After 3 days of howling winds that produced heavy whitecaps, the surface water on most Itasca Area lakes are as thoroughly mixed as they can get. By Thursday, the downward trending surface temperatures hit a point of resistance at roughly 66 degrees. In fact, almost every place I stopped the boat yesterday, I saw the same temperature, 66.3 degrees.
While the choppy water and cooler water temperatures hadn’t completely killed the mixed bag action, it was pretty clear that summertime trolling patterns are beginning to give way to early fall ones. That said, the spinner bite still isn’t over and as long as the deep weeds remain green, it won’t be. But like I said yesterday, I’ll have minnows for jigging on hand every day now, just in case I’m on the lake when fish begin showing a stronger preference for them.
As a matter of fact, yesterday marked the first time anyone in my boat has caught a walleye using a jig and minnow since June.
We missed getting a photo of young Garret Glasrud with that walleye when he caught it, but we didn’t miss recording images of some delightful crappie that he caught. His dad, Geoff Glasrud is a really good fisherman and I can hold my own too, but on Thursday, we both had to admit that it was a great time to be Garret. I’ll bet he caught about 2/3 of all the fish that came to our boat!
I’ve noticed over the past few weeks that I can use the color of our Little Joe Spinners to help select for species when we’re fishing lakes that offer mixed bag opportunities. If I’m fishing with 3 customers, I’ve been rigging all of their rods with a different color. Sometimes, I’ll see that that one of the crew is catching a higher percentage of crappie or maybe one color is attracting more walleye. When I do, I switch one more rod to that same color, I’ll see that it changes the trend toward the desired species, and then I switch everyone to that color.
Lately, Little Joe’s Perch Color blade has been doing a great job on walleye and the Firetiger has triggered more crappie. Gold, the standard selection for most of the guides in our area is always a safe choice, but I’ve noticed that there are times when it can be out-performed. As long as we can still catch fish trolling the Little Joes, I’ll be doing more experimenting. I’d be interested to hear from you about your preferences and whether you can direct the attention of one species over another to any particular pattern or color that you use.
Today, NOAA predicts that Mother Nature’s temper tantrum will be over. Sunshine, calm seas and moderate temperatures are in the forecast. I’m hoping to be wrong, but I’m prepared to pay the price for all of the turbulent weather. Unless some part of the forecast is wrong, this could be a day of recovery for the fish. They may just hunker down in the weeds and wait for their next great feeding opportunity to come along.
Luckily, I’m fishing with the Nolan’s today and to them, every fish is a good fish. So if you see photos of them holding up rock bass or some other less popular species, don’t feel sorry; they will be thrilled with them. Don’t feel sorry for me either; that was how I grew up too, any fish is a good fish and today might turn out to be a great time to prove it. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Learn to fine tune your trolling game with lots of guide tested professional trolling tips and tricks. Paying attention to the current conditions and changing with them will put more walleyes in your boat!
View Video and Learn More >> Choosing Crankbaits Based On Weather
Wednesday’s weather kept a lot of folks off the lakes and I don’t blame them. Except for a handful of bass fishing pros pre-fishing for a tournament and 2 or 3 other fishing boats, we didn’t see a single pleasure boat on the lake all day long.
At 66 degrees, surface water temperatures on Pokegama, where we were fishing, are now down a full 10 degrees from what they were 1 week ago. Gusty winds from the northwest churned the lakes surface into 4 foot rollers. In terms of boat control, the rough conditions took a lot of the lakes mid-section out of play for me.
Making the best of what I had to work with, I spent most of the day looking for fishing spots based on comfort, rather than their ability to produce great walleye catches. Weed patches found in the back bays and downwind side of shoreline points held pike, bass and sunfish. If there were walleyes in those areas, they were well hidden and I couldn’t see them.
Walleyes did show up on my Humminbird, but those fish were holding deeper, on the outside edges of weedy bars in water depths of 20 to 25 feet.
In my opinion, we should have fished those areas using either Lindy Rigs and/or jig and minnow combos. But the wind speed was too fast to allow that, even controlling the drift direction with my outboard, 1.3 to 1.8 MPH, were the slowest drifting speeds I could accomplish. That meant spinners were the default presentation of choice and luckily, they still produced some fish for us.
Among the highlights of our trip were some of the northern pike that we caught. I can’t say that I’ve seen as many nice-size pike in that lake for a while. There are quite a few fish in the protected slot these days, but there are also a lot of fat little 21 inchers and they make a great meal. On Wednesday my customer caught one fish above the protected slot size too. He was intrigued by my suggestion that he tries preparing the Coconut Pike Delight and I think he planned to try it. If you haven’t, you should, it really is fabulous.
I always wonder when exactly is the perfect time to capitalize on the fish’s natural transition away from summertime trolling presentations over to cool water presentations like the jig and minnow. I do know that there’s a period when we can go either way and still catch fish and I think it’s getting close.
Likely there will be another period of warm weather soon and water temperatures might rebound a little bit. But I’d be surprised if they go back above 70 degrees for any meaningful amount of time. If they continue to fall, the jig and minnow bite will kick in sooner, rather than later. The closer to 60 degrees water temps get, the more likely a good jigging bite will be.
It’s likely that trolling presentations will continue to be effective over the next week or two. From here on out though, I’m going to make sure that I have some suitable for jig and minnow fishing in the boat too. That way I won’t get caught flat footed on a day that the fish decide to switch their preferences.
If the weather forecast proves to be accurate, it looks like we’re in for an uncharacteristically beautiful Labor Day weekend in the northland. They’re calling for sunshine, 70 degrees and calm for 3 days in a row. Wow, that sounds like a great scenario for a family get together, maybe on the lake, don’t you think? — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Last Wednesday I reported 71.9 degrees as the warmest daytime reading on the Bemidji area lake we were fishing. Yesterday, the Humminbird never displayed a reading warmer than 68 degrees and with overnight lows in the 50’s; I’ll bet that water temperatures will be even cooler when I launch the boat this morning.
Typical of these first temperature dips of the fall season, walleyes first reaction to the cold snap was to quit biting. That’s just the price we have to pay in order to cross the bridge between summer and fall walleye fishing patterns. Luckily, the initial drop off in walleye action is usually short-lived and once the fish adjust to cooler temperatures, the fishing action starts picking up.
The transition couldn’t have been easier to recognize than it was for my crew and me on Monday and Tuesday.
After the first temperature drop between Sunday and Monday, walleyes went dormant; at least that’s what I’d decided after fishing 3 lakes and catching only 1 small walleye. Yes, that was a hard day and if it wouldn’t have been for the cooperation of crappies and sunfish, it would have been a disaster.
Tuesday was different though, even though it started slow, walleye-wise, the fish practically handed me a pre-written play book about their pecking order. That helped me decide not to leave the lake, instead of driving to another one, we’d we hold on and wait for the walleye bite to gain momentum.
Experience is the best way to learn how to a take decision like that, but there is one clue I can give you about knowing when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. It’s based on judging whether or not any given lake “feels” active, or if you get the sense that there’s nothing happening.
On Monday, the first lake we went to “felt” dead to me. We didn’t get many strikes and when we did, they came from the smallest fish in the system. We weren’t catching pike; no perch, not a walleye and the bass we did get were small.
The same thing went down at the 2nd lake, no matter where we fished, we couldn’t even drum up hammer handle sized pike. In my mind, there wasn’t any choice but to try again and that’s how I wound up on lake 3, catching panfish instead of walleye.
On Tuesday though, things felt different. Early in the morning, all we could catch were northern pike, it didn’t matter which spot I fished, that’s what we caught, BUT they were biting. At about 9:30 we started picking up crappies, the action wasn’t fast and furious, BUT they were biting. By 11:00 AM, the pecking order transitioned again, now we were catching bluegills, rock bass and largemouth bass; still no walleyes, BUT there were fish biting. It felt like just a matter of time before the walleyes would find their place at the table.
Walleyes did show up and for a while, they were biting and the action was good. By the time we ended the day, it looked like I knew what I was doing. But before that, I’d already second guessed my decision 3 or 4 times; I kept humming the tune “should I stay or should I go”.
Now that water temperatures are falling, walleye activity is definitely going to pick up. But there are still going to be some ups and downs. Knowing when to cut your losses and leave vs doubling down and staying the course could come into play for you too. I’m hoping that one of these days, using my little tip about the “feel factor” will help lead you to a good day on the lake, everybody deserves that once in a while. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Walleye fishing has slowed for many anglers because of the resent cool snap. Reports of anglers catching walleyes as shallow as 3 feet of water has stopped coming in. Experienced anglers simply headed out to deeper water and slowed their presentations.
Anglers slowly dragging Lindy Rigs or jigging with leeches or minnows in 15-20 feet of water around sunken islands and along large points continue to catch walleyes.
Reports of walleyes being caught with crankbaits have been limited, but that remains a good option if you are struggling with the live bait bite or if the wind is to strong to fish structure correctly. Key depths for crankbait fishing has been 20-30 feet of water. Top colors continue to be Blue, Gold, Pink and White for walleye’s.
Bass - Cool temps have cooled off the topwater bite for largemouth bass, but has done little to slow the worm bite as it is a slow presentation. Largemouth bass continue to relate to weedbeds located in shallow bays. Good rule of thumb is the thicker the weeds the better the bass fishing usually will be. While smallmouth bass fishing has slowed too, it still remained good for most anglers targeting them. Anglers reported that fishing close to docks and downed trees along the shoreline was very effective. Tubes fished with 1/4 or 1/2oz tube jigs produced the best results, but spinnerbaits and in-line spinners were also very effective. White, yellow and watermelon were very effective on bass this last week.
Pike - This cold snap has done little to slow the pike bite, as cooler temps and rainy days, usually means better pike fishing. Pike have been very active and more then happy to run down fast presentations. Burning buzzbaits over shallow weeds or along pencil reeds continues to get explosive results. Trolling flashy spoons along weed-lines, pencils reeds or over weedbeds is also very effective on pike. Red and white spoons, white and chartreuse buzzbaits have been very effective on pike.
Crappie - Crappie fishing has slowed a little this last week, but the evening cabbage bite remains strong for many anglers. Here beetle spins, jig and twister and a simple crappie minnow fished under a bobber remains the best way to catch crappies here. If cabbage weeds are not found on your lake, thanks to the rusty crawfish, then look for them in deeper water near the thermocline. Good electronics are key to finding and catching these crappies. Out here small tube jigs, twisters and crappie minnows fished under a bobber have been working great. Top colors have been chartreuse, pink and white.
Stream Trout - Stream trout anglers are reporting that rainbows are starting to move back up in the water column and closer to shore within reach of shore anglers. Evening hours or cloudy days have been key for shore anglers success. Small spinners, small flashy spoons and jig and twisters have all been effective on rainbows. Good rule of thumb for what colors to use on what trout is simply to look at the colors on the trout itself. For rainbow trout silver, pink, and white are all very effective colors on rainbows and are colors found on the fish itself." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
Coincidence or not, there is a big school of walleyes gathering in 30 feet of water in front of the Lighthouse Gap. As we enter September, pods of walleyes are also scatterred throughout the lake's main basin and various reefs.
Fishing has been great this week with trolling presentations continuing to dominate the discussion. Fishing with crankbaits or drifting with spinners and crawlers in the main basin are both producing well; main water depths are 29 to 34 feet.
Some anglers starting to anchor up and jig again which will become more effective as water cools. Pattern is shaping up for a great fall.
On the Rainy River, there's been some discussion this week about schools of bait entering the river. Not sure if they are shiners yet, but the start of a fall pattern being noticed which draws walleyes up the river. Typically, emerald shiners start running in September. Walleyes, sturgeon, bass and pike in the mix with river anglers this week.
Up at the NW Angle, walleye fishing remains consistent. Fish being targeted in 18 to 27 feet of water, over mud adjacent to structure and in funnel areas between islands.
Spinners with crawlers or minnows is still the go to presentation. Perch and crappie bite picking up. Muskie anglers showing nice fish on social media. Water temperatures are holding at about 70 degrees." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"What has over 7000 free parking spaces Labor Day weekend? The World Ploughing Contest! Northern Minnesota’s social event of the year!
Contestants from 30 countries will be at Lake of the Woods competing for the title of best in the world.
The competitors are truly world class, they have a great amount of time and energy exacting their skills and tools to lay down the best result. With so many different factors at play many of them have already been here for more than a week of practice and adjustments. Basically, what happens while the competitors are working their plot, people are enjoying the vendor booths, food and drink and live entertainment.
You don’t have to be into ploughing to appreciate this event. It’s about mixing with people from all of the competing countries and enjoying the competition and fare." — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
I’ve been running Lund Alaskans for a long time now; in fact I picked up my first one 17 years ago, in 2002. Right from the beginning, I’ve loved the balance of utility and comfort that the Alaskan provides.
As far as I’m concerned, these boats are the fisherman’s equivalent of having a 4X4 pickup truck for the water. They have allowed me to go anywhere and do anything without sacrificing the comfort of my fishing customers.
Throughout the years, I’ve watched the folks at Lund steadily improve the Alaskan. Every year they’ve updated this or relocated that until now, in 2019 I can honestly say that every single thing about this boat represents the perfect setup for me.
The Mercury ProXS 115 Big Tiller with Integrated ZTF Tiller Valve is a perfect match for this rig too. The engine purrs like a kitten and using the RPM adjustments allow me to troll down as slow or as fast as I want. And at speeds approaching ..." Learn More >> 2019 Lund Alaskan For Sale
What we have in store for us this week is the quintessential late August, hurricane season weather pattern. Over the years I’ve noticed that whenever there’s hurricane activity over the Atlantic, southeast winds push grey, gloomy skies and moist air into Minnesota.
Historically, the on again, off again pattern marks the beginning of a “pre-fall” walleye run on lakes like Big Winnie. In fact, a note that came in this morning from Tom Crosby may point to some early proof;
“There was a definite uptick in the walleye fishing this weekend. After two weeks of doing the “Winnie Struggle”, the fish seemed to turn on a bit over the weekend.
Daytime fishing was just so-so, with big some big fish caught. I could see the fish sitting over the top of the weeds on my electronics. Spinners tipped with a pork crawler and trolled at 12 to 14 feet of water did the trick of making them strike.
Night fishing was very good; we used orange and gold Rapala #11, which was definitely a good choice. We caught walleyes anywhere from 9 inches up to 26 inches long. Looking forward to Labor Day weekend, that should be good.”
Crosby, author of the previous note is a property own on Lake Winnie and typically has a good handle on what’s going on out there. In my opinion, whenever he sends a note about fishing on Winnie, I think it’s worth paying attention to.
For me, Sunday was more of walk down memory lane than it was a hard core fishing trip. My brother and his POSSLQ Cyndi joined the Hippie Chick and me for a spin around the small Aitkin area lake where our parents once owned a lake cottage.
Bass, panfish and pike are the only fish anybody can target there because the lake doesn’t have any walleyes in it. The bass were about as cooperative as they could be, in fact while we were trolling the weedline, I made this comment; “I think we just caught more bass on that trolling pass than we did the entire time our folks owned that cabin.”
I wasn’t exaggerating either; I recall that we used to be thrilled to catch anything larger than a crappie on that lake. Either we never knew “the trick”, to catching them or else the bass population has grown a lot since the old days. Along with the bass, we caught some pike and bluegills; there were no crappies on hand for yesterday’s outing.
The closest thing I have to real fishing report is that the surface water temperature was 71.5 degrees and holding steady. Weed growth continues to be lush and green and holding all of the fish in the lake. Unless we fished in the jungle, we could not get a bite; I did not see any fish in open territory outside the weedline.
In terms of traffic on the lakes, the past couple of weeks have been fairly quiet. Labor Day weekend will bring more anglers into the area though, and we’re preparing for increased activity on the fishing reports pages.
If you have a few words to share, please remember; you do not need an invitation, your comments are welcome anytime! — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Take any one of the “better” walleye lakes in the Itasca region and track its history. It won’t take long to figure out that there are certain years when a lake is good, and there are some when it’s not. In my opinion, Leech Lake is having a really good year in 2019. More often than not; anglers are coming off the lake with respectable catches.
Even during a good year though, there are those days when sunshine and calm seas make it harder to catch fish; it’s inevitable. So one way I gauge a lakes productivity is by tracking how well I do there on the “off days”, the ones that I know going in will be tougher than usual.
Take yesterday for example, the sky was blue, the lake was calm. We worked hard for every strike and there was never a single time that the fishing felt easy. Still, we ended our day with 6 walleyes, 2 crappies, 2 jumbo perch and 1 nice size northern pike. There were plenty of fish for a fish fry, even if there weren’t any leftover to put in the freezer.
You might be thinking; “that’s not very good, you guys only bagged 11 fish in an 8 hour day.” You’re right, it was a slow day but the time we spent on the lake wasn’t wasted. The weather was beautiful, the scenery was terrific and we had plenty of peace and quiet; that made exploration a lot easier and because of that, my crew now has a lot of ideas about where to go whenever the fishing conditions do turn more favorable.
Its mid-August, the wind was calm and the sun was shining and we were fishing on Leech Lake. Anybody who has experience fishing the big lake knows that days like this are a crap shoot, sometimes you just can’t buck the system. But the way I look at it, if we can accomplish a reasonable catch on a day when conditions are against us, then the lake is liable to produce great action the next time weather turns favorable.
Fall fishing patterns are only a few weeks from kicking in and I have a feeling the trend of good fishing on Leech is going to continue. It’s been a few years since we had a really outstanding fall bite over there, but I think mayber this could be the big one. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
During the "Dog Days" of summer, covering lots of territory can be the secret to putting good catches of walleye in your boat. Trolling crankbaits is on great way to locate and catch fish that are on the move over massive, mid-lakes flats and bars.
This week on Fish Ed, host Jon Thelen shows you how to beat the “Dog Day Of Summer”. When live bait systems start to slow down it’s time to get those crankbait boxes out and start trolling.
Jon shows you the whole system for how he triggers late summer walleyes, and you may catch your biggest walleyes of the year! View Video and Learn More >> Trolling Crankbaits For Late Summer Walleye
Q) Eric Stone wrote; “Hey Jeff, We stay at Becker’s Resort on the west side of Lake Winnibigoshish and we are arriving this Saturday afternoon.
Looking at the weather forecast for Sunday and Monday, it looks like strong south winds and some rain might prevent us from going to our favorite fishing areas on the northern side of the lake.
We have never really fished the southern part to much. Any areas you would recommend trying for walleye on the southern part of the lake?”
A) Eric, in my opinion, it’s entirely possible that by the end of your trip, you could regard the south wind and grey skies to be a stroke of good fortune.
There is a natural migration that typically occurs in the southeastern corner of Winnie during late summer and early fall. Walleyes moving from mid-lake structure toward the shoreline will follow the steep breaklines along the Bena Bar and Horseshoe Bar toward the south shoreline.
It’s likely that there will still be lots of fish on the bars this weekend. But if the winds are strong, it’s also possible that some of those fish will show up in shallower water too.
Key areas to check this weekend will depend on exactly how much wind and which direction it blows, but here are some ideas based on general trends that occur during this part of the season.
Deep Water: Follow the steep breaklines that start at Bena and move north into the main lake. There’s a different name for each turn the bar makes, but essentially it’s all one big structure. Fish can show up anywhere along and they can be found deep or shallow along the edges depending on fishing conditions. A few of my favorite areas are Big and Little Muskie, Eelpout and the long Bar.
There is also great deep water fishing spots on the southeast shoreline. Names on the maps vary, but you will places like Moxies Hole (the drop), Ace in the Hole and others. Follow those steep breaklines and when you mark fish, give ‘em a try.
Shallow Water: Shoreline breaks on the southeast side can be very good, key depths these days are 12 to 16 feet, but when the wind is strong, fish may also go shallower.
The weed flats on the south shoreline can be very good too and provide some of the better mixed perch, pike and walleye opportunities on that end. There are numerous weed patches and soft drop off areas just north of Little Stony Point.
Weed flats and shoreline breaks can also be found all the way from Richard’s Townsite to the Mississippi River channel. There’s a deep breakline and also two shallow breaklines, one from 10 to 16 and the other from about 6 to 10; check them all.
That should give you a few ideas to start with, if I have happen to hear more specific reports over the weekend, I will be sure to add updates.
The trend will likely continue over the next several days as overnight temperatures are predicted to be in the high 40’s and low 50’s. Typical of the late summer and early fall, temperatures fall quickly for a week or so and then hit a natural pause somewhere in the high 60 degree range. They’ll rebound, but every time they rise, a cool night will come along and knock them back down again.
For now, trolling presentations continue to be effective, but with temperatures trending downward, the ratio of panfish to larger game fish that we’re catching is changing.
On Tuesday, my 3 person crew, the Engers still caught all 7 of the most common fish in most lakes in our region. By days end, we had captured 9 walleyes, 12 crappies, 10 sunfish, 4 northern pike and 4 largemouth bass. The number of crappies stayed about the same as most typical “mixed bag” fishing trips I’ve done this summer, but the number of walleyes increased.
You can see why I like doing trips like these; individually, we were nowhere near a limit of any one species, but overall, there was a lot of fish for them to enjoy over the next few weeks.
Anglers heading this way for the weekend can probably still get in on the mixed bag bite; it may even last through Labor Day weekend. As temperatures decline, we’ll notice sunfish and bass numbers dropping, while crappie and walleye catches will like increase.
Following the trend will help us understand where we are along the path toward fall fishing and you’ll be the first to know. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Except for a couple of moderate dips in overnight air temperatures recently, it’s been sunny and warm in the Winnie area. Surface water temperatures are in the 72 to 74 degree range on both Winnie and Cutfoot and appear to be holding steady.
Fishing patterns on both Winnie and Cutfoot center on typical late-summer locations and presentations. Walleye, pike, panfish and bass are taking advantage of weed development which has been great this summer. There are healthy stands of lush, green cabbage weeds in multiple locations in both lakes and fish of all shapes and sizes inhabit them.
Both lakes have moderate algae blooms going right now too and they are providing a little relief from the “gin clear” conditions that we experienced several weeks ago. We still have to pick our days and times to get in on a primetime bite, but the added color in the water has helped widen the window of opportunity for anglers to get in on good walleye and panfish action throughout the week.
Having lots of fish holding in weeds is a mixed blessing. It helps anglers figure out where fish are holding, but also leaves them with the challenge of figuring out how to “root them out” of the heavy cover.
Trolling approaches, like using spinners tipped with minnows or night crawlers is working, but depends on fish being willing to move over the weed tops and out to the edges of the vegetation. Warmer water, grey skies and a light chop make spinning the weeds a great choice. But when the sun is shining and the water is calm, fish may be reluctant to move far enough and fast enough to produce good action.
Small jigs tipped with night ½ night crawlers or medium size leeches are better under clear conditions. Slowly creeping along the weed edges, watching for gaps and pockets and pitching the jigs into them will work. Most often, fish will strike your offering as it falls, but sometimes they grab it as you swim it back toward the boat. One of the fun parts about this presentation is that you never know what the next strike will produce. Almost every fish in the lake will grab a jig and crawler combination; even a big musky!
Some anglers are having luck trolling crankbaits over mid-depth flats on Winnie. Key water depths are 14 to 16 feet and prime territory is wherever fish are transitioning between deeper, mid-lake bars and shoreline related structure. Look at your map and watch for large, sweeping flats that connect the lakes shoreline to mid-lake bars. There are prime locations on all four corners of the lake, some of the notable spots to watch are the Bena Bar, Center Bar, Stony Point and the river channel that links Tamarack Bay out into Big Winnie. Sooner or later, all of these areas will see significant migrations of fish moving into shoreline territory.
There was an uptick in daytime panfish action last week, crappies in particular. But over the past few days they appear to be taking a breather.
After a string of storms moved through the area yesterday, there were still some sunfish biting along the weedlines. Crappies were a different story though; reportedly they were few and far between on Tuesday. We think this may be a signal that crappies are temporarily returning to the traditional early morning, late evening summertime pattern.
Trolling spinners along the weed edges is a good way to locate panfish. But once you find them, small jigs tipped with either live bait or plastic tails will help improve efficiency. A live bait jig tipped with a small piece of night crawler or cut from a leech with produce sunfish. A twirl tail, tube skirt or paddle style tail will trigger crappie strikes.
Northern pike action has been good, most everyone on the lake can find plenty of eating size fish and there are some quality size fish being caught right now as well. Without trying particularly hard, one group on Tuesday bagged eater fish ranging from 20 to 21 inches, some slot size fish between 22 and 26 inches and a couple of larger pike ranging between 28 and 30 inches. They did all that while they were trolling spinners in search of crappies on the weed edges.
Rock Bass have been active too and some of our guests really enjoy catching them. We know that they’re not for everybody, but they do put up a great fight and they yield flaky white fillets that are actually really good to eat.
If you’re fishing with kids, don’t overlook a chance to capitalize on some of Winnie’s gigantic, scrappy “Rocks”. You can find them in shallow weeds adjacent to many of the bulrush patches in both Tamarack Bay and in The Dam Bay too. There’s more than one way to catch ‘em, but bass anglers get a lot of them using Texas rigged plastic worms. A jig fished below a bobber and tipped with a fathead or ½ night crawler works too. — Chad & Melissa Mertz The Pines Resort 218-246-8546 or 1-800-342-1552
"Right now is a great time to be a walleye angler here in the Ely area. Anglers are reporting that they are catching walleyes on jigs, spinner rigs, crank baits, lindy rigs and slip bobbers.
Anglers fishing with live bait have been reporting that leeches have been most effective on walleyes. Night crawlers continue to work, but when the bite gets tough, slows or turns off, anglers that switch to leeches, continue to catch fish. Minnows are really starting to come back into play, but overall are not accounting for as many walleyes as leeches or crawlers.
Anglers continue to find walleyes in 12-15 feet of water, but anglers are reporting that the biggest walleyes have been coming a little deeper in 18-23 feet of water. Anglers trolling crank baits are also reporting a excellent crank bait bite. These anglers are reporting that they are catching smaller walleyes in water 15 feet or less. Bigger walleyes are being caught in the 15-25 foot range. Anglers have also noted that they are seeing ciscos surfacing during calm evenings and catching walleyes out over deep water at the same time. Key colors continue to be blue, gold and white.
Panfish - Crappie fishing has remained very consistent for many anglers fishing cabbage beds with jig and twisters or crappie minnows under a bobber. During the day anglers report catching only a few in the the cabbage beds, but during the evening or on cloudy days fishing picks up as crappies move into the weedbed to feed. Big gills are also being caught in the same area as the crappies. Small crawlers, wax worms fished under a bobber has proved to be to hard for big bluegills to pass up.
Lake Trout - Lake trout fishing has been excellent for many anglers this last week. Interestingly anglers are reporting the best fishing for lake trout has been occurring during the early morning hours. Seems that as the sun gets up and warms the water, it cools down the lake trout fishing. Anglers are having luck with trolling spoons, fished with down riggers or fishing stick baits with at lease 3 colors of leadcore line out. Anglers should be looking for trout about 40-60 feet down, over deep water.
Northern Pike - Pike fishing has remained very consistent this last week. Anglers looking for fast action are throwing buzzbaits over weedbeds and along shorelines. Another effective technique was fishing large flashy spoons below the surface, in the same areas. One group of anglers reported that these techniques were so effective on one lake, that they just ended up staying on that lake for a entire week and caught hundreds of pike. Anglers fishing with young anglers have found that a simple large sucker, fished under a bobber in weeds, was equally effective on pike.
Bass - Largemouth bass fishing continues to be good to excellent for many anglers. Topwater frogs fished over lily pads, thick weeds or pencil reeds continues to be very popular. Texas rigging large worms through weeds also continues to be very effective on largemouth bass. Smallmouth bass are still being located along gradually sloping rocky shorelines and on top of shallow sunken islands. Spinnerbaits, in-line spinners, wacky rigging and tubes are still very effective on them right now. Leeches and minnows have also been very effective on smallies." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
"On the south end of lake of the woods it's been a beautiful week of fishing with noticeably cooler nights and daytime temperatures in the 70's. It's been another strong week of walleye fishing with limits of fish and again, some big walleyes caught as well.
Late summer patterns are still prevalent. Trolling crankbaits and drifting with spinners and crawlers in the main basin producing well. Main depths are 30-34'. Some starter colors, red crawdad, chrome/blue, gold albernus, firetiger, and pink UV firetiger. Have camera ready and get fish back quick!
As most anglers are fishing the lake, the Rainy River has been seeing little traffic. There are some sturgeon anglers finding fish in deep holes and there a few reports of nice walleyes, pike and smallmouth bass being caught both up and down the river. Walleye anglers are finding fish by trolling crankbaits and covering water.
As you can see in the photo of Joe Cooper, Angle Outpost Resort, Muskie fishing at the Northwest Angle has been good! Walleye fishing is still going strong as well. Fish being targeted in 17 to 25 feet of water, over mud adjacent to structure and in funnel areas between islands.
Spinners with crawlers or minnows is still the go to presentation with gold and orange hot colors. Some big pike being caught deep by walleye anglers. Perch bite picking up. Muskie anglers showing good numbers of big fish. Water temp, 71 degrees." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"Summer is wrapping up fast. The daylight hours are getting shorter, nights a bit cooler. Kids are going back to school. We have some great opportunities to get in a last-minute fishing trip! We have had spectacular weather around Lake of the Woods this past week. The trees and fields are all nice and green, the sunflowers are bright yellow. And, of course, the fishing has been excellent.
Another great week of weather ahead, 50’s overnight and 70’s in the daytime are forecasted for this week.
We still have some space available in August and we expect an awesome bite all summer long. The World Ploughing Contest is coming up at the end of August!" — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
Surface water temperatures in the 72 to 73 degree range are the norm for most Itasca area lakes right now. For the most part, those temperatures are still warm enough to produce a decent mixed-bag “spinner bite” along the weed edges.
That said, I have observed that the declining temperatures have begun to reduce the number of species that will readily chase down and strike our lures. For me, “spinning the weeds” is becoming a search presentation rather than the primary means of producing a full day’s catch.
Take last Thursday for example; I used the Little Joe Spinners to find some crappies. But once we knew where they were, I used the spot-lock feature of my trolling motor to hold our position while Craig and Chris Andresen went to town on the crappies using jigs tipped with twirl tails. Instead of passing through fish and catching them one-by-one on the spinners, we began catching them two and three at a time. Amassing a 2 man limit did not take long at all.
The same approach paid off on Friday when we were searching for northern pike. After an extensive search for a school of decent size pike, we finally trolled our way to where they were. Once we knew their location, we switched over to jigs tipped with minnows and enjoyed a nice flurry of action. In fact, the jig and minnow presentation actually produced better quality size fish than anything I’ve seen on the spinners over the past week. We caught several fish that were in the protected 22 to 26 inch slot and Craig CPR’d the one you see here, a fish approaching 30 inches.
By yesterday, Leech Lake northern pike, perch and crappie were responsive to the jig and minnow presentation too. While I and my crew were using the Little Joe Spinners, my friend Bobby Zuehlke had the other half of the crew fishing with jigs and minnows. They were catching fish just as fast as we were, and they were doing it without having to cover as much territory.
The only advantage for me was that using the spinners is really simple, there’s hardly any learning curve to worry about.
Simplicity was important because the ½ day charter we worked on together was part of a Kelly family reunion and a birthday gift for Terry Kelly, who at 75, wanted to go fishing; he wanted his whole family to go too. Not many of them had a lot of experience, so the easier we could make it to catch a fish, the better the odds were for catching enough to provide all 9 of them with a family fish fry.
Leech Lake was productive enough to allow us to meet our goal and here were a variety of fish in the creel. The Kelly’s’ headed toward the Gosh Dam Place for their fish fry with a bag containing walleye, perch, crappie and pike.
Pike were particularly abundant and that made home life even sweeter for me! That’s because there were enough extra fillets to provide the Hippie Chick with one of her favorite dishes, coconut pike delight. I have to say, last night’s batch was one of the better meals I’ve prepared lately. The coconut does something special to the pike fillets, they get really firm and the flavor is excellent. If you haven’t tried this, I really think you should, most folks truly love it.
With the full moon of August behind us and Labor Day just around the corner, I can feel the early signs of fall fishing patterns.
Over the next few weeks, fish will begin to group up into early fall locations and a wider variety of presentations will become useful. It would be a good idea to make sure your jig box is stocked up, they’re gonna start coming handy really soon. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Walleye fishing has been quite spotty this week. Some fish have been caught trolling near the shoreline breaks and the main bars. Fish are showing up in the weeds adjacent to the shoreline breaks, as well.
Most of the fish are in the protected slot, but we have had numerous reports of 10" walleyes being caught. Maybe Jerry isn't as full of B.S. as we thought!
Northern pike are the go to fish right now. All methods of pike fishing are working right now. Trolling, casting, and fishing with live bait will catch northerns. The fish are still in the deeper weeds, so target those areas.
A new phenomenon has occurred this week. The muskies have made an appearance. There were 10 fish caught this past week. Nothing huge, but still a change from the past couple of years. Most of the fish were caught trolling while fishing for northerns. The largest reported was 43". Anytime you can hook one of these fish, it is quite a thrill.
Perch are starting to show up in numbers, now. The quality isn't what we would like to see, but at least you can go catch a good number of perch. Look for the flats with scrubby weeds in 14-16' of water. If you are catching all small perch, try increasing your speed, sometimes it works.
Fall is definitely in the air. We have openings the whole month of September. This can be some of the best fishing of the year. Normally, the weather is still nice and the fish are hungry.
We offer 20% discount on all cabin reservations. Check your calendar and give us a call. The local radio stations have the Twins and the Vikings games, so you don't have to miss a pitch or a touchdown while out on the water!" — Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
I have a cabin (in your area), on a small 200 acre lake that has a maximum depth 35 feet. Our lake is a clear one and there are deep weeds out to 25 feet. I have found that the larger pike, those in the 30 to 40 inch range seem to be in the deeper parts of the lake. They are suspended over the deeper water targeting schools of baitfish.
I have my best pike fishing in August trolling big musky crankbaits using lead core line. I’m trying to get my lures down (into) the 10 to 14 foot depth range over deep water; 24 to 31 feet are common depths. But I have even caught big pike over the deepest part of the basin.
I'm trying to add pieces to the puzzle of my fishing knowledge. So what I am wondering is this, are you finding larger pike over shallow weed beds? Or are they typically smaller pike?" — Mark Teien
A) Mark, you are truly lucky to be on a lake that still has a population of larger pike. As you probably know, there are numerous lakes in my region that suffer from over-population and produce thousands of small fish, but few if any big ones.
Obviously, it isn’t possible to catch a lot of big pike unless you are fishing on lakes that have good populations of them. So whatever answer I give comes with a caveat; you have to know for sure that fish of quality size are in the lake before you try fishing it. The DNR can help with that, so can some of the better bait dealers; word of mouth is the best, folks who catch big fish tend to let their friends know about them.
For me, the advent of Minnesota’s 3 zone pike regulation changed everything about pike fishing. Since I fish primarily in zone 1, I’ve learned to accommodate customers who choose to take advantage of the 10 fish, under 22 inch size regulation. It has become routine for me to target lakes that have big numbers of little fish.
On these waters, it’s relatively rare to catch fish of the caliber you mentioned. It doesn’t matter where we fish for them; with a few exceptions, they simply aren’t available in these lakes.
That said, I do have occasion to pursue larger fish on some trips and when I do, I focus on the two things that big pike MUST HAVE; food and comfort.
Big pike typically don’t feed on small baitfish like perch or small minnows. They will eat smaller baitfish when it’s handy, but they won’t go out of their way to get it. What they will go out of their way to gobble up are large, soft bodied fish like Tulibee, Crappie or larger size minnows like suckers, lake shiners and big golden shiners.
From the feeding point of view, I think pike location is based more on a lakes forage base than it is on the structure a lake can provide. Here are some examples.
Open water forage like tulibee, will attract pike to mid-lake, deep water areas. This could be what happens on your lake, tulibees roam the open water of the deep basin and pike follow them.
Another lake may be heavily populated with suckers, in these waters pike may be found on mid-lake bars and humps, especially ones that contain gravel and rock. Those are preferred habitat for suckers during the summer.
Pike love to eat crappie too; so on lakes with great crappie populations, pike will always be near the largest schools of them. Pike populations on lakes like that will change with the seasonal location of the crappies. During summer, they’ll be in the weeds, but in fall and winter they will relocate to wherever the crappies go; open water, woody structure, deep main basin breaklines etc.
In other words, big pike can really be anywhere as long as their food supply is nearby. The best way to unravel pike location on any given lake is to learn what the forage base is and what they need to survive. After that, you can make an educated guess about how to locate pike.
For pike, comfort is nearly as important as food. They prefer cool water when they get it so knowing if a lake is subject to oxygen depletion during summer is really important.
In a lake that does not thermocline, pike are free to roam deeper where the water is cooler and shadier. But in a lake that sets up a hard thermocline during summer, forage fish may be forced out of the depths and onto weed flats where they can find both shade and oxygen.
Pike, along with other gamefish will temporarily set up shop on those weed flats. But as soon as water temperatures cool and forage fish have the ability to move back into open water, the whole food chain will fall apart.
Hopefully, this is a good start to taking your pike fishing to the next level. There’s more to consider than I can tackle in one morning and as time allows, I will do my best to offer some additional thoughts. In the meantime, thanks for the question and good luck out there! — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Walleye fishing has become increasingly challenging for many anglers this last week as walleyes continue to scatter and minnow populations are at there peak. Reports range from catching nice walleyes trolling floating rapala’s in 6-12 feet of water along the shoreline, jig and minnow or spinner rigs, tipped with crawlers or leeches, fished out around sunken islands in 12-20 feet of water, too trolling white crank baits over open water during the day and especially during the evening. Blue, gold and nickel jigs/spinner blades have been the top producing colors this last week, while white, firetiger, and silver have been the top producing colors for crank bait anglers.
Crappie fishing remains excellent and some real slab crappies were caught this last week. Cabbage beds remain the key to a successful crappie outing. Anglers have been reporting that small soft plastic twisters have been best, but beetle spins and crappie minnows fished under a bobber are catching there far share of crappies also. Fly fisherman have also been catching their fair share crappies. White, chartreuse and yellow have been the go to colors for crappies.
Bass - Topwater frog fishing for largemouth bass remains good to excellent for many anglers fishing in lily pads. Buzzbaits fished around pencil reeds or over large weed beds early in the day or on cloudy days has also been a excellent way to get those heart stopping strikes. Clear calm days anglers should be Texas rigging worm in the weedbeds. Smallmouth anglers continue to catch multiple big smallmouth a day fishing wacky riggings, tubes, in-line spinners and spinner baits. Down trees and rocky points in less then 10 feet of water has been best. Anglers continue to report catching more and more smallmouth out on top of sunken islands while trying to catch walleyes. White, watermelon and pink have good colors for bass angler this last week.
Big Northern Pike are starting to be found shallow again as weedbeds become more established and cooler temps return. Anglers have been having a great time catching them on large streamers, large in-line spinners and large suckers in 10 feet of water or less. Anglers looking to target these fish, simply need to focus of weedbeds and area around creek mouths. Red/White, chartreuse and copper have been good colors for Pike this last week.
Lake Trout continue to be limited to deep water, so locating them has been very easy for anglers. Anglers have been trolling, trolling spoons or flutter spoons at 40-60 feet of water with down riggers. Copper, silver and white have been the go to colors." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
I didn’t do a very good job of wishing the Hippie Chick a happy anniversary yesterday. So if I may ask, please join me in wishing my most beautiful and loving wife a Happy Anniversary! Two years in and the honeymoon is only getting started!
There were a few reasons for my tardiness, not the least of which was that we spent most of our day driving between Winnipeg and Grand Rapids to make an “emergency” 2:00 PM dentist appointment. We got home on time and I made it to the appointment. But I have to admit that after a couple of hours in “the chair”, I wasn’t in a very romantic mood … any more.
Luckily for us, our anniversary had given us a great excuse to take off a few days and get away from the hubbub. Even if we had to cut it a little bit short, the rest of our trip up to Winnipeg was just what the doctor ordered.
Fishing really wasn’t the purpose of our trip, we just wanted to relax, see the sights and eat food that we can’t get at home. But I wasn’t sure how I could survive 3 days within an hour drive of the best Channel Catfish water in the world, without at least giving it a try.
Whenever I first suggested fishing on the Red River for catfish, my wife looked at me like I had lost it. Even after I convinced her that there’s no other place on the planet that offers this good of a shot at 20 pound plus Channel Catfish, I think she was still only coming along to indulge me. She did agree though, providing that I promised her that "noodling" would not become part of the adventure.
Even I wasn’t exactly sure if the trip would live up to my imagination, I wondered if the stories about those big cats were overly hyped. But once we were on the river and saw the first fish; both of us were all in, hook, line and sinker!
Everything I’d ever heard about the size of Red River’s Channel Cats was true. In fact, the stories I’ve heard before weren’t actually good enough! That’s right, the fishing action was even better than I could have ever dreamed up and the size of those fish is absolutely amazing.
We caught numerous fish that weighed 20 pounds or more and each one of us caught more than one that weighed in over 25 pounds. I got the longest fish, a 38-1/2 inch monster, but the Hippie Chick caught the heaviest fish. Her fish tipped the scale at 28.5 pounds in the basket of the landing net which added about ¾ pound to the actual live weight of the fish.
Naturally, I was curious about why those fish get so big and when I started searching, I ran across an article by Brad Dokken. In it, Dokken asserts that catch and release fishing plays a major role.
Before our trip, I was curious about how one of these fish might taste and about how we might prepare one. My curiosity about eating one didn’t last long though, our guide took care of that when he said; “You better count on catch and release fishing only. Technically, you’re allowed to keep one fish fewer than 23 inches, but we NEVER catch one that small.”
He was right, we never saw a fish that small and I’ll bet that we only ever saw a couple of cats that were smaller than 30 inches. After doing battle with these massive fish, I have a whole new appreciation for how special that fishery is. Now that I’ve been there, the last thing I care about is trying to harvest one of them. Like the Hippie Chick said; “If we want to eat a catfish, we can go over to Floodwood and catch one in the St. Louis River.”
Read the full Dokken Article, follow this link >> Why Do Red River Catfish Grow So Large?
In my mind, anybody who wants to go toe-to-toe with a big, hard fighting fish should really give this a try. You can say what you want about sturgeon; I know they put up a good fight too. But I’m telling you, no sturgeon ever gave me a thrill like these big cats do. Once they realize that you’re trying to pull them off of the bottom, they fight fast and hard, they bulldog like a big smallmouth would and they don’t give up until they’re in the net.
I can’t really say enough about our experience, it was a blast and I think that like me, the Hippie Chick got a thrill that she wasn’t expecting too.
It’s one thing to talk and speculate about how a trip like this one might be. But until you’ve experienced your own “multiple catfishisms”, there’s just no way to know how fun it really is.
Our guide was absolutely first rate, he was knowledgeable, courteous and a joy to fish with. Ordinarily, I’d make it easy for you to find out more about him and how to reach him. But in this case, he wasn’t really too anxious to drum up a lot of attention, at least not for himself.
The guides have their own system for taking care of customers up on the Red River and they do it a little more quietly. So if you get interested, shoot me an email and I’ll happily help point you in the right direction. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"More excellent fishing, we have also had great weather this past week! Majority of the angling has been drifting with spinners and night crawlers. While in either Little Traverse Bay North of Garden Island or in Big Traverse Bay it has been excellent.
When there has not been enough wind for drifting, we have done some down rigging with plugs; it has also been excellent in both places.
We have had so many new pictures this summer; I thought this week would be a great blast from the past time. Here is Shorty and Captain Lanny with a monster Northern Shorty caught in August of 2003, plus a shot of how low the water was that year.
50’s overnight and 70’s in the daytime is forecasted for the week. This sounds cool for August.
We still have some space available in August and we expect an awesome bite all summer long. The World Ploughing Contest is coming up at the end of August! Learn More >> 2019 World Ploughing Contes Lake of the Woods
The winter rates are out, if you have not picked your dates, now is the time to get the best available ones." — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
"North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries personnel encourage anglers to keep fish caught from depths of more than 25 feet, rather than practice catch-and-release.
Scott Gangl, Game and Fish fisheries management section leader, said while catch-and-release is often encouraged under the right conditions, fish reeled in from this depth will likely die if released.
“Fish caught from deep water likely won’t survive because of the extreme change in water pressure,” Gangl said.
Change in water pressure will cause the swim bladder to expand, Gangl said, which means fish can no longer control balance. In addition, he said other internal injuries will likely happen, such as ruptured blood vessels or internal organs.
This can happen in any deep water body, Gangl said, but it is especially noteworthy for this time of the year in Lake Sakakawea.
“As water warms during summer, fish tend to move to deeper, cooler water,” he added. “This is particularly true for walleye in the big lake, where walleye follow their primary forage of rainbow smelt to deeper depths as summer progresses.”
Anglers fishing at least 25 feet deep should make the commitment to keep what they catch, and once they reach their limit to stop fishing at that depth.
“Our simple message is for anglers to keep fish that are caught from these depths, or to fish in shallower water when practicing catch-and-release,” Gangl said." — Read More >> North Dakota Game and Fish News Releases
"The walleyes continue to be cooperative. Trolling crankbaits, spinners with leeches, or live bait rigs on the mid-lake bars and structures are all good bets to catch walleyes. Most of the walleyes caught recently have still been in the 18-23 inch protected slot, but there were a few fish brought in to be cleaned last week too.
Northern pike fishing was where most of the action was this past week. All methods of catching pike were working. Trolling spoons seems to be the most reliable method though. Look for the deeper weeds along the shoreline breaks or fish the top of the main bars. There were many nice northerns caught this past week.
Perch fishing has perked up a bit this week. There were some perch caught on the flats south of the River. Look for some sparse weed growth in 14-16' of water. Jigs and fatheads or spinners with minnows will do the job for perch.
We have openings for our Labor Day Special. Reserve August 24-31 and stay until Labor Day for free! Early fall fishing can be really productive and the weather is still like summer. Give us a call to reserve your space for this great special." — Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
From time to time, I make particular mention of certain fishing customers, especially ones that I’ve known for a long time. In some instances, I mention them because I notice quirky fish behavior or weather patterns that seem to crop up every time they come to fish with me.
Well today, August 9, 2019, by special proclamation of Cub Reporter, Staff #003, “The Clevenger Effect” will be officially and forever entered into the captain’s log as a proven condition.
The Clevenger Effect is a condition whereby northern pike of all shapes and sizes seemingly disappear from whatever lake we are fishing at the time. It occurs even on lakes where most anglers regard small pike as nuisance fish that must be tolerated in order to catch other species that better meet their preferences.
It’s connected in part to weather, Mike Clevenger has the ability to show up whenever the sky is blue and the seas are calm. They are the sort of days that discourage pike from feeding forays over shallow weeds, ones that force them to hunker down in the weeds, or go deep onto shady structures.
I know, you want some evidence, some example that might convince you that the condition is real.
How about this? Last week, one of the lakes I fished yesterday produced pike-after-pike for my customers. We caught so many of them that they started becoming annoying. Yesterday I made a trolling pass along one of those same weed edges. On it we caught walleye, crappie, bluegill, rock bass, largemouth bass, perch and zero pike.
The same thing occurred on other spots too, in fact the Little Joe Spinners, tipped with minnows that we were trolling attracted one 22-1/2 inch pike all afternoon long.
The first lake we fished in the morning is one where I might produce 100 or more small pike on a typical day. I’ve never caught a crappie on that lake during the open water season, any bluegills either for that matter; until yesterday. We caught every species of fish there except the pike we were looking for.
That’s not enough? Okay, if you’re familiar with Bass Lake near Cohasset, MN, then you know that it is chock full of small size pike. Mike has a cabin there, but he hasn’t caught any pike this week in that lake either.
Luckily, the Clevenger Effect can be overcome; occasionally Mike will bring along a fishing partner who's lucky and can overcome the effects of it. Luckily too, is that it typically doesn’t influence other species of fish. So if the pike are un-responsive, we can usually find something else to do.
Like on Thursday when Mike and his son-in-law Preston Spindle found a nice school of crappies waiting for them under my boat. There were other fish too, but crappies were by far the feature story.
That makes four lakes now with good crappie bites all going at the same time; this is more than a coincidence. That’s the total number that I’ve had firsthand experience on over the past 10 days. There are dozens of others that I haven't been on, but it seems like a safe bet that the crappies are likely active in many others.
So I’ll step out on a limb and predict that if your favorite lake has a decent crappie population, you’ll probably have pretty darn good luck fishing them this weekend.
Generally speaking, the pattern for finding them has been to focus on whatever deeper weed patches we can find. There have been some cabbage weeds holding fish, but I think that the weeds growing deeper and closer to more open water have held better schools of fish.
On Thursday, the Weeds you see pictured here are the ones that produced our best action. I’m pretty sure that it’s called Flat Stemmed Pondweed, but I’m checking on that to confirm and if I’m wrong, I’ll let you know over the next few days.
If you click and look at the enlarged image of my graph, you’ll see some other low lying weeds near the bottom. I couldn’t see those shorter weeds with my eyes, but I’d guess that it was Wild Celery, the fuzzy stuff that I mentioned in this perch fishing report last fall.
As far as presentation goes, my usual method of trolling Little Joe Spinners in and over the weed tops worked fine. But I’m confident that if we’d chosen to stop trolling, we could have caught good numbers of fish by casting small jigs tipped with plastic action or swimming type tails.
Surface water temperatures are still fairly warm, 72 to 75 degrees is what we found on Thursday. The weeds still looked green and healthy, so I think this pattern will hold up for another week, maybe two.
As far as the pike that you’re gonna catch while you’re trolling this weekend are concerned. Just smile and think of Mike whenever you reel one in and remember, if you don’t like them, he’d probably take a couple of them off your hands; we already ate the one “keeper” that we got yesterday. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
For as long as I can remember, Leech Lake has had a reputation for being fickle. On one day, you can have the best walleye fishing of your life; you’ll be so happy you think you’re in heaven. On the next day, you’re ramped up and raring to go for another great trip, only to find out that some weather change stopped the bite in its tracks.
For a fishing guide, it’s bad enough to take customers to a lake where the fish aren’t biting. But what’s really bad is taking them there after they’ve been watching the “social pages” and seeing one hero shot after another about how great the fishing has been and then find out that the fish aren’t biting.
If you look at it from the customer’s point of view, the disappointment is understandable. While I’m driving all over the lake, I imagine what they must be thinking or questions that they must be asking themselves. Questions like; “how could all these guys have been over here catching walleyes every day and now I’m here with the only guide in Minnesota who can’t find them?
I wouldn’t blame them for thinking that because honestly, there have been so many photos of guys showing off their great catches lately, that it even had me stoked about getting over there.
So when my customer told me that he wanted to go fishing on Leech Lake to get in on the action, I was only too willing to comply. When I asked Justin Wiese about helping out by guiding part of the 5 man crew, he was happy about going there too. He knew what I knew and we both figured on having some decent action on the big lake.
There was one thing we forgot to consider; the “fickle factor”.
There was a series of thunderstorms rolling through the area during the wee hours of Wednesday morning. They were all finished before dawn, so except for the wet streets and roads, it was practically un-noticeable; except to the fish. Long story short, there wasn’t much of a walleye bite on Leech yesterday morning.
Luckily, Justin and I knew about a panfish bite that’s been happening and rather than forcing our crews to watch us beat our heads against the wall, we switched gears. The crappies saved our day, in fact between the pike, rock bass and panfish; I’d call our afternoon “action packed”.
The fishing report isn’t much different than what you’ve been reading recently. Trolling the weeds in 8 to 12 feet of water using Little Joe spinners at 1.0 to 1.2 MPH is all I did. I’m not sure if Justin had a special spinner that he really likes, but he trolling more or less same way that I was.
I’ll get back to the details on Friday morning, but right now I have to run. We’re getting an early start today, hoping that we can capture some decent pike before the sun gets too high in the sky. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Walleye fishing has been challenging for some, while very easy for others this last week. Successful anglers have stayed on the move, watching their electronics and not wetting a line until they find fish. Anglers have been finding walleyes in 12-16 feet of water, along the edge of main lake points and sunken islands during the early morning and evening.
Simple spinner rigs or plain lindy rigs, tipped with a big leech or crawler, has been the ticket to a short successful outing. Hammered gold, silver, pink and perch colors have been the must have colors when fishing this way.
For walleye anglers looking for big walleye’s, trolling has been the ticket. Here anglers have been trolling tail dancers or reef runners 150 back behind planer boards, over 40-90 feet of water, during the last hours of the day. This technique is at its most effective on lakes that have a healthy population of cisco’s or smelt. White or red and white has been very consistent colors.
Panfish - Crappie fishing has been excellent as cabbage beds are becoming very well established on many area lakes. Anglers have been catching crappies near thick stands of cabbage during the day, but as the evening approaches crappies fishing really heats up. Anglers fishing with a jig and twister, crappie minnow under a bobber have been reporting a fish every cast at times. Here white, pink and yellow, have been excellent colors.
Sunfish too are being found in and around weedbeds. Wax worms, medium leeches or small pieces of night crawlers, fished under a bobber, has been very effective on all sizes of sunfish. Anglers looking to target the bigger sunfish, have been using small twister tails or beetle spins.
Bass - Largemouth bass fishing in the slop has been excellent. Here anglers have been fishing with weedless frogs or mice and dragging them slowly over lily pad patches and/or wild rice. Texas rigging worms in weedbeds has also been very effective on largemouth bass. Smallmouth Bass have been relating to the edge of shallow grass flats, downed trees and rocky points. Wacky rigging worms, has made for some very impressive outing for anglers.
Smallmouth bass have begone to transition to mid lake humps, as anglers have reported catching a few big smallmouth out on top of mid lake humps while walleye fishing.
Northern Pike anglers have been reporting a excellent pike bite going on in and around weedbeds. Here, 3/4oz to 1oz spoons, casted or trolled over the top of weeds or along weed edges has been lights out for aggressive pike. Suckers fished under a bobber has resulted in its fair share of pike too.
Buzzbaits and spinnerbaits are also worth throwing for anglers looking to cover some water. Big pike have been few and far between as they are out chasing large baitfish in deep water. Anglers trolling for walleye’s over deep water have landed a few bigger pike, but they have been few and far between. Hammered Copper, red and white, five of diamonds and white have been good colors to have.
Lake Trout - Warm summer temps have push lake trout down deep and anglers able to get their baits down to the trout, are catching trout. Down riggers have become the most effective way to present your bait in 40-60 feet of water.
Trolling flashy spoons and large stick baits over deep water has been very effective. Firetiger, Clown and silver were excellent colors this last week.
Stream Trout - Rainbows continue to be caught out over deep water. 15-25 feet below the surface has been the best depth to run cowbells or small crankbaits.
Anglers fishing from shore have reported the bite to be hit or miss. When catching trout, it has come on slip bobbers and a night crawler or fishing on the bottom with a night crawler floated off the bottom. Marshmallow, puff of air or snell floats are needed to raise the worm 2-3 feet off the bottom." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
Trolling crankbaits in the basin and drifting with spinner and night crawler combinations have both been strong methods. Main depths are 30 to 34 feet of water.
Some anglers still jigging frozen shiners over mud with success. With stained water of LOW, gold, pink, orange, and chartreuse or a combo of them are all working.
On the Rainy River, sturgeon anglers are reporting some fish of all sizes being caught. Variety of other fish being caught while fishing for sturgeon as well. Reports of some nice walleyes drifting spinners and trolling cranks. Smallmouth bass near rocky areas and bridges.
Up at the Northwest Angle, walleye fishing remains great. Fish being targeted in 22 to 29 feet of water. Spinners and crawlers has been the go to with gold, pink and orange hot colors.
Lots of walleyes eating crayfish currently. Reefs still holding fish. Some nice muskies and pike being caught amongst the islands." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"Its August already! Fishing has been fantastic; we have had a great number of large Walleye caught and released this past week. Many anglers are getting their personal bests. We are often asked, when is the best time to come Walleye fishing? Right now, is about as good as it gets!
We anticipate the bite to remain like this for a few more weeks. When the daylight hours start to decrease and the temps cool things down the bite will change again. We still expect it to be strong, but not as frequent with the number of large fish.
We have had some warmer weather this past week with heat indexes in the upper 80’s and 90’s. To remind everyone, when it is this hot we will not do shore lunches. The potential for unsafe conditions is not worth the risk. And typically, when it is this hot the bugs make it a miserable experience. We look at the forecast and the fishing trend each day to decide if it is an option or not.
We still have some space available in July and August and we expect an awesome bite all summer long. The World Poughing Contest is coming up at the end of August!" — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
Warm, stable weather and water temperatures in the mid to high 70's created ideal conditions for playing on area lakes this weekend. Except for the early morning, there were far more folks skiing, swimming and tubing than there were fishing.
I never expected the calm seas and sunny skies to be a boon to my fishing trips this weekend. But despite my scheduled fishing dates occurring under less than ideal conditions, the walleye action was surprisingly “okay”.
In fact on Saturday, my expectation was to catch little or nothing at all. The lake chosen by my customer’s hasn’t been the best over the past few seasons, so I didn’t have my hopes up too high. But despite the lack of cooperation on Mother Nature’s part, we actually produced a respectable catch. I was really encouraged by the number of fish we tricked that day and I left the lake hoping that I’d be scheduled to fish there again when the conditions are better.
A hot and sticky forecast for Friday gave my friends the chance to prove once again that “The Snyder Effect” is real. After a morning pow-wow with the 6 man crew, my friend Jeff “Cubby” Skelly and I decided that Bowstring would be as good as anywhere else to test the theory. In usual Snyder form, the crews rolled into action and between the two boats, turned in a solid performance.
Fishing spinners in the weeds, the mid-summer mainstay presentation was responsible for most of the catch on both Friday and Saturday. But we did catch a few walleyes wiggle worming the weeds on Saturday. I think rolling the night crawlers through gaps and pocket in the vegetation allows more thorough coverage and if we’d had a breeze suitable for drifting, wiggle worms would have played a more prominent role on that trip.
That calm stable weather gave anglers the "Upper" hand on Red Lake early this weekend too. After the lake settled down from last week’s turbulent conditions, the fish re-grouped and the fishing action rebounded.
I’ll fill in the details about Red Lake, and I’ll talk about my busman’s holiday with the Hippie Chick on Sunday. But first, I’ve gotta hit the road early this morning. We’re hoping to beat the heat by starting early this morning, if it pays off, you’ll know all about it tomorrow morning. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"The walleyes seem to be in a transitional mode this week. There are more fish showing up on the shoreline breaks than the mid-lake structure.
We are still catching some fish in the middle, but they seem to be more finicky than the past couple weeks. All the methods are catching walleyes at different times of the day. Trolling crankbaits and spinners, jigging minnows, leeches, and worms, and Lindy Rigging with the same baits are all working. The key is to find active fish.
Northern Pike fishing has been quite good. Look for the weeds on top of the main bars as well as the weeds along the shoreline drop-offs in 14-17' of water. Trolling spoons and larger crankbaits seem to be the best tactics on these structures. Jigs and small sucker minnows are also doing the job on top of the main bars for pike.
The perch front is showing signs of improving. Some nicer perch were brought in this week. Small crankbaits were the best way to catch the bigger perch. Minnows are catching perch too, but most of them are small; the small ones don't seem to bite the crankbaits. Fish the shoreline breaks 10-14 feet.
Fall is right around the corner. We have our Labor Day special at the end of August. Reserve the week of August 24-31 and stay until Labor Day for free! This is a popular special with our guests. You get nine days for the price of seven! We hope to see you then!" — Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
“Thanks for all the information you have given throughout the years. Would you comment on which brand of fishing line you use and if you use braid, fluorocarbon, or monofilament? The fishing shows all say that the brand that they sponsor is the best. It would be good to have an unbiased opinion.”
When it comes to fishing line, I have definitely led a boring life. I’ve found a few brands that have worked for me and I’ve stuck with them; happily I might add.
I do use braided lines under some circumstances, I like braid for bass, pike and musky fishing. For walleye I almost always use monofilament except under special circumstances.
When I’m fishing with customers, live bait, walleye and braided lines just don’t work for me. Granted, the braided super lines are definitely more sensitive and in my view; that’s the problem.
When fishing with live bait, a walleye strike doesn’t occur quickly, it develops gradually. Most often, the fish gets ahold of the bait, juggles it around a bit and eventually inhales it. Any angler who wants to achieve a high hook set percentage must learn to wait for the fish as it takes the bait.
Braided line is so sensitive that it makes anglers, especially novice anglers too jumpy. They try to set the hook at the first sign of a walleye “pull down”. In the end, the price for all that extra sensitivity is a reduction in hook setting success, instead of an increase. It’s akin to buying your kids a registered thoroughbred race horse when they sign up for their first riding lesson; just a bit of overkill.
The more experience an angler has, the less they are impacted by the jumpiness caused by the braided lines. So I can see why folks who think of themselves as “experts” are more prone to being fans of the super lines. That said, all of the best anglers I fish with have taken my advice and scrapped their braided lines (for walleye fishing) and all of them have told me that they’ve benefited by doing it.
Oh and then there’s the wind; try using braided line on your jigging rod when the wind is out of the northwest at 25 MPH. If you like it, then you are to be respected as an angler of exceptional talent!
During my formative years, I met a man at the Indianapolis Sport Show who was selling Triple Fish fishing line. Over the course of a couple seasons, he twisted my arm until I finally broke down and bought some. It worked out great for me and I’ve been using it ever since. I get the “camo” color in ¼ pound spools that hold 2500 yards of line; it lasts a long time that way and it’s very reasonably priced.
There are a couple of caveats; I can only use the lighter weight lines effectively. While the outer coating is very tough and abrasion resistant, it has a tendency to make the heavier test weights feel wiry and they have too much memory for me. That said, every jigging rod I own is spooled with the 4 pound test Triple Fish camo line. My Lindy Rigging rods are spooled with 6 pound test and have been for about the past 30 years.
The other caveat is that Triple Fish can be hard to track down and buy. I was getting it from Cabela’s when it was sold under their store brand name, but they discontinued it. Just now, I did a quick Google search and found it on both the Triple Fish Website again and also on the Tackle Direct website. By the way, it is currently on sale at an unbelievably low price of $5.00 for their 2500 yard spool. For that price, you can try it out and if you don’t like it, I’ll take the spool off your hands.
A few years ago, I met another man, Dale Black at the St. Paul Ice Fishing Show. He was selling Gamma Fishing Line and we got to talking about copolymer lines, at that time, for ice fishing. I picked up some of the Gamma Polyflex Copolymer Line from him, partly because anybody who works as hard as he does deserves the business.
I do love the copolymer line though and now I’m using it on all of my ice rods and also on my open water panfish rods. If I needed to make a wholesale switch to one brand for everything, this is the one I would choose.
When I do need braid for my heavy artillery rods, I’m getting that from Dale too; Gamma’s Torque Braided Line is the one I use on my bass and musky rods. I can’t consider myself an expert about braided lines, but for me, this has been good line; better than anything I’ve tried before.
I doubt if the total annual cost of all my fishing line combined would cover the cost of a nice steak dinner. Still, fish come in the boat regularly and I can scarcely recall a time when losing a fish could be blamed on the fishing line we were using.
If you ask 20 people the same question, you’ll probably get 21 answers. But for me, simple but effective, is my philosophy and I can’t find any reason to change.
Just when I thought I was firmly recovered from the little slump I had last week, Leech Lake decided it wasn't over yet. On Wednesday, the big lake thought it best to teach me another lesson in humility and remind me about a familiar corollary to Murphy’s Law; “The harder I try to do good, the harder it becomes to accomplish it.”
By any measure, the fish should have been at least somewhat active. There was a nice chop on the lake, the surface temperature was 73.5 degrees and the sky was mixed sun and clouds; it was even grey at times. My job would be made easier because I was fishing with a single customer and I was confident that sooner or later, I’d be able to demonstrate to him that I knew a little something about catching fish on Leech Lake.
We fished rocks, we fished weeds, we fish mid-lake structure, and we fished shoreline structure. We tried deep water, shallow water and medium depth water. We traveled to and fished multiple locations between Whipholt the New Leech Lake Campground. We cut across to the east shore of the main lake and tried Sugar point too.
Marking fish on the Humminbird wasn’t easy, catching the ones I did see wasn’t easy either. I’ll spend a good amount of time trying to learn what went wrong, but for now all I can say is that I just couldn’t figure out where the fish were and what they were doing. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to redeem myself and if I do, I will try to take good advantage of it.
Earlier this week, work had been going smoother. Weed beds in a variety of lakes had been churning out reasonable numbers of fish. As long as we’ve been near the foliage, we’ve been catching something.
On Tuesday, I fished with Josh Brecto and his friend Carter. A birthday gift for Josh from his dad Mitch, who also joined the boys on the trip, would be primarily about catching walleyes. We’d make Pokegama our destination because we’d not only have a chance for getting a big one, but there would likely be other fish to help keep the boys busy during the search.
Our fishing trip wasn’t much of a departure from most recent trips. We caught a mixed bag of walleye, pike bass and panfish. Walleyes were on the small side (for Pokegama), but were nice eaters that served to make a birthday fish dinner for Josh and family.
Pike were of above average size on Tuesday and there were some nice Largemouth Bass in the mix too.
For us, spinning the weeds worked fine, but when we set aside extra time to try and catch Mr. Big, the task was more challenging. Everyone in the crew hooked and “almost” caught one. But for one reason or another, they all got off or broke off, in the end; we didn’t get any big fish into the landing net. Somebody else did though.
On our way off the lake, I spotted my friend Brock Anderson and gave him a wave as we passed by his boat. He waved back and I figured like most days; that would be that. Later though, I stumbled into a post that he’d shared at the end of the day about his fishing trip.
But I wouldn’t ordinarily go out of my way to borrow a post from the social pages. Maybe I just feel a little extra connected because I saw him on the lake that day. But this particular post, I think is special and deserves to be shared.
I hope you don’t mind me borrowing your story Brock, but it reminded me about what the allure of fishing lakes like Pokegama actually is. I could feel the emotion when you wrote; “It’s been many years since I’ve wrapped my hands around a fish of this caliber. To do it on the lake that I pour sweat and blood into most of the summer means that much more. Ya just never know, had to work for them today.”
What I read into Brock’s post was that no matter how many hard days that lake has dished out, he remains loyal to it. He keeps going back, and he keeps working hard at it because he knows that sooner or later, there’s gonna be a payoff; one that won’t come from any other lake.
Congratulations on your catch Brock and thanks for the reminder; hard work does pay off, especially on the days that you don’t see it coming. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL >> More Recent Fishing Reports
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