Winnibigoshish July 29 • Crappies & Spinners July 28 • Lake of the Woods July 26 • Lake Winnie July 25 • Grand Rapids Area July 22 • Upper Red Lake July 20 • Lake of the Woods July 20 • Lake Winnie July 19 • Canadian Worm Dirt Update • Follow on Facebook
I’m disappointed by the falling water temperatures. The 72-degree readings I’ve seen over the past few days represents 6 degrees, or more, drop in surface water temperatures since last week. During a typical summer, this would be about the time when temperatures peak, usually somewhere close to 80 degrees, and then begin falling slowly throughout August.
What’s so bad about that, you might be asking?
Well, if you’re like me, it means that the fast action, 7 to 9 species, mixed bag fishing trips may be over sooner than I’d like. Warm water species like sunfish, largemouth, rock bass, and others, bite best when the water is the warmest. When their metabolism races due to warm water temperatures, they’ll typically chase down our spinners and keep fishing poles bent all day long. As water temperatures decline, the mix of fish species shrinks, sunfish disappear first, then largemouth bass and then … you get the idea.
On Wednesday, I had my own firsthand experience fishing during this “post-summer-peak” spinner pattern. Our primary goal, catching crappies wasn’t affected so much, they bit okay. But the lake we fished should have kicked out some bonus sunfish and a few quality size bass, and that did not happen. In fact, fishing with a night crawler on my spinner for most of the morning yielded only 2 or 3 sunfish. During a typical late July fishing trip on the same lake, I’d have caught 2 or 3 dozen sunnies in that same amount of time.
The silver lining is that walleye, perch, pike, and crappies don’t give up on the trolling patterns that easy. They’ll keep striking spinners until water temperatures drop into the low 60s, so if you love trolling, you still have plenty of time. We used the spinners to good effect on Winnie this Tuesday, and we’ll be out there again today, so wait for the Friday report for an update about walleye and pike fishing on Winnibigoshish.
Crappies, like I said, were the main goal of yesterday’s trip and the trolling pattern we used dovetails with a question that came in via text message yesterday.
Q) “I read your report about (fishing) the Little Joe Spinners and would like to know the best method for eliminating line twist on (both) mono and braid. I know that the Little Joes come with a loop tied in them. So how do you rig them, snap swivels, barrel swivels, or??”
A) Steve, for fishing the weeds, I use the larger brass snap swivel you see in the accompanying photo. The larger, sloppier fit of the brass barrel swivel shrugs off tiny pieces of shell, grains of sand and other debris that can clog up the swivel, resulting in twisted line. Ironically, the more precision fit of expensive, ball bearing, and other fancy pants swivels make them less desirable for this purpose. So, save your money and buy the least expensive brass snap swivels you can find.
I know your questions was about swivels, but this is important because it comes up almost every day. The bullet sinkers pictured, L-to-R are 1/16, 1/8, 3/16 and ¼ ounce sizes. We control the depth by of our spinners by changing sinker weight, not by the changing the amount of fishing line we have out. Don’t fall into the trap of letting out lots of line to “find the bottom”. To the fish, the upper edges of the weeds are the bottom, so most often, you’ll catch more fish by fishing higher, not lower. I cast out about 25 feet, set the bail immediately and then let the spinner do its work.
There are more “fine points” of spinning the weeds, but I’m pressed for time this morning and gotta keep moving. We can discuss more nuance about fishing sith spinners later, but for now, this should get you in the ballpark.
Today, back on Winnie, tomorrow, full scale Winnie report. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
" Summer walleye fishing is in full swing at the south end of Lake of the Woods. Boat ramps are available if you bring your own boat. Resort charter boats are available and putting anglers on walleyes for those who want to make life easy.
There are nice pods of eater size walleyes in 10 to 15 feet of water in front of Pine Island, near both the Lighthouse and Morris Point gaps. Deep mud is also holding schools of fish in 28 to 34 feet of water, there are large numbers of walleyes in some of these schools. Reefs in Big Traverse Bay are also holding nice numbers of walleyes. Some anglers report catching jumbo perch, pike and a few crappies in the mix as well.
Both drift fishing using spinners tipped with crawlers and trolling crankbaits have been effective on the open water fish. Both anchoring and jigging or pulling spinners producing good fish on and near the reef structures.
Good summer fishing continues on the Rainy River. Sturgeon anglers catching some nice fish. Anglers can catch and release fish or keep one sturgeon through the summer if a sturgeon tag is purchased. Most reporting that areas located out of the current continue to be good spots this year. Big pike are still active in bays and feeder rivers. Smallies are living around rocks, current breaks, bays and bridges.
Fishing on both sides of the border continues to be excellent at the Northwest Angle. Go to areas such as reefs, neck down areas with moving water and points are holding fish. Good numbers of walleyes also setting up on flats, often spread out but often in good numbers. Muskie anglers catching nice numbers of fish with some good quality fish over 50" in the mix casting shoreline structure.
Both jigging and pulling spinners have been catching a lot of walleyes." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
On July 25, 2022 Stephan Gruenhagen wrote; "I read all your articles and I just wanted to say thanks. Reading about the crawler harness presentation has changed summer fishing for me. That may sound ridiculous but I’m mainly a musky fisherman. Due to water temps the last couple years I can’t do much musky fishing in summer.
I finally tried this crawler harness rig this summer and I’m having great success. I went from struggling to catch a half a dozen walleye a year to getting a couple almost every outing here in the west metro. I never realized mid summer hot water walleye fishing could be so fun. Keep pumping out content. Thanks again."
It’s been mid-summer traditions week here at the field office of “The Early Bird Fishing Guide”. The Fish-A-Roo, held annually at William’s Narrows Resort on Cutfoot Sioux has been going on all week. Squeezed into the open date in the middle of that, Camp Hastings, another annual event featured a smaller, but equally enthusiastic as ever, 3rd and 4th generation crew. Generally, it’s been a week filled with good fishing, good eating and for some, long hours.
Last Sunday, Day 1 of the Fish-A-Roo, almost everybody fished on Upper Red Lake. Fishing was good there, and I wrote a report (Upper Red Lake July 20) about that trip on Monday. So, if you’re interested, check that one out if you hadn’t already.
On day 2 of the event, several of the guides chose to stay on Lake Winnie, a decision that turned out to be really a good one. Most of us chose to fish with our crews their yesterday too, and again, the choice was a good one. I’ll expand on the Winnie report soon, but the one posted by Bowen Lodge on Tuesday, in my opinion, was an accurate depiction of what’s been happening on the big lake. Until time allows a fresh update, that one would be good to review.
Like the Fish-A-Roo, Camp Hastings, my Wednesday charter, is a tradition that dates way back into the 1980s. Dick and Marge Hastings were the first, but soon began adding their kids and grandkids into the mix. Their son Rick Hastings, generation 2, brought daughters Brooke and Kristin, generation 3, on fishing trips when they were little kids. For a while now, I’ve enjoyed fishing with some of Brooke’s kids too, they're generation 4. Owen and Blaine, who would have been Dick and Marge’s great, grandchildren, along with grandchildren Kristin and Brooke fished with me on Wednesday.
Keep the kids busy and catch enough fish to feed 8 people were the only 2 goals. Sounds tricky, but I wasn’t too worried because since I introduced the family to blackened northern pike in the 1990s, we could come home with nothing but northern and they’d all be happy. They’ll eat walleyes and panfish too though, so as usual, spinning the weedline for a mixed bag was the plan.
Pokegama has not been a good choice for catching walleyes lately, most would agree that it has been a tough bite since late June. But that lake has been kicking out some chunky pike and a few panfish. With an overcast sky and brisk wind, I thought maybe we could have some fun there. As the accompany photos reveal, it was a good choice, the kids did most of our best work, boating some very nice fish.
Surface water temperatures had risen considerably since my last trip to Pokegama. Now ranging from 76 to 78 degrees, the warmer water makes the spinner presentation more attractive. Typically, the warmer it gets, the better warm water species like sunfish and bass will hit spinners. The only thing we did all day long was to find every patch of cabbage and troll the edges. Key depths were 10 to 14 feet, 12 to 13 seemed to be the sweet spot.
We learned on Wednesday the warmer water has begun to trigger some better panfish action, but it’s still not wide open by any means. There was only 1 bluegill hungry enough to chase down a spinner and larger bass were conspicuously non-existent, at least where we fished. We did get the pike we wanted, along with some nice crappies, 5 nice walleyes and 3 jumbo perch. But almost all the good fishing occurred before noon, while it was still overcast. At mid-day, it became sunnier and somewhat calmer and as the action got slower, the fish got smaller.
Overall, I was happy enough because we’d already met our goals early in the day. But whenever I see sunshine and calm water in the forecast, I’ll skip over Pokegama as a choice for daytime fishing. That said, the next time there’s good cloud cover and a brisk wind, I think you could have some fun with the spinners and weedline pattern. There are more photos coming, as soon as I get some time.
Today is the wrap-up of the Fish-A-Roo and after that, I get a couple days off. I’ll use some of that time to get a more thorough Winnie report together and I’ll have that posted soon. Right now, though, I am up against the clock and have to run. Enjoy the nice weather this weekend, and if you plan to wet a line, Good Luck! — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Wired2fish’s McKeon Roberts shares his strategy for finding and catching nomadic summer bluegills by focusing efforts around isolated grass and wood cover. He finds productive sweet spots on featureless flats using a combination of sonar and mapping and then combs the areas with a tried and true split shot rig.
Using a bow-mounted trolling motor, Roberts quickly fishes big flats while paying close attention to any subtleties on the electronics. Waypoints dropped on side imaging are a reference when making high-percentage casts to prime cover or known fish.
"Summer walleye fishing remains very good across the south end of Lake of the Woods. Different schools of walleyes keying in on different forage offers anglers numerous opportunities.Water levels are starting to drop and debris that is consistent with high water has flushed through the system. Thankfully, fishing has been great despite a high water year.
A good bite for eater walleyes in 10 to 15 feet of water, just off of Pine Island and other areas along the south shore. Some are using spinners with crawlers to catch these fish but trolling crankbaits to cover water is also producing. Some are still jigging which is still effective despite it being mid July.
Deep mud in 28 to 33 feet of water this time of year holding good numbers of fish. You just have to find what general area they are living in, get your baits in front of them and normally good things happen.Others are leaning on more traditional techniques of spinners with a crawler or trolling crankbaits to catch their fish, which can be especially effective when fish are spread out.
Some of the reefs in Big Traverse Bay are holding nice numbers of walleyes. Bobber fishing or jigging the top of the reefs or pulling spinners on the reef or on the transition where the rock meets the mud producing good fish.
In addition to walleyes, saugers, jumbo perch pike, smallmouth bass and even an occasional muskie, crappie or sturgeon are being caught on the basin.
Some good summer fishing continues on the Rainy River this summer. Areas out of the current have been the go to spots this year. A nice mixed bag in the river includes walleyes, saugers, smallmouth bass, and pike. Good numbers of shiners in the river.
Sturgeon anglers showing off some big fish being caught. Anglers can catch and release fish or keep one sturgeon through the summer if a sturgeon tag is purchased.
Big pike are still prowling backwater bays and feeder rivers. Smallies are living around rocks, current breaks, bays and bridges.
Up at the NW Angle, fishing on both sides of the border has been excellent. Jigging and pulling spinners are the two techniques most anglers are using to catch their walleyes.
As water temps warm, some fish utilizing structure (underwater points, sunken islands, etc.) while some fish are gravitating to mud flats. Jig where tighter concentrations of fish, pull spinners when fish are more spread out. Muskie anglers catching and releasing good number with some 50 inch plus fish in the mix." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"Pro fisherman Korey Sprengel teaches us how to troll soft plastics using slow-turn hooks and bottom bouncers to contact active walleyes and appeal to their innate curiosity through the sense of smell and vision.
New-age plastics such as Berkley Gulp! are chemically engineered, and laboratory tested to appeal to a walleye’s sense of smell — this, coupled with the seductive spinning action of a worm on a slow-turn hook, has proven a potent olfactory and visual combo.
While the system may seem complex, the setup consists of a weight, leader, hook, and plastic. There are, however, several things to keep in mind. First off, select a bottom bouncer weight that maintains a 45-degree line angle when trolling. Next, use a longer rod with a moderate action to provide walleyes time to ..." View Video and Learn More >> How to Troll Soft Plastic Worms for Walleyes
"On July 14, 2022 Perry Linkmeiter wrote;
"Q) Jeff, I’ve followed your articles about trolling spinners for the “mixed bag” of fish and noticed that you refer to Little Joe spinners a lot. In your opinion, are these the only ones that work, or are there others that will catch just as many fish? Follow up, what are your personal favorite colors? Thanks in advance, Perry
A) Perry, certainly there are other spinners that will do the trick, in fact, some of the guides in my region catch plenty of fish using their own hand made spinners. In a pinch, I tie some of my own too, but I never seem to have the time to lay in supplies large enough to keep up with demand, so for simplicity, I just buy them.
Before I say more, I must admit that I have monomania when it comes to spinner presentations. The fishing situations I encounter most, call for spinners that will run well through weeds, sometimes heavy weeds. Crawler harnesses and multiple hook rigs don’t do well in these circumstances. Compare the Little Joe Red Devil Spinners I buy, to the handmade versions that most guides in my region tie and you’ll see they’re very similar. They feature a single 2/0 Aberdeen hook, a few beads, a simple folded clevis, and a #3 willow leaf blade. The single hook is important, the extra length allows "threading" on a minnow in the mouth, out the gill and then back up though it mid-section. This method hides most of the hook inside the body of the minnow and affords anglers an almost weedless presentation.
I use the aberdeen hooks for night crawlers too, by threading the crawler up and over the knot, then pinching off an inch or two at the tail. The crawler appears to be long, but the business end of the hook is placed close to the fish’s mouths, aiding in effective hook sets. Admittedly, small perch and sunfish can cause trouble with worms, they’ll frequently pick at the tails, resulting in numerous bait changes. When that happens, I sometimes substitute small leeches, they cost more, but help cut down on the impact of tiny fish strikes.
Spinner color is subjective, but Little Joe offers most of the colors that I really like. Hammered gold is a mainstay, the #1 item for most of the guides I know. I was happier when Little Joe used shinier, hammered brass blades instead of the gold painted ones they use now, but the new version still catches fish. Next up in the Little Joe line-up is their “perch” color this is my #2 color preference. Then, in my opinion, chartreuse-gold, pink-gold and blue-chrome round out the top 5 colors. If I could have anything I wanted, it would be a nice, bright hammered copper blade as well, that would be an awesome color, I think.
As it happens, Ray Shouse and 2 of his kids, 10-year-old Josephine and 14-year-old Logan have been doing their own field testing of the Little Joes with me over the past 2 days. So far, they’ve caught perch, pike, smallmouth, largemouth, walleye, crappie, sunfish, and rock bass. That’s 8 species of fish so far, and we still have another day to fish, so we might add a couple more before we’re done. That’s what I love about the presentation, it helps keep folks busy, making it the perfect approach for family fishing trips.
I could add extra churn in my life by experimenting with others, you can too if you want to. But I remember using Little Joes that came out of my grandpa’s tackle box 50 years ago and we caught fish on them. They’re still around today because they work, folks just keep on buying whatever produces fish the best and these have stood up to the test of time. Besides, they’re affordable and available, almost ever bait store in my region stocks them; I like that. — Office Cell Call or Text 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Have you ever fished on Bowstring Lake and spotted a location on your map called “Goettl (GET-ELL) Bar”? Well, this photo of Phil Goettl (right), accompanied by his stepsons Josh and James reminds me to remind you how that spot got its name.
Sometime in the early 1990s, I was fishing on Bowstring with Phil Goettl, his brother Erik and one of their pals, Albert. There was a yellow jug floating over the top of that bar and these boys said “hey, let’s go fish over there by that yellow jug.” Naturally, I resisted, what big time pro fishing guide ever wants to fish by somebody else’s yellow jug? The crew kept haranguing me though and eventually I succumbed to the pressure and motored over to the spot for a perusal. Yes, you can see this one coming, the bar was loaded with walleyes, and we caught some of them; the bar was then named in their honor.
Not long after that, a mapping company called Fishing Hot Spots asked for help marking up a map of the lake. Spots marked on my GPS, sometimes named for interesting events, people or memorable fishing experiences, were used to help you identify with your fellow anglers which places on the lake, your fishing memories have been created. So, the next time you fish on Goettl (GET-ELL) Bar, think of Phil, Erik and their pal Albert. Not involved with this story, Ed Goettl, their dad has been on a lot of fishing adventures too, the Googler reveals images of several fishing trips with them. Without these boys, the name of that bar might have something less way less interesting, “Yellow Jug Hump”, maybe?
On Tuesday, Phil, along with James and Josh were signed up to try the “mixed bag bite”. In Phil’s words, “something nice and relaxing.” Trolling the weed edges using Little Joe Spinners tipped with minnows worked out well for us. In fact, it was almost perfect except that the mix was missing sunfish and bass. Walleye, perch, pike, rock bass and crappie all made it onto the list, there was one small bass, but zero sunfish.
For us, the lack of sunfish didn’t pose any particular problem because the other fish kept us busy. But Phil is like me when it comes to sunfish, a big fan, so we would have loved to catch some of them along the way. I can’t say why exactly that they were not on the weedline, but my guess is that because of high, cool water, they got a late start spawning and are still lingering in shallow, spawning or post-spawning locations. The surface temperature could explain part of it, at 73 degrees, sunfish metabolism might not be racing fast enough to inspire chasing down the fast-moving spinners. They might have been in the area, but we might simply have trolled past them at a pace too fast for their current situation.
The precise depths that you fish will vary with the water clarity and plant life that you encounter at your favorite lake. For us, the deepest weeds were found in about 13 feet of water, the shallowest in about 6 feet, where there was a hard, inside edge to the weedline. In this situation, rigging a 3/16 bullet sinker was perfect for the weed tops and inside edges at a 1.1 MPH trolling speed. At times, we fished the outer edges of the weeds at 12 to 14 feet and when we did, I added a #5 split shot sinker between the swivel and bullet sinker to take the spinners deeper.
If your lake has a deeper weed edge, use heavier bullet sinkers, if the weeds are shallower, use light weights. Sinkers as small as 1/16 ounce can be used to prevent your spinner from plowing the bottom or getting snarled in weed growth. Carry these 4 weights, 1/16, 1/8, 3/16 and 1/4 ounce to cover 90% of the situations you’ll encounter.
When you try the mixed bag trolling pattern yourself, it will seem at first that weeds are weeds, but they’re not. Use your eyes to watch the types of plants that you’re trolling through and compare your visual sightings to the images you see on your electronics. The more you practice, the more you’ll realize that at a given time, certain species of fish are selecting certain varieties of weeds.
Yesterday, crappies were in wild celery, pike were in cabbage and perch were in the eelgrass. Walleyes were near the weeds, but not in them, they were holding over patches of gravel and light rock and using both the inside and outside edges or the vegetation. Again, keeping your eyes open and comparing the images seen on your graph to your own visuals will help solidify your knowledge about the patterns on your individual lake.
The results of trolling the Little Joes were solid yesterday and so today, I’m really excited. I’ve got 3 days of fishing with a father and 2 kids, and if the trolling patterns work on some of the other lakes I have in mind, it should be a fun time for everybody!
The report form the Pines Resort on Lake Winnie yesterday was accurate, so if you didn’t read it, you should. Yesterday, I learned from a friend that there’s a weedline bite developing there too. I don’t have permission to share the details, but if you’re creative, you’ll be able to locate some weed patches of your own on Winnie. When you do, give the spinners a try there too, the timing might be getting good. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Walleye fishing continues to be good to excellent for many anglers this last week. Anglers continue to find walleyes in 10 feet of water or less, in weedbeds. Slip bobber a leech has been very effective for many, while others are pulling live bait rigs, tipped with a leech or crawler, on weedlines. A few anglers are also starting to report a good bite out on sunken islands now too. Out here it has been more lindy rigging and jigging raps.
Smallmouth Bass: Topwater bite continues to go hot and heavy, right now. Whopper ploppers continue to be very hot! Soft plastics worms and Ned rigs have also been very effective on smallies. Large boulder flats, rocky points and downed trees are the area you will want to fish, if your looking for smallies.
Crappies continue to found located next to downed trees and weedbeds. Evenings or low light periods have been the best time for catching crappies. Beetle spins, jig/twisters and crappie minnows under a bobber have all been very effective on crappies.
Stream trout: Rainbows have been very active on area stream trout lakes. Anglers are seeing rainbows down at about 20 feet right now. They have been trolling cowbells, tipped with a small, bright colored minnow bait. Fishing a crawler 10 to 15 feet under a bobber has also been very effective.
Lake trout Anglers have continued to catch lakers trolling deep diving crankbaits or leadcoring stick baits about 20-30 feet down over deep water. Key colors have been solid white or bloodnose colored crankbaits. Anglers fishing from a canoe have been having luck jigging heavy pimples and bucktails over 50-100 feet of water.
Northern Pike anglers are starting to catch a few pike again. Anglers have been trolling heavy spoons, spinnerbaits and big minnow baits around weedbeds and river mouths. Fishing sucker minnows, under a bobber and off your docks has also been effective as of late." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
"It's been an excellent week on the south side of Lake of the Woods. Resorts are open for business, fishing has been great and guests are catching walleyes.
The MN Tournament Trail was on LOW this week and the winning teams each day had walleyes averaging 8 lbs per walleye for their 5 fish total. Day one winning weight was 39.75 lbs and day two was 41.00 lbs for this catch and release tournament.
Good numbers of walleyes being caught. A nice bite for eaters in 10 to 15 feet just off of Pine Island and other areas on the south shore. Most are pulling spinners with crawlers to catch these fish. Another good bite taking place in deeper water over mud in that 28 to 31 feet of water in the mid-lake basin. Jigging with a fathead or frozen emerald shiner and pulling spinners with a crawler have been the "go-to" methods.
Walleye fishing has been good on many of the scattered reefs in Big Traverse Bay. Some days they are on top, other days on the edge or just off the edge over mud.
Trolling crankbaits and covering water continues to be effective. Shiny gold, firetiger and purple continue to be good colors.
Walleye anglers reporting a mixed bag including saugers, jumbo perch pike, smallmouth bass and even an occasional muskie, crappie or sturgeon.
On the Rainy River, anglers report good summer fishing for a mixed bag that includes walleyes, saugers, smallmouth bass, and pike. Finding most of the fish located on current breaks and bays as a rule, but there are still some big pike prowling the back bays and feeder rivers. Smallmouth bass are living around rocks and bridges. Some report that there are lots of shiners in the river, which is drawing and keeping fish close.
Sturgeon anglers reporting some good action as the season opened July 1, 2022. Using a sturgeon rig loaded up with crawlers or crawlers and frozen emerald shiners combined with a no roll sinker is the go to technique.
Up at the North West Angle, fishing has been excellent too. Anglers continue to fish both the U.S. side and Ontario side of the lake with good success.
Anglers are catching fish jigging, pulling spinners and trolling crankbaits. A lot has to do with the structure you are fishing and if fish are congregated or spread out. Jigging is most conducive when fish are congregated.
Anglers fishing rocks are still reporting crayfish in the bellies of walleyes. Walleyes are normally active in these areas. Anglers fishing deep reefs and edges of reefs are still having success with gold, pink or glow jigs tipped with a minnow or plastic. A mixed bag for most anglers with walleyes, saugers, pike, smallmouth bass, crappies, jumbo perch and muskies. Muskie anglers reported another strong week of fishing with a lot of fish caught and released with pike mixed in." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"The strong bite continues! Our guides have primarily been targeting sand bars and flats around the northern islands. There has not been much change in tactic since last week. Drifting/trolling with spinners has been taking most of our fish. Similar to last week the majority of our fishing has been taking place in 12-18ft of water.
A gold spinner tipped with a crawler has been the hot ticket! Crawlers tended to take more fish but leeches seemed to catch some of the bigger ones. With high water and a cold spring some of the typical fishing patterns seem to be several weeks delayed. However, coolers filled with nice walleye continue to hit our dock on a daily basis.
We have a chance of rain to start the coming week followed by sunny days with highs in the low 80's." — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
Water levels remain high in north central Minnesota’s Itasca Region. Surface temperatures are still cooler than usual, but warming, 68 degrees on the low end, and 73 degrees at the warmest lakes I’ve visited recently. Algae blooms, thanks to a recent string of sunny days, are increasingly, but still significantly behind schedule too.
Insect hatches, including the large mayflies, have either already occurred, or are occurring now on most area lakes. The bug hatches range in intensity, some folks report seeing very heavy hatches, especially overnight mayfly hatches. On lakes I’ve fished, like Winnie, Round, Bowstring, Big Sandy, and others, I’d call the hatches moderate, but heavy enough to attract fish out onto soft bottom flats to feed on the larvae.
If you take high, cool water, combine that with increased water clarity, add insect hatches to the menu and throw in some stormy weather for good measure, you’ve got the formula for “Fickly Fish Syndrome”; A condition that often occurs when fish have more food than they need and non-typical and unstable weather patterns throw them off predictable, routine feeding patterns.
One way to know for sure if the fish in your lake have “Fickly Fish Syndrome” is to compare notes with your fellow anglers. One common indicator is when your buddy tells you that he caught 25 walleyes on Friday, but for you, the walleye fishing sucks on that same lake on Saturday. Another common signal is when you meet folks coming back to the boat landing to go home, at the same time you’re launching your boat to begin fishing. “Yeah, they were really biting this morning, we already got our limit.” They might tell you, but when you get out there, nothing happens, and you go home believing that your pals were B.S.ing you. In either case, your fishing friends probably did not lie to you. The fishing, for them probably was good, on those occasions, they just had better timing than you did.
To my knowledge, humans don’t catch it, but nobody is immune from suffering the impact of “Fickly Fish Syndrome”, especially not me. This explains why my past week has been one of ups and downs. Susan and I had a great morning catching “keeper walleyes” a week ago, but on Thursday, the same lake produced only 1 walleye for my crew. Bowstring Lake was great for a friend on Friday, but on Saturday, the only way to catch a walleye was to grind away, sometimes waiting hours between bites. Pokegama, Winnie, Leech, Cass Lake … all the same story, you can catch fish, but you just must be on the lake at the time when fish are “on the bite”.
If you’re bound and determined to catch walleyes right now, then my best advice is to either start super early in the morning or wait until evening to begin your trip. Fishing during the crepuscular periods will give you an advantage. For me, the early morning workaround is all I’ve got, especially when folks are staying on and want to learn about one lake. This week, I got into the habit of starting earlier in the mornings and that has helped a little bit, but still, the window of opportunity is short, and any time after about 10:00 in the morning, fishing has still been a grind.
My early morning departures have also prompted a surge of emails from readers wondering if I’m okay and wondering why they haven’t seen many fresh reports recently. Don’t worry folks, I’m okay, just trying to stay ahead of the game as much as I can.
For folks who just want some action, I can offer better advice. Skip the hardcore walleye fishing trip and focus on the fish that are biting. Bass, especially smallmouth like the one pictured at right are on the move. Northern Pike are active too, and so are crappies. Tolling the weed patches with spinners will produce those, along with other mixed bags of rock bass, largemouth and perch. We’ve noticed that sunfish are not too active on the deeper weeds. I think this is because of the cooler than average water temperatures. I’d suggest looking for them shallower, in bulrushes, or patches of mixed cabbage and other weeds.
Today, I’m in for another “walleye or die” fishing trip on Winnie, we’ll soon learn how that works out. Starting tomorrow though, I’ll get the chance to test my own theory and try the mixed bag approach. Family fishing trips scheduled every day this week will offer the opportunity for broader exploration of lakes, along with more experimentation with presentations. So, stay tuned, I’ll let you know how it goes. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Walleye fishing was surprisingly good, considering may flies continue to hatch on many area lakes. Best fishing seems to be shallow, in 10 feet of water or less. Shallow flats with scattered weeds, wind blown shorelines and areas around current, has been the best areas to fish. Live bait rigs like spinner rigs and lindy rigs tipped with a crawler or leech has been the way to go. Reports of people catching walleye right off their docks with a slip bobber and leech continue to come in.
Topwater fishing for both smallmouth and largemouth bass fishing has been excellent this last week. Whopper ploppers and pop-r’s have been outstanding. Anglers should target shorelines with down trees, points or large shallow flats. Smallies love boulders on these flats and largemouth love weeds and lily pads. Soft plastics like senko’s, fished wacky has also been extremely effective.
Crappie and sunfish fishing was excellent with crappies working weedlines during the evening hours and sunfish just starting to get off their beds. Crappies have been hitting beetle spins, jig/twister or a simple minnow under a bobber. Sunnies are found in weedbeds and around down trees. Here small jigs tipped with wax worms or angleworms has been very hard to beat.
Lake trout, Finally water temps have begun to concentrate lakers and good lake trout reports are finally coming in, from area lakes. Angler have been catching lakers trolling shallow diving minnow baits, behind 5 colors of leadcore, over deep water. Best colors has been solid white or blood nose. Anglers fishing from a canoe has been catching trout jigging heavy spoon or bucktails over deep water.
Stream trout, Rainbows have been active this last week. Anglers have been catching them trolling small rapalas or small Salmo hornets, over deep water. Anglers fishing from shore have been having luck catching trout floating crawler off the bottom or casting small spoons." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
"Resorts and lodging facilities are doing a nice job adapting to high water conditions on the south end of Lake of the Woods. They are open for business, fishing has been great and they are taking good care of visitors.
There are good numbers of walleyes being caught and in a variety of locations. Anglers are finding some fish at 10 to 15 feet deep over mixed sand and rubble. Other anglers are finding walleyes in deeper water, 25 to 31 feet over mud.
Pulling spinners with a crawler or minnow has been the goto method for catching them. Walleyes almost always seem to be using the scattered reefs in the lake. Some days they are on top, other days on the edge or just off the edge over mud. But when you find fish congregated, that can be also be a good time to anchor up and jig them with a frozen shiner.
Trolling crankbaits and covering water continues to be effective. Shiny gold, firetiger and purple are a few goto colors. The key, getting lures to where the fish are.
In addition to walleyes and saugers, jumbo perch pike, smallmouth bass and even an occasional muskie, crappie or sturgeon are being caught.
The Rainy River is still high and there is a lot of current. Anglers fishing the river are figuring out where fish are living and keying in on current breaks and bays as a rule.
A nice mixed bag in the river right now includes walleyes, saugers, smallmouth bass, and pike. A good number of shiners in the river as well, which usually means lots of fish.
The sturgeon "keep" season opened on July 1, 2022 and goes through September 30, 2022. Purchase a $5 sturgeon tag if you are planning on harvesting one. Otherwise, you can catch and release them with a MN Fishing License. Limit is one sturgeon per calendar year per person, 45" - 50" inclusive or over 75".
Some big pike being caught in bays and feeder rivers. Smallmouth bass around rocks and bridges.
Fishing continues to be very good up at the Northwest Angle. Anglers are fishing both the U.S. side and Ontario side of the lake with good success.
A mayfly hatch this week. Lots of fish over mud feeding on mayfly nymphs. Pulling spinners with a piece of crawler during a hatch is a proven technique. Hammered gold and pink spinners have been good.
Anglers fishing rocks are reporting crayfish in the bellies of walleyes. Walleyes are normally active in these areas. Lots of forage in the lake, thankfully, as that is the infrastructure that supports lots of fish.
Anglers fishing deep reefs and edges of reefs are still having success with a jig and minnow or plastic. If fish are spread out, use a 2 ounce bottom bouncer and crawler harness (snelled spinner) to cover water.
A mixed bag for most anglers with walleyes, saugers, pike, smallmouth bass, crappies, jumbo perch and muskies.
Muskie anglers reported good numbers of fish caught this week. If you are staying in the Angle and boat into Ontario waters from MN, as long as you don't touch land, anchor, touch a dock while in Ontario, you don't need to clear customs each day, don't need to be vaccinated, etc. If you do touch land in Ontario, you do need to clear customs daily before entering Ontario waters through the 888-CAN_PASS." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"Our guides have been targeting areas on the North side of the lake. Flats and sand bars continued to produce fish this week with the majority of our fishing taking place in 12-18ft of water. Deeper mud areas are also producing fish as water temps warm and bug hatches begin.
Drifting spinners tipped with crawlers or leeches has been the choice tactic. A hammered gold spinner is hard to beat! Other good color options include Firetiger, gold/red and white/red. The bite remained hot this week with lots of limits being brought back to our docks and many slot fish being released.
The forecast for the upcoming week looks great! We expect most days to have highs in the mid to upper 70s. With another week of stable weather forecasted we expect the exceptional fishing to continue!" — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
"Turbulent weather has kept fishing guests “on their toes”, particularly ones who love spending most of their time on the big lake. The pattern, if you want to call it that, has been to squeeze in a few hours of quality fishing time whenever the weather presents an opportunity.
Walleyes, still receiving the lion’s share of attention, are turning up in a wider variety of locations. There are still decent numbers of fish on mid-depth flats near Third River, Tamarack Bay and at the west side of Winnie. Key depths range from 10 to 14 feet on the flats where you’ll find scattered pods of walleyes feeding.
Mid-lake bars and humps are generating some attention mow too. Experienced anglers recognize walleye migrations following typical seasonal trends, starting on bars that connect directly to the shoreline, and then fanning out to ..." Read >> Bowen Lodge Lake Winnie Report July 1, 2022