"Walleye fishing remains on the up swing last week for many anglers. Best reports have been coming from 6 to 12 feet of water, using spinner rigs, tipped with a leech or crawler. Here anglers have been working weedlines and mouths of bays. Hammered gold, copper and nickel continue to be hot colors. Reports are also coming in out on the sunken islands this last week. 25 to 30 feet of water was the key depth. Areas where the rock turned to mud we’re especially hot. Out here 4 to 5 inch minnows were extremely effective on walleyes! Is this the fall bite starting?
Smallmouth Bass are really starting to transition from their shallow water summer haunts, out to their fall haunts around sunken islands. More and more walleye anglers fishing out around sunken islands, are reporting catching good size and numbers of smallies, mixed in with the walleyes.
Smallmouth anglers are starting to notice a drop in size and numbers of shallow smallies. These anglers are still catching plenty of smallies on spinnerbaits, wacky worms and whopper ploppers along shorelines, points and in rivers. If your looking for trophy smallies, start focusing on sunken islands and fish big 6 to 12 inch minnows, now until ice up!
Crappie action continues to be good for anglers putting in the time to locate schools of crappies. Timber and weedbeds have been key to locating these schools. Not all weedbeds and downed trees are created equal, so anglers have to work out which one the crappies are using and when. Search baits like beetle spins and jig and twisters are great ways to locate crappies now. Once located, slowing down with crappie minnows, fished under a bobber is very effective. Evenings are a great time to fish weedlines and weedbeds as crappies invade them to feed just before dark.
Stream Trout, Rainbow trout have been active this last week. Anglers hanging a crawler 15 to 20 feet down, under a bobber, have been having the best luck. Small spoon, jig & Twister and spinners have also been effective. Anglers fishing out of a boat have also been having good luck trolling with cowbells." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
"It’s another great week of walleye fishing on the south end of Lake of the Woods. Lake levels continue to drop, boat ramps are open, docks and charters are available!
The fishing report today is similar report to last week’s report. The patterns, which have been common all summer, are drifting spinners, trolling crankbaits and jigging. Whichever their primary expertise or interests are, these 3 methods have had anglers catching walleyes consistently throughout the summer.
Drift or troll spinners at 1.0 to 1.25 mph using a 2 ounce weight with a 2 or 3 hook snelled spinner and a crawler. Hammered gold, glow red and glow white or a combo of these has been good. Jigs tipped with minnows continue to put a lot of walleyes in the boat. Anchor up or spot lock and jig over the side or if low wind, drift and jig. If drifting, use a larger jig to keep you close to the bottom. Gold, pink and glow have been good colors in the stained water. Trolling cranks has been hot. A lot of big fish with plenty of eaters. Look for various schools of walleyes out in the basin, 30 to 36 feet of water.
Walleye anglers are reporting some nice walleyes, along with other fish biting on the Rainy River. With September approaching, that’s a good sign that we may have a good fall run of walleyes into the river. There are already good schools of baitfish in the river and that makes anglers optimistic. With water levels high, there has been good current in the river and fishing action has already been above average all summer. There are 42 miles of navigable Rainy River water from the mouth at Wheeler's Point, through Baudette and east to Birchdale with many boat ramps along the way.
Some big sturgeon caught this week too, including the monster you see pictured here, this fish was in the mid 60-inch range. As water temps cool, it should only get better!
Further north, walleye fishing has been excellent up at the Northwest Angle too. Jigging and pulling spinners with crawlers are both very successful methods. Both sides of the border have been productive. On the MN side, areas around Garden Island, Little Traverse Bay, various deep points and sunken islands holding good fish. Muskies are being caught casting various bays and rocky points. Smallmouth bass on rocky points and along scattered rocky shorelines." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
A break in the routine of fishing Winnie this week came in the form of a “learning trip” on one of the smaller Grand Rapids area lakes. Kevin and Donna, pictured, asked for a tip or two about how to catch walleyes, I agreed and as it turned out, we all learned something.
The mid-summer routine of trolling spinners is a pattern that seems to go on forever. I know that by now, you’ve likely grown weary of hearing about that presentation. You may be happy to learn that on Friday, spinners turned out to be decent search tool, but were dramatically over-shadowed by 2 other, much more efficient presentations.
Lindy Live Bait Jigs, 1/16-ounce size, were the centerpiece of each presentation. By adding night crawlers and wiggle worming, they produced walleyes for us. By adding 2-inch Ripple Shads, casting toward the weed edges and retrieving them with a swim-drop-swim-drop motion, they produced both crappies and sunfish.
The morning started like any typical mixed bag, weedline fishing trip ordinarily would. Our first project was to locate a nice-looking stand of mixed cabbage and flat stemmed pondweed. Next, we started trolling the weed edges using the spinners, waiting to see what species of fish would jet out of the shadows to grab our offering.
The first encounter was with a crappie, and that one intrigued me because I don’t usually catch them on this lake. I explained that we might catch more of them by jigging with plastics, so while I motored back to make another trolling pass, I rigged up the jigging rods. When we trolled back, Donna picked up another crappie on the spinner, I stopped the boat, and we began casting the small lures. This worked like a charm, crappies, rock bass and a couple of sunfish struck with authority. We could have made a morning out of the panfish alone, but the deal was to try and find some walleyes, so with 8 or 9 crappies in the livewell, we left the rest alone.
Spot #2 produced nothing, we trolled spinners along a weedline that usually, produces something, but this time it didn’t.
At spot #3, I spotted quite a few fish on the Humminbird, and trolling the spinners through them produced a couple of sunfish. Something wasn’t right about that, there were fish showing up on the screen that did not look like panfish. Wiggle Worming, an essential presentation for any would-be walleye enthusiast, might be the answer. So, I rigged them up, explained the system and we began a slow drift along the weed edges. There were more sunfish, some of them nice ones, caught by Kevin. But detecting her first strike, Donna fed the line, reeled up the slack line, loaded the rod tip and set the hook on her first walleye. It was a small one, and we didn’t even consider keeping it, but it was a victory in the sense that we knew the presentation would work. After catching a couple more babies, Kevin scored the first keeper, a 14 incher.
Now, we could have made a morning out of fishing that spot too, catching the odd walleye and a bunch of sunfish, but we decided to leave it and try one more spot instead.
I motored up the shore where by now, there was a nice breeze blowing. Instead of trolling, we went right back to wiggle worming and on our first drift, Donna picked up the fish you see, a nice fat keeper. On the next pass, we caught a few more, and a couple of them were keepers too. By now, it’s 11:45, we have 8 sunfish, 9 crappies, a 21-inch pike, 4 nice walleyes and a couple rock bass. What do you say kids, can we call it a good morning, I asked? They agreed, we accomplished whatever we could have expected during a ½ day of fishing.
For me, the trip was a nice break from the monotony of the past week. Seeing some fresh scenery and touching a wider variety of fish was just what the doctor ordered. It signaled too that there’s a change a coming, early fall fishing patterns are about to begin. Those crappies I mentioned were holding in a classic early fall location, (Image above right) a steep breakline on a hard inside corner with an adjacent weed bed. I’ve written about the pattern before, so instead of re-hashing the information, I have a link here for anyone who’s interested. Learn More About >> Following Fall Crappie Migrations
The walleyes, (image left) were caught along the outside edges of cabbage weeds in about 13 feet of water. They too were on an inside corner, but with a more slowly tapering breakline. Other similar spots on the lake have produced fish in the past and may have again yesterday, but that will be a project for the next visit.
With surface temperatures pegged at 75 degrees, the patterns we fished yesterday should hold up for a while. Wiggle worming will be reliable down to about 66 to 67 degrees, temperatures lower than that will signal the start of fall, jig and minnow patterns. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
On Friday August 26, 2022 Brandon Flaata wrote.
Q) "Hi Jeff, I was up north on (lake name withheld) first half of this week. I spent a fair amount of time fishing, along with a few other in my group. My boat was targeting walleye and crappies, the other bass. We marked fish constantly, and threw everything at the book at them, but couldn't get anything to bite, we even tried dead stick fishing. We dropped a jig down and just let it sit. On our graph we would see fish come up to our bait, look at it, then swim off. This was the first time we were unable to convince anything but a couple rock bass out of 5 fishermen in 2-1/2 days of fishing.
If you haven't been to this lake, it is a known lake for crappies, sunnies and bass. Walleye aren't targeted as much by fishermen, but we've always found success throughout spring and summer on a specific stretch of drop off. I was there in June and had great success!
Any thoughts on why the fish were so lethargic and wouldn't bite? We were in the right spots since we were marking them, so this has gotten me stumped. I didn't see any signs of major bug hatches or anything. My only thought is that it was dead calm the entire time we were up there, but the lake is so stained I wouldn't think that would have made as much of an impact as what we experienced.
Thanks for any insight you may have, Brandon Flaata"
A) Good morning and thanks for the note. Yes, I do fish this lake several times each season, usually not during mid-summer though. So, please understand that without direct knowledge of what's happening over up there right now, I am only speculating. I’ll offer a couple of possible explanations as a jumping off point, then you can direct some follow up questions to folks with intimate knowledge of freshwater fish biology.
Small waters like the one you’ve mentioned are numerous in the greater Itasca region and many of them undergo similar “seasonal doldrums” during mid-summer. In some, it seems to occur every summer, while others have some good summers and some bad ones. In most instances, there’s a weather event, or seasonal change that triggers a turnaround. Like flipping a light switch, the attitude of the fish goes from negative, to positive, or vice versa, seemingly overnight.
Except for the spring spawning seasons, food and comfort are the only two things that influence fish behavior. If they have both, they’re happy and if they can get them without human interaction, they’re even happier still. During mid-summer, the fish have a lot more of both food and comfort. So, during this period, it takes a lot more effort on our part to get them interested in our offerings.
The number one reason that fish ever strike our lures at all is that they are “hungry enough” to be convinced that our offerings are real food. When the fish have a lot of “real food” and they can feed easily, our lures become less attractive. Likewise, when the food sources are abundant, fish can feed easily and quickly, shortening the timeframe for anglers to encounter them during an active feeding period.
Years ago, I learned from a friend, retired DNR biologist Dick Sternberg, that the balance, or proportion of food to the proportion of predator fish in any lake is extremely delicate. A shift of 5 to 10 percent one way or the other can be the difference between a lake having what we call a “hot bite” vs the same lake seeming to be “the dead sea”. When the fish have more food than they need, angler success goes way down. Whenever the lake has a bumper crop of predator fish, the balance goes the other way and then anglers enjoy periods of above average success.
Seasonal changes in habitat and environment offer more possible explanations. The combination of high water and great weed growth have given fish more choices of location this summer. Without knowing what you saw on your graph, I can’t be certain, but there are times when I’ve seen fish on mine that were not what I thought they were. We tend to think that every fish we see on our electronics are the ones we’re searching for. But really, there are lots of other fish in these lakes that we forget about. I have been fooled more than once into believing that I was looking at one species of fish when it was another species. At least consider the prospect that this may have happened to you on your recent trip.
An anecdotal observation on my part, and not particular to your lake, is that there have been times this summer when fish I’ve pursued are absent from typical summer locations. Sunfish and bass for example, have been shallower than usual. Crappies have been in heavier cover than usual, often in shallow, heavy weed growth. I’ve not only had to be more creative about locating fish, but I’ve also had to work harder at finding concentrations of them. The increased habitat seems to have had a scattering affect, making some trips feel like a geography test.
Your comment about the weather being flat calm and hot adds to the problem too. No matter what else is going on, those conditions do not favor anglers, especially when fishing during the daytime.
So, in my opinion, too much food, better than average habitat and possibly, even angler pressure has combined to influence the fish activity on your lake. When the balance shifts back to “normal”, or when there is another big year class of mature predator fish, the action will likely intensify. In the meantime, we will both have to wait for the influences of Mother Nature to help us out. Maybe when the fall weather patterns start to kick in, the window of opportunity for encountering feeding fish will be longer than it is now, during the summer peak period. Maybe too, your next outing will during a period of better weather for fishing, cloudy, breezy days never hurt our chances. — Office Cell Call or Text 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Walleye fishing has remained steady this last week. As is typical for late August, trolling crankbaits, spinner rigs and covering ground, looking for active walleyes. Trolling shad raps in 12 to 18 feet of water, over large flats, shoreline points and sunken islands has been very popular and effective. Spinner rigs with hammered gold, copper and nickel blades, tipped with a leech has also been very effective. Bites have been light, so pay close attention while pulling blades.
Smallmouth Bass - After a week of poor weather, smallmouth fishing has cooled off this last week. Spinnerbaits, soft plastics and whopper ploppers continue to be the way to go to catch good numbers, but average size fish has dropped. Can’t always be world class! Working shoreline points, boulder flats, rivers and around downed trees, in 4-10 feet of water continues to be best, but increasingly anglers are reporting catching smallies out on sunken islands, while fishing for walleyes.
Crappie fishing remains popular this last week for good reason. With weedbeds at their peak and crappie activity at their peak, anglers have been having a easy time finding active crappies. Weedlines and downed timber has been the structure to look for to find crappies. Beetle spins, jig and twister tail with crappie minnows fished under a bobber has been very effective.
Pike reports have started coming in this last week. Rainy, cloudy days made for some good pike fishing for a lot of people. Suckers fished under a bobber was very popular and very effective. Shallow bays, river mouths and weedbeds have been key areas to find active pike. Large spinnerbaits and spoons are also excellent choices for pike right now."— Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
"Lake or the Woods water levels continue to drop, boat ramps are all open and resort docks are once again out of the water. Guests are enjoying the late summer sun, just in time for fall fishing!
Walleye fishing continues to be good on the south end of Lake of the Woods. Some anglers are still finding nice fish around Garden Island on the north end of the lake.
In addition to many limits of eaters being caught around the lake, some really big walleyes are showing up as well. As has been the pattern all summer, anglers catching walleyes primarily with three methods, drifting spinners, trolling crankbaits and jigging.
With spinners, a combo of hammered gold and orange or glow red blades with a two or three hook harness and a crawler have been good. Jigs tipped with minnows. Anchor up in the wind or if low winds, some anglers finding success moving slowly jigging off of the bottom.
Rotate crankbaits until the walleyes tell you what they want. As a rule, gold, pink UV firetiger, and traditional firetiger are good colors to begin with. Anglers are getting lures down to fish using lead core line, a 4 ounce bouncer with a 6 foot long monofilament or fluorocarbon leader with a shallow diving crank or downriggers. Cover water, pay attention to electronics and hang on!
On the Rainy River, walleye, sturgeon and smallmouth bass reports from the Rainy River were good this week. Not many anglers are fishing the river yet, but anticipation is high for fall fishing with good flow this year.
In recent years, shiners have started running in September and various waves come through into and through October. Every year the timing is a bit different.
Sturgeon anglers are reporting decent numbers of fish and a mixed bag. Sturgeon with suckers, walleyes and saugers mixed in is the norm.
Up at the NW Angle, alleye fishing remains good. Anglers fishing tight structure are jigging. Others are covering water in flats area or along breaks drifting or trolling crawler harnesses. Little Traverse Bay (large open water east of Little Oak Island) is still producing nice walleyes over deep mud drifting spinners and crawlers. Muskie anglers are still reporting nice numbers of fish with some over 50 inches. Pike are being caught casting various bays and rocky points. Smallmouth bass on scattered rock along shorelines and points." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"The trolling bite with down riggers continues to be effective. Targeting 28-35 feet for trolling with down riggers, we're using a variety of colored plugs with gold, white, chartreuse, and purple producing the best.
Fish can still be found around rocks and are still catchable with spinners in 20-35 feet of water. Fishing breaks around islands on the north end, or scattered rocks down shorelines is still producing quality fish on spinners." — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
"To experienced anglers, the term “patterning” is not a new one. Simply put, it is an attempt to figure out what fish are doing on a given day, and then tailoring a presentation that best suits the immediate circumstances. When you peruse my archived fishing reports, you’ll see that many of them are, or were, an attempt to describe the “pattern” that unfolded during a specific fishing trip, or period during a season.
Sometimes patterning fish can be complicated, I have been known to occasionally end a fishing trip having more questions than answers. But other times, it’s easier and today, I think I have a linked pair of “easy ones” for you.
Windy Day = Fish Along Shallow breaklines, Calm Day = Fish On Adjacent Flats
With the dog days of summer behind us, insect hatches on most lakes have largely run their course. Walleyes that gathered near insect breeding grounds, feeding on larvae are now more likely to be found feeding on minnows. On Winnie for example, we’ve found dozens of young, 1 to 2inch long, baitfish size perch floating in the bottom of my livewell after we remove walleyes at the end of the day.
When the wind blows, small perch and other baitfish become disoriented; the current blows them onto shallow breaklines. When walleyes sense the current, they know instinctively that feeding on the minnows will be easy. They start moving into the current, picking off minnows as the roam from one pocket to another. On Winnie, that shallow breakline occurs at water depths of 5 to 8 feet but can vary from place to place. Catching walleyes in 3 feet of water is not uncommon, especially when there’s a good chop on the surface.
When the wind stops blowing, walleyes lose their advantage. Baitfish spread out horizontally, often near the surface where predators have a much harder time pinning them down. Feeding becomes inefficient and instinctively, walleyes know this too. So, instead of roaming the shallow breaklines searching for food, they spread out horizontally on the mid-depth flats, adjacent to shallow feeding areas.
Without a lot of time to add glorious graphics and loads of extra embellishment, let me boil it down to the simplest advice I can offer. When you find a great school of fish feeding heavily along a windy stretch of shallow shoreline make note of the surrounding terrain. Whenever the wind stops blowing and the fish disappear from the shallows, don’t abandon that school of fish. Instead, start searching the flats that lay adjacent to where you found them before.
The job could seem overwhelming at first because the flats cover miles of territory. But somewhere, spread out across the miles of sandy terrain, there are gravel patches, weeds, rocks, and riffles that hold fish. They might not be on a “hot bite” and won’t come in as fast, or as often as they do when the wind blows, but they are catchable.
Looking ahead to the week’s forecast, I think this will be a recurring theme so I will add a detail or two every day until I have it covered. There are bound to be questions, so now is a good time to drop a line and let me know your thoughts, I’ll happily add your Q&A, or your advice to each update.
Before I go, an email note from Mike Johnson says,
“We haven’t formally met but have spoken to you at some of your seminars. I always admire your reports and have learned so much from you since I retired 7 years ago.
(I) Just wanted to share a disappointing experience I had Saturday. If you so choose to alert readers, you probably shouldn’t mention the lake. But recently, I went to a lake nort of Deer River to fish for crappies. I was on the lake, fishing at 6 AM and another boat came out about 8am.
When I left at about 10:30 AM, I walked up to my truck and trailer and found my tonneau cover had been cut by a knife in several places and my chainsaw was gone. The other truck also had a tonneau cover but it was not touched. That is why I think this happened between 6 and 8 AM. The chain saw is not that expensive but the tonneau cover is a $500 loss.
I’m not complaining about the money, I am lucky enough to be able to afford a replacement. My point is to inform you to pass the info on and advise people dont leave anything in their vehicles or trucks that has value. I guess it also shakes your trust in people a bit when nothing like this has happened in a long, long time. I’m unsure of going to that landing again or any landing that is somewhat isolated from anyone seeing them. Anyway, thanks for listening and I truly enjoy your articles and hope you continue to write for a very long time!"
A) Thanks for the note Mike, I've lost a few things over the years myself, and I know, it's not a happy feeling! I've obviously added your adviso to the reports, but also wonder if you took the time to file a formal report with Itasca County Sherriff? They can't help if they don't know about the incident. Good Luck!" — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Walleye purists continue to turn in good reports from Lake Winnie, but you already knew that. I’ve seen good reports from reliable sources though who also give Leech Lake and Lake of the Woods thumbs up. Upper Red Lake hasn’t been in the news much lately, but now that we’ve entered a period of calmer, more stable weather, may be making some headlines soon.
For me, customers who want to catch walleyes are being taken to Lake Winnibigoshish. But whenever customers give me some latitude, I’m still choosing to take them on smaller waters to pursue a mixed bag of fish species. The mixed bag pattern has gotten easier in some ways, but more difficult in others. On balance, it’s still fun for folks who want fast action, or already have walleyes in possession and want to round out their larders.
Water levels in north central Minnesota were above average all summer long but have receded recently. I’ve noticed that the small creeks and rivers are drying up, docks at most boat landings are sitting high and dry, and on some lakes, weeds now choke off access to some of the shallow water bays. One backwater boat landing that was accessible to me just a week ago, is now blocked off by wild rice and cattail plants. And there’s a lot more vegetation to clean off my boat trailer when I visit some of the more remote boat landings.
Despite the hardships associated with falling water levels, I’m still happier because fishing opportunities are on the rise. Panfish, bass and crappies are getting easier to locate and surface temperatures remain warm enough so that many of them will respond to spinners fished along the weed edges. Perch, on some lakes, have found insect larvae and small crawfish hatching in shallow water and that’s encouraged them to feed actively too. The number of walleye and pike found in the weeds is lower now than it was a few weeks ago, but there are still enough of them present to give legitimacy to the term “mixed bag” fishing.
An observation I’ve made recently is that fish species inhabiting any given weedline have become more segregated. Crappies are more prone to be found in flat stemmed pondweed, or adjacent to patches of coontail. Perch shows a preference for wild celery, pike are using the cabbage patches and walleyes are holding outside of the weeds, on or along the outer edges of deeper water, particularly where the breaklines contain light rocks or gravel.
On a recent trip for example, I moved into water depths as shallow as 6 feet, and out as deep as 16 feet of water. Walleye and pike were found deeper, perch were shallower, and crappies were in the middle, at about 10 feet. Controlling the depth, helped allow some control over which species we caught.
On the mixed bag lakes, spinners tipped with fatheads is still my favorite. But walleye presentations are more varied. When the wind blows on Winnie, we’ve done well using a jig and minnow combination. A friend reported great action on Tuesday using spinners tipped with night crawlers. On Leech Lake, folks have been catching fish using slip floats, small jigs and ½ night crawler combos. One of my fishing customers texted me yesterday to let me know that he and his brother-in-law caught good numbers of walleyes by wiggle worming too. So, I think you can experiment right now and have a good chance of success.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that I thought the surface temperatures had peaked and they have. Wherever I’ve fished this week, 71 to 73 degrees is the range, 71 degrees is the most prevalent. If the forecast for the week holds up, there won’t be much drama, a period of calm and moderately warm temperatures should keep the patterns stable. More on that as developments develop." — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Walleye fishing has been good all summer and is still going strong on the south end of Lake of the Woods. Folks are bringing in lots of limits of walleyes, along with some big fish being caught and released along the way.
Nice eaters still set up in 15 to 20 foot depth range outside both gaps on the south end of the lake as well as numerous areas of Big Traverse Bay. Lots of anglers running north if conditions allow.
Drifting spinners still producing. Hammered gold, pink, orange, glow white, glow red or a combo of some of these colors working well. Usually a two or three hook harness with just a few inches of crawler off of the back hook. Good success jigging for walleyes. This technique usually slows down in August, but this year it is still working great. Using a frozen emerald shiner is the go to. Big walleyes being found, as a rule, over deep mud. Jigging, spinners and crankbaits are all catching the big fish.
Lake levels continue to drop thankfully. Boat ramps are open so all of the fishing charters and guides continue to be on fish.
There are some good walleye, sturgeon and smallmouth bass reports from the Rainy River too. Water levels continue to drop, and shoreline breaks, current breaks, weed edges and holes are holding a mixed bag of fish. Sturgeon anglers are reporting good numbers of fish. Putting in a couple of days normally results in some success. Holes and flats or saddles just off of the current good areas to look at.
Up at the Northwest Angle, catching lots of walleyes along with a mixed bag is the norm. Some anglers fishing MN waters, others boating into Ontario waters from the Angle and fishing there. Good reports across the board.
Little Traverse Bay (large open water east of Little Oak Island) still holding good numbers of walleyes over deep mud. Typical summer spots are producing. Sunken islands, neck down areas with moving water and points. With 14,552 islands, lots of places to fish. Muskie anglers reporting fish have been active with good numbers being caught.
Angle resorts are located in MN right on the border. Checking in with Canada Customs and being vaccinated is not needed if boating from the U.S. to Canada and not touching land, docks, anchoring, mooring or exchanging goods or services." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"Periodically, I’ll have conversations with anglers who are frustrated by one DNR regulation or another. It’s easy to understand why that happens, because when it comes to fishing, our “issues of the day” are becoming more and more complex. Often, it’s easy to get anglers to agree on what the problems are, but they seem to only ever disagree on how to solve them. One thing I can tell you for sure, there are few, if any, “one size fits all” rules and regulations that ever solve anything.
Education, in my view, is the best possible way to strike a balance between what’s good for the fish, vs what’s good for the anglers who fish for them. Occasionally, opportunities come along for folks who either want to influence the system, or in some cases, gain knowledge about fish, and fish biology.
The Minnesota DNR has announced volunteer openings on several of the fisheries workgroups. Whether your interests favor walleye, panfish, catfish, bass or pike, there’s a group working on ideas about how to preserve, or make better, fishing for those species in Minnesota.
Don’t keep your ideas to yourself, stand up and be heard. Follow the links below, learn more about the fisheries workgroups and if you’re ready to make a difference, fill out an application.
I did, just now, I submitted my request to serve abother term on the panfish workgroup. But truthfully, these groups need "new blood" from time-to-time, and if your application happens to be chosen over mine, I would not be disappointed. That said, somebody has to stay involved, so if you won't, I will, and with luck, it will some good."
As a shade tree mechanic, my dad was about as good as they get, in fact, he seldom, if ever, bought any vehicle that already ran, he’d rather get them on the cheap and then fix them up. Among family and friends, he was in high demand and always fixing somebody’s car, truck or motorcycle, including mine.
One of the most valuable tidbits of information I learned while “assisting” him in the garage was to never change the engine until after you’ve first tried changing the spark plugs. In other words, rule out the simplest problems first, that may be all it takes to get your heap of nuts and bolts running again.
Applying that same philosophy to fishing works also, try the simple stuff first and if that won’t work, you can get into the more advanced methods later.
I’ve never caught a salmon, but I’ve always wanted to. Some folks have told me that Alaska is the place to go. Others have suggested Lake Michigan, still others, the Columbia River, along with other glorious destinations. They all sound like fun, but with limited time and resources, I reasoned that we ought to at least try Lake Superior first. It’s in our back yard, there are plenty of charter captains to choose from and by all accounts, can offer up some pretty good fishing at times. So, I and the Hippie Chick booked a charter and yesterday was the big day!
We departed the dock at Barker’s Island yesterday morning at 6:00 AM and after the crew searched for the “right” water temperature, began setting lines by about 6:45. It appeared the day might be action packed because the salmon you see the Hippie chick holding struck before Captain Scott had finished setting all the lines. A short while afterward, another salmon struck, and I was allowed to reel that one in. Then there was a lull, followed by the walleye Mrs. Sundin caught and then … nothing.
As it happens, the conditions, calm seas, high sunny skies and clear water don’t work much better for salmon fishing on Lake Superior than they do for walleyes in my home territory. We trolled until noon, changing the colors of spoons, and adjusting the depths periodically, but that wasn’t gonna change anything; the bite was over. Chatter on the marine band radio made it sound like most of the fishing charters were experiencing the same thing.
When I scheduled the trip, I was hoping that we might get a salmon, but not expecting it. Folks had told me to expect Lake Trout to dominate the catch on Lake Superior, but yesterday, we didn’t catch one. That seemed surprising, but I didn’t mind, we got to see firsthand that there are salmon out there and that folks do catch them.
From the technical point of view, we did learn that starting early is a good idea. We met our captain at the dock at 6:00 AM and if I could start the day over again, I’d ask him if 5:00 AM would have been okay. Getting out there and set up early was the key and if we’d started an hour later, we might night have caught anything.
Water temperatures on the south end of the lake are warm, they say. Searching for the thermocline, 42-degree water is how they figure out where to fish. The problem is that they really struggled to find water in that temperature range, even when they took the boat out over 100 feet of water. I gathered that a favorable change in the location of the ideal water temperature range will make finding and catching fish easier.
Even if we didn’t fill the cooler with lots of fish, the experience was a good one and sooner or later, we’ll try it again. Weather wise, we could not have asked for a better day and that meant a lot to the semi-seasick-prone Mrs. Sundin. I got a look at how the crew rigs up all the gear and a learned a little bit about what makes those fish tick. And as a bonus, we do have a couple meals worth of fresh salmon to look forward to, we’ll probably have one tonight. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Lake levels continue to drop and fishing is excellent on the south end of Lake of the Woods. Boat ramps are open and the fishing charters and walleye guides are on fish. There are lots of "limits" of walleyes coming back to the docks, along with some big fish being caught and released on the lake.
Warrior Boats had their David A. Andersen Memorial Walleye Tournament Saturday. 144 boats. Catch and release. Winning bag, 5 walleyes for 49.37 lbs. Some big walleyes, congrats!
Normally, August is crawler harness and crankbait time on LOW and jigging isn't as effective. All three techniques are working well this year. Some walleyes are still holding closer to shorelines, while other fish are living out in the basin as is more traditional during the dog days. Reefs continue to hold walleyes. Some days on top, other days off the edge.
Got your limit or want smaller water? Back bays such as Four Mile Bay, Zippel Bay and Bostic Bay holding pike, bass and even a few eyes.
On the Rainy River, water levels and river current are slowly dropping and slowing. Anglers are finding a smorgasbord of summer fishing opportunity.
Sturgeon anglers are reporting good numbers of fish. Some days they eat like crazy, other days not so much. Some big fish being reeled in. A 4 to 5 ounce weight combined with a sturgeon rig loaded with crawlers continues to be effective.
With water levels dropping, some fish starting to gravitate out of the bays and into more traditional river structure. Shoreline breaks, current breaks, weed edges and holes holding a mixed bag.
Fishing continues to be excellent up at the Northwest Angle as well. It's usually a mixed bag amongst the islands including walleyes, saugers, pike, smallmouth bass, perch and a few crappies. Jigging and pulling spinners are most used methods.
Fish are set up in late summer areas. sunken islands, neck down areas with moving water and points are good places to start. Good numbers of walleyes on mud flats, often spread out but often in good numbers. Muskie anglers again showing good numbers of fish casting a variety of shoreline structure. — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"Down riggers are starting to be used more often each day. We are starting to focus more on the deeper mud and less on the shallow structure. Most of our down rigging success is coming with natural minnow patterns and fire tiger.
Big fish are still primarily being taken with spinners and crawlers, drifting spinners when it’s windy is still a reliable tactic for most of our guides. Overall fishing has been good with quality keepers getting brought in and the occasional trophy fish getting caught." — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
So why does it matter? As Pace discusses, a straight running bait reaches its maximum running depth and deflects off cover with less snagging. Simply grab a needle-nosed plier and make a subtle bend of the line tie the opposite direction the bait is running. If it’s veering to the left, bend the eye slightly to the right. It’s easy to overcompensate, so a small bend usually corrects the issue.
While most crankbaits and plugs come tuned, the simple act of fishing them, fighting fish, and just regular wear and tear knocks them out of whack from time to time. Follow this guide to ..." Learn More >> 3 Sneaky Tricks to Find Summer Bass
"Walleye: Trolling bite has been very consistent for walleye anglers. Most anglers have been trolling in 15 to 18 feet of water with shad raps. During evening hours, on lakes with ciscos, walleye suspend to chase ciscos. Here anglers are fishing with tail dancers in 20 to 30 feet down, over 30 to 60 feet of water.
For anglers who don’t like trolling there has been reports of spinner rigs working. Best report have been when anglers are tipping it with leeches. These anglers are finding walleyes in 15 to 25 feet of water, around sunken islands, mouths of bays and main lake points. Hammered gold, silver, pink and blue have been top colors.
Smallmouth bass fishing remains very consistent everywhere in the Ely area. Whopper ploppers continue to be hot, hot, hot. Anglers are working shorelines, shallow flats and around downed trees. Soft plastics, spinnerbaits and in-line spinners have also been very effective in the same areas.
Stream Trout: Rainbows have continue to be active on many area lakes. Anglers have been trolling cowbells with a small crankbait trailing behind, about 20 feet down. Shoreline anglers have been having good luck fishing a night crawler 10-15 feet under a bobber, during the evening hours.
Panfish anglers continue to find active sunnies and crappies working weedlines. Small beetle spins have been very popular, along with waxies and crawlers, for panfish. Crappie have been more active during the evening hours on the same weedlines sunfish are being found during the day." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
I don’t usually do much writing on Saturdays. For my custom content resort customers, this is “changeover day” so folks are either coming or going and don’t spend much time reading their fishing information. For me, it’s a morning carved out of a hectic schedule that allows me an extra few hours of sleep before doing whatever I do for the rest of the day. Today though, I do have a few timely words about fishing that could be useful over the next few days, when my reports will be spotty due to mom’s funeral coming up.
Wednesday, the wind was blowing 10 to 20 MPH out of the northwest. Ken Seufert, my customer that day, has spent enough time in rough seas with me, so to ensure a calmer ride, I drove over to Four Seasons Resort on the west side of Winnibigoshish and paid to launch at their boat ramp in the Mississippi River. The fishing on Winnie was fine, as it has been, but with the good reports from Bowen Lodge August 4 and the Pines Resort August 1 already on these pages, I don’t see any reason to elaborate about that.
Instead, it was Ken’s question on Wednesday that provides the lead in for todays report. Looking upstream on the Mississippi River, west from Four Season’s dock, he asked; “Do you ever go up the river and fish for crappies?” “Not on this stretch I said, but I have fished other places on the Mississippi and done fairly well at times. Maybe one of these days we’ll give it a try”, I added.
Well, on Friday, Ken and I were scheduled to fish again, and this time, the forecast wind was from the south at 20 MPH, with stronger gusts at times. This called for another defensive play, but where would we go to stay out of the breeze this time? Yes, you’re right, timely, topical, and not at all a bad choice for a multi-species, mixed bag fishing trip on a windy day; the Mississippi River! You can see Ken’s hat flapping in the wind in the accompanying photo, so this turned out to be a good idea.
Water conditions on the river remain high and the current is strong, but the oxbows and back bays benefit from that. Places where I have not been able to fish at all in recent years are easily accessible right now. Because of the high water, submerged weed growth is more manageable too, so getting off the main river channel and fishing weeds is more attractive than usual.
Northern Pike dominated the catch like they usually do. But we also caught crappies, walleyes, rock bass, a few perch and a handful of little largemouth bass. I was expecting to see some larger bass, and was surprised that we didn’t, but we never actually pursued them intentionally. If we’d gone into the heavy cover with some Texas rigged plastic worms, we might have caught a few, we’ll try that next time.
Spinners, fished over the weed tops was our primary presentation and it worked for most of the fish. But once we caught a couple of crappies, I used the spot-lock to hold us on a small, weedy point. The crappies held tight in that weed patch and we caught most of them using small jigs tipped with minnows and/or plastic tails. We caught 3 or 4 fish using the clip on floats that I talked about on …, The floats were more relaxing, they helped keep our lures above the weed tops, but the action was slower this way.
Casting spinnerbaits produced a couple of pike too. But I watched Ken using the spinnerbait and he was fighting with weeds on every cast, so decided not to make a day out of using that presentation. If you’re an expert with spinnerbaits though, it is also a fun way to fish the eddies and pockets on the river. So, keep that in the back of your mind for a try as well.
Don’t get the idea that you’ll casually float down the river and catch fish hand over fist. We had to work at it a little, but by day’s end we’d caught 9 keeper crappies, 5 keeper walleyes, couple of keeper perch and 1 sunfish. Northern Pike were plentiful, we probably caught 50 of those and they ranged in size from 10 inches, up to the largest, 33 inches. That one was too big for cooking, but there was a 27-1/2-inch pike, perfect for Susan’s coconut pike delight recipe. Ken and I split that, so I and the Hippie Chick had ours for dinner last night; it was even better than usual. Hopefully, Mrs. Seufert will love hers just as much as we do.
It's not the sort of fishing trip that you can repeat every day, but all things considered; this was a great idea for yesterday. Even though it was still windy, we were able to avoid big waves, making boat control a lot easier for me. There was enough action to keep us busy for most of the day, and there were enough “keeper” fish to provide a reasonable harvest for my customer. So, if you’re the adventurous type, want to try something different, think about this the next time the wind is too strong for the big lake. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Walleye angling has slowed for many, as walleyes have been scattered this last week. Anglers, covering ground, have been catching walleyes trolling deep diving shad raps and tail dancers. These anglers have been working weedlines, large flats and over deep water during the evenings.
Anglers continue to have luck pulling spinner rigs, tipped with leeches or crawlers. Gold, pink and silver have been popular colors right now. Anglers pulling spinner rigs have been catching walleyes in 6-9 feet of water, in and around scattered cabbage beds.
Smallmouth Bass fishing continues to be consistent biters for many anglers with a few reporting catching good numbers of 20+ inch smallies. Whopper ploppers continue to be hot, hot, hot, but effective times is largely early in the morning or cloudy days with a little chop on the water. Shorelines with large flats, down trees and scattered boulders, has been areas to target. Spinnerbaits and soft plastics have also been very effective on smallies when the topwater bite isn’t going.
Crappie - Good crappie reports have been growing as we come into peak bite, for summer crappies. Anglers have been working weedlines with beetle spins and twisters. Best times have been during evenings, but anglers have been reporting catching crappies all day."— Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
"Hair jigs catch just about every fish that swims, but there are a lot of design differences based on the target species and time of year. Wisconsin-based pro, Cody Hahner, discusses hair jigs for northern smallmouth bass: when to use and how to fish them, jig specifics, and the best rod, reel and line setup to get maximum performance from this lightweight offering.
Unlike the Preacher jigs of the south, small maribou hair jigs are more akin to flies and excel for springtime and early summer smallmouth. In particular, Hahner loves using them when prespawn smallmouth are cruising shallow flats in search of bedding sites. While you can argue they resemble natural forage: insects, leeches, crawfish, and even minnows, Hahner feels it’s their super-sneaky presence and almost floating appearance that perks smallmouth curiosity and ..." View Video and Learn More >> Finesse Hair Jig Smallmouth Bass | Best Rod Setup
"As evidenced by the accompanying photo, the mid-summer walleye fishing remains excellent on the south end of Lake of the Woods. It's common to see fishing guides and resort guests returning to their respective docks with limits of both walleyes and saugers. Access to the lake is easier now too, water levels are slowly dropping and boat ramps are open.
Anglers report finding nice pods of "eater" walleyes in 12 to 20 feet of water out in front of Pine Island, near both the Lighthouse and Morris Point gaps.
It's common to hear about fish moving to the deep mud this time of year too, and they are. Key fish holding depths are 28 to 34 feet of water, fish are showing up there in good numbers. Reefs are also holding nice numbers of walleyes for folks who prefer "structure" fishing for walleye.
The top 2 presentations most anglers report are spinners and crankbaits. With spinners, most folks are using night crawler harnesses and drift fishing with them.
Crankbaits are trolled at faster speeds using kick motors or with bow mount electric motors. For some, jigging with a frozen shiner or fathead is still working well. Some anglers do all 3, fishing from an achored postition using jigs in the morning and then switching to trolling spinners or cranks come afternoon.
On the Rainy River, good summer fishing continues as well. With decent current, current breaks are still holding fish. Sturgeon anglers are reporting good numbers of fish. A 4 ounce weight combined with a sturgeon rig loaded with crawlers has been the set up. Big pike are feeding in bays and feeder rivers. Smallies around rocks, current breaks, bays and bridges.
Fishing has been great up at the Northwest Angle also. Most anglers are targeting walleyes, but there is a mixed bag of fish species available for anyone who likes variety. Jigging and pulling spinners have been the go-to methods.
Areas such as reefs, neck down areas with moving water and points holding fish have been best. Good numbers of walleyes on mud flats, often spread out but often in good numbers. East of Little Oak Island in the deep mud has been holding nice walleyes. Muskie anglers continue to catch good numbers of fish casting shoreline structure." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH