Surface water temperatures on some lakes fell below degrees overnight Friday. On Saturday, we found readings that ranged from 58.5 to 59.8 degrees.
After 3 days of turbulent weather that encourage members of the perch family to feed, the calm, sunny morning on Saturday was last thing that we needed. Some combination of cooler water, clear skies and calm seas put northern pike into a voracious feeding mood. In fact, I’d call the pike action on Saturday “A feeding frenzy”.
I can tell you that the walleyes didn’t stop biting completely because we did catch some. But the pike struck our jigs so fast and so hard that there was no way to know whether perch and walleye were lying under them or not. There were times that our jig and minnow combos would barely touch the surface of the water before a pike would grab it.
Somehow, the full moon plays into this scenario too, but I’m not sure that I can explain that part of it. I’ll just say that with all of the pike activity going on, it was impossible for me to sift through them all and come up with a fabulous perch and walleye experience.
I’m hoping that by this morning the fish are feeling a little more balanced; we’ll know soon. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"The walleye fishing has been better this past week. Keepers have been brought in most every time our guests go out and try for these fish.
The key has been fishing as close to the weeds as possible without getting hooked up in the weeds. Jigs and minnows have been the best for catching walleyes.
Most of our guests have been targeting northerns. The pike fishing has been good but not great. Most of the fish are caught trolling on the flats from 8-14 feet of water. All of the favorite trolling lures are working.
Perch fishing has been better this past week than at any time this year. Many fish in the 10-12" range have been brought in. Jigs and minnows right in the weeds has been the ticket to catching perch.
Some fishermen have been using artificial on their jigs and seem to be doing just as well as the minnows.
The weather last week was very unfavorable for the fishermen. This coming week the weather looks to be ideal for any fall activity. We have immediate openings and are in the midst of our 20% off fall special. If you are thinking about coming up to Winnie for a last minute trip, give us a call. — Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
Our fishing trip to the Lake Winnie area is coming up soon and I just want to make sure I got what we are going to need. I’ve got all our reels changed over to fresh line and now I wonder which Lindy jigs should I buy; can you recommend size and color?" — Thanks, Erling
A) The timing for your question is good because over the past 3 days, jig and minnow presentations have been increasingly effective for walleye, perch and crappies.
As of yesterday (9-12), the surface water temperatures were hovering just above 60 degrees in the Leech Lake area. We experimented with presentations and while we still caught both perch and pike by trolling with Little Joe Spinners, all of the walleyes we bagged came on jig and minnow combos.
I have a long history with the Lindy Live Bait Jig; they are my go-to favorite, so I obviously suggest these to all of my friends and customers. Most days, it’s the 1/8 ounce size that I have tied on for jig and minnow presentations. There are days though when the 1/16 ounce size is preferred, so I’d be sure to have a supply of those as well. The ¼ ounce size could come in handy if you plan on fishing in water depths over 20 feet.
The Live bait Jigs are readily available in this region, so in terms of pre-trip planning, you could skip the heavier size for now and get them locally should they happen to become necessary.
Color selection is somewhat subjective and most of the folks I fish with have their own “favorites”. In my tackle box, you’ll find that I have every color and every size that’s available. For most anglers, Chartreuse Green is likely the first color that comes to mind and it definitely is a good one.
Personally though, I would never leave my house without these 3 colors; Glow/Blue, Glow/Pink, and Chartreuse Yellow, those are the ones I depend on most. But I also tie on a lot of Glow/Perch colored jigs and there are times when Black turns out to be a really great choice too.
Minnow supplies in the area are generally good, but from one day to the next, the store that has the best selections have varied recently.
To the best of my knowledge, Spottail Shiners are not available anywhere right now. That’s okay because Fatheads, if they’re the right size, will work just as well anyway. In fact that’s all I’ve used for the past few days and they’ve worked well. For me, 3 to 3-1/2 inches is the ideal size for fall walleye fishing, but those are hard to find right now because many of the local shops have struggled to get good supplies of decent fatheads this season.
Alternative choices are rainbows, dace, golden shiners and small sucker minnows. Many of the area shops have been offering a “river mix” which amounts to a hodge-podge of both species and sizes. I like buying the mix, because it allows me to experiment with a variety to determine which ones I like the best. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
This week, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources concluded its electroshocking study on our 2019 walleye year class.
Their goal was to understand recruitment from this spring, to see how many walleyes have survived from egg, to fry, to fingerling, to now roughly six-inch fish.
Their findings were remarkable and all indicators point to a strong, abundant future of walleye fishing on Big Winnie. First, a little background.
Gerry and Matt, the DNR biologists, operated a specialized research vessel with a generator on board.
The current produced charged leads in the water that stunned small fish long enough for us to net them and collect samples in a small livewell, where they revive and are measured before being released back into the lake. The process does not harm the fish.
Extrapolating the data, the 2019 catch rate ..." Read >> Bowen Lodge Walleye Electrofishing Results September 12, 2019
I’ve been running Lund Alaskans for a long time now; in fact I picked up my first one 17 years ago, in 2002. Right from the beginning, I’ve loved the balance of utility and comfort that the Alaskan provides.
As far as I’m concerned, these boats are the fisherman’s equivalent of having a 4X4 pickup truck for the water. They have allowed me to go anywhere and do anything without sacrificing the comfort of my fishing customers.
Throughout the years, I’ve watched the folks at Lund steadily improve the Alaskan. Every year they’ve updated this or relocated that until now, in 2019 I can honestly say that every single thing about this boat represents the perfect setup for me.
The Mercury ProXS 115 Big Tiller with Integrated ZTF Tiller Valve is a perfect match for this rig too. The engine purrs like a kitten and using the RPM adjustments allow me to troll down as slow or as fast as I want. And at speeds approaching ..." Learn More >> 2019 Lund Alaskan For Sale
Mother Nature’s sense of humor is whimsical; she loves to play little games with people. She’ll do odd things that don’t make any sense, like make the weather really nice on days when I have to fish on a lake with gin-clear water. She did that a lot this summer and I was starting to take it personal.
Fishing on lakes with clear water hasn’t always been a lot of fun throughout this summer. Fish have been fickle and my timing hasn’t been good, I’ve been a step behind the action more than once.
There have been times when friends have had great fishing on any number of different lakes; they’ve been there on cloudy days with good winds and the fish have bit. But while the action could have been fabulous for them one day, the next one would be a total head-scratcher for me because I missed out on the right weather.
It’s seemed like every little detail had to be in perfect alignment before the fish would really bite. It seemed too that I was always on the scene whenever every little detail wasn’t right.
Personally, the frustration that comes from knowing that there are perfectly wonderful fish in a lake and not being able to catch them adds up. Any angler can only be so persistent; sooner or later you begin wondering; “Have I lost my touch or am I barking up the wrong trees?”
On the other hand, working through those tough times until conditions finally turn to your advantage is really nice. There aren’t many rewards as sweet as the ones that come whenever hard work pays off. There’s a heightened sense of accomplishment that comes from winning a long and hard-fought battle.
The past few days have been nice that way, fishing conditions have been better and we’re winning more battles than we’re losing. Although we still aren’t catching fish hand over fist, at least now some of the fish I see on the screen of my Humminbird actually bite!
Surface temperatures continue the slow slide downward, 61.5 degrees was the most common reading I saw on Tuesday. I could tell that the cooler temperatures are triggering changes in the feeding habits of walleyes; they’ve been susceptible to a variety of presentations.
I wrote yesterday morning that we caught most of our fish Wiggle Worming. We had already tried using jig and minnow combos and didn’t get a sniff on them. But on Tuesday, a 1/8 ounce Live Bait Jig tipped with large fatheads worked like a charm. As it often is in clear water, the blue/glow jig that you see in the photo of Scott Johnson was the preferred color yesterday.
Fish were still holding on the weedlines, but I noticed more of the walleyes were out on the slightly deeper and cleaner outside edges. When we fished in 10 to 11 feet of water, in the weeds, we caught perch and they were mainly small ones. When we fished in 12 to 16 feet of water, we caught walleyes and very few perch.
It’s still early in the cooling process and I doubt that jig and minnow will be the only way to catch a fish. BUT, it is my favorite way to fish and if we can catch fish jigging, then that’s what I’m gonna do. I will continue to pack in night crawlers and leeches too when I can get them, but I’ll be asking every bait shop in town to let me know whenever they get good supplies of nice jigging minnows.
Fun with Dick and Paul MMXIX Fall Session starts today and that means I’ll have a few days to spend exploring. Looking at today’s forecast, I’m leaning toward spending our first day on Leech Lake. I’ll know for sure in a little while and if you tune in tomorrow, you’ll know too. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Walleye - Walleye fishing was good to excellent for many anglers this last week. Falling water temps mean one thing for walleye. Winter is coming and you better eat as much as you can before it’s here. More and more anglers are reporting that the bigger the minnow the better! Creek Chubs, Pike Suckers and Lite Northerns have been the minnow of choice for these anglers. These anglers have been having great luck fishing jigs or lindy rigs, tipped with a big minnow, in 20-30 feet of water around sunken islands. For anglers a little gun shy about use a minnow between 4-8 inches there are still reports of leeches and crawlers working along shoreline breaks in 15-20 feet of water. Here spinner rigs or jigs worked slowly have been best. Blue, gold and white remain at the top for anglers with the best reports.
Smallmouth Bass - Smallmouth Bass have begun their annual fall feeding binge. Big smallies in the 4-6lb range are aggressively hitting big minnows out around the sunken islands. Again as with the walleyes Creek Chubs, Pike Suckers and even Lite Northerns are getting the best results for anglers. Out here anglers are fishing the big minnows with a lindy rig or jig and simply working them up and down the edge of sunken islands until the connect with the smallies. 15-30 feet of water has been best for this technique.
Muskie - Muskie anglers have been reporting some excellent catches of Muskie this last week. Anglers throwing large plastics or dragging the biggest suckers they can find, under a bobber, behind their boats over weed beds have catching some very big muskies. Anglers should focus on the best weedbeds they can find, river mouths and windy points. This fish is largely overlooked in our area, so these muskies tend not to be shy about hitting a big bait thrown by inexperienced anglers. Multiple fish days for anglers new to muskie fishing are not uncommon around here.
Stream Trout - With water temps falling back into the range trout like anglers are reporting that shore fishing for them has been getting better and better. Anglers pitching small jig and twisters, spinners or fishing a night crawler under a bobber have been catching trout. Mornings, evenings and cloudy days have been best, but there are a few reports of anglers catching them right in the middle of a calm sunny day, right from shore. Bottom line is if you have a hour or two to kills then give it a try. White, pink and yellow have been good colors this last week.
Pike - Bigger and bigger pike have begun to return to the main lake shorelines. Reports from anglers catching them out around sunken islands has largely dried up and reports of anglers catching them along the shorelines have become more common. Anglers targeting them should focus around river mouths, weedy bays and main lake rocky points in 10 feet of water or less. Heavy suckers or very active large Creek Chubs fished under a bobber, right off your dock is not only a great way to catch some pike right now, but it’s also a great way to relax and enjoy the fall colors around your lake. For anglers looking to cover some water and connect with several big pike then they should be throwing big minnow style baits, buzzbaits, big spinnerbaits or spoons.
Crappies - Crappies have begun to start transitioning to deeper water. Anglers shouldn’t abandon the cabbage bite just yet, but understand that if you are striking out with the cabbage bite during the day, to check out in the deeper water just outside the weedbeds for schooling crappies. As long as the weed remain green crappies will move into the cabbage beds to feed, but will spend more and more time out in deep water as winter gets closer and closer. Crappie minnows fished under a bobber, jig and twister and beetle spins continue to be very effective on crappies." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
Fish are responding to the cooler water by feeding both more heavily and more often than they were just a couple of weeks ago. In fact, I’d say that “the fall bite” is on, except that fish still need a little encouragement from Mother Nature before the bite will be automatic.
I mentioned yesterday that the VA Nurses Club fishing trip reminded me of a roller coaster ride. That’s because over the past several days it’s been obvious that fish are already in feeding mode. Whenever the winds blow and clouds shade their eyes, they bite. But it’s taken both wind and shade to provide good action, especially to produce good walleye fishing.
Last Friday morning was beautiful, the sun was out and the surface of the lake was calm. Crappie, perch, walleye, panfish were all taking their naps; action during the first half our day was slow.
During the afternoon, there was a surge of wind and the clouds rolled over the lake; perch, walleye, pike and bass all started biting. We trolled the shallow weeds with little Joe Spinners tipped with minnows and caught fish consistently until our time was over.
On Saturday, conditions were perfect right from the start. Cloudy skies and a light chop on encouraged fish to get aggressive.
We found crappies first; they were in deeper water, 16 to 20 feet and beginning to school up. At first, we caught them using 1/8 ounce Live Bait Jigs tipped with small fatheads. But for comparison, I tried on a Tungsten Toad and tipped it with a single wax worm and found out that was what the crappies really wanted. As you see in this photo of Missy Shephard, the tiny lures attracted fish of very desirable sizes.
I may have been tempted to spend the whole day fishing for crappies. But we already had a good number of those and there such a nice “Walleye Chop” on the lake that I wanted to see if the walleyes would respond. They did and we caught a few of them before it was time to return to shore and switch crews. Yes Norm, it was time to go pick up “The Luscious Sisters” in character.
It’s sort of hard to explain, but whenever the Luscious Sisters enter the boat, I really have to be on my
“A Game”. They tend to attract a lot of attention and with anglers in every other boat watching us; I feel a heightened sense of urgency to make sure that somebody is usually reeling something in. That’s why I decided to skip over the crappies and go straight to spinning the weeds. Between the pike and perch and walleyes and bass, there’s always somebody catching something.
Luckily for me, that’s was the way our afternoon worked out. Pictures tell their own story, so I’ll let you be the judge of the ones you see here.
We never caught “limits” of any species, nor did we set that as our goal. But by days end we had amassed a 3-2-1 special, there were about 3 dozen crappies, 2 dozen perch and 1 dozen walleyes, more than enough for a fish fry back at the lodge.
On Sunday morning, there was still a good chop on the surface of the lake, but now the sky was brighter. To an extent, the fish continued to be active, but the mix of species had changed. Walleyes that had been easy to catch on Saturday were now hunkered down, refusing to strike.
So that’s why I used the term deceleration to describe the final day of the VA Nurses Club fishing trip. We still caught fish, but at a slower pace than we did on Saturday.
I notice these days that the old saw about how a “Walleye Chop” makes the walleye fishing good doesn’t always work. Now days it seems like the walleyes in lots of lakes in my area need both gloomy skies and wavy conditions. In fact, it’s the days that most folks won’t even go out on the lakes that produce the best walleye fishing.
Take Monday for example, 20 MPH winds and steady rain for most of the day; who’d want to fish on a day like that? The answer is probably nobody except folks who would like to return to the dock with their legal bag limit of walleyes.
That’s how it worked out for Scott Johnson and Mike Shannon, they were well rewarded for suffering the rainy weather. In fact there was even a surplus of fish and that allowed me to bring home a couple to prepare along with the big Puffball Mushroom that I found a couple of days ago.
On Monday, there was a definite change in the feeding preferences of the walleyes we caught. Trolling spinners produced fish, but they did not produce walleyes. Lindy Rigs tipped with night crawlers did though and for a while, they did it better than anything else we tried. But the windier it became, the higher walleyes moved above the bottom, in 12 feet of water, I could see fish suspended 3 and 4 feet above the bottom.
An experiment with wiggle worming paid off; I used a 1/16 ounce Live Bait Jig tipped with a full night crawler to float the offering higher up in the water column. That’s the way wiggle worming works; it forces anglers to give up on their love affair with finding the bottom. All you need to do is have faith that the light weight jig will float the crawler high enough above the bottom to attract those high riding walleyes.
Okay, so for anybody who hasn’t tried wiggle worming, here’s today’s challenge. Read the article Wiggle Worming 101 and then pick up a few 1/16 ounce jigs and give it a try. I’ll bet you will love it, but even if you don’t, the jig and minnow season starts up soon and you can always use the Live Bait Jigs for them too. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
I said; “well they did, but then they didn’t; I mean they were deep in some spots last week, but they were also shallow in others and by this past Wednesday, they were somewhere in-between. We couldn’t find them in deep water and we couldn’t find them in the weeds either; they were scattered across a flat in open water at 12 to 13 feet deep.”
It will be easier to get a handle of the true pattern whenever the weather stays the same for more than one day at a time. Until that happens, I think we need to be ready for panfish to show up in shallow water, deep water or anywhere else they feel like going; they’re in transition.
At 63 degrees, surface water has cooled enough to trigger some early fall movement. That’s one factor in triggering the start of fall panfish patterns, but surface temperature alone doesn’t tell the whole story. Weed growth, or I should say the lack of it, is equally or maybe even more important than is the water temperature.
What really forces baitfish out of the shallows and out to the deep weed edges is when the weeds begin to die. Whenever photosynthesis cannot work its magic, plants decay and in the process, give off carbon dioxide. Areas that provided oxygen rich environments during summer now become uninhabitable, at least temporarily.
As of Wednesday, area lakes with good water clarity have vegetation that remains bright green, lush and continue to produce oxygen. So as long as they have plenty of fresh air and baitfish populations in the weeds remain strong, crappies have no incentive to move away from the security and comfort of their gardens. For that matter, neither do any of the game fish species who love weed cover.
Crappies in lakes with poor water quality may show up in open water before the fish that live in clear water lakes do. In dark or stained water, weeds only grow in relatively shallow depths. Sunlight doesn’t penetrate dark water as easily, so it’s harder for vegetation to remain green. Shallow water weeds are more easily influenced by falling temperatures too, so they die-off faster.
For the weekend, I’m prepared to assess each lake individually and I’m ready to fish either shallow or deep depending on the situations I encounter.
My go to presentation for the shallow weeds is a 1/16 ounce Lindy Jig tipped with a plastic action tail. We’ll cast the small jigs into pockets and gaps in the weed edges and retrieve them slowly using a swim-drop-swim approach.
My go to presentation for deep water panfish is a Tungsten Ice Worm or Tungsten Fat Boy tipped with wax worms. I know that you can catch a lot of crappies using minnows and or some of the more popular jigging baits; that’s fine. But using the small jigs with waxies, I get in on a lot of panfish that the other baits won’t attract. I like picking up some bonus bluegills while I’m crappie fishing and most days, the crappies are equally enthusiastic about eating the little bugs.
A couple of years back, I wrote an article about finding crappies during the fall. If you haven’t read it, today would be a good time to do it, the information is going to come in very handy in the very near future. Learn More >> Following Fall Crappie Migrations — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Walleye - This last week proved to be very challenging for all anglers, as extremely high winds blew hard for days and kept many off the water. Water temps dropped quickly from the low 70’s to low 60’s. Interestingly this has triggered a full on big minnow bite on some lakes in the area while others seemed less effected and leeches are still raining supreme.
Anglers have been having great luck with big minnows, catching walleyes out on main lake humps in 15-20 feet of water. Many of these anglers have been reporting that they are marking fish as deep as 25, but not catching those fish. Out here anglers have been working jigs and lindy rigs, up and down the edges of the humps, until the connect with walleyes. Anglers catching walleyes with leeches and crawlers are reporting that they are fishing shallow in 6-12 feet of water off weedlines or main lake points. Here spinner rigs or jigs have been very effective. Gold, blue and white were the hot colors this last week.
Smallmouth - Smallmouth Bass have begun to put on the feed bag. Anglers have been catching some real pigs out on top of sunken islands with sucker minnows. Anglers have reported seeing them spit out ciscos as they were bringing them up. Anglers are also catching lots of bass near shore in 10 feet of water or less, with tube, senko rigs and crawfish looking crankbaits.
Pike - Pike fishing has been getting better and better as water temps drop to a temperatures big pike like and return to shallow water. Anglers have been catching big pike on large spinners, spoons, and suicks. Large suckers fished under a bobber is also very effective, but supplies of big suckers has been limited, so finding them maybe more challenging then finding a big pike to hit one. Anglers should focus on weedbeds and large rocky main lake points for big gators.
Stream Trout - Stream trout fishing has been getting better and better as water temps fall and trout move shallow back in reach of most anglers. Small spinners, jig and twisters, small spoons and a simple worm fished under a bobber has been very effective on trout this last week. Early morning hours and during the evening has been the best time to fish for trout.
Panfish - Panfish fishing has slowed this last week as water temps dropped quickly. Fishing under a bobber was the most effective way to catch panfish as they were largely unwilling to chase down fast moving baits. Crappie minnows, small crawlers or wax worms fished under a bobber were very effective this last week. Panfish are still largely being located in weedbeds, but more and more anglers are reporting that crappies are beginning to pull out of the weedbeds and relate more to deeper water." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
On September 3, 2019 Howard Norris wrote; "Over the years we brought our young sons, our parents, siblings and friends along to a resort in Hubbard County on Lake Belle Taine.
We haven’t been able to make it up this year, but we keep connected with friends we have made over the year and with your fishing reports that I discovered a couple of months ago! The next time we come up I will put your fishing tips to good use!
But what I enjoy the most about your posts is the human side. When you share comments about your “crew”; especially the youngsters, it warms my heart to know that there are still parents that care about their children and that you get to be a part of that!
It is my belief that a youngster that has love from a parent, encouragement from others and the chance to experience what the outdoors has to offer is less likely to show up on the morning news I also think that those kids are likely to pass those values and traditions to their children and somewhere down the road, pay it back to those that taught them!
Thank you for your reports and someday, I might tell you about my “Magic Worms”. Best Wishes!" Howard
Good numbers of walleyes have staged along south shore in 28 to 31 feet of water.
With some shiners starting to run, walleyes are being caught near Lighthouse and Morris Point gaps. Spinners and crawlers and trolling crankbaits most effective. Some anglers are anchored and jigging with success as well. Some live shiners are available.
On the Rainy River, Emerald shiners have begun showing up in the river. Numerous reports of some nice walleyes being caught in Four Mile Bay and various parts of the river. Most common depth, 14-16'. It seems like the fall run is just starting. Snelled spinners and jigging the go to method.
Up at the Northwest Angle, Walleye fishing remains solid up at the Angle. Fish being in Little Traverse Bay, on flats amongst islands and in funnel areas between islands. Spinners with crawlers or minnows is still the go to presentation with gold and orange hot colors. Pulling crankbaits and jigging also catching.
Crappie and perch bite picking up with water starting to cool. Muskie anglers still producing big fish." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"Into September we go! It’s amazing how the summers seem to go by faster each year. August left us with a wind storm. Although most of August was great weather, the last week was nothing but wind. We had a great Labor Day weekend with the World Ploughing contest. It was an amazing event with 30 different countries represented, what an honor to have it in Lake of the Woods County.
Fishing in Little Traverse Bay has been the go-to the past few days. After the winds we need to wait on the lake to settle a bit. Catching still remains solid. Drifting with spinners is an excellent start to the day and trolling with crankbaits has been great in the afternoons.
Temps have been cooler than normal this summer. We expect that will help the water cool down faster this fall. The forecast for this week shows high’s in the 70’s and low’s in the 40’s.
There is still time to get in a fall trip while the fishing is excellent. The winter rates are out, if you have not picked your dates, now is the time to get the best available ones." — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge