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image links to Ely Area, Arrowhead Outdoors Ice Fishing Report June 26, 2024

"Walleye - Walleye fishing can't be fantastic all the time, even in the Ely area. Heavy rains and heavy mayfly hatch has slowed the walleye bite down on many Ely area lakes. Heavy rains seemed to have pushed walleyes down to a depth of 20 to 25 feet of water over sand and mud flats. Lots of reports of mayflies hatching and anglers graphing clouds of them over mud. Walleyes have been right in with the mayflies. Medium size leeches fished under a bobber, jig or drop shot has been effective. Jig and half a crawler has also been worth noting. Pink/white, gold and green/chartreuse have been popular colors this last week.

Smallmouth - Reports of smallies with spawn in them continue to come in on many area lakes. Unstable weather and water temps still fluctuating as low as 60 degrees seems to be the cause of this. Nonetheless anglers are enjoying excellent smallmouth fishing. All kinds of topwater baits continue to be very popular, but in-line spinners, Ned rigs, paddle tails and chatter baits also are producing good numbers of fish. All anglers are simply fishing shoreline structures like shallow boulder flats, downed trees and points.

Panfish - Finally some reports of good sunfish and crappie fishing is being reported on many of the shallower panfish lakes in the Ely area. Crappies and sunnies have been hitting jig/twisters, beetle spins, angleworms or small leeches, under a bobber, in 3 to 7 feet of water. Best crappie fishing has been the last hour or two of light on many lakes. Anglers should look to pencil reeds, shallow rock and weedy bays for panfish.

Stream Trout - Rainbow trout have been taking full advantage of the mayfly hatch. Fly fishermen have also been taking advantage of the rainbows eating mayflies and have been throwing large mayfly imitations and simply letting them sit on the surface. For all you non fly fisherman, a night crawler set about 5 to 10 feet under a bobber has been effective. Trolling small spoons and small crankbaits has also been efficient on rainbows this last week.

Pike - If there's one fish that seems to enjoy the rains and cool water temps, it's the pike. While overall size remains on the small side, good numbers of them are being caught by those targeting them. Classic daredevils, large spinnerbaits and buzzbaits have been very effective. Anglers should be looking to the mouth of shallow bays, river mouths and weedbeds for active pike." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358

image links to wired2fish Wired2Fish 2024 "Spring Jerkbait Fishing Walleyes | Advanced Tactics"

image links to fishing video about using jerkbaits to catch walleyes during spring"Join Wired2fish contributor Scott Walsh as he dives into springtime walleye fishing using jerkbaits. Throughout the year, especially post-spawn, a large population of walleye set up in the shallows to feed on baitfish. Walsh demonstrates how the combination between modern electronics and jerkbaits effectively put walleye in the boat.

Exploring the benefits of advanced fishing technology, Walsh incorporates tools like high definition mapping, MEGA 360 Imaging, and forward-facing sonar to pinpoint the ideal fishing spots and individual fish without wasting time. He shares insights into how these technologies not only assist in locating fish but also in making informed decisions about ..." View Video to Learn More >> Spring Jerkbait Fishing Walleyes | Advanced Tactics

image links to Lake of the Woods, LOW Tourism June 26, 2024

"Fishing patterns are in full summer swing and anglers are enjoying excellent action for a variety of species up at the Northwest Angle on Lake of the Woods. Both sides of the border, in Minnesota and Ontario waters are producing numbers of nice walleyes. In this area of the lake, expect to catch walleyes, saugers, pike, jumbo perch, crappies, pike and smallmouth bass.

Many fish have slid off of the shoreline and out of back bays, and onto deeper structure. With that said, there are so many areas of forage on LOW, walleyes will be in numerous spots, some shallow and some deeper, taking advantage of opportunities. Lots of fish to be had, just go fishing.

Jigging structure, where walleyes gather in small, tight schools has been effective. In larger areas, where fish are spread out, pulling spinners with crawlers or trolling crankbaits is also effective and anglers are catching a lot of fish using that presentation.

Muskie anglers are after it and reporting good numbers, and in true LOW style, some big fish over the 50 inch mark. Summer patterns are starting to take hold, but fish are holding in a variety of areas still.

It's been a great week of walleye fishing on the southg end of Lake of the Woods too. In addition to walleyes, saugers, jumbo perch, some monster pike and an occasional crappie are also in the mix!

image of curt quesnell holding huge walleye he caught on Lake of the Woods There are three fishing techniques being used to score Lake of the Woods gold (walleyes). First, drifting or slow trolling crawler harnesses. In a nutshell, using about a 2 ounce weight and a 3 to 4 foot harness with a spinner, two hooks and a crawler. A tip for crawler harnesses, hook the dark part or head of the crawler on the front hook. Try to keep the crawler straight between the two hooks. Try to leave a few inches of crawler off of your last hook and pinch off the rest. The walleyes and saugers will still hit it, but you will create more hookups.

The second presentation is a jig and minnow or frozen emerald shiner. Basically locate fish out on the mud or on structure, anchor up and jig. If you are amongst fish, they will find you. Gold, orange, chartreuse, glow and pink, or a combo of these colors, are a great place to start.

The third way walleyes are being caught, and some may be surprised about, is trolling crankbaits. Some have put on the trolling gear when the walleyes weren't as cooperative or when the fish are spread out. Lots of success catching good numbers of walleyes and good sized fish.

Lots of fish are located out over deep mud or on deep structure. The deep mud is holding a lot of walleyes in 21 to 27 feet of water. Electronics will help you mark fish.

There is another shallow water bite still taking place anywhere from 5 to 17 of water. Much of the shallow bite has to do with feeding opportunities on various minnow spawns, crawfish and hatches. Not every walleye is targeting the same prey. Lots of opportunities.

Anglers can keep a combined limit of 6 walleyes and saugers. Up to 4 can be walleyes. All walleyes 19.5 to 28.0 inches must be released. One fish over 28 inches may be kept. The possession limit in MN is one day's possession. If you catch a limit, eat some fish and freeze a couple, make sure to count your remaining fish left over for your possession.

On the Rainy River, with some rain in the area, the river was flowing with a strong current and some debris this past week. Debris has slowed considerably and water clarity is starting to improve. Water clarity is important for walleyes, saugers, pike and smallmouth bass. Sturgeon are much more dialed into scent to find their next meal, consequently, when the sturgeon season opens again on July 1st for the keep season, things should be good.

The fishing happening on the river is focused in areas just out of the current. Most fish will hang just off, able to grab a passing meal but not having to expend too much energy. Current can be good as it focuses fish in areas. Jigging with a minnow is effective when you are on fish. Otherwise, pulling spinners and trolling crankbaits along shoreline breaks against the current in 6 - 12' of water is producing a mixed bag of walleyes, saugers, pike, smallmouth bass and an occasional crappie."  Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH

image links to fishrapper home page June 25, 2024 "Noting the Note-Able"

image of Bobby Cox holding nice walleye he caught oin fishing trip with pro guide Jeff sundin Fishing conditions today favor what I’d call expert anglers, folks who know several effective techniques, and have the ability to adapt between them can and are doing well. Casual anglers, who maybe know a thing or two about fishing, but are unwilling to “work” at figuring out patterns and trends might be less thrilled with the action right now. Reasons for the slower fishing action vary from lake to lake, and include increasingly abundant food sources, cool water temperatures, changeable weather, and seasonal fish migrations.  

Over the past several seasons, the great equalizer for me has been to offer casual anglers a mixed bag, action bite that we’ve accomplished by trolling spinners. This season, the water is still cool, 68 degrees in the area we fished yesterday and some of the warm water species have been absent from the mix. For my customers, that’s made the trolling approach feel slow, by comparison to previous years.

For me, the fix up has been to switch presentations and for my more experienced anglers, it’s worked out fine. Take Bobby Cox for example, when the spinner bite failed us, we switched to wiggle worming and picked up a few nice walleyes. And when we were marking fish that didn’t respond to the wiggle worms, we switched again, this time using Lindy Rigs tipped with large minnows. That allowed Bobby to catch the fish you see pictured here. Still fishing with slip-floats, fan casting jigs and minnows, and fishing with soft plastics are working too.

There have been a couple of days though when my crews have been uncomfortable with the alternative presentations. For them, trolling spinners just feels better, it’s easier, and there’s less finesse required. So, we’ve stuck with it, but on some days, that’s cost us some fish, that’s the bad news.

image of deep weed bed holding crappiesThe good news is that water temperatures are warming, vegetation is maturing, and fish are just now setting up in summer locations. Yesterday we did see our first readings above 70 degrees and I found a couple of deeper weed beds that were holding fish. Crappies and northern pike were the primary species in the weed patch you see pictured here. There were a few small perch there too, but there weren’t any sunfish or walleyes in that spot.

Late in the day, we did encounter a small pack of walleyes that struck the spinners. Those fish were located shallower, in water depths of 9 to 10 feet and they were aggressive. I felt like the area might have produced a solid evening bite on the spinners tipped with fatheads. I’ll never know for sure, but I felt too that if we’d stopped trolling and started wiggle worming in that area, we would have picked up a few extra walleyes.

I’d be happier if the fishing action was faster yesterday. That said though, slow fishing action doesn’t mean that fish are non-existent. Despite our self-imposed limitation of only trolling spinners, we did begin a collection of fish for my crew’s trip home. A couple of large northern pike, a couple of walleyes, and a half dozen nice crappies went into the freezer. Smaller pike, walleye and crappie went into the cooler for tonight’s shore dinner. It’s amazing what happens when we just keep grinding away, one by one, the livewell does fill up.

Today, it looks like we’ll be battling a strong west wind; that will take some of the better lakes out of play for me. So, I’ll look at the map, pick out a lake or two that looks workable, and I’ll let you know tomorrow how it works out.

Yesterday, Tony Wygle wrote; Jeff, I have noticed that the MOSQUITOES have really been on a biting mission, especially at the boat landings. We sprayed down very well but they are still extremely hungry.

image of avon bug guardQ) My question for you is when spraying repellant on ourselves, we have the tendency to get spray on our hands. I was wondering your thoughts on if this can be transferred to our baits. We use anything from live minnows to plastics to crankbaits. It does seem to affect our quantity of fish caught. If you might be willing to give some of your advice to me as well as others, I would greatly appreciate it.
I do know that some people use vanilla extract but I myself do not think that works as well as deet. Thank you much, Tony Wygle

A) Tony, I’m not a fan of deet based bug spray. Not only do I not like getting it on my fishing bait, I notice that it’s hard on my fishing gear, rods and reels in particular. Besides that, I don’t think deet is very good for our bodies either. In recent years, I gave up fighting with bugs by spraying, and started putting on more clothes instead. Lightweight pants that cover my ankles, a light rain jacket with a hood and a hat to keep the off of my bald spot work about as good as anything else.

When I do feel forced into using bug spray, I use the Avon Skin So Soft expedition formula. This in not an inexpensive alternative, but it works better than anything I’ve tried. I use a wet fishing towel to clean my hands frequently and that seems to be good enough to prevent fish from shying away from my bait. I can’t speak to the health considerations of using it, but since you asked, I’ll look into that too and provide an update later. fish smiley image — Office Cell Call or Text 218-245-9858 or Email

image links to fishrapper home page June 24, 2024 "Upper Red Lake Walleye Report"

image of Justin Wiese holding a nice walleye caught on a Wheezy Outdoors fishing charterWater levels on Upper Red Lake are high and cool. With surface temperatures in the high 60s, many shallow, shoreline breaks continue to hold walleyes and the jig and minnow bite was still going strong this weekend.

I ’m not the type of fisherman who insists on using Shiner minnows, but I do have an idea that using them helped us when we fished on Upper Red Lake this weekend. The difference was not apparent in the number of fish caught, but using spottails did appear to make a difference in the average size of walleyes boated.

Take my advice with a grain of salt because the sample group was small, only 2 boats, mine and Justin Wiese’s. But that said, both of us were fishing with jigs and minnows, both of us had equally competent crews, and because it was a group trip, both of us were fishing within a couple hundred yards of each other along the same shallow breakline. Both boats caught plenty of fish, in fact I’d say it was nearly equal. Fish for fish though, the anglers fishing with shiners caught more quality size walleyes, while the anglers’ using fatheads ..." Read Full Report >> June 24, 2024 "Upper Red Lake Walleye Report"

image links to bowen lodge on lake winnie Cutfoot Sioux, Lake Winnie Fishing Report June 21, 2024

image links to fishing report from Bowen Lodge on Lake Winnibigoshish "Six weeks ago, folks were speculating whether low water levels would be a drag on anglers accessing not only Winnie, but many other area lakes too.

Since then, frequent rainfalls brought water levels up to normal, or in some regions, even above normal. Then on Tuesday, we received another rainfall, this time a big one! Now we’re looking at high, even flood-stage water levels and walleyes are using all that extra water to their advantage.

Most anglers know that walleyes like moving water and use terms like “walleye chop” to describe breezy times when conditions are favorable for catching them. The chop on top is what see, and most understand that the whitecaps help diffuse daylight. The assumption is correct, and the lower visibility is an advantage. But there’s more, under the surface, walleyes see, and respond not only to diffused light, but also to ..." Read >> Lake Winnie Cutfoot Sioux Fishing Report June 21, 2024

image links to Ely Area, Arrowhead Outdoors Ice Fishing Report June 19, 2024

image of woman holding big walleye she caught near Ely MN "Walleye - Another week of unsettled weather and reports of mayflies hatching has the walleyes bite inconsistent for many this last week. Anglers catching walleyes are still finding them in shallow water. 5 to 15 feet, over sand or near current areas have been best. High water and strong flows have river mouths attracting good numbers of walleyes again. Anglers have been having good luck slip bobbering leeches, trolling crankbaits, jigs tipped with a minnow or crawler, or pulling lindy rigs with a leech or minnow. Popular colors remain gold, black/orange, pink/white.

Smallmouth - With water temps still hovering in the high 50's to low 60's, reports of smallies with eggs in them, are still coming in from anglers from many area lakes. These anglers have been throwing topwater baits, chatterbaits, Ned rigs and in-line spinners and have been having fantastic time catching smallies. Anglers should keep focusing on shoreline flats, downed trees and current areas to find active smallies.

Crappies - As with smallies, anglers are still finding dark colored crappies on many of the area's bigger crappies lakes. On these lakes, anglers have been finding crappies at the mouths of shallow bays, around shallow rocks or weeds. Here, crappie minnow under a bobber has been very effective. On shallower crappie lakes, crappies have spawned and are now cruising around downed trees, lily pads and weedbeds. Here jig/twister, small beetle spins and a crappie minnow under a bobber have been effective.

Stream Trout - Stream trout fishing on some of the more popular stream trout lakes was a little slower than usual thanks to mayflies hatching. Many anglers reported that rainbows showed little interest in the usual stream trout baits, while anglers who switched to large hex flies reported excellent trout fishing. These large flies have been very effective during the evening hours when mayflies are hatching.

Pike - Pike fishing was steady this last week, but the size of pike has remained small (30" and less) for many. Anglers continue to have good luck throwing large in-line spinners, spoons and large paddle tails. Shallow weedy bays and river mouths are the areas to key in on if you're looking to catch pike." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358

image links to Lake of the Woods, LOW Tourism June 19, 2024

image of woman holding giant walleye she caught on the Border View Lodge fishing charter "The walleyes are biting on the south end of Lake of the Woods! It's been a great week of fishing with anglers using a combination of jigging and pulling spinners as their preferred go-to presentations.

Most walleye fishing is taking place between 21 and 24 feet of water. When you locate fish on your electronics, either anchor up and jig or simply drift with spinners and crawlers (or troll if there is no wind) through the schools. When jigging, gold combined with a bright color such as glow white, pink, orange or chartreuse is a hard combo to beat. Use a fathead minnow, rainbow or a frozen emerald shiner. When hooking the minnow, it is helpful to hook the minnow through the mouth and out the gills, pushing the minnow all the way up the hook to the jig head. Re-hook the minnow as far back as possible. This will catch the short biting fish.

Use a two ounce bottom bouncer with a two or three hook snelled spinner and a nightcrawler. Some good blade colors are gold or gold combined with gold, orange, glow red or pink.

As happens most years in June, another good walleye bite fired up in various areas of the south shore in 5 to 10 feet of water. Oftentimes, minnows spawning pulls in hungry walleyes creating some excellent fishing.

Some big walleyes over 30 inches being caught, along with the eaters, smalls and slot fish between 19.5 and 28 inches that must be released.

Anglers can keep a combined limit of 6 walleyes and saugers. Up to 4 can be walleyes. All walleyes 19.5 - 28.0 inches must be released. One fish over 28 inches may be kept.

The Rainy River is flowing with a strong current. Consequently, fish are being found in areas just out of the current. Jigging with a minnow is effective when you are on fish. Otherwise, pulling spinners and trolling crankbaits along shoreline breaks against the current in 6 to 12 feet of water is producing a mixed bag of walleyes, saugers, pike, smallmouth bass and an occasional crappie.

The Lake Sturgeon season opens July 1, 2024 The river is a great summer option with 42 miles of navigable river and many nice boat ramps.

Up at the Northwest Angle, the fish are snapping too. Another great week of fishing amongst the 14,552 islands in these parts.

Minnesota waters are producing nice walleyes. Some fish being found off of deeper structure. Some nice opportunities are shallow based on forage, hatches, minnows spawning, etc.

Pulling spinners with shiners or crawlers has been effective. When you are on "a spot on a spot", jigging is the best technique. Trolling crankbaits is working well and is a nice way to cover water and put your lure in front of a lot of fish. In addition to walleyes, saugers, pike, jumbo perch, crappies, pike and smallmouth bass are also in the mix.

Muskie anglers caught some nice fish this past week. No specific pattern as the cold spring has fish still settling into summer. The lake boasts a healthy population of fish, many in excess of 50 inches."  Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH

image links to fishrapper home page June 18, 2024 "Sunfish-Crappie Role Reversal"

Panfish were on my mind yesterday, our primary goal was catching crappies, but sunfish were on the schedule too as a secondary pursuit. The relatively small 2000-acre lake I chose offered a chance for both, and could also cough up a few bass, walleye or perch. On past trips, bluegills have usually been the easiest to come by and crappies, for me, have been a 50-50 proposition.

On Monday, there was a role reversal, crappies were a slam dunk, willing to bite aggressively. The sunfish were scattered though, and less enthusiastic about striking, we caught a decent number, but we spent more time searching, and put more effort into getting them to strike.

Take this advice about sunfish location with a grain of salt because so far this season, I haven’t spent that much time searching for them, and I don’t know if this is a widespread trend.  My “working theory” is that sunfish, at least on this lake, were spawning, but not in the shallow, shoreline areas where we’d typically expect to find them. Instead, I think we found at least one location where they were on beds, located in 7 to 9 feet of water. When we fished in that area, strikes were both more frequent and more aggressive than they were elsewhere on the lake.

We found the spot by trolling with spinners that were tipped with medium size leeches. As we trolled along the weed edges, I came across a “bald spot”, where there was a clean sandy flat. On that flat, the sunfish struck the leeches, but were not easy to hook. We stopped and fished with jigs tipped with cut pieces of night crawlers, and those worked better. I tried plastics too, and the picked at them, but again, were not easily hooked.

image links to video bt wired2fish that shows how to locate sunfish beds using side-imagingIt surprised my crew when I mentioned my deep-water spawning theory, and it might be surprising to you too. It is true though, while there are lots of sunfish that spawn in shallow, 1-to-4-foot water depths, there are others that spawn deeper. Using the side imaging to scan for structure, I’ve spotted numerous sunfish beds in 10 to 12 feet of water, sometimes even deeper. Later, I recalled this older, but still very relevant video by Ryan Decheine of Wired2Fish. The informative video teaches us how to locate sunfish beds using the side imaging feature. After viewing this one, google the topic and you’ll find more, from a variety of sources.

The crappies, like I said, were easy to catch yesterday. The pattern was very similar to the one I outlined last week, Read >> "June 14, 2024 "Turning The Corner Into Summer Crappie Patterns". This location was a similar bed of cabbage plants that lies adjacent to a steep shoreline break. Like last week’s report, this spot also featured an inside corner, but it was not as pronounced as the one previously shown. Still, that corner was better yesterday than the straighter sections of the weedline.

For physical reasons, casting jigs and plastics would have been a problem yesterday, so we didn’t try that. Trolling spinners tipped with minnows worked fine anyway, so there was no incentive to try anything else. That said, I think that under different circumstances, that presentation would have also been productive.

For the next couple of days, harvesting fish will be the least of my worries. Once we gather enough fish for one shoreline dinner, most everything else we catch will be released. So, I’m debating what will be the most fun for my crew, it might be bass fishing, maybe pike, or maybe even rock bass. Whatever we decide to do, I’ll let you know tomorrow. fish smiley image — Office Cell Call or Text 218-245-9858 or Email

image links to Brainerd MN Area Fishing Report June 18, 2024

image of woman holding nice walleye she caught on a fishing charter with Joe Billiar "The walleye bite has been hit or miss in the Brainerd area. With every changing weather the bite will pick up for a short period of time then shut off as quick as it came.

Almost all of my fishing is being done with a slip bobber. Walleyes have a preference towards leeches at this time but it is worth bringing crawlers along as well. When the walleyes are biting they are up shallower and close to weed edges. When the fish go neutral or negative look to the bottom of the break line. Cycling through as many pods as possible when the fish are negative is the key to success.

Bass are going like crazy in the Brainerd lakes area! With clients the last couple days when the walleyes didn’t want to bite we opted for an action plan and were rewarded with well over 60 bass hitting the boat. Pods of bass are stacked up in and tight to the cabbage. The best way for clients to target them with the wind and weather was a slip bobber with either a leech or crawler. When the pods of bass were found it didn’t take long to get bites.

Hopefully the weather evens out soon and the bite will become more consistent. Good luck this week and tight lines." — Joe Billiar, Crooked Hat Guide Service

image links to fishrapper home page June 16, 2024 "Father's Day Fishing Tradition"

image of Jason and Eldon Skoglund on the annual Father's Day Fishing Trip with Jeff Sundin Father’s Day doesn’t always make the front-page headlines, but in my lifetime, there is one family who has made it a tradition. The Skoglund family, Eldon, Jason and John have been fishing with me on the Friday before Father’s Day for a long time, their trip is one that I call a “perpetual re-book”.

You’d need a long memory to recall some of the past stories I’ve written about Eldon, “The Norwegian Hammer” who I first met when he shared the boat with David Chrz, a longtime customer and friend who is gone, but never forgotten. His father Joe Chrz also happened to be Eldon’s father-in-law. Joe too was a friend more than a customer, he lived on Bowstring Lake, and I used to call him when my schedule had a gap in it and he’d help me research new places to fish while we told each other jokes.  The nickname “hammer” came about on one particularly good walleye fishing trip to Cutfoot Sioux. David and I began using it while we watched him haul in one walleye after another and the name stuck.

I wouldn’t say that any of us hauled in walleyes one after another on this past Friday. Despite challenging conditions though, we did enjoy steady action. Some spots were better than others, and at most every stop, we picked up at least a few.

We were fishing mid-lake structure, bars and shoreline points that extended far into the lake’s deep basin. The key depths ranged from 18 to 22 feet and on Friday, areas where sand met soft bottom was where we did best. Watching the screen of my graph, I saw what appeared to be clouds of insect larvae and I think that’s why the fish were located there. When we handled the fish, there was physical evidence that they had been feeding on larvae too. Mud in their mouths, plus dark and oozy excrement were the clues I followed.

John Skoglund with nice walleye caught by wiggle wormingI already know that I didn’t have the market cornered on the best presentation. Friends of mine were out there too and they were catching walleyes using jigs and minnows. For me though, whenever I think that walleyes are feeding on bugs, I start fishing with night crawlers and leeches. I do that partly because I think the walleyes show a preference for crawlers, but the northern pike don’t like them as much. So, if my crew wants to cut out some of the small pike, getting rid of the minnows makes sense. Recently, the cost of minnows is an added incentive to fish with “yard bait” too; I don’t have to tell you about that.

Wiggle worming, for me, is the most effective way to present live night crawlers. Using lightweight jigs helps us keep the bait out and away from the boat, which really helps in clear water. The action imparted is unique too, the constantly rolling “corkscrew” action really turns the fish on and makes them strike. Using the light jigs to deliver whole night crawlers also allows us to dance the bait through weeds and over rocks without getting snagged as much, and that’s a huge benefit in some spots.

Not only do the fish love this presentation, I feel it also helps reduce hooking mortality. Seldom do the walleyes “swallow” the larger, bulkier jig hooks like they do the smaller, less obvious hooks used for live bait rigging, The next best presentation for night crawlers, “slow death hooks” should be re-named “certain death” and in my opinion, are to be avoided. An expert may be able to safely remove those ultra-light wire hooks when swallowed but I’ve seen folks really struggle to remove them without killing fish. Faster, safer hook removal is critical during the warm summer months when these presentations are most effective.

As much as I love wiggle worming, I do have to admit that there’s a learning curve. An angler must be willing to stick with it until the presentation becomes fluid and comfortable. On Friday, Jason picked up on it right away and had good results from the start. John got the hang of it too and became proficient after a few strikes. Eldon didn’t fall in love with it though, there was something missing during the wiggling, feeding and hook setting process. For him, Lindy Rigging with leeches turned out to be a better presentation. I don’t know if the fish struck leeches as well as they would have the night crawlers, but it helped him catch fish on this trip.

image of John, Jason and Eldon SkoglundYou already know that I’m not a big fan of walleye fishing on bright, calm days and Friday was no exception, especially at first. Early in the trip, walleyes at our first stop struck aggressively and we had a good start. But late morning was a struggle, the glass calm water and sunshine was a hard combination to overcome. Luckily, the breeze picked up just enough to put a ripple on the water and that allowed us to drift, rather than troll. It not only became more comfortable, but drifting allowed us to get our lures further away from the boat and I think that really helped too.

Nobody picked any new nicknames today, the whole fishing trip was fairly routine. All afternoon, the action was slow-but-steady, just about the time we thought the bite was dying, somebody would hook another fish. The fish we caught were all good eating size fish, but we didn't catch any whoppers. I think 21 inches was the larger fish of the day, all the rest were between 15 and 17 inches. By the end of our day, we had limits for the boys to take home, plus we had my limit to feed everyone the fish fry at Florio’s, which was good, as always.

Father’s Day, partly because of my busy summer work schedule, has never been a super big deal in my family. For the Skoglund’s though, it has been, and we’ve been doing their annual Father’s Day fishing trip for a long, long, time. It’s nice to be part of that, and to see those boys all appreciating each other, it feels good.

Like I said, Father’s Day hasn’t always been a super big deal in my family, but I have had some good ones. Today promises to be one of the good ones, I think. Today I’ll be meeting our newest grandson, Ryder for the first time. Knowing his parents, I’m pretty sure that he’ll be really anxious to hear all about my recent fishing trips and when he'll get to go along with grandpa.

Whether you’re fishing, or just hanging out, I hope your day today is a great one. Happy Father’s Day! fish smiley image — Office Cell Call or Text 218-245-9858 or Email

image links to bowen lodge on lake winnie Cutfoot Sioux, Lake Winnie Fishing Report June 14, 2024

image links to walleye fishing report from Lake Winnie by bowen lodge "Water clarity caused problems for anglers earlier this season, but we notice that there is a slight, and welcome stain in the water now. Probably caused in part because of inflow from feeder creeks and flowages that were low, but are now filled, even overflowing in some areas, by recent rainfalls.

The darker, faster warming water flowing into the lake has provided just enough “dinginess” to make walleyes move shallower and become more aggressive. When the wind blows, they can be found on shoreline breaks, and on the flats in water depths of 6 to 12 feet and can be caught relatively easily.

On Wednesday, one of the area’s top fishing pros provided this; “I’ve been able to do more drifting, and slow trolling recently. I’ve noticed that the water is darker, not much, but enough to allow me to fish over the top of the small schools I locate. That makes it easier for folks who ..." Read >> Lake Winnie Walleye Report June 14, 2024

image links to fishrapper home page June 14, 2024 "Turning The Corner Into Summer Crappie Patterns"

When we left for the lake yesterday morning, I was skeptical about whether we’d find crappies or not. You might recall that I’ve written recently that for me, patterns for catching them have been “off” this spring, and that so far, the fish have been scattered. Still, with walleye limits already packed for the trip home, my crew, Larry and Mike, hoped to bag at least a few, deeming that we could always shift gears and fish for something else if we needed to.

When we arrived at the lake, there was a cool breeze coming from the west. The sky was bright blue, and the surface water temperature was 66 degrees. The water on this acre lake was semi-clear, and had a light algae bloom. I suppose the clarity was 4 or 5 feet, trolling in about 8 feet of water, we could see the weeds, but not the bottom of the lake.

Based on recent experiences, trolling spinners to locate the fish was my primary plan. If we located fish, we’d stop and fancast jigs tipped with plastic tails. At the first stop, a shallow weedy flat, that plan seemed to be working, until it didn’t. As planned, we caught a couple of crappies on the spinners, then stopped to zero in on them. We caught a couple more on jigs tipped with 2-inch paddle tails, and then it stopped. We trolled the weed bed again, caught a few small pike and some rock bass, but the crappie run stopped dead.

At the 2nd stop, a long stretch of cabbage weeds adjacent to the shoreline, we caught more small pike, and more rock bass too but there weren’t any crappies. That’s when I decided to check out an inside corner, like the one I wrote about back on … As the image shows, stop 3 features an inside turn that lays between two points. Also adjacent to the turn lays a deep-water hole featuring a fairly steep breakline. The cabbage weeds along that breakline held a decent number of crappies, and offered me the chance to send my crew home with their bonus, crappie limits for their respective family fish fry’s.

Trolling spinners offered enough action to suit us, so we stuck with that presentation. But when it was clear that the boys would get all the fish they wanted, I did an experiment with jigs and plastics. While they trolled, I used 1/8 jigs tipped with Strike King paddle tails. Even though we were moving sort of fast for jigging, I did pick up a couple of crappies on that presentation too. I think if we’d stopped and fan casted, we’d have caught just as many as we did by trolling the spinners.

It was day 3, of their 3 day trip, and as usual, they were anxious to drive home. So we didn’t linger very long after the crappies were bagged.

If you’re thinking about crappie fishing any time soon, it appears that the typical early summer, post-spawn pattern for catching crappies in the cabbage beds is solid. It seems too that “the inside corner trick” that worked last week might be a solid strategy too. I’m just bout done with multi-day trips for a while, so I probably will be back to walleye fishing trips. But the next time I do have a crappie fishing charter, I’ll feel more confident as we drive to the lake. I think you should too, it looks like we’re turning the corner into summertime fishing patterns. fish smiley image — Office Cell Call or Text 218-245-9858 or Email

image links to Ely Area, Arrowhead Outdoors Ice Fishing Report June 12, 2024

image of young boy holding big walleye caught on an Ely area lake "Walleye - After yet another week of high winds, walleye fishing has become more of a hit or miss affair. Anglers catching walleyes continue to catch walleyes with a jig and minnow, paddle tails or lindy rigs tipped with a minnow. Wind blown points, shallow flats and weed beds in 8-12 feet of water have been holding active walleyes. Key times to fish these spots have been early in the day or late in the evening. Gold, orange/black and pink/white have been the hot colors.

Smallmouth - Smallmouth bass are now either on their beds or off and the bite has been heating up fast! Topwater bite on many of the area's best smallmouth lakes has been fantastic right now. Chatterbaits, in-line spinners, Ned rigs and wacky worms have equally been effective on smallies. Anglers should be looking to shallow rocky shorelines and islands, around downed trees for the best bass fishing.

Crappies - Several reports of dark colored crappies have been reported from several area lakes, so if you know what that means, you know what that means. Simple crappie minnow fished under a bobber has been very effective.

Pike - With the high winds many anglers seemed out calm bays. Here they found active pike that were more than happy to bite. Anglers pitched heavy spoons, buzz baits and floating a large suckers under a bobber with great success.

Stream Trout - Stream Trout anglers continue to find active trout cruising shorelines. Warmer water temps have stream trout starting to slide down a little now, so anglers have been setting their baits a little deeper in order to keep catching trout. Laying a crawler on the bottom, with some trout dough to help float it off the bottom has also been very effective. Anglers fishing from a boat have simply been trolling small crankbaits and spoons to catch active trout.

Lake Trout - Lake trout anglers had a tough week, last week as high winds made it less than enjoyable to be out there. Trolling was the name of the game this last week. Anglers only needed to get their baits down to about 20-30 feet of water to catch trout. Leadcoring medium depth crankbaits and even jerk baits, was effective on lakers. Anglers trolled over deep mud flats, points and around sunken islands." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358

image reader comments Reader Comments June 12, 2024 "Better Reporting by Sharing Lake Names?"

An email from Robert Jordan apparently refers to recent fishing reports as he offers this thought. "Boy, you gotta be a great fisher person. Although, it could be, would be better evidenced if you would say what lakes you were on. Then we, I could better verify your "stories"."

Good morning, sir and thank you very much for your note. I'm taking your comments with a grain of salt, as I hope you intended them to be tongue in cheek humor. My guess is that you've learned by now that my aim is to help folks learn more about fishing patterns and presentations. If followed, my guidance teaches folks how to figure out their own places to fish, and techniques to use when they get there. Sending legions of anxious anglers to any lake, especially the smaller waters in my region, does not serve anybody's best interest.

On the off chance that you were being serious, I'll offer this. I go way out of my way not to fish too often, or too intensely on any single lake. There are so many good lakes in Minnesota's north central region that despite my best efforts, I'll never be able to get to all of them. Over the years, I've found that the more often I fish on "new" water, the more easily I can discover effective patterns for fishing them.

That said, there are times to explore, and then there are times not to explore. Right now, we're in the early summer peak season, fish are hungry, and forage is relatively scarce. Barring the days in the aftermath of major weather fronts, this is one of the best times of the year to visit unfamiliar lakes. Later, when insect hatches and young of the year gamefish provide extra forage, fish can be somewhat less interested in the presentations we have to offer. Then we play it safer, sticking more reliable lakes that higher fish populations.

Good luck out there, and don't worry about keeping a few secrets, I for one don't mind you, and not me, being the foremost authority on fishing your own favorite lakes! fish smiley image — Office Cell Call or Text 218-245-9858 or Email

image links to Lake of the Woods, LOW Tourism June 12, 2024

image of young man holding large walleye he caught while on a charter fishing trip to Lake of the Woods "It's been a good week of walleye fishing on the south end of Lake of the Woods. Anglers report having fun with some big fish, along with good numbers of eater size walleyes. All of that despite weather fronts delivering lots of wind that came through. Being in a charter boat a few days this week was an advantage for sure!

There are always days the wind will blow, ands here are some good options for anglers when the winds threaten to ruin your fishing trips. Fish on a big charter boat, Fish the 42 miles of navigable Rainy River, Bays such as Four Mile, Bostic and Zippel Bay, Slide behind one of the thousands of islands up at the Northwest Angle or Trailer your boat to a leeward boat ramp and fish that shoreline.

Wherever you choose to fish, jig and frozen emerald shiner have been the go to presentation for walleyes. Most boats are anchored up and vertically jigging. Some are starting to use spinners and minnows or crawlers with success. This pattern will pick up steam as the walleyes are starting to transition with warming waters.

Walleyes have been caught this week in various depths. As a rule, 21 to 32 feet of water was still the range. Again, various areas across the lake are holding fish. Various rock reefs have been good. Fish are transitioning to mud as the season progresses.

On the Rainy River, water is flowing strong right now as the dam which controls its flow has been opened. With the heavier current, fish are being found in areas with a current break. Even a slight break that still has current is a fish attractor when the water is moving.

Jigging with a minnow, pulling spinners and trolling crankbaits along shoreline breaks against the current in 6 to 12 feet of water is producing a mixed bag of walleyes, saugers, pike, smallmouth bass and an occasional crappie. Casting to shoreline structure and even docks is also an effective method. For those who like fishing for "dinosaurs", the sturgeon season opens July 1, 2024

Up at the Northwest Angle, folks also enjoyed a great week of fishing amongst the island area of Lake of the Woods. Guides fishing the Canada side of LOW reported big numbers of walleyes along with a mixed bag.

Minnesota waters also produced good fish. Many of the walleyes are being found in deeper than normal water for this time of year, in that 22 to 28 feet. As hatches begin and shiners begin to spawn, there will be some shallow water opportunities as well. The go-to presentation continues to be a jig and minnow. Pulling spinners with shiners or crawlers and trolling crankbaits also putting walleyes in the fry pan.

As is common in these parts, a mixed bag of walleyes, saugers, pike, jumbo perch, crappies, pike and smallmouth bass being caught. Muskie anglers, the season opens on both sides of the lake Saturday, June 15, 2024. A glorious day for those who target the almighty predators!"  Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH

image links to fishrapper home page June 11, 2024 "Wiggling Into The Summer Fishing Season"

image of Dean, Erik, Adam Jacobs To say that we’re in a transitional period for fishing in north central Minnesota is an understatement. In some ways, it feels like we’ve never moved out of spring. Water temperatures remain cool, barely creeping out of the low 60s in most lakes. Jig and minnow patterns have continued to produce walleyes for most anglers, including me. In other ways though, it feels like summer is already here. Despite cool temperatures, walleyes, crappies and other species have begun responding to summer fishing patterns like trolling spinners, fan casting plastics and as of Monday, “Wiggle Worming”.

The first blatant reminder that we’ve entered a transitional period occurred for me on Saturday. I was fishing with the Jacobs family on a small, 600-acre multi-species lake. We caught some fish drift fishing with 1/8 ounce jigs and minnows, others by casting 1/16 ounce jigs tipped with plastic tails, a couple more on night crawlers, and then some more by trolling spinners and minnows. Some of the fish were walleyes, some were crappies, others were perch and bluegills and lots of them were northern pike.

On that trip, most fish were sticking close to the cabbage patches, but there were also some fish caught in open water, on mid-lake structures like bars and deep, shoreline points. Also notable was the lack of any single “hot spot” for either walleyes or crappies, every patch of weeds seemed to have a few fish in it, but none of them ever held a lot of fish. The only exception was notherns, they were everywhere and at times extremely eager to strike.

inage of Jin, Judy and Brian Gandy walleye fishningThe day before that, also fishing with the Jacobs family, walleyes were the target and to catch them, we fished entirely with jig and minnow combinations. On that day, the winds were brisk and walleyes were holding on mid-lake structures with rock and gravel on them. The key depths varied from spot to spot, ranging between 12 and 16 feet. Like Saturday, no single spot held tons of fish, but if there were rocks, there were always at least a few.

Longtime readers of these reports probably recall stories about the Gandy family because they’ve been fishing with me for a long time, they figured about 35 years. At one time, I used to joke with them about “the Gandy Effect”, their uncanny ability to show up to fish only on rainy, windy, cold days. Despite the miserable wet conditions, they usually enjoyed very good fishing, and almost always caught them fishing with jig and minnow presentations.

Yesterday (6-10-24), I was fishing with the Gandys, and as usual, walleyes were the primary target. The modern “Gandy Effect” though differs from the old model, sunshine and calm seas has been the new rule of thumb. Because of that, we’ve typically worked harder, and caught fewer walleyes than we did on those blustery days. On Monday, we did work diligently at catching fish, but our reward was above average, and it was thanks in large part to “Wiggle Worming”.

image of Jim Gandy holding nice walleye caught using a wiggle worm Because of the calm and sunny conditions, I didn’t figure that shallow rock structures would be as good as they were last Friday, but I checked a few of them anyway. At the first stop, a rock spine that topped out at 14 feet deep, Jim caught a nice crappie but that turned out to be the only one we caught yesterday. That fish struck on a jig and minnow; I picked up a nice walleye there too, but I caught it on a night crawler.

A stop or two later, I picked up another nice walleye on my 1/8 ounce live bait jig tipped with a night crawler. The crew, all still fishing with jigs and minnows caught a couple of small pike, but no walleyes. As the day progressed, it became more obvious that the wiggle worming pattern was going to produce more walleyes than jigs and minnows.

I had to adapt to a fresh pattern too, the shallower rocks still held a few fish, but there were many more located on the deeper, sand-to-mud transitions. Our key depth was about 20 feet, just at the upper edges of breaklines that led into deeper water. I held the boat speed down to about .5 MPH and crept along the edges, encountering walleyes one-by-one along the breakline.

For folks who catch most of their fish using jigs and minnows, wiggle worming takes some getting used to. So, there was a fair amount of coaching going on out there. Eventually though, the pattern became easier for them, and it definitely paid off. We didn’t completely fill limits for all 3 of them, but we came very close, finishing the day with 16, mostly really nice size walleyes.

For me, wiggle worming is a preferred presentation and I use it every chance I get. By now, many of you already know about wiggle worming and also use it regularly, but some still haven’t tried it. Admittedly, there is a learning curve, and you’ll need to practice to become proficient with this presentation. But if you do, you will be thrilled to have the presentation in your back pocket, especially on calm, sunny days like yesterday. It can be the difference between going home for a nice fish fry or stopping to buy hamburgers instead. You can learn a lot more about the presentation by following the links below. fish smiley image — Office Cell Call or Text 218-245-9858 or Email

image links to Brainerd MN Area Fishing Report June 11, 2024

"The walleye bite in the brainerd area continues to be strong. Look to weed edges in 9-16ft of water and pitch bobbers to get bites. There seems to be a strong preference to leeches over crawlers but still bring both as they are taking either option. Look to inside turns off of points or for small differences in the weeds to hold numbers of fish. When the weather turns the bite can shut down for a while but will pick back up after some time has passed. If the school you are working is bitting very light or not at keep moving to new pods to find the active fish.

Smallmouth are in a wide range of patterns. I have found fish on beds, weedline, and on deep rocks. Anything from ned rigs, drop shot, and bobbers has been producing. As the week progresses I will be looking to mid-deep rocks and weed lines for most of my fish. My favorite way to target them is just like I would for walleye with a bobber and chunk of crawler. Staying about 30ft away I will be able to pull multiple fish out of schools.

Musky fishing is picking up in the area. Currently Muskies can be found anywhere from shallow weeds to open water. Working small bucktails up shallow is currently my best pattern for moving those fish. When is comes to open water high suspending rubber baits are producing. As the month progresses the open water trolling bite will pick up. Good luck and tight lines!" — Joe Billiar, Crooked Hat Guide Service

image links to fishrapper home page June 7, 2024 "A Picture's Worth 1000 Words"

On Thursday, I along with my customer/friends Janet and Marty Christensen enjoyed a cool, damp and breezy day on the lake. For the most part, we fished the same presentations and locations that I did on Wednesday, and all of that is already described in yesterday’s report. So, today I’ll just let this one photo speak for itself, if you have any questions about it, let me know. Today’s I rather elaborate on some of the comments generated by yesterday’s report.

If you read yesterday’s (6-6-24) report about being adaptable, referring specifically to me changing the jig weight for 1 angler from a 1/8-ounce jig to a heavier, ¼ ounce jig, you’ll recall me offering this; “Everybody in the boat had a theory about why that happened, and I do too. I’ll bet you have some thoughts of your own too, so tomorrow, I’ll share my theory, and then you can compare that with yours.”

As I expected, folks who took time to comment, sharing their theories about why that change helped agreed without dissent, with this reader’s opinion, “I bet he wasn’t staying down near the bottom and/or wasn’t checking in with the bottom enough with his light jig. He switched to the 1/4oz and stayed in the zone longer!”

Why folks would believe that getting closer to the bottom was the solution is understandable, since the beginning of my career I’ve heard it preached over and over that walleyes are always on the bottom. The thing is though, that theory, in this particular case, is completely wrong. The proof of this is that all 3 of the other fishermen continued using 1/8 ounce jigs, and continued catching fish, even while the 4th angler’s heavier jig worked better, for him.

The problem, in this instance was not that he needed to get his lure closer to the bottom. It was that my angler was trying overly hard to keep his jig on the bottom. He was letting out more line every few seconds, so at a certain point on every cast, he was fishing so far out from the boat that his jig did nothing except drag along the bottom. Any jigging or swimming action that he was trying to achieve with the fishing rod was failing to transmit through the line, and in turn to the lure. I agree that most of the time, having a lure close to the bottom is a good idea, But I don't believe that dragging a bait through the mud, except in very rare instances is an attractive presentation for walleyes.

Like I said, I do agree that being near the bottom is a good and when I switched his jig to the heavier model, it allowed him to close, without over-doing it and dragging the sea floor. It allowed him to more easily figure out where he was fishing in the water column and that gave him more confidence about the presentation. As long as he “knew where the bottom was”, he was able to impart a hopping-swimming-dropping action that triggered walleye strikes. For him, and his fishing style, the heavier jig was an improvement. It was my job to figure that out, understanding that my coaching about how to fish the lighter jigs was not sinking in, and realizing that I needed to make a change, specifically suited to his fishing style.

I already wrote this yesterday, but it’s worth saying again, adaptability is the secret to catching fish consistently. We all have our favorite methods and lures for catching fish, and most of the time they work. Recognizing the days when our favorite presentations are not working, and then changing to alternative presentations that do, is what separates the pros, from the rookies. Every day I fish, I get one step closer to being a pro, I can hardly wait until I'm there! fish smiley image — Office Cell Call or Text 218-245-9858 or Email

image links to fishrapper home page June 6, 2024 "Adapting The Adapt-Able"

image of brian shields holding big walleye caught on fishing charter with pro guide Jeff Sundin "We just experienced a weather event”, Brian Shields told me on Wednesday. I knew what he meant, there was a dark cloud that blew across the lake, pushing strong winds and dropping chilly rain into the water. The “event” would be repeated periodically throughout the day and kept us on our toes. While the mini squalls weren’t much fun, they weren’t bad enough to kill the walleye bite. In fact, in the end, it turned out pretty good, but some of us, me included, had our adaptability tested along the way.

When we stopped at our first spot, a mid-lake rock bar topping out at 16 feet of water, Bill Dappen caught a walleye almost instantly. Then I caught one, then somebody else and after a couple of passes, there were 5 good keepers in the livewell. That was a good start, and enough to convince me that another drift was a good idea. The problem was that the next drift was dead, no fish, no bites, nothing.

I’d spotted a friend on the lake and swung past his boat to check in with him. “You guys having some fun”, I asked. He didn’t say anything, he just nodded his head up and down, and gestured with his hands that there were walleyes along a steep, shoreline break. “We have 15 in the livewell”, he said. That sounded good to me, so we pushed forward a block or so, and started searching for some of the walleyes he’d been catching.

We hooked some pike, and a couple of small walleyes, but weren’t catching anything in the keeper size range. But I could still see the guys in my buddy’s boat picking up an occasional fish. Frustrated that I wasn’t figuring out the pattern, I moved back ahead, changed our depth and tried again. Still nothing, and after a while, it was clear to me that whatever he was doing was “his thing”. He knew the program and I didn’t and that’s all there was to it. It was time for me to prove that I could adapt, and figure out my own program, so we moved.

At the next stop, another mid-lake bar that topped out at 14 feet of water, we picked up 2 or 3 more keepers. That gave me a boost because it signaled that fish were active enough to bite. Provided I could keep finding new spots, we’d likely end the day happy. And that’s just how it worked out, spot by spot, we jigged up strikes from active, but scattered fish. For 3 of us, watching the livewell fill up was getting fun.

For the 4th angler in our boat, it was getting frustrating, whatever he was doing wasn’t turning the walleye’s heads and he remained walleye-less. We’d been chatting about possible solutions, and I was trying to offer guidance, but it wasn’t working; it was time for more adaptation. I explained that for every angler, me included, there are certain habits that work just often enough that we become convinced that our way is the best way. Sometimes though, my way doesn’t work and when it won’t, I must change something. Some days I need to keep changing stuff until I figure out whatever today’s best presentation is.

I traded the rod he was using for one that had a jig double the weight of the 1/8-ounce jigs we were all using. The ¼ jig he was using forced him to jig differently, and unlike his previous experience, he began catching fish. It wasn’t long before he’d caught up to the rest of us, not only in terms of the number of fish, but he was catching larger fish too.

Everybody in the boat had a theory about why that happened, and I do too. I’ll bet you have some thoughts of your own too, so tomorrow, I’ll share my theory, and then you can compare that with yours.  

Looking back, I’m disappointed that I spent so much time trying to duplicate, unsuccessfully, my buddy’s fishing pattern. But on the other hand, I’m glad that I remembered my own advice and got the heck out of there to search for my own fish and catch them in my own way.

Being adaptable made all the difference yesterday, and I’m sure it will again, maybe even again today. It reminds us too that no matter how much faith we have in our favorite pattern, there’s likely to be another one that works equally well. All we have to do is be willing to adapt and I am glad that yesterday, we were. fish smiley image — Office Cell Call or Text 218-245-9858 or Email

image links to fishrapper home page June 5, 2024 "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go"

image of Paul Kautza and Dick Williams with big crappies If there was a theme song for day 6, the final day of “Fun with Dick and Paul”, I think it would have to be “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by the group WHAM. At least that seemed to have been what the crappies were thinking on Tuesday.

For me, crappie fishing has been odd this spring, we’ve caught some, and most of them have been quality size. They have defied patterning, and when we’ve caught them, they’ve come from random locations and were travelling solo, or in tiny groups of 2 to 3 fish at the most. There has never been a day that I’ve left any lake feeling like I knew more when I left than I did when we arrived, until yesterday.

The lake, a 600-acre multi-species lake in Cass County is the only one that we repeated on this trip. We went there because on Day 1, we picked up a few nice crappies when we were there. So, after having already filled the walleye limits, and having a respectable number of perch, there wasn’t much besides crappies that the boys were interested in. We reasoned that even if we only caught a few, they’d be nice size and it was likely that we’d get some action from the other fish in the lake too.

When we arrived at the lake, we were amazed by the increase in water temperature since last week. On May 30th, the surface temperature was 60 degrees but yesterday (June 4th) it was 67 degrees in the morning and rose to over 68 degrees by mid-afternoon.

image of grand rapids crappie fishing guide jeff sundin We started fishing using the same presentations that were effective last week. We tied on 1/8 ounce jigs in a variety of colors, tipped them with assorted minnows found in the “river mix” from Fred’s Bait. We first dropped them in the water over a small, isolated rock bar where we caught some crappies last week. This time though, the spot was inhabited by more walleyes than crappies. We caught and released 4 or 5 nice walleyes before catching the first crappie, and there was one more after that, then the action there ended.

Our next stop was a cabbage bed located on a shallow, 6- to 8-foot-deep flat. I asked the boys to trade out the jigs for spinners tipped with fathead minnows and then began trolling through the sparse weeds. At first, our spinners triggered a “pike-fest” and we caught one small northern after another. It appeared that we were trying the spinners too early in the season but I reasoned that we should keep trolling a little while longer.

We moved past the flat, and approached an inside corner in the weedline, as we trolled into the sharper, straighter breakline, WHAM the first crappie struck, and it was a nice one. By the time we got through that stretch of water, we’d picked up 2 or 3 more, and it looked like the spot had some potential. There was a good wind for drifting, so we dropped the spinner rigs and swapped them out for 1/16 ounce jigs tipped with plastics.

As we drifted back through the weed edge, the jigs helped us add 2 or 3 more crappies to the larder, and we could have kept fishing these for a while. But fishing the spinners was less tedious, and would allow us to cover more water, more quickly, so we switched back to that presentation. We kept trolling with the spinners until Dick and Paul had 16, the target number. I saved 2 for my own supper too, and then we moved on to try some other areas, hoping to find a few nice perch.

In other areas of the lake, we experienced a broader number of species. We caught and released a few more nice size walleyes, some more crappies too and of course, lots of small size northern pike. The perch we were looking for did not show up, but the storms from the weather forecast did. So, with nothing left to prove, we ended day 6 of the trip with a photo and a fond farewell.

One takeaway, for me, was that the spinner fishing season had begun. From here on out, I’ll have the Ugly Sticks always rigged and ready for action. Another takeaway was that crappies, at least in this situation preferred the cabbage weeds located along sharper breaklines than they did wider flats. The sharp breakline you see pictured here had cabbage weeds but was also adjacent to a shallow flat that contained bulrushes. It’s possible that those crappies plan to move into the bulrushes to try spawning. It’s also possible that they already tried that, found undesirable conditions and moved back out to the weed edges.

Crappie locations vary a lot from lake to lake, so I don’t want to make it sound like this is the only way to locate and catch them. That said, if your favorite lakes feature structure similar to what I described here, it could be worth your trouble to check this pattern out.

One of my favorite parts of these “Fun with Dick and Paul” trips is the opportunity to try a lot of different things. Over the past 6 days, we fished on 7 different lakes, with yesterday being the only repeated trip to any of them. Obviously, this does help minimize our impact on any given fishery. Beyond that though, it exposes us to a wider variety of species, lake types and scenery. I appreciate every opportunity for learning fresh patterns, new presentations, and how to cope with changing conditions.

If I’ve learned anything from fishing this way, it is that an angler with average ability can visit “new water” with a reasonable expectation of figuring out how to catch some fish. If you’ve followed the reports over the past week, you already know that we probably caught fewer fish than a good number of other anglers fishing in the more popular lakes. But the quality of the fish we caught was excellent, and I for one, think this is a great tradeoff. Don’t be nervous about following your own instincts, often, they will lead you to great fishing experiences! fish smiley image — Office Cell Call or Text 218-245-9858 or Email

image links to Ely Area, Arrowhead Outdoors Ice Fishing Report June 5, 2024

image of young woman holding large smallmouth bass caught near Ely MN "Smallmouth - Depending on the lake, smallies could be wrapping up the spawn (shallow lakes), spawning (average depth lakes), or still waiting for water temps to get to spawning temps (deep water lakes). On shallow water lakes, anglers are throwing topwater baits, wacky worms and Ned rigs. On lakes where the bass are just starting to spawn, Ned rigs have been very popular out there. On deep water lakes where smallies are still looking to spawn, suspending jerk baits have been deadly.

Walleye - After a week of high winds that seemed to completely change directions daily, walleyes are now pretty scattered throughout the lake. Walleyes can now be found on shallow scattered rocks, deep flats, river mouths (again), out around islands and even right off the end of many docks.

Minnows continue to be the best bait for walleyes, but increasingly, reports of leeches and crawlers working are coming in as well. Best walleye reports continue to keep coming from shallow, scattered rocks with waves crashing into them in 2 to 10 feet of water. Here paddle tails, jig/minnow and spinner rigs, tipped with a minnow, have been very effective on these active walleyes. Handful of reports of shiners running have returned from a few area lakes and the walleye fishing has been lights out there. Top colors have been gold, orange/black and pink.

Pike - Northern Pike have remained very active, but average size has dropped, as reported by anglers. For the best shot at a big pike, floating large suckers, under a bobber, in shallow bays or around river mouths. Anglers looking to just catch pike are having luck throwing large topwater baits, spoons and large spinnerbaits along shorelines and river mouths.

Stream Trout - Anglers not interested in getting blown around out on area lakes, went to the small stream trout lakes in search of active trout. Many were not disappointed. Anglers reported good fishing for rainbows on many area stream trout lakes. Small spoons, jig/twister, trout dough and night crawler floated under a bobber, have all been very effective on rainbows." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358

image links to fishrapper home page June 4, 2024 Best Fishing Rods For Trolling Spinners?

Q) On June 4, 2024 Chriss Fosse wrote: "Hi! I had a lot of fishing tackle and rods stolen here in Grand Forks, and wondering if you could recommend a rod for spinning the weeds with bullet/little joe. Mostly crappies and bluegills, occasional eye. Ideas would be appreciated, just like your writing! Thanks either way! Chris Fosse"

A) Chris, if you're planning to devote this fishing rod to use only for trolling spinners, then my hands down #1 suggestion is Shakespeare's Ugly Stick Elite Spinnin Rod. I used to be frustrated by rod-breakage, tip-tops popping out and the like. But all that ended when I started using the Ugly Sticks. One caveat, these rods are sort of one trick ponies, and are virtually un-useable for finesse presentations like jigging or live bait rigs. They're not bad for fishing with slip-floats either, and I have been know to use them for bobber fishing walleyes.

Again though, at about $70, these rods are inexpensive enough to allow me a setup devoted to only a single presenatation. So, if you're planning to only use the rod for spinners, then you cannot go wrong with the Ugly Stick Elite rods. I've watched my customers plow through heavy weeds, hoist in thrashing northern pike over the side of the boat, step on them, drop them ... you get the idea. They are indestructible, allowing you to plow through any cover you might encounter and plenty serviceable for trolling presentations, like spinners.

For me, the very best model to use for the spinners is this one: Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod, Medium Light, 1 piece, 7 foot, SKU: 1324336 MODEL NUMBER: USESP562L

I'm sorry to hear about the theft of your fishing gear, but I hope this suggestion helps get you back on track for the summer fishing season. Good Luck! fish smiley image — Office Cell Call or Text 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image links to fishrapper home page June 3, 2024 "Fun With Dick and Paul MMXXIV Day 4"

image of Paul Kautza holding jumbo perch caught on a fishing trip with pro guide Jeff Sundin Whenever Dick and Paul visit Minnesota, their wives anticipate the boys returning home with some fresh Jumbo Perch. Perch, Dick and Paul say are family favorites in both households. So, after checking the weather forecast and deeming it favorable for mission launch, we set our sights on gathering some Jumbos for day 4 of Dick and Paul’s Spring trip.

When we arrived at the lake, conditions did appear to be favorable, there was a light rain falling, and a light, but steady breeze from the southeast. But conditions changed, turning calm and almost sunny. For me, the last thing I’d hoped for, and for the perch, a good excuse to take a nap. Despite knowing that there were perch on the shallow flat where we started, getting them to strike was tedious. They’d pick up the jig and minnow combinations, mouth them for a moment, and then drop them.

I was already thinking about changing the mission to crappie fishing but decided to try another spot first. There were some more perch at the 2nd stop, hiding in a small patch of emerging northern milfoil. The vegetation was just thick enough to provide better cover for the fish but hadn’t grown tall enough to make fishing too difficult. We tickled the weeds by popping our 1/16-ounce jig and minnow combos vertically, in and up and down motion close to the bottom. We did snag a lot of weeds, but every so often, a perch would grab the jigs aggressively enough to allow good hook sets.

image of Dick Williams holding nice walleye caught on a fishing trip with Pro Guide Jeff Sundin The weed patch provided decent action for a while, but in the calm water, fizzled out sooner than it would have under better conditions. It was time for a move, and after gaining confidence by catching fish here, seemed like a good idea to try some more weedy spots. The next few weedy spots didn’t pan out very well though, and neither did an experiment searching in deeper water. I was thinking again about making a move to panfish, and just then, the wind started blowing, the sky turned darker, and I decided to return to the spot where we first stopped in the morning.

Back on the shallow flat, we first started by getting a few finicky strikes, and as the waves grew larger, the strikes became more aggressive. The average size of perch here were smaller than what we found in the milfoil patch, but we were able to sort through the small ones and get some keepers. There were a few walleyes on the flat too, and they provided both additional action, and a few fish for our dinner at the Gosh Dam Place in Deer River. Thanks to the extended uptick in action at the flat, we were able to stay there right up until dinner time.

In terms of the fishing action, I’d say that the trip was successful, but not exceptional. While we did get some true jumbos, we have done better on larger size perch in the past. Despite applying a slightly relaxed size standard, we still harvested only 30 perch, about 1 out of 3 fish that were actually caught. We had 3 eater walleyes for dinner, and Dick picked up a better one to freeze for the trip home. So, this morning, the boys have a total of 11 walleyes in the freezer, along with the 30 perch from yesterday and 6 crappies from day 1.

image of Grand Rapids fishing guide Jeff Sundin holding large northern pike caught on a Remer MN area lake If you’re following the story of Dick and Paul’s fishing trip, you could be asking, at the end of day 2, you guys only had 6 walleyes saved up, where did the other 5 walleyes come from? Well, yesterday I had another writing assignment, and didn’t have time to report about our trip on day 3.

On Saturday, we fished at another small lake, one that the boys hadn’t seen yet. On that 500-acre lake, we caught a mixed bag of walleye, pike and a few panfish. Weed edges were the key to success there, and virtually all the fish came from cabbage patches in 7 to 10 feet of water. We didn’t catch a ton of fish there, but the ones we did catch, especially the northern pike were high quality in terms of size. Paul picked up a 31-inch pike, the largest of our trip, and we caught several in the 24-to-28-inch range. I harvest one, a 27-inch fish that will be perfect for preparing coconut pike delight, the Hippe Chick’s favorite fish recipe.

The walleyes were nice too, ranging from about 16 inches, up to 20.5 inches, our largest one. We only harvest 7 fish, 3 for dinner at Florio’s, and 4 for the freezer. All of the walleyes, pike for that matter too, were caught on 1/8 ounce live bait jigs tipped with a variety of minnows, but mostly fatheads.

I was hoping to gather some crappies on day 3, but the ones we caught were too small to harvest. We did not fish in shallow water that day and the crappies we did catch were holding along the outer edges of the same cabbage patches where we caught the pike and walleyes. For me, it’s hard to know whether that meant crappies were done spawning already, or that they hadn’t started yet. They tend to stage in cabbage beds on either side of the spawning season, bit before and after.

From here on out, we’ll be focused primarily on perch and panfish, and hoping to pick up one more “keeper size walleye” for the ride home. So, that means I’ll be checking out more cabbage patches and more shallow water perch spots too. I’ll let you know tomorrow, what we drum up along the way. fish smiley image — Office Cell Call or Text 218-245-9858 or Email

image links to bowen lodge on lake winnie Cutfoot Sioux, Lake Winnie Fishing Report June 2, 2024

image links to bowen lodge fishing report from Cutfoot Siouz and Lake Winnibigoshish "Early summer fishing patterns, when compared to most typical seasons, are running a bit behind schedule this year. Water temperatures remain cool, baitfish are moving in and out across the flats into and out of the shallows. Walleyes following their preferred food source, move in and out with them, appearing in a variety of depths, changing locations from one day to the next.

For some, the nomadic behavior causes problems because the moving schools of fish are more difficult to “pattern”. There are some anglers taking advantage of it though, finding small schools of walleye in a wide range of locations, depth ranges and feeding moods.

The best way to describe their method might be “stalk. locate and fish”. What that means is that they move along slowly, watching for fish on side-imaging sonar, locate schools of fish and then stopping to zero in on them. For some folks, advanced “forward facing sonar” is then used to pinpoint fish. Folks without the advanced electronics can still catch fish, they just have to ..." Read Full Report >> Lake Winnie Cutfoot Sioux Fishing Report June 2, 2024

You Are Invited To Become A Duly Deputized Fishrapper Cub Reporter

image links to fishrapper facebook page If you've been waiting for a gold engraved invitation to participate in the daily reports, then stop waiting and consider this your own personal invitation.

Helping your fellow fishermen and women stay abreast of fishing conditions in your area is good for everybody and it's easier than you think! You don't have to write a book, you don't have to share your secret fishing spots and you don't even have to mention your lake. But even a few words about general trends, seasonal patterns and local weather conditions can really help.

Be like me, become a duly deputized "Cub Reporter", it's good for fishing! Contact Us or if you prefer to be "social", Fishing Reports Minnesota, the Facebook counterpart to this page is open to the public, so you can post your own fishing update or just share a photo of a nice catch.

image links to fishrapper home page June 1, 2024 "Fun With Dick and Paul MMXXIV Day 2"

image of Dick Williams with professional walleye guide Jeff Sundin showing off a double catch Day 2 of the 2024 “Fun With Dick and Paul” spring session began as a head scratcher. When they arrived in my driveway, the sky was pure blue, the sun was shining, and the breeze was light. I knew we’d be heading for a lake with stained water, and that it would have to be one that offers better than average size walleyes. After mulling the question over, I found myself driving toward a lake that the boys haven’t seen for about 10 years.

Less than 3,000 acres, the relatively small lake features stained water, lots of shallow flats and a decent weedline. I fished there a little bit last summer and had been impressed by the average size of the walleyes, but not so much the average number of fish we’d catch. Most typical trips yielded 8 to 12 keeper size walleyes and a handful of larger, catch-photo-release fish. We rarely caught many fish in any single spot and that meant making a lot of moves around the shoreline.

That sort of fishing trip might not sound great to you, but think of it this way. If you had a week to work with, and you were mainly interested in fishing for quality size walleyes, then this sort of lake might get your attention; it does mine.

When we arrived, I was disappointed with the water temperature. At 58 degrees, I worried that the water might have been too cold for the fish to be actively feeding. As it turned out, that concern was partially true, the fish were finicky, and tricky to catch. Despite their somewhat lethargic attitude, we did manage to fool enough of them to “make a day of it”. When we left the lake, there were 10 keepers in the livewell, and we’d CPR’d another half dozen or so larger ones. Whenever the walleyes weren’t biting, but many of the lake’s northern pike were, so we were usually busy.

We started the day using 1/8-ounce live bait jigs tipped with golden shiners. There was a lot of moss on the shallow flats though and we wound up switching to 1/16-ounce live bait jigs instead. That helped, but even the lighter weights were getting fouled often. An experiment using bobbers to suspend the lures above the mossy bottom failed. Paul caught a pike or two, but no walleyes on either the shiners, or night crawlers. We did not try leeches because I haven’t bought any so far this season.

Last summer, we caught fair numbers of crappies and sunfish on the lake, yesterday though, we saw none of either. In fact, except for 1 small perch, we caught no other species except the pike and walleyes. I suppose the cool water temperatures are responsible for that, only time will tell.

If you’ve followed any reports about Dick and Paul’s prior fishing trips, then you know that we eat fish almost every night, after our fishing trips. On Thursday, we cooked fish here, in my back yard and yesterday, we took part of our catch over to Florio’s in Cohasset. Over the years, we’ve tried every “bring in your own catch” fish fry that we can find. There is something good to say about all of them, but as ever, Dick, Paul and I agreed again yesterday that the feature item, our fish, are definitely best prepared by the folks at Florio’s. If you’re a big eater, bring an extra fillet or two though, the side dishes, French fries and coleslaw could be a little bit skimpy for you.

image links to video by jeff sundin about how to legally transport live bait in MinnesotaToday looks like another head scratcher for me. The forecast calls for sunshine and relatively calm water. That works against clear water lakes for walleyes, and perch too for that matter. So, with 4 more days to work with, I might skip over the perch family of fish and explore a crappie lake or two. Or I might take the boys fishing for Smallmouth Bass and try to land a trophy. Or I suppose we could take a swing at catching some nice size bluegills someplace nearby.  Hmm, there’s almost too many choices, aren’t there? As always, we'll share the story about whatever we decide to do with you in the next day or two.

Yesterday, I addressed a reader question about how to legally transport live bait in Minnesota. The full article, if you missed it, is available below. Even if you read the original article, you may want to look back over it again because I’ve added some additional information, including a short video. In the video, you’ll see how I have rigged up the bait coolers in both my boat, and in the back of my truck.

To refresh your memory, the article began as an answer to reader question from Gary Dunn who wrote, "We were surprised when the DNR officers ordered us to dump our bait.  When we asked, "We're paying $12 a dozen for shiners and we're supposed to dump them out, even if they have never been in lake water?" The answer was a unqualified, "Dump 'em." As a guide, what is your view on this? Thanks, Gary Dunn, Andover, MN”

A) Gary, I’ve had similar experiences and I agree with you, throwing away $40 to $60 worth of live bait is PAINFUL! I could go into a lengthy dissertation about what “we should be doing”, but that won’t be helpful in terms of ..." Learn More >> June 1, 2024 How Can We Legally Transport Live Bait In Minnesota?

As always, we appreciate your comments and questions. If you have ideas about preserving your live bait, and can share with your fellow anglers, please do! fish smiley image — Office Cell Call or Text 218-245-9858 or Email

image links to wired2fish Wired2Fish 2024 "Spring Jerkbait Fishing Walleyes | Advanced Tactics"

image links to fishing video about using jerkbaits to catch walleyes during spring"Join Wired2fish contributor Scott Walsh as he dives into springtime walleye fishing using jerkbaits. Throughout the year, especially post-spawn, a large population of walleye set up in the shallows to feed on baitfish. Walsh demonstrates how the combination between modern electronics and jerkbaits effectively put walleye in the boat.

Exploring the benefits of advanced fishing technology, Walsh incorporates tools like high definition mapping, MEGA 360 Imaging, and forward-facing sonar to pinpoint the ideal fishing spots and individual fish without wasting time. He shares insights into how these technologies not only assist in locating fish but also in making informed decisions about ..." View Video to Learn More >> Spring Jerkbait Fishing Walleyes | Advanced Tactics