With walleye limits already packed and frozen, crappie and pike became the target of Monday’s trip with Kyle and Karen Reynolds. Pike for eating are typically not a problem, especially these days when the DNR wants us to be proud of little ones. Crappies on the other hand, can be problematic when bright sunshine and calm seas are in the forecast. Still, that was my work assignment, so I rolled up my sleeves and put on my thinking cap.
As I mentioned in the June 27, 2021, walleye report, one remedy for sunny mid-summer days is dark water. One lake I know has root beer colored water and at the time of my most recent visit, also had a nice population of “eating size” crappies. That seemed to be as good an option as any, so we pointed the truck toward the big bog to give it a try.
Water levels in the river fed lake was low! In fact, I had almost driven the Yukon far enough down the ramp to begin filling the rear cargo area with water. Luckily, my boat found a small hole and floated off the trailer before that happened. But it served as a reminder to make sure there’s a backup plan, which there was, for every lake I decide to visit this summer.
Surface water on the small, dark lake was about 76 degrees, typical of most area lakes right now. Everywhere I’ve been over the past few days, surface temperatures have ranged from 73 to 78 degrees.
The search for crappies began with us trolling spinners. Within 100 yards of the boat ramp, I had already caught a low-end keeper, 9-1/2 to 10 inches or so. This will be easy, I thought, but that was before seeing the rest of the crappies that we began catching. There were plenty of them, but they were small, 5 to 7 inches was the average, if I stretched them. So, it appeared that plan A was gonna need to be scrapped and before noon, it was.
Plan B, another small lake that I used to fish a lot was on our way back home. For me, this one was always a great bass fishing destination, but my customer base has shifted over the years, and I don’t get to play much with my bass anymore. I remembered from the “old days” that the lake had good crappies in it and checking the DNR Lake Finder, it appeared that some of them were still there.
At the landing, another episode of wrestling the boat into the water ensued. It wasn’t as low as the first lake, but I did have to get into the water to wiggle my Alaskan off of the trailer. When I did get her floating, the surface temperature reading at the landing was again, 76 degrees.
The warm water obviously had all the fish fired up! I doubt that we were a block away from the boat ramp when the fish started striking the spinners. Sunfish, northern pike, sunfish, northern pike, northern pike, northern pike, walleye, northern pike, pike, and more pike. If I was being judged on my ability to produce eating size pike, I would be a shoo-in for angler of the decade!
There were 3 dominate types of weeds growing in the lake; cabbage weeds grew from the shoreline out to about 12 feet deep. After that, a mixture of narrow leaf pondweed and filamentous algae filled the screen of my Hummingbird out to water depths of about 18-20 feet. These are some of the weeds that I’ve referred to in the past as “fuzzy stuff” and often, crappies are located in them.
I noticed that whenever I wandered away from the cabbage, pike action subsided. Knowing that I could go back to catching pike at will, I began focusing only on the fuzzy stuff and after a few tries, finally found a patch that had some crappies in it. We did not knock their socks off, but we did catch some. With the sun beating down on us and no wind to speak of, I considered a victory.
The walleye that you see pictured, came from the lean lip at outermost edges of the weeds, 18 to 20 feet deep or thereabouts. If there were more, I don’t know because I didn’t linger along the deep edges, opting to move shallower, back into the fuzzy stuff looking for crappies.
The experience boosted my confidence about dropping into almost any small lake and being able to pull out some fish. If you’ve had a few small lakes on your short list, but haven’t gotten to them yet, now is the time to try them. Trolling the weeds with Little Joe Spinners, you will probably catch a little bit of everything, but you will catch something for sure.
Now, with just enough crappies in hand to pique their interests, the Reynolds’ want me to try and fill the rest of their bag limit today. So here we go again, work assignment crappie and pike; plus, whatever else gets in the way; we will see how it goes. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Ely Area June 29 • Lake of the Woods June 29 • Pokegama Lake June 28 • Grand Rapids June 24 • Ely Area June 22 • Canadian Worm Dirt Update • Lake of the Woods June 21 • Longville June 20 • Cabbage Patch Crappies June 17 • Lindy Rig Walleye June 16 • Lake Winnie June 15 • Follow on Facebook
"It's been another great week of walleye fishing on the south end of Lake of the Woods. Some areas of the lake are experiencing a mayfly hatch, along with other, less identifyable bug hatches. This can be a good time to fish spinners with crawlers, leeches or minnows. A two ounce bottom bouncer with a two hook harness and a crawler is tough to beat. Drifting the mud flats where walleyes are living is an effective strategy in 25 to 33 feet of water.
As fish can be scattered across big mud basins, covering water by drifting crawler harnesses and trolling crankbaits is effective. Good colors this week were hammered gold, pink, glow, orange and chartreuse or a combination of these colors.
Some anglers like to get away from the heaviest part of the hatch as walleyes love the mayfly larvae coming out of the mud and that is a lot of competition for an angler. Some anglers finding walleyes in shallow rocky areas from 5 to 15 feet of water. Different forage for walleyes in different spots. Crayfish and other food sources exist in and around rocks.
Another week for mixed bag fishing on the Rainy River. Walleyes, saugers, smallmouth, pike and sturgeon are the most targeted.
Walleyes this time of year in current breaks and holes. Smallmouth in traditional spots such as rocky areas, current breaks, bridge embankments and weed edges. Pike are at river mouths, in bays and around current breaks. Sturgeon will begin getting more attention too as the "keep" season opens again July 1, 2021.
Walleye fishing continues to be very strong up at the Northwest Angle. Fish being found both in rocky areas and over mud. Some still anchoring up with jigs and minnows on structure. Others drifting spinners and crawlers over deep mud areas in a variety of areas. Northern pike hanging out in weedy bays. Smallmouth relating to rocky points and reefs.
The Canadian border is still closed, there are many ways to get up to the Angle. The LOW Passenger Service, charter boat shuttle service from the south end, is open and running. Or, if you have the right boat and expertise, boating across is an option 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
"So much going on. Warmer temps and light wind have warmed up the water column quickly. Fish were feeding heavy early last week, the last couple of warm calm days have gotten them a bit more tight lipped. We have had large hatches of fish flies and the other amounts of forage seem to allow them to go without aggressively eating the last couple days. Some will call this the starting of a transition period where we see a deeper mud bite and trolling with plugs is more likely to generate a reaction strike as apposed to a live bait feeding bite.
We are still covering both Big and Little Traverse Bays. Mostly we have been drifting with spinners, crawlers or leeches work well.
The forecast is looking great for the week ahead. Most days with highs in the 70s" — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
There are 2 remedies for slow walleye fishing on calm, sunny mid-summer days. The first is to look for lakes with brown, tannin-stained water, root beer colored water provides protection from the sunshine and encourages walleyes to be more active. The 2nd remedy is to search out lakes with the greenest, gooiest, algae-filled water you can find. Obviously, the lake has to first have a decent walleye population. But if it does, you’ll know that you’re on the right track when you arrive at the landing and 1 or more of your fishing partners says; “Ewww!”
Unless you’re new to these pages, you’ll likely recall that I’ve written about the ewwwy-gooey algae bloom pattern before, so I won’t make an extensive story about that, it isn’t the point today.
The point today is that the ewwwy-gooey pattern is working right now but finding a lake that will float your boat may be another matter. Drought conditions in the Itasca Region persist and water levels on the shallow, river-fed lakes that offer the best opportunities to fish this pattern are getting low. How low are they? Well, my Alaskan will launch into shallower water than most other boats on the market. So, when I have trouble getting in and out of a lake, I KNOW that the water is low.
Let’s say for example that you and a couple of buddies want to give the algae bloom pattern a try right away. If one of you has a larger, more glorious fishing boat than the other, leave that boat at home. If one of you has a boat with a shallow draft, that’s the one to try over the short-term. If you’re asking; “what about if it’s too windy to use my 16-foot Jon boat”? Then you are missing my point, because if there’s a good wind, then you won’t need to rely on the green slime pattern, you can go to another good walleye lake and use your big boat instead.
Let’s say for example that you’d like to try this pattern soon but have no idea about which lake to try it on. Well, here is one great method of researching lakes to determine whether they might fall into the right category.
I always start my search using the MN DNR Recreation Compass, it provides an interactive map of the state which allows me to quickly check on lakes in my region that pique my interest. Once I select the lake, I click on the map and that opens a tab that displays a link to lake name. Clicking on the lake’s name re-directs me to the MN DNR Lake finder section. From this page, I check the fisheries survey to determine if there is a decent walleye population.
Next, I check the water clarity, if it appears to be “too clear”, I save the idea for another time. But if the lake has a low water clarity, then I do a deeper dive by clicking on the water quality link. It directs me to reports from either the MN Pollution Control Agency or the University of Minnesota; either way, these reports tell the story.
I’m not singling out any specific lake because there are plenty of them; you won’t have to work that hard to find good ones in your region. Besides, half of the fun in discovering great new walleye water is doing the research yourself. There is always something special about catching the first walleye on a lake that I’ve never visited before. It is rewarding, it makes me feel like I’m earning my way as an angler.
Okay so you found a few lakes and narrowed them down to a short list of a couple really interesting prospects. The next question is how should I fish for mid-summer, stained water walleyes?
Historically, my 2 favorite presentations for the mid-summer have been wiggle worming abd trolling spinners. Which one I start with will depend on the lakes structure. Some of the lakes I fish have a lot of mid-lake structure, some have hardly any at all. Some have great weed beds; others provide little in the weed category. So, the first thing I do, is figure out what type of structures I have to work with. When I spot a nice-looking cabbage patch for example, I will typically troll with spinners first, then use wiggle worms if the fish appear to be concentrated in a small territory.
If there is a lot of mid-lake structure, trolling spinners is a good way to check them out. I adjust the sinker style and weight to fit the depth where I want to fish. Shallow bars, 10 feet deep or less call for about a 3/16-ounce bullet sinker. You can use heavier bullet weights on deeper bars, but when the water depths exceed about 12 feet, I will switch to bottom bouncers or my most recent preference, the No Snagg Sinker.
For some reason, I feel that No-Snaggs hold their depth better than bottom bouncers of equal weight. In 12 feet of water for example, I can get away with a ½ ounce No Snagg, but I’d need at least a 1-ounce bottom bouncer. This means that I can use a light weight fishing rod instead of the heavier casting rods we use for bottom bouncing. For me, that represent fewer trips to the chiropractor for shoulder adjustments.
As usual, I’m up against the clock and have to run. But I hope this gives you something to think about for a while. This mid-summer, warm water pattern can be a lot of fun and right now, anglers with small, shallow draft boats have some of the lakes to themselves. Later, if Mother Nature’s rain machine starts working again, we may all be able to get in on the action, we can only hope. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Catching walleyes was not impossible on Thursday, but calm seas and bright skies did make catching them tricky, especially on lakes with clear water. That wasn’t any surprise, or at least shouldn’t have been to me, I’ve been dealing with weather conditions like these for a long time.
What does surprise me though, is my ability to fall into the same trap over and over again. I call it the "follow the leader trap". Stay with me on this because I’ll bet that something similar has happened to you. A good friend mentions a lake where the fish are biting, they were just there yesterday, and the bite was really good. Immediately, all other plans are put on hold and Lake Wishiknewit becomes the new destination.
So far, so good, we all follow our friends to lakes where the fishing has been good. This is not the trap, more often than not, we get there and find out that our buddy was right, the fish are biting and we have a fun time catching some.
The trap, at least for me, is when my little voice tries to warn me, and I don’t listen; the conversation typically goes something like this.
Little Voice: “I don’t know Yogi, they may have been catching fish yesterday, but don’t forget, the weather was perfect. The wind was blowing, the skies were partly cloudy, and the water clarity was reduced by all that turbulence. Today is gonna be different, the water will be calm, and the sunshine will be bright, those fish probably won’t bite like that today. You should really go somewhere that you’ve fished a lot, at least then you will already have an idea about where the fish are.”
Me: “Yes, I know that the lake will be calm, and the sun will be shining, but I’m a big-time pro with lots of experience, those fish will still bite for me.”
Oops, did it again, didn’t listen to my little voice. The fish my friend reported definitely were there, in fact we even caught some of them and just like he told me the night before, they were good ones. The problem wasn’t the fish, or the fishing report, or even the weather. The problem was that the catch rate was just too slow for my crew, they needed a bit more “action”. You see, they don't live and breathe walleye fishing, they are happy catching crappies, sunfish ... whatever bites.
So, I posed a hypothetical question to my crew. “Would you rather stay here, keep working on these fish until we have 12 of them, or would you rather switch to a lake where we can catch a little bit of everything?” The answer did not surprise me, “Let’s make the switch” they said.
Despite throwing myself under the bus for not listening to my little voice, I was at least smart enough to think about my backup plan. A nearby lake where walleye limits are typically few-and-far between, but fishing action is steady. Northern pike, rock bass, largemouth, perch, crappies, sunfish and even a few walleyes help keep the pole bent, most of the time.
When we arrived at Lake Planbee, we discovered that it was a popular place, the parking lot was full and there were rigs parked for a block along the road. Lots of other folks must have heard good reports from their friends about this lake too, I guess.
The surface water temperature was 67.5 degrees, a full 10 degree drop from the 78-degree water that I found during the heat wave a couple of weeks back. That temperature difference would be a setback for trolling spinners, I thought. But as it turned out, fish were still fairly active, so spinning the weeds wasn’t that bad. We caught all the fish listed above, but pike and rock bass made up the lion’s share of the action. We added a few more walleyes to the larder too, so looking back, the decision to move was probably the right one.
Starting this day with my head screwed on straight, I will do what my little voice said yesterday. Go to a like where I know lots of spots and have lots of experience. That way, when the water is calm and the sun is shining, I can still cherry pick a fish or two from a wide array of spots and structures. In the end, we’ll come out alright, I think.
What all this means is that we are at that point in the summer when walleye fishing will have some ups-and-downs. When conditions are good, walleye fishing will be good, but when conditions are not good, there will be days when walleyes will make us beg for every bite. If walleyes are more important than action, then watch the weather forecast and pick your days, you will still do alright. Don’t be like me and ignore the warnings from your inner voice.
If action is your thing, and catching walleyes is not the main goal, then trolling the weeds with spinners will certainly keep you and your family busy. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
The mid-summer, mixed bag fishing pattern has begun to overshadow “pure walleye” fishing trips. Not those walleyes aren’t biting, they are, but for many of the folks who fish with me at this time of year, action trumps selectivity. For them, catching a handful of everything is better than catching 6 or 4 whitetails.
Crappie, a fish that’s known for its crepuscular feeding habits during early summer, begin getting active whenever deep weeds begin maturing and now, they are. On Monday, Fritz and Penny Becker, as you can see in the accompanying photo, were with me for the first good crappie bite of the summer. Holding over the tops of wild celery plants, they were more than willing to strike during mid-day.
On that same trip, there were also a handful of nice walleyes, a couple of largemouth bass, rock bass galore, and the ever-present northern pike. Sunfish, typically stacked up over the same weeds during mid-summer had just begun to show up, we harvested 2 of them and released a few others.
On Wednesday, the mix was different because we are fishing a different lake. This time, walleye, pike and perch made up the lion’s share of fish we caught. The presentation though, trolling Little Joe Spinners tipped with ½ night crawlers worked just as well as it did on the bass-crappie-sunfish lake 2 days before. My customers did not fill their 3-man walleye limits, but came close; we harvest 15 walleye. Perch, fairly good size ones, added ext4ra protein for our shore dinner and they were delicious!
Today, we’ll travel to another new lake and try the spinners again. I know there isn’t any way to predict the outcome, but I’m guessing that this day will confirm that the trolling season is upon us. So a prediction based on what I’ve seen over the past few days, I think that you will be hearing a lot more about spinners over the next few weeks.
I apologize for the brevity of this report, but thanks to a web hosting company who did me “A SPECIAL FAVOR” and moved my website to a new server, it has taken me 3 days to regain access to it. I’ll be able to get caught up soon, but right now, I have folks waiting to go fishing. See you tomorrow with a fresh update for the weekend. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Walleye fishing remains challenging as mayflies continue to hatch on area lakes. Angler success has more to do with where the mayfly hatch is on that lake. On lakes where the hatch is still going strong, anglers have been struggling to catch a few with spinner rigs tipped with crawlers or a leech. Lakes where the hatch is wrapping up, anglers are reporting a improving walleye bite and even limits being caught. Anglers have been finding walleyes in 12-18 feet of water on top, or around sunken islands, main lake points.
Smallmouth Bass fishing remains outstanding for many anglers as Bass wrap up their spawn and start eating. Topwater baits and soft plastics have been the baits of choice. Anglers have been working the shorelines, downed trees and shallow rocky flats around islands. Really hard to beat wacky worms, neds rigs and whopper ploppers right now!
Stream Trout and Rainbow trout were very active this last week as many anglers fishing different area lakes, reported having great luck slip bobbering a night crawler 5-10 feet below the surface. Small crankbaits and spoons trolled over deep water also accounted for their fair share of trout caught.
Pike - Smaller pike (30” or less) have been very active this last week. Anglers have been finding the pike cruising the weedlines and river mouths. Flashy spoons, spinnerbaits and buzzbaits accounted for many of the pike caught last week. There have been a increasing number of big pike (over 30”) caught this last week." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
Most walleyes in 25 to 33 feet of water. Fish are starting to be scattered across big mud basins. If you find a good school, anchoring up with a jig and frozen shiner can catch fish quickly. Otherwise, drifting crawler harnesses effective and covers water.
Good colors this week were gold, orange and chartreuse.
Covering water trolling crankbaits was effective this week. Get lures down to where the walleyes are living using lead core line, downriggers or a four ounce bottom bouncer with a 6' leader with shallow diving crankbait. All three methods can deliver results.
A mixed bag of fish catches are being reported from the Rainy River. Jigging, pulling spinners and trolling crankbaits are all providing some action. This time of year, current breaks and holes are good places to start. The lake holds more walleyes but the river is a great fallback area in summer.
Smallmouth bass are plentiful. Try traditional spots such as rocky areas, current breaks, bridge embankments and weed edges. Pike are at river mouths, in bays and around current breaks.
Working shorelines whether trolling or casting will normally produce a mixed bag of fish. The river is a great option if winds are high or for something different. Fun fishing.
Sturgeon anglers, mark your calendars, sturgeon season opens again July 1st.
Walleye fishing continues to be strong up at the Northwest Angle. Fish being found on rocks, over mud and in neck down areas between islands. Anglers are catching fish using a variety of techniques.
Nice walleyes being caught drifting spinners and crawlers over deep mud areas. Various bug hatches happen throughout the summer and much of the larvae walleye like come from the mud. Pike hanging out in weedy bays. Smallmouth relating to rocky points and reefs.
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
"If you like wind, there has been plenty of it. Our boats have moved mainly to trolling with spinners now, with the hot item being crawler harnesses in chartreuse or an orange/chartreuse mix. We are still covering Big Traverse and Little Traverse Bays with good success. Lots of slot sized fish and quite a few trophy sized ones being caught, with plenty of good eaters being brought back.
Weather wise it’s going to be a colder beginning of the week with high’s not quite reaching 60 with rain and wind, before warming up later in the week to the 80s once again. Should get a few days of sunshine before another chance of storms for the weekend. The rain is greatly needed both in the water systems, but also for the whole area, so hope for overnight showers with clear, beautiful days.
Stay safe and hope to see everyone soon!" — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
I’d have to be crazy to complain about the rainy weather that arrived on Sunday. The Itasca Region was way past due for an all-day soaker, and I couldn’t be more pleased with that as a Father’s Day gift.
That said, it did present me with a small problem, my crew was not too interested in sitting in the rain, especially if it involved big water and long boat rides. So, what does a guide do when the plan changes dramatically? I don’t know about the rest of my friends, but I go back to my roots and pick a little bitty lake that has a bunch of fish in it, even if they are small ones.
The lake I went to is small, and by Grand Rapids standards, so are the fish. In fact, the lake has a reputation for churning out tons of crappies, but not many of them ever stretch out to the 10-inch mark. I hadn’t fished there for a long time, maybe 10 years, but I figured it was worth a try because if it was anything like the last time, I’d be busy taking crappies off the hook all morning long.
At the landing, the surface water was 71 degrees, warmer than I expected after the recent cool front. I used my outboard to motor out of the shallow water at the ramp, but when I arrived at the drop off and saw fish on my Humminbird, I turned the out off and put the Terrova in the water and used only that for the rest of the fishing trip.
That first school of fish were active, a 1/16-ounce Lindy Live Bait Jig tipped with a 2 inch paddle tail worked well to catch them. Cast toward the weed edges, let the lure fall for 3 or 4 seconds and then retrieve using a swim-drop-swim-drop action. Most often, crappies strike as the lure falls, so I watch my line for evidence of a hit. Whenever the jig stops falling, or the lines “ticks”, set the hook!
That first stop produced a lot of fish, but they were even smaller than I remembered from my last visit. I doubt that any of them even hit the 6-inch mark, way too small for this adventure. So, I decided I better cover some ground, trolling the Little Joes tipped with fatheads should allow me to find something, I reasoned. And they did, trolling still produced tons of small crappies but every so often, a 10 incher came along, there was even one 11 inch fish, that was a nice surprise, but it never repeated.
By about noon, there were 10 “keeper” crappies (10 inches or better) in the livewell, and that represented roughly 10% of the fish that were reeled in. So, the little lake would hardly be considered a destination crappie lake. But with all the action from little crappies, combined with random highlights produced by bass or pike tugging harder on the line, it really wasn’t a bad morning.
The experience piqued my curiosity, I drive past small lakes in the region every single day and I never see anybody fishing on them. I wonder how often this sort of experience could be repeated. Maybe I should start specializing in fishing tiny lakes that nobody else ever bothers with? “Putzing Around With Jeff”, I could name it. Yes I'd like that because the trip yesterday reminded me of my youth, when I surprised more than a few adults with decent catches that I scrounged up in whatever lily pads, boat docks and swimming rafts I could reach with my green fiberglass Shakespeare "Wonder Rod"!. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
A cold front provided a much-needed break from the recent heat wave on Friday evening. In isolated areas, it arrived in the form of thunderstorms, not severe ones, but somewhat disruptive in terms of fishing action. I used the term “somewhat disruptive” because metaphorically, it did not compare to a crash that totaled out a car, instead it amounted to more of a fender bender.
The fender that got bent was Bowstring, the first lake I tried on Saturday morning. I was optimistic at almost every spot, fish appeared on the screen often. But despite a good start early in the trip, walleyes that I spotted on my Humminbird were stubborn, biting occasionally, but without much enthusiasm. Occasionally, somebody we would see somebody land a fish and that gave me the idea that the bite would improve, but by mid-trip, I ran out of patience and decided to make a move.
Knowing full well that I’d have to settle for smaller fish, I headed for “old reliable”, hoping that the effects of the front were less impressive. Luckily for me, the fish there were more cooperative. Four hours of trolling produced 12 fish, just what we needed for the 2-man crew. Most of the fish were solid keepers, 14 to 15 inches in size, but at the end of our day, we did bag one 13-1/2 inch fish just to make a limit official. We did catch a few fish in the protected slot as well, maybe 3 or 4 of them.
We fished isolated humps, or rises, on top of a large flat. The key depth range for walleyes was about 10 to 12 feet, if I slid off the edges into 14-15 feet of water, pike grabbed the lures instead. Perch, in small numbers inhabited the very tops of the humps, they struck often, but were not overly aggressive, we only hooked a few of them.
We used Little Joe Spinners, the #3 Indiana blade with the 2/0 Aberdeen hooks, chartreuse and gold (pictured) was our best color. The crew tipped theirs with minnows, Don used 2 fatheads instead of 1 and he caught fish fairly steadily. I stuck with ½ night crawlers on my spinner and held my own too, the action was about equal, I think.
Now listen up, there was a teachable moment yesterday and I need to share an important lesson about trolling with spinners. I realize that it is a hard one for some folks to interpret and even harder for some to believe but it is still true.
DO NOT ALLOW YOUR SPINNER TO DRAG ON THE BOTTOM OF THE LAKE, IT WON’T WORK!
Watching his friend Don catch all the fish, Randy tried to figure out what he should do differently. Repeatedly, Don used the phrase “I’ve got a lot of line out” and Randy, in my opinion, over-compensated by making his casts longer and longer, until snails, dragged up from the rocks were his main captures. He couldn’t get rid of the notion that “I’ve for a lot of line out” is completely subjective and open for broad interpretation.
For Don, “a lot of line” was just the right amount, the spinner was flickering over the tops of the fishes heads, enticing them to strike. For Randy, the spinner was dragging bottom, both out of view from the fish and probably not even spinning as it dragged along the snails and clam shells.
The remedy, at least for me is to switch sinkers, in depths of 8 to 12 feet, a ½ ounce Lindy No-Snagg is an awesome substitute for the bullet sinkers that we typically use for trolling. Now Don was using a 3/16-ounce bullet sinker and for him, it worked great. For me, the ½ ounce No-Snagg was working great too and on paper, should have made life easier for Randy in terms of controlling the depth of his spinner, but it didn’t. Still too much dragging on the bottom, I think, was the common theme.
If you want to be successful trolling spinners, then whatever you must do, figure out how to keep your spinner trolling higher in the water column, that is what will make the fish bite better.
Missing out on another teachable moment was on me. I know that controlling your sinker weight is one way to alleviate this problem and this is where I failed in doing my job yesterday. Instead of switching Randy to the heavier bottom bouncing style sinker, I should have instead replaced his 3/16-ounce sinker with a lighter, 1/8-ounce size. That way, I could have compensated for his over-compensation of the interpretation of Don’s dissertations about “having a lot of line out”.
Today, I fish with Don and Randy again, so I’ll have a chance to humble myself and explain where I went wrong. Hopefully, we’ll be catching some fish while I do that, it will make easier to explain!
For all of you dad’s out there, Happy Father’s Day and if you’re on the lake GOOD LUCK! — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
There are some days when lengthy fishing reports are just not required. As you can see by the photo collage, Eldon Skoglund was here with his grand kids Finn (left) and Mica (right). Somehow their dad Sean got left out of the photos, but I'm fairly sure that he'd agree that this trip, as it should be, was really all about the kids.
When water temperatures reach into the mid-70s, fish metabolism is high and barring major weather changes, there is almost no way to stop them from feeding. So at this time of year, this is one magic fishing trick that you definitely can do at home, with your own kids, here's the recipe.
Find a small lake that has a nice weedline, use Little Joe Spinners tipped with a fathead minnow or 1/2 night crawler behind a 1/8 or 3/16 ounce bullet sinker (sinker weight depends on water depth at the weedline) and troll the weed edges at 1.0 to 1.3 MPH. Whatever kind of fish in the lake will strike these spinners. For example, on Friday, we caught sunfish, crappie, walleye, rock bass, walleye and perch. Not a lot of any one fish species, but when you add them all up, it provides the family with a lot of fish.
On the off chance that your kids ask what you want to do for Father's Day, maybe this would be a good choice. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Avid bank and boat anglers alike have long known that dam tailraces are excellent fishing spots. Wired2fish staffers McKeon "Keys" Roberts and Kyle Peterson take us on an intriguing underwater tour of a dam spillway (tailrace area), showing why angler efforts are well-spent. The camera reveals a wide variety of life ranging from popular gamefish and rough fish species, baitfish, aquatic invertebrates, and even reptiles looking to get in on the action.
If you like fishing or are interested in getting into it, chances are you're not too far from a dam that offers quality fishing opportunities. So why are these excellent places to fish? Aside from the obvious obstruction that stops or limits upstream fish migration (thus concentrating fish), the waters in tailraces are often cool, well-oxygenated, and loaded with ..." View Video and Learn More >> Why Dam Spillways are Excellent Fishing Spots | Underwater Tour
Sometimes people ask me about wiggle worming and wonder why I do that instead of just using Lindy Rigs tipped with night crawlers. If the walleyes are eating worms, why wouldn’t they eat them using either presentation?
The answer is yes, if worms are the hot bait, then theoretically, it should not matter which fish hook you pin it to, it should work. BUT … The problem is not with the fish, or their appetites, the trick is figuring out the best way to work with the habitat. When the goal is to get bait in front of a fish, but sinkers are constantly snagging on rocks, or the bait gets lost in the weeds, then efficiency is lost. There may still be some fish caught, but sometimes it takes more work to produce less fish.
On Wednesday, I took my crew, including Larry Lahley (pictured left top), who coined the phrase "Wiggle Worming" in the first place, to a lake that has lots of low lying, flimsy weeds growing on the bottom.
Using conventional Lindy Rigs, the sinkers need to be cleaned off every few minutes. Additionally, the vegetation confuses folks, it can complicate making a judgement about whether they had a walleye strike, or if their sinker just dragged through the weeds. Slip floats, in certain circumstances, could also be a remedy, but when the wind is blowing 20 MPH and there are 3-foot waves under the boat, accurate placement of the floats can be hugely problematic.
Using light weight jigs, 1/16- or 1/8-ounce Lindy Live Bait Jigs specifically, tipped with whole night crawlers, allows us to flutter the bait over the tops and between the gaps in low lying vegetation or skip over the tops of rocky structure. Even in heavy weeds like cabbage or coontail, it is easier to wiggle through using this presentation. Don’t get me wrong, my crew still had their fair share of conflicting sensations caused by weeds and rocks, but it would have been far worse using a presentation that required any additional hardware to grab the grass.
Then there is the question of how well the presentation works in terms of triggering a fish to strike. Wiggle worming, when executed properly, causes the worm to roll in a circular pattern and for some reason, walleyes cannot say no to that spiraling action. Even when habitat is not an issue, there are days when the wiggle worms out produce other lures used to present a night crawler. I think Wednesday was one of those days, the guys who gave their worms the best “wiggle” were the ones rewarded with the most fish.
If you haven't already seen it, here is a link to a Fish ED video about >> Wiggle Worming.
Wiggle worming and walleyes aside, I came away from the lake with another theory yesterday. The diversity of species in some lakes, especially like the one we fished yesterday is incredible. At times, I will leave a lake like this one with a little bit of everything, but not a lot of any one thing. There are plenty of articles and previous reports about mixed bag fishing in the archives; check them out if you like.
The question I have asked myself is how can it be that I can visit a lake like this in early June and produce a catch that consists primarily of walleyes, when a mid-July fishing trip would produce every species in the lake, of which, walleyes would make up only a modest percentage?
I think it has to do with spawning, insect hatches and seasonal migrations. I think that during this period, let’s call it the “pre-mixed-bag” period, panfish and bass hang out closer to shore, near the areas where they spawned a few weeks ago. Shallow, shoreline related weed patches, bulrush beds and boat docks hold a lot of fish.
Walleyes on the other hand, get a whiff of insects hatching out on soft bottom flats and migrate away from the shoreline and inhabit points and corners on deeper, mid-lake structure. Right now, they are the only fish out there, so most of the time, if we get a strike, it will produce a walleye. Later, when bass and panfish begin setting up shop on the same structures, the walleyes will still be there, but will become harder for anglers to pick out of the crowd.
In terms of walleye catch rates, efficiency will be reduced because of all the other fish competing for the same lures. Of course, the fun factor goes up, for us guys who like lots of action and don’t worry as much about walleyes.
Surface temperatures are pegged in the 74-to-75-degree range most everywhere. Insect hatches are occurring on most every lake I’ve been too, and the walleyes have definitely been feeding on them. Over the past few days, we have almost completely transitioned away from jig and minnow. Lindy Rigs and crawlers, Wiggle Worming with crawlers, slip floats with crawlers, you get the idea, the red meat theme that I mentioned yesterday is in full swing.
Spinners are producing fish for some folks too, in fact there were good reports about some catches of crappies, perch and pike a couple of days ago. I have a feeling, that there will be some trips using Little Joe Spinners soon. I will report back about that over the next couple of days.
If you are a walleye angler, look toward the middle of your favorite lake, there is s good chance that some of the fish are out there on the mudflats. Panfish anglers, check out weed patches located adjacent to shallow water flats and fish them early or late in the day for best results. For mixed bag anglers, hold on a little bit, another week, maybe 10 days and I think we’ll be in business. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
I’m not exactly flush for time this morning, lots of paperwork and a few repairs to catch up on before work. But I did want to give you a quick heads up about the changing feeding preferences of walleyes we’ve caught recently.
Last week I wrote that we were beginning to use wiggle worming as an alternative to jig and minnow presentations. For a time, the 2 presentations could be interchanged, we used whichever one best suited the weather conditions at the time. Over the past few days, our catch rate using night crawlers have consistently outpaced that of the jig and minnow.
On Tuesday, surface water temperatures on the lake ranged from 72 degrees in the morning, to 76 degrees by days end. Insect carcasses were floating on the surface, algae blooms were developing, and walleye location had shifted to soft-bottom, mud flats. At the fish cleaning shack, all of the fish that we harvested showed evidence of feeding on insect larvae. There was black, muddy goo at both ends of the fish and the stomachs contained no minnows at all, just a little muddier goo.
We did catch a couple of walleyes on jig and minnow yesterday and I’m not saying that we won’t catch more that way when the weather is right for jigging. But typical of most situations like these, Lindy Rigging with air injected night crawlers and Wiggle Worming are likely to be much more effective presentations for a while.
Leeches, some would say, should be just as good right now, but you couldn’t prove it by me. I ran a leech for about an hour yesterday and had one bite, once fish started striking crawlers, I abandoned the experiment with leeches. We will probably try them again today though, and I will provide more info about that tomorrow. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Anglers having the best luck have been pulling lindy rigs, tipped with a leech or crawler or using a slip bobber and a leech during the early morning and evening hours. Many of the angler using lindy rigs reported marking good numbers of fish, but often failed to catch more then one from a school walleyes, so these successful anglers stayed on the move to stay successful. Key depths was 12-14 feet of water during the day and 6 feet of water or less during the early morning or evening.
Smallmouth bass fishing continues to be excellent for bass anglers. Smallmouth Bass are either on their beds now or have wrapped up spawning and are now hitting topwater or soft plastics in shallow water. Anglers should focus on sand and gravel transition area in 6 feet of water or less.
Pike anglers continue to report catching lots of average size pike on area lakes. Thanks to sky rocketing water temps, weedbeds are already established in area lakes. Anglers have been finding pike in these weedbeds with spoons, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and large suckers fished under a bobber.
Lake trout anglers continue to catch good numbers of lake trout and lots of quality lakers. Trolling deep divers or down rigging trolling spoons, 20-40 feet down, has been the way to catch lakers. Anglers fishing in the BWCA have been reporting good luck with heavy bucktails and heavy casting spoons. These anglers have been jigging the bucktails or drifting the heavy spoons over deep water." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
"There has been some good walleye fishing on the south end of Lake of the Woods this week. As many summer weeks, it was helpful to be versatile. On the big lake, sometimes you have to play the wind, meaning, you have to be flexible where you fish.
The fish were there, resulting in some great catches this week. Most anglers are fishing in 25 to 33 feet of water. Some are still jigging, using frozen shiners and leeches; both good this week. With water temperatures in the mid to upper 60s, leeches and crawlers will heat up.
Spinners (otherwise called harnesses) with minnows, leeches or crawlers were all effective this week. It is good to mix up colors and bait until you find the right mix. Gold, glow, pink, orange, chartreuse or a combo of them are good colors in stained water.
More and more anglers trolling crankbaits with success. Some have been trolling cranks since the opener but it seems most anglers wait till the water warms. A great method to cover water and find cooperative fish.
Smallmouth bass in rocky areas, current breaks, bridge embankments and weed edges. Lots of bass in the river. Crankbaits, spinnerbaits and tube jigs are good lures to start with.
Pike are adjacent to weedlines, in slack water areas and in bays. Working shorelines whether trolling or casting will normally produce nice fish.
Sturgeon anglers, mark your calendars, sturgeon season opens again July 1st.
Walleye fishing continues to be strong up at the Northwest Angle. Fish coming from literally 5 to 33 feet of water. Not every walleye is keying on the same food sources. With structure, rocks, and mud, lots of variety at the Angle. Jigging, spinners and cranks all producing.
Muskie season opens Saturday, June 19th. Lots of nice fish already caught unintentionally as these predators like to eat. Muskie anglers were forced to fish MN waters last year with the border closure were happily surprised with the size and quantity of fish on the MN side. This year should be good.
Pike hanging out in weedy bays. Smallmouth relating to rocky points and reefs.
With the Canada border still closed, there are many ways to get up to the Angle.The LOW Passenger Service, charter boat shuttle service from the south end, is open and running. If you have the right boat and expertise, boating across is also an option 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
"Lake of the Woods, Frenemy=wind. Some days the wind is all that matters, we have had wind in different forms this past week. One day is a perfect breeze for a nice drift of Walleye and the next day it is so strong you find yourself fishing in locations you would not have chosen otherwise. This past week, we even had times we wish there was some wind.
We are still covering many parts of the lake, both Big Traverse and Little Traverse Bays. Some Anglers have been doing more drifting than anchoring now. Typical colors of gold and chartreuse are best. Mixing in more leeches and frozen shiners to the bait supply.
The forecast for the coming week is mid-80s with lows in the 50’s" — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
Walleyes, the most popular fish for Bowen Lodge guests have moved into 3 key areas. Shoreline related bars that extend out into the lakes deep water basin, sprawling mid-depth flats and shallow water structure like weed beds. In the past week alone, we have heard reports of walleyes being caught in depths ranging from 6 to 26 feet, depending on the type of structures where walleyes have been located.
On the bars, active walleyes ..." Read >> Bowen Lodge Lake Winnie Report June 14, 2021
"Each summer, in a few special little corners of earth, a magical thing happens. A few shorelines, little points and small pockets of fisheries come alive with thousands of tiny fairies. Delicate, dainty, wish-granting little fairies that hover over the water's surface and deliver what every angler wishes for all of his life.
A bass… feeding… frenzy!
I'm talking about mayfly hatches. And if you can't tell, they hold a pretty special place in my heart. These are one of the coolest things you'll ever experience on the water. If you've never witnessed one, there are a lot of parallels between mayfly hatches and ..." Learn More >> How to Catch Bass on Summer Mayfly Hatches
Some fish are always biting somewhere and at some time. But there are those days when we don’t catch ‘em because we run out of time before figuring out the pattern, or the presentation. Nobody can cover every spot, from every angle of any lake in a single day; that’s the truth. But there are certain days when not catching fish is simply our own fault; days when human error is the blame.
Most folks would never admit it, but sometimes, the reason they don’t catch fish is that they are “too smart”. But I will, because I’ve done it, and I’ve learned some painful-but-valuable lessons because of it. Painful because looking at myself in the mirror after letting a customer down by being “too smart for my own good” really sucks. It’s often the result of not trying alternative presentations, sticking to a given pattern or presentation, knowing that it if I just stick with it, it will work eventually.
There have been times when I’ve arrived at the dock with a meager catch, only to find out that somebody else wailed on ‘em. It’s been even worse when whomever has done the wailing on ‘em, did it right in front of me and I didn’t know it. Ooh, ouch, very painful, but valuable too, because it has taught me to be both more versatile and more thorough. Some would say, its taught me to be less stubborn about but I think I know and more accepting about what I still need to learn.
The reason I bring this up is that for the past week, I could have been my own worst enemy more than once. Take the past few days for example. On Friday, I was fishing with long time customers, friends really, the Skoglund’s, on Lake Vermilion.
After moving from spot to spot, looking for fish on mid lake structure, I figured out that the fish were not out there. I knew that meant that they must be shallow, but I was having a hard time finding a suitable, shallow water territory to test my theory. Fortunately, after a long search, we finally found some weeds in a shallow bay in which to test my theory.
Earlier in the week, I had done well by fishing cabbage weeds using wiggle worms, this was similar structure, so we started with that presentation. When it wasn’t working, I said some very cruel things about the lake, I should be spanked for it! But luckily, I took a deep breath and asked the boys to break out the Ugly Sticks to do some spinning. Little Joes tipped with night crawlers brought us some very “good fortune”. As you can see by the accompanying photo of Elson Skoglund, we turned the heads of some very nice walleyes that were laying in that dense cover.
On Saturday, with another long-time customer and friend, Bill Linder, we fished closer to home. The structure was similar, a large, shallow cabbage flat. Only this time, trolling spinners only turned the heads of small pike and tiny perch. But when we put away the spinners and started wiggle worming, we were welcomed into “the club”; confirmed walleye specialists. Go figure, 2 patches of cabbage, 2 awesome presentations, but only 1 of them worked in 1 place at a time. As you can see by the accompanying photo of Jim Miller, “Wiggle Worming” turned the heads of some nice walleyes!
There were other episodes this week that would further illustrate my point, but I bet you already have the idea. If I would have been too stuck on either presentation, then one of my customers would have ended up with a bad day. Luckily, I am learning not to be “too smart” and to keep trying. So at least for this week, I haven’t had to let any of my friends down.
If you’re headed for the lake, go with confidence, the weather has been stable and water temperatures are warm; ranging from 70 to 76 degrees. With stable weather and warm water, the fish are definitely on the prowl and biting. But remember to be prepared, don’t over-stock on any one lure or bait. I’d suggest that you carry a lit bit of everything, instead of a lot of anything.
Just since last weekend, we have caught walleyes on shallow water rocks, deep water points, mid-lake bars, shallow water weeds and on mid-depth sand flats. We caught them on jigs and minnows, jigs with plastics, spinners with minnows, spinners with night crawlers and slip-bobbers with leeches.
And whatever you do, don’t be “too smart for your own good”, fiddle around with several different structures and use a variety of presentations until you unlock the combination that works for the fish you are fishing at the time. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Walleye fishing slowed way down as the record heat wave moved in. Anglers fishing during the day really struggled to find active walleyes. Early risers and night owls often reported a very different story. Both of these angler groups reported similar locations, techniques and times to be out for success.
Early risers often caught walleyes in 6 feet of water or less, using a slip bobber and a leech. Often times right off their docks or campsite, before 8am. Night owls also reported catching walleye shallow, in 6 feet of water or less, with slip bobber and a leech or search baits (paddle tails or minnow baits), but this time after 8pm.
Smallmouth bass are either building spawning beds, spawning or have wrapped spawning, depending on what lake your on. Regardless of where they are with the spawn, they are shallow and very easy to catch right now. Ned rigs, tubes and even top water lures have all been very effective on bass right now.
Stream trout fishing has cooled off for the shore angler, on many of the area stream trout lakes. Warm water temps are largely to blame for this. Boat/canoe anglers have been catching some very respectable trout in some of the smaller, less fished trout lakes. Jigs and twisters jigged over deeper water, small crankbaits trolled over deep water and night crawlers floated off the bottom have all been very effective was to catch trout.
Lake trout has remained stead this last week, but there are more and more reports of the trout being caught out in deeper water. Trolling spoons fished behind down riggers, or three colors of leadcore and stick bait have both been the predominant way anglers are catching lakers. Anglers fishing from a canoe have been reporting good success jigging heavy 1 1/2 to 2oz bucktails over deep water.
Northern Pike anglers continue to catch good numbers of pike. Pike over the 30” mark have become few and far between as raising water temps push the out into deeper water. Anglers have been catching pike with buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, spoons and large suckers. Due to the heat, best success has been very early in the day in shallow weedy bays.
Sunfish and Crappies have begun to setup and spawn in many area lakes. Anglers have been catching them in shallow bays with small jigs tipped with either a small angle worm or wax worm for sunnies. Crappie minnows fished under a bobber has been very effective on crappies." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
Recapping the last few days boils down to this. When the clouds move in and the wind picks up, the fishing action is great! When the wind stops blowing and the sun beats down on the water, the fishing gets tricky.
I used the word “tricky” because fish can still be caught in the bright conditions but catching them takes both creativity and determination. Knowing a lot of fishing spots doesn’t hurt either, moving frequently and picking off a fish or two at each stop is a good idea right now. One of my fishing guide buddies added to that thought yesterday. In a discussion about Lake Winnie, he said; “When I see a school of fish on my graph, we stop, drop in our jigs and pick off the best ones, keepers, right away. After we catch 3 or 4 fish, the rest of the biters get smaller and staying in that spot is a waste of time.”
I wasn’t fishing on Winnie yesterday, but the pattern was still the same for us. Make a move, get a few strikes, try one more pass and then move on to fresh territory. Whenever the element of surprise was on our side, the fish would strike, fairly aggressively actually. It was just a lot easier to spook them under bluebird skies.
Another trick that came into play for me yesterday, was switching away from the jig and minnow, over to the wiggle worms. An experiment at first, I tied on a 1/16 ounce Lindy Live Bait Jig tipped it with a whole night crawler and tossed it into the water. Within a few minutes, I had a pickup which led to a nice keeper walleye in the livewell. After it happened again, I tied up the same rig for Janet and it worked for her too. Then I tied another one up for Marty, and … yes, Wiggle Worming Season has definitely arrived!
If jig and minnow is your thing and you really don’t want to change to live bait yet, that’s okay. In fact on Sunday, the “Grand Finale’ of Fun With Dick and Paul, jig and minnow fishing was awesome. But that day we had cloudy skies and strong, strong winds blowing. Fishing the same area yesterday, there were still some fish striking jig and minnow too. However on Monday, it was clear that the lion’s share of walleyes where we were fishing had a strong preference for red meat.
One mistake I did make on Monday was looking for fish in deeper water. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time, but we did not find any fish much deeper than about 15 feet. Apparently, the increased algae blooms, along with the presence of emerging weeds has begun to soften the harsh, clear water conditions that persisted through last week. This probably means that as water temperatures continue to rise, and weed growth fills out, trolling with spinners will soon take over as the leading presentation.
About water temperatures, it is now easy to find 72-to-75-degree surface temperatures. On Saturday, we discovered some readings as high as 80 degrees, but Sunday’s turnover dialed them back to a few degrees.
Insect hatches are another thing to watch for now. I noticed the tell-tale, black goo coming from the exit ramps of fish that we caught yesterday. That was the signal that they are probably feeding more heavily on bugs than on minnows. That may also be why the fish showed a preference for night crawlers. Emerging insect hatches are often the reason for fish changing from minnows over to live bait.
Today, I may just make another run up to Red Lake. I thought about it yesterday, but wanted to give the lake an extra day to settle down after the tempest that blew through on Sunday. Whatever we do decide to do, I’ll fill you in tomorrow. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Walleyes were active on the south end of Lake of the Woods this week. Some warm weather hit the north country and the fish responded nicely. Jigging with a live fathead minnow or frozen shiner vertically jigged or drifting spinners with a minnow or crawler in 15 to 29 feet of water has been the ticket for most walleye anglers.
Snelled spinners or night crawler harnesses work well all summer and into the fall. These are also a really good way to cover water while searching for fish. They are also versatile as they can be fished shallow to deep. 1.0 to 1.25 mph is a good speed, as long as the spinner is spinning. Reliable colors to start out with are hammered gold, either by itself or with another color, pink, glow red, orange and chartreuse. Are also all good colors in the stained waters.
Trolling crankbaits is gaining steam with very good results. A great way to cover water. Get the lure where walleyes are living and hang on!
Some good walleye fishing on The Rainy River too. Most anglers fishing the river are locals or folks who have smaller boats and the river gets busier on windy days. Although many walleyes head back to the lake after the spawn, not all do! There is 42 miles of navigable Rainy River from the mouth at Wheeler's Point to Birchdale which is 26 miles east of Baudette.
Most anglers jigging with a minnow with spinners and crankbaits starting to perform well.
Multispecies in the river. Smallmouth bass in rocky or slack water areas. Pike in bays. Sturgeon season opens again July 1st.
Great walleye fishing continues around The Northwest Angle as well. Fish coming from 14 to 25 feet of water. A lot of fish being caught in the mud, but there are plenty being caught around structure as well.
Jigging with a minnow and drifting with spinners the go to methods. Not as many anglers pulling crankbaits but they are working. Much like the south end, Gold or gold mixed with another color has been effective this week.
The Canadian border still closed, but anglers heading to and through Minnesota waters can still get there. The LOW Passenger Service, charter boat shuttle service from the south end, is open and running. If you have the right boat and expertise, boating across is an option too. 3. And finally, Lake Country Air flying service, a float plane service out of Baudette can get you there as well." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"We’ve been working Little Traverse Bay all week with good results. Floating with jigs has been bringing in a lot of nice fish. Plain hammered gold and chartreuse with hammered gold has been working really well. We saw some blistering hot days this last week in the mid-90s, just a week after getting some freezing temps and snow.
The forecast for the coming week is mid-80s with chance of thunderstorms almost every day. If you plan on coming up, bring your rain gear just in case. Winds are supposed to be in the teens with possible gusts into the 20mph range.
Stay safe and hope to see everyone soon!" — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
Day 2 of “Fun with Dick and Paul 2021”, took place right here in Grand Rapids. Like I said yesterday, cloud clover and a breeze gave me the only excuse for trying one of my neighborhood’s clear water lakes that I was going to get before the heat wave strikes. Near as I can tell, we were a little bit early for some fish, and a little bit late for other fish.
One of the primary intended goals was to fish for crappies, so that’s what we tried first. Although there was some dispute about crappie location at the bait shop, weed flats containing cabbage weeds would be our best bet, I thought. We made our first stop on a wide patch of cabbage and cast 1/16-ounce jigs tipped with action tails. There were some pike, some largemouth bass and a few perch in the weeds, but no crappies that we could find.
Maybe Andy was right, maybe there were crappies in the shallow spawning beds? We checked that theory out by stopping at several well-known spawning spots. I’m not saying he was wrong, but we did not see evidence that there were any crappies in shallow water, in fact, we never saw any crappies anywhere yesterday. I think we were too late for the shallow bite, but too early for the cabbage patch bite.
Sunfish and bass, now that was a different story, they were easy to spot in shallow water. They were not always large, but they were plentiful, and I don’t remember stopping anywhere that didn’t produce a few sunnies, bass or rock bass. The one problem was that bluegills and bass were well into the late phases of spawning. Schools of roaming female fish were non-existent, only the bed guarding males remained. That meant they were glued to the nests and very reluctant to move.
Even though we did catch some nice bass, I think we were a little bit too late to get in on any fast, pre-spawn action. Same thing was true for bluegills, too late for pre-spawn, too early for the weedline bite.
Walleyes, according to a friend had been active earlier this week but appeared to be taking the day off on Thursday. In fairness to the lake, our search for walleye was not exhaustive. If we happened to wind up near a good walleye hole between bass and panfish stops, we would give them one pass to see if there were walleye biting. Apparently, they were not, because we didn’t catch any and my buddy confirmed later that the fish he’d caught earlier had vanished from the area. I guess we were too early for a solid, full-time gathering of walleye on weediness and mid-lake structure.
So, for day 2, bluegills and bass were the highlight. My attention turns back to walleye today and I’m debating which lake they will like best. If you were a walleye and the weather forecast was for 95 degrees and sunny, where would you go? I need all the help I can get, so if you happen to have a fabulous idea, please do let me know! Otherwise, I’ll let you know on Sunday how our next couple days play out.
I remember days from my youth when we fished too long in the lily pads and got big sunburns. Don’t forget to slather up this weekend, that sun could be hot! OH and drink your water too, the Hippie Chick will be proud of you if you do! Good Luck! — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Fun With Dick and Paul 2021, started off mellow. The air temperature was mild, the skies were blue, and the breeze was light. Walleyes were coax-able, but not overly aggressive and they were more scattered than I’ve seen them recently.
Fishing isolated bars surrounded by flat terrain with a soft bottom was the general rule for finding fish. Not all the bars held fish yet and the ones that did, hosted only a few fish each. But, if we kept moving and fishing, we had enough action to call it a good day.
As far as presentation was concerned, our Lindy Live Bait Jigs tipped with shiners worked fine. But I’ve gotten the heads up from 4 bait shops already that the shiner supply will be exhausted soon. So, to test the alternatives, we rigged up the Little Joes and took them for a spin along the weed edges. Pike responded to them, but on Wednesday, we did not pick up any walleye, perch, or crappie.
We’ll be using Lindy Rigs with leeches and night crawlers today and in my opinion, “rigging” will likely be the preferred presentation for a few weeks before the spinners really take over the conversation, more on that later.
The heat wave, poised to strike this weekend, will prove to be problematic in some ways. Comfort will obviously be affected, but what I’m concerned about now are water levels. Small to mid-size lakes with river outflows are low already and the last thing they need is the hot sun evaporating even more water. And then there is this, the only way out of a heat wave, it seems to me, is by having a big storm. Before this episode is over, we’re going to endure a doozy and that will cause a major disruption.
Not all the news about the hot weather is bad though. There are a lot of lakes that could really use a boost in terms of algae production and some heat will help the progress. Adding some color to the water will benefit anglers, making fish a little easier to catch. But better algae blooms benefit fish in terms of producing better growth rates and that would be helpful for the survival of the current, 2021-year class of fish. The hot sun should super charge weed production and that’s a good thing too. In many ways, you could say the more weeds, the better because of the luscious habitat they provide.
Another effect of the heat wave will be to intensify spawning of the warm water fish. Sunfish and bass spawning activity will be in overdrive by the weekend, even in the deepest, coolest water lakes. Crappies, if there are any remaining that haven’t spawned already, should be totally finished in the next few days.
With 4 days of “Fun with Dick and Paul” remaining, I’m scratching my head about which lakes I will visit on which day. But apparently today will be my best odds of having some cloud cover to work with, so I do see a clear water lake in our short-term future. I’ll let you know how that goes tomorrow. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
I took the bait when Fritz Becker mentioned going for a mixed bag of fish on Tuesday. I had chosen a lake where we could catch almost anything from rock bass to walleye to largemouth to crappies to sunfish to pike.
The good news is that the fish, some of them at least, took the bait too, but not before giving me reason to doubt the decision.
When we arrived at the landing, surface temperature readings ranged from 64 to 65 degrees. Before we even broke idle speed, we spotted schools of sunfish, along with a handful of largemouth bass in the shallows. “We might as well start right here”, I said. “Why bother driving all over the lake when we can get the action started right away?”
Well, the answer was because those fish were not going to bite. It’s easy to look at a graph, see fish on it and then discover that they can’t be caught. There is always speculation that maybe the fish are not the right species, of that some odd occurrence has given them lockjaw. But disappointment goes to a higher level when you can see fish with your eyes but can’t get them to respond to your lure. Try as we might, those sunfish and bass would not, could not, did not strike.
Okay fine, we’ll try for walleyes instead, so I rigged us all up for wiggle worming with 1/16 ounce Lindy Live Bait Jigs and night crawlers; that didn’t get the action started either.
Okay fine, we’ll try for crappies instead, so I rigged up a 1/16 ounce Lindy Jig and tipped it with a 2 inch paddle tail and began casting-retrieving into the cabbage weeds; that didn’t get the action started either.
Okay fine, we’ll break out the spinners and rule out whether that would be a better presentation. We rigged up with 3/16 ounce bullet sinkers and Little Joe Spinners, we tipped them with small fatheads and began trolling the weed edges; that did get the action started.
At first, trolling the Little Joes was producing only northern pike. But eventually, they did allow us to bag a couple of crappies and a couple of walleyes too. We weren’t setting the world on fire, but the livewell was beginning to fill up. After about our 50th pike, I thought we could use a break, so I re-visited the spot where we’d seen the bass and panfish earlier.
By now, the sunshine had warmed the water up to 75 degrees, a full 10-degree increase. We could see panfish dimpling the surface and occasionally a bigmouth swirling too.
A 1/16 ounce Lindy Live Bait Jig tipped with a chunk of night crawler and suspended 18 inches below Thills Fish'N Float, weighted clip on bobbers did attract some strikes this time. Compared to the number of fish we could see, there still weren’t a ton of strikes, but the action was steady enough to hold our attention. There were sunfish, largemouth and rock bass all mixed together, so somebody was always reeling in something.
We didn’t harvest all that many fish, but by the time the day was over, we’d probably caught 100 or more. At the cleaning shack, we identified 7 species of fish, just enough of each for a meal or two.
Is it time to break out the heavy artillery and stock up on Little Joes? I’m not quite sure about that yet, the majority of our trolling catch consisted of northern pike. Walleye aficionados definitely would not have liked that detail about this fishing trip. But it would have been a different story for anyone whose inner child still loves being on the receiving end of high action, they probably would have been tickled.
My spinner supply will increase, and my trolling rods will get a more prominent spot in my rod locker today. But wiggle worming, along with the jigs and minnows are not being put away yet. With 5 days of “Fun With Dick and Paul” beginning today, I should have ample opportunity to experiment. I will keep you posted about how that goes. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Walleye fishing has steadily improved as anglers work out what walleyes are doing on their favorite lake. More and more anglers reported excellent early morning fishing and even better evening fishing for walleyes.
Anglers have been finding walleyes shallow in 6 feet of water or less over gravel or rock. Leeches fished under a bobber or on a jig pitched shallow has been very effective. Many cabin owners and resort goers also reported catching walleye right off the dock during the evening. Trolling minnow baits in 8-12 feet of water has also been effective during the evenings. There were also a few reports of crawlers working well over the weekend.
Northern Pike anglers have been having a great time catching lots of pike in the 30” range this last week. Majority of these anglers were using large suckers fished under a large bobber, right off their docks or in shallow bays in about 10 feet of water or less. Spinnerbaits, spoons and large minnow baits have were also effective on pike, this last week.
Smallmouth bass have begun setting up on their beds looking to spawn on many area lakes. Anglers have been catching some real giants with tubes, Ned rigs or wacky worms. Anglers should be looking for bass in shallow bays with sand/gravel bottoms.
There have been some good Lake Trout reports have been coming in as of late. Anglers have been catching lakers trolling three colors of leadcore with medium size stick baits or trolling spoons with down riggers. Regardless of the lake, anglers have been reporting trout are about 20 feet down.
Stream Trout fishing report have been few and far between, but reports have been good with some very big brookies caught. Anglers have been catching big brookies with 1/16oz jig, with a 2” white twister. Early in the day trout have been shallow, but as water temps rise trout go deeper in search of cooler water. Slip bobber and crawler about 10 feet down has also been very effective on rainbows as of late too.
Crappies were being caught in shallow bays as they were looking to spawn very soon, but after the cold snap, anglers lost track of them. Warm stable weather this next week will get them back on track. Sunfish were also being caught in good numbers too, up shallow, before the cold snap. Angleworms fished under a bobber was the ticket before the bite cooled off. Again, warm stable weather will get them back on track, before they start setting up to spawn after the crappies." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
"There was some excellent walleye fishing on the south end of Lake of the Woods this week. Guides, like Houston from Sportman's Lodge, who you see pictured here, did a nice job of being versatile on days when the wind really blew!
Jigging with a live fathead minnow or frozen shiner vertically jigged in 14 to 29 feet of water has been the ticket for most walleye anglers. Never discount trolling though, there were some good reports that trolling crankbaits achieved very good results. Trolling is a great way to cover water where walleyes are living.
Some popular crankbait colors to start with are pink, UV Firetiger, Firetiger, chrome-blue, gold-orange. Mix up crankbaits and experiment with different shapes, sizes, wobbles and colors until you get dialed in. Good to have everyone in the boat with a different lure to start out.
More big pike surprised unsuspecting walleye anglers this week. When you get hooked up, hang on!
There were some nice walleyes are being caught n the Rainy River this week too. They were located up and down the river in water depths of 8 to 15 feet. Fishing on the Rainy River is a nice alternative to fishing the big lake for smaller boats and big blow days.
Most anglers on the river were jigging with a minnow. Spinners with crawlers and crankbaits are also a good option to cover water. The river offers many species of fish in a setting second to none. Sturgeon season opens again July 1, 2021. Summer sturgeon fishing doesn't get attention due to walleyes but it is productive and fun.
Great walleye fishing continues around the Northwest Angle as well. Fish coming from 13 to 20 feet of water. Anchored around neck down areas with a bit of current, points and around shoreline structure producing nice fish.
Most anglers jigging with a minnow. Gold-chartreuse is a good color this week. Gold, glow colors and brighter colors in the stained waters are always a solid choice.
With the Canada border still closed, there are many ways to get up to the Angle.
— Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
" We continue to work different areas across the lake. We have anchored and jigged on the South Shore and East Border of Big Traverse Bay. In Little Traverse we have mostly anchored and jigged but there has been a little bit of drifting. The Walleye Master Guides are focusing on areas around structure near the 29 foot of water mark. One day live Fathead minnows are best and on another the frozen Shiners. The wind has had an impact this past week.
We have started doing Shore lunches, so far there are no docks in at Garden Island so it has worked out when able to fish by Zippel Bay State Park. Garden Island is a State Park and hopefully they will take on the task of making it useful by putting the docks in soon. In past years we have put in the docks at Garden Island but with too many liability issues at stake we will have to wait for them to maintain it.
We continue to work on our projects with some of the remodeling waiting on parts. The 3 bedroom river cabins as an example are still waiting on cabinets for over the stove so we can hang the new microwaves. Additionally the new kitchen tables and chairs have not yet arrived so we currently are using the older ones.
Overnight temps this week look warmer with 40-50’s and daytime highs in the 70-80’s." — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
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