"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
Lake Winnie July 1 • Upper Red Lake June 29 • Ely Area June 29 • Lake of the Woods June 29 • Pokegama Lake June 28 • Grand Rapids June 24 • Ely Area June 22 • Canadian Worm Dirt Update • Lake of the Woods June 21 • Longville June 20 • Cabbage Patch Crappies June 17 • Lindy Rig Walleye June 16 • Lake Winnie June 15 • Follow on Facebook
"Walleye anglers had mixed results this last week as mayflies begun hatching on many area lakes. While the hatch hasn’t been heavy yet, it has been enough to slow the bite. Anglers continue to find walleyes both in shallow water, 6-9 feet with slip bobbers and a leech or out on sunken islands in 15-25 feet of water, pulling lindy rigs tipped with a crawler.
Smallmouth fishing has been outstanding for just about everyone targeting them this last week. Smallies have been crushing topwater lures like whopper ploppers, torpedoes and pop-r’s. Soft plastics are also worth noting. Wacky rigging and Ned rigging have been outstanding!
Stream Trout - Rainbow trout and brown trout have been active this last week. Anglers have been catching both on crawlers floated off the bottom or fished 10-15 feet under a bobber. With the mayfly hatch going on, dry flies in the evening has also been very effective on rainbows in particular." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
"Resorts are adapting to high water conditions on the south end of Lake of the Woods. Despite lots of water, the vast majority of resorts are open, charter boats are running, and summer fishing is in full swing. Most boat ramps are open too, including Wheeler's Point and others. Call ahead to your favorite resort for specific information.
Lots of walleyes being caught in many different locations. Some fish are in 4 to 15 feet on sand capitalizing on shiner and minnow spawning. Others are on shallow rocks eating crayfish. Others are deeper, 25 to 33 feet, feeding on schools of minnows and various critters coming out of the mud.
Some anglers are still jigging, but drifting with spinners with a crawler or minnow has been super effective this week. Both methods are working. Gold, glow, and pink have been good colors this week for jigs and spinners.
Trolling crankbaits and covering water has been very effective this past week. Shiny gold and purple are a couple of good colors. In addition to walleyes and saugers, pike, smallmouth bass and even an occasional muskie are being caught.
Anglers are allowed a combined limit of 6 walleyes and saugers on the MN side of LOW. Up to 4 can be walleyes. All walleyes between 19.5 thru 28.0 inches must be released. One allowed over 28 inches (total per person, in posession)
On the Rainy River, the river still has a lot of current. Anglers keying in on current breaks as a rule. A mixed bag in the river right now includes walleyes, saugers, smallmouth bass, and pike. Sturgeon season reopens on July 1, 2022.
Current breaks off of the main channel for walleyes and saugers. Smallmouth bass near rocky areas, feeder streams and bridge embankments. Bays have been good for pike. Lots of big pike and even good walleye reports in bays and feeder rivers to the Rainy River. Lots of shiners in the river.
Up at the NW Angle, ishing continues to be very good up at the Angle. Anglers are fishing both the U.S. side and Ontario side of the lake with good success.
Flag Island flats and areas around Garden Island were just a couple of areas good this week. Lots of walleyes with some mixed in pike. Fish being caught jigging, pulling spinners and trolling crankbaits.
A jig and minnow and pulling crawler harnesses have been good fishing deeper structure as well. Neck down areas, rocky points and cabbage weeds all holding fish. There are typically some fish shallow near shore morning and evening with good numbers being caught.
A mixed bag for most anglers with walleyes, saugers, pike, smallmouth bass, crappies and jumbo perch. Excellent muskie fishing with numbers of fish being caught." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"Our guides have been targeting sand bars and flats and experiencing great success.
They have mainly moved to trolling spinners now with the hot item being gold spinners tipped with leeches. Other choice colors include white/red, gold/red, and orange. Coolers filled with eaters have been returning to our dock on a daily basis with many slot and trophy fish being caught and released as well. As long as the wind allows it our guides have been targeting areas in Little Traverse Bay.
The forecast is looking great for the week ahead! We expect stable conditions with many clear days and highs in the lower 70s. This means the action should stay hot!
Have the lodge cook your catch! We offer several choices when preparing your catch of the day including; Original, Cajun, Garlic Butter and Black and Bleu." — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
Referring to my inability to provide 13-year-old Maxx Brown with his first ever walleye on our Pokegama Lake fishing trip on Monday, the Hippie Chick asked, isn’t a little early in the season to be struggling with that? Do you think it has anything to do with the walleye limits?
Last year on this date, water temperatures were warm, ranging between 73 and 78 degrees depending on the day. Yesterday, 67 degrees was the warmest reading I could find anywhere on the lake.
Last year, stability was the normal weather pattern, day after day of calm, sunshine resulted in rich blooms of algae. This year, turbulence is the normal weather pattern, no 2 days are alike. Windy, calm, stormy, hot, cold and everything between, all in random order.
Last year, water levels were low, creating a condensing affect. More fish crammed into a smaller area that made catching them somewhat easier. This year, water levels are high, creating a scattering affect. Baitfish spread out across a larger area; predators are forced to roam more to feed, making it more difficult for anglers to encounter them.
Then there are the daily influences that come into play, in this instance, fishing for walleyes in the aftermath of the annual GRAHA tournament.
After a week of intense pressure by 200 of the regions most talented anglers, walleye fishing on Pokegama is never easy. The number of fish caught during pre-fishing, combined with the heightened catch rate during the tournament has a way of subduing walleyes desires to feed aggressively.
The effects may be even more noticeable than usual this year because fishing conditions were ideal last Saturday, tournament day. You might be thinking that because there were more teams catching more fish than usual, the Hippie Chick’s last question must be validated; maybe it does have something to do with the walleye limits? But let’s think about that.
The tournament is totally catch, photo and release event. So conceivably, there are zero fish harvested. So, if there’s no harvest, then it’s hard to point at the walleye limit having any impact on fishing. And in this instance, even if harvesting fish was allowed, most tournament teams would struggle to return to the dock with more than 2 fish anyway. That’s because most walleyes caught during the event are over 20 inches, only one of which is allowed per angler, statewide.
Yesterday’s struggle had more to do with walleyes just being in a bad mood. The lake was mostly flat, the sun was shining and that’s never an easy combination on Pokegama. If you factor in many fish that turned negative because of heavy pressure, I’d accept that, but it certainly because the fish were gone.
The day was not a disaster, there were fish to catch, just not walleyes. Luckily, we caught some nice smallmouth bass and quite a few northern pike to keep young Maxx busy. He even caught the first Musky that I’ve seen in the lake since the stocking of them began. Small, but very pretty, the fish put up a tussle of the wiggle worming rod. It will eventually grow larger and produce more thrills, maybe for one of you?
We fished using 3 presentations; wiggle worming, spinning and Lindy Rigging with large minnows. We caught fish using all 3 presentations, but wiggle worming was the best. We used 1/8 ounce Lindy Live Bait Jigs, tipped with whole night crawlers and fished 12 to 20 feet deep, along the weed edges and breaklines just outside the weeds. Spinners fished in the same areas were "okay", but I felt that water temperatures need to rise a little bit before the presentation hits full stride.
While we’re talking about Pokegama, there was a timely email from reader, Cody Hughes this morning.
“Avid reader of your fishing reports. My father and I have been making a yearly trek to your area from Kansas. Love the area, love the fishing opportunities.
I have certainly grown to be a more conscious fisherman, especially after reading your semi-regular pleas to selectively harvest sunfish. I was extremely disheartened to hear your recent tale of the group with an unbeknownst to them, illegal limit of large sunfish. Obviously, the reduced limit of some of the area lakes isn't reaching everyone, and I Applaud your efforts in educating us readers. That said, is it time for the DNR to take a more drastic approach? Perhaps prohibit sunfish harvest until after the spawn (based on an average I'd assume). Or perhaps stage the harvest time, starting sooner south where the spawn will be over well ahead of the northern territories?”
A) Cody, the subject of protecting spawning territory has come up before. In fact, Bass Lake, near Cohasset already has some areas posted as off-limits during the “spawning season”, but I’m not sure how effective the strategy is. The problem is that sunfish spawn throughout a wide timeframe. They may move into the shallows to begin the process but move back out when poor weather disrupts the operation. When weather stabilizes, they’ll move back in and back out numerous times until they’re finally successful. So, knowing when, and for how long to protect spawning areas could be a real challenge.
Beyond that, anglers are already swamped with regulations. I consult the regulations book almost every single day to be sure that I’m doing the right things at the right times. Education is where it’s at in my book and as you pointed out, I do my best to spread the word about “best practices” as accurately and non-judgmentally as possible. In the instance you citied, I had a nice, calm talk with the “offenders” and I don’t believe that they’ll make the same mistake again. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
You’ll see the word “spotty” used occasionally to describe fishing on a given lake or geographic region. It is often taken to mean the fish are biting, but you must know where to look. From time-to-time, “spotty” could mean that someone in a particular seat or location on a boat is catching more fish than the others. Over the past 2 days, for me, it has meant both.
On the smaller lakes that I’ve been fishing, fish bite, but no matter how many good spots I check, they almost always come in singles or doubles. It’s been rare to find anything that reminds me of “a school” of fish. So, I’ve had to move a lot, checking spot-after-spot to keep the flow of fish going. That’s the first kind of spotty.
The second variety of spottiness is that when I do find a fish and it does bite, there’s been an above average chance that they will choose Brice Demuth’s lure. You could say it’s because Brice knows something that the rest of the crew doesn’t. Or you might speculate that as a guide, I’m somehow able to put the 4th grader over more fish to keep his interest piqued. Or the term “lucky” can be considered, Brice just throws his lure in the water and the fish swim over and strike it; that’s what Harv, his dad thinks it is.
There’s another version of spotty too. When most of the lakes in a region are not producing much action, but there are 1 or 2 providing good fishing. For example, the lakes I’ve been fishing, Boy, Round, Ball Club, Swan ... and others, are all good choices and like I said, there are fish biting; just don’t count on any “hot bite”.
Winnie on the other hand has been productive, so has Upper Red Lake. Folks fishing on either of them are reporting good catches of walleyes. But even on those 2 mega walleye factories, spottiness is a consideration. You can’t just plop down anywhere and catch fish, but when you do locate the right “spot”, you’ll catch a lot.
On Winnie, insect hatches have drawn fish onto the flats, and mid-lake oriented breaklines. Key water depths vary by location, 12 to 14 feet is a magic number on the flats. Bars and shoreline related humps are holding fish too and they are deeper; 18 to 24 feet on average. There are still lots of anglers catching fish using jigs and minnows. Lindy Rigs and slip floats are the next 2 most important presentations.
On Upper Red, fish are still located along the shoreline, key water depths are 4 to 8 feet. Of the people I’ve talked with, spinners tipped with fatheads has been the preferred presentation. But there are a few guys trolling crankbaits and a couple more casting jigs dressed with soft plastics. “Spottiness”, today’s theme, is a factor on Upper Red as well. Certain areas a producing high number of small, 11-to-13-inch fish. But other “spots” are producing decent numbers of fish in the 15-to-19-inch range. So if you’re catching a lot, but they aren’t very large, keep moving until you find a school containing better average size fish.
On the smaller lakes I’ve been fishing, cabbage is king. None of the other plant varieties can hold a candle to a good cabbage patch right now. In it, we’ve found walleye, crappie, bass, perch, and rock bass. For me, trolling Little Joe Spinners tipped with either a fathead minnow or night crawlers has been the primary presentation. Wiggle worming is the secondary presentation and has been productive whenever the winds are calm enough to allow it.
Sunfish have not yet moved toward the cabbage in big numbers. Most of them are on the shoreline either spawning or protecting their spawning beds. Which leads me to a concerning story.
On Wednesday, we encountered a group of anglers, 5 of them who had been fishing for sunfish and had done very well. Those fellas were proud of themselves and even prouder of the pile of big bluegills. But the story quickly became concerning when they told me about the lake where they’d caught them. Unknowingly, these 5 guys all kept what “they believed” was their legal limit, 20 sunfish per person. The problem is that they were fishing on a lake that has a 5 sunfish limit. Yes, legally, they were 75 fish over their limits.
I do admit that the image, 5 guys in a fish cleaning station carving up the pile of 100 sunfish was grotesque. But I’m not here to pass judgement on anybody, the story is only intended to serve as a reminder. There are dozens of lakes in my region that are part of the Quality Sunfish Initiative. On them, 5 sunfish is the legal daily limit. Before you begin fishing for sunfish, take good care to KNOW what the limits are.
At most landings, checking the yellow signs posted at boat landings is all you’ll need to do. But if for any reason you’re unsure about the regulations, do what I do and use the MN DNR Recreation Compass. Using the interactive map, I click on any lake and can immediately learn about the special regulations that may of may not be in place. Truthfully, I use the recreation compass at least once every day, sometimes more.
Today, I have one more fishing date with Brice, his dad Harv and grandpa, Mark. While we’ve caught fish over the past couple days, they have mainly not been walleyes, so I need to focus on that today. Whether we go to Red or Winnie is still undecided, but either way, I’ll have a more detailed, individual lake report in the next couple of days. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Walleye anglers continue to enjoy some outstanding fishing as of late. Walleyes have begun to set up out on the humps in 15 to 20 feet of water and with the recent heat wave, leeches and crawlers have become the way to go. Spinner rigs and jigs, tipped with either a leech or crawler has been very effective for anglers. Anglers have reported seeing mayfly larvae getting active out on the mud flats, so get out and enjoy the bite while it lasts! Blue, gold and white were the top colors last week.
Smallmouth Bass anglers have been having a great time catching smallies, on topwater baits this last week. Whopper Ploppers, Pop-R’s and Torpedo’s have been very popular. Subsurface baits such as paddle tails and Ned rigs also been very effective for anglers. Anglers should continue to focus on shorelines to find Bass.
Stream Trout - Rainbow trout are largely out over deep water right now, so trolling small crankbaits been very effective on them. Shore anglers have been catching rainbow floating a crawler off the bottom or fishing a crawler 10-15 feet under a bobber.
Panfish - Crappies have largely wrapped up spawning on area lakes and have transitioned to shoreline structures like downed trees and weedlines. Beetle spins, jig/twister and crappie minnows under a bobber has been very effective on them. Sunfish have just started to spawn on lake. Shallow bays with sandy bottoms have been key to finding them. Small jigs tipped with wax worms or angleworms, fished under a bobber, has been very effective." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
"Resorts on the south end of Lake of the Woods are doing a nice job of adapting to high water conditions. Despite lots of water, charter boats are running, fishing is in full swing and has the fishing action has been good. Most boat ramps are open including Wheeler's Point and others.
Walleyes are literally being caught in water depths anywhere from 4 to 30 feet deep. Different schools of walleyes are targeting various forage in the system.
Some anglers are jigging, some drifting with spinners with a crawler or minnow. Both methods are working. Gold, glow, and pink have been good colors this week for jigs and spinners.
Trolling crankbaits hasn't been as popular of a method but has been effective. Some are trolling deeper depths while others are trolling shorelines with success, especially mornings and evenings.
For anglers wanting pike, bays, shoreline structure and the tops of rock reefs are good spots. Lots of nice pike in the system. The pike limit is 3 fish per day. Pike 30 to 40 inches must be released. Anglers can keep one fish per day over 40 inches.
On the Rainy River, there is still a lot of current. Anglers finding success have been keying in on current breaks off of the main channel for walleyes and saugers. Smallmouth bass near rocky areas, feeder streams and bridge embankments. Bays have been good for pike. A mixed bag in the river right now includes walleyes, saugers, smallmouth bass, and pike. Sturgeon season reopens soon, July 1, 2022.
Fishing also 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 jig and minnow combination or pulling night crawler harnesses have both been good presentations. Fish in 15 to 30 feet or water as a rule of thumb. There are typically some fish shallow near shore morning and evening with good numbers being caught.
A mixed bag for most anglers with walleyes, saugers, pike, smallmouth bass, crappies and jumbo perch. The muskie season on the MN and Ontario side of LOW is open.
Anglers who are staying on the U.S. side of the lake can boat into Canada without clearing customs as long as they don't touch land, touch a dock, anchor up or exchange goods or services in Canada during the day. For those intending on touching land in Canada after boating across, you must be vaccinated, complete the ArriveCan App and call the 888-CAN-PASS number to clear customs before boating over." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
I wasn’t on the water this weekend, so I’m short on a fresh firsthand report. But, I do have a few notes to share about my trip with Eldon, Sean and Finn late last week.
Before we left Grand Rapids, I’d mentioned a couple of possible options. A bigtime walleye fishing trip or spinning the weeds for mixed bag “action” fishing; the boys decided on action. I don’t know how the walleye fishing would have turned out, but the action idea turned out to be a good one. We caught crappie, northern pike, rock bass, sunfish, perch, largemouth bass, and walleye, in that order.
When we arrived at the lake, surface water was in the 68-to-69-degree range. Eventually that day, I spied a single 70 degree reading, and I suspect that by today, the water everywhere on that lake will be 70 degrees plus.
Vegetation, under the intense sunshine had really taken off. There was a lot of fresh eelgrasses and flat stemmed pondweed, along with newly emerging coontail plants and cabbage plants that were healthy and strong, sporting a vibrant green color. Around the edges of the lake, wild rice plants were reaching the surface, but not yet standing, bulrushes were green too and had emerged well above the surface.
We started trolling spinners over the deepest weeds in 11 to 13 feet of water and picked away at some small pike and rock bass. It was clear that trolling spinners was going to work, but clear too that I hadn’t dialed the pattern into its full potential. As we moved from spot to spot, I noticed a pattern emerging; all of the weeds produced pike and rock bass, but only cabbage weeds would produce any other species. At one point, we’d trolled over a long stretch that contained every other weed variety except cabbage. It wasn’t until we finally reached a cabbage patch that we caught any other species of fish besides small pike.
Eldon hooked a large crappie that finally broke the ice, and I decided to try an experiment. I put down the bow mount and spot-locked the boat at the cabbage patch. I switched the crew over to 1/16-ounce jigs tipped with minnows and I threw a 1/16-ounce jig tipped with a paddle tail. Crappie, sunfish, perch, and bass were all pulled out of that single patch of cabbage.
The action certainly was not as fast comapared to the trolling pattern, but it was clear that those fish showed a strong preference for the leafy greens. It could be coincidence, but the crappies we caught here were also larger and I wondered if we missed out on some larger fish when we trolled past some of the earlier spots.
As we trolled, I could see on my graph that most walleyes were not in the weeds. A cleaner looking, outer lip in 13 to 15 feet appeared to be where they were holding. Catching a couple of them on the spinners supported the theory, but with the overriding goal of keeping the crew busy, I did not re-tool with heavier weights to try singling them out. I will try that the next chance I get, hopefully one day this week.
While the cabbage pattern was definitely important on this trip, it won't last forever. Later this summer, the other weed varieties will become important too, so don’t get too hung up on the cabbage pattern. But over the short term, it may be worth going out of your way to locate every patch of cabbage that you can; it could make a difference in your catch.
I’m back on the lake today and hoping to pick up where we left off. You already know that if the pattern holds up, you will be the first to know. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Larry, Tim, and I have tried to nail down how long we’ve been fishing together before, but the exact date is blurry. A good estimate though is about 1989, give or take. Jesse, one of the originals passed away in 2012, but Mike, an excellent fit for this group, filled out the trio not long after that.
I’m not the brightest star in the sky, but if you give me 30+ years to “read the room”, I can usually figure out what floats a groups boat; pun intended. So, if I’ve learned anything, it’s that for these guys, action, when I can find it, is the name of the game. So, that’s why I took a chance on trying the mixed bag, trolling bite on Thursday. If I failed, it wouldn’t be the end of the world, we’d already had 2 days of good walleye fishing on Lake Winnie anyway. But in the spirit of keeping the boys busy, it seemed like a safe bet that we’d drum up something in the weeds.
While we were fishing, I thought that the theme of today’s report might be that my first truly “mixed bag” fishing trip would be a success. We caught 7 species of fish, so while technically it was, crappies and northern pike dominated the action.
Surface temperatures on the 3,500-acre lake ranged between 67 and 69 degrees. Vegetation was developing nicely, both eelgrass and wild rice were easily visible, cabbage plants were bright green and well filled out, northern milfoil was growing, but so far hadn’t become too thick to fish over. There was a strong wind blowing, so I had to pick locations out of the main flow, but where there was enough chop on the surface to give me confidence.
Using 1/16-ounce jigs, we tried minnows and we tried wiggle worming with night crawlers too. The first spot produced nothing, the second produced a crappie, a couple of sunfish, a few rock bass and some small pike. There were sunfish strikes, a few perch, more northern pike and another crappie at the third spot. It was that 2nd crappie that teased me into trolling the spinners, they like like that presentation and I hoped it would allow us to target them more specifically.
Ironically, when we started trolling the cabbage that produced the crappie, we never caught another one. What we did catch instead were perch, pike, rock bass and a walleye. That was action and that’s what we came for, I reasoned. So, the relative success of that presentation warranted taking “a spin” at another stop. This time, a larger, longer and wider flat that’s home to a big cabbage patch. On this flat, there is a soft edge along the cabbage that transitions into eelgrass and flat stemmed pondweed, both locations where crappies can be found. This was also a spot where we could make a nice, long trolling pass into the wind.
At first, it looked like more of the same mix that we’d found before. Pike, rock bass and sunfish were striking regularly, but no walleyes and no crappies … until I arrived at this little notch in the weedline. An inside turn, or maybe a hole I guess you could call it, where the water was a little deeper, 12 feet vs the 10-11 feet of water that surrounded it. That was the location where most of our crappies came from. Another spot up the shoreline produced some crappies too, but there was a strong “notch fixation” developing and I did not discourage that.
The cabbage patch pattern is an early summer favorite of mine and if the wind wasn’t blowing so hard, we would have offered the fish alternative presentations. Typically, there are numerous lures that the fish will strike at this time of the summer. Jigs tipped with paddle tails, twisters, or other soft plastics work. Jig spinners work too and so will small jigs tipped with minnows, suspended below slip floats. Like I said though, the wind was howling, and I needed a nice long stretch of water where I could back up into the waves and troll spinners.
Yesterday’s episode has me excited because I think we’re on the verge of the true mixed bag action season. The sunfish were trying to get into that mode yesterday, but still need a few more degrees of warm water before they fully engage. Bass must still be in shallow water; we did not catch one yesterday, but we will soon. Walleyes, on the lake we fished don’t usually make up a large share of the larder, but there will be more of them too as soon the food chain develops more fully along the weed edges.
Our goal of wrapping up the fishing trip with some action is usually a catch and release proposition. But this time the plan really turned crappie and while we stopped short of harvesting our limits, we did keep enough for a few meals. I’d encourage folks to do the same, harvest enough fish to satisfy the family, leave enough of them behind so that you can do it again another time. Oh, and by the way, the crappies still have their spawning colors. So, if you wanted too, you could selectively harvest only the dark black male fish and release the silverer females.
I know that the walleyes are still biting and that’s a big draw for most folks. But, with much warmer weather headed our way, this could be a great weekend to start your own experiments with weeds and mixed bag presentations. The warner the water gets, the better the action will be.
Folks who know me are aware of the struggles Lady Virginia, my mother, has gone through. These past few years, she’s been like a cat, living 9 lives, maybe even more. Cancer, heart problems, strokes, covid, isolation, you name it; she’s had it all and somehow survived. But I’m afraid that the end is near and she’s in her final days of life in that ultra-tough body of hers.
She has always loved what I do for a living and followed the stories about our fishing trips closely. In fact, for some of you, she’d even become a friend. Whether you know her or not, I hope that you’ll think of her for a moment today and wish her well as she transitions into her next adventure.
I hope too that you’ll pardon me if I’m absent from these pages for a few days. It might not be practical to try and squeeze in these early morning reports for a while. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Periodically, this very important quote comes to mind; “when you’re right, you’re right.” Those words, spoken a long time ago by one of my dear friends and long-time fishing customers, David Chrz, come to mind whenever I’m having a good fishing day because of something I’ve learned from somebody else.
Remember the May 13, 2020, article I wrote about Lindy Rigging for walleyes on Lake Mille Lacs with another good friend and fishing buddy, Jon Thelen? In it, I mentioned that Jon taught me something; when the walleyes are lethargic, and won’t turn their heads for leeches and crawlers, Lindy Rigging with large shiner minnows will trigger them to strike. I’ve remembered that lesson and used it every time I get a chance. I’ve used Jon’s trick often enough now to learn some of my own adaptations about when the presentation works best.
Zebra Mussel infestations affect many of Minnesota’s most popular walleye lakes. Because of them, anglers have had to abandon some of their previously “tried-and-true” formulas for catching walleyes. On Lake Winnibigoshish for example, Lindy Rigging with Leeches and night crawlers used to be one of my favorite early summer presentations. Lately though, any time I drop a live bait rig tipped with a leech over the side, my hook comes back fouled by clusters of Zeebs. The same thing happens with night crawlers, even if I use my worm blower to float them, they still sometimes come back fouled up. But whenever I’ve pinned a large spottail shiner onto any standard #4 or #2 hook, the rig either comes back nice and clean, or with a nice fat walleye like the one you see pictured here.
In the past, I’ve thought that the minnows used on Lindy Rigs should be large. And to be sure, this is a great way to present big creek chubs or redtails and it is a fabulous way to use up those extra-large spottails that turn up occasionally. But lately, I’ve noticed that even smaller “jigging size minnows” work well too. The minnows, no matter what size, tend to swim up and away from those clingy clusters of Caspian bivalves. That makes it easier to keep your lure in the strike zone.
So, that gets me wondering, what if the common theme is not cold water and lethargic fish? Rigging minnows was clearly a great presentation on Mille Lacs, but I’ve learned that it works great on lakes in my home area that are infested with Zebra Mussels too. There’s no way to prove my theory scientifically, so I’m just thinking out loud. Maybe this should be the preferred early season presentation for every lake with an infestation?
We’ll see how that goes but, in the meantime, giving credit when it’s due; Jon was right. For early season walleyes, Lindy Rigs and shiners is a darn cool presentation! — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Resorts are open and fishing continues to be excellent on the south end of Lake of the Woods. Water levels are high in the area but most lodging facilities have adjusted to accommodate their guests. Most boat ramps are open as well, including Wheeler's Point and others.
Vertical jigging is still the presentation of choice and has been very productive. There are good numbers of walleyes being caught in 18 to 30 feet of water. Anchor up and fish from a stationary position, jigging with an emerald shiner or fathead. Gold is always a go-to color but glow, pink, orange, chartreuse or a combination of these colors can be lights out too. On bright days, darker color jigs (which provides a profile for walleyes looking up) can be good as well.
Some anglers reporting success drifting or trolling snelled spinners (harnesses) with a minnow or half crawler. This technique will become stronger as summer progresses. Crankbaits are almost always an option. They cover water and produce reaction bites. As water warms, increase trolling speeds. Right around 2 MPH, give or take, is a good starting point now.
Walleyes and saugers are the most sought after fish, but you never know what you will hook into on LOW and most usually catch other varieties throughout the day.
On the Rainy River, water levels remain high and there is still has a lot of current. Despite the current, some have figured out key spots, normally related to current breaks, and are doing well. A mixed bag in the river right now includes walleyes, saugers, smallmouth bass, and pike.Current breaks off of the main channel for walleyes and saugers. Bays have been good for pike. Rocky areas, feeder streams and bridge embankments for smallmouth bass.
Sturgeon season is currently closed, but re-opens on July 1, 2022.
Fishing is really strong up at the Borthwest Angle. As water is warming, anglers are catching fish in many locations using a variety of techniques. There are simply a lot of fish around.
A jig and minnow has been the most common method with 18 to 30 feet deep as a rule. There are always some fish shallow near shore morning and evening with good numbers being caught. A mixed bag with walleyes, saugers, pike, smallmouth bass, crappies and jumbo perch.
If you like big predator fish like pike and muskies, the NW Angle and attached Ontario Zone 5 of Lake of the Woods is loaded with big fish. Pike is open all year on both sides of the border. The muskie season on the MN and Ontario side of LOW begins Saturday, June 18, 2022." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
The weather in north central Minnesota had been relatively stable for a while, surface temperatures were rising and fishing action on the region’s deeper, cooler water lakes was improving. But the action was dampened by a series of thunderstorms that rolled through north central Minnesota overnight Sunday and into the morning on Monday. The storms were somewhat violent, and they did produce a lot of lightning and thunder, with ground strikes occurring frequently.
Observing my tardiness, Bobby Cox said, “this is one time that we’re happy you’re late.” He was right, the 7-minute delay didn’t matter much yesterday because we sat in the hotel parking lot for another half hour waiting for the storms to pass anyway. Luckily, the storm that blew through at that time would turn out to be the last one for the day. At least that allowed us to get out on the lake.
I’m always hesitant about writing detailed reports after a major weather change, because the information has an extremely short shelf life. That’s especially true of our trip yesterday because so far this season, I hadn’t been on this lake a single time. Based on experience, I’d say that the storms had an impact on our fishing, but without a prior baseline, I can’t say how much. For all I know, the fishing could have been awesome 48 hours ago and may be again in another 48 hours. But on Monday, catching fish was possible, however doing so required a lot of determination.
Surface temperatures were cooler than expected 59-1/2 degrees in the morning, rising to 62 degrees later in the day, after the sun began shining. Water levels were high and the so was the water clarity. That may account for the fish we did catch being located deeper than usual; 18 to 22 feet was the best depth range. That’s quite deep in contrast to the 6-to-12-foot depth range that I would typically find fish.
The vegetation was moderate, cabbage plants were green and strong. Coontail was green, but the plants had not grown much so far; it was easy to fish through. Hoping to catch pike, we started our day trolling spinners in those weeds, but they were not the ticket. We may have caught 2 or 3 little ones, but nowhere close to what that weed in that lake can produce. Jigs tipped with shiners, worked better, but the pike action was still very slow compared to most days.
Moving deeper, the fishing action improved, there were some nice walleyes, like the one you see Corbin holding in the accompanying photo. By days end, we harvested 5 walleyes, a modest number, but the average size helped make up for the low volume. There were more pike on the deeper breakline too, and we were able to harvest 6 or 7 of them. They were “keepers”, but except for one 28 inch fish, their average size was small 19 to 21 inches were the sizes.
Before the trip, I’d commented to Bobby that any chance we’d have to make hay, would occur before the sun shines. In my mind, fish will bite after a major storm, but only if the weather remains turbulent. When the sun comes out and the wind stops blowing, most fish seem to sense that it is nap time. That’s how the day went yesterday too, our period of best production occurred while the skies were still grey and the chop slapped against my Wave Wackers. Once it became calm, the action slowed and once it became sunny, it was nearly stopped altogether.
Luckily, we had a good day on Sunday, and we’d already saved enough fish for our shore dinner. While the boys won’t be travelling home with their walleye limits, they’ll be close. The fish we did get yesterday were a bonus, added to an already moderately good bag from the day before.
The heat wave that NOAA has been predicting appears to have moderated, at least here in north central Minnesota. Today’s forecast, 87 degrees and breezy is the warmest, with high 70-degree temps in the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday. I’m thinking that the fishing action will return to “normal”, quickly. Whatever happens, you’ll be the first to know. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
An email from Dale Engrav reads. "Hi Jeff, Read your advice every day We are coming up to Bowstring Lake for our 18th year on Saturday June 18th and I have 2 questions I hope you can help answer.
Q) Are the north end water levels high enough to launch a boat now or has the water gone back down to make it difficult? And also have the walleyes switched over to leeches and crawlers yet? I see the hot weather is coming so what will that do for preferred bait? Thanks in advance Dale Engrav.
A) Dale, Water levels on Bowstring have receded slightly, but remain high. So, unless you have a monster size boat on a bunk trailer, you should have little trouble launching at any of the ramps, public or private.
Fishing patterns are a little trickier to figure out right now. High water levels could be to blame, or maybe the cooler than average water temperatures, but folks are not giving Bowstring very high marks for action. That said, there are always folks who find some fish and reports from friends who have caught walleyes out there tell me to use leeches and night crawlers, they have been the best producers.
On the shoreline, fish located in the weeds are responding to wiggle worming; using a 1/16-ounce jig, tipped with night crawlers. Some of the mid-lake bars and humps have small pods of fish on them now and for those fish, jigs tipped with leeches and fished vertically over the side of the boat has worked. They tell me that you could also have some luck using slip floats to present jigs and leeches as well.
That exhausts my current knowledge about what’s happened lately on Bowstring. So, if any of our fellow anglers have been there recently, we’d love a few sentences about the experience. — Office Cell Call or Text 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
After running the June 9, 2022, story about Minnesota’s leech shortage, I received an email update from Arrowhead Outdoors in Ely, MN. “Jeff, I was just reading your article on leeches. According to my leech trappers, they are in the process of “seeding” the pond that dried up last summer. This means they are simply taking the small leeches they trap and throwing them into the ponds that dried up last summer.
Last summer’s drought was uncharted territory for leech trappers and restarting these leech ponds is also uncharted territory for leech trappers, so no one really seems to have a answer to how long before large and jumbo leeches return to normal.
The good news is that my mix leeches started out as mostly a small, medium and some large mixed in. Now they are more of a medium, large mix. Hopefully next summer large leeches will start to return in good enough numbers to sell by the pound again.”
What could possibly happen next? Well, prepare yourself for higher night crawler prices too. The government, the one that represents US, has announced a ban on the import of Canadian Night Crawlers that are packed in black dirt.
Beginning on July 1, 2022, all night crawlers coming into the United States from Canada must be packed in “clean”, non-dirt worm bedding. The 2-step process will begin with first removing the worms from the dirt and packing them into an approved bedding and allowing them to live in it until they have passed all of the dirt from their systems. Then the worms must be removed from the soiled bedding and placed into another container filled with clean bedding.
To be sure that the night crawler harvesters are “qualified” to package the worms properly, they’ll need to first obtain a special permit from the government.
It’s hard to imagine how any of the larger operators will be able to obtain the permit, complete the 2-step packing process and get the worms shipped before July 1st, 2022, but I suppose some of them will accomplish it. But the new system will sure cost more money and of course, be passed along to US, U.S. Citizens.
I don’t know about you, but for me, the Wiggle Worming presentation will now begin with a flashlight in the back yard. “Here wormy, here wormy.” — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Walleye - Little has changed with walleyes this last week a cool stable air and water temps continue. Walleye anglers we’re frustrated this last week as very high winds keep anglers off the water. Water temps are in the high 50’s to low 60’s. Minnows continue to be very popular with anglers and walleyes. Jig and a minnow, in 10 to 15 feet of water, along shoreline breaks, has been the best technique during the day. During the evenings look shallower, in 4-7 feet of water. Here a slip bobber and a leech has been deadly on walleyes.
Bass - Smallmouth Bass have looking to spawn on many of the area lakes. When the wind wasn’t blowing hard, anglers searched for smallies in shallow bays with hard bottoms. Anglers fished mainly with Ned Rigs or senko rigs to catch bass.
Panfish - Panfish we’re knocked out of the shallow bays this last week as water temps dropped from cold fronts. Anglers have found them just outside the shallow bays. The last couple of days have been sunny and anglers are again starting to finding panfish back up shallow. Wax worms and angle worms have been very effective under a bobber for sunfish. Crappies have been hitting crappie minnows and hair jigs up in the shallows too." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
"The floating worm is an old-school technique that consists of a simple straight-tailed worm rigged Texas-style on a standard offset worm hook. Kyle Welcher explains when and how to fish the setup around bass beds and any holes in the cover, emphasizing the late prespawn through early summer months.
Welcher feels the wacky rig has dominated the floating worm in recent years, but a wacky rig isn’t as effective when bass are in or holding tight to cover. The floating worm delivers a similar tantalizing quiet and subtle action — excellent for wary bass. And given its inline nature, the floating worm can be fished faster than a perpendicular wacky worm, with the ability to achieve a sub-surface walk-the-dog action.
See a hole in the grass or bass on a bed? Stop the retrieve and let the worm ..." View Video and Learn More >> Floating Worm Bass Fishing Basics | Wacky Rig Alternative
"The office line cell phone was destroyed last week, making it impossible to receive of return any calls or text messages. With everything that’s been going on, getting it replaced wasn’t timely, but I finally found an extra hour yesterday and got a new one. The good news is that I was able to restore most of the information on it. The bad news was that any calls or texts that might have come in during the week long gap in service were never recorded.
So, if you’ve tried to call or text the office line with fishing reports, questions, guide trip inquiries or for general information, please do renew your attempt and we’ll get caught up right away. Call or text the “O-Fish-All” FishRapper fishing phone 218-245-9858.
After a couple of days away from the action, I’m back on the water today. Catching up with friends last night, it sounded like the fish will be waiting for us when we get there, so hopefully I’ll have a great, firsthand report from the lake tomorrow morning." — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Fishing has been excellent on the south end of Lake of the Woods. Good numbers of walleyes being caught in 18 to 28 feet of water. There is high water in the area but most lodging facilities have adjusted to accommodate. Most boat ramps are open including Wheeler's Point.
Most anglers are still vertical jigging. Anchor up and jigging with an emerald shiner or fathead has been very productive. Bright colors like gold, glow, pink, orange, chartreuse or a combo of these colors works well. Some good reports for those drifting spinners this week. Try either a minnow ro half crawler. A few anglers who are trolling crankbaits are catching as well. Gold continues to be a good color for both crankbaits and spinner blades.
Walleyes, saugers, pike, jumbo perch and an occasional pike, crappie or sturgeon in the mix on Big Traverse Bay.
On the Rainy River, there is still a lot of current with the dam wide open and high water levels. Despite the current, some have figured out where the walleyes are and are doing well. Current breaks adjacent to shorelines or the mouth of bays have been productive for those fishing the river. Once you find fish, there are normally good numbers. Bays have been good for pike. Rocky current break areas for smallmouth bass.
A really great week of fishing on both sides of the border at the Northwest Angle too. Most anglers are targeting walleyes and catching good numbers of fish with an occasional trophy.
Again, a jig and minnow was by far the most common method vertically jigged below the boat. Some anglers finding fish deep, over 30'. Others are still finding fish shallow, trolling spinners and crankbaits in 5 to 18 feet of water. Shoreline structure during the first and last hours of the day is also producing a nice mixed bag with walleyes, saugers, pike, smallmouth bass, crappies and jumbo perch." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
Scattered, but biting, the theory I wrote about yesterday, is gaining credibility in my book. My mission to help Dick and Paul gather some more perch before leaving Minnesota followed the same trajectory as had our walleye fishing trips last week. We did locate some keepers, they were biting, and there were never more than 3 or 4 of them in any one spot.
I could imagine some folks asking, “how much fun is that? Who wants to poke around all day long picking up a perch here and a perch there? My answer to that hypothetical question is if those perch were the only fish we caught, then I probably would not have put in the effort, BUT the cool, high-water levels didn’t just disperse the perch.
Conditions have also given walleyes the same freedom of movement; we probably caught more walleyes during our search yesterday than we did “keeper” perch. That’s right, we didn’t need to harvest any, but we caught some big ones, some little ones and could have amassed another impressive creel of keepers too.
The pattern, one of several in play right now, was to locate cabbage weeds adjacent to shallow, shoreline breaks. The depth varied from 5 to 8 feet, with an occasional walleye or pike coming out of 9 or 10 feet. The perch were tucked up into the weeds, 5 to 6 feet was the best depth for them.
The presentation was typical, 1/16- and 1/8-ounce Lindy Live Bait Jigs tipped with minnows. There was no one minnow type that worked best. Throughout the week, the minnow population in my cooler had become quite mixed up, my mission was to use them all up, so we fished with shiners, fatheads, dace, rainbows, and mud-minnows. They all worked fine and yes; we did use them all up.
At one point, I hooked a crappie and that led me to experiment with plastics. The 2-inch shad tail I was throwing caught some more walleyes, a couple of perch and a few small pike. But when it didn’t produce any more crappies, I abandoned it in favor of the jig and minnow combo.
The weather improved a lot on Saturday, calmer seas and sunshine forced surface temperatures up. At 9:00 AM the water was 59 degrees and by 4:30 PM, 62 degrees was the average reading. Throughout the day, we saw several fishing boats pull into shallow water, presumably searching for crappies. Not many of them stuck around long, so I’m guessing that no large-scale movement had begun. But if the crappies intend to spawn this spring, they’ll be doing it soon, so I think spending some time searching the shallows is not a bad idea.
While we were putzing around in the weeds yesterday, I got several texts from friends who were searching for fish on Lake Winnie. It sounded like the clear, sunny conditions were working against most of them and they reported slow action. But somebody always finds them someplace, don’t they? I’m sure that I’ll be getting some reports from those folks today and tomorrow.
So, that concludes “Fun with Dick and Paul, Spring Session.” Yesterday’s weather helped erase memories of the turbulent week we’ve had. And loading the cooler with a respectable bag of nice walleyes and perch didn’t hurt either. The boys are smiling as they drive home this morning, I’ll bet.
It’s been a long time since I can remember having time off during early June, it’s typically an incredibly busy period. Today and tomorrow though, I’ll be joining Susan and her family to celebrate the life of my Father-in-Law, Bill Pelto.
Some will recall me writing about Bill Pelto's passing last November. Concerns over “covid” caused complications regarding planning any large family gatherings. Since today would have been his birthday, it with him was important to his family that we celebrate it with him. He was a retired Marine Corps Captain, so military honors are planned for tomorrow, the Veteran’s Cemetery in Duluth does not perform those services on Sundays.
So, I’ll be off the grid for a couple of days, returning to work on Tuesday. I won't be surprised though if before then, I receive fishing updates from friends and family around the area. Whenever they do, details will still be posted every morning. If you're on the lake today, remember the pattern; scattered but biting. Oh and by the way, Good Luck! — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Before we go, I just want to try something, it’s experimental and off-beat, but let’s try it.” That’s what I told Dick and Paul on Friday as I drove toward the center of Splithand Lake and stopped in the middle of nowhere; that was at 4:40 PM. The photo left shows Dick Williams with a hefty 22-inch slot-fish caught at 4:55 PM. We were long line drifting over the mud, fishing in roughly 20 feet of water, using 1/8 ounce Lindy Live Bait Jigs tipped with large fatheads.
Before you go running out to the middle of Splithand thinking that I just told you it was a walleye fishing hotspot, STOP. The reason for the experiment was to prove or disprove a theory that’s developed over the past few days. It’s seemed that everywhere we’ve gone, fish have been biting, but they have almost never been found in schools. At almost every stop, we drop our lines in the water catch a fish or two, get excited and then wait for 10 minutes while nothing else happens. Most times, the next stop turns out to be a repeat of the last one.
The scattered but biting pattern was not unique to Splithand Lake. The same thing happened on another popular Grand Rapids Lake, it happened at Bemidji too and on Winnie and so on … It happened with walleyes, perch, crappies and even pike. Regardless of the water depth, structure, species, or fish orientation on that structure, they’ve been stacked up in 1s and 2s.
Water levels today are as high or higher than most folks have ever seen them and surface temperatures remain cold, in the low-to-mid 50s on clear water lakes, possibly touching 60 degrees on some of the dark, shallow ones.
My theory is that the combination of high-and cold-water results in giving fish so many options that they are not forced into any single feeding pattern, so therefore nothing forces them to form into large schools anywhere. Some fish are in shallow water feeding on minnows, some are hitting bug hatches on soft-bottom flats, and some are roaming deep structure just because they can. I suspect that others fishing Minnesota’s water soaked, north central region have had similar experiences.
Okay Jeff, then how do explain seeing some folks posting pictures of piles of fish and talking about “hot bites”, you could ask. Well, not everyplace in Minnesota has experienced the same crazy weather patterns. Some folks in Minnesota are fishing in areas where water and weather patterns are more comparable to an average season. For them, fishing typical locations and using their favorite presentations is working just fine.
We’ll see how the rest of the season plays out, but it won’t surprise me if the scattered-but-biting pattern persists, and water levels recede later this summer. If they don’t, there will be some frustration, but along with that, will also come opportunities to use a wider array of tricks over a broader range of locations. Speaking of “tricks”, I recalled one on Saturday morning, used it and it worked.
For as long as I can remember, Dick and Paul have used jigs and minnows to catch walleye, crappie and pike on their spring fishing trips. In fact, the only question they ever ask during trip preparation is how heavy the jigs need to be for the water depths we’ll be fishing. That ended yesterday when the fish we located snubbed the typically reliable offering. As an experiment, I set myself up with a #4 Minnow size Lindy Rig, trimmed the leader down to 6 feet and then tipped the hook with a large, active shiner. I don’t think that shiner lasted 5 minutes, the same fish that snubbed the jig and minnow were gobbling the Lindy Rigged minnows.
The scattered-but-biting pattern was evident on Thursday too when we were fishing for perch. We found some of them in 16 feet of water over a soft bottom flat, those fish were feeing on insect larvae. We found a handful of perch in 8 feet of water too, they were in a cabbage patch, presumably feeding on minnows. There was another small school of perch on a shallow gravel bar that had emerging eelgrass plants on it. In ever case, we picked away at the biters until we’d satisfied ourselves that the run was over. In terms of numbers, perch fishing was slower than average. The size was good though, so we felt good about our catch anyway.
We’ve had it at the Gosh Dam Place, Florio’s, the Big Fish, the Pickled Loon, the Outpost and others; everywhere in the area, we thought. But yesterday, on a whim, I asked Paul to try calling the Cedar Creek Grille just north of Grand Rapids and ask if they offer anglers a bring it yourself, fish dinner. Yes, we do, Sue Almquist told him, “All you have to do is bring in your fish, order a couple of sides and we’ll take care of the rest.”
Now I’m no food critic, and I’m not forming a ranking service for restaurants that offer provide-it-yourself meals of fish. But I have had a few fish dinners in my day and the meal we had last night was pretty darn good! I love that each customer is offered their own choice of side dishes instead of the one size fits all that the others have provided. I had the coleslaw, darn good! And the beans, darn good too!
Somehow, we thought ordering what Sue called “appetizer sides” was a good idea. So, we got the crinkle cut potatoes and homemade potato chips, both darn good too. We did our best to put a dent in that meal, but honestly, we had more food than we knew what to do with!
I like fish, and I like it almost every way I’ve ever cooked it, so don’t be surprised that in my opinion the fish was great. That said, reviews about how each restaurant prepares their fish are very subjective, I’ve learned. For local fish fry aficionados, Cedar Creek’s recipe uses panko I think, ours was cooked “well done” and was extra crispy on the outside, but not over cooked inside. The coating was lighter than the Gosh Dam Place offers, but heavier than what we’ve enjoyed at Florio’s. They have good tarter sauce and lemon slices on the side.
The Hippie Chick and I were not strangers to Cedar Creek, we’ve always enjoyed the rustic, homy atmosphere and that’s why I asked Paul to check it out. The service is always consistently good, I think because the whole darn Almquist family works there. I can’t keep all the names straight, but after a few more visits, I’ll know how to keep them all straight.
If you’ve had good luck fishing in the Grand Rapids area and find yourself in the market for a fish fry after your tip. Definitely check this one out, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Today, Dick and Paul, spring session will close with one final episode of perch fishing. Winnie has been as good as anyplace for us, so that’s the direction we’re headed. I will offer the post-game wrap up tomorrow morning. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
On Wednesday, I mentioned that crappies might be on the agenda. The idea sounded good, but I wasn’t completely trusting that the fish would show up in the spots I was hoping to find them. So, I hedged my bet and selected a lake where perch or walleye could potentially take up the slack if crappies didn’t show.
Luckily, I did have a backup because the catkin fuzz from aspen, poplar and/or cottonwood trees were floating everywhere. There were areas in which it was so thick that we couldn’t even cast a lure into the water without fowling our lines. Areas that were free of the fuzz were being thrashed by a brisk west wind, so that discouraged further exploration too. Before we gave up though, we looked over enough territory to see that some spawning beds, unoccupied by fish at the time, did exist along the shoreline.
While we never found out whether crappies were in the shallows or not, conditions looked promising. Surface water was 61 to 62 degrees, some of the bulrushes were starting turn green and had emerged above the surface. Schools of small minnows dimpled the surface, but hidden below the fuzz, we could not identify what species they were. Later, at the fish cleaning shack, we spied the carcasses of some large bass and pike that somebody had filleted. I think that if there are bass on the shoreline, then crappies and sunfish can’t be far behind, or are possibly already there too.
Plan B, for us turned out to be perch. They haven’t been easy to come by so far, but on Wednesday, showed signs of improvement. We drifted, fishing with 1/8 jigs and minnows while straddling the edges between a shallow, weedy flat and a trough of deeper water. There were perch, and they were scattered, but struck often enough to keep fishing interesting. Average size wasn't bad, Dick and Paul are selective, keeping only fish that cross a 10-inch minimum on the ruler. With that standard, we harvested 14 fish, most between 10 to 11 inches, some over 11, but none of them at or above 12 inches. If our standard had been set at 9 inches, we’d have added another dozen to the larder.
The cabbage patches held some walleyes too, mostly small, but there were a couple of large fish and a few keepers too. We caught them at random intervals and I did not see any way to single them out.
A single crappie smacked my jig and minnow too and because of that, I decided to experiment with spinners. I got everybody rigged up with the standard, #3 hammered gold Indiana blade and 2/0 Aberdeen hook, tipped with medium fatheads. We began trolling the weeds with limited results. A couple of pike, and a couple of smaller perch were the only fish that struck. Drifting and jigging worked better, so we switched back to that.
I can't say that it was the fishing trip of a lifetime, but I’ve seen a lot worse. The small lake was manageable on a windy day, the traffic was minimal, the scenery was good and there were enough fish to keep us busy; adding it all up, made for an interesting day.
When the boys are town, we eat fish most nights; typically, 4 out of 5 days. The Gosh Dam Place is one of our favorites, I mentioned that we ate there on Tuesday. But last night we took our fish over to Florio’s in Cohasset. If you hadn’t heard, they also offer the “bring your own fish, fish fry” and in my opinion, they do a splendid job. You’ll get less in the way extras, they provided French fries and coleslaw as the only sides, but we really do like the way they cook the fish there and we have always received excellent service.
I would highly recommend trying it, especially for folks who like a lighter coating on the fish. Oh, and make sure you double check the schedule before going there too, they are only open Tuesday thru Saturday. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
“It’s only been 1 day, and we already have fish.” That was a Pat Paulsen like comment that rolled off my tongue while we were having our fish fry at the Gosh Dam Place last night. “Wow, that’s the kind of ringing endorsement every fisherman wants to hear from his fishing guide. Day 1 of our fishing trip and we already have fish,” Paul sarcastically chuckled back. I can understand his point.
My dry sense of humor, in this case though, had been over-ridden by actual pride, it just didn’t show at the time. But after bouncing in the whitecaps, holding on to my hat, my fishing rod, the tiller handle, and the landing net all at the same time, I was really was proud of our first day. Anybody who put up with the weather Mother Nature directed our way yesterday and came home with some fish to eat, ought to be.
The cold front, slash windstorm, dropped the daytime high air temperature nearly 40 degrees in one day. That gave most area lakes a thorough mixing (turnover) yesterday and surface water temperatures returned down to the mid to high 50s. The thrashing waves clouded the water too, so the fish that did bite, I think, were active only because of all that turbulence. I could be wrong, but now the next calm, sunny day could be a tough one for walleye anglers.
Everybody want the walleye fishing to be good every day, even me. But them taking a breather could present me with a happy alternative opportunity. I’ve been watching the lilac Blossoms appear in my neighborhood and prior to the big blow, water temperatures had risen above 60 degrees. Today, I’m hoping that the time for shallow water crappie fishing could be here and that it will give us something to do while we wait for walleyes to settle into reliable feeding patterns; we’ll see.
In case you missed it, The Pines Resort reported yesterday walleyes in Winnibigoshish were beginning to feed on insect larvae. That reminded me of a conversation that I had with Joe Mix, retired DNR Area Fisheries Manager. He observed a few days ago that walleyes he’d caught on Winnie were full of Chironomidae. I had to look it up, but Chironomidae, AKA Bloodworms, are the larval form of the Midge, the insects mentioned in the Pines report yesterday. “We still caught some fish using shiners, but I think that we’d have caught more if I’d brought some leeches along too.” Mix said.
After that conversation, I picked up leeches yesterday morning myself, and I’ll try them the next chance I get. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Walleye fishing continues to be very good for anglers. With water temps hovering around 55 degrees bait of choice can be difficult to figure out, lake by lake. Jig and a minnow continues to be the most productive bait right now, but soft plastics, crankbaits and a leech fished under a bobber, all are effective too. Thankfully depth range has been consistent. 14-17 feet of water, during the day, has been the key depth to fish. During the evening, a slip bobber and a leech, fish right off shore is slowing getting better and better. We want the water temps to hit 60 before it’s at its best.
Smallmouth Bass are starting to show up in anglers daily catches. Many anglers have been reporting bass up on there beds. Anglers have simply been fishing slow in shallow rocky bays with tube jigs, Ned rigs and suspending jerk baits, to catch them.
Northern Pike anglers continue to catch good quality pike, up in the shallow bays and around river mouths. Anglers have been catching them with large suckers, fished under a bobber. For pike anglers unable to find suckers, large spoons, large spinnerbaits and large streamers will work just as well, in the same locations.
Panfish anglers have reported finding sunnies and crappies up very shallow looking to spawn. Anglers have been catching them with either a small jig and minnow, worm or leech under a bobber." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358