After a few days without electricity, I finally have access to my computers, along with 3 days’ worth of email questions, account notifications and “special offers, just for me.”
Truthfully, the sensation of disconnected-ness has been somewhat dis-heartening this week, I guess because our expectations had changed since we moved into town. We had been relieved since leaving the “country life”, where getting hit by damaging storms, power outages and muddy roads were part of the routine. Nowadays, we really were enjoying “city life”, where downed trees and power outages don’t happen … as much.
We were lucky, most of the damage around our house can be fixed with chainsaws, rakes and wheelbarrows. A handful of downed trees, some roof repairs and a couple days of yard cleanup should help us get “back to normal”. Some of our neighbors were less lucky, they’ve had serious damage to their property and getting back into their routines is going to be a much bigger project.
Really getting caught up on fishing reports will take me a few days, but here’s the first installment, a quick recap of how this week has gone for me.
Surface water temperatures had risen above 80 degrees on several of the area’s more turgid lakes. On Tuesday, my Humminbird registered an 81-degree reading on Boy Lake, near Longville. Clear water lakes were warm too, ranging from 74 to 76 degrees, depending on local conditions. Since the storms blew through, water temperatures that I’ve observed are down an average of about 6 degrees. I’m now seeing readings that range between 71 and 74 degrees, depending on the lake and local conditions.
These storms by themselves did not instantly translate into huge changes for fishing, or fish activity. Those changes were already occurring, mostly because of seasonal influences, less stability in the weather and changes in food sources that dictate fish locations and feeding preferences.
It is a bit early to be talking about fall migrations, but there are signals that walleye in some lakes are on the move. In some, walleyes are already beginning to move away from mid-lake structure because insect hatches, for the most part, have run their courses. Fish have been forced to move toward other food sources, often found in shallower water. In some lakes, there were signs of oxygen depletion too, so fish were moving away from deep water, toward the weeds for a breath of fresh air.
A buzzword you’ll see in my reports over the next few weeks will be creativity. Searching for fish and varying presentations will be the norm, not the exception. Yesterday for example, we fished on Bowstring and caught some walleyes using bottom bouncers in 16 feet of water. We caught others using spinners in 7 feet of water, along the weed edges. Other anglers on the lake caught walleyes using Lindy Rigs and Leeches in 12 feet of water, drifting through patches of rock and gravel.
I have not been on Winnie this week, but friends tell me that similar patterns are developing there as well. If this summer is anything like 2020, it should not be long before fishing there gets interesting; the late summer, early fall bite was very good last year. Gathering information from contributors and fishing buddies will be a priority for me as I begin catching up on over-due reports.
I’m happy to be back, re-connected after a turbulent week and I'll do my best to get the reports back up to full-speed over the next few days. Good luck out there this weekend and please check back soon for updates. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
On one hand, a 2-day break from the heat wave was nice! On the other hand, the cooler weather sent a signal that the warm water, stable weather fishing patterns we were enjoying, never last forever. Being prepared for changes should be in the back of our minds as we roll into August.
On Wednesday, the surface water temperature under my Alaskan was 73 degrees, a full 7 degree drop from the water temperature reading delivered at the same spot last Monday. What started as a cool breeze from the Southeast turned into a full blown wind by mid-morning and controlling both boat speed and direction on small, intricate, mid-lake humps and bars became “tricky” to say the least.
My goal had been to deliver Lindy Rigged night crawlers to neutral minded walleyes by hugging every nook and cranny of the small, mid-lake structures at boat speeds of .3 to .5 MPH. At one point, I had deployed both trolling motors, a drift sock and had the outboard engine all running at the same time. But like Maxwell Smart would have said; “I Missed it by that much.” The wind speed and direction were both working against us, so I decided to skip the mid-lake walleye fishing and head back toward shore to troll the weeds.
It didn’t take long to figure out that the changing weather pattern resulted in completely erasing the previous pecking order, replacing it with a fresh predator vs prey scenario. Previously, the crappie bite had been on again, off again; sometimes there was a good run early in the morning and we’d catch a dozen or so, but never an all-day bite.
Yesterday though, we were sitting at the 2-person limit for Keith and Diane by 10:00 AM, I think they would have bitten all-day long if we wanted to keep catching and releasing, but we didn’t do that. Later, while we were trolling the weed edges, I tripped over another school of crappies, kept 3 of them to bring home as a gift for Mrs. Sundin. I think we could have caught a lot more but left the area in search of walleyes and or perch.
Perch, another fish that had recently been coming along as the odd single or double were now on the prowl too. Almost every stop yielded some perch bites, but one stretch of weeds produced a good action bite that lasted over an hour. As it happens, this was the last stop of the day, so I don’t know how long we could have stayed with that school of fish, but they were still striking when we left.
Walleyes were on the weed lines too, but for us, most were too small to be of interest for harvesting. Diane was able to persuade a couple of better 16-to-17-inch size fish into striking and these were the only 2 walleye that we bagged.
Diane would be happy to share with you that the Blue/Chrome color Little Joe Spinner she was using was her secret weapon. Seeing is believing, they say, so it is hard to argue, I saw it with my own eyes. Anyway, you can bet that the rod she was using yesterday will not be altered today, whomever winds up using it will definitely be fishing with the “lucky” blue/chrome spinner.
For today, I’m back on duty for day #4 of the Daikin “Fish-A-Roo”. The crew will have walleyes on the brain because there is a fish fry scheduled for late afternoon today.
I had been hoping to fish on Lake Winnie today and tentatively, still plan to do that. The wind is supposed to blow again though, so I’m guessing that trolling the weed edges would have to be primary on my agenda again today. The final decision depends on a few things, including reports about where my fellow guides fished and how the fared yesterday. Whichever way it goes, I’ll post an update tomorrow morning.
After what seemed like weeks of calm, warm weather, I was surprised by how difficult the transition to fishing in the waves was for me. In the end, I got the hang of it, but I’m planning to be better prepared mentally for today’s excursion. If you’re planning to fish today, remember your drift sock and be sure you have a full tank of gas, both could come in handy! — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"The urge to explore new fisheries eventually yields incredible fishing. Wired2fish's McKeon "Keys" Roberts found himself a "gem" by doing some late-night map reconnaissance and taking his kayak out on a bass fishing mission on an abandoned iron ore mine.
Going light while remaining fully equipped allows Roberts to find fish on new water quickly. For this mission, he prepares his kayak and a handful of proven tactics and lures. Ultra-realistic Ned crawfish and creature bait plastics prove highly effective in the gin-clear water.
A little background. Once upon a World War II, American had an unquenchable thirst for steel, and a mining industry was born. Many deep open-pit mines eventually ..." View Video and Lern More >> Bass Fishing an Abandoned Mine Pit Ultra Clear Water Tactics
After we wrapped up our fishing day and returned to William’s Narrows Resort, host location for the Daikin Fish-A-Roo, a few of us guides were together in the fish cleaning station. You know the drill, we were all chatting where we went, about how the day went and how the fish were biting. During a pause, my long-time friend and fellow veteran guide Jeff (Cubby) Skelly looked at me and said; “You know, fishing really has been pretty good this summer.”
Truthfully, that single sentence would be enough information to complete today’s report right now.
Stable weather and warm water temperatures have induced many fish to enter sort of a semi-permanent state of “hungriness.” If we can get the right bait in front of them, then there’s a better than average chance that we can get them to strike. And for us guides, it hasn’t been a matter of being “in-the-know” about a secret lake or hot spot. Nope, provided I visit a lake that has a known population of fish, then I can have confidence that my crew is going to catch something.
Recapping what’s happened this week alone, I’ve been on 2 lakes that I hadn’t fished for weeks and another one, not since last summer. Having a working knowledge of the lakes has helped, but in every case, almost every spot has produced at least some action. I can’t speak for all of the fishing guides in the region, but I’m fairly sure that the rest of them would share stories about similar experiences. With the exception of a zinger here or there, most everybody has been enjoying fishing that really is “pretty good.”
Sooner or later, we are going to pay a price, but as long as the water temperatures stay warm and violent weather stays away, fish activity should remain positive.
Trolling spinners has been the mainstay for everybody at the Fish-A-Roo this week and Lindy Rigging night crawlers has been the 2nd best choice. Whenever you have some space to work with, trolling has been preferred, fish spread out along a breakline of weed edge for example, can be targeted by trolling. Fish stacked up on tiny structures like rock humps or small weed patches are likely more vulnerable to Lindy Rigging. The more precise, deliberate presentation will allow you to keep a bait in front of the fishes nose longer, making this a more efficient presentation.
Standard operating procedure for most everyone has been to fish in shallow water; key depths for me have been 6 to 12 feet. But I’m hearing more good news about fishing deeper, mid-lake structures too. When time allows, I’ll dig up more information about that, but for now, sticking to shorelines and shallow structure on the flats will definitely get you into some fish.
Today, a break from the Fish-A-Roo leaves me with a day to catch up on old times in the boat with Keith and Diane Eberhardt, hopefully my glowing report about decent fishing won’t hex us for the rest of the day! More about that tomorrow. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Walleye fishing remained steady this last week. Anglers continue to find walleyes fairly shallow, 10 feet of water or less, in most area lakes. Here anglers are either finding walleyes on shallow boulder flats with night crawlers or on shallow weedlines with leeches. There are a handful of lakes where anglers have been catching big walleyes out on sunken islands in 20 to 25 feet of water, with jigging raps, during the evening hours.
Smallmouth Bass fishing remains excellent on many area lakes, as the shallow water, early morning, topwater bite continues to be excellent for many anglers. Here, whopper ploppers, pop-r’s and torpedoes have been hard to beat. As the sun gets up, the topwater bite cools off, so anglers switching to wacky worm or senkos and continue to catch good numbers of bass. Large boulder flats on points and around islands have been areas to check for active bass.
Panfish anglers have been reporting a excellent bite going on. Sunfish anglers have been reporting the best luck as of late, with these anglers finding gills working weedbeds and weedlines. Small leeches, fished under a bobber, has been very effective on them. Crappie anglers have been reporting that they are finding crappies out over deeper water, 15+ feet, during the day, but as the sun goes down crappies work their way into cabbage beds to feed. Here is where anglers are having the best luck catching quality crappies with crappie minnows or small jig and twisters.
Northern Pike anglers continue to report catching lots of pike, but the majority of them have been on the smaller side. Anglers continue to find active pike in classic summer time locations like weedlines and river mouths. Spoons, spinnerbaits and large minnow baits have been very consistent producers for anglers." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
Steady as she goes, that’s the best way to describe the first two days of unofficial Texas only version of Daikin’s “Fish-A-Roo. Fish are coming into all of the guide’s boats and the crew, after 2 days of fishing, are getting close to amassing 6 fish limits of walleye for each guest take back home on Wednesday morning.
When you get 8 or 9 of the better fishing guides together for an event like this, there are usually a couple of them who get into fishing that is “above average”. I think that so far this year, we’re all doing well, but nobody has broken new ground with a surprise hot spot.
On Sunday, day 1 of the event, most of us played it safe and headed for Bowstring. Walleye action there is not wide open, but anglers who try enough spots and keep their noses to the grindstone will catch some fish. The attraction to Bowstring this year isn’t a fast catch rate, in fact I have been there 4 times this summer and have not returned to the dock with full limits yet. The attraction in 2021 is the average size of the walleye, for my 3-person crew, it meant a dozen fish in the 16 to 18 inch range, with a pair of 14 to 15 inch fish in the mix for supper Sunday night.
In my report about fishing there with Susan last Saturday, I wrote; “For us, trolling with the typical setup, Little Joe Spinners behind 3/16-ounce bullet sinkers and tipped with night crawlers did the trick. I suspect that a lot of folks on the lake were using Lindy Rigs though. From a distance, it did not appear that many of them were moving fast enough to be trolling spinners. There will probably be more information about that this week, as I’m sure some of the guides from our group will be heading that way again.”
On Sunday, I learned that my assessment was correct; most folks were using Lindy Rigs to catch their walleyes and on Sunday, so did we. We rigged up 3/8 ounce No Snagg Sinkers, trimmed our Lindy Rig Snells to 6 feet long and used night crawlers. I always use a worm blower to inject them with air and firmly believe that it helps us catch more fish. Even if the walleyes don’t care about the floating crawler, keeping them off-bottom, above the snails and clams definitely makes fishing more efficient. How can you catch a walleye when your holding your hook in your hand un-hooking a clam from it?
Tolling spinners, the presentation I used on Saturday works too, but the fish are holding tight to structure in small packs. Trolling through any given spot may take 1 minute, but re-positioning for another pass can take 5 minutes, sometimes more. The efficiency you lose by not having the bait in front of fish adds up. So for now, Lindy Rigging gets the nod in terms of the current favorite presentation.
Monday morning looked like a great time to try Pokegama. We had the first decent breeze in a couple of weeks and the sky was grey, a definite plus when it comes to walleye fishing on the fickle lake. Despite conditions that looked good, the action was not up to par. We hooked a couple of walleyes, bagged one of them and lost the other one. But the pike, bass and panfish that would typically keep us busy did not show up. At 11:00 AM, and incoming storm was used as an excuse to high-tail it to another lake.
I’ve been saying for a while that the warm water has fish fired up everywhere, so picking which lake to fish wasn’t very scientific. My crack navigator Jay looked at the radar and said; “If we go north, it will all be over in a half hour, but going south will lead us to more rain.” Following his advice, I looked at the map and picked out a small, mixed bag lake located on the iron Range. Like clockwork, we drove a half hour north and as we arrived at the landing, we watched the last 4 or 5 drops of rain on the windshield.
I knew that there were bass, pike, sunfish, walleye, and crappie in the lake. We trolled the weed edges using Little Joe Spinners and caught bass, pike, sunfish, walleye, and crappie. There was a lot of action, we released numerous sunfish, bass and small pike. But just enough of the fish were “keepers” to make it interesting. We harvested 4 nice walleyes, 6 pike and 2 crappies. Along the way, we could have stopped at other, similar lakes and I suspect that the results would have been similar if we had. Next time, we will try one of them instead.
You know me, I always have to have a theory and regarding the “off-bite” at Pokegama, I do. Let me have a few days to roll it around in my head and talk it over with some local experts and after that, I’ll tell you what it is.
Right now, I have to run, day 3 is about to begin. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"There are a lot of summer walleyes are being caught and fishing has been good on the south end of Lake of the Woods. Not all of the walleyes are targeting the same forage and consequently, walleyes are being caught everywhere from shallow water to deep.
Many of the shallow fish are eating crayfish or chasing schools of baitfish. Fish found in deeper water feeding on baitfish, mayfly larvae, blood worms, tullibees and the list goes on!
Most anglers are targeting walleyes in 30 to 34 feet of water over the deep mud. There are scattered reefs too, which can always hold fish as well. Spinners and crawlers have been very effective. Hammered gold, orange, and red-white 2 tone spinners doing well.
Trolling crankbaits has also been effective. This technique puts your lure in front of a lot of fish and will get those "reaction" bites even when fish aren't actively feeding. Pink UV Firetiger, chrome/blue and shiny golds are good colors to start with.
If targeting walleyes, holes, current breaks, rock piles and weed edges can all hold fish. Pull spinners or troll cranks to find fish. The river is a great change of pace, is beautiful and doesn't receive a lot of traffic during the summer months.
The sturgeon "keep" season opened July 1st and runs through September 30, 2021. Sturgeon catch and release season begins again on October 1, 2021 and runs through April 23, 2022.
There are lots of walleyes being caught up at the Northwest Angle these days too. Some fish over the mud, others hanging around structure and a few in shallow rocks eating crayfish.
Anchoring up with jigs and minnows or leeches on the spot on the spot can be effective. If fish aren't there, move and find them. Most anglers drifting spinners and crawlers and trolling crankbaits over deep mud areas.
Pike are active in weedy bays using crankbaits and bucktails." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"We continue to work Big Traverse Bay with crawler harnesses drifting mostly in the 30-31 foot of water range. We have mixed it up some, heading to some sand or rock areas of Little Traverse. The quantity of keeper size has been really good close by, about 5 miles out of the Lighthouse Gap. Trolling with plugs seems to be effective for big Walleye in most areas of the lake.
Orange and Yellow seem to be the preferred colors. The sky has been mostly clear of clouds but we have a smoke covering which makes it look really hazy out all day long.
We are excited for the prospect of a little rain this week. Small amounts are forecasted with temps in the mid-60s and 80s." — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
Starting today, the ship hits the sand as an un-official, reduced scale version of Daikin’s annual Fish-A-Roo begins. Knowing that it would be a busy week, I scheduled myself off yesterday (Saturday) so that I could spend the day with the Hippie Chick; naturally, we went fishing.
Saturday, I wanted to take Susan someplace where we could catch a few fish early, and still get back home in time to putts around the house a little bit too. I have not fished Bowstring much this summer, but I’ve known that folks have been doing fairly well out there and earlier this week, I checked it out to be sure that she’d have a chance at catching a few fish without having to work hard at it. So, we got up early, drove up the dusty road leading to the south access and got the boat launched before 7:00 AM.
Compared to the traffic reports I’d heard from folks who have fished there more this summer, the Saturday crowd was not a large one. There may have been 8 or 10 rigs at the landing when we arrived, not many more than that when we left the lake later in the morning.
Surface water temperatures were in the 77-to-79-degree range everywhere we went, I did see 80 degrees once, but only for a few minutes. The accompanying photo shows an area of “moderate coverage”, but some areas of the lake were literally covered with dead snails that were as thick as shag carpeting. I don’t know if this is caused by water that’s too warm, or if it might relate to an oxygen problem, I suspect that it’s a combination of both, but I will check that out and report more later.
The fishing did not go as I expected. The day I took Bill Lathrop and his family to the lake, we caught quite a few crappies. But when I and the Hippie Chick tried for them, we only caught rock bass and small perch. So, I skipped the search for crappies, took her to the walleye hole instead and that’s where she had some fun.
For us, trolling the typical setup, Little Joe Spinners behind 3/16-ounce bullet sinkers and tipped with night crawlers did the trick. I suspect that a lot of folks on the lake were using Lindy Rigs though. From a distance, it did not appear that many of them were moving fast enough to be trolling spinners. There will probably be more information about that this week, as I’m sure some of the guides from our group will be heading that way again.
For us, 4 nice walleyes in the livewell represents a couple of nice meals, and by 11:00, we were satisfied with that. We high-tailed it for home and turned our attention to gardening, insect control and other family matters.
Water at the landings is exceptionally low, most folks cannot launch boats at either of the northern landings. The south landing is hold up okay, even some of the larger rigs were getting in and out okay. Don’t expect to get in or out without washing your rig though, drought conditions have turned the gravel road into a dust machine, a few trips back and forth and my rig looks like something straight out of Desert Storm. So, if dust and dirt bother you, maybe waiting until we get some rain would be a good idea. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
That said, conditions dictate, and a few basic settings tweaks will help you produce the best readout for the situation. Jeff "Kolo" Kolodzinski shares his top 6 tips for getting the best fish finder readout for the conditions.
Mount your transducer correctly. Install transducers in a location that ..." View Video and Learn More >> Top 6 Tips for Getting the Best Fish Finder Sonar Readouts
Instinctively, we want to believe that when the weather gets hot, fish go deep. On the surface, it makes sense, why wouldn’t a fish want to beat the warm temperatures by diving deeper in cooler water? Well maybe in some lakes it’s because there isn’t any air down there and they have to choose between being too warm and not being able to breathe.
Heat stress, for lack of a better term, is a common theme among the lakes I’ve fished recently. I’m seeing early indicators that some lakes are forming hard thermoclines and on them, fish are moving away from the deep water in favor of more oxygen rich, shallow habitat.
Over the past week or so, I’ve fished on Winnie, Cutfoot Sioux, Bowstring, Big Sandy and others. On every one of them, the fish that I have located and caught were in shallower water than most folks would have anticipated. In fact, the most common “magic depth” has been 10 feet, but some of the walleyes, crappies too for that matter, have come from water depths of 4 to 6 feet.
I understand, not all lakes “thermocline” and not all lakes suffer oxygen depletion during summer. So, for every lake I mention, somebody else is going to bring up an exception and their points will be well taken. I simply try not to fish lot of those deeper waters, anymore, ever since I’ve learned about the effects of barotrauma.
I don’t want anybody to be confused about reading a variety of conflicting reports on the website. Just because I don’t like fishing deep water these days doesn’t mean others can’t, it only means that I’m not fishing under those circumstances and it’s unlikely that I’ll have firsthand information to report. There will be times when other, contributing reporters mention fishing in deep water. That’s fine, those reports are based on their own personal experiences and equally valid.
For me, trolling with spinners has been the #1 presentation on every lake and it hasn’t mattered if we were fishing weeds or open water structure. A second choice has been casting jigs tipped with artificial tails, the Yum Pulse comes to mind, we have caught walleye, pike and bass on them this week. I mentioned a few days ago that I would try using them as a way of selecting out larger that were roaming amidst legions of smaller fish. The jury is out about that, so far, the only thing I’ve noticed is that we hook less small fish when they short-strike the tails; not that we have caught more larger fish.
Another distinction about the plastic lures is that they have worked best in and around the weeds. On open structure, the Little Joes tipped with minnows, night crawlers and leeches have been way more reliable.
One of the lakes I mentioned, Big Sandy has been the subject of reports in the past. It’s always been a fun lake for me, and Tuesday was no exception, my trip there on with Judy and Lynn was a blast! But it served as a reminder about how effective we anglers are at sifting out the “keeper” size walleyes in lakes that have size-restrictions imposed.
Unlike many lakes in the Itasca Region that have “protected slot sizes”, fish in Big Sandy Lake are almost all protected unless they fall into the 14 to 18 inch “keeper slot”. That’s right, you can only keep walleyes between 14 and 18 inches and because of that, the lake is loaded with 13 to 13-1/2 walleyes. It’s a blast fishing there because there is almost always good action, but folks intent on filling the freezer better pack a lunch; it is going to take a while.
On Tuesday, I’d estimate that we released roughly 8 to 10 walleyes before capturing a “keeper”. We harvested 4 keeper fish, so a solid estimate would be 35 to 40 walleyes caught. A jumbo perch here and there, along with some small pike, added to the action so there was something going on almost all the time. Those 13 to 13-1/2 fish are just large enough to be fun at the end of the line and because the water is shallow, hooking mortality, especially on trolling lures, is minimal.
It’s pretty obvious that anglers already have the ability to catch most of the “keeper” size fish from any lake, no matter where it is. What does this mean for the future of fishing in Minnesota, will rationing, along with tighter and tighter restrictions ever make everybody happy? Or is there a better way?
Later, when I’m not in a hurry to get to my next appointment, I’d like to look closer at lakes with both protected and keeper slot sizes. Either way, if you are like Judy and Lynn have the mindset that catching fish is fun, and a meal at the end of the day is all you need, then you’ll be happy fishing on Big Sandy. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Walleye anglers have noticed that the walleye bite continues to improve, exspecially the shallow water bite. Anglers fishing for panfish on weedlines, ended up catching more walleyes then panfish. Leech under a bobber was the best technique here. Anglers found nice walleyes here in 4 to 6 feet of water. Best colors continue to be orange, chartreuse and gold.
Smallmouth bass fishing continues to be excellent on many area lakes. Anglers have been reporting that Bass have been spitting up crawfish as they bring them in, so anglers should be fishing soft plastics that look similar to crawfish. Topwater bite continues to be excellent early in the mornings with whopper ploppers, torpedos and pop-r have been the go to baits.
Northern Pike anglers continue to catch quality pike in shallow weedy bays and river mouths. Early mornings continue to best a high water temps send bigger pike deep as the sun gets up. Angler have been catching pike with large spooks, large spinnerbaits and large sucker minnows under a bobber." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
“There’s a sucker born every minute”, P.T. Barnum said. But even with all those suckers in the world, walleye anglers don’t see them all that often; until the water temperatures reach mid-summer peaks. Surface temperatures temporarily reached above 80 degrees on Monday before an afternoon breeze churned the surface. After the re-mix, my Humminbird showed readings of 77 to 78 degrees in exposed areas.
The accompanying photo shows that even slow-moving suckers will strike a Little Joe Spinner when their metabolic rate races. It also serves as a reminder about what I mentioned on Sunday, the warm water has activated fish of every shape and size!
On the surface, pun intended, many would perceive this news as good, who wouldn’t want to fish on a lake when every fish in the system is on the move and biting? And for the most part, I agree, it is a lot more fun to have active fish tugging on the line. The problem is with all of the little fish striking everything that moves, we’re having some trouble getting our lures in front of “the right fish”.
On Monday, that meant getting the spinners in front of walleyes that were large enough to keep. Numerous catches of small, 10-to-12-inch walleyes, 7-to-8-inch perch and 12-to-16-inch northern pike made for fast action, but low harvest rates. There were times that I could see larger fish on my screen, but before we could get one hooked up, some other little critter grabbed the bait. Luckily, the goal of the fishing trip was to learn about the lake, and not necessarily to harvest fish, that took some of the pressure off.
Today, I’m going to try an experiment using artificial lures that are so large that the small fish don’t stand a chance of eating them. There’s no telling whether it will work on the lake we’ll be fishing, but it is no secret that larger walleyes will respond well to large plastic action tails during mid-summer. If it works, I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow and if it doesn’t, I’ll do my best to explain why.
Size of the fish notwithstanding, one thing I will say about walleyes and walleye location right now is that anglers everywhere are fishing too deep for them. Yes, I realize that intuitively, one would think the hot weather would drive them deeper, but, it usually works the opposite of that. Some lakes are beginning to show signs of thermoclines, and that will move fish shallower. Weed growth is developed and mature, that will also move elements of the food chain shallower.
I know that there are deep water exceptions, but if you’re on the lake today and can’t find fish where “you think they should be”, do not give up before trying shallow water. Most of the walleyes we’ve caught over the past 10 days have been in water depths of 6 to 12 feet. The precise locations vary from lake to lake, but shallow weed beds, gravel bars and light rock have all held fish. Even on deeper flats, it is the shallowest structure that holds the most fish.
We’re trying to beat the heat by starting earlier than usual these days and that discourages me getting too wordy in the morning reports. Always remember, if I touch on a subject that interests you, but you want more specific information about it, emailing me will get you an answer. I may be hard to reach on the telephone but do my best to answer all of the emails during the wee hours of morning, before I go to work. So, don’t be bashful, send your questions and be sure to let me know whenever I have permission to share them with readers, you never know, they might be asking the same questions you are! — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"A "Tried and True" staple of the sport, the jig worm is still one of the easiest ways to catch summertime schooling bass. Wired2fish intern Nick Dumke shares why he loves a jig worm so much when fish go deep, as well as how he utilizes the bait to its full potential.
A bait that got Dumke into the world of bass fishing, the jig worm has remained on his deck ever since. The simplicity of this rig shines through in its name, a jig and a worm. Dumke prefers either a curly tail worm or a stick bait style. When it comes to setup, match the rod to the cover you are fishing. The thicker the weeds, the heavier the rod. Either way, Dumke prefers a longer twig for maximum casting distance and fighting power. He also recommends a little bit heavier fluorocarbon leader when fishing around thick weeds to give yourself the ability to get fish out of the jungle.
"Another really good week of summer walleye fishing on the south end of Lake of the Woods. Walleyes are being found in many areas but most anglers are targeting deep mud in 30 to 34 feet of water.
Folks are catching a nice mix of eaters, fish in the protected slot and also quite a few trophy walleyes over 28 inches this week too. Using spinners with night crawlers or leeches has worked well, so has trolling crankbaits; these have been the 2 most effective techniques.
Good spinner blade colors to start with are hammered gold, red/white, gold/glow, pink, orange or chartreuse.
Crankbait colors, pink UV firetiger, chrome/blue, firetiger. It is good to start with a variety different colors, shapes and action of crankbaits. Mix and match styles when fishing with other anglers and let the walleyes tell you that day what they want most.
On the Rainy River, anglers catch a mixed bag of fish during the summer months. Walleyes, saugers, smallmouth, pike and sturgeon are all available. If targeting walleyes, holes, current breaks, rock piles and weed edges can all hold fish. Pull spinners or troll cranks to find fish.
The sturgeon "keep" season opened July 1, 2021 and is open through September 30, 2021. The sturgeon catch and release season begins on October 1, 2021 and runs through April 23, 2022.
There are lots of walleyes being caught up at the Northwest Angle too. Some fish over the mud, others hanging around structure and a few in shallow rocks eating crayfish.
Anchoring up with jigs and minnows or leeches on structure is still effective if fish are present. Most anglers drifting spinners and crawlers over deep mud areas. Trolling crankbaits continues to be effective." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
On Friday I wrote, “I can honestly say that if you have a list of lakes that you’ve always wanted to try, this is the time to do it. The advice is doubly true if the lakes you’re interested in lakes affording opportunities for multiple species, if there is ever a time that you can go to a lake knowing that something will be biting, it is now.”
On Saturday, We weren’t under any pressure to catch walleyes, 2 limits of those were already packed and frozen for the trip home. Wanting to be sure that Jay and Adam had some good action to finish off their weekend fishing trip, I decided to take a chance on a lake that I hadn’t fished for a couple of years. If it worked out, we’d catch a mixed bag of pike, bass, sunfish and maybe even some crappies.
When we arrived at the lake, the parking lot was almost full, by the time we had the Alaskan floating, there was 1 spot left for my truck. I guess I wasn’t the only one with the same idea.
At 8:00 AM, surface water calm as glass, the temperature was 77 degrees and by mid-afternoon, would push toward the 79-degree mark. In this range, it is almost impossible to not find panfish and bass actively roaming and feeding. And there was little doubt about that fact on Saturday, every kind of fish from minnows to largemouth bass were flopping around over the weed tops.
I wanted my crew’s experience to be a different than what we had done the day before. So, instead of rigging up the spinners right away, I passed out fishing rods rigged with jigs and plastics. YUM’s Pulse soft plastic lures are intended to be used as swim baits, but for me, using them with a 1/8-ounce round head Lindy Jig works great. Cast toward the weed edges, let the lure fall and then retrieve them with a lift-swim-drop action. At the first stop, this presentation was working fine, we caught several largemouth bass along with a few pike.
I guess we could have kept casting all day, but I noticed that the bass and pike we caught were very aggressive and that almost every strike came as the lure was falling into the water. I noticed too that panfish, thousands of them, just watched the lures instead of striking them. Usually, that many panfish crammed into a small area would be nipping constantly at the tails of our plastic lures. “I suppose we are moving too slow, I guess we better try the spinners for a while;” I said.
We pulled out the trolling rods and rigged up the Little Joe Spinners and then the action started. Sunfish, pike, bass and even a few crappies struck and were landed frequently. Truthfully, the fish were almost too active, the legions of tiny sunfish were fighting each other for a chance to snatch the meat from our spinners. Night crawlers were nearly impossible to use because the small fish pulled them off the hooks too fast. Leeches worked better but were favored by sunfish and bass; no crappies and few pike took them. Minnows produced some crappies, a lot more pike and just as many bass.
Which bait to dress your spinners with will vary, depending on your target preference. I’d personally target sunfish, so I would stick with leeches. You may prefer to target crappies though, so minnows would be your bait of choice, but we would both pay a price. For me, the tradeoff would be putting up with hundreds of little sunfish while I waited for the odd keeper to come along. For you, being kept busy by small pike might reduce the number of times a crappie finds its way to your spinner. Either way though, we would both be kept very busy.
With a couple more days of warm, calm and stable weather forecast, I see no reason not to expect that fish throughout the north-central region won’t be equally aggressive today. So, if you skipped out on taking the kids fishing yesterday, today offers a second chance. I would bet you that any lake that lies within the belt of stable weather and has a decent population of fish, presents an opportunity for a great, action filled day with your family.
Today, I have a busman’s holiday planned, I don’t have to work but do have an upcoming guide trip that requires me to make a trip to another lake that I haven’t fished for a while. I want to bring myself up to speed on what’s happening there. Because that lake isn’t really known as a panfish lake, I would not anticipate getting in on the mixed bag action bite. That’s okay, if you do, you can send me a report and maybe a photo so I can live vicariously through your experience!
Have a great day on the water! — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
I imagine that there are more than a few anglers in the Itasca Region who are enjoying some really good fishing and hope not to let the word slip out about their favorite fishing holes. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that they think the great luck they’re having is because they know about a secret spot, the only place in the county where the fish are biting.
If you happen to be one of them, let me reassure you. Nobody is going to blab about your secret spot, because they are already busy trying to keep a lid on the news about their secret spot. That’s right, there are so many good bites going on right now that anglers can pick and choose where they want to go and how they want to fish. Just yesterday, I talked with friends fishing in the region.
On 1 lake, I received a good fishing report about walleyes on mid-lake structure, caught using Lindy Rigs and live bait. Another one was about great walleye action pitching jigs on shallow water structure. Slip-floats with live bait suspended along deep weed edges was the secret for taking walleyes on another lake and for me, trolling Little Joe Spinners did the trick again. Bottom bouncers, used to troll spinners on the mud-flats was the secret that another friend used to catch walleyes on a popular lake in the Bemidji area.
Last night, when I talked with my crew about prospects for fishing today, I was able to offer them multiple choices about where we could fish and how we might do it. If this was late May, or the 1st week of June, this wouldn’t shock me, but in my mind, having multiple choices about multiple presentations on multiple lakes during mid-summer is an entirely unexpected luxury.
Stable weather is the key, I think. Day after day, calm seas and bluebird skies have allowed fish to settle into predictable patterns and anglers have had time to figure them out. Even the cold front that arrived early this week settled in quietly, without generating large thunderstorms that are usually disruptive to fishing patterns.
Before the front, surface water ranged from 78 to 82 degrees, depending on the lake. After the front, surface temperatures dipped into the 72 to 75 degree range and by days end on Thursday, were creeping back up into the high 70s.
For a lot of folks, mid-summer is the time to take a break from fishing. After hitting the lakes hard during spring, the boat gets a rest before the fall action starts back up again. So far this year, mid-summer fishing is shaping up to be as good or better than the spring fishing was and if I was you, I would not want to miss out on it.
I like to explore, trying new lakes is fun for me. But even an Amerigo Vespucci wanna be like me knows that successful exploration depends a lot on the weather; the time to check out a new lake is not when the weather is turbulent. Looking ahead at the weekend forecast, I can honestly say that if you have a list of lakes that you’ve always wanted to try, this is the time to do it. The advice is doubly true if the lakes you’re interested in lakes affording opportunities for multiple species, if there is ever a time that you can go to a lake knowing that something will be biting, it is now.
Nothing lasts forever, and this run of stable weather won’t either; sooner or later, we will pay a price. But in the meantime, you might as well get in on the action. For explorers, take out your short list of places you want to try and give them a whirl. Folks like you already know enough about fishing so that you won’t need any advice from me about how to go about it, just that the green light is on.
Folks that just want to gather up the family and head for the lake for some action won’t be disappointed either. Grab a supply of Little Joe Spinners, a scoop of fatheads and a box of night crawlers; you’ll have everything you need to get your kids in on some action. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Walleye: Many anglers struggled finding walleyes this last week, but several groups had no issue, not only catching good numbers, but catching several trophy walleye’s. These groups found walleyes in 7-12 feet of water, over large boulder flats, very early in the morning.
Leeches and crawlers, fished on a spinner rig or tipped on a jig, was very effective. Orange, gold and chartreuse have been hot colors this last week. Trolling bite has started on several lakes. This has largely been a evening bite where anglers are using a deep diving crankbaits trolled over deep water, during the evening hours.
Smallmouth Bass fishing has remained excellent for bass anglers this last week. Topwater and soft plastics continue to be the way to go and early morning or late in the evening has been the best time to fish. Anglers have been finding Bass on large boulder flats in 10 feet of water or less.
Northern Pike anglers have been reporting a increase in the average size of pike they have been catching. Anglers have been having success throwing larger spoons, spinnerbaits and in-line spinners around weedbeds and river mouths.
Panfish anglers have been finding good numbers and size sunfish in shallow weedbeds. Here anglers are using small leeches or wax worms under a bobber. Crappie anglers have been finding crappies hanging out over deep water next to weedbeds. Anglers here have been using jigs and twisters or crappie minnows." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
Like most American’s, the Independence Day provides me with incentive to take a couple days off. And if the ordinary festivities aren’t incentive enough, my daughter, Annalee’s 4th of July birthday adds the extra boost that it takes to get me to take time away from work to smell the roses.
I always think of this as the warmest period of the summer and the recent heat wave certainly has not discouraged that belief. I don’t think that it’s been any hotter than past years, but it feels like maybe it’s been hotter longer, so we’re more tired of it. Either way, in a typical season, we’d have done more family fishing than we did last weekend, but none of us were overly concerned about maximizing boat time in the middle of a heat wave. So, except for a guide trip last Friday and a quick family trip on Sunday morning, I spent most of the weekend catching up on boat maintenance, tending to the garden and doing yard chores.
OH, and let’s not forget having a little birthday party for Annalee too.!
Whenever I was in the boat lately, I was watching the weeds and catching glimpses of Little Joe Spinners flicker in the water. Mixed bag fishing consumed almost every trip last week except one, a day when I was required to “get serious” about walleye fishing. In terms of catching numbers of walleyes, I can’t say that the mixed bag trolling bite would have replaced that day, but despite not directly targeting walleye, we did catch some on every lake and on every trip.
So, let’s say that you’re planning a fishing trip, but don’t want to work real hard on it. You could, based on the lake’s fish populations, spend the whole day trolling from one weed patch to another. The most complicated decision you’d have to make is how heavy the sinker ahead of your spinner should be. The most intricate part of the fishing trip would be steering the boat to stay close to the weed edges so that your crew could get their spinners in front of the fish.
As you can see by the accompanying photos from the Birthday Bash Trip, just about every fish in the lake is susceptible to the trolling presentation. We caught sunfish, northern pike, perch, rock bass and walleye on Sunday. Last week, fishing on other area lakes, there were also some crappies, smallmouth and even a redhorse sucker in the mix. The only thing I do to either encourage or discourage certain species of fish from striking the spinners is to switch out the bait we use to tip the hooks with.
For me, night crawlers are the preferred dressing for the mixed bag presentation. No matter what I have my crew using as live bait, I always keep a night crawler on my lure. It is not unusual for me to catch more walleye using the worms, but I also have to fight off more strikes from tiny perch and sunfish.
Because of all that “busy-ness”, most folks prefer not to use worms and use fatheads as a dressing on their spinners instead. Minnows do work, in fact, sometimes the minnows work even better than crawlers, but not always. Minnows also encourage more strikes from pike, which can be good or bad depending on your perspective. Another option is to tip your spinner with leeches, small to medium “lake run” leeches are all you need, so they don’t have to cost a fortune. The leeches tend to cut down on the number of small perch and sunfish that clean the bait off your hook, so it is a good defense on lakes with high numbers of small panfish. On a good crappie lake though, I don’t see as many crappies striking the leeches as I do either minnows or worms, so keep that in mind.
The hot sunshine has warmed water temperatures into the high 70s, on one lake, I even saw a reading of 81 degrees. Those warm surface temperatures have fish metabolism racing and they are striking the lures aggressively. BUT, with all that sunshine, many of the fish are buried in the weeds. Unless I’ve been willing to plow through the weeds like a bull in a China shop, I couldn’t get my crews in on the action. As soon as I stopped seeing folks tugging on weeds, I stopped seeing fish tugging on their lines. So, if you’re gonna use this presentation, you’ll need to get okay with snagging some weeds, particularly on the sunniest days.
Trolling as near, or even in the margins of weed beds is mandatory. Trolling speeds can be fast, 1.2 to 1.4 MPH have been common readings on the screen of my Humminbird. Spinner colors that have worked very well for me are Chartreuse/Gold, Perch, Pink/Gold and hammered Gold. I use the #3 Indiana Blades with single #2/0 Aberdeen hooks. These can be tricky to find at local bait shops, but if you ask, they can get them for you. In case of emergency, you can order them on Lurenet, so that can be your backup plan.
Now with birthday parties and fireworks behind us, I have to go back to “serious work” again. For the rest of this week, folks will be giving me that “where are the walleyes” look. So, I’ll my nose pressed tight to the grindstone until I find them. Luckily, a stretch of cooler weather will likely make the search a bit less tedious. I’ll let you know how it goes. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"It was another excellent week of walleye fishing on the south end of Lake of the Woods. Walleyes are being found in a variety of areas, but most anglers focusing on deep mud in 30 to 34 feet of water, although some anglers found fish less than 20 feet deep as well.
Walleyes can be scattered across big mud basins or hanging out in small schools. Covering water by drifting snelled spinners with a crawler or leech or trolling crankbaits has been effective.
Anglers using a 2 to 3 ounce weight for spinners in deeper water. For trolling crankbaits, therre are many options. Downriggers, lead core line, a 4 ounce bottom bouncer with a 6 foot mono or fluorocarbon leader and finally, snap weights to get your lures down to the fish.
A nice mix of sizes include small fish, eaters, slot fish in the protected 19.5 to 28 inch range and trophy walleyes over 28 inches. Summer is a great time to target big fish.
The Rainy Riverriver has been producing a mixed bag of fish. Walleyes, saugers, smallmouth, pike and sturgeon are all available.
From the mouth of the Rainy River at Wheeler's Point to Birchdale, there is 42 miles of navigable river. A fun option on high wind days or for a change of pace. Water levels are low so use caution in shallow areas.
The sturgeon "keep" season opened July 1st and is open through Sep. 30, 2021. Catch and release only begins again on Oct 1, 2021 and runs through April 23, 2022.
Lots of walleyes are being caught up at the Northwest Angle. Some fish are located deep, over the mud, others hanging around structure and a few in shallow rocks eating crayfish.
Anchoring up with jigs and minnows on structure is still effective as if fish are there, they will come through in waves. Most anglers drifting spinners and crawlers over deep mud areas. Trolling crankbaits has also been effective.
Good pike fishing for those who like targeting them. Muskie anglers boating some nice 50 plus inch fish all on the U.S. side as the border is closed. Smallmouth hanging around deep rocky areas. .
With the Canada border still closed, there are many ways to get up to the Angle. 1. The LOW Passenger Service, charter boat shuttle service from the south end, is open and running. 2. If you have the right boat and expertise, boating across is an option. 3. And finally, Lake Country Air flying service, a float plane service out of Baudette and other locations." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"Great week of fishing leading up to Independence Day. We had a few scorching hot days but otherwise it’s been a great week for fishing. Captain Scott says they have been mostly in the main basin, about 33’ of water. Spinners with nightcrawlers or leeches has been working really well. A lot of slot fish and quite a few trophies being caught.
We have a little bit of a slow down after the holiday with spots on boats available before ramping back up for the second half of summer. It’s a great time to get some fishing done on Lake of the Woods!
The forecast for the coming week looks a little cooler with temps hopping between the mid-60s and 80s, with some mild wind thrown in and some possible showers, which we still desperately need." — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
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