting advice about fishing on the lake, we’ve got up to the minute tips about fishing progressions and patterns that will help make your trip a good one. Stop in and see us!
OH and by the way, we've expanded our fleet of rental boats too. With 3 more new Alumacrafts for 2020, our fleet is now up to a dozen rigs. Be sure to get in touch and inquire about rentals.
" — The shelves are stocked with everything you’ll need to convince those fish to bite; so be sure to stop in and let us help. For More Information >> Contact KAB OUTDOORS or Call 218.875.2281
Sure, folks could still fish on Kabetogama, the perch and crappie season remains open. But after a long winter of battling slush and deep snow, conditions haven’t really improved. In fact, in some areas the warm weather has made conditions worse than they were before.
So, after doing some head scratching, we decided to go ahead and pull our rental shelters off the lake a couple weeks ahead of the March 16th deadline.
Looking back at our winter, we sure were glad that we decided to pick our Sno Bear. If it wasn’t for that machine, our backs would be a whole lot stiffer than they are now. Our customers were happy about the decision too, instead of worrying about how they were going to get to the rental shelters, they just hopped in and had a nice warm shuttle to the fishing hole.
Most folks had good luck on the lake this winter, there were enough walleye, perch and pike to keep the action interesting. Overall, we’d call the winter a success.
For now, we’re going to enjoy the slower pace while we can. With only 67 days left until the May 9 fishing season opener, it won’t feel like much of a break before we start preparing the cabins and grounds for the open water season.
Thanks to everybody that came up this winter, we hope that you’re looking forward to doing it again next winter.
And if you’re thinking about giving Kabetogama a try this summer, give us a call. We do still have some cabin rentals and even a couple seasonal cabins available for May thru October 2020." — The shelves will be stocked with everything you’ll need to convince those fish to bite!
For More Information >> Contact KAB OUTDOORS or Call 218.875.2281
Questions about the Voyageurs National Park ice road included whether there is a fee to access it. The answer is no, there isn’t a fee for using the road; that’s the good news. The bad news is that right now, large stretches of the ice road are under water. With cold overnight temperatures, some stretches of the road freeze up overnight, but daytime traffic breaks up the ice and wet areas return.
Looking ahead at the forecast, we’re hopeful that the incoming stretch of colder air temps will help improve the surface of that road.
We’ll keep you posted about the road conditions, but in the interim, this leads to another popular question.
If my fishing party rents a fishing shelter from KAB Outdoors, will you shuttle us back and forth to it, or do we need to provide our own transportation.
Yes, everyone who rents one of our Ice Castle sleepers or one of our day shelters receives transportation; if they need it. Our fleet of on ice transport machines is tuned up and ready to take you wherever you need to go.
Folks who have snow machines and prefer to strike out on their own are welcome to do so. Using snow machines on the ice is hit and miss, so we suggest stopping at the store for guidance about the best routes to travel. We can help guide you with information about ice conditions and some of the better fishing spots.
Fishing on Kabetogama has been steady, “above average really”, Kent says. “There’s a mix of walleye, perch and pike; one group even caught a bunch of gorgeous smallmouth bass last week too.
Fishing patterns and presentations are like those we’ve reported recently. Because most folks are depending on fishing from our rental shelters, discussion about fish location isn’t the most important consideration. But varying your presentation is, the anglers who get the most creative are the ones who catch the most fish.
Here’s some advice we wrote a couple weeks ago, but we think it bears repeating; “Fishing from our Ice Castles, or for that matter, any rental shelter offers anglers opportunity to develop specialized strategies. We suggest experimentation and advise our guests to offer an array of lures that cover gambit from attracting, to enticing to triggering.
Rig a couple of rods with large flashy lures to get the fish’s attention, but always have a couple of rods set up with more subtle, lifelike baits too. When you see fish that don’t strike the aggressive presentations, quickly offer them the more subtle ones.
For a family, this could be accomplished by taking turns at offering specialized presentations. Maybe mom could handle the jigging rod, using something like a Glow Streak, while dad watches the set line rigged with a large lively minnow as the kids present smaller blade style ice jigs tipped with smaller minnows or waxworms. Have fun mixing it up and forming your own “family plan”.”
"Old Red, White and Blue", our Ice Castle that any Veteran can fish in for free is in a pretty good fishing spot and it has been busy lately. But we still do have some dates available, so if you, or someone you know is a Vet, get in touch for more information about open dates.
Finally, we have a last minute opening for one of our Ice Castle sleepers over February 13-15, 2020. If you've been on the fence about making a trip up to Kabetogama, this might be your chance." — The shelves are stocked with everything you’ll need to convince those fish to bite; so be sure to stop in and let us help. For More Information >> Contact KAB OUTDOORS or Call 218.875.2281
We’re watching the weather forecast and it appears that we can assume that any significant change in travel conditions will be happening soon. That means that with moderate snow cover and scattered slushy spots, travel by snowmobile and tracked ATVs will be the only way to access the better fishing spots on Kabetogama.
For us, fishing patterns and locations haven’t changed a lot over the past week. During the daytime, walleyes move on and off the shallower structures. That produces occasional short spurts of action that occur periodically throughout the day.
Those short daytime spurts have produced some nice size fish for our customers. At twilight, the feeding intensifies as greater numbers of fish move toward feeding shelves. This is when we get a greater number of “keeper” size fish for the creel.
Over the past week, our presentation of choice has been combining aggressive jigging with dead sticks and live bait.
We like the Lindy Glow Streak for calling fish into the area, it has a deep, loud rattle that has been doing a great job of getting walleye’s attention. Fish that are too timid to strike the aggressive jigging pattern see the more natural live bait and many times; those will trigger strikes from neutral fish.
Key depths and structures haven’t changed a lot recently either. Fishing the outer edges of mid-lake reefs in water depths of 22 to 28 feet will get you into the right neighborhood. Pinning down the spot-on-the-spot takes a little determination. Walleyes like the flat areas that feature softer bottom content. When you look at your chart, select the wider flats over steeper breaklines, that’s where feeding fish will be cruising.
With all the talk about poor ice conditions around the state, it’s easy to be intimidated, but don’t be. If you’ve got the right equipment, i.e. a snowmobile or an ATV with wide tracks, you will be able to move around on Kabetogama. Stop in at the store and we can point you in the right direction.
OH, and don’t forget that travel to and from good fishing spot won’t be a problem for our customers. When you book a rental shelter from KAB Outdoors, we can transport you to your home away from home in style. Our SnoBear has been doing a great job of keeping folks warm and safe on their way on and off the lake.
— The shelves are stocked with everything you’ll need to convince those fish to bite; so be sure to stop in and let us help. For More Information >> Contact KAB OUTDOORS or Call 218.875.2281
There's about 2.5 miles of open road now. Because of wet spots and saturated snow, they were unable to make an additional plow pass heading back toward shore. So there's still no access for "wheel houses", but snowmobiles and tracked machines should be able to use access.
It will be interesting to see how the lake reacts to the warm weather heading our way.
For More Information >> Contact KAB OUTDOORS or Call 218.875.2281
Looking back, the commitment to purchase it turns out to be one of the smartest decisions we’ve ever made. That’s because while anglers all over the state struggle to get onto the ice, we’ve been moving our customers on and off Lake Kabetogama with ease.
To date, snowmobiles and lightweight snow machines with wide tracks are the only good way to move around on the lake. Last week, Voyageurs National Park staff attempted to plow open the ice road. They did get it partially opened but were forced to hold off when some wet areas developed.
They’re in the process of re-routing the road and it’s almost completed. You’ll be able to find the announcement at our facebook page, Kabetogama Outdoors when it's finished.
By the way, staying off the road and allowing those wet spots to freeze solid would be a great way to help speed the process. Those few random vehicles that have been out there are really disrupting the project.
Walleye action on Kabetogama has its ups and downs right now, there are periods of good movement during low light. But catching them during the daytime demands both patience and persistence.
For our guests, fishing for a mixed bag continues to be the best overall strategy. Catching perch, sauger and pike not only keeps them busy during the lulls, but also helps round out the protein plan at dinner time. The multi-species tactic has worked out well recently because we’ve been entertaining more families, and fewer die hard walleye anglers.
Fishing from our Ice Castles, or for that matter, any rental shelter offers anglers opportunity to develop specialized strategies. We suggest experimentation and advise our guests to offer an array of lures that cover gambit from attracting, to enticing to triggering.
Rig a couple of rods with large flashy lures to get the fish’s attention, but always have a couple of rods set up with more subtle, lifelike baits too. When you see fish that don’t strike the aggressive presentations, quickly offer them the more subtle ones.
For a family, this could be accomplished by taking turns at offering specialized presentations. Maybe mom could handle the jigging rod, using something like a Glow Streak, while dad watches the set line rigged with a large lively minnow as the kids present smaller blade style ice jigs tipped with smaller minnows or waxworms. Have fun mixing it up and forming your own “family plan”.
When you discover one presentation that works best, then everybody can switch to the preferred bait of the day.
By the way, we can help with choosing those lures and selecting the right live bait for each of them. The shelves are stocked with everything you’ll need to convince those fish to bite; so be sure to stop in and let us help." For More Information >> Contact KAB OUTDOORS or Call 218.875.2281
"Ice conditions on Lake Kabetogama remain largely unchanged since last week. Ice thickness remains stable, varying between 10 to 15 inches and there’s just about the same amount of snow piled up on top of it. In most areas, snow depth is about 15 inches, but there are areas of deeper drifted snow as well.
There are still some new slush pockets forming around the lake. The slush has made travel by anything with wheels on the ice almost impossible. But travel by snowmobile and ATVs with tracks isn’t too bad.
Last week we mentioned being overwhelmed with calls from folks asking about driving up with private wheelhouses. We regret that those requests cannot be accommodated, but for the moment, there is simply no way to drive a wheelhouse on the lake.
NOTE: At the time of this writing, January 15, 2020 10:30 AM, the Voyageur’s National Park ice road is being plowed for the first time. So far, they're about one mile in and we'll let you know how much more progress they make throughout the day.
We’re using our Sno Bear to transport most of our customers to and from our rental shelters. Those that are equipped with snow machines can use them to find fresh fishing territory if they choose.
Between the changing weather patterns and less than ideal ice conditions, dialing in a consistent bite hasn’t been easy. But we’ve figured out that that downsizing our presentations have helped produce more reliable action, especially for walleyes.
Some of our customers did well using “crappie size lures” tipped with whole fatheads. Try using blade style baits like Lindy’s Frostee and tipping them with a whole, live fathead. They can be fished below a float or on a dead stick setup using a slow action rod with a soft tip.
Allowing the lure to sit stationary gives the fish plenty of time to make a move on it and will help put a few more fish in your pail.
Downsizing your jigging baits isn’t a bad idea either, smaller size Rattl'n Flyer Spoons tipped with a minnow head is always a good choice. So are lightweight lures that have super slow drop rates like Quiver Spoons.
Primary walleye location continues to be over areas that have a soft bottom. The outer edges of mid-lake reefs or points leading from shore toward deep water are good starting spots. Key fishing depths are from 26 to 32 feet during the daytime and 18 to 26 feet during the prime time, twilight feeding periods.
Perch fishing isn’t usually the primary focus for anglers on Kabetogama. But periodically, our customers do catch perch while they’re walleye fishing. As you can see by the accompanying photo, they catch some nice big ones too! Pike also come along at random intervals and like the perch, can help round out the larder.
All things considered; we’d say that folks have been happy over the past week. There have been just enough fish coming in to keep things interesting and the mix of sizes has allowed for both good photos and some good eating.
We’d like to remind you that ice fishing on Kabetogama is a unique experience. Because it’s located in the national park, the atmosphere feels remote. There isn’t a lot of traffic on the lake and the scenery is breathtaking!
If a little peace and quiet sounds good to you, then give us a call and ask about our rental packages. We have day houses, overnight sleepers and reliable transportation to get you to and from them.
The store shelves are stocked too, so be sure to stop by for live bait, fishing gear and for any of your last minute needs." For More Information >> Contact KAB OUTDOORS or Call 218.875.2281
Most of the affected areas remain accessible by snowmobile, unless they’re overloaded with too much gear. We observed one angler attempting to travel while towing 2 ice fishing shelters in tandem and that resulted in the sled getting bogged down and stuck. If you’re planning to snowmobile on the ice, we’d suggest cutting back to the bare minimum amount of fishing gear.
We’ve been overwhelmed with calls from folks asking about driving up with private wheelhouses. We have unfortunately not been able to accomodate those requests.
The Voyageurs National Park ice road remains un-opened, so travel by pickup truck really IS NOT an option at all right now. In fact, we’ve already rescued several people who have attempted to get onto the ice and gotten stuck at the landing.
So please, if you've read this report, help us pass along the information to your friends; wheel houses are presently out of the question on Kabetogama.
Tracked ATV’s are not created equal, so some of them will work and others won’t.
We haven’t had any problems moving people and gear with either our SnoBear or our tracked truck. But these machines have extraordinarily wide tracks and yours may not perform as well. Exercise extreme caution if you attempt to travel using any ATV.
Walleye fishing has been good for our customers and for whatever reason, there’s sort of a big fish bite going on right now. Folks have been having lots of fun taking photos with good numbers of quality size fish.
When you can’t move around a lot, being creative with your presentations makes a huge difference. Using lures that have lots of attracting power will help call fish into your area. Many of those fish will strike the aggressive lures, but there’s always some that will prefer more subtle presentations. That’s when having a second line rigged with live bait comes in handy. Let the enticing action of a swimming minnow trigger strikes from the fish that came in to look at your attracting lures.
We’ve had some fun with Lindy’s Glow Streak this winter and there is other large size, flashy and noisy lures which we’ve had fun fishing with too. On your way to the lake, stop at the store and we’ll show you more presentations that we’ve enjoyed experimenting with.
Primary walleye location has been over soft bottom. The outer edges of mid-lake reefs or points leading from shore toward deep water are good starting spots. Tip up anglers should set a line with a big minnow further away from structure too. There are always a few fish roaming solo over the mud bottom and you never know when a phantom pike or giant walleye will be looking for a one bite meal.
If fishing isn’t your thing, but snowmobiling is, then you’ll be happy to know that the Rainy Lake/Black Bay to Kabetogama Lake to Ash River (Green Trail) is open and staked. So is the Ash River to Crane Lake trail. We’ll post an update whenever more of the snowmobile trails open up.
We have a great selection of fresh live rainbows, shiners and fatheads. We’ve also got great supplies of both large and small sucker minnows in the tanks as well. The shelves are stocked with all of the newest and best tackle and we’re looking forward to telling you all about it!" For More Information >> Contact KAB OUTDOORS or Call 218.875.2281
Whether or not the snow will impact travel conditions on Kabetogama is uncertain. But we do know for sure that Kabetogama’s ice is still in much better shape than most of the other popular walleye lakes around the state. With 15 to 16 inches of good, solid ice, there were virtually no wet or slushy areas anywhere on the lake prior to the recent snow. Knock on wood, but so far, we have not run across any areas where water or slush appears to be causing a problem.
The National Park Service has not plowed “the ice road” at all this winter and as of this morning, there is still no plowed road leading onto the lake. For us, the new SnoBear has been the primary mode of transportation for getting our guests to and from rental shelters on the ice. Snowmobiling is the next best alternative for anybody who’d like to strike out on their own to fish.
Walleye fishing has been productive for many of our guests and this week, there were larger fish showing up in the mix.
Key depths and locations have been typical for early winter. Fishing the outer perimeter of sunken reefs in water depths ranging between 19 to 32 feet has been the main focus. But don’t rule out deeper shoreline related structures either, especially the outer edges of points that lay adjacent to wide and flat feeding shelves.
Jigging lures tipped with minnow heads is productive and so are set lines using tip-ups or dead-sticks tipped with large, live minnows. The tip-up method is a good way to double your odds of producing both larger walleye and nice size northern pike like the one you see here. There isn’t anything more exciting than a hand-to-hand battle with a large pike under the ice!
We have some exciting news about a cause that we personally really believe in. It is the Vets on the Water program, a not for profit organization that provides funding that makes it possible to take vets fishing for free.
They’ve sponsored a lot of events, but to our knowledge, they’ve always only provided service to veterans during the open water fishing season.
After spending a couple of days guiding with them this past fall, we decided that it would be a blast to open some ice fishing doors for them. So before they left, we handed over our first wheelhouse shack. Then they took it home and remodeled it, changing the colors and decorating it all up.
After the makeover, they brought it back so that we could make it available to vets and their friends as we see fit.
We're pleased to announce that our very own Vets on the Water Ice Castle to be used by veterans will be available soon. In it, veterans fish for free! All reservations for the Vets on the Water program go directly through Dawn Keeler at KAB Outdoors, so use the info below to contact her for more information.
As always, our shelves are stocked with all of the newest and best tackle and we've got plenty of live bait on hand too! We'll be looking forward to hearing from you soon. >> Contact KAB OUTDOORS or Call 218.875.2281