The Minnesota Tournament Trail (MTT) Walleye Circuit just finished their championship on Lake of the Woods. Focusing on catching only big fish, the competitors can give us an annual glimpse of the awesome big fish production in this big lake. The winning team put up a final weight of 80.99 pounds for 10 walleyes, a 9 pound per fish average, WOW!
Water temps have dropped into the upper 50's, shiners are running and there is a lot of bait adjacent to shorelines.
The jig bite has picked up tremendously but pulling a spinner with a crawler or shiner along with trolling crankbaits is still effective. Along shore, try 10 to 16 feet of water and out on the mud 22 to 28 feet. Gold, glow, and orange are strong colors this week.
On the Rainy River, current is slow, but more and more emerald shiners are entering the river daily.
Reports of some nice walleyes are coming in, but the big run has not started yet.
Most river anglers are jigging with frozen shiners. Trolling crankbaits or crawler harnesses still working and a good way to cover water. Sturgeon anglers focusing on deeper holes with a 3 ounce no roll sinker and an 18-inch leader tied with heavy, 60-pound test line and a 4/0 circle hook loaded with crawlers and shiners. Pike showing up on weed edges.
As fall kicks in at the Northwest Angle, there have been some really nice walleyes caught this week. Most anglers are targeting mid-lake structure and shorelines as well. Key depths are 10 to 15 and 21 to 27 feet of water.
Many anglers are jigging with good results, but gold spinners with crawlers or minnow are also producing nicely.
Muskies and big pike hitting topwater in weedy bays and there are some big crappies being caught on small jigs in 15 to 30 feet of water.
Until the US and Canada border opens, guests can travel across the lake staying and fishing in MN waters. There are boat shuttle and passenger services available to the Angle. Check with your favorite NW Angle resort for options. — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"The Minnesota Tournament Trail wrapped up another great year! It was extremely competitive this year with many big weights caught and released. The photo and release format brings a different tactic and skill to the contest. Competitors are focused on big fish and not having to consider the 19” Walleye in their bag.
It was a big week with many big Walleye caught and released. We have continued to cover the big lake and choosing locations based on wind and ability to fish. Drifting with crawlers is still active but we are moving more towards the anchor and jig.
We are seeing more Shiner minnows in the river each day." — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
"You asked, and we listened. While the response to our popular How to Read Fish Finder Sonar Technologies video was overwhelmingly positive, we received numerous comments from viewers asking to see what the diver looks like underwater. So we saddled Kyle up in his scuba gear and sent him below for a pass using Humminbird's MEGA Side Imaging at the console and MEGA 360 Imaging on the bow.
The results are, well, tell us your thoughts. The goal was to have a little fun while also showing "what you see is what you get" with quality side and 360-degree sonar imaging.
Humanmade objects, bottom structure and cover, fish, and other elements appear on the screen as they ..." Learn More >> What a Diver Looks Like on Fish Finder Sonar Technologies
After a few days of relative comfort and predictable fishing patterns, strong winds will come at us from the south. The NOAA forecast predicts gusts of up to 35 MPH for today, so except for folks who have already been fishing on the south side of smaller waters, adjustments to the new plan will be required.
For me, walleyes are on the agenda, so there is a good chance that I’ll be rocking and rolling in the waves. But if you’re not so sure about fishing in the strong wind, crappie fishing on a small lake could be an option.
On Friday, I started to see signs of a migration toward deeper water.
At first, it didn’t look like I was going to find them in open water. The fish were not on the steep breaklines nor were they located over the center of the deep, main lake basin. After hunting and pecking for an hour or so, I was thinking about my next move. Luckily, I decided to go up on top of the flat that was adjacent to the hole. There they were, strung out horizontally along the bottom, on the Humminbird, they looked more like walleyes than crappies.
The behavior may have been temporary, sometimes a crash cold front, like the one that arrived last week will send crappies into the bottom hugging mode. But in my experience, once they show up out on the deep flats, they will stay there and even if I can’t find them in the exact same spot, I usually can find them somewhere nearby.
If you’re headed for the lake today, check out your favorite deep-water crappie spot. If you find them there, great! But if you can’t spot them in the typical fall spots, be sure to check the flats adjacent to them, they could be there, spread out across the bottom in small packs, or may even appear as singles and doubles.
When we found them, they were in 26 feet of water. We rigged up with Lindy Live Bait Jigs, 1/8-ounce size and tipped them with small fatheads. We fished at a slow trolling speed, .3 to .4 MPH and fished with a gentle hop-swim-hop jigging motion. I did not fill Kyle and Karen’s full, 2-person limit, but we did bag 17 crappies, so overing a little water did pay off.
An alternative presentation would be a floating Lindy Rig. Use a ¼ ounce walking sinker and start with the full 10 feet of leader, then trim the leader shorter if the crappies are tight to the bottom. If your tackle box is stocked with Lindy Rigs but they are not floaters, just pick up a few of the carrot style floats and add them yourself.
Up against the clock as usual, I’ll have to pick this up again tomorrow morning and fill in any gaps. If you have a question, be sure to email and I’ll add the answer(s) to Monday’s report. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
After last week’s first of 2020, September frosts, surface water temperatures held their own, resisting a fall below 60 degrees. But yesterday, frosty morning air temps forced the surface water of many lakes to breech the 60-degree mark.
In areas where I have fished, 58.5 degrees was the coolest reading and 62 degrees was the warmest.
Depending on where you fish and what you fish for, the benefits of fall migration patterns could already be noticeable. Walleye and pike are on the move, especially in the Itasca Region’s larger, walleye factory lakes.
The strong walleye year class of 2018 that we’ve heard so much about on Winnie, was more widespread than folks realize. Over the past few weeks, anglers on many of the region’s best walleye waters have reported catching a lot of fish in the 12-inch range.
Because of Winnie’s high-octane growth rate, the correlation is not obvious, but the 12-inch fish coming from other lakes are the same chronological age as the 13-14-inch fish on Winnie. Yes, it is true, there is that much difference between them.
No matter where we fish, the fish are moving and this week, we have noticed that there are a greater number of large fish mixed in with small walleye. Even on Winnie where the conversation has revolved around uniform catches from the 2018-year class, the sizes are more variable now. On Thursday, fish from 18 to 22 inches were more common and there were a few fish in the 15 to 16 range as well.
Jig and minnow presentations were the only way to go, I thought for a while. That’s because we caught fish consistently during the morning, while we watched anglers trolling spinners catch mainly pike and perch.
We decided to try for pike after we were satisfied with our walleye catch. We rigged up the Little Joe Spinners and began trolling for pike in areas where friends had been catching them all morning. Ironically, by the time we tried them, the pecking order had changed, we caught only a few pike, but walleyes were numerous.
I guess that the walleyes were there the entire time, but couldn’t get to the spinners until after the pike bite subsided.
Panfish appear to be lagging the larger predators, but I am certain that stories about improving crappie and bluegill action are imminent. In fact, there have already been reports about crappies and the game of hide and seek they’ve been playing with anglers. One day they appear, and fishing is good, the next day they are gone, evacuated completely from the area.
This morning, I read an email from Steve Sykes who recently vacationed at Eagle Nest Lodge on Cutfoot Sioux. Steve wrote; “We fished crappies and found a school in front of (withheld) in 35 feet of water that bit like crazy for about an hour and then disappeared for the rest of our trip.”
If history plays out, the number of fish leaving the weeds and showing up in traditional fall areas will increase over the next week. In the meantime, folks fishing Winnie probably won’t care, the walleye action is good enough to capture their attention.
If you’re headed that way for the weekend, prepare for a lot of traffic. Folks are gathered in force to get in on the walleye action and generally speaking; this is a good thing. But with greater numbers of anglers comes a heightened sense of irritation when a few of them do dumb stuff.
Do your best to be patient and courteous, try not to cut other anglers off and avoid running your boat full speed too near the crowds; you’d want them to do the same for you, right? — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Jim Dressler wrote, "Just read your article "Following out Fall Crappie" and enjoyed it immensely. Might be time to repost it on FishRapper or at least provide a link to it as this is timely and timeless information.
Keep up the good, informative work. I'm sure there are many weekend warrior fishermen that would benefit greatly from this info.
Thank you, Jim, for the vote of confidence. You are right on the money about timing, this is a pivotal week for panfish anglers in the Itasca Region of northern Minnesota.
Surface water temperatures on some lakes have dropped below 60 degrees, shallow weed cover has been diminished and crappies have begun to stick their noses out into open territory.
I wrote the article you mentioned, to help folks understand how to be in the right places at the right times during fall crappie migrations. Your note gave me a chance to look it over again myself, and the guidance it offers is just as valid today, as it was at the time of its writing.
For folks who didn’t catch it the first time around, here is a link to the article >> Following Out Fall Crappie.
As it happens, I began a 4-day stint with my friends Kyle and Karen Reynolds just yesterday. As a diversion from my non-stop schedule of walleye fishing trips, I asked for permission to start their week by fishing for crappies, so we did that yesterday.
As you can see in the accompanying image, we did get some and the fish we kept were nice size. But our efforts met with some resistance on the part of the fish, they were easier to find than they were to catch, finicky and sluggish are two words that come to mind.
Part of the trouble, I think, was that they had already been fished by other anglers before I found them. The small, 600 acre lake doesn’t have many hiding spots and there were a good number of anglers fishing out there and they were in close proximity, so they could have easily figured out the same schools of fish that we did.
At 61 degrees, the water was cold enough to trigger some of the crappies to move out of the weeds, but not all of them. The fish we found were located on structure, tips of points and sunken islands that contained rock and gravel. All the spots were adjacent to the lakes deepest water, but not in it. There were no fish in the lakes relatively deep, 28-foot main basin.
From what I observed, there were still a lot of fish located in heavy, shallow weeds. In fact, we spied on one couple who was anchored in 6 feet of water, fishing for panfish in the heavy cover. We saw them catching sunfish for sure, but if they were getting any crappies, it wasn’t while we could see them.
I think it will take another cold snap or two before the more serious migrations into open water occur. According to the NOAA website, these could arrive at any time, maybe even tonight, as I see another frost warning is in our forecast.
I have to go back to pre-meditated walleye fishing today, but I’ll be keeping close tabs on crappie movements and let you know how they progress. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Bait of choice was mixed between crawlers or minnows, but techniques were similar with jigs or lindy rigs being reportedly most effective.
Handful of anglers reported an excellent bite, for big walleyes, happening out around sunken islands in 30-35 feet of water. Out here, pike suckers fished on a 3/8oz jig is the only way to go, according to these anglers.
Smallmouth bass are now largely being found out around sunken islands now. Anglers looking for walleyes out here are finding aggressive smallies right on top of these sunken islands. Jigs tipped with pike suckers, fished right on top of sunken islands in 15-20 feet, has been very effective on these hungry fish.
Northern Pike have begun to shift their location from weedbeds to rocky point as water temps fall and green weeds start to turn brown. Anglers are having best luck catching them with large minnow baits, spoon or large suckers under a bobber. Regardless of where you fish, you should be fishing for them in 12 feet of water or less.
Lake Trout anglers have been reporting a shift in lake trout locations. Many have reported that the open water trolling bite has slowed, as more and more lakers are being caught while fishing main lake points, in 25-35 feet of water. Anglers fishing walleye have noticed this change the most, as they have reported catching nice lakers, with a jig and minnow while looking for early fall walleyes." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
As small schools of fish move toward the shoreline by following the edges of these bars, they start showing up on shoreline breaks and on the flats that lay adjacent to them. As smaller schools continue to arrive, they amass into larger and larger schools, and feeding becomes their #1 priority. This is how we find ourselves in the throes of “the fall bite.”
At this point, we have already seen evidence of some early migrations. Our guests have found good schools of walleyes along both ..." Read >> Bowen Lodge Fishing Report September 15, 2020
The Itasca Region’s most recent blast of cold air made fishing conditions challenging for anglers early this week. Strong winds from the west left most of us little choice about where we would spend our days fishing.
For my crew and me, the northwest corner of a smaller Itasca Area lake provided shelter, along with enough walleye action to keep me in business last Sunday. We were able to troll spinners along a 300-yard stretch of shallow, shoreline weeds and pick up about 1 walleye per every 10 pike on each pass. A handful of perch gave me hope that we might possibly return the next day and target them more specifically.
But by Monday, the cold front had settled in, and the shock was apparently enough to strain relations with both perch and walleye for the day. In fact, except for 1 outlier, walleye and perch were absent from the same areas that we fished the day before.
By yesterday, the winds abated, but the air was still cold; 37 degrees was the air temperature at the landing I used. Masses of thick foam clung to the bulrushes and there were piles of weeds, blown into the shoreline by the recent winds. When I looked up, I saw sunshine and blue skies and when I looked back down, I saw the sun’s reflection on the mirror-like surface of Cutfoot Sioux.
I can’t say that those conditions gave me much confidence, because optimistic as I am, I have struggled with conditions like these before and I would not have been surprised by another “hard day at the office.”
Imagine my surprise when we drove out onto the big lake, stopped at the first spot, and started catching fish almost immediately. I was gobsmacked that the fish in Winnie were still hungry after all the recent turmoil. Their behavior was not typical of Winnie walleyes at all, it was like they never knew that this was not the time for a feeding frenzy.
The reason for this, in my opinion, is that the balance of predator fish compared to the available forage has shifted in favor of the angler. Dick Sternberg, outdoor writer and former DNR Biologist once talked to me about the delicate balance between predators and their forage.
He told me that when there is a surplus of forage, even just a little too much food in a lake, catching walleyes can be tough, very tough. But when the balance shifts, and there is a shortage of forage, even a small one, the fish can act like they haven’t eaten in a month.
He shared with me at the time, a percentage and while I do not recall the specific number, I do recall that the shift in balance that triggers the phenomenon is a small one. No matter, I think that is what is happening right now on the big lake. I think there is a short-term shortage of food for the huge year classes of 2018 and 2019 walleyes in the lake.
Many would be tempted to ask what is the big deal, who cares about catching 14 aznd 15 inch walleyes?
We all have a propensity to wait for larger fish to come along before breaking out the cameras. We do not take a lot of photos of eaters and in some ways, that diminishes their importance. But to ascertain the actual importance of these small, eater walleyes, all one needs to do is drive past any of the popular boat ramps on Winnie or Cutfoot; they are full.
As you can see by the accompanying image of Scott Mundt, the fish are inching their way toward being very desirable to anglers who want to eat fish.
I plan to revisit the topic soon, but for this morning, I’m up against the clock. But before I go, I just want to say how nice it is to see folks, in boats, smiling because they are catching some fish that they can eat.
It’s been a while since anglers on Winnie felt this good and I am loving every minute of it for as long as it lasts! — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Walleye - Walleye fishing proved to be very challenging for many anglers this last week as several cold fronts and high winds made walleyes sluggish and boat control extremely challenging. Still some anglers were able to locate and catch walleyes.
Best reports came in 10 feet of water or less on wind blown shorelines. Jig and minnows were the top producing, but there were a few reports of crawlers also being effective, on a jig. Water temps continue to fall into the 50’s now, so angler should expect the minnow bite to only get better and better.
Smallmouth - Bass anglers struggled too, but there were a few reports of topwater fishing working during the early morning hours.
Whopper ploppers and hulla poppers accounted for the topwater action reported by anglers. Anglers also reported catching numbers of smallies out on top of sunken islands, with a jig and big minnow.
Pike - Pike anglers reported good fishing, but size of pike was on the small side. Anglers mainly found pike inside weedbeds and around river mouths. Large spoons, spinnerbaits and in-line spinners were very effective on pike.
Stream Trout - Stream trout anglers reported good trout fishing from shore this last week. As water temps drop, stream trout rise back up and start cruising the shoreline.
Anglers caught trout by floating a crawler off the bottom, casting small spoons and small jigs and twisters, fished around downed trees or near large flats, was very effective. Early and late in the day was the beat times to be out fishing for them." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
Jim Atkinson Wrote; "Greetings, thanks for addressing my (Wide Gap, Short Shank Hooks, Why?) hook question in your recent report. A guy can't have enough tricks for catching the wily walleye. When the minnow bite is in full swing, I'm going to give your jigs an honest try.
This thought leads me to another question I have. I've always heard that the Fall bite is great, but for some reason I struggle more during this period than any other time of year.
Q) I realize every lake is a little different and there are a million variables, but please share your number one thought during the Fall period. and around what water temp do you quit using crawlers and switch to minnows? Also, If fish are scattered do you focus shallow or deep?
A) Jim, for me, the number one thought about fall walleye fishing is to make sure that I am targeting the right lake. This is paramount to success because over the past 4 decades, I’ve learned that there are some lakes that almost always produce consistently good walleye fishing during the fall, cold-water period and others that almost never do.
Now we all know that fish must eat no matter what lake they live in. So, don’t mis-interpret my comment, I’m not saying that there are lakes in which fish don’t feed during fall, I am saying that there are certain lakes that rarely produce conditions that favor “Most Anglers” during the cold water period.
I think that in some cases, it is because fish feed intensely at twilight and hold tight during the daytime. In other cases, walleye populations may be so low, or so widely dispersed throughout a lake that we never really get the sense that there's an uptick in activity. What we would think of as a hot fall bite does happen, but we just don't notice it because we don't encounter high numbers of tightly grouped fish.
Of all the lakes in my region that tend to offer the better chances at consistent fall walleye fishing, it is the ones in which walleyes are forced to migrate, or move away from heavy, weedy, summer habitats and into wintering areas.
My favorites feature shallow water and have expansive flats covered with dense summer growing weeds. Vegetation like coontail, northern milfoil, flat stemmed pondweed and filamentous algae can get so thick during summer that anglers have trouble accessing game fish that inhabit them. But when cold weather arrives, these plants die off, making these areas un-inhabitable to the fish.
When this happens, fish populations that have been largely un-tapped during summer, now suddenly become vulnerable to the hook and line. When you think about it, it makes sense. Despite our training to believe that cooling water temperatures are what trigger the fish to bite, it could just as easily be that we simply have easier access to fish during this period.
My weed flat rule has it's exceptions, lakes that have lots of cabbage weeds, in my experience, don’t count. While cabbage does provide excellent cover for fish, it is far more likely to survive, sometimes even thrive during winter. So, there is nothing to force fish out into open territory. Additionally, most stands of cabbage have gaps and open pockets that allow anglers to access them during summer. So the effect of “untapped fish populations” is diminished because they receive consistent fishing pressure throughout the season. Finally, cabbage attracts a wider array of predator species, so the odds of finding a mixed bag are greater here than are the odds of finding a pure walleye bite.
Fish feed all year long, but they feed the most during summer, when the water is warm and their metabolism is high. But during summer, they also have the widest array of food choices and the easiest access to them. Having all of those options effectively dilutes our ability to locate fish and trigger them to strike. So, what we think of as the "cold water" fall bite probably doesn’t have that much to do with the fishes’ appetites or food choices at all.
But back to your question, while jig and minnow combinations can be effective for catching walleye at any time of the season. It happens that they work best whenever walleyes are feeding primarily on minnows. So to the extent that we can control our bait choices, what may be at play here is that we are simply "matching the hatch". By the time water temperatures fall into the mid 60s, most insect hatches have run their course and the jig and minnow bite becomes reliable. But even then, leeches, night crawlers and artificial lures can produce good catches, it depends on the situation at the time.
For example, I notice that walleyes located on rocks and gravel will strike jig and minnow combos all summer long. Again, it's matching the hatch, the jig and minnow hopping along the bottom probably remnids them of crawfish and triggers them to strike. So, on rocky structure, I am more likely to try jigging, no matter what the water temperature is.
The answer to your question about what water temperature triggers the switch between jigs with night crawlers vs jigs with minnows is a subjective one. As much as I like wiggle worming, I prefer fishing jigs and minnows. So, for me, the first signal that fish will strike a jig and minnow sends me to the bait shop for a scoop of fatheads. Most often, water temperatures in the mid-sixties will pique my interest in jig and minnow presentations.
A good example occurred a little over a week ago, water temperatures on Winnie fell to 67 degrees and we gave fishing with jigs and minnows a try. The fish bit, so we kept doing it and for the most part, it has been my mainstay presentation ever since.
However, we have and will continue to catch walleyes using night crawlers, and other presentations all the way into mid-October. Sometimes on a calm day, when walleyes act finicky, wiggle worming will help add fish to the larder, even when they completely snub minnows. For that reason, I will always have a box of crawlers in the cooler just in case I need them.
Finally, your last question about whether to focus shallow or deep is also a subjective one. For me, the search for shallow water bites during fall has become an obsession.
Knowing that barotrauma kills a high percentage of fish caught in deep water, I’ve gravitated toward lakes that offer a chance for fish to be more easily released. So by default, I spend most of my time fishing in water depths of less than 20 feet, occasionally somewhat deeper.
If I had a speed dial for depth settings on my Humminbird, the key depths during fall would be 6 feet, 8 feet, 12 feet, 16 feet and 22 feet. It seems like those are the magic numbers for me during fall.
Knowing that there is no one, definitive answer to your questions, I can generalize. Water temperatures from 68 degrees and down, get me interested in jig and minnow presentations. The temperature range that gives me the ultimate confidence is from 62 down to 56 degrees. I can be fairly certain that walleye will strike jigs and minnows during that period.
The big question for me, and maybe for you too, is to know for sure that I'm on a good fall lake. Research, combined with time on the water is the only way to know for sure, but figuring that out is part of the fun. There is nothing more rewarding to me than catching the first walleye in a new lake. Now is the best time of the year for you to check out some fresh water, the odds are in your favor.
"Seasons are slowly starting the change up at the south end of Lake of the Woods. Trees are turning colors and waters are starting to cool. With a few windy days this week, anglers fished both along calmer shorelines and in the river finding some nice eaters for their efforts.
Most walleyes are still being caught on crawler harnesses. Crankbaits are a good second choice. Walleyes are being caught in 7 - 15' along shorelines and 24-36' over mud. As a rule, the trophy fish have been over deep mud with the eaters being shallower. With colder nights and warmer days, water temps are starting to drop into the mid 60's with jigging starting to turn on.
On the Rainy River, there are a fair number of small emerald shiners called "pinheads" in the river this week. More fishing activity as well with some nice walleyes caught.
Most anglers are jigging with frozen shiners. Not a heavy run yet, but additional life for sure. Walleyes are scattered on flats and along breaks. Trolling crankbaits or crawler harnesses covering water is still effective. Anglers reporting a mixed bag with walleyes, saugers, smallmouth bass, pike and sturgeon. There are numerous boat accesses on the Rainy River from Wheeler's Point at the mouth, Peace Park and Timbermill Park in Baudette, Vidas near Clementson, a bit further east Frontier and Nelson Park in Birchdale.
Walleye fishing strong up at the Angle. Walleyes in 10 - 25' being caught with spinners with crawlers or minnows, trolling crankbaits and even some jigging. Watch your electronics, scattered schools in many locations. Big pike being caught by unsuspecting walleye anglers. Muskies hitting spinners and top water in bays and rocky points. Smallmouth bass still on rocks in 5-15'." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"Fall is near, we are seeing the migrating birds flocking up and each day there are more pinhead sized shiner minnows behind the charter boats.
Fishing continues to be successful; our Walleye Master Guides continue to cover the lake fishing many different areas. We are still drifting with spinners and anticipate that we are a few weeks away from the steady jig bite. Temperature change will certainly be a factor. Daylight hours are getting shorter and we are starting to see the trees getting ready to change.
Cooling down some more this week! We have 30’s for lows and 50’s for highs forecasted this week. Some of the days are warmer, today is the only one to possibly hit the 70’s." — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
During the mid-1980s, when I first began guiding in the Deer River area, my first impressions of Lake Winnibigoshish was that it produced tons of small walleyes, but not very many large ones. Folks who are visiting the lake for the first time this weekend could easily get the same impression.
The photo of Scott Johnson holding what is now a very typical class of 2018, Lake Winnie Walleye could have just as easily been taken back in 1986, during my formative years on the lake.
On Saturday, conditions were not that great for walleye fishing. The sun was shining, the lake was calm and there were large crowds fishing in select areas of the lake. Despite the less than ideal conditions, most folks were catching their share of the lakes great 2018 class of fish.
Trolling spinners on shoreline breaks and jigging on structure are the two most prevalent presentations. Trollers were catching fish in 5 to 8 feet of water, jig and minnow anglers were catching fish somewhat deeper, 8 to 12 feet of water was the key depth for me. Shoreline points, rock patches on the falts and steep shoreline breaks were the structures we found best.
Of the two presentations, jig and minnow was my preference, a 1/8-ounce live bait jig tipped with the best size fatheads I could find, produced both walleye and perch in good numbers, the perch were nice size, 10 to 12 inches were the fish we harvested.
To be fair to the spinner crowd, I think that we just missed out on “the morning bite”. By the time we were finished jigging a few spots and went to the shoreline, we were getting good reports from everyone we talked to, but they were no longer catching many. Who knows, if we’d fished spinners first and then gone to structure with jigs, my preference may have been reversed?
Surface water temperatures had dropped a little more overnight, to below 65 degrees in the morning. Later in the day, they rebounded, 66 to 67 was the range of Fahrenheit degrees by quitting time.
On Saturday, holding fast to our self-imposed 14 inch minimum was not as easy as it’s been throughout the week. Fish like the 13-7/8 incher that Scott is holding became our “keepers” on this day. I think we only had 3 or 4 fish that were legitimately over the 14-inch mark. There were a few slot fish biting, most everyone I talked to was getting some photos of fish in the 20 to 24-inch rage as well.
The big news, in my opinion, is the number of fish in the 8 to 10-inch range that we’ve caught over the past few days. The number of yearlings, class of 2019 walleyes appears to completely eclipse the class of 2018 fish. If those fish enjoy a good winter survival rate, it will not surprise me to see even better fishing next year than we’re seeing now.
I’ve long since learned that my first impressions of Winnie, accurate as they were at the time, were wrong. The lake does produce nice big fish, but requires a periodic re-charge, provided by similar large years classes, like these. So it’s back to the beginning for me, I find myself smack dab in the middle of a period “BOOM” on the big lake; and loving it! — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Labor Day Weekend is upon us and I know that your plans for the weekend are likely already set in motion. So, I won’t make a career out of writing today’s report, just a few last-minute updates that might be helpful.
First off, let me say that for over a week, Winnie is the only lake that I’ve been fishing. There has been a reliable bite, my customers are happy getting fish in the 14-15 inch range for the frying pan and we’ve had good pike and perch action as well. That’s been good for business, but it has also left me short suited in terms of firsthand info from other lakes in the region.
The cold front that’s gripped lakes in the Itasca Region has not yet passed. Another day of cool and breezy conditions are in today’s forecast. So, surface water temperatures that have already taken a nosedive, are likely to cool even further. Areas where we fished in 75 degree water a week ago, are now showing readings that range from 65 to 67 degrees.
During mid-summer, a cold front like this would be horrible for fishing. But during fall, cooling water temperatures are just what the doctor ordered and the fish’s reaction to the cooler water has proven it. Walleye, perch and pike have been active all week, moving onto and off of shallow, shoreline related structures.
Key depths have ranged anywhere from 4 to 10 feet, but for most of the past week, 6-1/2 feet has been the sweet spot for me.
Many of the other guides are still fishing with spinners and minnows and they are catching fish. So if you’re fond of trolling, you can still expect to have good results over the weekend. For me, jig and minnow fishing is the most comfortable presentation and the fish are adapting to it. So, I’ve used the excuse to leave the spinning rods in the locker and keeping the jigging rods close at hand. Whether jigging is “better” or not is debatable, but in terms of productivity, we are holding our own.
On Thursday, there was so much wind that we never considered going out onto the big lake. Sticking with Cutfoot and Little Cutfoot for the entire day, we rooted out 3 limits of Crappies for my crew.
The fish have begun sticking their noses out into open territory but are not stacked up in large schools. In fact, we fished them more like we would fish walleyes yesterday. Trolling and jigging, picking up singles and doubles that were spread horizontally along the bottom; the action was slow, but steady.
Tomorrow’s forecast calls for calm seas and that’s going to make it tough for walleye fishing. In the wind, the fish have been feeding steady for almost a week and when it calms down, they’ll be ready for a breather. One strategy that might help you beat the odds will be heading to the middle and fishing the lake’s main bars. Bena, Horseshoe, Center and Sugar Bars all still have fish on them and the deeper water might help keep a daytime bite going.
By Sunday, the forecast, in terms of fishing, appears to be more favorable again. So maybe that’s the day to plan your heavy duty fishing trips and use Saturday as a family day to enjoy calm water and sunshine.
Typically, Labor Day provides me an excuse to take a few days off. But this year, I’m using it to help make up for losses that occurred earlier, due to the corona cancellations. That means I’ll be able to log in with a few updates over the weekend, so if you’re one of the few folks who are in front of their computers, check in for updates.
Whatever you decide to do this weekend, have fun and good luck! — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"By now, most everybody knows that the fishing on Winnie has been good. Walleye, perch and pike have kept anglers busy for the better part of a month. Until late last week, catching fish has been a simple matter of finding a school, rigging up with your favored presentation and figuring out the right boat speed.
The late summer peak, we believe, coincided with the arrival of a full moon that occurred just yesterday, September 2nd. As the moon waxed toward maturity, not only did the fishing action intensify, but there was also a noticeable uptick in the size of fish that we saw anglers on the lake catching.
The accompanying image shows some of the larger walleyes that were active on Tuesday, the day of the full moon. When the Armstrong crew ..." Read >> Bowen Lodge Fishing Report September 4, 2020
"Walleye fishing has been steadily improving as water temps fall into the 60’s. Anglers have been reporting that they are finding walleyes either out deep in 20-30 feet of water, around sunken islands or in water 10 feet or less on main lake points.
Regardless where anglers are catching them, minnows have been out producing all other baits as of late. Best way to catch walleyes has been with jig and minnow or trolling spinner rigs, during the first two hours of daylight or last two hours of daylight. Trolling deep diving crankbaits during the evening hours is also worth noting.
Smallmouth Bass fishing has been very easy for anglers targeting them. As water temps fall smallies have begun putting on the feed bag.
Smallies have been aggressively hitting large minnows and deep diving crankbaits fished over sunken islands. Shoreline bite still continues, but has begun to slow. Here, whopper ploppers and hulla poppers remain effective during the early morning hours. As the sun gets up spinnerbaits become more effective. Large shallow flats, down trees and current areas have been the area to look for this shallow water bite.
Northern Pike anglers are reporting more and more big pike showing up in shallow bays. These pike are very active, thanks to the cooler water temps. Anglers have been doing best with large spoons and spinnerbaits, fished on weedlines, inside weedbeds and around current areas.
Both crappie and sunfish fishing was excellent this last week, but angler fishing shallow weedbeds have noted that large crappies were largely absent from the weedbeds.
Bigger gills are now being found inside weedbeds again and have been hitting beetle spins, wax worms or small angle worms fished under a bobber. Crappies too are being found shallow inside weedbeds, but mainly during early mornings and evenings. Small hair jigs, jig and twisters and jig and minnow fished under a bobber has been effective." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
"Locating summer crappie can be a daunting task due to their nomadic nature. Wired2fish staff McKeon Roberts discusses how you can shortcut locating summer crappies by highlighting what to look for as well as an in-depth look at a variety of baits to help you cover water and stay on the fish.
McKeon talks about transition areas that are magnets for summer crappie. Namely finding thick, healthy, outer weedlines adjacent to fertile bays that have access to deep water. Weeds are the key here, and crappies will roam them like underwater corridors. These weed beds can often be massive, which makes intercepting roaming crappies a bit of a challenge.
Two things to consider when locating crappie in weeds are, the ability to cover water and fish slow while staying snag-free in and around thick vegetation. McKeon goes over a variety of baits suited for all anglers, that ..." View Video to Learn More >> Fishing for Summer Crappies | What it Looks Like Underwater
Jim Atkinson sent some photos of his special, handmade jigs this weekend along with a note comparing features and benefits to the Lindy Live Bait Jigs that I use. In it, he says; “I know they are similar in design to the jigs that you like, but your (Live Bait Jig) hooks are shorter shanked and wider gaped than the ones I use.
What is it about those features that you like?
Jim, I know your original comments and questions regarded “wiggle worming”. But the question is so timely for jig and minnow anglers because we are on the verge of the best jig fishing period of the open water season! So, I took a little liberty with the original “wiggle worming” question and comment on what was really most important about the design when I first developed it.
When I stumbled onto the design of the jigs that are now known as Lindy Live Bait Jigs, I was experimenting with jig shapes, weights, and hook styles. Like you, I tried longer shank hooks and experimented with assorted brands of varying quality.
What really set the wide gap, short shank jig apart from the longer hooks, was the difference in placement of live minnows. In the photo, you see that the nose of the minnow butts up tight to the teardrop shaped Live Bait Jig. While the minnow placement on the more conventional, round head Lindy Jig is further down the hook.
It is important to note that there is a time and place for each of them. But the jigging action of the two jigs is completely different and here are some of the reasons I might prefer the LLBJ on any given day.
My first consideration is when making the minnow follow the jig precisely is important. Whenever the trick for triggering strikes is snap jigging, rock hopping, or pitch popping in the weeds, I am likely to be using the short shank jig.
The minnow pinned down tight on the Live Bait Jig makes it follow every little hop, bump, and wiggle that I put on my rod tip. This makes the design superior for times when I want to be super-creative with my presentation. I can impart the exact action I want, any time I need it.
The wider gap is important too because as the nose of the minnow is moved further forward, the minnow’s head consumes a larger portion of the hook gap. The extra width is useful in producing more reliable hook sets, especially when using larger minnows.
While it is not technically a stand-up jig, the stout shape of the LLBJ does encourage it to land on the bottom with the hook facing up. That means that we get snagged less often when we’re using bottom hugging presentations.
Like I said, there’s a time and place that I like longer hooks too, but hopefully this explains why I like the wide gap, short shank model for super-precision presentations." — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
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"There were a lot of walleyes caught again this week on the south end Lake of the Woods. And for those who's mission it is to single out huge walleyes, like the AIM tournament anglers who were just here, the week was a success as well.
Charter boats and guides doing a nice job of finding good schools of eater walleyes as well. And they always catch some slots and trophies as well. At times, eaters might be in a different location vs the big walleyes.
Walleyes are being caught in 14 to 36 feet of water. Two main patterns, crawler harnesses and crankbaits. Best spinner colors, hammered gold, pink, glow white, glow red or orange. Shiny or brighter colors are good starts for crankbaits. It is important to get cranks down to the fish. In deeper water, downriggers, lead core line, snap weights and a 4-5 ounce bottom bouncer will all do the trick.
Walleyes are scattered on flats and along breaks in the Rainy River. Trolling crankbaits or crawler harnesses covering water is effective. Anglers reporting a mixed bag of fish. Sturgeon activity has picked up. Target deep holes with sturgeon rigs and crawlers or frozen emerald shiners. Smallmouth bass and pike continue to be active around current breaks, rocky areas and in bays. There are 42 miles of navigable river from Wheeler's Point to Birchdale.
Walleye fishing continues to be very good up at the Nortwest Angle. Good numbers of fish living around Four Blocks and Little Oak Island. Also good numbers of fish over the mud north and east of Little Oak Island. Watch your electronics, scattered schools in many locations. Spinners with a crawler or trolling crankbaits both are producing.
Again, some big pike caught this week by walleye anglers. Some muskie action this week on topwater. Smallmouth bass on rocks in 5 to 15 feet." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"More great fishing! The majority of the work this past week was in Little Traverse Bay. Our Walleye Master Guides have mostly been drifting spinners and crawlers in 8-23 feet of water.
Each day the depth of the best bite has been changing. Others have been trolling with plugs. We are seeing a mix of forage being taken with crayfish and perch currently being staples. Rock areas are holding many fish." — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge