It all started years ago when I was trying to help my two daughters catch fish over rocky reefs without getting snagged. I dug through my box of prototypes and tied on some little bitty jigs that were so light that they’d never reach the snag infested, rock strewn bottom. I added whole night crawlers which gave the light jigs even more float and cast them out to see what would happen.
WHAM! Not only did this solve the problem of getting snagged, but the fish loved the presentation and my little girls caught lots of good fish. I could hardly wait to try them again and when we returned home, I used them on a guide trip and they worked like a charm here too.
I've been using the presentation ever since and they have put many a fish in my boat during the warmest days of summer. On one fishing trip with my friend Larry Lashley, this presentation was working particularly well and ... Read Article >> Wiggle Worming 101
I was working on a special project this week and in the process was delivered one of the most gratifying experiences of my career.
The project was to film an episode of Fish ED with my friend Jon Thelen that features my long time favored summer presentation; “Wiggle Worming.”
The gratifying experience was to watch Jon catch Walleyes all day long, on camera, while I was shut out of catching a single Walleye. That’s right; we caught plenty of fish and filmed a great episode. The system worked like a charm, except for whatever reason, Jon caught them all and I never caught one.
I know what you’re thinking, “that would stink, who wants to fish all day long without catching a single Walleye?” Answer, I would; because for me, teaching somebody a new presentation and then watching them catch all of the fish is like a dream come true.
Think about it, if you hired me as your fishing guide, would you have more fun watching me catch fish, or would you rather be catching them yourself? Of course you would rather catch them yourself, that’s the whole point of hiring a guide, right? It doesn’t always work that way, but when it does, it’s like a special bonus for me.
It will be a while before the show airs, but when it does, you will definitely be the first to know!
OH, and by the way, Wiggle Worming is still working and currently remains my presentation of choice.
On Wednesday, my good friend Dale Schroeder came over and although we got off to a shaky start the wiggle worms came through and allowed us to enjoy an action filled afternoon.
Today, my attention turns to another special project; this time with Northern Pike featured front and center. I’ll have plenty to report about that tomorrow and I’ll put together a thorough fishing forecast for the upcoming 4th of July holiday weekend.
"Excellent summer fishing. Charters catching strong numbers. Jig/minnow or jig/leech and bouncers with spinners with crawlers or minnows still producing walleyes. When the wind is right for pulling spinners, they have been lights out. Walleyes being caught in varying depths, 7-31' of water. Some shallow shorelines still producing. Pike mixed in all over the lake.
Walleyes in the Rainy River with a better morning/evening bite. Trolling cranks or pulling spinners a good idea to cover more water. Smallmouth bass are out and about along shorelines and feeder streams. Sturgeon fishing opens again Saturday, July 1st.
Up at the NW Angle, water temps are in the low to mid 60’s. Wind blown shorelines are giving up walleyes via leeches or crankbaits along the weed line. Crawlers on a gold and/or orange spinner are producing fish out of the mud between 22 - 26 feet. On the Canadian side, bottom bouncers and spinners have been filling the livewells outside of monument bay between 24-28 feet. Jigging near Skeet and Kennedy Islands have produced nice sized walleye and numerous perch. Great smallmouth action in Tranquil channel and the mouth of Johnston passage. Muskie fishing picking up with high 40” class fish being caught with a few 50's from shallow bottom bays or adjacent to them." – Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"Summer is officially here, but we were thinking Spring had much nicer weather. The fishing remains excellent so we continue towards July looking for summer weather to come! Again, this past week there was plenty of wind and Big Traverse Bay is muddy all the way across. There have been some Ephemeroptera; AKA: Fishfly, Mayfly, Sandfly, Shadfly or Dayfly hatches this past week, nothing we have noticed in great numbers on shore but we are certain there have been large numbers of them on the lake.
This past week Little Traverse Bay provided most of the action. Anchoring and jigging all week long has been the go to method. The brighter colors like hot pink and chartreuse seemed to be the preference.
More of the same weather ahead, it looks like highs into 70 degrees with overnight lows in the 50’s.
We still have some great opportunities for July and August with rate specials arriving on a Sunday, Monday or Tuesday." - 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge .
For me, every cold snap that’s blown in this season has been accompanied by a subsequent scattering of whatever “best fishing spot” that I had previously known about. Like the previous cold fronts, this one didn’t make the fish stop biting; it just sent them in a hundred directions. The longer the shakeups last, the more ground we have to cover to get a strike.
By Sunday, the air temperature never rose above 60 degrees and surface water temperatures were still falling. With a strong, gusty northwest wind, there wasn’t any point to fishing on big water. Because shallow, dark water lakes are the ones most affected by cold fronts, I reasoned that going deep and clear would be just as good an option as anything else, so that’s what we did.
At the lake, 63 degrees was the warmest surface reading I could find and except for a couple of small Pike, shallow weed patches had been evacuated by most other fish.
Deeper submerged points and mid lake bars had enough stability to hold fish, but I can’t say that any of the structures were loaded with fish. We located half dozen areas where schools of a dozen fish would yield 3-4 strikes, and then we’d move on to another fresh territory to repeat the process. Key depths ranged between 18 and 26 feet, I settled on 22 feet as yesterday’s magic number.
The majority of fish hadn’t given up their taste for worms and after a brief experiment with jig and minnow, we settled on 1/8 ounce Live Bait Jigs tipped with whole crawlers. I’m sure that we could have caught some fish Lindy Rigging too, but the wiggles worms are compact, simple to use and versatile. They were getting bit, so there wasn’t much incentive to search for a better plan.
By the end of the day, we had boated 10 to 12 Walleyes and a handful of Smallmouth Bass. The fish were not jumping in the boat, but action was good enough to make us happy.
Today, I get to reverse that procedure. With a sunny day and calm seas on tap for the morning, the clear water, daytime bite is almost sure to fizzle out. I’m hoping that there’s enough stability headed our way to encourage fish to re-group over the soft bottom flats. That way we can try our hand at trolling this morning and maybe that "Lil’ Guy Pattern" that I wrote about last Friday will be tomorrow’s big news again.
If you’re out and about, maybe we’ll see you on the water. If not, don’t worry, you can live your fishing life vicariously through the report again tomorrow morning!
The Lil’ Guy combines live bait with a crankbait-like floating attractor and anybody who has ever looked at it has agreed that it’s a great idea. For me, moving the presentation out of the great idea category and into the “confidence bait” category took a few tries, but we did it.
There were 3 key elements that combined to make moving up the learning curve easier for me. First, the Walleyes were spread out along a flat, on the high side of the main, mid-lake bar. That made them easy to spot on the Humminbird.
Second, my crew was open to experimenting and allowed me enough time to work the kinks out of the system. This is more helpful to me than anyone can possibly know. It's hard to thoroughly test new presentations if you're busy "playing it safe", falling back on the security old habits.
Third, I got fantastic advice from my friend Jon Thelen; he’s the one who really put me on the right track. The advice he offered was this; “You have to run this bait behind a bottom bouncer. The added height provided by the wire, keeps the bait tracking above the sightline of the fish, where they can see it. The heavier weight of the bottom bouncer allows precise control of your depth too and once you have the proper depth figured out, the Walleyes will pound it.”
He was right, once we had the Lil’ Guy’s running at the right depth, the Walleyes did pound ‘em.
What gave me the idea in the first place? Initially, we’d locate a school of fish, then stop and work on them with live bait; wiggle worms in particular. The problem was that after a drift or two, the fish would disperse and I’d have to go searching for another fresh pack of fish. I reasoned that as long as we had to search anyway, we might as well get the Lil’ Guys rigged up, send them down on bottom bouncers and fish our way along the break. Whenever we'd loacate a school of fish, we would be able to switch rods and drift back through them again using the wiggle worms.
Insect hatches have begun and that’s what attracted Walleyes to mid-lake flats (bars) where they can gorge on larvae before it reaches adulthood. That means that instead of finding big schools of fish, tightly grouped on well-defined structure, there are small groups of fish spread out horizontally across the large flats. Once you know where they are, fishing for them with slow moving presentations is fine. But when you’re searching for fresh territory, using the faster moving baits allowed us to fish and search at the same time.
The search and seizure mode worked out better than I hoped and soon we were catching fish both on the troll and on the drift.
The flats could occur at a variety of depths, but in our case the bar topped off at about 20 feet. The adjacent breakline featured a slow taper from 20 feet down to about 28 feet and most of the fish were in the 20 to 23 foot range.
Trolling speed is always important, but usually falls within a standard, predictable range and on Thursday, the very familiar 1.2 MPH was the ideal speed. One thing nice about the Lil’ Guy is that it’s capable of running at slower speeds than a standard spinner rig. This time, I could allow the baits to run as low as .7 MPH and still trigger some strikes, but faster was better today, so that’s what we did.
At these speeds and in that depth, 1-1/2 ounce bottom bouncers were good. To make predicting the depth easier for my crew, they were using line-counter reels, so once they knew how far back to run the baits, they just matched the number each time they dropped the lures. That’s very handy, but you don’t need to buy line counters if you don’t already have them. Just remember that you don’t want to drag the bottom with the wire of the bottom bouncer. Just let it drop to the bottom until your line goes slack, allow the bait to settle in position and occasionally test your depth by dropping your rod tip back. If cannot touch bottom, let out a foot or two of line, if you find bottom too easily, then reel up a little line.
Last week, we talked about changing conditions on Lake Winnie and this is one presentation that could easily replace some of the old ways of presenting live bait on the big lake. Once you get the feel of these baits, you will love them; I did and I do and I can hardly wait to try ‘em again today.
6/23/17 Jim Jurvelin wrote; "Jeff, I have been trying to move away from live bait and using more plastics. Have you tried the Lil Guy with Gulp Crawlers or equivalent? I think I am going to give that a try!
A) Jim, I tend to stick with live bait because it gives my customers the most confidence. But at times, I do enjoy adding artificial substitutes and typically they have worked fairly well for me.
One situation where they are particularly helpful occurs when you are fishing for Walleye while in the presence of large schools of Panfish. Sunfish and perch can really tear up your bait supply and cut down on efficiency. Using artificial tails can help keep them at bay, allowing Walleyes more time to find your lure.
"Here's a good breakdown on how to identify the most production parts of lily pad fields, then extract bass with the deadly hollow body frog.
Lily pads grow in soft bottom areas and can hold huge numbers of bass and bluegill, especially after the spawn and into early summer. But how do you find bass in a 30 acre pad field? Wired2Fish's Kyle Peterson and our newest full-time addition to the Wired2Fish crew McKeon "Keys" Roberts help us break it down in this action-packed ..." View Video >> Hollow Body Frogs For Lily Pad Bass
The signal has been stronger every day this week, night crawlers, AKA "Yard Bait" are fast becoming the meal of choice for Walleyes in the Itasca Region.
Surface temperatures are probably not the driving force behind the change in feeding preferences. Still in the 65 to 68 degree range, temperatures haven’t changed enough to trigger much of anything. Insect hatches are more likely the root cause of the changeover.
I know that some of you are thinking that minnows worked fine a few days ago and I agree; they did. But for me, the fish are responding to jig and minnow combinations with lack luster strikes. Their finicky attitude has made it hard to convince Walleyes to hold the bait and the result has been more missed fish.
Fast forward to yesterday when we caught fish on five different presentations, all featuring night crawlers as the entre’ and it was pretty clear, worms are better.
You’ve read enough of these reports to know that I love my wiggle worms, and we did catch some of our fish using that presentation. But my group required the assistance a helping arm, and a good young fishing guide, Lyle Unger, used a presentation that I haven’t tried very much. His half of the crew was using ¼ ounce jigs tipped with crawlers. Lyle moved his boat slowly while the crew fished their jigs just above the bottom and they produced a very good number of fish.
With fish spread out on the flats, I experimented with bottom bouncers and faster moving baits. In 20 to 22 feet of water, we caught about an equal number of Walleyes using Lindy’s Lil’ Guy vs the old reliable, #3 Gold Little Joe spinner.
We fished the weeds a little bit too and there were fish showing up there. It’s hard to make a judgement in such a short time, but the percentage of Pike and small Perch appears to outweigh the number of Walleyes, at least in the area we tried.
"Hello everybody Captain Josh from Minnesota Fishing Guide Service with your weekly fishing report. I covered a lot of different parts of the state last week putting nearly 900 miles on my truck and fished approximately 12 different lakes in seven days.
Water temperatures are finally averaging 69 to 71 in most situations combine that along with the newly found angle of the sun and the summer patterns are starting to emerge quickly in most cases.
Walleyes have been caught all over the board with depth ranges from six down to 38 feet as of this morning. Night crawlers and leeches on a JB spinner have been the top producer.
If you're into trolling crank baits Flickr shads have been producing well on the shallow or shoulder break lines in the 7 to 10 foot range.
Crappies are being found on Weed flats adjacent to their previous spawning beds in the 6 to 8 foot range roaming new cabbage patches searching for food. Number five white jigging Rapalas worked through the cabbage beds aggressively will produce the crappies. We have also found schools of large crappies on deeper mud flats in the 19 to 22 foot range as they are forging for meal worms and mayfly larva.
Northern pike activity has increased along the Weed line as well, they can also be found roaming the Weed flats in the 6 to 10 foot range and be caught on chartreuse bass spinner baits or Rapala husky jerks. Big fish and big fun is what it's all about." Capt Josh, Minnesota Fishing Guide Service 218-732-9919, 320-291-0708
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; I can’t believe how lucky I get sometimes!
Over the past 30 something years, I’ve met an awful lot of people. They come from all walks of life and as a group, are about as widely diverse as you can find. There is something that they all have in common though, whenever I met any of them for the first time, I was shaking in my boots.
That’s right, even now, rolling toward my 5000th guide trip and every single one of them starts the same way. I am scared stiff that I won’t find the right lake, the right spot or the right fish. Most of the time, everything works out fine, but no matter, I can never get into any fishing day without first doing the “Scaredy-Cat Dance” with myself.
The date, June 19th, 2017 the place, Leech Lake, the conditions, post cold front, northwest wind, and heavy duty whitecap chop on the lake. The customer, Tim Welu and this is our first meeting.
In an email message that arrived the night before our trip, Tim wrote; “You don't need to bring minnows, I'm happy going with night crawlers only; I would like to see your wiggle worm technique.” At the landing, Tim’s instructions were refined even more. “I don’t need to catch fish and I don’t need to harvest fish either, I just want you to show me how to find ‘em”.
Outside, I’m cool and collected, but inside I’m thinking; “before I can show you how to find ‘em, I’m gonna have to find ‘em myself.” Luckily, it turned out that the search itself was probably the best part of the day. That’s how I felt anyway; the exercise proved that we could go out exploring, looking at fresh territory and find enough fish to make a game of it.
When we started, the surface temperature was 66.8 degrees. That was the warmest water I saw, and in most areas we fished, it was closer to 65 degrees. Like I said, there was a heavy chop on the water, it would have been perfect for jigging with minnows, but under the crawlers only guideline, I skipped over that presentation.
We began trolling a couple of deep weed lines in water depths of 11 to 14 feet using spinners & night crawlers. Except for some small Perch and a hammer handle Pike, there weren’t many fish to play with.
Our next stop was a slow tapering flat gradually becomes deeper until it reaches the breakline into the middle of the bay. We marked some Walleyes at about 14 feet and fished them by trolling with Lil’ Guys tipped with night crawlers. The trolling approach seemed like a great choice for the circumstances, but apparently we were too early for this presentation, the fish seemed too cold for the pace we were keeping and didn’t strike the lures.
Trial and error proved the cold water theory at our next stop, another gradually tapering flat, this time I put away the spinning rigs and pulled out the light “wiggle worming” rods. That’s how we caught our first Walleye of the day, and the 2nd one too, and the 3rd one and almost all of the rest of them too.
Don’t get me wrong, we didn’t go from 0 to 100 in 6 seconds, but we did manage to keep a pace steady enough that we never lost interest. Interesting too was that the same presentation worked in 3 different spots, at 3 different depths, in 3 completely different bays of the lake.
The first spot was that slow tapering sand flat in about 10 feet of water. There was a small school of fish holding in a small pocket, an inside corner along the break in about 11 feet of water. If catching fish for the table was the goal, we might have stayed longer to test the staying power of this spot, but we’d met one of our goals and it was time to make a move.
The next spot was a free standing mid-lake bar that tops off at about 10 feet of water. There were fish of all sizes scattered along the break in 15 to 18 feet of water and we could easily see lots of life on the Humminbird. It started off scary; the first fish we caught was a Rock Bass, but the wiggle worms began convincing some of the Walleyes to strike too. The fish on that spot were fun to catch, but there wasn’t a keeper in the bunch, all of them were above 20 inches.
The 3rd spot was a deep shoreline point that features a transition between sand and rocks. The fish were holding in 16 to 20 feet of water and were catchable using the wiggle worms at the slow-but-steady pace we’d discovered at the other spots. There was just enough action to make it worth backing in the 3 foot rollers. One bonus was that the fish here were mainly keepers and if I was headed back there today, I’d likely start on that point.
So let’s start a list of all the lucky breaks I got yesterday. I have a boat that allowed us to move freely, even in the strong wind and it allows me to fish in rough water, those same waves would have had us hiding on shore when I started this career. Oh and that boat has a tremendous sonar unit that allows me to see fish so that I know where to pursue them. Inside the boat there are fabulous light weight fishing rods too, ones that make presenting the light jigs and night crawlers easy to do. And when we did, the fish responded to our wiggle worms, allowing me to look like I actually know what I’m doing. How can you get much luckier than that?
Well I can and I did; I spent the day with one of the nicest, most mild mannered and engaging men that anyone could ever meet. I doubt that he knows for sure, but it may have crossed his mind, he may have even thought to himself; “Wow, is this guy ever lucky!” Yes, I am!
Chuck Anderson Wrote; "Our family has stayed at Eagle Nest since 1972, and primarily fish Cutfoot Sioux in early August. I always begin reading your updates in advance to gauge how the fishing action is progressing. I was interested in the comments about the algae growth on Winnie. Is this also affecting Cutfoot? I know the last few years we have run into algae growth at about 11 feet on Eagle Nest Bar if we fished the weed line. Has this spread deeper on Cutfoot, and does it affect the fishing on Battle Point Bar?
A) Chuck the answer to your question is a multifaceted one. Until now, the water clarity of Cutfoot Sioux has lagged behind that of the water on Winnibigoshish. Filter feeding Faucet Snails, the original cause of improving water clarity have had a greater impact on Winnie than they have on Cutfoot. That said, Cutfoot’s water is clearing too and plant life does now have the ability to grow deeper than it did prior to the Faucet Snail invasion.
The answer to your specific question depends on how fast the full scale migration of Zebra Mussels becomes established in Cutfoot. It took a while for biologists to pin down the precise location of Zebra Mussel colonies on the big lake. After only a couple of years of finding them on the West side of the lake, they have spread into the lakes mid-section and now they turn up almost everywhere on the main lake.
From my point of view, it seems inevitable that the water of Cutfoot Sioux will continue to clear and plant life will flourish in deeper water than it does now. While we may not have seen the full impact yet, I do believe that preparing for changing fish habitats and adjusting presentations accordingly will be a good idea.
The wild card is that Cutfoot receives more runoff, has darker water and warms faster than the water on Winnie. That means healthy algae blooms would be more likely to offset the impact of filter feeders in Cutfoot. Assuming we have a warm summer and plenty of rain, the impact would be mitigated. Cool weather with less rainfall would tend to increase the impacts of clearing water.
Evolution isn’t much fun, especially for those of us who liked things the way they were. But it has thrust itself upon us, so we’re gonna have to deal with it as best we can.
Keep an open mind, learn some new techniques and utilize your own instinctive ability; your vacation will still be a fun one.
"Overall, a great week of fishing. High winds and storms early to the middle of last week made fishing difficult at times. Dirty water from the winds didn't help fishing but the storms have passed fishing has resumed to its previous level, great! Depending on the wind pulling spinners is effective but many fish still being caught with a jig and shiner or jig and a leech. Key depths between 11-18' or 30-31' of water. In 5-11 feet along shorelines the shiner spawn is on and the walleyes and saugers are chowing down. Good number of large pike mixed in with walleyes right now.
Walleyes in the Rainy River with a good morning bite. Trolling cranks a good idea to cover a large portion of water. Multi-species bag often the result. Smallmouth bass are feeding strong in bays, feeder streams, rock, under docks, and weed edges. Sturgeon fishing opens again July 1st.
Up at the NW Angle, walleye fishing excellent on wind blown shore lines. Little Oak, Oak, Flag Island flats all holding fish. 18-26' a consistent depth with some shallow fish in 4-14'. Harnesses with a bottom bouncers or a jig and minnow. Some pulling cranks as well in the shallows. Colors as always should include gold, pink, glow colors and bright colors. Muskie season is now open with some nice fish being boated. The water temps dropped due to some storms thus locations of fish has varied." – Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"It has been a great week with many Dad’s and Grand Dad’s fishing with their families and friends. Many anglers were kids and grandkids with some coming from as far as Australia. We even caught a 2 time NCAA Championship wrestler from University of Iowa catching Walleye this week!
We continue to have great fishing, although a couple days of strong wind changed the game for a bit. The Walleye Master Guides have been covering the lake from the South Shores and Island Reefs of Big Traverse Bay to around Garden Island and in Little Traverse Bay. We continue to anchor and jig or drift with spinners. Depending on the tactic and location targeted depths vary. Anchoring in the middle of Big Traverse in 30-31 feet, drifting in some locations has been from 11-18 feet.
More of the same weather ahead, it looks like highs into 70 degrees with overnight lows in the 50’s.
We still have some great opportunities for July and August with rate specials arriving on a Sunday, Monday or Tuesday." - 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
Have you ever thought about yourself as rigid, inflexible, unable to adapt? No? Well that’s good news because that means you’re going to have a nice long run of catching Walleyes on “The New” Lake Winnibigoshish.
The thing is that the path leading to great Walleye fishing on Winnie is a narrow one; one that will force us to leave a lot of our old baggage behind. Holding on to past traditions, favorite fishing spots and “old reliable” presentations is the only thing that can hold us back.
Markers that you’ll read on the road map to “The New Winnie” include; adaptability lane, versatility road and hungry for knowledge highway.
On June 15th, Steve Sykes wrote; “I am heading up this Saturday for our annual family trip to Cutfoot Sioux, we stay at Eagle Nest Lodge. I have heard this spring has been tough fishing, any extra insights as to catching walleyes this next week?”
At the end of his question, Steve added; “A friend of mine was just up there fishing and he did pretty well fishing crawlers with a lindy rig on the weed lines."
A) Steve, there’s no doubt that both Winnie and Cutfoot have had their ups and downs this spring. But your friend obviously figured out that there are still fish to catch and also discovered a presentation to make them strike.
Winnie may not behave like she used to, memories of the formerly famous 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM daytime bite are becoming more distant all the time. But like most clear water lakes, she can be beat and anglers who have adapted to the clear water are figuring that out.
If you’d asked me the same question ten years ago, there would have been 3 presentations that would not have received any attention, not even an honorable mention. Today, these 3 presentations are THE PROMINATE way to beat the odds for catching Walleyes on the big lake.
As the water warms, other presentations will come into play, but in the spirit of your question, these are the 3 things that I believe would be most helpful during the next week. I hope the information helps, not just for the week upcoming, but more importantly, I hope that it illustrates that adaptability is the key to good fishing in the future.
Its official, summer is here! I know that for sure because on Wednesday, those ankle biting little black flies were the biggest problem I had all day long. That means that we’ve finally received enough warmth to move our lakes into the insect hatching zone.
The warming temperatures have been good for fishing, but at the same time have given us quite a roller coaster ride. Alternating between hot, calm & sunny and cool, rough & choppy, there was finally enough heat and moisture in the air to encourage this summer's first string of violent thunderstorms.
On Tuesday, we happened to be on the lake and experienced them in all of their glory, complete with lightning, thunder and storm force winds. That wasn’t a lot of fun, but luckily, we managed to navigate safely and except for some soggy clothes, escaped unharmed.
After the storms passed, I anticipated a real slowdown in productivity for Wednesday. I was surprised though because if anything, the fishing action actually got better, not worse. Our “lucky break” came in the form of strong south winds that stirred up a frothy white Walleye chop. Without those whitecaps, I’d probably be singing a different tune this morning. No matter, whatever created the good luck for us on Wednesday, I’ll take it; I think we earned it on Tuesday.
Before the stormy weather arrived, sunshine and clam seas pushed surface temperatures higher. Depending on the depth and clarity of water in your favorite lake, you’ll find temperatures ranging between 65 and 72 degrees this weekend.
Without doubt, the warmer water has helped fishing. Folks are catching more fish, on a wider range of lakes and there are more species to choose from.
For me, Walleyes have been the primary agenda item all week, so I’ve missed out on some awesome opportunities for catching Panfish and Bass. Any serious exploration in shallow water will eventually lead you to bedding Sunfish and Bass. I believe that the majority of Crappies are past their spawning period, but you may still find a few straggler Crappies in shallow water too.
Before you begin dropping Sunfish into your cooler, I hope that you’ll take a few minutes to read >> what’s The Value of a Sunfish? I hope that you’ll accept the information graciously and like me, come to the realization that you can enjoy a great fish fry without breaking the backbone of future opportunity.
Walleye presentations are on the verge of changing now too. I mentioned last week that we had our first experience where “Wiggle Worming” was the only presentation that worked on Lake WishIknew. This week, jig and minnow combinations have still been effective, but crawlers and leeches are becoming more reliable every single day. On Monday, I conducted a side by side comparison. I used crawlers on a 1/16 ounce live bait jig, while the crew used 1/8 ounce jigs tipped with minnows. The results were equal, the fish were attracted to both baits and our productivity would not have suffered if we’d left the dock without minnows.
Yesterday, we talked with a young man who captured a nice bag of Walleyes on Winnibigoshish using slip bobbers and leeches. In the past, this presentation may have been considered off-beat for Winnie, but take my word for it; slip bobber fishing has a bright future on Winnie. This will become the primary method for keeping your bait about the tops of the stringy algae that now grows in deep water on the big lake.
There’s a lot of good fishing going on right now and I have more news than I know what to do with. The problem is that I also have a crew waiting for me and I’m up against the clock. Do me a favor and check back tomorrow morning and I’ll have some more news about Crappies, Pike and Smallmouth Bass.
"As predicted in the report prior to this one, fishing last weekend was very good. Crappies for the most part have moved into the shallows at last. The exception would be the large deep lakes in the area but they’re usually the last to have Crappies move in. Many anglers have switched to soft plastics and are having good success. Sunfish are slowly moving in too and are a blast to catch on a fly rod. There has been a lot of talk concerning Bass. The shallows have mostly small fish right now although the shallow lakes seem to have more large fish in the shallows at this time.
The thunder storms we experienced recently have shut things down temporarily but another week of warm weather (barring more thunder storms) and everything should blow wide open.
Walleye continue to be elusive in the deep lakes but the shallower lakes with flats and good mid depth structure are producing some action. Pike and Muskies are on a tear right now.
We’ve received some great photos of some good sized fish on our Facebook time line. These photos then end up on the Wall of Fame outside the store. It’s always fun to see happy anglers showing off their catch.
Lastly, this Sunday is Father’s day and even though it looks like there could be a few thunder storms and showers around this weekend, it still should be a great time to be out on the water (just keep an eye out for storms)."
Frontier Sports features a complete and fully stocked Sporting Goods department and Bait Shop, Gas, Grocery, Deli and Gift Shop. Frontier Sports is an authorized LIVE TARGET and SAVAGE GEAR dealer. Frontier Sports 218-832-3901
"The Northern Pike continue to dominate the fishing on Lake Winnie! They seem to be everywhere you go. Jigs and minnows are catching huge numbers of fish shallow, deep, and in between. We were talking about that the other day and were thinking that the northerns were always on the deeper breaklines in the past, but we were always targeting walleyes on the shallower breaklines. Just a thought. It is not unusual to catch 10-15 northerns per drift. No shortage of action and great eating in the cooler water right now.
Walleyes have been elusive. We are catching some during the day, but the best time continues to be the last two hours before dark. They have been moving shallow following the shiner minnows. Jigs and shiners is the best bet for that deal. Some fish are starting to go on crankbaits closer to dark, as well. Some fish are starting to go on leeches and crawlers using Lindy type rigs or spinners.
As the bug hatches intensify in the coming days, this will continue to improve on the mid-lake structures.
Perch have been harder to come by in the past week. The normal perch areas have not been producing as well as in the past. Some searching will pay off with some nice perch. Patience is required to find the nicer perch. Put in your time and you will be rewarded.
We have some openings for the coming weeks. Check out our availability and give us a call." Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
"Strong numbers of walleyes and saugers all over the lake being caught with many different tactics. Key depths between 18-30' of water. Jig and a frozen shiner or leech and pulling spinners effective. As typical in June, a nice crankbait bite right now pulling crankbaits in 5-11 feet along shorelines. Some of this is set up as shiners spawn in sand and other bait shallow. Both reefs and mud holding fish. Jumbo perch and pike mixed in with walleyes all over the lake.
Walleyes in the Rainy River with a good morning bite. Some anglers trolling cranks and covering water to find fish. Multi-species bag often the result. Smallmouth bass in the river continue to be active. Bays, feeder streams, rock and weed edges good starts. Sturgeon fishing opens again July 1st.
Up at the NW Angle, walleye fishing excellent. Little Oak, Oak, Flag Island flats, Four Blocks on the MN side good bets. Walleyes and saugers being caught in a variety of spots. 18-26' a consistent depth with some shallow fish in the mix as well. Harnesses with a bottom bouncers turning on with a jig and minnow still a staple for many. Colors should include gold, pink, glow colors and bright colors. Smallmouth bass continue to be active. Many monster pike caught this past week over 45" by walleye anglers. Muskie season opens Saturday June 17!" – Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"We have had great fishing this past week! The weather cooperated nicely most of the week, Saturday started with storms and wind which changed the fishing game. Summer is going full speed ahead, it is amazing to think we are already a week and a half into June.
This past week has provided us with some great days of drifting with spinners and crawlers or anchoring and jigging. We have been mostly fishing the north side of the lake although there are still plenty of fish off of Pine Island. We are still seeing the pattern of larger fish on the north side. The drifting with spinners is a great tactic and lots of fun. Instead of the tiny nibbles on the line and wondering when to set the hook you get a more aggressive strike, and the fight is on. We have been anchoring in the 25-28 foot of water and drifting from the 11-24 foot of water.
This week forecast shows some cloud cover days, we need a little rain, but do not want to say it too loud. Temps in the 70’s during the day and 50’s overnight.
The deck project is still on going, we are trying to do it in small batches to keep the deck open. We hope you will excuse our messes as we work to improve your experience at Border View Lodge. We still have some great opportunities for July and August with rate specials arriving on a Sunday, Monday or Tuesday." - 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge .
Almost anybody can tell you that the more variables you add to an equation, the more difficult solving the problem becomes. So far this weekend, variability has been the rule, not the exception.
Having a solid pattern locked in for my annual fishing trip with the Skoglund family on Friday, I boldly headed off for the lake, never thinking for a second that I was about to watch the pattern fall apart before my very eyes.
At first it was like clockwork, we arrived at the first spot, dropped our jigs into the lake and voila, within a minute, John was reeling in a nice Walleye. My first thought was here we go; we’re gonna collect enough Walleyes to satisfy the crew and then head for the Perch hole. But the project didn’t go quite as fast as I expected.
Minute by minute, images of fish that had been filling the screen of my Humminbird became harder and harder to read. The fish that we did locate were willing to bite, but their attitude was sour. They acted like 6 year old kids when you’re trying to get them to eat Asparagus.
You know how it goes, “come on sweetie, just taste it, it’s good, really it is.” They did try it, but they were way too prone toward spitting it out before we could get them properly fed.
Jason seemed to figure out the proper timing, the precise moment to set the hook. That was good because he kept adding fish to our larder, but the rest of us struggled to keep fish hooked.
The problem for me was that the pattern we had been fishing worked because calm seas were encouraging fish to hold tight near mid-lake structure. They were lying along the transition between mud and firmer sand, making them very easy to find.
With no wind, fishing in water depths of 20 to 24 feet was easy and I could hold position at a very low speed, .2 to .4 MPH was the best. That way we could finesse the lures and elicit strikes from the negative minded fish. But minute by minute, the water was getting riled up and the choppier it became, the slower our action got. The fish were making a move and for a while, only they knew where they were going; I couldn’t keep up with ‘em.
Later, a strong Walleye Chop was fully developed and we managed to pick up a few more fish from Cabbage weeds located in 6 to 8 feet of water. At the time, I believed that there would be more fish coming, but we were getting late for our appointment at the Gosh Dam Place for a fish fry. So we headed for the landing with 14 keepers, not bad considering our catch rate compared to a batting average of about 96, give or take.
My crew, Keith and Diane Eberhardt wondered where we would fish, so did I. I literally picked a lake solely for the reason that the landing was on the calm water side. Yes, I knew there were Walleyes in it, but we just took our chances that they’d be hungry.
Remembering Friday, I skipped right over any deep water structure and this time I headed straight for the weeds. This time I was lucky, the Cabbage weeds were fully populated and with 3 foot waves rolling in, the fish were moving and feeding very aggressively. There was still a variable though and this time it was color.
I rarely suggest that one color triumphs over all others, but this time I think it did. For our first couple of hours, Keith was like a machine, he caught fish after fish, usually within a few minutes after the last one.
When I reached into the box and pulled out another Blue/Glow Live Bait Jig, I asked Diane to let me tie it on, “just to see” if it made a difference. It took exactly one cast for her rod to begin bending too and now she was easily keeping pace with Keith. After a while, I switched to the same Blue/Glow color and for me, the results were good too.
I realize that it’s not exactly a double blind study, but there wasn’t much doubt that switching colors worked for us on this particular day. Recently, one of my customers said; “You can fish with any color you want, as long as it is Green.” If we had followed that advice, we may have caught about 1/3 of the fish that we boated on Saturday. Experimenting with colors may not work every time, but if you don’t try it, then it will never work.
This is a good example of why I carry every color there is and try to use them all. You just never know what those fish are thinking and sometimes you just have to stumble into the right combination.
Surface Water Temperatures are now ranging between 65 and 70 degrees wherever I’ve fished. My nephew texted me yesterday afternoon reporting a 71 degree reading on the lake he was fishing. Warmer water, along with the development of fresh green weeds is fueling a resurgence of action in the shallows while the development of insect hatches is encouraging better deep water action.
It is a joy to see some of these reliable summer patterns developing, I am very optimistic about the next week. I don’t mean to say that the fish will automatically bite like crazy every day, but based on my experiences along with reports from friends and family, the prospect of improved success rates is on the horizon.
Today’s forecast calls for calm seas and overcast skies, at least for the morning. That means that I’m likely to focus on deep water for Walleyes again. Later, the sun is supposed to shine and that may kill the daytime Walleye bite. But it could be just what the doctor ordered for looking into shallow water for Panfish and Bass.
I’ll report more about that tomorrow, after we see how the day goes for us today.
Sometimes I can’t believe how lucky I get!
The warmth, depth of character and good nature possessed by people in this country is amazing. On Thursday, I was given another heaping helping of the good spirit that goes so vastly under-reported these days.
Dick and Dave Thouin had never fished with me before, but they knew a little bit about me and they knew that I was willing to take a chance on fishing their home lake. That was risky for me because I hadn’t been there yet this year and hadn’t heard any fishing reports one way or another either.
Bothered too by the strong series of thunderstorms that swept through Grand Rapids on Wednesday evening, I was apprehensive about how active the fish might be. There are a lot of days when I can find fish, but my ability to make them strike isn’t any better than yours is; sometimes they won’t bite and I was worried about that.
For all I knew, it was going to be a long day; the boys could have sat down in the boat and given me the silent treatment while I investigated every nook and cranny of their lake in search of Walleyes. Luckily for me, they didn’t and it wasn’t like that at all. What they really wanted was to learn the lake, see what she had to offer take advantage of any opportunity that presented itself.
When we arrived at the landing, the parking lot was empty and the lake was quiet. The Surface water temperature boosted my confidence, at 64 degrees it was squarely in the ideal range. Even if we couldn’t find Walleyes, surely we’d be able to search the weeds and find something that wanted to strike.
The first spot, an offshore bar that was covered with Cabbage weeds proved that theory. Pike, mainly small ones were holding along the weed edges and it didn’t take too long to get a few of them. A Walleye did it’s best to give Dave a thrill, but the hook missed the fish and Dave was left with the telltale skinned minnow. It was Dave’s first strike I think and ironically, that minnow with its pants pulled down would be the only chance at a Walleye for the entire day.
That’s right, we searched the weedline, we looked at the shoreline breaks and we checked mid lake bars. Finding fish was easy, there were a number of places where we could see them on the Humminbird, but strike our lures they would not.
We did catch 6 reasonable size Pike for eating, but larger specimens were nowhere within our reach either. The larger fish could be seen suspended over 40 to 50 feet of water where they should be left alone.
By this point, you’d expect to sense some disappointment, but spirits were high and we chatted our way through the search for something to do. I remember saying that it was just a matter of time; sooner or later we’ll find some action. I added that most of the time, the best fishing opportunity occurs for me whenever I stumble into something, whenever luck overtakes skill.
While we were perusing the shallows hoping to find some Crappies, I stumbled into something else instead; Bluegills. They weren’t easy to spot, because most of them weren’t on beds yet, but they were in the early phase of forming them. There were a few well developed beds and lots of places where sand was beginning to show through the silty muck that they’d begun fanning.
Surrounding that small spot was a tangle of Bulrush growing in 3 to 4 feet of water and those Bulrushes were home to a school of fish that provided an afternoon filled with giggles. Sunfish of all sizes, including some really nice ones were trying to get into that area for nesting and they were very aggressive.
While we were catching them, we chatted about Bluegill biology (Learn More About The Value of a Sunfish) and armed with knowledge, the boys graciously agreed to grant immunity to most of the larger specimens. We targeted fish in the 7-1/2 to 8-1/2 inch range for the dinner table and released almost all of the fish that touched the 9 inch mark. Sometimes you can’t help but catch fish that gobble the hooks so deeply that can’t be saved and there were a few of them that we kept.
That leads me to a point about presentation; the jigs we used have large, wide gap hooks that are easy to remove. Most folks would doubt that the 1/0 hook used to make the Live Bait jig is the right size for Bluegills but believe me, they can eat that hook just as easily as they can eat a little nipper. When you’re trying to release fish, it makes a lot of sense to go with the largest hook size you can; that’s what I do.
Another note about presentation is that small night crawlers were much more efficient than the large ones. Large, bold pieces of night crawler threaded too loosely on the hook will be stolen so fast that it makes me wanna scream. I think that the skinnier the worm is, the easier it is to thread it tightly onto the hook and that will help prevent them from stealing your bait as quickly.
Dick picked up a leech that was half baked in the sun and forced that onto his hook and that “lucky leech” produced a half dozen fish during its lifespan too.
Long story short, the day could have been a disaster for me if I’d been working on a “Walleye or Die” mission. Instead, Dick and Dave were willing to fish the fishable and because of that, I was allowed enough time to stumble into the best Bluegill fishing that I will probably have this entire summer.
I won’t go back, the rest of the fish in that area are safe from me to complete their spawning cycle. But they won’t be forgotten and neither will my new friends Dick and Dave, two more shining examples of what makes my job so much fun!
"Here's an in-depth look at how to use Shallow Water and Depth Highlight functions on your fish finder for making spot-on casts and running a pattern. Mapping has become an indispensable tool in finding fish holding structure, but also in how to ..." View Video >> Make "Spot on Spot" Casts
"Fishing has improved in the Edge of the Wilderness area with the coming of June. Water temperatures are slowly climbing into the sixties and as a result, Crappies have started to enter the shallows…. at least for a while. The old adage “When the Lilacs are in bloom the Crappies will begin to head for the shallows “is true again this year. And although the spawning run has just started, they are still hanging out around the weed edges in the evening. Slip bobbers with a jig and a minnow or small plastic, as well as small crankbaits have been working well. Right before dark seems to be the most productive time for them. Walleye’s have been hard to find in the big deep lakes in the area. So far, anglers have been picking up a few in anywhere from fifteen to twenty five feet of water but you should also check the bull rushes edges in the six foot or less depth range too. Often times Walleye’s will be up in the shallows looking for Crayfish, a Walleye favorite. This time of year, when they are most vulnerable, Crayfish seem to be a delicacy that a Walleye just can’t pass up. Jerk baits and reddish colored rattle baits like the Savage Gear Fat Vibe are the ticket in this instance. I look forward to this phenomenon every June! Smallmouth Bass fishing has been good and is getting better daily. Smally’s are visiting the shallows most days and drop shotting, paddle tail plastics, jerk baits and spinnerbaits have been the top producers.. Big Bluegills are a little spotty right now but they should be on the beds soon. Lastly, Pike have been cooperating and anglers have been catching fish in the twenty six to thirty inch range on a regular basis. Spoons, spinner baits, large crankbaits and swimbaits are very effective right now as the Pike are in the shallows and on a feeding binge. The Tackle Department and Bait Shop are fully stocked and the staff can assist you in choosing the right tackle and effective techniques to insure you have a successful outing in the Edge of the wilderness. Be sure to drop by when you’re in the area!"
Frontier Sports features a complete and fully stocked Sporting Goods department and Bait Shop, Gas, Grocery, Deli and Gift Shop. Frontier Sports is an authorized LIVE TARGET and SAVAGE GEAR dealer. Frontier Sports 218-832-3901
Fishing with my friend Bobby Cox and his son Steve, it was a foregone conclusion that the trip would automatically be successful. That’s because Bobby is among the few people whose goals are easiest to fulfill; I love hearing these instructions, “I just wanna catch fish”.
Steve, on the other hand was a little more specific, a mixed bag of Northern Pike and Walleye were on his mind and while that narrowed down the lake of choice a little bit, there were still several to choose from.
The one I picked has abundant stands of Cabbage weeds, some shallow sand flats and even a few rocks. There’s a lot of deep water, in fact the littoral area, depths of 15 feet or less only covers about 15% of the lake.
It’s a popular lake, well known for having lots of Pike, and while some are better than others, any given cast could produce a whopper. There’s a decent Walleye population too, but when they’re in, they’re in and when they’re not … well, then we have Pike to fish for instead.
Surface temperature at the land was 66 degrees and over the deepest portion the reading was 61 degrees. I can’t think of any temperature range that I like better than that and to me, it signaled that we were in contention for a good day.
That notion was proven almost immediately when at the first spot, Steve tossed his 1/8 ounce jig and minnow into the first weed patch and pulled out a keeper Walleye. After that, Walleyes came to the boat intermittently, but the Pike were on fire and so was Steve.
I know that a lot of you are reading because you know that sooner or later, I’ll give you “A Real Insider Fishing Tip”, and guess what?; here it is.
Virtually every other angler on the lake was focused on the outer edges that lay along the steep breakline. Admittedly, we did catch a few fish on those deeper breaks, but for all intents and purposes, ALL of the fishing action that we enjoyed occurred on the inside edge of the Cabbage weeds.
Instead of positioning the boat on the deep break and casting in, I used the MinnKota to quietly creep along in 5 to 6 feet of water, within casting range of the inside weed edges. When we cast, the jigs fell into about 9 feet of water and we retrieved them with the familiar hop-drop-reel type of retrieve.
The fish may just have been seeking extra shade, but I think that they may have been focused on baitfish traveling along the sandy flat. It’s only my theory, but if you think about it, it makes sense. There would be a lot more minnows and small fish roaming along the shallow flat, especially since the weather had been warm and stable for so long. After a cold front, baitfish would move off of the shallow sand, onto the deep edges and the fishing pattern would flip over 180 degrees.
There are a lot of ways to bag a Pike, but when they’re cohabitating with Walleyes in the same Cabbage patch, it makes the most sense to jig for them. That way, every cast you make has a chance of producing a bonus Walleye.
The problem is that the “scissor bills” snip off lots of jigs. I corrected for that problem by tying an 18 inch leader made using 30 pound test fluorocarbon tied directly to the jig head. At the other end of the leader, I added a #10 barrel swivel and used that to connect with the fishing line. Once the boys were leadered up, the loss of jigs ended, neither of them ever got snipped off again all day long.
At mid-day, fishing action for both Pike and Walleye tapered off, but luckily, we found something else to do.
You may recall the story that I wrote about Bobby a couple of years ago, the one about fishing for “google eye, goggle eye, brown eyed, red eyes”. Yes, we did it again except for this time the Rock Bass we caught were really nice ones.
It reminded me of fishing for Smallmouth Bass, the Goggle Eyes were beginning to fan beds near shore and whenever we could locate rocks, we could sight fish for them. They were finicky, but catchable and by the end of that session, we had almost reached Bobby’s goal of capturing a dozen; keeping 11.
At the cleaning station, numbers were low, but quality was high. After a day of selective harvest, we had 6 nice pike, 5 keeper Walleye and adding the 11 Google Eyes, there were enough fillets to fill a cooler.
Before you turn up your nose at the Rock Bass, I should mention that the fillets were very, very nice. I consider myself lucky to fish with folks who want to utilize them. For me, finding alternatives for folks who want to consume fish is important. Eating something other than Walleye helps take some of the strain off of fisheries and I’m all for that.
So thank you Bobby, I came home with a smile on my face yesterday because I’m thankful for your good nature and that I was able to share your love of fishing. I can hardly wait until next summer!
On Wednesday, Steve Picht tagged me in his reply to a facebook post from someone who asked; Q) "Does anybody know who makes these jigs they are not from a big corp. Bought them at RiverRats in Cohasset Mn."
A) Picht replied; "Those particular jigs were sold at River Rat Trading Post in Cohasset, MN and Fred's Bait & Tackle in Deer River, MN. a few other local bait shops.! They were manufactured by local Guide, and Lindy Pro, Jeff Sundin for a good amount of years.! Jeff no longer manufactures the "Bug Eyed Shorty" Now, Lindy is producing them.
Thank you for the history lesson Steve, you are indeed correct. I developed that jig about 32 years ago and sold them primarily at sport shows and in northern Minnesota bait shops.
I got out of the business about 5 years ago and when I did, there were a couple of guys who attempted to replicate the original.
Now Lindy is producing the Live Bait Jig, originally developed by me and at 2.99 for a 7 pack, this original version of the jigs sells for half of the price of the knock-offs.
Here's a link to the item on Lindy's page, >> Lindy Live Bait Jig and you can also find numerous articles and videos by googling "Lindy Live Bait (Sundin) Jig.
"An incredible week of walleye fishing on the big pond. Strong numbers of walleyes and saugers continue. Lots of walleyes and saugers being caught with anglers catching and enjoying across the lake. Overall, really good fishing with nice quality keepers. Key depths around 18-30' of water. Jig and a frozen shiner or leech has been the best presentation with gold or glow jigs. Pulling spinners also effective with hammered gold or silver good colors. Reefs and mud holding fish. Jumbo perch and pike mixed in with angler catches.
Walleyes in the Rainy River with a good morning bite. Fish running smaller than lake fish, but a good day can be had. Smallmouth bass fishing going well. Try feeder streams to Rainy River, rock piles and bridges. Shallow diving crankbaits, jigs and plastics or small spinners for bass. Sturgeon fishing opens again July 1st.
Up at the NW Angle, strong success continues on both the MN and Ontario sides. Many have limits in just a few hours. Both rock and mud producing walleyes. Flag Island flats producing nicely this week in 5-7' otherwise 18-26' the norm. Harnesses with a bottom bouncer preferred over jig and a minnow. Colors should include chartreuse, pink, glow colors and of course gold. Smallies moving shallow and hungry. Muskie season opens June 17th!" – Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
It’s amazing how fast 5 days can fly by! With this report, the spring session of “Fun with Dick and Paul, XXVIIX” is officially entered into the captain’s log.
There were a few “firsts” this year and without a doubt, the most notable was the absence of rain. That’s right, none of us can remember a single past trip that did not require the use of foul weather gear at some point. Truthfully, the absence of a rain suit in the boat during most of our spring trips would be un-thinkable.
Another first is that it took all five days to fill the walleye and pike bag limits for the boys. Admittedly, we are rather selective about which fish we keep and we did eat fish for dinner 4 out of 5 nights. Still, a combination of gorgeous weather along with the odd timing of fish progressions this spring meant that I worked the boys harder than usual this time.
Learning a new presentation was another first this year and yesterday it was a huge one.
We’d all agree that this was a good week to be Dick; his was the rod that bent over the most often. All you'd have to do scroll through archived reports and you'd see that fishing with a jig and minnow, Dick can keep up with the best of ‘em. I'll personally guarantee you that it’s not unusual for him to know “the trick.”
That’s how fishing goes; one person figures it out, that certain motion that works best on any given day. Once they feel it, it’s not easy to hold them back; they just automatically catch more fish. For most of this trip, it was Dick who knew the trick. Hmm ... does this mean that we can now call him Tricky Dicky?
For me, knowing “the trick” came into play on day 5 and the presentation of choice was “Wiggle Worming”, that’s what turned the heads of hungry Walleye this time. I offered a lesson about this fishing presentation, seldom used on the spring trip. On Monday though, it was required, so the Wiggle Worming 101 class was in session.
While the boys made a lot of progress and enjoyed some success, we sure could have used another day to perfect the system.
It was clear that the fish preferred night crawlers delivered on Lindy’s new 1/16 ounce Live Bait Jig. Eliciting a strike was the least of my worries, all I had to do was hold the boat along the weed edges and voila, they gobbled it up. That was good because it allowed us to wrap the trip with a solid catch of nice Walleyes. The fish not only topped off the bag limit for the boys, but I was able to capture a few so that we could enjoy one last fish fry before they head for home.
The problem was that it takes a little practice before one can become adept at “feeling” your way through all of the weeds, clam shells and false attacks by Perch or Pike. Knowing the trick meant that the lion’s share of the fish was captured by me, a condition that neither pleases me, nor makes me proud. I would much rather have seen all of the fish come in at the hands of my crew.
The presentation is actually very simple; it only takes a little practice to sort out all of the different sensations that transmit through the rod tip top your fingers. Once you connect the dots, feeling the real Walleye strike, feeding the line and setting the hook becomes as easy as any fishing presentation out there and for my money, even easier than most.
I could go through the whole program here, but I’ve tackled the subject before and there are more than one in-depth article about “Wiggle Worming” and how to achieve the best results. If you’re hungry for knowledge and want to catch more Walleyes during mid-summer, then click here to learn more. >> “Wiggle Worming 101”.
Another departure from routine trips of the past was our inability to pin down a school of Crappies. There were times that we could see them with our eyes, but could not make them strike. Whatever it is that they want we did not figure it out.
The folks that I know who are catching them are fishing during twilight. The best bite occurs when fish cruise the weed edges as the sun dips behind the trees. The evening Crappie run is one of the most reliable patterns in the state; I just can’t take advantage of it. But you can so if you’re thinking about finding some specs, then be sure to fish the twilight bite.
Surface water temperatures on the lake ranged between 60 and 63 degrees yesterday. With more sunshine and calm seas headed our way, the food chains in area lakes are liable to flourish. Soon, summer patterns are going to set in, weeds will develop and insect hatches will intensify.
All of the sunshine may make us scratch our heads for a while. But on the bright side, pun intended, it could also mean that algae blooms will intensify and this would be very encouraging. Not only would that produce better fishing this summer, but will provide more food for young fish, that could help establish a stronger year class this summer; that would be nice.
This morning, I’d love to be telling you that we just had the most fabulous fishing action of any trip, ever, but I can’t, it was more of a blue collar, industrial strength fishing adventure.
Luckily, we do have a nice highlight reel; each of us had a moment of glory, and without a doubt, we all have a lot to smile about and our levels of vitamin D have peaked; I’m thankful for that.
Summing it all up, Paul and I settled on a term to describe the trip; “Different”. The weather was different, the fishing was different and as Paul said last night; “The world is different”.
The walleye fishing has improved as the surface temperatures continue to rise. We are still learning what it takes to fish a lake where the water clarity is more than five feet! The best shallow bites are happening the last two hours of daylight. The walleyes are moving shallow as the sun dips behind the treeline. Some good catches using jigs and shiners are being reported in 6-10' of water.
The midday bite has been a little tougher. Look to the shoreline drops in 18-24' of water. I caught two on rigs and leeches today, and that trend will continue as we start to see some bug hatches on the main lake structures.
It is pretty hard to believe that fishermen will complain about catching fish, but the northerns have become the talk of the week. It seems everywhere you go, there are northerns biting. Most of them are 18-22" (the reason for the complaining), but there have been some nice ones caught. Larry and Anita Renze from St. Peters, MO caught three fish 27,28, and 31". I know we caught and released over 50 northerns today on the pontoon. They make for great action, but can get somewhat annoying when you are retying jigs all of the time!
Not much new to report on the perch front. They can still be caught when targeted. Move along the breakline until you locate some nicer perch.
It looks like the fishing is starting to move toward a summer like pattern. The warmer weather has lifted the fishermen's spirits after the past couple of weeks of cold and rainy weather.
We have some openings coming up for the remainder of the month. If you want to get in on some great fishing action, give us a call. - Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
"Here’s a look at John Murray’s two go-to tungsten drop shot weight styles, and when he fishes each.
Murray breaks down how to select the right drop shot weight for the situation. He starts by highlighting the importance of tungsten for its ability to transmit bottom composition to your hand. He then discusses his two favorite standard weight profiles - the tear drop and cylinder, and when to use each...." View Video To Learn More >> Drop Shot Weight Selection Considerations
It might be a stretch to call today’s lake “fresh territory” because it is one that I’ve fished a lot over the years, but there were good reasons to pay this one a visit. For one, Dick loves the lake and sometimes goes home disappointed whenever we don't fish there for one day. Another good reason is that the Hippie Chick has never been there, so for her it really was fresh territory. For me? Well I haven’t been there at all this season, so technically, I was able to justify calling it fresh territory this time.
A weird weather event must have occurred overnight because when we arrived at the landing, the surface water temperature was 64 degrees; that’s a huge departure from the readings we’d been seeing.
The water was stirred up too, it had the appearance of a heavy summer algae bloom. I was happy about it because I figured the bloom would make fishing easier, still I didn’t expect to see it.
The reason I thought that something strange had happened was because shortly after we started, surface temperature began falling. The water color became clearer too and continued to clear up all day long. Throughout the day, the surface temps continued to fall and eventually reached 56 degrees, an approximate parity with other area lakes.
I know that there were a few storms in the area on Friday night, but I’m not sure if or how they were related. Whatever happened or why, had no apparent detrimental effect on fishing and will go into the log as a curiosity.
Like other lakes I’ve fished recently, walleyes were scattered and finding a repeatable pattern wasn’t easy. But the fish were aggressive when we found them and from the fishing point of view, the day was actually a very good one.
The pattern, if I could call it that, was to fish the weeds at shoreline related, inside corners. When I moved out into the main lake, bars and rocky points, typically inhabited by this time of the season, were vacant. Every spot that produced multiple numbers of fish was connected in some way to the shoreline.
The weed lines were not well developed yet, but we could “feel” weeds whenever we fished shallower than 10 feet deep. Wherever there were rocks mixed with weeds, fish were present in greater numbers. That said, when we fished areas that had lots of rock, but no weeds, fish populations were very sparse. Single scattered fish was the best that any ‘rock spot” ever produced.
I had intended to try some other presentations, but 1/8 ounce jigs, tipped with Rainbows or Shiners provided enough action and with a strong cross wind, this was the simplest presentation for the conditions.
The Hippie Chick lighted up the boat, but I’m afraid she wound up with more than her fair share of responsibility. First, she was put in charge of the music, that’s a distraction itself. But seated between Dick and Paul, she rarely had more than a few minutes to fish. It was a very good day to be Dick, he was on fire and Paul’s action was way up from the first two days as well. Between the two boys, she was given almost too much opportunity for practicing her landing net skills.
Luckily, there were a few great moments of fishing action for her too so that we could get some photos. Given the choice, who would ever want to see another ordinary photo of those boys with a fish, when they could spy the smile that lights up the whole lake?
For today, the theme “fresh territory” is back in full force. The choice is between one lake that I’ve never fished before and another one that I haven’t fished for 25 years. You’re right, it doesn’t matter which one because I’m not gonna tell anyway. But, you already know that whatever we learn, you’re gonna know too.
As we enjoyed our fish fry at the Gosh Dam Place yesterday, I was reminded why I get up at 4:30 to write these reports. Another guest at the restaurant actually thanked me for some information that he read here and it helped him catch some fish.
He didn’t need the GPS coordinate; he didn’t need to know the lake and he didn’t need me to take him fishing either. He’s already clever enough to figure out what to do, it’s just that a little fine tuning helps make the process easier. That’s what I love, group participation and that’s why I always invite you to ask, answer, or just add your own 2 cents worth.
There’s more than one way to contribute, the Fishing Reports Minnesota Facebook Page is good, you can email too and remember that you can subscribe to the “Insider Newsletter” too.
Whatever you’re doing today, good luck and remember the quote from Jason Ball that touched me a few years back; “If you’re lucky enough to be on the lake fishing, you’re lucky enough”.
Like Hannibal Smith says; “I love it when a plan comes together” and luckily day 2 of “Fun with Dick and Paul” did.
For me, the takeaway from this trip was how risky it can be when think you know something, before you know everything.
The exploration of fresh territory led us to a lake that was once familiar to me, but had fallen off of my radar screen for the past couple of decades. The water has some reddish tint, that helps it warm up faster, but its color was still on the clear side.
Littoral area, that is water less than 15 feet deep only covers about 20% of the deep water lake, so I wasn’t expecting water temps to be very warm. Over most of the main lake, 54 degrees was the warmest morning surface temperature I could find. With full sun, warm air and light breezes, the surface did warm to almost 56 degrees by late afternoon, still cool, but showing signs of improvement.
What I thought I knew was that the fish were holding along the outer edges of the lake’s deepest weed patches. I thought I knew that because the first spot we fished was along a cabbage bed in about 10 feet of water. That weed patch provided a lot of action, even if all of the fish were Northern Pike.
Reasoning that we should check out more deep weed patches, I moved to another shoreline cabbage bed that lay adjacent to an inside corner on a steep breakline.
This time we found some Walleyes, a nice double header for I and Dick started us off and I think we boated a half dozen more after that. You can imagine what I was thinking; “I’m on to something now, all I have to do is keep fishing the cabbage patches and we’ll be good to go.”
The only problem was that for the next couple of hours, the only fish we caught were Pike, lots of ‘em. While that’s fine with me, the boys can only fish so long before they have a little positive reinforcement from a Walleye. Luckily, our day was transformed back into a Walleye fishing trip when I stumbled into a pattern.
Fishing in the weeds was still the solution for catching Walleye, but what separated Walleye spots from Pike spots was the type of weeds we fished. If I wanted to put the boys on white tails, I needed to avoid cabbage and focus on the fresh, short stalks of Coontail. Just like what we found on day 1, the fresh Coontail patches held Walleyes.
Cabbage patches, especially the ones located near deeper water were loaded with Pike. If there were Walleyes present, they never got a look at our jigs because the Pike were so ravenous.
Our two best spots were located along the edges of shallow sandy flats where the weeds were beginning to grow. One of the spots happened to have some large boulders scattered on the flat, but I’m not sure that they enhanced the action. In fact, I think that we caught more fish over the weeds on a sandy clam bed.
Our presentation in the cool water was typical, jig and minnows were productive, so there was no reason to experiment. I do not believe that it made any difference what kind of minnow we tipped our 1/16 and 1/8 ounce Live Bait Jigs with. We had a combo platter of Rainbows, Fatheads and Shiners; all of them produced strikes. Traditional snap jigging worked very well using the familiar snap-fall-snap cadence.
Unlike day 1, pitching the jigs into shallow water wasn’t as important; no matter whether we back-trolled or drifted, strikes came frequently. Whenever I’d locate a productive area, somebody had something on the line every 5 to 10 minutes, if it took much longer, the boat would take us to a new spot.
In the morning, we did spy some Crappies holding over the weed tops. A brief attempt to lure them out was un-productive, but they piqued our interest. During the afternoon, we attempted to locate Panfish in shallow water, but that was a disappointment this time.
All things considered, our day was very good; we easily released a couple of dozen Walleyes, captured a few for the table too. Who knows how many Pike we caught? There were times when we caught them as fast as our lines hit the water. Being an opportunist, I made a point of being sure that a couple of them struck for the last time yesterday. I filleted them, removed the Y-Bones, left the skin on and for dinner, we enjoyed a fabulous meal of grilled pike on the patio.
It’s amazing that nearly 35 years into this fishing career, I still rely on luck almost as much as skill. Like I said, I was lucky to stumble into the Coontail vs Cabbage Walleye pattern. If I hadn’t, you’d mainly be reading about the mayhem caused by all of the Pike. But it proves something, if you just keep fishing, just keep checking fresh territory, your luck just keeps getting better.
OH, by the way, reports from friends are optimistic though, in shallow bays and protected shorelines, some Crappies are being sighted over beds. The forecast appears to be leading us in the direction of a full scale spawning session that could easily peak in just a few days. So if you’re on the lake today and take the time to tour shallow water, I think you’ve got a good shot at locating some Panfish.
For me, exploration is almost as much fun as catching fish. The problem is that I don't get as much chance to explore as I did in my formative years. Having the latitude to experiment, to search new lakes and fish for a wider range of species depends most on having the time to do it. But the most important component is the willingness to explore new territory, knowing that we may stumble into an occasional zinger.
That's what I love about working for Dick Williams and Paul Kautza, they like exploration too. They’re willing to watch me stumble occasionally because the KNOW; sooner or later we’ll discover a gem. Day 1 of “Fun with Dick and Paul” led us to one of those little gems.
You’ve read this before, but it bears repeating; bright sunshine and calm seas are not the recipe for a fabulous Walleye trip. In fact, I imagine that St. Peter will have a few stern words for me about my propensity for complaining about nice days.
Luckily, we found a lake that offered the right combination of “sunshine busters” to allow us a fairly good day. Tannin stained water, freshly emerging Coontail plants and sharp, shoreline breaks provided the backdrop. Pitching jigs tipped with minnows into the weeds provided the presentation for pulling out a mixed bag of Walleye, Perch and Pike; oh and a couple of really nice Largemouth Bass too.
Don’t worry that I’m not mentioning the lake, this early summer pattern is very common throughout the Itasca area and will be easy for you to find.
The type of lake you’re looking for is typically shallow, surrounded by lots of swampy, low-lying area and has large shallow water Coontail of Northern Milfoil flats. The dark root beer colored water drains into the lake(s) from the surrounding swamps; it leeches into the water from tree roots, saturated by water. Typically, the dark water prevents deep weeds from developing; so finding fish along the shallow weedline is an obvious first choice.On some lakes, Coontail is the predominate vegetation, on others Northern Milfoil stands out. Either way, this pattern is most effective right now, while the weeds are young and short. In a few weeks, they will become so thick that using this presentation is nearly impossible. Right now though, the weeds are tall enough to hold baitfish, short enough to fish through and productive enough to provide lots of fun.
On Thursday, there was an additional element that factored in. Walleyes refused to cooperate unless I found areas where a Coontail patch laid adjacent to sharp breaklines. Points, along with deeper patches of Cabbage weeds were not inhabited by fish. That may change after a few days of warm weather but if I were fishing there today, I’d head straight for the steep breaks and inside corners located near shore.
The presentation is proactive and requires attention; unless you’re content with Pike and Perch, you can’t expect to lean back in your chair and troll the bait. The results are much better when you cast into the weeds using a 1/8 or 1/16 ounce Live Bait Jig tipped with medium size minnows.
The weeds are much easier to manage if you hop your jig upward, instead of pulling it sideways. The vertical approach allows you to pop it up and over the short stalks of new growth. Just imagine practice casting in your back yard, it’s easy to pull up and over the grass than it would be to plow it along horizontally.
Once your jig hits the water, let it fall into the weed cover, and then retrieve it using a hop-drop-reel cadence. Most of the time, Walleyes strike as your jig and minnow exits the weed cover and falls onto the clean outer edge between the weeds and the drop off. Occasionally, fish will hold tighter, refusing to follow your bait out of the weeds, that’s why it’s important not to retrieve too fast. For me, the trick is allowing the jig to drop on a tight line, all of the way down to the bottom. Once my line goes slack, I give it a sharp hop upward, retrieve a couple of turns and then let it drop. Whenever I feel anything, I stop. The dead weight sensation of tugging on a weed is my signal “NOT TO TUG”! Instead, I allow my line to go slack, that takes the pressure off of the hook and allows the jig to fall away from the weed. Then I snap it straight up and over the grass.
Even though 90% of the contact is with weeds, don’t lose your concentration because the other 10% is Game ON!
So there you go, we took a risk, gambling might have led to failure, but it didn't. So despite my propensity for complaining about nice weather, day 1 of Fun with Dick Paul was good. For me, the experiment paid off because despite knowing that we may stumble, the even knowing that we still could have done better, it was easily the best day this week. The icing on the cake was that the lake allowed us to enjoy using one of my all-time favorite presentations.
Today we’re going to visit more “fresh territory” and I probably won’t tell you where. Don’t worry though; I will be happy to tell you how and why we do whatever it is that we wind up doing on day 2 of “Fun With Dick and Paul, MMXVII.
Brainchild of longtime Northwoods fishing guide Jeff Sundin, the jig features an innovative design that generates strike-triggering swimming and darting motions on the cast, drift or troll.
“It works with whole nightcrawlers, as well as leeches and minnows,” said Sundin, who, with his clients, perfected the jighead during an exhaustive trial-and-error development process that spanned three decades.
Sundin says the Live Bait Jig excels when fished on light tackle, in an erratic twitching ..." Learn More >> Lindy Live Bait
Mother Nature has decided to toss a few nice days our way and with any luck at all, a turnaround in fishing action should result.
Surface temperatures dipped to their lowest point of the season on Winnibigoshish yesterday. Dropping to 52 degrees at mid-lake in the morning, they began recovering slowly under the sunny sky, reaching 54 degrees by late afternoon. That water is still cold, but at least showing signs of optimism.
I can’t emphasize strongly enough the scattering effect these cold temperatures have produced. Fish location is un-predictable, but generally, mid-depth flats in 13 to 16 feet of water are producing the most reliable action.
I know that it’s frustrating, I’m not a big fan of roaming the flats myself, but this is where the lion’s share of the fish are hiding. We have found some fish every day, and when we do, they will bite. But they travel in small groups, most often singles and doubles so don’t get too locked in to any one spot.
We are still fishing with jig and minnow combinations, mainly because of the simplicity. When I have 4 or 5 lines in the water, it’s not practical to set up trolling rigs. But if I was fishing alone, or with a single partner, I would definitely be experimenting with “Lil ‘ Guys”. It’s a hybrid bait that allows the use of live bait, can be trolled slower than a spinner or crankbait, but produces flash and vibration to help trigger strikes.
Using a ¾ ounce bottom bouncer, you can maintain contact with the bottom while trolling at speeds of .7 to 1.5 MPH. That helps cover territory faster and makes searching for scattered fish more appealing. If you locate small schools of fish holding on structure, it’s easy enough to switch back into jig and minnow mode.
I’ll get back to reporting about the Winnie Walleye bite tomorrow, but we had a brief power outage this morning and that’s left me pressed for time.
For today, I’m going to be switching gears; this marks the kickoff of “Fun With Dick and Paul, MMXVII. I took my boat to the pressure washer last night and now I’m ready to travel. So for the next 5 days, I’m going to do my best to cover fresh territory, hopefully not fishing the same spot twice. It’s gonna be fun to do some experimenting and whatever we learn, you will definitely be the first to KNOW!
Brainchild of longtime Northwoods fishing guide Jeff Sundin, the jig features an innovative design that generates strike-triggering swimming and darting motions on the cast, drift or troll.
“It works with whole nightcrawlers, as well as leeches and minnows,” said Sundin, who, with his clients, perfected the jighead during an exhaustive trial-and-error development process that spanned three decades.
Sundin says the Live Bait Jig excels when fished on light tackle, in an erratic twitching ..." Learn More >> Lindy Live Bait
Okay lets cut to the chase. If you've ever asked a question about using side imaging, how it works or why it works; then you need to watch this video. This is the most comprehensive turorial about using side imaging technology that I've ever seen.
Wired2Fish teamed up with Jeff “Kolo” Kolodzinski of Humminbird to create this detailed video about understanding how and why this technology works.
"The featured product is Humminbird’s Helix-12, but the concepts will help you regardless fish finder manufacturer. Kolo breaks down how to read and interpret what side imaging, down imaging, and two-dimensional (2D) sonar are showing you, and how they can improve your fishing. We filmed real-time drone and underwater video of screen readouts to show you what rocks, weeds, fish, and bottom hardness changes look like on the screen, from the air, and below the water - seeing is believing." View Video >> Understanding Side Imaging Technologies
"I’m just like you, I wish that I could visit my favorite lake any time I want and catch oodles of big Bluegills. I’d like to bring a bunch of them home too, that way I could fix a big family fish fry for every special occasion.
The problem is that if I fish there too often or bring home too many fish, my favorite lake won’t remain favored very long.
It’s a fact of life and we’re going to have to come to grips with it; as a group, we are extremely effective predators and we’re getting better all the time. We have the equipment, the knowledge, the leisure time and the communication skills to harvest fish faster than our favorite lakes can produce them.
We literally have the ability to ..." Read Article >> What Is The Value Of A Sunfish?