Walleye, Crappie and Panfish Fishing Report Pages Saved From May 2009 through October 2009

10/18/09 Well folks, The weather we've had this fall has definitely been a challenge. I knew we were going to learn some new tricks and in the end, I think it has worked out that way. ONE THING I LEARNED FOR SURE is that fish always find a place to go and sometimes it's not where we think it should be. I think one of the main problems I've had this fall was continuing to look for fish in places where I thought they should show up because they would have been there in past years. The problem is that this year, water tempertures dropped so fast that I think some of these fish just by-passed the expected locations and moved right into spots that we would normally associate with late fall and early winter locations. A lot of us just aren't out there at those times and so now we're playing "catch up".
Our fishing on Saturday seemed to support my theory about the relationship between the spawning or pre-spawnTullibees and the presence of Walleye and Pike. Another fairly large gravel and rock flat, shallow on top, with immediate access to deeper water produced the same results as I talked about in the 10/16 report. This time there were also a lot of young-of-the-year Perch minnows present so these small Perch minnows were a factor in attracting the Walleye too. The surface water temperature was 44 degrees and there was a light wind. The Walleye we've caught on this pattern have been plump and healthy. No giants, but lots of fish in the 17 to 21 inch range with a few 23-24 inchers mixed in. According to a good friend, the larger fish are apparently feeding on the shallow breaklines after dark. He's been working the night time version of this same pattern and catching lots of large fish, but mot many eaters.
If I was going to be on the lake today, here's what I'd be checking out. Shallow (3 to 8 feet) flats that have mixed sand, gravel and rock located close to deep water. The presence of bait fish is crucial, if you're not seeing baitfish and fish on the breakline adjacent to the flat, then move on to another spot. It sounds a little complicated but if you look at a map of most Northern Minnesota lakes, there are usually only a couple of deep holes. So all you really need to know is whether or not the lake you want to fish has Tullibees present. If it does, look at your map to find the deep water areas and then locate any adjacent shallow flats that have potential as a spawning area. Then you'll have to go take a look at the spots to see if the mix looks right.
I usually have to check three or four fishing spots before I find the exact mix that I'm looking for, but once I know what I'm trying to find, the job gets easier.
I'll be spending the next week in the duck blind, so I don't expect to have a lot of fishing tips, but if the weather holds, we'll try to get out a time or two before we start seeing ice on the lakes. Watch for one more fishing update toward the end of the month and then after the Deer season we'll be reporting on ice conditions as they develop.

10/16/09 In spite of frustration with the cold weather and plummeting surface water temperatures, things might just be looking up for those remaining die-hard anglers who want to Walleye fish a few more times before the lakes freeze up. On Thursday, we found surface temperatures ranging from 44 to 45 degrees and the water appeared to have "cleared up" significantly. Earlier this week, we had seen a range of surface temperatures from 40 degrees to 54 degrees. The deeper lakes are holding their temperature better than the shallow lakes, but by now the fall turnover has occurred everywhere that you would expect it should have.
For me, it took a lot of searching, seven lakes in three days, but we finally found a really good Walleye bite and I may have come up with a couple of clues that will help you find a good fishing spot on your favorite Walleye lake. After scratching my head for a few days about why the Walleye weren't showing up in their typical late fall locations, I had these questions. What if the cold water temperatures really triggered the fall Tulibee and Whitefish spawning runs? And what if lots of the Walleye were feeding at night when the Tulibees in the shallows were "easy pickings"? And how would I find those fish during the daytime?
To answer my own questions I started thinking about areas where Tulibees would move in for spawning and that were also adjacent to reliable fall Walleye spots. After trying a few smaller spots and finding mostly Northern Pike, we stopped on a large, shallow flat where mixed rock and gravel dropped off from about five feet of water into 25 feet. The breakline is fairly steep, but not sharp like a cliff. Within a few minutes we noticed a number of small fish (Tulibee) dimpling on the surface on and around the edges of the flat. About half way into our first drift we started picking up a mixed bag of Walleye and Pike. After figuring out the right depth (in this case, 12 to 14 feet) and fine-tuning our speed, we were able to stay on fish, on that same flat for the entire afternoon.
We know that the presence of baitfish is key, especially in the fall. So ask yourself where are some spots like this on my lake? Off the top of my head, I'd suggest thinking about locations that are large enough to "guarantee" at least some Tulibee and/or Whitefish spawning would occur. Maybe you already know some of these spots or maybe you can check with some of the folks who net Tulibees in your area. Either way, I really think this is worth taking a look at. If you have some questions about how to think this strategy through, email me and I'll try to help out. If you have already figured this out, email that too and I'll give you an official, Early Bird pat on the back!
All that said, once we found the fish, jig and minnow combinations were all we fished with. A 1/16-ounce Sneaky Pete was a nice jig to use because it didn't get snagged in the rocks too badly. But, if it were breezy, 1/ 8 ounce jig would have been plenty good too. I did spend about a half-hour fishing night crawlers, but did not have a sniff on that bait.
After listening to all of you duck hunters shoot for the past couple of weeks, it's almost my turn to try and catch up. I'll try to get one more fishing update posted this weekend, and then I'm heading out for a week of hunting. If the lakes don't freeze before we get back, I'll be back out on the water week after next and try to post a "season wrap up" before we all get ready for the deer opener.
Good luck to everyone who keeps on fishing next week because if you've been putting up with this weather, you deserve to have some fun!

10/13/09 Well that was a heck of a blast! Our air temperature has been in the low 20 degree range every night and we've been lucky if the mid-day temps reach 36 degrees. Combine that with high winds and snow coming down and it's easy to see why a few folks changed their minds about going fishing this past weekend. Now after a few days of cancelled fishing, I'm poking my head out like a Bear that's been denned up for the winter. Hopefully the fishing will pick up where we left off last Friday, so we can finish out the last official week of our season with a robust finale'.
Walleye fishing had been picking up steadily as the fish acclimated to the colder water temperatures. On Friday, we fished the afternoon on Leech Lake and were pleasantly surprised by the action. For us, the magic depth was about 12 to 13 feet and jig and minnow fishing worked well. We boated around 20 Walleye in the afternoon and kept 10 of them, releasing an equal number of larger fish in the protected slot and smaller fish under 13 inches. Earlier on Friday, we fished Crappies on Cutfoot until lunch time and found them in 23 to 27 feet of water. The fish were semi-cooperative and we found that we could catch a half dozen or so from each school we located. As soon as the action dropped off, we had to look for another group. I was surprised that the Crappie were still so scattered, but maybe by today I'll start seeing some larger schools. As of Friday, most of the fish were still relating fairly close to the shoreline although they had moved a bit deeper. Another change I'd expect this week is to start seeing these fish move out into the deeper holes.
After I get re-aqquainted with the water today, I'll post an update about surface temps and I'll have a better idea of what to expect for the up-coming long MEA weekend.

10/5/09 Cold temperatures persist, but calmer winds have helped make fishing a lot more fun these past few days. Surface water temperatures are now ranging anywhere from 50 to 57 degrees so it's important to find the "right lake" for the species you plan on targeting this weekend.
Continuing to count on the deep lake pattern as a defense against an early turnover, we spent part of the day on Sunday fishing a deep water lake for Walleye and found water temperature of 58 degrees. The first fish we found were in 45 feet of water. A 1/2 ounce jig and minnow combination tricked the lion's share of the Walleyes we caught, but I did get a few on night crawlers fished on about a six foot snell with a plain hook. A later look at some shallower water was also successful as we found a school of active Walleye in about 22 feet of water along a deep weedline. Jig and minnow presentations worked fine here as well, but we did change to smaller, 1/8 and 1/4 ounce jigs for the shallower water.
Bluegill and Crappie fishing is turning on as the cold water forces fish out of the weeds and in to open water. On Monday we found several schools of panfish in water depths ranging from 20 to 26 feet. Some of the panfish were away from the shoreline, but there were still several schools of fish relating to the shoreline drop off areas too. Jig and minnow combinations are fine if you're on top of a school of Crappies, but if you suspect that you have bluegills near by, switch over to a compact jig with a small hook and tip it with a piece of cut night crawler. We used these 1/16th ounce Perch Eye Jigs with a small number 6 hook.

10/2/09 On Thursday we spent the afternoon looking for Northern Pike and Bass. We decided to combat the cold temperature and windy conditions by heading to a small, deep lake with lots of steep shoreline drop off areas. We started by fishing live bait rigs with larger minnows and caught a few on that presentation. The action really picked up once we switched to casting jigs tipped with soft plastics to the base of shoreline weeds and jigging them as they dropped down the breakline. Key depths were 15 to 25 feet and the best baits were Berkley's Power Grubs like the "Ripple Shad" and the 3 1/2" T-Tail Minnow. I rigged the tails on a 1/4 ounce long shank jig head and tied leaders using a 12 inch length of 17 pound clear fluorocarbon. The fish weren't giants, but we managed to get a nice batch or fish ranging from 28 to 34 inches with an added bonus of a few Bass including this nice chunky one that Travis tricked into biting. >>>>

10/1/09 Well that was interesting. Our recent blast of cold air has dropped surface temperatures on most lakes from near 70 degrees down to the middle 50 degree range in just 48 hours. On Wednesday, I fished Leech Lake in the morning and found surface temps in the morning hovering at 56 degrees. A friend on Lake Winnie reported 56 degrees as well. In the afternoon we switched to a much deeper lake where we found the temps hanging in there at about 62 degrees. For Walleye fishing, it's been like running in to a brick wall. We have managed to put some fish in the boat, but the action has really dropped off from where it was a few days ago. I still believe that as the fish acclimate to the changes, the action will pick back up again, so I'm expecting to see some improvement by the coming weekend. In the mean time, the fish are going to have to let me know what they want so I can figure out the new patterns.
The good news is that for Perch, the weed pattern that had been working so well for me didn't die. The Walleye and most of the Crappie evacuated the shallow cover, but the Yellow Perch stayed behind and provided us with some great action on Tuesday. Five to six feet of water in heavy weed cover was the best structure, jig and minnow combinations fished nearly motionless on the bottom was the best approach. The Crappies made a big move and can now be found in good size schools out in the open water. Depths ranging from 22 to 30 feet are now holding several schools of fish and for folks that have fished the fall patterns in the past, Crappie fishing should be good this weekend.

9/29/09 Fall winter blew in hard during the past couple of days and our long run of summer weather is now behind us. It's a little early to know for sure how this affects fishing for the next day or two, but in the long run, it's the push that our lakes will need to shift the fall fishing into over drive.
Surface temperatures dropped rapidly on Sunday and Monday as we moved from the low 70 degree range to just above 60 degrees by the end of the day on Monday. Last night was frosty, so I'm expecting to see another drop when I get to the lake today. Temps should stabilize now as the wind settles and temperatures moderate.
Even though it was really windy on Monday, the Walleye were fairly cooperative and we still managed to boat a couple of dozen fish. Walleyes that were using the shallow weeds had moved out into a bit deeper water and there with the high winds, there were more fish on the rocks than in the weeds. Because of the high wind, we stuck strictly to jig and minnow fishing and the key depth was 13 feet. My most recent experience with Crappie was on Sunday morning. At that time they were still in the weeds, but I'm expecting to find that they've moved by the time I get out there today (Tues). After a night in the freezer, It wouldn't surprise me to find many more panfish out in the deeper open water, so that will be part of my agenda during the day today. I know it's going to be a busy weekend coming up, so I'll try to make time to get another update posted after i see how things go today.

9/25/09 Wow! September just keeps dishing out one gorgeous day after another. The only real change in fishing patterns that occurred this week had been a single cold front that pushed some rain and heavier wind through the Deer River region on Tuesday (9-22). This minor cold front forced a slight drop in the surface temperatures on Wednesday to around 67 degrees. But by the evening on thursday, surface temps had risen back to the 70 degree mark.
If anything could be called a major change in Walleye fishing, it's been a shift away from some of the deeper main lake structures in favor of a more conentrated presense in the weeds. We continue to do well in the heavy, sloppy weeds that most folks associate with August fishing. Mixed bag of Walleye, Crappie, Perch, Bluegill and Pike has not been uncommon. Throw in a few Bullheads, Dogfish and Rock Bass and we're keeping pretty busy fishing in 5 to 7 feet of water. My best pattern has been to stay in heavy weed cover and fish the pockets with a 1/16 ouce jig and minnow combination. I've been just creeping along the weed edges and working the jigs slowly by either pitching or flipping the bait into position.
Crappie and Sunfish are still scattered and mostly located in weed cover. We still find some schools of fish in deeper, open water, but most of these fish have been pursued by anglers for a month and are pretty finicky right now. My advice would be to work the weed edges until we get the next cold front. Once the shallow water begins to cool, there will be another move and some of the scools in deep water will get larger.
It sounds like we need to get ready for a return to more typical fall weather patterns next week. Until that occurs, spend most of your time fishing summer and late summer patterns instead of the fall patterns you may have favored in the past. If you're not familiar with some of the summer fishing patterns, page through some of the archived fishing reports to get a few ideas.

9/17/09 Summer weather patterns have kept anglers guessing about Walleye locations, but for adaptable anglers, there are plenty of opportunities. Surface water temperatures are in the mid to high 70 degree range and we've had an unusually long run of calm, sunny days.
Many of the lakes around the Deer River and Grand Rapids region are behaving more like the typical late summer patterns. If you've fished the area in August in the past, remember some of those patterns and it will give you a jump start. You will need to know your lake before you decide which approach will be best for you because there are several distinct patterns going right now. Walleye are either in heavy weed cover, on deep water points of 25 to 45 feet, or on expansive mid depth flats where baitfish are abundant. We haven't been seeing a lot of action in the traditional early fall spots, so if you're used to fishing shallow rocks and shoreline breaks with a jig and minnow, you'll need to make some adjustments, especially if the warm weather trend continues. During times when there is enough breeze to create a good chop on the water, Walleyes will temporarily be on the shallow structure, but as soon as calm conditions return, go back to the deeper flats or heavy weeds. On some of the deeper lakes where fish have sufficient Oxygen to stay in the 25 to 45 foot range, live bait rigs with leeches and crawlers are still working and vertical jigging will also produce some nice fish.
Panfish including Crappie, Bluegill and Perch on a lot of lakesare still using shallow, heavy weeds. Even though there are some opportunities to fish panfish in the traditional deep holes, don't forget to check the we weeds! We've had some good Crappie action in the 20 to 30 foot range, but there are only a few schools of fish that I know about. After our last cold front a few weeks ago, there was a temporary movement to deeper water, but now many of these fish have returned to the weeds.

9/9/09 We just passed through what I call the classic late summer & early fall "false start pattrern". Typical of most summers, as we entered into the full moon period last week, fish of all species were active. Walleye fishing was great and so was Crappie, Bass and panfish. Even the Northern Pike tried to start biting for a few days. As we passed through the full moon period, the bite gradually tapered off and by Mon & Tuesday, the action returned to the classic late summer patterns. Warm, sunny days with lite winds and surface temperatures of 70 degrees or more has forced fish to hide in the weeds or move back into deep water again. If you keep working, you'll catch fish, but that feeling that the bite is "wide open" has tremporarily passed.
The good news is that we are now poised to begin seeing the true fall patterns emerge and as surface water cools, we'll see the activity pick up again. For the time being, it seems that the best way to work with conditions is to fish early or late in the day. For Walleye, we've noticed that the morning bite is best with the evening action coming in a close second. Crappies are best in the morning, but can also be caught in the evening. Largemouth Bass are unusually scattered and we've found them in lily pads, wild rice, cabbage weeds, bulrushes and even a few in our Northern Milfoil. We are not finding many Bass on deep structure though, so I'd start my search on the shoreline. For me, Northern Pike have been the least consistent of all, but the best size fish we've caught have been in deep water. Fish Pike in 25 to 40 feet with a 6 to 8 inch minnow and you will find some. Some of the Pike anglers ion shallower lakes are catching above average fish by Bobber fishing with the same large minnows in Cabbage weeds as well.

9/3/09 You know that fall fishing is perking up when you can fish the weedline on a lake and pick up quality Pike, Walleye and Panfish all at the same time. I won't say that it's wide open just yet, but there are more fishing opportunities presenting themselves every day now and with water temps still in the high 60's, the best fall fishing is still to come. The key to almost everything I've done in the past few days has been to stay in the weeds. The fish have been tempted to roam out into the open a bit when the wind blows, but even then I've had to stay within a few feet of the weed edges. Jig and Minnow combinations have been productive for the Walleye and Pike, small jigs with cut pieces of night crawler have been fine for catching the panfish. Key depth varies with the depth of the weedline in your lake so start by figuring out where the weeds stop growing and work from there. More later.

8/31/09 Deer River and Cass Lake area fishing lakes are moving into pre-fall patterns as the Crappie, Sunfish and Walleye action continues to improve daily. Surface temperatures are still hovering at about 70 degrees so I think it's still too early to declare that the fall bite is on. But I think we are in the pre-fall period where fish show the early signs of getting "really active" as we head into September and the beginning of the true fall patterns.
Crappie fishing continues to be strong and has been the highlight of my past week. There are reliable Crappie bites going on at least 20 lakes right now! On most of the lakes I've fished, the Crappie are still relating mostly to the outer portions of the weedline where deep water comes close to shore. On a few lakes, they have already begun moving into the deeper water adjacent to these weedy areas. Your best bet is to start the search in the weeds using a small jig tipped with a cut piece of night crawler or angle worm. Using the worm is an advantage because it will help zero in on any Bluegills or Sunfish that might be in the same weed beds. Move a bit deeper if necessary and look for schools of fish on you electronics. Once you locate fish, maintain your posistion and fish vertically. Best fishing depths have been 9 to 20 feet depending on the lake and structure we've been fishing. On some lakes, the Crappie are still waiting for sunset to make the most intense feeding runs. On others, the daytime bite is getting very reliable so I wouldn't be afraid to try several lakes in a day until I found the best action.
Bluegill action is heating up as well and the recipe to finding them is very similar to finding the crappies so I won't say a lot more about sunfish.
The shallow Walleye action is good providing that there is some wind to put the fish into an aggressive feeding mood. On breezy days, we're sticking to the weedlines in 6 to 10 feet of water. For most of August I tended to prefer night crawlers, but now I'm leaning toward the jig and minnow combinations. The fish will bite either way so use your own judgement. On Calm days, the shallow bite is a struggle so you'll have to choose either to scrounge for fish in heavier weeds or to scrounge for fish in deeper water. The 20 to 40 foot range continues to hold at least some small schools of catchable fish. There's a growing concensus that the cool weather this year has resulted in a lot of lakes not setting up a "hard thermocline" and that because of this, Walleye and Pike have the option of going anywhere in their comfort zone of water temperatures. This explanation seems reasonable to me because we're finding small groups of fish spread out over a wide variety of deep water locations. Almost every main lake hump or deep point has a few fish on it, the problem is that you have to keep moving and "cherry picking" a few fish from each location. If you keep moving, you'll find fish to catch. For deep Walleye, live bait rigs with either leeches or night crawlers are working fine. If you can get some large Red Tails or Creek Chubs, they'll work too. Since we've had a couple of cold nights and the surface temperatures have dropped, the faster moving spinners aren't producing as well as a conventional plain hook on about s six foot leader. In deep water, I've had to slow down to less than .75 MPH to keep the fish biting.
I didn't get to fish Largemouth Bass this week at all, but I did get a hot tip from a good friend who suggested looking for fish a bit shallower than usual for this time of year. He's had to forget about some of the deep weedlines and rocks and look for fish in the shallower weeds. Key areas have been 12 feet of water or less and he had a great experience this week in the Lily Pads using "slop frogs". That's usually a June pattern, but it's a lot of fun so you should think about giving it a whirl.

8/21/09 Crappie and Bluegill Fishing in the Grand Rapids area has taken a definite turn for the better! On Wednesday the Bluegill action got me started and on Thursday we hit a great school of weedline Crappies. A deep water hole in the 20 to 30 foot range, close to shore with a decent weedline are the three key ingridients. If you want to get in on them, start by locating the weed edges in areas near deep water and either drift or backtroll slowly along the weedline with a 1/16 ounce jig tipped with a small minnow. Periodically pitch the jig into the heavier weeds and keep your line tight as the jig falls. A tiny pop or even a slight twitch in your line might be all you feel, so be ready to set the hook at the first notice of a bite. Once you locate a fish or two, slow down and work the area more thoroughly. On Thursday, we were able to narrow the scool down to a stretch of weeds about 30 yards long and once we had them pinned down, we could easily fish straight down below the boat. Fishing too far from the weedline is a problem though and if we got more than a few feet outside the vegetaion, the bite would stop instantly. These fish are still IN THE WEEDS. They'll move out into open water soon, but I'd suggest starting your search on the weedline for another week or so.
The Largemouth Bass action is good right now as weel and the Bass are in the heavy weed cover as well. Texas Rig Worms have worked well and the fish have been located in 5 to 12 feet of water as long as there is heavy vegetation. Any small opening or hole in the weeds is a potential hot spot.

8/17/09 As the water heats up, more summer fishing patterns emerge. On Friday, we visited one of the area lakes known for having a deep, mid summer Walleye Fishing Pattern and found the fish right where they're supposed to be. Fishing deep shoreline fingers in the 35 to 55 foot range we located small packs of fish relating to the deep points, especially where the points contained gravel or hard sand. We found very few fish in soft bottom areas or out into the mud. it's really hard to say what bait was the best because we caught some fish on everything including leeches, Nigh Crawlers and Redtails. The main presentation was a live bait rig using a 3/4 egg sinker and a six foot leader. We did catch a couple of fish on a jig and shiner combination too, so I'd guess that if you stuck with your favorite presentation, it would work.
While we were fishing deep, friends were fishing in the shallows with crankbaits and catching a mixed bag of Walleye and Northern Pike. The Salmo #4 Hornets and #5 Shad Raps were the baits they used and according to their reports, action was good. If you're a crankbait lover, it might a good idea to check this out during the next week. One really encouraging bit of information from the crank baiters was that the Northern pike appear to be moving toward the shallower water. It might take a while to peak, but this is good news for though of us who still want to get in some quality time with the toothy critters.
On Saturday, I had the special treat of fishing for Largemouth Bass with my friend Arnie Nichols. An experienced tournament angler and Bass fishing guide, Arnie complained about slow fishing when we only caught 20 or so bass in a morning of fishing. It all depends on your point of view, but for me the fishing was plenty good. We spent the entire time fishing with Texas Rigged worms in heavy shallow cover. The key was to fish slow, covering the small pockets and tiny holes adjacent to heavy cover. A one foot opening in a heavy mat of weeds was plenty of room for a Bass to hide in.

8/14/09 The water is warming up so fast right now that a daily report is obsolete before the next morning, but the surface temp on 7-13 was 75 degrees. I caught a nice crappie on the weedline while fishing for Pike and found a pile of Crappie remains in the fish cleaning shack at the end of the day. Another clue that the late summer, pre fall pandish bite is getting closer every day. There's no doubt in my mind that if we were able to go back to that same weedline at about 8:00 PM, we'd find some more fish and that they'd be in an active mood. If you'd rather get there in the early morning instead, the same principal applies.
We fished mainly for Pike on Thursday, but we still caught a half dozen Walleye jigging on the weedline in 13 to 16 feet. I also marked a few fish on the rocks in the 12 to 14 foot range, but we barely fished for them at the time. We fished some shallow rocks in a heavy wind on Wednesday and found a good school of 'Eyes in the 4 to 6 foot range with some as shallow as 3.5 feet. The jig and minnow bite is still good enough to get you by, but there are also plenty of fish hitting on night crawlers and leeches too. I guess I'd plan it according to the wind. Plenty of breeze = Go shallow with jigs, Calm seas = fish live bait on the deeper main lake structures and weedlines.
8/12/09 The hot weather finally found us! Monday and Tuesday have been the kind of days that we remember when we think of August fishing in the Deer River area. Lots of sun, light wind and surface water temperatures pushing back up into the 72 -74 degree range. With more warm weather predicted, I think we'll be seeing some changes in the fishing patterns again this week and I'd expect to start hearing about some better Bluegill and Bass fishing.
Walleye fishing has been good at times, but when the weather is clear and calm, the daytime fishing on main lake bars and humps has been a struggle. So far the best defense has been to head for the weeds and start scrounging with either a jig and minnow, jig and crawler or a spinner & minnow combination. The weed fishing has produced more of a mixed bag, but it keeps you in the action and there are enough Walleyes to keep make it interesting.
Saturday was the aftermath of our first real stormy weather and the Walleye fishing suffered. By Monday, fishing had recovered and we had a really good experience on one of the deeper, clearer lakes that until now, had been slow for most of the summer. I think this is another indication of patterns shifting to the more traditional late summer trends. Right now is the time to start checking some of the lakes that have a good reputation in late August. Lakes with deep, clear water and lots of structure in the 20 to 40 foot range are going to start (if they haven't already) popping up in the conversation.
Shallower lakes have been stuck in the early summer, main lake basin patterns for longer than usual this summer because of the cool water. If the warming trend continues, we should be seeing more movement into the shallow weeds and rocks on shallow lakes like Winnie, Red Lake and Bowstring.
Northern Pike fishing in the shallows has been slow for the same reason. Baitfish that would normally move into the shallow weeds at this time of year have remained out in open water or on the mid depth flats. We've had reasonbly good fishing if we stay deep (15 feet or deeper), but the shallow weed beds are not producing good numbers of Pike yet. If you want to catch a supply of good sized "eaters", jig and minnow combinations, deep running crankbaits or live bait an slip bobbers are the best bet. Don't forget about deep rocks and deep main lake drop-off areas. Many of the larger Pike are using these areas to ambush deep water forage like tulibees and Suckers.
Perch fishing has taken a definite turn for the better in the past week or so. We've had good luck on several lakes this week and while there are a lot of small Perch to sort through, there have been some really nice ones mixed in as well. It shouldn't be too hard for you to find a school of Perch right now. Key areas have been mixed weeds ond or rocks in the 6 to 12 foot range. When fishing the shallow water, a breeze really helps, but if it's calm, look for heavier weeds and approach the fish quietly. Cast small jig and minoow combinations into the weeds and hop them back toward the boat.

7/21/09 Another cold, turbulent week in the Deer River area has returned surface water temperatures to the mid 60's. With all of the cool weather, it feels more like early June than mid July, if you're into fishing like we are, this is probably more good than bad as the cool water tempertures have helped to extend the active fishing on many of the lakes in our region.
I've spent most of the past week searching for Northern Pike with a family who loves catching and eating Pike over most other fish. We fished them on five different lakes and all of them have produced good action. We haven't been catching any giants, but most days we've managed to catch some nice chunky fish in the 24 to 27 inch range. We've been fishing submerged weeds, especially Cabbage using 3/8 oucnce spinnerbaits until about noon or until we notice a significant drop off in the action. Once the action slows, switch over to a jig and minnow combo and fish the deeper edges of the same weed beds to pick a few more bonus Pike. A few Itasca County Walleye must have been raised by Bass because we've caught several really nice ones on the spinnerbaits while we were searching for Pike.
I spent little time searching for Walleye this week. But when we did fish them, we discovered that the best action was on night crawlers. That said, we still caught some fish on jig and minnow combos as well. Location of the Walleye hasn't changed much since the last report. We're still finding them on main lake humps and bars and there are still plenty of fish on the weedlines in 10 to 15 feet. I usually like rocks, but this week we had better luck fishing near softer bottom. A hump with sand on top located near a mud-line would be a good place to search.
Another side benefit of fishing the weeds with spinnerbaits has been the Largemouth Bass that add to the fun. We've found some of these Bass in shallow cover, 1 to 2 feet with lily pads and Bulrushes. Some others have been out on the weedy flats in 5 to 10 feet of water, especially in areas where we can see the Cabbage weed tops sticking up a couple of inches above the surface.

7/9/09 Summer weather finally found Northern Minnesota and delivered a really nice week. Water temperatures are now generally in the high 60's to mid 70's depending on the lake and we've even seen a few examples of 77 to 78 degree water on a couple of the shallower lakes. Along with the summer weather comes the classic "mixed bag" fishing season. It's getting more common to work a weedline and catch a few Walleye, Pike, Bass and Panfish all mixed together. It's getting less common to find large schools of Walleye, but on most days, we're still finding respectable catches.
Walleye action is still reliable using jig and minnow combinations, but this week we've caught some fish on just about every presentation including live bait rigging with Leeches and Night Crawlers. We've started getting a few fish trolling crankbaits on the weedlines as well, so you might want to check this out too.
Walleye location varies with the lake, so depending on where you're fishing, check main lake humps, bars and reefs first. If Walleyes aren't found out in open water, switch to the weedlines and work the tips of points and inside corners or sharp turns on the edges. If you like the mixed bag fishing, try a variety of baits and include jig & minnow, jig & soft plastic, jig & crawler or live bait spinners tipped with minnows.
We're hearing some great reports about the Largemouth Bass fishing, especially the early morning, top water fishing. During mid day, soft plastics on the shallow weed edges are producing nice fish as well. Apparently these fish are recently moved off of spawing beds and are just now gathering on the weedlines.
This week was my first opportunity to fish for sunfish and I think the Bluegills are just moving into the deeper weeds as well. We fished on a very sunny day and had some spotty action in heavy weed cover. I got the impression that a return visit at sunset or on a cloudy day would have resulted in better action, but it was clear that the fish have moved away from the shallow beds.
Crappies have not been cooperative during the daylight this week. There are three lakes where we've caught single fish as we work the weedlines for Walleye, but in all three cases, we were unable to catch more. Every time we've picked up a Crappie, it has been in Cabbage Weeds in the 7 to 9 foot depth range. Again, I think the evening bite would be good so if you stumble into a Crappie or two during the day, note the location and try again at sundown.
We've had some fun with Northern Pike on the weed flats this week and the average size has been 23 to 28 inches. Not big fish, but at least chunky enough to make it fun. The pike have been fairly active on spinnerbaits and jigs with soft plastics. I had a good time using the 4 inch Berkley power grubs on a long shank jig head while my customers fished with 3/8 ounce spinnerbaits. White, Yellow/Orange and Black/Orange were the best color combinations.

6/28/09 Quite a week has passed. Hours of hard work have paid off and we've been rewarded with some moments of real of greatness. Some days have been a lot easier than others, but the weather keeps dishing out challenges and honestly there have been times that we've felt like throwing in the towel. On most days though if we just keep on fishing, we eventually hit a couple of really good spots that help make our day.
Water temperatures are reacting strangely to the weather and there are some lakes that have reached the mid to upper seventy degree range while others remain in the mid sixty degree range. In general, the lakes that have warmed up the most are showing signs of "normal" mid summer fishing action. Live bait rigs tipped with Crawlers and Leeches are producing Walleyes in these lakes. Jig and minnow combinations still provide the best action on lakes that have remained cooler. Wind and overcast or partly sunny skies are still important to trigger the best Walleye action and there are some lakes in the Deer River area that should be avoided on calm, clear days. Leech Lake, Lake Winnie, Deer Lake and others that remain clearer than usual for this time of year have been tough bites on this type of weather. On these clear, calm days we've done well by scrounging around in the heaviset weed cover we can find. As a side benefit of doing this, we've had good Bass and Pike action mixed with the Walleyes. It won't be long before we'll have some panfish using these deeper weeds as well, but for now, panfish are still shallow.
Smallmouth Bass have moved up on to their spawing beds and we've had some really good Bass action this week as well. Here again, we're not going out of our way to catch them, we just fish for Walleyes and the rest of these fish come along as a bonus. The simplest approach has been to hold the boat tight to the weedline and have one angler work a jig and minnow toward the shallow water while another works out toward deeper water and the third fishes on the breakline by either trolling or drifting along with the movement of the boat. Wherever we discover a pocket of fish, we concentrate on that area for a while and then move on to greener pastures.

6/18/09 A couple of rainy days have pulled the water temperatures back down to about 64 degrees. During the past few days we've seen that there are still lots of shiners spawing in the shallows. As long as these minnows are "in", there will be some good shoreline action. I'd suggest keeping an eye on the minnow activity on the shoreline and use this as your gauge when making your daily fishing plan.
Walleye action, because of the extended spring has remained strong in shallow water, but because the cooler water is staying so clear, fish move best on breezy days. If I get stuck on a calm, sunny day, my best options have been to fish in the heaviest weeds I can find. If I can't find weeds, I'll move out to the deeper water and try to get in on some of the early movement to mid season humps, bars and reefs. There have been some good days on main lake humps and bars, but it's not 100% guaranteed. So even though it's getting easier to make the move to deeper water, be prepared to do some scrounging.
Crappies, depending on the lake you fish are either just finishing up spwaning or are in the process right now. We've caught some fish in 1 to 2 feet of water in cover that included mixed sand, gravel and bulrushes. We've also caught a few fish in the deeper cabbage weeds located near the spawing areas. Typically these are fish that have finished spawning and stage in the weeds before heading into open water later in the summer. Fishing a small jig below a bobber is the best bet for fishing the bulruses. For fish in the Cabbage patches, try casting a small 1/16 ounce jig with a plastic tube, twister tail or other soft plastic tail.

6/11/09 Warmer temperatures are predicted for this weekend and this will be great news for anglers checking out the shallow water Bluegill bite. On Wednesday we found our first couple of schools of sunfish roaming into the shallow shoerline coves. The fish were not on beds yet and with sunny skies they were extremely "spooky". We managed to pick up a handful of nice fish before they spotted the boat and darted back out of the shallows. For what it's worth, the shallow cover was so thick that many folks might have trouble getting their baits stuck in the bulrushes. Next time I go back in there, I'm going to pack a couple of collapsable cane poles because I think we can fish more effieciently with that set up. When you start seeing Bluegill pictures on this page, you'll know we're getting it figured out.

6/8/09 We've had another blustery week and with water temperatures stubbornly locked below 60 degrees, it looks like we can call 2009 the year of perpetual spring.
The Good news is that the fish seem to like it this way! Walleye, Crappie, Bass and Norhtern Pike are all roaming the shallow water breaklines. This helps those of us who love to fish jig and minnow and we are getting a "Bonus Extension" of the spring action bite.
Walleye action in the Deer River area continues to be strong, with most of the fish being caught in the 6 to 12 foot range. On breezy days the fish are aggressive and can be caught easily by drifting or back-trolling. Because the water has remained unusually clear due to cool temperatures and high water levels, we have been forced to scrounge for fish on calm days. If you're fishing on a clear, sunny day without a breeze, go to the weeds and stay there. You'll find a mixed bag of Pike, Perch and Walleye using the newly emerging weed growth. The action may still be a bit sluggish, but at least you'll be in the game. Don't be afraid to switch over to leeches during calm conditions either. The added action of the lively leeches seems to trigger a few extra fish that won't go out of their way to chase down your jig and minnow.
Smallmouth Bass have been the highlight of our weekend. As we fish for Walleye in areas with mixed rock and cabbage weeds, we've discovered a lot of Smallies staging in the 8 to 12 foot depth range. I guess these fish will be heading up on to the shallow rocks soon, but for now they are in schools on the deeper sections of these rocky areas. We've been catching them on jig and minnow because that's the way we're fishing for Walleye. But on Sunday I tried some soft plastics and caught them on these as well.
Crappies are cooperating for anglers who search in the shallow spawning areas. Pockets of open water in heavy Bulrushes with mixed gravel and sand have been the best. We've been using 1/16 ounce jigs under bobbers set at about one foot and doing our best to get inside the weeds without getting stuck too often. When you find them, the Crappie are aggressive so don't linger in areas where you're not catching fish. Keep moving until you find a school of fish.

6/1/09 If the weather cooperates, the fish respond very well. But another week of crummy weather has sometimes forced us to go into the "scrounging mode" to catch our fish. Many of the lakes we've been fishing have produced good catches of Walleye and on the better days fishing has been good to great. When we're faced with heavy wind and cold temperatures, the bite is sometimes unreliable. So there have been a few days where we've had to try and win the game by sheer stubborn enthusiasm.

Water temperatures still haven't topped the 60 degree mark, so most of the fishing is still being done on the shoreline points and shollow drop of areas. Jig and minnow fishing is still the top choice, but we've also started catching some fish on leeches and crawlers as well as artificial baits. Earlier this week we had a great experience using the Berkley Gulp Alive 3 inch minnow and Northland's Slurpie Tubes. Aggressive jigging with a 1/4 ounce long shank jig head mad the larger fish jump hard on both of these baits. The best situation for trying these baits are when you find fish on the shallow flats ( 5 to 10 feet) especially when there are newly forming weeds. The sparse weedgrowth seems to be hold lots of minnows that are attracting the hungry Walleye.

5/20/09 The weather hasn't exactly been friendly. But in spite of cold temperatures and high winds, the fish have been active enough to make for some darn good fishing. As of Tuesday (5-19-09) the surface temperatures are running at about 54 to 55 degrees on most lakes. Most of the lakes that I've fished so far have provided good to great Walleye fishing action, especially during the early evenings. But on Sunday I did learn that some lakes are still too chilly when I spent the entire morning catching small northern Pike and not a single Walleye. We switched lakes in the afternoon and managed to make up for lost time, but the lesson is that there are still a few locations where the Walleye haven't recovered from spawning. These deeper, cooler lakes will start to turn on as the warmer weather moves in and the surface temps begin to rise.

There have been a lot of really good reports about Crappie fishing this week and several of our area lakes are producing good Crappie action on the shoreline in 2 to 5 feet of water. We've had a few Crappies hitting on the deeper breaklines too and each day we get a couple of them in 10 to 14 feet of water as we fish for Walleye. These crappies have spawn in them and they will probably move to the shoreline as soon as the water temps start creeping up into the high 50's and low 60's.

On Tuesday, we started seeing our first evidence of Perch in good numbers. The larger ones all appeared to be skinny, spawned out females and it looks like there will be some good opportunities for Perch anglers as these fish keep getting more hungry. The best schools have shown up in 6 to 8 feet of water in areas of mixed sand, sand grass and newly emerging weeds.

5/13/09 The Minnesota Walleye fishing opener weekend arrived amidst turbulent weather. The fish don't seem to be bothered though as we've now been to four lakes and found good fishing on all of them. On Monday, we had great weather, sunny, warm and calm. the fish responded by getting really active and this has been the best single day of the season for my crew. Tuesday thru Thursday have been blustery, cold and rainy. Twice this week we've opted to skip fishing early in the morning and wait for the afternoon to warm up. This has really paid off because there has been a really reliable evening bite going on. My best strategy has been to move around the lake picking up odds and ends during the day. Keep track of spots that seem to have the most fish and pick your top two or three locations for the evening. Make sure you're in position by 6:45 - 7:00 PM and your efforts will definately pay off.

We've been slow trolling 1/16 ounce Sneaky Pete's tipped with Rainbows or Shiners and either of them have been working well. On Thursday, we fished on a breakline that drops from 8 feet down to 12 and found a mixture of Walleye and Crappies on the same spot. There were some other boats in the area that anchored and fished slip bobbers who were catching fish at an equal pace. So if you like to bobber fish, this looks like a good time to give it a whirl.

Walleye Jeff Sundin

Walleye Mike Rehr October 2009
Large, shallow flats with active fall spawning Tulibee? Not the easiest places to find, but if you locate one, the pay-off will be should be worth the effort.
Fall Walleye Location
The shaded area represents the actual spot we were fishing. Walleyes were relating to the edges of this rock flat near the adjacent deep hole. The Tulibees probably live in or near the hole all year.

Walleye Carl Bergquist October 2009
The Walleye we've caught on this pattern have been plump and healthy. No giants, but lots of fish in the 17 to 21 inch range with a few 23-24 inchers mixed in.

Minnesota Fall Snow Storm
A view of my garden on Saturday morning confirms the end of the 2009 growing season.

Bluegill Pete Raquet October 2009
Cold water temperatures have forced panfish off of the weedlines and out into open water. Nice size, agressive Bluegills are showing up in a varity of locations.
Jigs n Rigs Perch Eye Jig
The 1/16th ounce Perch Eye Jig, tipped with a cut piece of night crawler will do the trick. Note that the worm is cut short to help prevent bait staeling by sneaky sunfish.

Largemouth Bass Travis October 2009
Berkley's new Ripple Shad is a bait that I've only been using for a few weeks, but we've caught fish every time we've used them and I really like the way these small baits swim.

Fall Color October 1, 2009
In spite of the recent grey, windy days, fall color is starting to "pop". I'll bet the peak will be here in just a few days. \

Walleye Travis September 2009
You can tell by the outfits that temperatures have really dropped. But the fish are starting to adjust and the action should continue to improve as they find the baitfish.

Walleye Action Dick Williams September 2009
Dick Williams and Paul Kautza team up to land a nice Walleye. Fishing shallow weeds has been paying off for us during the warm, sunny weather.

MN Walleye Stamp 2009
Walleye anglers, Did you buy a Walleye Stamp this year? Did you know there was one? Let me know your thoughts.

Northern Pike Paul Smith 8-29-09

Crappie 8-27-09 MN Pro Guide Jeff Sundin
Crappie fishing has been the highlight of my week. We're finding them on a lot of lakes and the average size has been great so far.

Crappie 8-28-09 Bob

Bass Sean Moore 2009
Heavy cover is the best bet for Bass right now. Early mornings call for top-water, but during the day, switch to Texas Rigged Worms for better results.

Walleye Jeff Sundin August 2009
Walleyes on the deep water structure in late summer tend to like larger baits. This was caught with a large Redtail Chub on a six foot live bait leader.

Deep Walleye Action August 2009
Big Walleyes Love Deep Water
Deep water action for big Walleyes is a lot of fun. We don't get many "eaters", but if you're after a trophy, this might be the ticket!

Chad Haatvedt Jig Worm Walleye July 2009
The jig and worm pattern is one of my summer favorites.

Walleye Lauren Kleavenger July 2009
A few Itasca County Walleye must have been raised by Bass because we've caught several really nice ones on the spinnerbaits while we were searching for Pike.

Northern Pike Mike July 2009
Not a giant, but nice chunky pike like these are plenty of fun to catch.

Northern Pike Brian Gandy
Above average size Pike are active on the weed flats. spinnerbaits or jigs with soft plastics are working well.

Walleye Phil Dhuse 7-5-09
Walleyes are moving in deeper water, but there are still fish like this on the weedlines too.

Walleye Stacy Mathiason June 2009
Deeper main lake structures are holding larger fish like this 27 inch Lake Winnie Special.

Smallmouth Bass Don Hook June 2009
Mixed bag on the breaklines. Who would turn down the chance to battle a few Smallmouth Bass like this? While you're fish for Walleyes on the breakline, toss your jig into the shallower water and see what happens.

Walleye lawrence Blackmer June 2009
Walleye action continues to be best in the weeds and shallow water breaklines, but there are early signs of movement to deeper water.

Smallmouth Bass Larry Lashley June 2009
Smallmouth Bass are active on the breaklines near rock/gravel spawning areas. We're catching them mixed in with Walleye.
Walleye Kristen Pietras June 2009
With all of the breeze we've had this week, the daytime fishing has been great. But on calm days, the evening bite is still the way to go and it's a great backup plan to keep in mind.

Walleye Jeff Sundin May 2009
When you find fish on the shallow flats, try an aggresive jiggng style using some of the artificial baits like Berkley Gulp or Northland Slurpies. These things really do work.

River Fishing For Walleye
Everyone can get in on the act! As we floated down the Mississippi River to fish for Walleye, we encountered this fishing family. They know that if you're willing to hoof it, you can find a great shore fishing location.

Walleye Chad Haatvedt 5-12-09
Schools of active, eating size male Walleye have been getting easier to find every day.

Walleye Cam Sundin
Blustery weather has made it a little trickier than usual, but the fish aren't too bothered. Try the eveing bite for best action.