I imagine most folks have their holiday weekends well planned out by now. I know we do, as usual, we are taking a couple of days off to help Annalee celebrate her birthday. Before I go off the grid for a couple of days, here’s one last update, hopefully this will bring you up to speed about current conditions,
Surface water temperatures are skyrocketing, on Thursday we began our fishing day at 74 degrees and by days end, easily found 82-83-degree surface readings.
The effect of those warm temperatures on the lake we fished was dramatic and for many, not at all what many anglers might expect. Often, I get questions like the one Mark Gerdes, my fishing customer asked yesterday. “How warm does the water have to get before the fish go deep?”
The answer, at least the answer for shallow, dark water lakes like the one we fished yesterday was that they, the fish, NEVER go deep! In shallow water lakes, especially the super-warm, dark water lakes, weeds are way better than deep water and we proved that over and over again on Thursday.
After killing 2 hours fishing as many of the mid-lake bars and humps as I could find, it was clear that the fish that inhabited those spots last week were mostly gone now. I took a few minutes to re-rig, keeping the Little Joe Spinners we were using, but getting rid of the bottom bouncers. I replaced the bouncers with 1/8-ounce bullet sinkers and warned the crew; “this is gonna get snaggy, we’re going to plow through some weeds and see if that’s where they’re hiding.”
I guess it took about 30 seconds after finding the first good cabbage patch to prove my theory. Fish of all shapes and sizes were hitting, all we had to do was stay close enough to the vegetation to be in their strike zone.
Fish have an interesting way of finding comfort, they don’t worry about it, or make big plans about how to find it, they just mill around in the water until the find it. When you think about it, fish using the weeds for comfort is a simple concept but overlooked by so many anglers.
I used a silly, but accurate analogy yesterday. Imagine it’s 90 degrees and the sun is bright, there’s not enough breeze to move a feather and you’re roasting. Standing in a large, flat farm field, you spot a hole that’s 40 feet deeper than where you’re standing, but in that hole, there is no cover. Behind you, up the hill, there’s a grove of trees, the leaves providing shade from the sunshine. What would do, go down the hill and sit in the hole, or move up the hill and sit in the shade of those trees?
How you choose to fish the weeds will depend on your lake. Where we fished yesterday, there were scattered patches of heavy cabbage on top of the shallow flats. I was able to physically watch for the weeds with my eyes and steer the boat through gaps and pockets in-between the heavier patches.
Sometimes, weeds form a well-defined weed edge, almost like a wall. When I see that, I know that plowing through them using trolling baits will be less effective. So the first things I think about are wiggle worming or casting small jigs tipped with plastic action tails. The nide thing about weeds is that you can see them with your eyes. So solving the puzzle about which presentation suits your situation isn't that hard. Experiment with lures that allow you access to the nooks and crannies where the fish are hiding until you find one that works for you.
If you’re on the lake this weekend, seek out the weeds. I’m not promising that you’ll catch the exact species of fish that you’re targeting, but I am promising that you will catch something. On the lake we fished yesterday the mixture was in this order, pike, walleye, perch, and bullheads. Today, we are moving to a different lake, hoping for a different variety, particularly on that includes some crappies.
I’ll go back to being a fishing pro on Monday and let you in on however our search goes today. In the meantime, I’m going to join most of you and enjoy being a tourist for the weekend.
By the way, I absolutely promise that I will never try telling anybody else what to do. But I do know that for me, this Independence Day weekend is a time to reflect on the importance of our independence. Freedom has given me opportunity, and I have worked hard to make the most of it. It hasn’t always been easy, but if I have to choose easy over free, I’ll take freedom.
I am exceedingly grateful to every single person who fought and died to give this country, flawed as it is, our independence. I wonder, how many will take the time this weekend to reflect on what it was that we sought to be independent from? — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"The south end of Lake of the Woods just keeps producing walleyes. Numerous spots across the entire south shore have provided good fishing action. The Lighthouse and Morris Point Gaps in 8 to 10 feet of water have been good and also around Garden Island. Big numbers of walleyes are also staged over deep mud in 25 to 31 feet of water.
Most anglers are either drifting or trolling, using night crawler harnesses with spinners or using single hook spinners with crawlers or leeches. Hammered gold is hard to beat but glow, pink, chartreuse and orange are also popular in the stained water.
Some fish are still being caught jigging on structure or rock to mud transitions. Anglers catching plenty of eater walleyes along with good numbers of saugers. Larger slot fish (19.5-28") along with trophy walleyes over 28" being caught often.
On the Rainy River, sturgeon anglers looking forward to sturgeon fishing reopening on July 1st. Big numbers of sturgeon await. No roll sinkers and sturgeon rigs along with crawlers and frozen shiners available locally. Smallmouth bass in rocky areas, around bridges and current breaks. Pike are also active cruising weedy bays, bay mouths and current breaks. Both species don't get much attention and are present in good numbers. Walleyes hanging out in 20-25'.
Until the US and Canada border opens, resorts at the Northwest Angle can transport guests accross US waters to access lodging. Check with your favorite Northwest Angle resort for options specific to their operations.
If you make the trek, the walleye fishing is worth the trip. Schools of walleyes on structure, over sand and on mud. Most fish showing up in 8 to 14 feet of water or deeper, in 26 to 28 feet. The best presentation is drifting and trolling spinners with crawlers or a minnow.
Pike and smallmouth bass active in weedy bays. There are hundreds around the Angle. Try a spinnerbait or spoon." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"Here comes the 4th of July! There will be fireworks in Baudette on Saturday night. They are planning to have more of the high-flying spectacles so people can see them from further away, or have them be less obstructed if you are close by and trying to social distance. There are expectations of people being parked in their cars on the city streets to watch the show.
There are a number of fish right outside the Lighthouse Gap in 8 FOW. There has been a mix of size with trophy Walleye and some great eaters really close by. The majority of the fishing our Walleye Master Guides have been doing is around the Garden Island area. Depending on the wind changing from West Bar to East Bar. The jig bite is slowing down and the majority of fish being caught are while drifting or trolling with spinners and leeches or crawlers.
We are working towards finishing the new decks project as well as having some seed down in the new yard. We are still waiting on the parking lots to be completed. We have many more projects in the hopper and will be passing on our improvements as we go.
No temperatures predicted to be below 60 this week, we currently see a high of 88 degrees forecasted. We will keep plenty of ice water on the boats." — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
Mid-summer fishing patterns are gaining momentum as surface water temperatures rise. Surface temperatures have risen above 75 degrees on the lakes I’ve fished over the past few days. Granted, the lakes I’ve selected to fish recently have all had dark, tannin stained water. So, I’m seeing the warmest surface readings available in the north central region. Deeper, clear water lakes are somewhat cooler, ranging between 71 and 74 degrees.
As temperatures rise, fast moving presentations are fast becoming my mainstay. In fact, I haven’t pulled out anything except the spinner rods since last Friday. Little Joe Spinners tipped with fatheads or night crawlers have produced every fish we’ve caught over those 3 days.
For the most part, we have been fishing weeds and if you want action, that’s probably the best way to go. The mixed bag approach has delivered everything, pike, walleye, bass, crappie, perch, rock bass and sunfish. The only limitation on varieties of species have depended on whether they inhabited the lakes or not.
Walleye purists, I think, could turn the odds in favor of a higher percentage of white-tails by fishing mid-lake structures using Lindy Rigs and live bait. In fact, I plan to try that today just to see if I’m right and if that experiment goes well, you will be the first to know.
The weed edges on the lake we fished this Sunday was shallow, we spent most of our time fishing water depths shallower than 7 feet. The lake also has a lot of snails in it and it was common to see one of the crew hauling in the freeloaders. One good way to avoid this problem is to fish closer to the boat, avoid working too hard at “finding the bottom”. Allow the blades to flicker above the weeds and well above the bottom. You will catch many more fish when your lure is too high than you will if it is too low.
Another trick I tried on Sunday was switching to a floating night crawler harness. The Little Joes I have, featured a 2 hook snelled leader along with a double float. It worked well for keeping the bait above bottom and it also improved hooksets on some of the short striking fish. If you like to vary your presentations, experimenting with the floating crawler harnesses might be kind of fun for you.
If your favorite lake has crappie, sunfish or large perch in it, then you’ll be seeing more of them in the mix every day. I still haven’t hit a big school of either jumbo perch or sunfish. But crappies are already showing up in larger numbers. Perch come along more frequently each day and, on some lakes, so do sunfish. It would not surprise me if this is the week that they all start showing up more prominently.
Warming water temperatures and a period of more stable weather should make all of us feel more optimistic about the week of fishing that lies ahead. This is a time when you should feel confident about experimenting on lakes you have not fished before. Barring an unforeseen weather event that might interrupt temporarily, the fish should in most lakes should be as active now as they ever will be for the rest of the summer. So check your list of lakes that you’ve always wanted to try and give them a spin.
Finally, I want to congratulate Randy and Paul Erola for their win at the Grand Rapids Area Hockey Association’s Walleye Shootout on Pokegama Lake this weekend.
Conditions on Saturday were far from ideal for fishing walleyes in clear water, but they pulled out a weight of a 43.21 pounds to capture the trophy, along with an $18,000.00 paycheck.
Looking at the leaderboard, it was refreshing to see some new names in the top 20 positions. I think that bodes well for the future of the event because it gives would-be entrants confidence that everybody who enters has a chance to win. Congratulations to everybody who fished the 2020 event, I’m sure it was a hot day out there and every team earned their position on the leaderboard. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
On Thursday, the forecast called for sunshine and calm seas. From a fishing guide’s point of view, the safe strategy for walleye fishing would have been to head for Upper Red Lake. That’s the mid-summer plan that has worked well for me during the past few fishing seasons. The nutrient rich water helps block some of the sunlight and fish tend to be more active than they would be in clear water lakes.
When I’m fishing with Craig B. Anderson though, there’s a little more latitude for risk taking; I can test ideas, rather than heading for what I hope will be “guaranteed bites”. Fishing with Craig on Thursday gave me a chance to try another theory on for size.
My idea was to find a lake that resembled Upper Red in as many ways as possible. I needed one that had dark, bog-stained water, featured shallower than average water depths and was small enough to explore in a single outing. Several lakes came to mind, so I began checking the fisheries reports for information about fish populations in each of them.
The lake I settled on had average numbers of walleye and crappie, the test netting results indicated that they were of decent size. The testing showed reasonable numbers of good sunfish too, so I felt that with 3 species to work with, I ought to be able to stumble into something that would keep us busy. I had fished the lake before, so it wouldn’t take all day to figure out a starting spot, that gave me more confidence too.
When we arrived at the lake, the surface temperature was 71 degrees. The dark, root beer colored water warmed fast and before we were done, I saw 74 degrees on the screen of my Humminbird. The “dark-water plan” appeared to be validated by the weather. The skies were mostly sunny, there was a light wind, but it wasn’t enough to generate any whitecaps.
The first idea I had was to troll the lake’s shallow weed lines to see if we could drum up anything there. I guess we spent an hour trolling spinners without any action before I ran out of patience. I decided to take a look in the lakes, deepest water, a 12-foot hole in its center.
It wasn’t hard to find fish, there were some hugging close to the bottom and others suspended; about 7 feet below the surface. We started trolling, using the same spinners and weights that we began with. I was using a 3/16 ounce bullet sinker, Craig’s might have been a touch heavier, but not much. Craig’s hammered copper blade is his “go-to” color and it attracted the first fish, a small crappie. The next fish was a decent one, another crappie between 10 to 11 inches in size.
It wasn’t too long before I caught another little one, then a keeper. But after we bagged those 2 fish, the action dropped off. We tried using heavier weights to target the bottom-hugging fish I was seeing on the Helix, but all we caught then were small perch. If those fish were walleyes, they were not in a biting mood. We tried jigging too, but that wasn’t the ticket either, only small perch tried to eat them.
“Let’s go back to the shoreline”, I said, “there’s a steeper breakline on the other side of the lake and maybe we can drum up something over there”. We resumed trolling along the break using the same spinners that we started with. As we moved up the shore, I could see a couple in a pontoon dipping their landing net in the water. After the third time, I got really interested and watched closely to see what they were catching and how they were presenting their lures.
We trolled close enough to see that the fish they were netting were crappies. I could see too that the woman was using a slip float and the man was casting some sort of small jig. Whatever they were doing, it was working, so we began setting up slip bobbers too in the hope that the suspended fish we’d been seeing would strike them.
We started fishing, but nothing was happening. The couple in the pontoon was anchored up on whatever was holding the crappies and we were not close enough. The folks in that pontoon must have seen me preparing to move on, that’s when the man shouted, “come over here”. I told him that I didn’t want to get in the way, but he insisted that come over and join them. We took them up on the generous offer and got positioned within casting distance of the school of fish they had pinned down.
At first, we used small jigs suspended below slip floats and that worked fine. But once we tried casting, the action intensified; 1/16 ounce jigs tipped with action tails worked like a charm. I saw Craig put on a twirl tail first, then later switch to a 1-1/2 inch tube jig. I was using a Live Bait Jig tipped with a paddle tail and all 3 lures worked equally well.
Ironically, the spot was only about 100 yards away from where we caught our first 2 crappies. I just had to make a trip, full circle around the lake before stumbling upon the kindhearted and generous couple who shared their spot with us. Just in case you happen to be readers of these reports, thank you, I definitely owe you one!
The flurry of action at the crappie hole ended our search of the lake. We were content with what we had, so if there were spots like this, we didn’t locate them. Same thing goes for walleye and sunfish, if they were biting, we were gone before we could learn it.
This real irony of this story began well before we started fishing with a conversation that I had with a gentleman at the bait shop. I mentioned the lake we were headed for and asked if he’d heard any reports about it. He replied, “when we catch a fish over here, we keep it a secret, the last thing we want is 50 boats fishing our favorite lakes.” Luckily for me, the folks we encountered didn’t get the memo.
I can’t take credit for finding that school of crappies, but I do think that the experience validated the game plan. Heading for dark water on a bright day worked out fairly well and I’m going to try and find more coffee colored lakes for sunny days in the future. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Recently, cooler weather and below average water temperatures have taken my mind off the fact that it’s summer now. But the fish and the weeds do remember and summer fishing patterns are emerging despite chilly surface water temperatures.
On Wednesday, my crew was really hoping to catch some crappies and I wanted to do my best to help with that. But where to go and how to do it would be challenging, at this point of the season, those fish are famous for making folks wait until sunset before they go on a feeding run. When they’re not feeding of their own volition, they hunker down in weeds and often times are un-responsive to ordinary methods of persuasion.
Naturally, I was blessed with calm water and sunny skies on Wednesday, so our success became even more dependent on our ability to root them out of the vegetation.
The lake I chose has moderately stained water; visibility is usually about 6 feet. There are several weed types that grow in the lake, but Wild Celery and cabbage weeds dominate. Celery plants grow in water depths of about 6 to 10 feet, occasionally, I’ve seen them as deep as 13 feet, but not much deeper than that.
If your favorite lake contains both crappies and wild celery, then you can rest assured that crappies will be in it at some point of every open water season. That’s where we found the fish on Wednesday and with intense determination, we rooted out enough crappies to proclaim victory.
Ordinarily, my advice would be to troll spinners over the weed tops and pluck out the most active fish at each stop. But on Wednesday, the weeds we encountered were so thick that it was nearly impossible to move spinners through them effectively.
For me, “Plan-B” was using a 1/16-ounce Live Bait Jig tipped with small, plastic action tails. For crappies, the swimming tails will outperform live minnows 100% of the time, yes 100%. The lures vary, they can be twirl tails, small shad imitators or paddle tails; as long as they have an enticing swimming action, they will work.
We watched for small gaps and openings between the celery plants, cast into them and let the lure fall. When we felt a “pop”, we set the hook, even if the lures were stuck on a weed. About 8 out of 10 times, the lures were just stuck on weeds, but the other 20% were fish. It is common for me to hear my customers say, “I thought it was a weed, but it’s a fish”. Those are happy moments for me because I know that each fish, they catch will give them more confidence and as they gain experience, the catch rates go up.
There’s a lot more I could say, but I’m up against the clock and have to run.
Water temperatures are rising now and as they do, the combination of trolling and jigging will become increasingly effective. Make sure your tackle box is stocked up with plenty of spinners and plenty of action tails, I think you’ll be needing them. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Like every fishing method, it's good to know the fine points of how to present spinners in a way that triggers the most strikes from the most fish. Knowing how to adapt spinner presentations during periods of unstable weather is critcal for success too.
In this episode of Fish ED, Jon Thelen is literally dealt a blow buy the weather! But watch as he shares with you some simple changes to help beat a windy day and still catch plenty of good walleyes.
Weather always influences our fishing plans, but don’t let it keep you at home! View Video and Leran More >> Early Season Spinner Tactics For Walleyes
"On the south end of Lake of the Woods, it was a big week of walleyes. Lots of walleyes from 5 to 32 feet of water and they have the feedbag on. There were fish being caught all around the lake. There are a lot of fish on the south shore right now near the Lighthouse Gap, Morris Point Gap, Zippel Bay, Long Point, Rocky Point and Pine Island anglers all reporting good catches.
Get out a few miles and watch electronics. Two main techniques, drifting with a snelled spinner with a crawler or leech and jigging with a frozen shiner or fathead are go to. Gold / pink / glow red / glow white all working well. Anglers catching plenty of eaters with larger slots and trophy walleyes. Pike and some jumbo perch in the mix as well.
On the Rainy River, smallmouth bass bite good in rocky areas, around bridges and current breaks. Pike are also active cruising in bays, bay mouths and current breaks. Walleyes hanging out in 15-25' and being caught with a jig and minnow or trolling crankbaits. Sturgeon anglers looking forward to sturgeon fishing reopening on July 1st. A great population of sturgeon in the river.
There has been good walleye fishing up at the Northwest Angle again this week. Some walleyes remain shallow in 4-10' around sandy and rocky areas being caught with spinners / crawlers and crankbaits. Other schools of walleyes hanging out deeper adjacent to shoreline breaks and reefs. Pike, jumbo perch and smallmouth bass showing up as well.
Until the US and Canada border opens, guests can travel across the lake and stay in MN waters. Check with your favorite NW Angle resort for options." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"Another great week of memories! Check out Norb and Darlene with their anniversary double slots. It was a great week with many big Walleye stories!
31 feet of water, or 31 FOW for the anglers who love their social media and texts. There has been a great school of Walleye 5 miles out from the Lighthouse Gap. When the South wind becomes too excessive you can move in towards the Gap and fish another school. At times, schools of different sizes are cruising through, but throughout a day there are some great catches being made.
We have also worked the North end of the lake when the winds allow and are still having great success there too. Glow red or fire tiger spinner blades have been producing with leeches or crawlers. Glow red or gold jigs are keeping their promises as well.
50’s to upper 70’s is the forecast this week. Perfect weather for a good sweatshirt in the morning and shorts and tee shirt in the afternoon. As always on Lake of the Woods, bring your rain gear!" — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
"Walleye fishing has begone to cool off as Mayflies have begone to hatch in large numbers on many area lakes. While some anglers continue to catch walleyes shallow with slip bobbers, in the evening, that bite has cooled off as walleyes continue to become more scattered.
Anglers have adjusted to lindy rigging or trolling crankbaits to find these scattered walleye. Anglers are now finding walleyes in 15-20 feet of water, close to large mud flats and out around sunken islands.
Topwater fishing for smallmouth, remains the way to go. Smallmouth remain on rocky, shallow flats and very active. Best times for the topwater bite is during the early morning and during the evening. When the topwater bite cools off during the day, just switch over to subsurface baits like suspending jerk baits, spinnerbaits and wacky worms. Anglers should be looking for smallmouth near shorelines, on shallow rocky flats.
Lake trout fishing has been excellent on many lakes and for many anglers this last week. Anglers have been finding lakers 30-40 feet down, over deep water. Anglers fishing from a boat are using trolling spoons fished on down riggers. Anglers fishing from a canoe have been using heavy jigs and simply dropping the jig down to the bottom, then aggressively jigging it as they drift over deep water.
Pike - Small Pike have remained very active in shallow bays and at the mouths of shallow bays. Anglers have been catching good number of them with spinnerbaits, spoons and suckers fished under a bobber." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
I get the feeling that most fish in the greater Itasca region want to move into mid-summer feeding patterns, the only thing holding them back has been a recent series of storms and cold fronts.
Surface temperatures that had already crossed the 70-degree mark over a week ago, had slipped back into the mid-60s over the weekend. While it didn’t stop fishing from feeding entirely, it did take the edge off of what had promised to be the beginning of a full-scale trolling bite, on some lakes.
Crappies and sunfish have begun to migrate away from shoreline spawning cover into deeper water, where vegetation is maturing. Crappies, bluegill, pike and perch have all been hitting in close proximity to each other. The numbers of fish haven’t been strong so far, but there is a noticeable trend toward rising populations. Walleyes are there too, but the turbulent weather has made them the hardest fish to catch, at least until conditions stabilize.
My favorite trolling presentation, Little Joe spinners fished along the weed edges has begun working effectively. Right now, it would be reasonable to expect catching a few of everything, but not a lot of anything. That is, except for pike, whenever we’ve fished lakes that have a lot of them, they have been extremely plentiful and have been active all day long.
On a few lakes that had the warmest surface readings, walleye action on spinners was reasonably good. Walleyes in the deeper, cool water lakes, showed a strong preference for slower presentations like wiggle worming or Lindy Rigs tipped with live bait.
Cabbage weeds are still the vegetation of choice for most fish, but as eelgrass, wild celery and other vegetation matures, fish will begin to segregate. Key depths vary from lake to lake, but 7 to 10 feet has been the range I’ve fished most often in recent days.
Every time you catch a fish, pay close attention to the type of vegetation it came from. You will notice patterns; certain fish show a preference for certain vegetations. Often, you’ll be able to zero in on your target species by locating areas with similar habitats. The subject is going to come up a lot this summer, because the more I learn about weeds, the more I learn how to “customize” the mix of my mixed bag fishing trips.
My time serving on the MN DNR Panfish Workgroup has help move me up the learning curve about sunfish. While I’ve done some writing on the subject already, I’d like to share what I learn, as I learn it. That’s why fishing for sunfish is another topic that will be coming up a lot this summer and there’s no better time to start than right now.
As the accompanying photo shows, quality size sunfish do still exist in Minnesota. But if we want it to stay that way, then we are going to need to learn that releasing larger fish, particularly big “Bull Bluegills” like this one is the only way to go.
Having large male sunfish in your lake helps regulate the rate that smaller male sunfish reach sexual maturity and begin spawning. If small fish can’t spawn, they do the next best thing, they eat and as they eat, they grow.
If you take away the larger males and allow small fish to begin spawning too soon, your lake will begin to over-populate. As sunfish populations grow, the average size will decline and after a time, large sunfish will become scarcer than hen’s teeth.
Don’t think that you have to stop eating sunfish in order to protect your lake. We can still have a fish fry most anytime we like if we eat the right ones. Even larger fish can be harvested if they are females and not the big bulls that you hear everyone talking about.
On a recent trip, we caught several sunfish and we harvested some of them. My crew kept 10 fish, 5 each and I kept 4 fish for a meal at home. But we didn’t just keep the smallest ones and we didn’t just keep the largest ones either; we selected only certain individual fish for harvest.
This side-by-side comparison of a male vs female bluegill shows some of the obvious differences between the two. The knobby, indented forehead of the fish on the left is one clue. The fish on the right, a female doesn’t have that, her forehead slopes more gracefully toward her nose. Notice too that the color of the female fish is more subdued and doesn’t have the dramatic bars that the male fish on the right has.
Except for one smaller fish, we released every fish large fish that we believed was a male. The fish that we believed were females were harvested without regard to size, even if they were larger than 9 inches, we added them to our creel.
At the fish cleaning shack, we checked our work and found evidence that 12 fish were post-spawn females that had small, remaining traces of spawn in their spawn sacks. One fish was a female that had not yet spawned, her spawn sack was plump, filled with spawn. The last fish was a male, 8 inches long and injured when it was caught, harvest of this fish was the only choice.
In this particular case, identifying which fish were male vs which were females was easy. The differences between them were clear-cut and easy to spot, even before the fish were out of the water. I’m not so sure that the differences will always be this easy to discern, but I will be watching and keeping track of sunfish we catch this summer. I’ll keep you posted about our track record every time we harvest any sunfish.
In the meantime, I don’t think it would hurt learning more about sunfish. Knowing which ones, we can harvest, and which ones need our protection is the key to catching quality size panfish in the future. For those of you who don’t already know, there are lots of articles that will help and here are links to some of them and they contain links to still more of them.
Questions are always welcome, but regarding panfish, they are more than welcome, they are encouraged. So please do let me know what’s on your mind, the more questions you ask, the more I get to learn; and I want to learn a lot. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
As I mentioned on Wednesday, our mission was to explore another one of Grand Rapids’ clear water lakes. The walleye, bass and panfish combo experience is what we’d hoped for, but the bass and panfish didn’t show up in large numbers for the party; we caught mostly walleye and pike on this trip.
Ranging between 66 and 70 degrees, the surface temperatures were drawing a few largemouth bass toward deep weeds, one of their mid-summer favorites, but there was no evidence that panfish were heading that way. In fact, except for some rock bass, we did not catch any panfish, presumably they must still be in shallow water.
Walleye were located in and around scattered patches of deep cabbage weeds. The key depth for catching them was about 14 feet, but there were also a fair number of fish holding deeper. On my Humminbird, I marked several fish in 20 to 25 feet of water, but the deep fish did not bite like the ones located shallower. It’s my opinion that they go deep to relax and when they want to feed, they move shallower, into the weedy flats.
As the accompanying photo reveals, wiggle worms must be a preferred food for health-conscious walleye. The 28-1/2 inch fish that I caught yesterday appeared to be healthy, but very slender. This was the longest fish I’ve caught so far this season, but it was far from the fattest.
On the cusp of a transition to warmer water patterns, the lake offered equal opportunity for both wiggle worming and jig and minnow presentations. I stuck with the worms all day, while Bill used jig and minnow throughout the entire trip. We each caught the same number of walleye, but wiggle worming also produced a few bass. Bill’s jig and minnow did not catch any bass, but did trigger strikes from several northern pike.
We experimented with spinners for a short time, but they were clearly not the way to go at this point. In fact, of all the lakes I’ve fished this summer, this was the first one where I didn’t produce any fish using the spinners. That will change soon, but not until the water warms up some more and fish begin settling in on the deep weed edges.
I wondered about bass and panfish locations, so we looked at a few shoreline spots. We found some spawning beds, but none of them had fish guarding them. I’m not sure if that means that they are done spawning and in a recovery period, or if the recent turbulence interrupted the process and that panfish will return to the shoreline later. That will be a mystery to solve later.
For today, my crew will be hoping to catch a lot of fish while I figure out how to best dodge the predicted showers and thunderstorms. I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’ll be able to do that and will report back again tomorrow. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Walleye - Another large cool front, cooled off a extremely hot walleye bite on area lakes. Stable warm weather has helped get the bite back on track and the evening bobber bite, in 5-10 feet of water, remains popular and effective, but walleyes are beginning to move away from rocky shorelines and out over mud flats and near shore, sucker islands. Out here anglers are trolling lindy rigs tipped with a leech or a crawler, and catching walleyes in 12-18 feet of water. Once a school of biters are located, slowing down with a jig and sitting on top of them, has been very effective. Pink, purple and blue remain top colors.
Smallmouth Bass - Smallmouth have largely rapped up spawning and are now very hungry! Topwater fishing has become very effective along with jerk baits, spinnerbaits and wacky rigs. Anglers have been catching bass in 10 feet of water or less along shoreline flats, around sunken trees and boulders.
Panfish - Sunfish are finishing up the spawn on area lakes and moving out into emerging weedbeds, where they are joining the crappies. Crappies and sunnies are both being caught along weedlines and inside weed beds. Anglers are catching them with either small minnows or small night crawlers, under a bobber. Depths can range 3-10 feet of water.
Northern Pike - Fishing for large pike, has cooled off as they have moved out of shallow bays, seeking cooler water. Smaller pike, 30” or less, have been very active in shallow bays. Anglers have been catching them with suckers under a bobber, spoons and large jerk baits. Key areas to focus on are areas with water coming into the lake or shallow weedy bays, in 12 feet of water or less." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
Water temperatures really took a plunge after last weekend's cold front. In fact, on Monday, surface water on the lake I fished was only 59.5 degrees. The clear, deep water lake was the coldest I have seen in a while. Temperatures on a couple of other lakes I checked were warmer, but also down considerably, 63 to 66 degrees was range I’d observed before the hot air rushed into the area on Tuesday and began moving them upward again.
For me, that plunge sent walleyes packing and last Friday marked the beginning of an unpredictable period for establishing solid fishing patterns for catching them. The unstable atmosphere and strong, gusty winds have either forced a short-term change in fish behavior, or those conditions simply made it too difficult to present lures effectively.
For walleye, wiggle worming and Lindy Rigging with live leeches and night crawlers have been my most reliable presentations. Attempting to fish either of those has been a real challenge with wind churning up whitecaps, even on the calm sides of the lakes. So while those cooler temperatures are far from ideal for triggering strikes by trolling, I’ve tried to rely on trolling with spinners to help keep my customers active until fishing mid-lake structure becomes feasible again.
To an extent, it has worked, but has not been extremely rewarding for “walleye purists”. I have not seen much evidence of any full-scale movement of walleyes into the weeds. For the past couple of days, shoreline related points, weed beds and deep breaks have contained a hodge-podge of fish species. Small perch, rock bass and pike have made up the lion’s share of the “spinner bite” assortment. An occasional walleye or crappie comes along, but there have been no bass and not very many sunfish either.
I learned one lesson the hard way on Tuesday. We were trolling the weed edges in search of walleye and stumbled into some crappies. It appeared that we might have been able to catch more of them, but I was stubbornly searching for walleye and left the lake to pursue them instead. The problem was that walleye fishing on the next lake was not any better and knowing that those crappies may have kept biting will always haunt me. The next time that happens, I will not be as quick to let them slip through my fingers.
There’s another blast of fast-moving hot air coming at us today, so I’m not sure if the situation will improve. But I am going to switch my choice of lakes and try again, this time on another one of the area’s deeper, clear water lakes. In the past, we’ve been able to drum up some nice walleyes in the weeds and with luck, maybe they’ve moved into them on this more so than on the ones we’ve fished previously.
With all the wind we’ve experienced, I’ve lost track of what’s happening on some of the larger lakes. But comparing notes with friends on Tuesday evening did not lead me to believe that I’ve been missing out on any really fantastic action. Still, for anglers who can access them effectively, there are fish biting on Winnie, Leech, Upper Red and Cass.
The unstable conditions won’t last forever and when Mother Nature gets finished with her tantrum, patterns on those waters should stabilize. That will give us all a chance to get in on some better walleye action. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
There were a few prominate fishing patterns this week. Some walleyes are shallow, 4-10' of water being caught with crawler harnesses and crankbaits.
Anglers are still anchored up on or near structure with a jig and frozen shiner or leech in 15-30'. Others drifting crawler harnesses in 23-28' with good success. Gold / pink / orange / yellow / gold or combo of these colors still working well.
Lots of eaters with larger slot and trophy walleyes being caught. Some big pike showing up in shallow water this week.
On the Rainy River, smallmouth bass being caught around bridges and rocky areas. Pike are also active cruising in bays, bay mouths and current breaks. Walleyes hanging out in 15-25' and being caught with a jig and minnow.
The sturgeon "Keep" season opens July 1st. 1 per calendar year. Must be 45-50" inclusive or over 75".
As long as the travel route lays within US waters, guests can travel across the big lake and stay in the Northwest Angle. Check with your favorite NW Angle resort for options. Anglers who wish to fish Canada anxiously await the border opening and should stay in touch with lodges and charter operators about when travel will be allowed.
At the angle, it was another great week of walleye fishing. Walleyes are caught pulling spinners with minnows or crawlers in 12-23' of water. Jigging rocky points in 10 - 20 feet of water where fish are schooled is still effective. Pike, jumbo perch and smallmouth bass showing up as well." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"Minnows, leeches, night crawlers oh my! Great fishing continues with multiple presentations still creating success. In addition to the frozen or live baits some are using plastics and having success. Life is good at Lake of the Woods!
The Walleye Master Guides continue to work the lake from South to North. Each day brings a different wind, which potentially causes for picking a different location or presentation. Throughout the day success has been excellent with many perfect size fish for having a fresh Walleye dinner while you are here and amazing bags for take home. This past week also brought a great number of catch and release of the trophy size Walleye we love to do battle with.
Again, anchored and jigging remains strong, tipping the hook with a frozen shiner. Some have been drifting with leeches and had great success as well. Water temps are warming up.
The forecast is showing 60-80 degrees for the week. Sounds excellent for the construction crew to be working on fixing up the landscaping and parking lots this week. It seems they were rained out last week." — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
After reaching 70 degrees or higher, many lakes in the Itasca Region fell back into the 64 to 68-degree range during the cold front that blew in late last week. That cold front should end today if the forecast of warm, gulf air from the south rushes into the northland plays out. Surface water temperatures should rebound this week, marking the start of mid-summer presentations week.
Catching fish with fast moving presentations like spinners and crankbaits had already begun. In fact, we began catching fish last week using Little Joe spinners tipped with night crawlers and minnows. That said, there were also fish caught using both jig and minnow and Lindy Rigs with crawlers. By my account, the Lindy Rigs were more effective, especially during mid-day, for walleye, while spinners accounted for a larger number of pike.
The lakes I fished late last week have good populations of bass and panfish, but at 64 degrees, the water had not yet reached a desirable temperature to encourage them out to the weed lines. Naturally, one would assume that most sunfish and bass are still in the shallows, spawning. But we spent some time searching likely spots and found nothing. We did however catch some nice bluegills while we searched for walleyes in 18 to 20 feet of water using wiggle worms and jigs tipped with minnows.
Crappies that inhabited cabbage weeds in good numbers were either gone or have entered a different feeding pattern. I do not think that this is unusual, it seems like every summer there’s a period when they feed during early morning and late evening but sit tight during the daytime. As the water warms and some of the deeper weeds develop, they will become more active and daytime fishing for them will improve.
I look forward to this time of the year because for me, this is the time when walleye fishing on clear, deep water lakes ramps up. We saw some proof of that last Friday when we caught some nice fish, even under a sunny sky and calm seas. I gathered then that improved weather conditions might have encouraged fish to be more active. Today, I will have the chance to either prove, or disprove that theory as I attempt to locate a “hot bite” on one of the area’s deeper, clear water lakes. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Helping your fellow fishermen and women stay abreast of fishing conditions in your area is good for everybody and it's easier than you think!
You don't have to write a book, you don't have to share your secret fishing spots and you don't even have to mention your lake. But even a few words about general trends, seasonal patterns and local weather conditions can really help.
Be like me, become a duly deputized "Cub Reporter", it's good for fishing! Contact Us or if you prefer to be "social", Fishing Reports Minnesota, the Facebook counterpart to this page is open to the public, so you can post your own fishing update or just share a photo of a nice catch.
June is a great month to fish in Minnesota. But it’s also a volatile month, a time of changeable weather and ever-expanding sources of food for fish, like emerging insect hatches and the like. An angler can never be too sure if the presentation that worked well today will be the same one that works well tomorrow.
In a recent report, I wrote about the importance, in my opinion, of how it’s better to have a little bit of every kind of bait, than it is to be “all-in” on any one type of bait. I couldn’t ask for a better way to illustrate my reasoning than to recap my last 5 or 6 days on the lake.
Last Friday I fished on Cutfoot Sioux, the wind was blowing stroke and walleyes were hungry. They chomped Live Bait Jigs tipped with shiners, which was lucky for me because the wind was blowing so hard that I could never have controlled my boat direction or speed for any other presentation.
Before my fishing began, I’d had a conversation with a friend who had previously been catching lots of fish on mid-lake structure using Lindy Rigs and leeches. His advice was solid, but if I would have shown up thinking that rigs and leeches was all that I’d need, I would have been out of luck.
On Saturday, the weather changed from turbulent to calm. Using a jig and minnow was still a great way to catch northern pike, but walleyes were not having any of that. But when we tied on the Little Joe Spinners, tipped them with fatheads and began trolling, walleyes became a lot easier to catch.
On Sunday, morning storms kept us off of the lake until noon and after that, strong winds threatened to ruin my family fun day on Big Sandy Lake. But when we arrived at the landing, we discovered a protected corner that was fish-able. On this structure, walleyes responded fairly well to wiggle worming, one of my favorite ways to catch them. The process was a little complicated because of the wind, so we weren’t as productive as we could have been. But with stable weather and workable winds, this would have been a good way to catch more fish on that lake.
Before we left Big Sandy, I tried an experiment; we rigged up the Little Joes and trolled the shallow breakline in a small bay. Time was limited, but in two trolling passes, the spinners tipped with fatheads produced a couple of walleye, several northern and one really nice crappie. Again, if we’d shown up expecting only to catch fish using one presentation, we would have missed out on fish we caught using the other one.
Fast readers may have jumped to the conclusion that by Monday, all I would have needed to catch walleye was the Little Joes. Nope, despite the hot, semi-calm conditions, walleye scarcely touched the spinners and wiggle worms barely got noticed either. On this day, Lindy Live Bait Jigs tipped with shiners was the treat they were all waiting for. As long as we stuck to that presentation, fishing was pretty good.
Following an overnight series of thunderstorms, Tuesday was warm and calm. If anything, walleyes should have been lethargic, subtle, live bait presentations should have worked best. But no, on Tuesday, walleyes wanted to see the spinners tipped with fatheads zipping past their foreheads. Admittedly, we caught a lot more northerns than walleye; in fact we kept 10 of them. But we also boated enough walleye to call it a good day. At days end, there were 7 “keepers” in the livewell and we had released a dozen or more “slot-fish” along with a dozen or more l2 inchers from the class of ’18.
First off, frequent readers of these reports know that there are certain days when that ability could be questioned and when I do have a tough day, I say so. But for the most part, he’s right; I do have to find something for my crew to do almost every day. In the greater sense, the ability to catch fish consistently is not really “ability” at all. It is more like a mosaic of little tricks and tips collected over time and for me, the best tip of all is to be prepared.
The reason that I have shiners, fatheads and crappie minnows in my bait tank right now is that I never know which ones I’ll need, or when I need them. The same thing is true for carrying night crawlers, leeches and other assorted baits in my cooler. I can’t predict what mood the fish will be in until we arrive at the lake and test the water and when I figure it out, I want to have what I need on hand to be productive.
I know that my situation is probably different from yours, there aren’t that many folks who need to prepare for every possible scenario. But, if you’re somebody who likes to be ready for whatever Mother Nature throws your way, then you do the math. Except in rare cases, it is no more expensive to have 1 dozen of everything than it is to have several dozens of any one thing.
Most folks are like me, they learn more from failure than they do from success.
I know that I never have learned much about fishing on the “easy days”, but I learned a ton about fishing on the “hard ones”. Some of the hardest days I’ve ever had were the ones when I stood shoulder to shoulder with someone at the fish cleaning shack that excelled on a day when I did not. Whenever that happens, the reason usually isn’t because I couldn’t find fish; it’s because of not being prepared for every possible presentation.
These days, I try to make sure that I have enough of everything to adjust for any curve ball that Mother Nature throws my way; most days, it pays off. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Walleye - The incredible walleye bite has returned and gotten better, as several very big walleyes have started coming to the boat, for many anglers. Anglers continue to catch as many as 50+ walleyes a evening, while using a slip bobbers in 5-15 feet of water. Leeches are accounting for the majority of walleyes being caught right now. Top colors continue to be pink, purple and blue.
Smallmouth Bass - Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass have largely rapped up spawning and are starting to aggressively feed on many area lakes. Reports of them hitting topwater, are being reported more and more right now. Jerk baits and wacky rigs are also accounting for a ton of bass right now. Anglers should be looking for bass on large shallow flats, in 10 feet of water or less.
Panfish - Sunfish have started their spawn on area lakes. Big gills are being found in the back of shallow, firm bottom bays and are eager to bite a well presented bait. Angler have been using small jigs, tipped with a wax worm or night crawlers. Crappies have largely moved out of spawning areas and are now being found cruising weedbeds and weedlines. Anglers have been finding them by drifting jigs tipped with a minnow, under a bobber over this area.
Pike - Large pike (40”+) are slowly becoming less and less common as water temps continue to rise and push them out into deeper water. Still several very respectable pike were caught this last week. Many of those bigger pike were caught with large suckers, fished under a bobber right off docks or at the mouth of shallow bays. Anglers that don’t want to use big suckers are having great luck with spoons, spinners and buzzbaits." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
"On the south end of Lake of the Woods, it was an excellent week of walleye fishing. Great to have charter boats running again. Best success in 13-28 feet of water. Anchored up and vertical jigging on structure areas very effective. Drifting or trolling crawler harnesses effective this week on flats or basin areas. Spinners cover water when fish are spread out and not stacked. Gold / pink / orange / glow all working well.
Most anglers catching limits of eaters. Larger walleyes are also being caught in good numbers. Nice pike and jumbo being caught while walleye fishing.
On the Rainy River, most walleyes are being targeted and caught in the lake. There is always a population of resident walleyes that live in the river.
Best depth is 12-24'. jigs, spinners and crankbaits catching some fish this week. Smallmouth bass in typical areas with rock and current breaks. Pike in bay mouths and current breaks. The sturgeon season opens July 1st.
Up at the NW Angle... Until the US/Canada border opens, guests can travel across the lake and stay in MN waters. Check with your favorite NW Angle resort for options.
Fishing around the Angle continues to be excellent. Walleyes are still being caught on 5-7' flats with snelled spinners and crankbaits. Jigging rocky points in 10 - 20 feet of water where fish are schooled tight effective. Good numbers of walleyes caught this week on flat areas between 10 - 20 feet covering water with spinners tipped with a minnow or half crawler." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"Great action continues! Our Walleye Master Guides have been going at it hard this past week. It is awesome to have the Guides doing what they do best! It is also awesome to have some portion of normal dining service going again!
Currently Walleyes are spread all across the lake. Fishing location of the day is mostly determined by wind and weather. Yesterday, despite the 30 mph winds from the South, fishing off of Pine Island was excellent. From last week our Charters were spread around the lake from fishing close by to way up North.
Anchored and jigging remains strong, tipping the hook with a frozen shiner. Some have been drifting with leeches and had great success as well. Water temps are warming up.
With having an unusually dry spring and needing to have so much landscape work done after the new sewers were put in, believe it or not, the landscaping work is starting today and it is raining and we have rain forecasted for most of the week. Murphy?" — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
Spinners are becoming a more important part of my daily routine. That’s not to say they are the only way to catch fish right now, but with warming water temperatures, their effectiveness is on the rise.
Over the past few days, we’ve caught walleye, pike and crappie, primarily in shallow water, in the weeds. Some of them have been caught on jig and minnow; others have been caught wiggle worming and some have been caught using jigs with plastic action tails. But in every case, these presentations were implemented only after I located fish by trolling the weeds with spinners.
On the lakes that I’ve fished so far, pike have been the most responsive to the spinners. Once I’ve located a school of crappie or walleye, I’ve stopped the boat and fine-tuned the presentations to focus on catching them. Beginning early last week, any walleye, crappie or bass had come along as bonus fish, but on Saturday that began to change.
Customers like Bobby Cox, who along with his son Jeff fished with me this weekend, love action. For them, catching pike all day long would have been just fine. But on Saturday, walleye began coming in more frequently, so there was no reason not to keep trolling the spinners. Even though pike were still the most active, walleye strikes were frequent and made up about 1/3 of our catch.
On Sunday we received a line of major thunder storms, in fact we couldn’t leave for the lake until almost noon. After that, I anticipated a slow-down in the action and reverted back to jig and minnow and wiggle worms as primary tactics. We did catch some fish using those presentations, but toward evening, I returned to the shallows to give spinners a try. Even after the storms, trolling the shallow weed edges worked better than fishing mid-lake structure using jigs and live bait.
I definitely would not give up on jigging, Lindy Rigging or fishing with slip floats. But my advice would be to lay in a supply of Little Joe spinners too. The warmer the water gets the more effective they will become, plus the range of fish species will broaden as well. It won’t be long before you’ll be able to catch 6 or 7 species of fish, all on the same presentation.
Today promises to be turbulent too, lots of strong wind and the warmest temperatures of the season. Looking for manageable fishing locations will take me away from some of the places I’ve been fishing lately. We’ll see what I can drum up for tomorrow’s report after I figure out what I’m going to do. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Q) Jim Dressler wrote; "I keep seeing on FISHRAPPER where authors are referring to "slot length" in regards to walleye. It was my understanding that you could keep anything (within reason), so long as you only had 1 fish over 20" in your possession. Please clear this up for me, And keep posting, I find your reports and banter very helpful.
A) Minnesota's "state wide" walleye regulation does allow for an angler to possess 6 fish, with a total of one fish over 20 inches in possession.
However, there are some lakes that are managed individually and have "special regulations" on walleye harvest. There are upwards of 2 dozen Minnesota lakes that have either "protected slot size" limits, reduced bag limits and in a few cases, like Big Sandy Lake "keeper slot size" limits.
At every public lake landing, there are signs posted to advise anglers about any special regulations in effect on that body of water. If you see no signage, then the lake likely falls under the blanket, state wide regulation.
Another way to learn about a specific lake is to look it up on the DNR Lake Finder website. Search for your lake by name and county, then at the bottom of the page, read the section for special regulations. If there are none listed, then the lake falls under the blanket, statewide regulation."
Water temperatures are warm, we’ve seen 70-degree readings in a number of locations already. In fact, on Thursday, I noted 72 degrees on the small lake I fished. To me, any self-respecting crappie that intended to spawn, should have completed the mission by now.
But I had been on the fence about whether crappies were in pre-spawn or post-spawn mode this week. Mainly, the fish that we have kept consisted of black faced male fish that were caught in cabbage weeds, not on shallow water spawning beds. So when I clean them, there isn’t any evidence to indicate how far along in the spawning process they are.
A few days back, we did capture a few females and when I cleaned them, they still contained spawn. The texture of it was hard, making us think that they had not yet spawned. But the volume of eggs was so small that it made me suspicious that maybe those fish actually had completed spawning and that we were looking at a small portion of eggs that had not been released.
Either way, I think that where you look for crappies this weekend will depend on the geographic location of your favorite lake. Unless you’re fishing on a deep, clear water lake that warms up late, or in the far northern reaches of Minnesota, it’s likely that crappies you find will be in post-spawn locations.
For me, cabbage weeds are the ideal pick for this situation and like I mentioned, that’s where we’ve found them over the past several days; that’s the good news.
The bad news is that after a week or so, the intense, all day feeding behavior will wane. Crappies that are easy to catch right now, will become much more prone to feeding during early morning and late evening. For a time, folks who can fish during the crepuscular periods will keep catching crappies, but anglers seeking them during midday are likely to struggle.
Timing is everything, but for the weekend, the cabbage patches are looking like the best starting point to find crappies. If you find a few, but the action is slow, mark those areas and if you can, return to them during low light periods.
This pattern will change later, when lakes develop fresh beds of alternative patches of deep, green weed growth that crappies will move into. Those weeds, combined with higher metabolisms caused by warmer water, will bring back the “daytime bite”. It may not be too early to check patches of eel grass and wild celery, two weed types that crappies frequently inhabit.
If you've been following the reports, then you already know that when I have a walleye-or-die trip on the schedule, I've been heading for Upper Red Lake. When the weather is right, that's been the most reliable bite so far. But with warming water, there will be more small and medium size lakes "turning on". I plan to learn more about that over the weekend, and I'll have reports from fresh walleye territory early next week.
I hope you're headed for the lake, but wherever you are this weekend, don't stay cooped up, get outside and have some fun! — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"On the south end of Lake of the Woods, it was very successful week for walleye anglers. Great walleye fishing continues with best success in 17-28 feet of water, with walleyes also being caught shallower.
A number of areas along the south shore from Pine Island, Morris Point, Zippel Bay, Long Point and Rocky Point are producing. Knight & Bridges Island area also still holds good numbers and size of fish. Anchored up and vertical jigging, drifting crawler harnesses and pulling crankbaits all working.
Best colors are gold, pink, orange and glow all combinations are working well. A nice mix of eaters, slot fish to be released between 19.5" and 28" and a good number of trophies over 28". As last week, big pike and jumbo in the mix.
Most walleyes are being targeted and caught in the lake. But there is always a population of resident walleyes that live in the Rainy River. Best river depths 12 to 24 feet. Jigs and minnows working the best however trolling a crankbait and covering water is also effective. Smallmouth bass near rocky structure. Good pike hanging in and adjacent to bays. The sturgeon season is closed until July 1st when the season re-opens.
Up at the NW Angle... Until the US-Canada border opens, guests can travel across the lake and stay in MN waters. Check with your favorite NW Angle resort for options.
Fishing continues to be excellent. Walleyes being caught on 5-7' flats with snelled spinners and crankbaits as well as jigging rocky points in 10 - 20 feet of water. Walleyes being caught in many different areas on the Minnesota side. Pike in bays and creek mouths. Water temps 55-57 degrees." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"Walleye - The incredible walleye bite, that many anglers experienced last week has cooled off, thanks to a large cool front that blew through the area late last week. Anglers are continuing to find walleyes shallow in 5-13 feet of water, early and late in the day. More and more cabin owners and lake side campers are catching walleyes right off their docks or campsites, fishing a leech under a bobber during the evening hours. Leeches and crawlers are quickly becoming the bait of choice, as water temps continue to rise. Hot colors continue to be pink, purple and blue.
Pike - Pike anglers are also experiencing a excellent bite right from shore or fishing shallow bays in a boat. Many anglers reported seeing huge pike, over 40”, while looking for spawning panfish or bass. Large suckers fished under a bobber remains very effective on these fish. Large flashy spoons, minnow baits, buzzbaits and large flies have also been triggering pike into biting.
Bass - Bass have begun to build their spawning beds on many area lakes. Bass anglers have been quick to notice this and taking advantage of it. Bass anglers have been catching these bass using soft plastics or suspending jerk baits fished near the beds.
Panfish - Crappies and sunfish have become easy pickings for many anglers on areas lakes. Anglers have been finding panfish in the back of shallow bays, by using small bobbers, with a jig, tipped with a minnow or crawler.
Stream Trout - Cool air temps usually mean excellent stream trout fishing in area stream trout lakes. Angling reports confirmed this. One lucky angling family, reported catching over 50+ trout in one day of fishing! Anglers have been catching trout by trolling small minnow baits, spoons or spinner rigs, over deep water. As water temps rise, trout have been going deeper and are now being found cruising about 20ft down, below the surface." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
All of the leading indicators point toward one of my favorite mixed bag fishing experiences. It occurs every season when crappies move into cabbage weeds during early summer. Walleye, bass, pike and panfish often inhabit the same weeds at the same time. When they do, my customers get to pick and choose which fish they love and which ones they don’t; but not before catching them all.
Recently, crappies have shown up in the cabbage in good numbers and while the walleyes haven’t been thick in them, there have been enough of those to make a good game out of it. There have been plenty of pike too and a smattering of perch, so there’s almost always ben something on somebody’s hook.
The presentations I’ve used have varied; Little Joe Spinners tipped with minnows began working for me last Friday. On that day, the sky was overcast and there was a brisk wind, both crappie and walleye struck the fast moving lures. But when the sky turned sunny and winds calmed, spinners began producing northern pike to the extreme and any other fish in the weeds had a hard time beating them to the lure.
When we experimented with casting, crappies responded very well. Moving the boat slowly along the outside edge of the cabbage, we cast 1/16 ounce Lindy Live Bait Jigs tipped with 2 inch plastic action tails. Allow the lure to drop into holes and pockets in the weed patch and when you’re in the right one, you’ll feel the tell-tale “pop” of a crappie engulfing it.
You can try the same technique using minnows if you like. But I’m almost certain that in this situation, you’ll find that the action tails work better than live minnows do. There’s something about the twirling and fluttering on the drop that really makes crappies strike.
That said, there may be other fish species located in the same weed patches and those may show unique preferences of their own. Looking at the photo of Gary Drotts and Greg Kvale, on their fishing trip walleyes obviously shared the weeds with crappies. But we did not catch any of the walleyes with the jig and plastic. Wiggle Worming was the trick we used to catch some of them and the Little Joes caught the rest.
Using spinners vs wiggle worms as a search presentation could be a debate among anglers. Those who want tons of action would probably favor the spinners, like I mentioned before, there was always something on the line while we were trolling, most were pike and crappies but we did catch an occasional walleye.
For anglers who want to single out a higher percentage of walleye, wiggle worming might be the better choice. While we did catch a few crappies and a couple of pike, there was relatively little action in-between walleye strikes. By the time we tried the crawlers, my arm was sore from catching pike, so by then, the slower pace was a welcome relief.
Decide for yourself which presentation sounds like the most fun and don’t be afraid to experiment. The weather up here has been stable, the water is warming fast and the fish are acting hungry. I think this is the time to have fun trying and perfecting new techniques so you’ll have them in your arsenal for later. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
When the Lilacs are in bloom, crappies are in the peak of their spawning season. Whenever there’s a dragonfly hatch, sunfish find their way to the shallows and begin fanning their spawning beds. Those proverbs are obviously true because panfish action has really taken off over these past few days.
As you can see by the photo, this male crappie is wearing his Sunday best, his black spawning outfit. You can see too by the wear and tear on his tail fin that he’s been working hard, fanning the silt out of a depression in the soft, marl bottom.
Female fish do not ..." Read >> Bowen Lodge Fishing Report June 1, 2020