Vegetation, despite the cool weather, is flourishing thanks to the added water clarity of Itasca area lakes. Large beds of healthy cabbage are beginning to hold fish of all species and a couple of my favorite summers fishing patterns have begun to be productive.
Whenever they both exist in the same lake, Crappies and Cabbage go together naturally. The large leafy plants provide a perfect combination of shade and cover, plus the plants are spaced far enough apart to give fish numerous ambush points for feeding. Post spawn crappies ALWAYS use cabbage patches if the lake they live has them. In fact, this one of the easiest fishing patterns to figure out, anybody can do it.
Timing is the caveat, later this summer, the water will warm and the fish’s metabolism will race. When that happens, these fish will bite better during daylight hours. Unfortunately though, crappies during this post spawn period have the irksome habit of making you get up early and stay up late to catch them.
I explained this to my customers on Monday while I was showing them a few spots to try catching crappies on their own. I mentioned that there have been times when I was launching my boat to start a fishing charter at the same time panfish anglers were loading their boats on trailers to go home. Suzanne asked; “how early are you talking about, what time would we have to get up to catch them?”
“Well, I was writing my fishing report at about 5:00 AM today and it was already light enough to see, so I guess that’s what I’d shoot for; “ I replied. “You wouldn’t have to do it that way though; you could make a point to stay out late instead, fishing during the evening twilight period is also good. One good rule of thumb is that when the mosquitos are biting, the crappies probably are too;” I added.
How well the pattern works for you depends on how many crappies there are in your lake. Don’t expect to find crappies in the weeds unless there are crappies, in good numbers in the lake to begin with. Another variable that will impact the effectiveness of the system is how widespread cabbage patches are in your lake. The more places there are to look, the longer your search might take, but there’s a way to speed up the process; let the fish show you where they are.
The early hours on a calm morning are magical. Anyone who wants to know what’s going on in the lake simply has to go outside and look. Minnows will be hovering over the tops of every patch of vegetation; you’ll see them dimpling the surface. Panfish, bass and pike will occasionally strike the baitfish and you’ll see the boils in the water when they do.
Crappies are easy to pick out because they cruise just below the surface, leaving a gentle wake in their path of travel. Granted, it takes a certain kind of morning for this method to work. But go out at dawn anytime there’s period of calm, stable weather and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.
Another way to locate crappies is to simply stumble into them while you’re fishing for something else. Truthfully, that’s the way I find a lot of fish, it’s sort of like looking for my wallet and finding my car keys instead.
That’s what happened on Tuesday, we were trolling Little Joe Spinners through the cabbage, looking for walleyes when we stumbled into a patch that held crappies. Now we didn’t get very many of them, but catching the ones that we did gave me an idea about where to go if I planned to fish them at twilight.
At 66 degrees, the water was still a little cool for trolling spinners, but the fast paced presentation has begun to work for me. On Tuesday, we managed to bag a total of 12 walleyes; 6 were caught wiggle worming and the other 6 were caught using the Little Joes.
The weedlines were not heavily populated; I think there are still a lot of bass and sunfish in shallow water. But there were other fish in the mix including a few sunfish, rock bass and some northern pike. Give the weeds another week or so and I think we’ll begin seeing the mixed bag bite really take off.
Speaking of mixed bags, I’m reminded about a special bonus that I almost forgot to mention. If you are willing to get up early to try the cabbage patch presentation, you will also be rewarded by “stumbling” into walleye, sunfish, pike and bass. They will all be equally active and it’s common to catch all of them as you move along any given stretch of vegetation.
You could fish the pattern a number of ways, but my favorite way to fish the cabbage is casting small jigs tipped with plastic tails. There are a variety of artificial tails to choose from, but something simple like YUM’s 2 inch twirl tail grub is really all you’d need.
I position the boat within casting distance of the weedline and creep along the edges slowly at about .2 to .3 MPH.
Cast the jig into pockets of open water between the weeds. Let the jig fall, and then retrieve it using a swim-fall-swim-fall approach. The plastic tail twirls or swims on the drop and that’s when you’ll get most of your strikes. In fact you will occasionally see your jig disappear as it’s dropping, when that happens, set the hook! — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
It seems that backpacks are becoming more en vogue due to the ease of carrying but more importantly how dynamic and economical they are with tackle space.
Walker Smith recently reviewed the Piscifun Tackle Backpack, and gave it rave reviews. High quality, waterproof, and durable plus double stitched seams make it perfect for even the roughest and toughest conditions and anglers.
For our next giveaway we will be giving 5 Wired2Fish readers the chance to win these awesome impressive backpacks." Enter Here >> Piscifun Tackle Backpack Giveaway
"Walleye - Walleye fishing this last week slowed for many as walleyes tradition from shallow water to deeper mud flats. Many anglers have struggled to find them. Anglers are still reporting some great catches happening right off their docks during the evening hours in 5-10 feet of water. These reports are very common on the deeper lakes in our area. On shallower lakes, anglers are finding walleyes at the base of rocky points in 20-25 feet of water during the day, but as the sun goes down the walleyes move up shallow. Leeches are taking the top spot for live bait choices, followed closely by minnows. Lindy rigs and spinner rigs are working best in deeper water, while jig and leech/minnow or slip bobber and a leech has been the top choice when walleyes are shallow. Gold, pink red and blue have been the top colors.
Smallmouth Bass - The classic post spawn top water bite has slowed thanks to a string of days with poor weather. Still, anglers that made the adjustment and went subsurface with tubes or wacky rigs reported great catches, but just lacked the number of big bass they were catching the week before. Anglers should continue to target bass around down trees, rocky flats and near creek mouths along the main lake shoreline. Anglers should use more natural color baits on clear water lakes and bright colored baits on dark water lakes.
Panfish - Sunfish have been moving shallow and for anglers targeting them, have been easy pickings. Anglers should be checking shallow bays and close to the shoreline for gills. Sunfish are simply looking for food and warm water to spawn in. Wax worms or small crawlers fished under a bobber has been very productive for many anglers looking to catch sunfish. Crappies are starting to move around and anglers are finding them around shallow downed trees or shallow emerging weedbeds. Minnows fished under a bobber or swimming small tubes near brush or weeds, have been accounting for the majority of crappies caught this last week.
Lake Trout - Lake trout continue to be found in 20-70 feet of water and have been hammering white vixen and white tail dancer crankbaits trolled over deep water. Trolling spoons fished with down riggers has also been accounting for its fair share of lake trout. White, silver and red colored spoons have been working best.
Stream Trout - Stream trout fishing has cooled off on some lakes while others have heated up for both shore and boat anglers. Small crawlers fished under a slip bobber has been the top producing presentation, but small spoons, cowbells and jig and twister are also catching their fair share of trout. Brook trout continue to be caught shallow on flats or near down trees, which makes them easy to access for shore anglers. Rainbow trout are largely being found in the first 10 feet of water, just about anywhere in the lake, so anglers fishing from a boat have simply been trolling small spoons, cowbells or small crank baits and have been reporting nice catches.
Northern Pike - Big pike have remained active in shallow water this last week. Anglers fishing with large suckers or lite northerns (medium size suckers) under a large bobber, have caught several new personal best right off their docks. For anglers that want to fish from a boat should focus on creek mouths and the mouth of shallow bays in 5-10 feet of water." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
Anchored up and jigging and drifting or trolling spinners the most productive in depths ranging from 14-32'. Walleyes on both structure and over mud in basin from Pine Island to Knight/Bridges to Archie's Reef and spots in between. Gold, pink, glow and orange good starting points.
The Rainy River holds a nice population of resident walleyes, but most walleye anglers are fishing out on the big lake these days. The river Nice for change of scenery, smaller boats, blow days, etc. Walleyes and saugers being caught in normal river areas such as holes, current breaks and sand riffs.
Smallmouth bass relating to rocks, bridges. Pike in and adjacent to bays and current breaks. Sturgeon season opens July 1st for the catch season again.
Up at the NW Angle, walleye fishing is strong on both sides of the border. Anglers finding walleyes on flats, rocky points and over mud in 6'-30'. Jigging and spinners with minnows and crawlers doing well. Parakeet, pink and white and gold strong colors. Lot of fish. Saugers, pike, perch and bass also in the mix.
Muskies opener produced good numbers of quality fish." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"A quality bite has moved a bit further North. There is still some action around the Knight and Bridges areas, and there are fish along Pine Island. The Knight and Bridges Island areas are capable of holding a large number of quality fish, but once those fish are removed or relocated, they do not replenish very quickly. Understanding these patterns on the big lake greatly increase chances of success, the Walleye Master Guides at Border View Lodge have decades of experience.
We have been mixing a combination of drifting and jigging which is producing great success. We have been drifting in 12-16 feet or jigging in the 30 plus areas North of Garden Island.
Don’t be the guy following the fisherman around, fish with the people who know. The equipment at Border View Lodge and Walleye Master Guides make a difference, we are equipped to fish many different styles as the fish pattern changes. If you have only been stuck with a jig (pun intended), it may be time to fish with the Walleye Masters and try different tactics.
Perfect June temperatures are forecasted for the week, highs in the upper 70’s and lows into 50’s overnight." — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
Most folks have probably forgotten about the popular 1970’s blues band Wet Willie. But not me, in fact over the weekend I found myself humming this line from their song Airport; “... you’ve got the right plane baby, but the wrong airport.” That is to say, you were in the right place, but at the wrong time.
Obviously, there must have been something that triggered the memory and by now you’ve likely figured it out. If you guessed that it was me, going to the right lakes, but at the wrong times, then you were correct.
It all started when Ron Rupp gave me his instructions to prepare for our fishing trip. “This is not a meat trip; we don’t have to bring home fish. I just want to do something special, maybe something you can’t do under ordinary circumstances.”
Instruction like that is music to my ears, I don’t get that sort of green light very often, but when I do, I try to make the most of it.
And make the most of it I did. Instead of a simple 8 hour fishing trip, an un-planned chain of events helped stretch this into a 2 day expedition that encompassed 3 lakes. This fishing trip wound up being a success in ways that can't even be measured, not in pounds of meat, photos of trophies or bragging rights in the boat.
The weather, in this particular case was the culprit for tripping me up. Saturday’s forecast of cloudy, breezy weather gave me confidence that walleyes in some of Grand Rapids clearest water lakes would be active. But by the time we cleared our AIS inspection at the first lake, the sun was already beginning to peek out and there was barely enough breeze to drift the boat.
At our 2nd AIS inspection, the news was a lot more encouraging. “Oh yeah, they’re catching walleyes out there, guys have been saying that the fishing has picked up;” the inspector said.
At our first stop, a 13 foot deep weedline, it looked like we had it made. Conditions here were perfect at the time, there was a west wind and the sky was cloudy. Drifting along the weed edges at about .6 MPH we cast our wiggle worms into the water and caught 3 walleyes in less than 10 minutes. Now we’re talking I thought, this will be easy, all we have to do wiggle-catch-release and repeat.
As the sky became brighter, the breeze became lighter and eventually, the lake’s surface was like a mirror. We knew where the fish were, I could see them on my Humminbird. But every fish we caught was because of sheer stubbornness, by grinding away until one of them would feel sorry for me and strike.
By mid-afternoon, I was contemplating a move to yet another lake, but Ron stepped in with an alternate plan. He remembered a comment that I made earlier about me having scheduled Saturday off so that I and the Hippie Chick could scope out a lake where I’ll be guiding later this week. “How about if we give ourselves the evening off and I tag along with you tomorrow;” he asked?
We already knew going in that we probably weren’t in line for catching trophy fish; the lake doesn’t have that sort of reputation. But if we got lucky, we’d have some action, maybe get some fish for a meal, I’d learn whatever I could to help serve my customers next week and Ron would get a chance to practice Wiggle-Worming.
Practice he got, there were a lot of fish tugging on those night crawlers, but I’m not certain he was all that concerned about that. In fact from my vantage point it looked like he was having a lot more fun looking after the girls. Susan and our daughter Joelle both wound up getting the red carpet treatment from the ship’s mate. Netting fish, changing bait, untangling lines, I don’t think he cared if he was fishing or not, Ron was in his element.
Obviously, this hasn’t exactly been a hard core fishing report, how can it be? It wasn’t really about who caught what and how deep they were fishing and what bait they were using. It was just one of those “easy days”. Conditions were good, fish were biting and the crew was happy; everything just seemed to fall into place. You really can’t teach somebody how to go out and create days like this, they just happen.
Ordinarily, my conclusion might be something along the lines of how we were being rewarded for working hard and having paid our dues on Friday. But I think there’s more to it than that; you have to admit that the timing of our adventure, not to mention the timing of this particular report is curious.
I think most everyone agrees with my wife when she says that you can never have too many fathers in your life. And look what we found, a fatherly figure doing fatherly things on a fatherly weekend. How did we ever get so lucky?
Tomorrow, I'll return to reporting who caught what and how they caught 'em. For today though, how about if I just end with Happy Father’s Day! — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Walleyes have transitioned to the deeper structures, for the most part. Most of the walleyes are being caught on the shoreline drops 17-25' or one of the main bars. I haven't heard any good reports from the smaller mid lake structure as of yet.
Shiner minnows and jigs continue to dominate the bait selection. Leeches and crawlers are doing the trick, as well. Most of the fish are in the slot, 18-23", but some overs and unders are possible.
Northern fishing is fairly good right now. I think the backwater areas are your best bet for pike. Jigs and minnows or your favorite hardware will catch pike. The size range is good. This is a good way to supplement your fish for the fish fry when most of the walleyes are in the slot and have to be thrown back.
Perch fishing is still a crapshoot. You can be on them and they are biting as fast as you can get your line down there, and then the wind can change or increase or decrease and the perch will be gone. We’ve been having a hard time figuring them out. We know that they should be gorging on the crayfish in the new weed growth, but that just doesn't seem to be the case.
All in all, fishing has been good. Every boat that goes out catches something. The water level hasn't gone down at all. It is still at a 25 year high. That could have something to do with the perch.
The bulrushes in the mouth of the Mississippi still haven't cracked the surface!The weather is getting nicer and the fish continue to cooperate. The next couple weeks are a great time to come to Winnie and get in on the action. We have openings through the end of the month and also into July. Check out our availability and give us a call." — Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
You wanna know how you can tell when a man is on a roll? One way that I know is to watch what happens when he's fishing. Specifically, one way to recognize a “lucky streak” is when he’s catching fish despite odds being stacked up against him. A good example came on Wednesday after I’d poo-pooed the idea of using stickleback minnows as walleye bait.
After being asked; “hey Jeff, what about using this stickleback, do they work?" My response was something along the lines of “nothing’s impossible, but I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to get one.” Lucky I said nothing’s impossible because Tim Fischbach put that stickleback on his jig, threw it into the lake and caught a nice fat walleye. That’s when I knew for sure it was a good time to be Tim.
Tim Fischbach and Larry Lashley have been fishing with me for a long time, about 30 years to be exact. As a matter of fact, fishing 6 days every summer, they’ve spent a solid half of a year sitting in one of my boats. Over those years we’ve experienced plenty of ups and downs and I can’t say that their past few days of fishing will go down in the record books as one of the best trips ever, but overall it was decent.
The weather has been mixed up and the fish have made us work to catch them. Especially after a cold front triggered a series of thunderstorms late on Tuesday and gave us a cold, blustery day on Wednesday. As scattered as the fish were and as tricky as the bite became, there was still a bright spot. That was when I noticed it was an especially good time to be Tim “Stickleback” Fischbach. It was one of those trips that walleyes like the way he was doing things and came out of their hiding spots a little more easily for him than they did for the rest of us.
Typical of most June trips, we fished more with a jig and minnow than we did with any other presentation. But on Thursday, there was a dramatic shift, the walleyes showed a distinct preference for wiggle worming. In fact after fishing a jig and minnow along a weed edge in about 12 feet of water, we’d caught 6 or 8 pike and a couple of rock bass, but no walleyes.
I decided to try wiggle worming before leaving the spot and luckily, I did. Switching from minnows to night crawlers instantly transformed the weedline from a pike spot to a walleye spot. After that, we didn’t have much trouble catching walleyes.
The only special thing I had to do was hold the boat near the outer edges of the weeds to avoid rock bass and perch nipping at the tails of our crawlers. The pecking order was walleye in 12 feet, perch at 10 feet and rock bass at 8 feet. The pike were in still in there somewhere, but apparently disapproved of us using night crawlers and we only caught a few of them after the switch.
It was fitting that the wiggle worming episode occurred today, because it was actually Larry who coined the phrase ‘wiggle worming” in the first place. Before that, I can’t even remember how I used to describe the presentation, but I’m sure that it was a lot less catchy. Learn more about >> Wiggle Worming
After we were satisfied with our walleye catch, I burned up a couple of hours looking for crappies, but that didn’t work out as well.
Crappies have already wrapped up any spawning that they were ever going to do this season. Now that they’re not up in shallow cover anymore, the next place to find them will be in the weeds, but in the time I had to work with, I didn’t figure out which weeds. I’ll have to work on that more next week.
My guess is that wiggle worms are in my future today too and I will let you know as soon as I find out.
In the meantime, thanks to Larry and Tim for another great year. It’s amazing how long it took to come up with a good nickname for Tim, but rest assured the term “stickleback” is definitely gonna stick. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
On Thursday, Jeff Wilkening wrote; Q) "Jeff, I have the grandkids coming up to the lake this week, would you share any pointers on Panfishing?"
A) Good morning Jeff, I'm not exactly getting a lot of time to fish panfish at the moment, this time of the season everyone has walleye fever. I'll try to keep my eyes and ears open today, but here a few trends that may be helpful for you and your grandkids.
Crappies are done spawning and they're easiest to find in Cabbage Weeds right now. The only problem is that they're prone to be active during twilight periods right now. They're probably either going to make you get up really early or stay out pretty late to get them. That said, there are some really nice cabbage patches on your lake, one is located on the west shore, south of the resort. Another surrounds the sunken island in the main lake, near the east side.
Anchoring along the edges of good stands of cabbage and fishing with floats will be easiest for the kids. A small jig tipped with crappie minnows is fine, but if they're a little older and can cast jigs tipped with plastic tails, that wouldn't be a bad way to go either.
Creeping along the weed edges, casting 1/16 ounce jigs into the weeds and retrieving them slowly will produce a lot of crappies, but there will be pike, walleye and bass chasing them too.
Mid-June is typically when you'll find Sunfish in shallow water fanning beds and or spawning. It's a good time to sight fish for them. Cruising along the shoreline looking for fish and or beds will probably be really fun for the kids and it's a good time to teach them about which sunnies they should keep and which ones they should release.
Videos about catching sunfish in shallow spawning cover are easy to find, here's a link to a good one that was filmed in the area near my home and covers the basics pretty darn well." View Video >> Early Summer Panfish
The bluegill spawn is really just starting. Should start seeing more fish on beds soon, especially around the full moon on the 17th. This is historically the peak of the bluegill spawn throughout Minnesota. Bed fishing bluegills is fun but comes with great responsibility. The fish are really susceptible to over harvest during this period. Remember to limit your harvest instead of harvesting your limit.
It's especially important to release the large males as they protect the nests and keep smaller fishing from spawning too early. Those large males also pass on their genetics so we have large fish in the future.
The crappie spawn is now wrapping up on most area lakes. Look for fish on the weed edges and on the tops of cabbage and curly pond weed adjacent to spawning areas. This time of year we'll either fan cast or troll, that's right I said troll. Look for crappies on weed edges and over the tops of the weeds. Trolling is a super effective way to cover water and put together some fantastic days for post spawn crappies.
I like to run slowly with the bow mount at 1.2-1.4 mph, make a long cast behind the boat and reel in until you can barely feel your jig touching the tops of the weeds. Use long light action rods that are soft enough to not rip through the paper lips. My favorite things to troll are small twister tail grubs in a variety of colors as well as small minnows.
Bass fishing has been fantastic as well. We've been having the most success in those 8-12' areas. We've been working shoreline areas with swim jigs to locate fish and then have been slowing down and fishing wacky rigged Senko Worms on spinning gear once fish are located. This is also a great time of year to throw a spinner bait if you can keep the pike off.
Walleyes can be caught using a variety of methods right now, pick your favorite. Some anglers are already trolling spinners and night crawlers with great success in the 12-15' depths around the weeds. Use a worm weight to sneak around the weeds. Many anglers are also pulling leeches around main lake structure with rigs and putting fish in the box.
I also heard some great reports from Ottertail Lake fishing jigs and plastic fluke style minnows in the weeds. Pike seem to have moved out to main lake structure, look to channels, funnel areas and neck down areas on the map for best success. A Prescott Spinner with a small sucker minnow will put alot of fish in the boat right now if you're looking for action.
It's a great time to be an angler in Lakes Country, get out and stick some fish." —Garett Svir, The Slab Seeker Fishing Guide 320-428-5174
"Fish are still being caught shallow but fish are also being caught out on the mud flats. Crawlers on slow death rigs have been working very well for me in 20-30 feet of water. A jig and a minnow or plastics in the shallows are producing big fish as well.
Smallmouth spawn is in full swing and will be over soon. They are in 6-8 feet of water and scattered all over. If you can get out on a calm day you will see the beds and be able to pick them off fairly easily.
I very limited availability for June and several openings in July." — Matt Klug, MK Fishing Guide Service 320-260-5494
"Dixon Lake is always a great little lake to try for all species of fish. Dixon and Winnibogoshish are contacted by the third river, so share the same fisheries. The crappies are hitting right now on crappie minnows and or white jigs.
The sunfish, though a limit of 5 here on Dixon are hitting up in the reeds on a bit of crawler.
Walleyes are still shallow and making a pretty good show lot of slot fish, but still some for the frying pan. Leeches or minnows. Did I mention the Large Mouth Bass fishing? Such a showy fish when on line fight up a storm. Had a 7 pounder caught and released.
The northern are a plenty and will keep you busy. The north end of Winnie is only 5 miles away and fishing up in the third river is still spot on with lots of action on walleyes, crappie and sunnys. Happy Fishing.
Dixon Lake Resort has plenty of cabin openings to fit in your summer family vacation. We have cabins from one room to a 4 bedroom 2 bath. Miles of ATV trails, fun children activities, Bar/Restaurants and great fishing." — Dixon Lake Resort has shelter rentals, including sleepers. Reservations 218-659-4612
"Walleye fishing continues to be best for anglers fishing in shallow water. 5-10 feet of water with basketball size rocks on the bottom, is where the best bite is occurring. Jig and minnow or slip bobber and leech has been accounting for the majority of these shallow water walleyes. With water temps rising as high as 70+ degrees, some walleyes have already begun to transition to deeper mud flats looking for may fly nymphs coming up out of the mud. Anglers targeting those walleyes are having luck pulling spinner rigs tipped with leeches or crawlers.
Smallmouth Bass - As many of the smallmouth bass in our local lakes finish up spawning, the top water bite is really starting to kick in. Whopper Ploppers, Hula poppers and Pop-R’s have been the top producers of some of the most explosive bites of the year. If the weather has the bass off the topwater bite, anglers should throw wacky rigs or a simple jig and twister for bass. Anglers should use bright colors on dark water lakes and more natural colors on clear water lakes. Keep it simple!
Panfish - With the fast warm up in water temps crappies have spawned and begun moving back out, but anglers can still find some spawning crappies on some of the larger, deeper lakes. Sunfish have begun to move shallow to start their spawn and anglers are having a great time catching them. Slip bobber and a jig tipped with crawlers or waxies has been very effective on the bigger gills.
Lake Trout - Lake trout are finally being pushed deeper as water temps rise and are becoming easier to locate for many anglers. Lakers are being caught in 15 feet of water, down to 70 feet. White crank baits, flashy spoon and tubes fished over large mud flats or near sunken islands has accounted for the majority of lakers caught.
Stream Trout - Stream trout fishing has cooled off this last week, as the freshly stocked trout have either smarten up or been taken home for dinner. Still anglers are catching some quality trout off shore or in a small boat. Small flies, jig and twister, small spoons and a simple crawler floated under a bobber remains very effective.
Northern Pike - Despite warmer water temps this week, several very large pike were caught. Large creek shiners and dead smelt fished under a bobber near the mouth of shallow bays resulted in some excellent days of fishing for anglers fishing for pike. Pike have also started chasing spoons, large plugs and spinnerbaits in shallow water bays in 10 feet of water or less." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
You would think that it's no big deal to find lodging for somebody who wants to visit north central Minnesota for a fishing trip. But lately, I've been fielding inquiries from customers who need places to stay and like always, it takes a lot of searching to match the people with the "right" place to stay. By that I mean the one location that suits their length of stay and best serves their personal needs.
Because there are some folks who can't always plan far enough ahead and others who can't always stay for a full week at a time, it's especially difficult to locate short term lodging, especially on a lake. That's why I decided to ask for your help this morning.
Let's say for instance that you have a nice place for folks to stay during a fishing trip. Or maybe you've stayed someplace that you really liked and want to share the experience; then let's get together. Shoot me an email to share news about your favorite fishing lodge, bed & breakfast or private rental. I'll set up a link on the website that makes it easy for folks to find. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
I ended yesterday’s report about fishing on the Big Sandy Flowage rather abruptly. But not before I shared my impressions about how it “feels” to be part of a family fishing trip on the Big Sandy Flowage.
I ran out of time before I could get to the meat and potatoes, so today I’ll pick up where I left off.
Surface temperatures on the flowage were warm, running 68 to 70 degrees, even after the cold front and rain showers that occurred throughout Sunday morning. The root beer colored water reminded me a lot of the area’s I’ve fished on Rainy Lake. The water is dark, but it’s clear, not murky and to me it’s beautiful because it softens the Sun’s brightness and encourages walleyes to be active, even during the daytime.
That helps explain why we didn’t need to fish very deep to catch fish. The depths we fished ranged between 10 and 16 feet, but I’d say that the sweet spot was 12 feet. I love that too because I don’t like fishing in deep water when I know that I’ll need to release a lot of fish. In such shallow water, we can get protected fish into and out of the boat fast, minimizing the risk of harming them along the way.
The structures where we caught walleyes included both free-standing mid-lake bars and also shoreline points that extended from shore out into deep water. There are a lot of them that top out at 10 feet or less and are surrounded by water depths of 20 to 25 feet. The larger the bar, or the further the point extended into the mid-lake basin, the more fish they seemed to hold.
The fish were pretty active, so there were probably a lot of presentations that would have worked on Sunday. We only fished 2 presentations; Wiggle Worming and jig and minnow. There were times when I convinced myself that one way was working better than the other, but in the end it was pretty well balanced. Either way, all we needed to get into the strike were 1/16 ounce Lindy Live Bait Jigs.
I mentioned that the water color reminded me of Rainy Lake and because of that, I selected colors that I’ve had good luck on up there. In the bog stained water, orange, pink and gold combinations always work well for me and they did on Sunday too. OH, and don’t forget about black, that is a sleeper color in dark water that a lot of folks overlook.
Northern Pike were active down there too and I talked with some men who’d been fishing them. They told me that their luck had been good; they weren’t taking advantage of the 10 fish pike limit because they didn’t feel confident about cleaning them. Instead, they were holding out for fish over the 26 inch size threshold and they were successful in catching a couple.
On our trip, we didn’t have time to fish for panfish, but there were a lot of folks doing that. I have a couple of more dates booked down there and I’ll try to pay special attention to panfish on my next visit.
Like I mentioned yesterday, the campground was filled with young couples and their kids. The atmosphere was happy and it reminded me of the sort of place I would have loved to bring my kids. In fact, I wish I’d thought of it when they were still my “kids”.
However, just because they’re grown up now doesn’t mean that I can’t still take them there and I’ll bet you’re gonna see more family photos of the Sundin’s coming from the McGregor area!
Like I said yesterday, the lake isn’t exactly a taxidermist’s dream come true. But if you’re the type who likes a little action and can be satisfied with a simple family fish fry at the end of your day, then I think you should put Big Sandy on your list. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"The walleyes continue to relate to the shorelines. When the wind blows we are catching fish on the primary breaklines in 10-14 feet of water. When it gets a little calmer, we are finding the fish on the secondary breakline in 17-20'.
Jigs and shiner minnows are still the preferred bait of the walleyes. Leeches and night crawlers are starting to tempt their taste buds, though. The water temperature is slowly but surely climbing into the 60's. Look for the midlake structures to start up in the next week or so.
Northern fishing has definitely improved this past week. Not only catching them by accident fishing for walleyes, but also targeting them on artificial. The largest fish caught this week was a giant 35" pike by Larry Renze from St. Peters, Mo.
The real story is the perch are starting to show up in numbers. I found a spot in some new growth weeds and it was as fast as you could get your line down, you had a perch. They were not super jumbo's, but we kept the 9-10" fish. The perch fishing should only get better as the water warms and the weeds start to attract the crayfish.
June fishing is hard to beat on Lake Winnie. We have some openings for the rest of the month. If you are thinking about a fishing trip, check out our website and give us a call. — Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231" — Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
Most walleyes coming from 24-32'. Various techniques working as water warms including anchored up and jigging, drifting with spinners and pulling crankbaits.
Resorts finding fish all over lake. From Pine Island to Knight and Bridges Islands, north of Garden Island, Zippel Bay, and Long Point. Some walleyes found shallow when wind is right or bait prevalent. Gold, pink, glow and orange good starting points.
The Rainy River has been offering mixed bag, nice options. Walleyes and saugers being caught in go to areas such as holes, current breaks and sand riffs. Trolling shad raps a good technique to find fish. Smallmouth bass relating to rocks, bridges. Pike in and adjacent to bays and current breaks with spinner baits a good choice, especially around weeds. Sturgeon season opens July 1st for the catch season again.
Up at the NW Angle, walleye fishing strong on both sides of the border. Anglers in MN finding walleyes in 18-26' with various shallow bites popping up. Spinners with minnow or crawler heating up. In Ontario, walleyes in 22 - 26' with most anglers jigging with minnows.
Parakeet, pink and white and orange strong colors. Lot of fish. Saugers, pike, perch and bass also in the mix. Muskies open June 15th in both MN and LOW Ontario." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"Great fishing keeps on going! Mostly anchored and jigging, although we did pull some spinners this past week. Another great week of pictures too!
We have had some great success drifting spinners off of Pine Island, great eaters and take-home fish. We continue to spend most of our time around the Knight and Bridges Island or North of Garden Island depending on the weather.
It looks like a cool down for the week ahead. Highs in the upper 60’s and lows into 40’s overnight." — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
2012 Lund Alaskan 2000 (20 Foot) Tiller, Camoflauge, 2012 90 HP Mercury OptiMax Tiller with Mercury's Big Tiller. 2012 Shoreland'r Trailer Single Axle With Brakes.
This rig isn't my boat, it's being sold by a private party, my nephew Chris Andresen. Still, I am very familiar with this boat and know that it's a good one.
You've probably already seen what I've had to say about my own Lund Alaskans and by now you know that I as far as I'm concerned, this is the ultimate "Working Angler's" fishing rig on the market anywhere. The price for this one is $19,000.00 and you can find detailed descriptions and photos here ..." >> Lund Alaskan For Sale June 5, 2019
The common understanding about Big Sandy Lake near McGregor is that it has a lot of small fish, but not many trophies. I can vouch for that and so can my family after I took them down there for their fishing trip yesterday afternoon.
The reason why there’s so many small fish is because the lake is basically managed for a high output of fish on the smaller end of the walleye size spectrum. The walleye regulation that helps keep the lake churning out big numbers is a “Keeper Size Slot Limit” rather than the “Protected Size Slot Limit” more commonly found on other north central Minnesota lakes.
Anglers fishing on Big Sandy are allowed to keep fish from 14 to 18 inches. They must release all fish below 14 inches and over 18 inches, except that there may be one walleye over 26 inches in possession.
With this regulation it’s not hard to guess what happened yesterday, or for that matter most days on the Big Sandy Flowage. We caught lots and lots of fish, most of them ranging in size from 10 to 13-1/2 inches. Occasionally though, one of the fish crosses the 14 inch mark and we did what most folks do, added them to the creel for a fish fry.
Admittedly, I’m a big fish addict; I love to fish where I have a chance to catch a trophy. But I have to say that for families who want the simple pleasure of catching fish, Big Sandy is an awful fun place to be. It was obvious too, the folks at the campground were “a young crowd” and almost all of them had kids. I think the reason is because the average family can go to the lake, catch fish all day long and wind up with enough for a meal.
It’s not fair for me to tease about the lake, but I am seriously up against the clock today and have to beg you to check back tomorrow for more details. In the meantime, I’m on my way to the walleye hole! — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
For me, the arrival of summer, at least in terms of walleye fishing, coincides with the transition from jig and minnow presentations over to warm water presentations. It’s the time when leeches and night crawlers begin out-producing minnows and presentations like Lindy Rigging, Power Corking and Wiggle Worming come into the spotlight.
The changeover isn’t always abrupt, but it could be under the certain circumstances. For instance, major insect hatches could force a dramatic change in walleye feeding behavior. That said there’s typically a period when summer presentations can be phased in, at the same time spring presentations are being phased out.
One of my favorite transitions of the year is when my Lindy Live Baits Jigs can be used with minnows by one of my customers while they’re being used with night crawlers by the other and guess what? We’re there right now; Wiggle Worming officially comes to the forefront on conversation as of yesterday.
Remember Bobby Cox, the man who loves to catch anything from rock bass to catfish to walleyes? Last year I wrote about how we took a run at gathering a 3 man limit of northern pike for his family to eat. Well Bobby, along with his fishing buddy Bill were here again yesterday. Their propensity for mixed bag fishing, combined with the arrival of the Wiggle Worming season allowed me to catch a mixed bag of walleye and pike all in one handy location; Cabbage Weeds.
Cabbage beds on the lake we fished are developing nicely right now; they are green, lush and standing tall. The water depth where they grow ranges between 5 feet deep on the shallow edges, to about 10 feet deep on the outer edges. Walleyes like cabbage beds, but pike like them even more and on Thursday, good numbers of both species were located on the same weedlines at the same time.
Bobby was like a kid in a candy store, he couldn’t decide which was more fun. So he set short term goals for himself, he’d say; “I’m gonna Wiggle Worm ‘til I catch 2 walleyes and then I’ll go back to a Minna.” After he did that he’d switch; “now I’m gonna jig until I get 3 more pike, then I’m gonna Wiggle Worm some more.” The beauty of it for me was that it worked.
For most of the day, the difference between using crawlers vs minnows was not a definite split; walleyes ate both worms and minnows. While pike primarily ate the minnows, there would be an occasional pike caught on the crawlers. Later in the day though, the boundaries got blurred, the water temperature was getting warmer and activity intensified. There was a certain point where we caught almost as many pike using worms as we did using minnows.
It’s easy enough to figure out how to fish troll along the weed edges, so I won’t bore you with that. But here is one tip just in case you haven’t thought of it; there were just as many fish on the inside edges as there were on the outside. It’s a good idea to fish the same cabbage bed from both sides.
The weather forecast looks a little breezy for the weekend, but with surface temperatures already reaching the mid 60’s and more hot weather on the way, I can’t imagine how fishing could be anything but good. I’ll bet we’ll be seeing a lot of great reports next Monday morning. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Wednesday’s cold front may turn out to be one of the shortest-lived fishing disruptions I’ve seen; that’s the good news. The bad news is that it still was a disruption and it caused a slow morning on the lake for the Fun with Dick and Paul MMXIX summer session wrap up.
Like I mentioned yesterday, Smallmouth Bass were the target species; my first bass fishing trip of the season.
When we arrived at the lake, debris from the overnight storms covered the lakes surface. The water temperature was 60 degrees which was about 4 to 5 degrees cooler than what I’ve been seeing recently on the lakes we’ve fished. The ordinarily clear water was cloudy too, in fact it was so stirred up that I had trouble seeing the bottom in 3 to 5 feet. Normally, I could have watched fish swimming around in depths of 8 to 10 feet.
I was hopeful that the water was still warm enough that some of the fish would have remained shallow. Unfortunately they didn’t, the shallow water showed few signs of life. There were very few minnows, no perch, no rock bass and only the odd stray smallmouth.
During a typical early June trip, smallmouth would either be on spawning beds or at least cruising shallow water breaklines in preparation. More often than not, we would have seen lots of them in shallow water, even if they weren’t active and didn’t strike. Since we weren’t seeing them in the shallows, we started looking for them in deep water.
That’s when we found suspended fish holding off the edges of the steep shoreline breaks. Most of them were holding tight at about 22 feet over depths of 30 to 35 feet. There were so many fish stacked together that it was hard to sort out what they all were. But after trying to catch some of them, we did learn one thing, they weren’t biting.
As the day went on, the weather improved and as it warmed up, isolated points adjacent to deep water began to re-populate. We had a couple spurts of action and began seeing fish move back toward likely looking spawning territory. There were not enough fish moving to fill up more expansive flats, but my guess is that fish will be moving onto those during the day today.
By the time we decided to wrap up our trip, we were beginning to see larger fish moving around a small rock flat. Their arrival was too late to help our cause, but it wouldn’t surprise me if other anglers reported decent fishing during the evening yesterday.
If not for the cold front induced thunder and lightning that occurred overnight Tuesday and early Wednesday, our day would have gone differently. But learning how to control the weather hasn’t been going very well for me.
Overall, the spring session was a good one, walleyes and crappies were cooperative. We had 3 nice fish dinners and the boys still had limits to take home. Overall, the weather was good too; in fact Dick reminded us last night that this may be the only trip where we didn’t get rained on. Five days in the boat without a downpour is pretty good, especially during early June!
The time between now Septembers trip will go fast and you’ll hear more about Dick and Paul then. But for now, it’s back to my mundane life; time to get out there and see what I can drum up today. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Surface water temperatures now range from 61 to 66 degrees, already at or beginning to enter ideal range. Depending on how far advanced the surface water temperature of your favorite lake is, crappies are likely already on spawning beds, or at least they will be very soon.
Over the past couple of days, Dick and Paul have watched me look over a lot of shoreline cover. Some of it was completely un-inhabited by panfish and some of it was just barely populated. But in some of the territory, like the area we checked on Tuesday, crappies were fully engaged in the spawning process.
On this particular trip, it was difficult to learn what stage of spawning the fish were in. The lake we fished has dark coffee stained water and outside conditions were dark too; there was a chop on the surface that made visual contact with the fish tricky. So trial and error was about the only way we could find them.
We located the fish by creeping along the edges of shallow cover, fan casting to all of the territory we could reach. At any given time, we theorized about precisely where the fish were, but we were almost never exactly right. Sometimes we’d catch a fish right up in heavy bulrushes and become fixated on that. Then one of us would catch one out in the open, over rocks or cabbage weeds; then we became fixated on that. The rule of them was that covering fresh territory, albeit slowly, was critical.
Rigging and presentation was simple. We used Lindy Live bait Jigs, 1/8 ounce size, tipped with small fatheads and suspended about 3 feet below Thill’s Fish’n Foam round clip on floats. In shallow water circumstance, I like these floats because it only takes seconds to clip them on when we need ‘em. They are super durable, have nice tight gripping springs and they are extremely easy to see.
One trick to working lures around cover like bulrushes is to cast, let the lure settle and the “pop it”. I think the commotion on the surface triggers curiosity and encourages crappies to come closer to see what’s happening. If nothing happens after I let the lure settle, then I give it another pop and pause again. You fish the lures all the way back to the boat using this slow pop-pause-pop-pause retrieve.
We proved something about the live bait jigs to ourselves yesterday too. The compact design allows them to go through cover much more easily than the standard, longer shank jigs do. When we started, Paul was using the standard jig with a longer hook. Getting snagged in the bulrushes occurred much more frequently for him than it did for I and Dick. That problem was resolved when he switched over the to the short shank live bait jigs.
I doubt that there was any one “best” color, but I and Paul both used jigs with the bright gold finish. They kept on working, so we kept on using them, so keep that in the back of your mind the next time you’re experimenting with colors.
With some fish already packed for the ride home, Dick and Paul are slated to wrap their spring session with a play day. Smallmouth Bass and other shallow water fun fishing are on our agenda. This will be my first bass fishing trip of the season, so I’m curious to see what stages of development we find them in.
If you’re heading for the crappie hole, take this note as an advisory. I’m paraphrasing a comment I noticed in this week’s DNR Conservation Officer Reports; “Warmer weather and a good fish bite brought lots of folks out to enjoy the lakes. Violations included over limits of crappies.”
It’s always a good idea to play by the rules, but bear in mind that the C.O.s know when the fishing is good and that they tend to be more active on the lakes when the fish are biting. Avoiding paying big fines is easy enough to do, just don’t violate and you’ll be fine. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Walleye fishing continues to be best for anglers fishing near shore or just off their docks/campsite. While areas around creek mouths have cooled off as the minnow spawn comes to the end on many area lakes, walleyes are still being found shallow, just not as many around current areas. 4-15 feet of water remains the best depth to fish. Large shallow flats near shore have been the best area to fish. Gold, blue and silver tinsel jigs tipped with minnow has been best, but pink, white and firetiger colored jigs are also colors worth noting. Anglers fishing from their docks or campsite are reporting that they are catching walleyes with a slip bobber and a leech during the evening hours and into the night. Some real giants were caught this last week, while fishing with a slip bobber.
Panfish - With warm weather finally here for more then one day, crappies have started spawning. Anglers have been catching some nice stingers full of crappies shallow near cattails and pencil reeds. Small slip bobbers and plain plastic tubes in pink, white, blue and chartreuse have been the best colors to use. Crappie minnows fished under a bobber is also taking its fair share of crappies.
Lake trout fishing has been good for many anglers, but remains very challenging as some anglers are catching trout in less then 10 feet of water, under a slip bobber and other are catching them over 70 feet of water while trolling. The most successful anglers have been fishing with deep diving white crank baits, over deep water. As water temps continue to rise, lakers will move deep and become easier to locate for anglers.
Stream trout fishing has been excellent for many anglers this last week. Rainbows are still being caught in the first 10 feet of the water column. Anglers are having success fishing with cowbells, slip bobbers with baby crawlers, jig and twister, trolling small spoons or crank baits and small streamers.
Smallmouth Bass have yet to finish spawning, so they have been easy to locate for many anglers. Some real pigs have been landed this last week. Pink, orange, chartreuse and white have been top colors for smallmouth. Wacky rigging and fishing suspending crank baits have also been best way to trigger these fish into biting. Anglers fishing with top water baits like poppers or flies have been reporting some success also.
Northern Pike fishing is starting to slow as water temps rise and the big pike start moving deep. Still anglers fishing early in the morning or on the edge of shallow bays near deep water are reporting lots of action. Large heavy suckers and dead smelt fished under a bobber continues to catch the majority of large pike." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
Well just for the record, that jingle cannot ever be re-purposed as an advertisement for the MN Boat Registration decals. These easy to print decals must have looked good on paper to the folks in central purchasing, but once they’re applied to a boat, their usefulness will be short-lived; at least that's been my observation.
<< In fact, as you can see in the image, the new decals I applied to my boat just a few weeks ago are already peeling off.
In 2018, I had an interesting chat with one of Minnesota’s DNR Conservation Officers. “I can see by the color that your Boat Registration Decals are current. But they’re worn out and I can’t read the numbers, so you’re going to need to get some duplicates;” he said.
“These are the duplicates;” I told him. “Every time I put a new sticker on my boat, it lasts maybe a few months and then peels off;” I added.
DNR C.O; “What, you’re kidding, I’ve never heard of anybody having that problem before. It’s your responsibility to maintain the decals and I’ll give you a warning this time, but if I don’t see new stickers the next time our paths cross, you can expect to get some paper. I suggest that you do not pressure wash your boat, that will make them last longer.”
Okay MN DNR AIS crews, did you read that, you’re not supposed to pressure wash my boat anymore, it will ruin my stickers.
With today’s technology, I would like to believe that the registration decals that the DNR issues for boats, snowmobiles and ATVs could at least last for the term of their issue.
I would like to believe too that the DNR CO I talked to was just towing the company line when he remarked about me being “the only person” who’s had a problem with their decals. Because if he was right, then I’m even more special than I thought because I’ve talked to several others who have also been “the only ones” who have ever had this problem.
Frankly, it’s okay with me if the stickers wear out too soon, it’s no big deal. I don’t even mind ordering in a pair of duplicates occasionally, it’s easy enough to do online. But, if I pay my way, get the decals on time and have them properly applied to my boat; why should it be my responsibility to pay a fine if they wear out too soon? I’m just asking.
They say one should never point out a problem without offering a proposal for solving it; so here's mine. Let's get in touch with the folks who print the stickers for Minnesota's auto license plates; these things never peel off.
Then let's have one of those special artistic contests to create a really nice looking decal. Something that folks will be proud to display on their pretty boats. Something fishy maybe, or maybe looney, or it could even be some other pretty Minnesota theme.
I realize you can't get much for $56.00 (the cost of my most recent renewal), so if it costs a few bucks extra, so be it; I'll be first in line to pay. Just offer me the chance to apply something functional that looks better than what we have now and I'm all in.
OH, by the way; while I was jotting down these notes, I reminded myself of another old advertising slogan, maybe this one actually could be re-purposed. Remember White Castle’s catchy phrase; “Buy ‘em By The Sack?” — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Fish are sliding a bit deeper in certain areas, key depth range is 25-26 feet, but fish can be found anywhere from 15-30 feet.
Anchored up and jigging with minnows and frozen shiners is still very effective. Gold combined with other colors productive. Nice reports spread along south shore and around Knight and Bridges Islands.
On the Rainy River, summer pattern starting to settle in. Walleyes and saugers being caught in go to areas such as holes, current breaks and sand riffs. Smallmouth bass and pike anglers finding nice fish, although most anglers focused on walleyes. Some anglers casting river mouths, bays, and rocky areas for mixed bag. Sturgeon season opens July 1st for the catch season again.
Up at the NW Angle, another great week of walleye fishing. Some walleyes coming from shallow mud, 6-8' with spinners heating up. Walleyes relating to points are hanging in 20-27' with most anglers are jigging. Lot of fish. Pink and gold still strong.
Saugers, pike, perch and bass also in the mix. Smallmouth bass still deep and should slide into bays very soon." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"It is almost like writing the same thing over and over, fishing has been great! Our charters continue to do awesome, many nice eaters and plenty of the big ones. Anchored and jigging is still the go to. Mixing colors with anything gold is a great start, strobe jigs are the best.
There are still schools of fish off of Pine Island, more quality sized are further out. We have been spending most of our time around the Knight and Bridges Island areas.
It really is, a same thing each week pattern. We have been in it for the last 3 weeks! We plan it will continue until the water temp starts rising. Then some tactics will change as the fish patterns do.
The forecast for the week ahead is looking nice. Highs in the 70’s and lows into 50’s overnight." — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
"The walleye fishing is still the main attraction at the Four Seasons Resort. Fish are being caught on a variety of structure and methods.
Fish shallow 7-10' when the wind blows with a jig and shiner.
When it is calm, move to the secondary breakline and use a jig and minnow or rigs and leeches on the deeper structure. Some fish are being caught on slip bobbers and leeches in the evenings just before dark, as well.
Most of the fish continue to be in the protected slot, but there are more small fish brought in each day. The water temperature even after a few warm days continues to lag behind normal. Very few reports of over 60 degree surface temperatures. In the coming days, as the water warms, the fish should more predictable. Our guests are still happy catching and releasing double digit walleyes in the 19-22"
Northern fishing has been fairly reliable, with some fish starting to go on artificial as well as the jig and minnow combination. Spoons
and crankbaits are the baits of choice when throwing hardware at the pike.
Perch fishing continues to be a puzzle. Normal perch haunts seem to be void of these fish. There is no consistent pattern to finding perch. I'm hoping when the water warms up, the perch will school and we can get back to normal perch fishing.
The water is still at a 25 year high level at the resort. Some of the walkways are being challenged by the high water. So far, boots are not needed to get to any of the docks. The dam is open at full capacity and I can't figure out why the water level doesn't recede. We have had no measurable rain in the past two weeks. Another enigma in a series of enigmas this year!
We have some openings for the month of June. Give us a call and join in the great fishing we have going on. It will only get better in the coming weeks. Hope to see you." — Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
I hope that it’s been obvious why years ago, I started using the term “Fun With” in my reports to describe these twice annual fishing adventures; it truly is because they are fun to fish with. For me, there’s another reason and it is super important. It’s that whenever Dick and Paul arrive, it means that I get 5 days in a row to explore experiment and learn about what’s going on at lakes that I don’t get to fish every day.
I don’t mean that they don’t care if we catch fish or not, they do. But it’s not like a routine guide trip where I have one day to produce fish, usually walleye. On trips like that, I have to be mindful that I will be judged by how well I perform over an 8 hour period and experimentation doesn’t always work out in the short-run.
On the other hand, giving me 5 days in a row is like writing a gold engraved invitation to go out and find something “FUN” to do. If I fail on day 1, I can use day 2 to fix it and so on. Sooner or later, we stop somewhere new and find something fresh to do. That makes it fun for them, but is also especially rewarding for me because I get to move further up on the learning curve every day.
On Saturday, our tip was experimental in the sense that I hadn’t fished the lake so far this year. I have fished it numerous times in the past though, so all we were really hoping to learn was whether the walleyes were biting or not; luckily, they were.
At the landing, water levels were good and launching the fiberglass ProV was not a problem. But we could see that water levels were falling, I’d estimate that they’ve fallen at least 1 foot since the high water mark was reached earlier this spring.
Despite the Friday night cold front and the significant reduction in outside air temperature, surface water remained fairly warm. Depending on where we fished, surface temps ranged between 61 and 64 degrees. The gusty north wind churned up whitecaps all day long, so the sun never got much chance to warm the water much more than that.
Stop by stop, we learned that walleyes here behaved a lot like the walleyes I’ve found elsewhere. They were active and very willing to bite, but they were widely scattered. Except for a couple of times, we caught fish almost everywhere we stopped. Sometimes we only caught 1 or 2, other spots yielded more, but there was no big school, we never caught more than 6 or 7 fish anywhere we looked.
There weren’t many calm areas to try, but the calmer places I did find were not all that productive. The fish showed a definite preference for whitecaps and we always did our best work wherever the waves were crashing into the back end of my boat.
The key locations were shallow flats where newly emerging beds of Coontail and northern milfoil were beginning to grow. The weeds were short, about 6 to 7 inches tall and easy to fish in. Later they will grow into dense, un-fishable mats that grow out to a depth of about 6 feet. For now, holding the boat along the breakline in 7 to 9 feet and pitching our lures into shallower water is the key area for catching fish on spots like these.
I don’t spend all that much time preaching about using a specific color, but today is an exception to that rule. Early in the day, Dick was doing most of the catching and was not shy about explaining to Paul and me that we were not using the “right” color. He was using the Glow Perch color 1/8 ounce Lindy Live Bait Jig and truthfully, his performance was convincing enough to make us feel obliged to switch to that color as well. After we did, we began catching walleyes too, so it was sort of hard to blow Dick’s idea off as coincidence.
We started the day using shiners, but thanks to small pike and perch strikes, blew through them way too fast. At 2:00 PM the shiners were gone and my assortment of fatheads wasn’t very impressive; I worried that I might have to leave the lake and drive somewhere to find more minnows. First though, I reasoned that we should at least give the glorified crappie minnows a try and guess what? The fish did not care at all, if anything, we actually caught more fish after we switched to the small minnows.
If there was a disappointment about day 1 of the trip, it was that we could not fish for crappies. I had specifically chosen the lake because I wanted to check out the bulrushes for crappies that might be fanning fresh spawning beds. Most of the spawning territory I know about is located at the south end of the lake and was exposed to the strong wind. Holding the boat was not much fun and seeing into the water was all but impossible, we’ll have to try the crappies again later in the trip.
Experimentation usually works the best when conditions are conducive to triggering fish feeding activity. If the fish aren’t biting on June 1st when there are whitecaps blowing across shallow feeding flats, then they likely never will be; this is the ideal time to check out “new water”.
So now that I gave you the whole spiel about how much fun it is to experiment let me add the caveat. Try to do the right experiment on the right day; when it’s sunny and calm, it’s probably a better time to check out a prospective panfish or bass hole that it is to learn a new walleye lake. Conversely, a day like yesterday with strong wind and a great walleye chop is probably the perfect time to check out a new walleye spot.
Today I’ll have to make that choice myself. The wind is predicted to be calm and the sunshine is supposed to be bright, I can either “play it safe”, heading toward the good walleye bite on Red Lake, or I can take the opportunity to search for the crappies while conditions for searching are good.
Once the boys weigh in, I’ll decide and tomorrow, you will know whatever happens next. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
There have been a lot of calls and emails lately from readers asking for one sort of advice or another. I’m doing my best to keep up and at the same time, prioritize the list so that I get to the really pressing issues first.
Since the “busy season” is in full swing, my office time is really limited. So if you’ve dropped me a line and haven’t received a reply, I apologize, I will get the stack cleared up eventually, so please bear with me.
I’m usually checking messages during the wee hours of early morning, so my schedule tends to favor emails rather than phone calls. Also, I do offer The Early Bird Insider’s News List, an “opt-in” email list that I routinely use for announcing last minute openings, special announcement and fishing events.
One final thought, A lot of fishing questions that I receive are about lakes and situations that I have already written about. The fishing archives are jam packed with information about the specific lakes and situations that many have been asking about.
So if you want a jump start on your next fishing trip, go to Fishing Report Archives, select the month that you plan to fish and peruse the past reports. I promise that you will find the information you’re looking for, plus a lot more. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"We use words like "stagnant" and "dead end," but backwater sloughs can be the overlooked gems of bass fishing. Often, you'll find several alluring habitat features within a concentrated area, and while it's not necessarily an end-to-end opportunity, Western pro
Jared Lintner knows the bounty can be worth the search.
Given their strategic role during spring spawns and the fall feeding fest, when new groups of fish are constantly reloading, it's easy to mistakenly relegate sloughs to seasonal particulars. However, Lintner sees a broader picture.
"In postspawn, a lot of people think you have to ..." Learn More >> Find Bass Fishing Hotspots in Backwater Sloughs
Q) Phil Tompkins wrote; "Jeff, I know that you always have run a tiller boat, but in your article about Red Lake you talk about spot-lock to catch your fish. Why would you need a bow mount trolling motor on a tiller boat, or did you switch to a steering wheel?
A) Phil, I’m still a dyed in the wool tiller operator. Even though I could probably fish in a “wheel boat” 80% of the time, there are still days when circumstances dictate using the tiller. As long as I continue to make my living primarily by guiding, I’m planning on using the tiller engine to control my boat.
That said the advancements in trolling motors, charting and electronics make using the bow mount an absolute necessity these days.
In the scenario I wrote about yesterday, we found the fish by slipping along the edge of a shallow rock spine in a cross wind. For that, I used my Riptide transom mount trolling motor to control the drift speed. When I back up into the waves, the force against my transom gives the boat resistance and acts almost like a brake. I can use that force to help keep the boat pinned on the precise depth that I want to fish and because I’m pulling backward with the Riptide, it allows all of the crew to be fishing out and away from the boat, free from tangling on the prop.
If I would have tried trolling forward, it would have been much more difficult to move slowly enough (about .6 MPH) for a good jig and minnow presentation. Additionally, it would have been nearly impossible to keep 4 lines running free and clear from props, transducers and the like.
In the “good old days”, once I found a school of fish, I could hover, holding steady positions using the transom mount. That worked fine except I could never take my hand off of the tiller without losing control of my position. If I wanted to tie a knot, unhook a fish or help customers net their fish, I would really have to hustle.
On Saturday, I deployed the Ulterra, but did not engage the prop. As we slipped along the rock bar, I waited until we came to a better than average school of fish. As soon as we contacted fish, I pushed the spot-lock feature and voila, the boat stayed right where I wanted it and my hands were free to do anything I wanted; it’s like being on vacation compared to the way I used to do it.
What's even better is that I can save that spot, so if I leave to check other areas and don't find more fish, I can come back and set back up exactly over my original location.
There are other reasons why using a bow mount on a tiller boat is a good idea and I’m sure they’ll come up this summer. But for me, I will always install the bow mount from now on, even if the spot-lock is the only feature I ever use; it really is that much better. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL