Fishing Report November 3, 2016 Influencing the Influence able – My Two Cents Worth
I KNOW that at this time of the season, many of you are checking in on this page not for fishing information, but simply to keep tabs on what’s happening up here in the northland.
By now, most folks have given up on open water fishing and have turned their attention to hunting, sports, school and maybe even politics.
Politics is a tricky subject, but if we never talk about it, we could wind up in a situation where the country runs the people, instead of the people running the country; like we’re supposed to.
During the fishing season, I’ve talked with lots of you about philosophy, persuasion and whether or not we have any influence over anything political. The common thread running through every discussion has been the dis-satisfaction with our choices of political candidates. That’s not unusual, but this year it’s been more intense than ever before.
Many of you have said “I don’t like either of them and I’m going to vote”. I believe that’s short sighted, I think that if I want to keep the right to voice my opinion, then I should at least take the time to cast my vote.
I didn’t bring a soap box and I’m not going to try and tell you who to vote for. In fact, I know that if your mind is made up, I probably can’t change it anyway. But just your mind isn’t made up, just in case you’re one of the folks who feels left out, helpless to influence anything about the election, then here’s something to think about.
Like many of you, I’m not satisfied with any of the presidential choices either. I am still going to vote though because the timing has never been better to lay the groundwork for the next election. For me, casting a write in vote for the candidate who I believe should have gotten the nomination is the best way to spend my one vote.
Yes, I know this will not change the outcome of next week’s election, but I do not believe that will be a wasted vote! By casting a write in vote, I am exercising my right to voice my opinion and with luck, my opinion will be noticed by decision makers who influence the nominations for the next election.
The choice is easy for me because I know who I believe should have been nominated. But it doesn’t matter to me if you agree with my choice or not. I would support your choice no matter who it is; the point is that I wish you would at least cast a vote, for somebody.
If you think about it, there is no such thing as a wasted vote. We, the people have a lot of clout and if we ever learned how to use it, we’d be dangerous. Of course that’s just my opinion and luckily, it’s still okay to have one vote to express it with, I think I’ll use it while I still can.
Fishing Report October 25, 2016 - Hello, hello, is there anybody in there ...
Yes, I'm still here and I KNOW that anybody who went fishing on Monday, in fact anytime over these past few days was pretty darn lucky. I wish I could say that I was one of them, but with only 6 days remaining before I close on the new house, its crunch time and there's no play time for me.
So far, I’ve been getting along okay without getting outside to fish. Yesterday though, I was downright envious of anybody who had free time to hit the water. Winds were calm, skies were blue and the word from “Lucky Friends” is that fishing has been good.
Typically, it wouldn’t matter by now anyhow; I’d be on a hunting trip, sneaking up on ducks and Pheasants. But being stuck at home, where I can see the boat and feel the sun on my neck, that’s causing some discomfort! It turns out that packing boxes, wading through red tape and tying up loose ends is not my strong suit.
One of these times, real soon, I’m gonna borrow a beautiful day for myself and when I do, you’ll be the first to know!
Fishing Report October 21, 2016 - Open Water Season Winding Down?
I can't help but notice that it's getting harder to find fishermen on the water these days and according to the calendar, this should be expected. There’s a lot of stuff pulling folks away from the lake and finding time to fish isn’t easy. Take me for example, only 10 days from starting the move to a new house! That means that my days on the water will be fewer than usual, but they’re not over yet.
My main boat; the Pro V is all cleaned up and buttoned down for winter. She’s resting patiently, awaiting discovery of her new owner’s identity, maybe it could be you?
I still have my ace in the hole though; the Alaskan is filled up, charged up and loaded up. I'm ready to spring into action, just in case somebody gets the itch to wet a line one more time.
Mother Nature must still have the itch because she keeps dishing out nice weekends and here comes another one. Just in time for the long, “MEA Weekend” there’s warmer, sunnier and calmer weather in the forecast. Mother’s fish are still biting as well and from my vantage point, it’s hard not to imagine a strong turnout at the bait shop this morning.
As much time as I spend talking about Walleye fishing on Leech, Winnie and the other Itasca area Walleye factories, I think that a departure is in order. That’s because this is a super time of the season for checking out those small Panfish lakes that you’ve curious about.
In this day and age, fishing pressure develops fast and the cyclic nature of Panfish lakes is accentuated more than ever before. Last winter’s “honey hole” could easily be this winter’s “dead sea” so formulating a list of alternatives could make you look like a real hero this winter.
Yeah, I KNOW, exploration isn’t as much fun as catching fish, everybody loves sitting on a good spot, catching ‘em one after another. Think about it though, Panfish lakes, especially small ones, are liable to be at their best right now. Crappies, Sunfish and Perch will be in the open, where you can see ‘em and if there’s any such thing as a guarantee that they’ll bite, the time for it is now.
Taking advantage of your mobility now, on open water means that you won’t have to do as much scouting once the lakes freeze. An explorer could easily check out 3 or 4 lakes a day, making notes about depth contours, weed growth and structure. While you’re at it, you can do a little fishing just to test the population of your quarry. When I do something like this, I try not to make fishing the focal point of the trip. Instead, I’ll use the time to study the water, get a feel for the structure and mark a few spots for later.
I’m looking forward to squeezing in a little exploration myself, and while I’m at it, give you a few more firsthand reports from the boat, before the water turns to ice.
OH, by the way, the stores are stocking their shelves with ice fishing tackle right now. Obviously, this a good time to fill in the gaps in my ice fishing tackle box, but I’ve also been setting aside a reserve for next fall. Ice jigs are fabulous during the open water season, but they can be hard to find in stores when you need ‘em. I’ve been stashing some extras in the boat now, that way they’ll be there next year and when I need ‘em, I’ll have ‘em.
An explorer could easily check out 3 or 4 lakes a day, making notes about depth contours, weed growth and structure.
Ice jigs are fabulous during the open water season, but they can be hard to find in stores when you need ‘em. I’ve been stashing extras in the boat now, that way they’ll be there next year, so when I need ‘em, I’ll have ‘em.
Only 10 days from starting my move to a new house! That means that my days on the water will be fewer than usual too, but they’re not over yet.
Fishing Report October 19, 2016 - Leech Lake Walleyes, Better Late Than Never?
Sometimes I just don't understand fish, especially Walleyes.
For most of the season, there have been a handful of lakes kicking out the lion's share of good, reliable Walleye fishing; Leech Lake has not been one of them.
For most of the season, anglers who have fished on the "good lakes" were looking forward to the fall in anticipation of the start of a feeding frenzy that would make fishing "really good".
Over the past few days, more than a few anglers have been starting their fishing trips on one of the "good lakes", but ending their trips on Leech Lake instead. That's right, whatever the reason, Walleyes have arrived to the party, fashionably late.
The action on Leech is not automatic, you'll have to search a little, work a little and use your power to preserver, but the payoff is liable to be worth the effort.
Like most of the Itasca Area's clear water lakes, Leech Lake depends on overcast skies and a good chop to get the fish moving. When they do, shallow rocks and shoreline breaks containing heavy gravel are producing the best action.
During the daytime, weeds and sand breaks are producing some Perch and Pike too, but Walleye anglers searching this type of cover have largely been disappointed. After dark, the shallow weed edges and sand breaklines will produce nice fish, primarily CPR size slot-fish.
Best daytime presentation, as expected, is a jig and minnow. Size is more important than minnow species, a 3-1/2 to 4 inch Golden Shiner, Rainbow or Fathead will turn their heads reliably.
After dark, trolling with shallow running crankbaits is standard operating procedure. If you haven't tried them, take a look at Lindy's Wally Demon, they will look familiar. It's the new colors that have freshened up this lineup of time tested performers. The 2-1/2 inch size is ideal for shallow water Walleye and they're particularly desirable when a rattling crankbait is called for.
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Fishing Report October 18, 2016 - Winnie Walleyes, Cutfoot Crappies, Predictible Perch
It's common for folks to use the approaching MEA weekend as their last chance for a fun weekend with school age kids. So it's understandable that curiosity about what's up on Winnie and Cutfoot would generate readers’ questions regarding the whereabouts of Walleye, Perch and Crappies. In fact, fishing on Winnie and Cutfoot is the subject that's dominated my inbox.
I would love to tell you that the fishing is wide open, but right now it's what I would call "spotty". You can catch 'em if your timing is good, but some days are zingers for Walleye. But if you prepare to fish for alternates when the Walleye bite is slow, I think you can have a fun weekend.
Generally, Walleye fishing on the big lake remains good, but the caveat is that most of the best Walleye fishing is occurring during twilight and continuing after dark. If you're bound and determined to catch Walleye during the daytime, then I'd tough it out on Cutfoot instead.
Cutfoot's surface temperatures are warmer, still ranging between 51 and 54 degrees and there's a bit more color in the water. That, combined with a cloudy day and a Walleye chop can produce good action.
Cloud cover and a good chop helps on the big lake too, but colder temps, 48 to 52 degrees and clear water have combined to make a lot more fish nocturnal. That’s why most fishermen who really score big are doing it after the sun goes down.
Actually, this isn’t unique to Winnie; it’s true for most of the larger, clear water lakes in the area. Spend a few minutes perusing the social media pages and you'll note that photos of big Walleye appearing with headlamps in the background far outnumber daytime snapshots.
For me, focusing on Cutfoot Sioux is good in another way too, the variety of fish is better and the spots are located closer to each other too.
Perch of quality size have begun showing up in the shallow weeds. Jig and minnow combinations fished in water depths of 6 to 9 feet will produce some jumbos. Look for clear, sand or gravel areas within larger weed flats.
Crappie and Sunfish have moved deeper, gathered now in the center of main lake basin areas and are more likely to be located in close proximity to each other. If you bring along some ice jigs and tip them with Waxies, you can probably catch a mix of Bluegills and Crappies. Key depths for Crappies have been 28 to 35 feet, for Sunfish, somewhat shallower.
With temperatures slowly falling again, I'm not sure how to predict an exact end date to the most productive fishing. But looking at forecast highs near 50 degrees each day, I'm visualizing another week of reasonably good odds.
The point may be moot after this weekend anyway, I'm noticing less boats on the road and more ATV's, trailers and deer stands every day. In fact, folks who see me out and about will notice that I'm trailering the Alaskan these days. I've already cleaned up the Pro V and placed it into semi-retirement, keeping it safe and sound for whoever chooses to be the new owner.
"Bonding over the Crappie hole was as good as it gets for these 3 Vets this weekend. They met at our first Veteran's event and have since become close friends. Fishing in 24 to 27 feet of water, they made quick work of catching suspended Crappies." - Bill & Erin Charlton, Trails End Reosrt .
Fishing Report October 17, 2016 - Pleasantly Surprised or Predictibly Pumped?
Surface temperatures held tight enough over the weekend to produce excellent fishing for most anglers who visited the Itasca area.
At 53 to 55 degrees, there was some question about which lakes, if any may have turned over, but apparently most of them had not.
On small lakes, Walleye, Pike and Bass were all available along weed edges. Crappies, in most systems have found their way into deep basin areas, and they were feeding actively.
On Leech Lake, Walleye action finally kicked into high gear and Walleye were active both day and night. During the daytime, shoreline points and shallow rocks are producing the best action. After dark, shallow weedline areas and patches of gravel have been better.
The best results came by casting toward the base of the weeds and allowing our jigs to sweep a couple of feet deeper along the breakline; the best depth overall was 12 feet.
For me, a Sunday afternoon drive to the lake yielded an unexpected surprise when the parking area near the landing was nearly full. Taking advantage of the beautiful weather, a break from Vikings football and a pent up demand for fresh fish, anglers were out in good numbers.
Speaking with one fisherman who was just heading out onto the lake, I said; it looks like somebody knows something that I didn’t. “Yup, they’re biting he said. I haven’t been out there myself, but I’ve got friends who are doing very well. Some are catching Walleye, some are catching Crappie, but everybody is catching something.”
With only a couple of hours to kill, we decided to try our hand at it too and managed to pick up a half dozen "eater size" Walleye along with some Pike. We didn't catch any "slot-fish" during our short trip.
Walleyes were still holding semi-tight to the outer edges of heavy
weed cover. We were allowed to range several feet away from the weeds, over the clean sand, but there was a limit. The best results came by casting toward the base of the weeds and allowing our jigs to sweep a couple of feet deeper along the breakline; the best depth overall was 12 feet.
There wasn't enough time to look for Crappies, but that gives me a goal to work toward during this week.
Nothing lasts forever, and I'd be overly optimistic to expect another week of really good fishing. But you never know, the forecasts don't look that cold and water tremperatures have been stubborn, it's entirely possible that fishing action will be good for another week, maybe more.
Fishing Report October 14, 2016 - Test Results In, Weekend Walleye Fishing Outlook; Positive
Ironic, isn't it? Just as the fishing season winds down, the Walleye action in the Itasca region is heating up.
The perfect blend of cold and warm weather has worked in harmony to produce surface temperatures that hover near the ideal range. This means that Walleye anglers who haven't already put their boats away for winter might want to take advantage of what's shaping up to be an excellent weekend.
I've spent this week fishing on 4 popular Walleye lakes, friends have reported in about a few more and all reports share this common rule of thumb; if we can find the fish, they will strike.
At 53 to 55 degrees, shallow weeds are dying off and baitfish has been forced onto the breakline along the outer edges of heavy weed patches. Walleye, Pike and Perch are roaming the breakline, gobbling up whatever they find, wherever they find 'em.
I’ve written before about the period of awesome fishing that occurs just before turnover; the time when you can do no wrong. While I can’t say that the action is at its peak, I do think that it’s reliable enough to advise you to spend one more weekend on the lake, if you can.
The key depth for me has depended on where the out edges of weed growth stops. Yesterday, the magic number was 13 feet, on Wednesday it was 11 feet, Tuesday found me holding tight to the 6 foot mark. The depths were different, but the pattern was the same, just hold tight to weed edges and sooner or later, you will drift into the right spot.
Presentation, as you’d expect, continues to be jig and minnow. For the most part, I’ve used Lindy's 1/8 ounce Live Bait Jigs tipped with large Fatheads, Rainbows or Golden Shiners. In the shallowest waters, we have switched to the 1/16 ounce size and had better results.
If the fish really have a color preference, it’s been hard for me to see it. We've had good results using Blue/Glow, Pink/Glow, Green and Yellow. I on the other hand, have had a definite preference; Black.
There have been quite a few Pike inhabiting the same weed edges that Walleyes are. I’ve used darker, more subdued colors to shift the odds of attracting a Walleye in my favor and it’s been helping.
Pike do not have the keen eyesight that Walleye do and the brighter jig colors tend to aid them in discovering your bait. When you make it too easy for the Pike, you spend more time getting snipped off, re-tying and handling hammer-handle Pike.
Walleye on the other hand can see really well and the Black jigs give them a few extra seconds to spot your bait, before the Pike do. Give the Walleye an advantage, put the Pike at a disadvantage and you’ll reap the reward.
If Walleye have a color preference, it’s been hard for me to see it. We've had good results using Blue/Glow, Pink/Glow and both Green and Yellow Chartreuse.
I on the other hand, have had a definite color preference; Black.
Walleye anglers who already put their boats away for winter might wish they'd taken advantage of an excellent weekend outlook.
Okay so there you go, we have a great weather forecast, the fish are biting and you have some free time.
Don’t be discouraged if you try a few places that don’t produce, just check ‘em off your list and make a move. That’s happened to me every single day, I always have to re-locate the fish, but sooner or later I do stumble into them and I’m sure you will too.
If you read the report and you hold onto the key phrases; “if we can find the fish, they will strike” and “sooner or later, you will drift into the right spot”, then you will have a productive weekend.
Fishing Report October 13, 2016 - Life, Liberty and The Pursuit of ... a fishing trip?
Fishing might not have been the first thing that came to mind when Thomas Jefferson began writing the declaration of independence. But it was the first thought that came to my mind as I read this question from Deron DoRight.
Q) Jeff, I always enjoy reading your fishrapper reports. I am a full time, year round guide in MN, just like you. I have only been doing it full time for 6 years. I am a licensed Coast Guard Captain. I need to be by law to guide on Rainy Lake, Leech Lake, Cass Lake, and Winnie etc...
Just wondering how many of your affiliated guides are licensed according to the LAW. Wondering where you stand. Are you licensed by law? Either we all need it or we don't. I don't care what is enforced by the DNR. If it's law, then it better be enforced. If it's not enforced and we both know it's not, then it should be abolished. Until then, I would say, get the license.
A) Thank you for the comments Deron. Yes, I absolutely agree that the requirements should be uniform.
In my opinion, neither you, nor anyone who fishes on inland waters should be required to have a captain's license.
When discussing this topic, I think it's important to consider one important distinction about your comments. In Minnesota, the DNR does not require, nor do they have the staffing, nor have they agreed to enforce the Federal, US Coast Guard required "Captain License". That means referring to the DNR is actually quite pointless, they are not at the root of the issue at all.
Photo courtesy HUK gear. Read Story 6 US Presidents Who Loved Fishing
There was a movement several years ago to establish a "Minnesota Guide License". In this case, the gentleman who spearheaded that campaign INTENDED for the Minnesota license to supersede the Coast Guard license. It was obvious from the start that his intentions would never be realized and the whole thing brewed up into a huge cluster. The Minnesota version of a guide license ended up going nowhere.
At that time, many of us shared your opinion and decided that it was easier not to buck the system and decided to just go ahead and get the license to be done with it.
I no longer share this view, primarily for this simple reason; the license does nothing to assure our customers of either a safer or a more rewarding fishing experience. Further, examples can be found easily of "licensed captains" engaging in risky behavior on (and off) the water.
That aside, what has really shaped my opinion about the license is that on most of the waters that you mentioned, there are no US Coast Guard crews, vessels or offices. That means that if any citizen requires assistance, they cannot call on the Coast Guard for help.
This is what lead me to form my view of what I believe is a simple but effective philosphy that aids in understanding who should expect to undergo this process.
In my opinion, the where and why of who should be licensed is easily answered by drilling down to this one simple litmus test;
"If you are on the water and get in trouble, then who can you call for help?"
If the answer is the US Coast Guard, then I believe you should expect to comply with their regulation. However, if they are not there to provide assistance, or to protect from threat of foreign invasion; if they serve you in no way, then they should not restrict your ability to engage in America's "FREE" enterprise system.
If the concept "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" was good enough to form our country, then the same concept must surely be good enough to govern a simple fishing trip.
Fishing Report October 9, 2016 - Turning Over A New Season; Fishing The Fall Turnover
Walleyes and Walleye fishermen alike are likely to have turned over a new leaf this weekend. The cold water, Fall Turnover period, now in its infancy will impact how we fish and when we fish for what remains of the open water season
Odds are good that many of the Itasca area lakes that do turnover did turnover during the past couple of days. The deeper lakes that hold their warmth more stubbornly are liable to follow suit shortly.
Surface temperatures under my boat ranged between 52 and 53 degrees on Saturday and I’d already seen a cooler, 51 degree reading on a shallower lake last Friday.
My notion that cooler water temps had influenced Walleye behavior was re-enforced last evening during a chat with some anglers at the fish cleaning shack. I commented on the duos admirable catch of Walleye when one of them said; “It sure was slow this morning, but it got a lot better toward evening”.
For me, that’s the #1 signal that the season is moving into the final leg of our open water fishing season. The colder that water gets, the more likely those anglers will experience long periods of searching for spots, rewarded at days end by an hour or two of good evening action.
On Saturday, our experience was similar. The fish acted cold and slow to pick up our baits during the early part of the trip. By mid-afternoon, strikes were still not frequent, but the fish that did hit did it more robustly and by 4:30, we had a fair rally that allowed us to end the day.
Headed for the Gosh Dam Place with 15 “keeper Walleyes” and a release total of 7 slot-fish, we agreed that we could call it a good day.
Frost on the gunnel; a sure signthat surface water will be even cooler today than the 52 degree readings we saw on Saturday.
Lindy’s Blue/Glow Live Bait Jig got the action rolling on Saturday and by days end, everyone was using this color combo. I switched colors later, but never did any better than I’d done using the blue combo.
Key depths for us ranged between 10 and 14 feet of water; the occasional fish came from deeper water, but never shallower than 10 feet.
Our presentation, 1/8 ounce jigs tipped with either large fatheads or Rainbow Chubs was all we needed. I used Lindy’s Blue/Glow Live Bait Jig to get the action rolling and by days end, everyone was using this color combo. I switched colors later, but never did better than I’d done using the blue combo.
OH, By The Way, if you haven’t had enough fishing yet, I’ve been notified of a last minute cancellation and have Tuesday October 11th available. If you can jump on this one, let me know and if you like, we may even be able to pair you up with a fishing partner to split the cost.
Fishing Report October 7, 2016 - Weekend Walleye Fishing Outlook
Surface Water Temperatures dipped below 55 degrees on the shallow lake that we fished on Thursday. Cass Lake and Lake Andrusia, both deep water lakes, were holding their warmth better on Wednesday, holding between 58-59 degrees.
Even if the fishing is only “fair” this weekend, I think that you’ll be able to gather fish for a meal. For anglers addicted to catching Mr. Big, I think that your chances are above average too, especially if you focus on Lindy Rigging with large minnows.
On Thursday, it was obvious that fish had scattered in the aftermath of the huge wind storm we received on Wednesday. Baitfish was dispersed and the weed beds that had previously featured a robust mixed bag of Perch, Pike and Walleye were now only sparsely populated. In fact, besides the half dozen Walleye we managed to bag, there were only 3 or 4 Pike and 1 Bullhead willing to pick up our baits.
Image Right: Bright sunshine and light winds may have slowed the action, but they didn't kill it. Craig Anderson boated this hefty slot-fish, along with a half dozen "eaters".
We were lucky to have gathered the Walleyes early. Sunshine, combined with calmer than expected winds contributed to a slower pace for Walleye fishing. There were definitely fish present along the shallow weedline and when we encountered a fish, it would strike.
As I wrote a couple of days ago, I do believe that the action would have picked up later and our original intent was to fish into the sunset. Unfortunately, our trip was cut short by an unexpected phone call that sent Craig packing for home, so we’ll never know for sure.
The weather this morning has me a little concerned, cold temperatures and light rain could have chilled some lakes to the point of turning over. Others will likely be spared for a few more days, therein lays the problem, figuring out which ones are which. Don’t too surprised if there are some 2 or 3 lake days mentioned as I sort through the details.
Forecasts for the weekend appear to favor “hard core anglers” over the more casual ones. But I’m sure that there are still enough of us around to form a couple of groups at the Walleye hole.
Fishing Report October 6, 2016 - Finding the Findable at "The Crappie Hole"
Okay, I ran into this Crappie yesterday evening and asked; “What the heck were you doing yesterday? I stopped by looking for you, but couldn’t find you anywhere, the place was vacant.”
The Crappie, in its own sweet way replied; “Vacant, no we were there, all of us, the whole school, all day long, are you sure you looked everywhere?”
I explained that we looked along the drop off in 16 to 22 feet of water, and that we checked deeper too, along the breakline in 24 to 30 feet of water. Then I explained that we even went out into the middle of the lake, over the deepest hole we could find. When that idea drew a blank we searched over the flats in 12 to 16 feet of water, but no one was there, except the babysitter.
The Crappie, in its own sweet way grinned and without speaking a word, let me know that I’d overlooked something. It was my own fault; I had not looked everywhere. That is at least not soon enough to do much good.
looked that Crappie straight in the eye and asked; “What the heck are you doing here? It’s October and the water temperature is 58 degrees, you’re not supposed to be here, explain what’s going on?”
The Crappie, in its own sweet way replied; “It’s not my job to explain why, it’s your job to figure me out!”
Hmm … I think I’ve heard that somewhere before.
Anyway, since we put so much time into finding ‘em, and because it gave us some well-deserved giggles at the end of our day, I guess I can do you a favor. Just this once, I’m going to show you the exact spot where we finally found those sneaky critters. Yes, just click here for the >> Pin-Point Location of yesterday’s Crappie Hole!
Fishing Report October 5, 2016 - Isn't It Ironic?
Mother Nature is so darn smart; she set up the whole food chain so that fish become the most active, feeding most heavily on crummy days when nobody in their right mind is supposed to be out on the lake pursuing them.
She can’t help it if some of us aren’t really in “Our Right Mind” and go out there anyway.
It's that time of year, when surface water temperatures fall into ideal, pre-turnover range of 56 to 57 degrees. When skies are Grey, the wind blows and the water crashes into your Wave Wackers, the fish will be on the move.
For a short time, fishing, when conditions are good, will remain really good and unless we receive a super cold snap, weekend anglers should be able to get in on the action. If the weather gets too nice, daytime fishing will be a struggle, but I believe that you can still get good action if you wait out the sunset. That's getting easier to do every day and from here on out, I will at least suggest that my customers plan on wrapping up their trips near dark.
Key depths remain shallow; 6 to 8 feet has been my best, but there are still fish holding in 12 to 16 feet as well. Windy days bring out the best in the shallow water spots, but when it’s calm, they go almost completely dormant. If that happens, the only choice I’ve had has been to scratch them out of deeper water, or tug away on heavy weeds, rooting out a mixed bag of Perch, Pike and a smattering of Walleye.
Presentation for Walleyes is now 100% jig and minnow. Weight and shape varies according to depth and fishing style, but for most situations, a 1/8 ounce Lindy Live Bait jig tipped with a fathead is the go to setup. When we fish deeper than 10 feet, especially if it’s breezy, then I’ve been switching to ¼ ounce.
I hope that the weather doesn’t change too much, too soon. It would be nice to enjoy some "easy fishing" for a while. Here's wishing for a good old fashioned, crummy, rainy, chilly weekend !!
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Official announcement made today about the purchase of one iconic outdoor retail brand by another.
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Fishing Report October 3, 2016 - On A Beautiful Day
How does that song go? "... You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what ... the lake will give you." That's how the song would have gone had my departed friend, Wayne Schumacher been the Rolling Stones lyricist.
Like me, Wayne was among the fraternity that believes any fish is a good fish and that it’s the lake, not the angler who decides when we get what we need. On Sunday, Wayne would have been a handy guy to have around; at least in my boat.
“Perch, Crappie, Northern Pike, sure no problem, you can have all of those that you want”, the lake said. “If you want Walleye, you’re gonna have to wait, we don’t serve them on calm, sunny days. Why don’t you boys fish for something else and come back later, closer to sundown?”
The lake was giving me good advice, and I knew it. The plump Walleyes that have entertained us over the past week had gone dormant. Holding tight to the bottom, hunkered down in the shade, they were waiting for better a feeding opportunity.
My crew, Bob and Mike Carlson, weren’t too interested in gathering food for the freezer. For them, the pursuit of Mr. Big overrides the weight of the larder; at least it did on Sunday. Every fish we caught, including a handful of “eater” Walleye were released in the hope that one day they too will become a “Mr. Big”.
We toughed it out a good long time, patiently waiting for a breeze, a cloud, sunset, anything would trigger the next feeding. It happened around 4:00 PM, the breeze kicked up and the fish began to activate and by 5:00 PM, just when my confidence was really improving; we went home.
If it was really Mr. Big that we wanted, then all we needed to do was keep fishing, it was gonna happen, I could feel it in my bones and if it had been up to me, we’d have fished until dark to be sure that it did. But as a leading authority on not getting “what you want”, I recognized what was happening. I realized that on this day I, Mike, Bob and in spirit, Wayne fished together and just like Wayne used to say, “The Lake was giving us what we needed”.
If we wanted food, it was ours for the taking and clearly we were now being offered the opportunity to pursue Mr. Big. So why did we pack up and go home? Because the lake KNEW, we had already accomplished our mission.
Mike summed it up himself; “It’s not about how many Walleye we caught or how many we have in the livewell. Sometimes it’s about spending time together, enjoying what the lake offers up.”
Sometimes the lake KNOWS, sometimes it’s a beautiful day and sometimes that’s all we really need.
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Fishing Report October 2, 2016 - Catching The Catchable
Now that the calendar says that it's October, I feel better about the surface temperatures on north central Minnesota lakes. Temperatures ranging between 53 and 57 degrees didn’t sound right for September, but hovering near the dreaded “turnover” feels better now that folks are putting up their Halloween decorations.
I guess it was the heavy rain that accelerated the cool down, especially on lakes with heavy current inflows from rivers. On land locked lakes, especially deeper water lakes the temperatures are holding up somewhat better and these account for the warmer, 57 degree water temperatures.
The sudden cool down helped Walleye fishermen, at least it did during the early stages. Reports from Lake Winnie, Leech Lake and some of the Bemidji area waters were positive. After the cooler water settled, fishing for Walleye got a little trickier though and now we need another boost from Mother Nature to get the ball rolling again.
Crappies are deep, but not on every lake. Walleyes are out of the weeds, but not everywhere and Perch are sweeping across sand flats, but not all of the time. In other words, fishing is what they call “spotty”. The good news is that the fish are biting; if you find the right spot, at the right time. The bad news is that every day is like a geography quiz, the anglers who cover the most territory, get the best results.
My nephew, Chris Andresen covered a bunch of territory this week and found fish on most of the lakes he visited. Crappie fishing was productive, so were Perch and to a lesser extent, Walleye. Chris reported yesterday that he’d located Crappies in deep water on a lightly fished lake and that the fish were much better size than the ones we’d caught on heavily travelled waters.
For me, Walleyes have been cooperative as long as I don’t stay on one spot too long. When we arrive at a new spot, the fish tend to strike right away. After we get the active ones, the rest of them become harder to trigger, but they don’t disappear. If we leave, let the spots rest for several hours and then come back, we can cherry pick a few more from each location.
Key depths for me have ranged between 6 and 8 feet, the presence of weeds has been critical. Open water spots like sandy breaklines have been void of any good numbers, but rocky points have produced a few fish too.
I’ve switched over to jig and minnow presentations almost exclusively now and rely on night crawlers only for calm, sunny days. If it’s really calm, really bright, then I’m leaving the shallow weeds and moving out deeper; 12 to 14 feet has been a key depth.
Today, we’re testing the waters for some larger fish and I’m guessing that this is the perfect time to test out Jon Thelen’s theory about fishing on calm, sunny days.
Jon has theorized that on slot-limit lakes, it is largely the big fish that strike when fishing conditions are tough; small fish become active only when conditions are perfect. It makes sense; larger fish get that way because they eat more and are more aggressive. Anecdotally, it seems to me that when the bite is off, anglers grumble most about catching slot-fish. When fishing conditions are favorable, more folks catch eating size fish and even if there are larger slot fish in the mix, they are less noticed and are subject to less complaining.
As it happens, Mr. C and his son Mike are looking for a shot at larger fish today. Coincidentally, we’ve been catching some large size “slot-fish” lately and also coincidentally, today is supposed to offer sunny and calm conditions. That means that I’m hoping Jon’s theory is spot on; you could say that I’m depending on it. Either way, you will be the first to know how it works out.
Crappies in deep water on a lightly fished lake were larger size than the ones Justin John caught on heavily travelled waters.
It was a good day to be Bill Morgan! Nothing beats catching some large "slot-fish" in addition to bagging a limit of Walleye.
Andy says; "Hey, this is my first Walleye ever". Good luck is being on the right spot at the right time.
(October 1) After our fishing trip on Friday, I turned on the after burners and “blue-flamed” my way over to Duluth where I managed to catch up with my old friend Todd Oliver.
It didn’t matter that I only managed to catch half of the act because I’d seen part of it on Jay Leno and Craig Ferguson’s shows in the past. Getting a hug from my old band mate and catching up on old times was the important thing; that was the highlight for me.
Back when we were wee little lads, I, my brother Gary and Todd were in a band together. Even though we were only teenagers, we always knew that Todd was a natural born performer and it’s turned out to be true, all these years later Todd is still on stage, still performing music, magic and ventriloquism.
His cast, talking dogs Irving, Lucy, and Elvis is joined on stage by Pops, Miss Lilly, Joey, and The Smiling Eyes Band. It’s a good old fashioned variety show that features something that Todd treasures these days; Good Clean Fun!
If you happen to be in the market for a happy night out with the family, then click the photo for a link to the Todd Oliver performance schedule, there’s a good chance that he will be rolling in to a theater near you. I promise, it will be worth it, you’ll have a blast!
Gary Sundin (left) Jeff Sundin (center) and Todd Oliver (right) catching up on old times after the "Todd Oliver and Friends Show" at Duluth's Zeitgeist Arts Theatre.
Do You Know that you can post your own helpful hints to our fishing reports page on facebook? YES! You Can! You don't have to tell us your secrets, just go ahead and brag a little when you get a whopper! Click >>> Fishing Reports Minnesota
|And ... did you know that Jeff's Thursday Morning Program is available for two weeks after the air date? Yes, you'll never need to miss the show. Click the image and then select the 6:00 hour on Thursday. Scroll in to about 6:20 AM and you're in business!