Fishing Report September 29, 2016 - Exploring The Explorable
There's a certain time every season when I'm overcome by an uncontrollable urge to pretend I'm Amerigo Vespucci.
It's the time when I feel like I've visited too many of the same lakes too many times; the notion of finding "fresh" water becomes a primary concern.
Researching lakes using fisheries surveys, fish stocking reports and test netting results definitely helps get an angler into the ball park. It's not perfect though and on Wednesday, I picked out a zinger for stop number one.
After 3 hours of fishing on the 350 acre lake, the only thing I could prove was that it had a population of 1 sunfish, 1 pike, 1 bass and 300 million, billion, gazillion tiny Perch. Of course that's just an estimate, an anecdotal representation provided by an unskilled user.
Luckily, lake number two worked out better, it was a decent Crappie fishery, especially in terms of numbers. Size structure was on the smaller side though and we had to work at finding 20 fish above 10 inches. In fact, some of the fish we gathered for dinner were more like 9-1/2 inches, good enough for us guys, but definitely not wall hangers.
That meant that the luckiest break of all came in the form of the fish' location. Despite offering a deep water basin depth of 35 feet, the fish had not yet moved out that far. At first, that threw me for a loop, I had started my search too deep and couldn't find fish. The first sign of fish came in the 18 to 19 foot depth range and once we found them, the action was actually very good.
Finding fish in the relatively shallow depth allowed us to do some selective harvest, something we could not have done if the fish were found deeper.
Our fishing presentations were straightforward; 1/8 ounce Live Bait Jigs tipped with small fatheads worked and so did a #6 size Lindy Ice Worm tipped with a morsel of night crawler. I like using the ice worms best because I’m more likely to catch Bluegills when they are in the mix.
On this day they were few, but the small jigs did capture a couple and Crappies were happy to take the bait.
On the horizon, changes are heading our way fast. Surface water temperatures have fallen rapidly, not only on this lake, but on all of others I've fished this week as well. Now in the 56 to 58 degree range, the term "fall turnover" will be popping up on a daily basis.
I don't think we'll see many lakes turn over this weekend, but I'll be surprised if some of them don't turn over before the following weekend; more or less on schedule, I think.
For today, more exploration and hopefully, more good luck. !!
Fishing Report September 28, 2016 - Pokegama Lake Late Fall Walleye
Q) Pat Bradley wrote; "Hi Jeff, I plan to spend a week on Pokegama (10/19) walleye fishing and was wondering if you have some ideas? I'm thinking jig and minnow and or live bait rigs with large red tails. Ideas on depth, areas of lake, etc. would be appreciated. Thank you.
A) Pat, My daytime game plan for Pokegama during late fall is simple; find green, healthy weeds on points that lead into deeper water. Pay particular attention to weed flats that lay adjacent to areas that contain Bulrush, especially if you can find some that have rocks mixed in too.
By the time you arrive, fall spawning Tulibee will use these shallow flats during the night. During daylight, they move back out and suspend near, but not on the breaklines.
Predators, primarily Northern Pike, but some Walleyes too will set up shop along weed patches that have access to the deeper water. That gives you the advantage of targeting predictable, shallow water ambush points.
For me, night crawlers seem to work better for singling out Walleye and they will also help encourage some bonus Bass to strike too. Jig and minnow presentations will work, but they will encourage more Pike than they will Walleye.
Either way, I like to tackle the weeds using small, 1/16 ounce Live Bait Jigs to present the bait naturally, above the weed tops. If you haven’t read them already, you will find several references about “wiggle worms” throughout these reports. Here’s a link that will help get you started; Read >> Wiggle Worms 101
By now, somebody is reading this and thinking to themselves; “I’d be fishing deep water, using rigs and live bait”.
Unless you plan to kill every fish you catch, then don’t do it. Like it or not, there is no such thing as catch and release fishing in water depths over 30 feet. In fact, I believe that this is one of the primary reasons that Walleye populations have declined in Pokegama over the past several seasons. Northern Pike have declined too for that matter, particularly larger specimens.
If you’re a night owl, then you can most likely count on shallow water, night action for Walleye. Depending on the weather, the action can be very good and in your case, the light of the Hunter’s Moon that occurs on 10-16 should still be an asset.
Your favorite shallow running crankbaits will produce fish at night, I particularly like the 2-1/2 inch Wally Demons. They run true, have good rattles and are run at the perfect depth for night fishing.
I may have a few readers with more ideas, so you may see a few more tips between now and your arrival date. Either way, good luck and have a fabulous trip!
Fishing Report September 27, 2016 - Weedline Walleye, Hiding In Calm Water
Well okay then, you caught me, I was hiding out on the calm side of the lake.
I admit that
creativity wasn’t exactly the term I’d use for my fishing strategy on Monday. Despite having some really good ideas about where to fish and doing my best to visit them, strong winds kept forcing me back to the calmest, most comfortable water I could find.
Fortunately, we did find some fish in calm spots and by days end; we’d assembled a respectable catch of Perch and Walleye. There were 7 good keepers, 2 slot-fish and a dozen more small fish that we flipped back.
The two slot-fish, well above average size, provided a highlight reel that includes Karen Hommedahl’s 28-1/2 inch Walleye and my cute little 26 incher too.
The eater Walleye were very nice too, 16 to 17 inches in length. The Perch that we added to our larder ranged between 9 and 11 inches; nice size, but not monsters.
Water temperatures had fallen a lot due to the cold rains that fell overnight. At the landing, the Humminbird showed 56 degrees and off shore, temperatures ranged between 58 and 59 degrees; we did not see a single reading above 60 degrees anyplace.
The key depth was weedy, 6-7 feet breakline water; that’s where the best school of fish I found was holding. Live bait jigs tipped with the largest fatheads I could find was the only presentation we used and for Walleyes, I’d expect that to be the feature for the rest of the fall season.
For today, I’ve got my fingers crossed that the wind will allow a modicum of freedom to explore further out onto the lake. With luck, I can treat my crew to a bit more creativity and hopefully tomorrow’s report will provide more detail.
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Lake Winnibigoshish, Joe Thompson, September 26, 2016 Four Seasons Resort
"Walleye fishing this past week was the best I had all year. We caught quantities of fish in the shallow water on jigs and fathead minnows. Most of the fish were between 16 and 18" and were very healthy. The whole west side of the lake was productive. My prediction of the water temperature cooling down would trigger the walleye bite was spot on. Aggressive jigging or rip-jigging was by far the best method. If your wrist wasn't sore at the end of the day you probably weren't catching walleyes.
Northern fishing is still outstanding. Trolling, casting, and bobber fishing are all catching big numbers of Pike. Trolling the schools of baitfish with spoons in 12-16' has been very productive. Casting big baits in 6-10' has been productive. This will continue until ice-up. We should start to see some really big pike in the next couple of weeks.
Perch fishing is still awesome. If you just target the perch, you should be able to get your limit of 20 over ten inches! Those are really nice fish. The Mississippi River mouth is still okay, but the larger perch seem to have moved up the west side.
We plan on staying open through the 9th of October, so there’s still plenty of time to get in on the action. Hope to see you before we close.
This will be the last fishing report of the season. I want to thank all of you that were guests at the Four Seasons Resort this season. I look forward to seeing you next year. If you are in Arizona, look us up this winter." Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
Fishing Report September 23, 2016 - Q&A Winnie Walleye, Cutfoot Crappie, Weekend Advisory
Q) An email fishing question from Bob; Q) Hey Jeff, It has been a month since I have gotten to the cabin and fished Winnie. I have some guests coming up this weekend and I have been Reading your report to get up to speed. It appears that the crappie have been crushed on Cutfoot. Do you think there are any schools to find or should I focus on Walleye?
What's the word on Walleye on Winnie? Any words of wisdom could turn me from goat to hero!
A) Bob, it is true that Crappies are being pursued very heavily on Cutfoot Sioux, Little Cutfoot and in certain areas of Big Winnie too.
During my last few trips up there, I’ve watched dozens of boat “trading spots” with each other, hoping to find a few active fish in each of the popular locations. On the last trip up there, my experience was that each school of fish would give up a few biters, but then shut down after a few minutes of fishing pressure. In other words, you can still catch fish, but you'll be working at it.
You’re in a unique situation, if you choose to, your location will allow you to fish for Crappies during prime time and that will tip the odds in your favor.
Over the past few days, there’s been a shakeup of the system. You will notice that there are small schools of Crappies spread out all over the lake. The sudden push is not likely to be “the turnover”, but more likely the result of shallow water cooling and weeds dying off, forcing schools of bait and small gamefish into open water.
That means you’re gonna need to pay close attention to electronics. I’ve seen hundreds of small schools of suspended fish on my Humminbird; most of them are not catchable size Crappies. I’ve had to wait until I see a school of fish that I KNOW FOR SURE are larger specimens before dropping a line in the water.
Paying super close attention to your electronics will produce results. I’ve seen a hundred small schools of suspended fish on my Humminbird; most of them are not catchable size Crappies. Wait until You KNOW FOR SURE that you're seeing larger specimens before dropping a line!
Walleye fishing on Winnibigoshish has generally been good, but it is also weather dependent. On overcast days, especially when the breeze is good, jig and minnow presentations in water depths of 4 to 7 feet have been good.
Walleyes are still holding in the deep weeds too, but these fish have responded better to rigging night crawlers. Mixed bag enthusiasts will like the Pike and Perch that can also be caught using jigs and minnows.
If you’re looking at the weekend weather forecast, it should cheer you up. If the predictions of cloudy skies and breezy conditions come true, then this could be a very good weekend on the big pond for Walleye fishermen.
If I was heading that way, my game plan would focus on finding Walleye along both the North and West shorelines of Winnie. I’d avoid the “popular” Crappie spots and cruise the lake watching my Humminbird for schools of fish that haven’t been pressured; yet.
OH and by the way, anybody who likes catching Northern Pike should be happy this weekend too. They are very active and can be found in the weeds in both Cutfoot and Winnie. Casting the big hardware, especially Suicks will produce some nice fish for you.
Fishing Report September 22, 2016 - Walleyes, Weeds and "Dabbling the Dabbable."
Q) When would catching a Walleye small enough to fit in the palm of your hand be fantastic news?
A) When you’re a career fishing guide who depends on finding Walleyes, and you discover that there’s a strong population of year class 2015’s in one of your favorite lakes.
That’s what happened to us on Wednesday, we caught a couple dozen of these little tikes while we were dabbling in the weeds for a mixed bag of Walleye, Perch and Crappie. The fish, 10 to 11 inches long are too small to be added to the larders of most anglers this year, but give ‘em one more growing season and they’ll begin showing up in creels.
Another optimistic signal coming out of Wednesday’s fishing trip was surface temperatures now ranging from 59 to 61 degrees. The cooler water is definitely encouraging fish to become active, and the presence of greater numbers of Walleyes feeding in the weed patches was delightful!
Dabbling, fishing straight down into the weeds can seem like the slow way to find fish, but it is just about the only way to drag fish out of these heavy weed patches. If you try casting your lure into the weeds, you will be stuck instantly and become too frustrated to continue searching. But if you drop into pockets, open spots and tight to the weed edges, you will be amazed at how often a fish grabs your lure.
To be sure, the action is good, but the species are mixed so you never know what you’ll catch next. On Wednesday, the weeds featured Pike, Crappie, Walleye, Perch, Rock Bass and Dogfish; in that order.
We fished in water depths of 4 to 6 feet and tried to focus on patches of Cabbage weeds. Coontail is okay too, but harder to work in and almost all of the other weed varieties are turning brown and losing their attracting power.
In another week, I think we will see lots of weeds disappearing from the breaklines, showing up on the beaches after our next strong winds arrive. That will make the dabbling pattern easier to use, but the search for good weed patches may take a bit longer.
If you’re stuck on the lake during a calm, sunny day and can’t gain the cooperation of fish located in conventional fall fishing spots, you may just want to consider “Dabbling” your way to a Walleye dinner.
Becoming more active thanks to cooler water temps, the presence of more Walleyes feeding in the weed patches was delightful!
When you’re a career fishing guide who depends on finding Walleyes, discovering that there’s a strong population of "2015's" in one of your favorite lakes is super happpy news!
Lake Winnibigoshish, Joe Thompson, September 22, 2016 Four Seasons Resort;
"The water is starting to cool down and the walleye fishing is starting to heat up! Aggressive jigging with fathead minnows has been the ticket. Shallow water 7-10' has been the best. The entire west side has been good this week.
Look for turns in the shoreline breakline for the best action. Today, I caught 15 for three people and the size was amazing. Almost every fish was 17 1/2 inches. We caught none in the slot. Probably the first day I've had in the last 13 years since the slot was instituted that we didn't catch one in the slot.
Northern fishing is still red hot. All of the same methods are working. Perch are not slowing down. It seems harder to find a concentration of large perch in the mouth of the Mississippi River. There are some schools of larger perch along the west side. A little hunting will get the job done.
We are going to be open until October 9th this year. There is still plenty of time to get in on the action! Give us a call and see what is available as we will start to fall clean and shut down cabins in the next week or so. Hope to see you soon." Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
Fishing Report September 19, 2016 - “Q&A Carol Pinter, Perch Update, Leech Lake”
On Friday, Carol Painter wrote; Q) "Any fishing tips for Leech Lake?"
A) We fished over there on Thursday. The Walleye action was slow, but we did mange to catch some fish in the stretch of water between the old Silverhook Resort and the three sisters on the East side of Portage Bay.
I know that there are some Perch coming in from Waboose too, and there's a mix of northern, crappie and perch in the weeds near the new leech lake campground, west side of portage bay.
wrote back; "Thank You, The jumbos bit like crazy during the rain on Saturday! We went back there yesterday and just found a few medium ones, lots of small ones."
Fishing Report September 18, 2016 - “Lake Winnie Update”
If you’re heading out to the lake today, Good Luck!! Here’s a quick update about conditions from our trip to Winnie on Saturday.
Surface water temperatures held steady at 62 degrees on the big lake and slighter warmer, 63 degrees on Cutfoot Sioux. Traffic on the lakes, both of them was fairly heavy, particularly Cutfoot where anglers pursuing Panfish were parked on almost every one of the “popular” fishing spots.
During the morning, cloudy skies and breezy conditions meant that generally speaking, Walleye fishing on Winnie was good. The problem for many is that the action was spotty and knowing the handful of “right spots” made all of the difference between a great day and a mediocre one.
For me, shallow water, depths ranging from 5 to 7 feet where rocks and weeds met was the ticket. There were several other boats fishing in the same area and we saw multiple catches by many of them.
We used 1/16 ounce Lindy Live Bait Jigs tipped with Golden Shiners. From what we observed, most of the boats out there were also fishing jig and minnow combinations.
After the sun came out, we headed for Cutfoot to try and bag a few Crappies ourselves. We did manage to catch some, but it was very apparent that most of the better schools of fish had already been worked really hard. This uptick in the traffic is an annual event and is my cue to enter mid-fall exploration mode, looking for fresh places to fish that have slipped under the radar of the masses.
For today, a one man trip with Mr. C offers a calmer pace and a chance to test out some fresh territory. Something in a nice manageable size, maybe even with an island in it; yes, that sounds nice.
Fishing Report September 17, 2016 - “Dick and Paul, IX-MMXVI; Fun With Added Hipness!”
The Hippie Chick just has a knack for livening up a party. When you add that to the already relaxed style of fishing that's typical of any grand finale' of a “Fun with Dick and Paul fishing trip”, then I'd say we wrapped up the fall trip in style.
When we started the day, we really only had one goal in mind; capture 2 keeper size Walleye to top off the 2 man bag limit for the trip back home. After that, all we really needed was to have fun, relax and catch the catchable.
To start the day, we dropped into the "Sunny Hole" on Little Cutfoot and found a small school of fish that were semi-cooperative. We did bag half dozen nice ones, tossed back a dozen small ones and stumbled into some errant Crappies too.
Dick Williams enjoying a heaping helping of "Added Hipness" as he giggles his way through catching a great Winnie Walleye.
It was enough action to get the party started, but I wouldn't want to make a career out of fishing Panfish in the small lake right now.
Hoping for an accurate weather forecast of cloudy skies and light winds, I steered us out to Winnie where the search for our 2 Walleyes would begin. The wind lasted just long enough to start a drift, but died soon after we started fishing. Still, there were enough fish on the deep weedline to allow completion of the mission. Two good keepers along with a handful of larger slot-fish, some Pike and Perch kept us busy for a couple of hours.
We fished in and around the deepest weed edges in 12 feet of water. Fish were very easy to see on the Humminbird and they were suspended 3 to 4 feet above the bottom.
There's more than one way to target those suspended fish, but for us, simplicity seems to work better than elaborate battle plans. A 1/16 ounce jig combined with a quick, .8 to 1.0 MPH trolling speed kept the jig and minnow combinations up high in the water column where at least some of the fish could be triggered.
Later, when I checked my messages, this note from Brad Person explained how his fishing party approached the same suspended fish on Winnibigoshish. "Just thought I would throw you a message about our trip to Winnie this week. We were looking for walleyes and the bite was tough until we pulled out the lead core on the north shore in 14 to 16feet of water.
(There were) lots of bait pods out beyond the weeds and we got into a very good bite of 16-20 inch fish. Had to deal with a northern or two and some eater size perch, but the lead core with chrome shiny flicker shads and shiny shad raps (bleak color) definitely made a tough trip much more enjoyable."
Perch fishing has been good on Winnie too and although there are millions of small fish, sorting will allow you to bag some decent eaters in the 9-1/2 to 10-1/2 inch range. An occasional larger fish comes to the boat, but be prepared to settle for eaters, don't expect too many "magnums". We spent a couple of hours fishing for them and bagged a couple of dozen fish for the ride home. We did not get any fish larger than 10-1/2 inches, and our bottom limit was 9-1/2 inches, good enough for this day, at least it was for us.
Surface water temperatures were 62 to 63 degrees and stable. Water clarity is moderate and the sunshine encouraged an Algae bloom that will help with the clarity problem for a day or two longer.
So that's it, “Fun With Dick and Paul, IX-MMXVI is entered into the captains log and until next June, we'll all be re-living the giggles and shenanigans that come when you blend serious fishing with some "Added Hipness!"
Fishing Report September 16, 2016 - "Catching the Catchable; Leech Lake and Beyond"
Today’s report about day 4 of “Fun with Dick and Paul, IX-MMXVI” and other reports like it, scare me. That’s because of the subjective nature of fishing and the idea about what FUN is and what it isn’t depends a lot on your point of view.
Knowing that some of you won’t agree, I am writing this report from my own point of view, without putting any words in anybody’s mouth.
For me, fishing on Leech Lake was good yesterday. We did not catch a lot of fish, but we really didn’t “need” to; there were fish in the freezer from our trip to Upper Red Lake on Wednesday. Yes, we could still use a few “eaters” for the ride home, but the pressure to produce them was relatively low.
I AM an admitted “Big Fish-Aholic” and for me, spending a full day on the water for a handful of fish is totally acceptable; especially when I believe that the fish of a lifetime is lurking nearby. So even if we are not boating goo-gobs of keepers, the presence of a few big fish will hold my attention.
What excited me about Thursday was that there were big fish in view on the screen of my Humminbird. The full Moon, cloudy skies and a Walleye chop on the water made me feel like we were in the game to capture Mr. Big. The entire time we were on the water, I had the feeling that it could happen at any time; the next cast could be the one.
We covered most of the east side of Portage Bay from Federal Dam to Battle Point. When I marked fish, they were most often seen in 9 to 12 feet of water and there were lots of them that would not bite. I had the feeling that if our timing was better, if we’d been there when they were feeding, we could have had a lot of action.
When we did get a bite, the fish, at least most of them were big ones; 24 to 26 inches in length with large girth. Each of us caught 2 or 3 big fish and there were 2 keepers in the bunch too. The keepers were nice enough to provide a meal, but filling the freezer would have been problematic.
We used 1/16 ounce Lindy Live Bait Jigs tipped with Golden Shiners to produce every fish. We experimented with spinners and I tried my wiggle worms too, neither of those presentations turned a head this time.
Surface temperatures ranged between 62 and 63 degrees and they were fairly uniform wherever we stopped. Water clarity was moderate, adding fuel to my fire about capturing Mr. Big.
So if you’re like me and your idea of “FUN” is pursuing Mr. Big, then this weekend might be a darn good time to spin around Leech Lake. If food is in your dreams, then I think Winnie, Bowstring or one of the smaller Panfish lakes will provide better opportunity.
The full Moon, cloudy skies and a Walleye chop on the water made me feel like we were in the game to capture Mr. Big. This one tried to slip past Dick Williams, but failed.
Paul Kautza’s premonition about fishing this spot paid off!! Today, he gets to pick all of the spots!!
For today, day five of “Fun with Dick and Paul, IX-MMXVI”, I’m hoping to cross paths with some new friends that I met yesterday afternoon at the Federal Dam. A group of very nice men who shared a good report about their fishing trip on Lake Winnie. If we do half as good today as they did yesterday, then we’ll be smiling all winter long!
Fishing Report September 15, 2016 - "Fun With Dick and Paul; The Long Ride To Red Lake"
Fishing reports from Red Lake have been infrequent at best. That's because I haven't been there since June and most folks I know haven't been too eager to share reports from up there.
But I was in the mood to get out of old habits and see some fresh scenery and for Dick and Paul, "FUN" means catching Walleye. I think that when conditions allow, and it's a Walleye or Die mission, the ride to Red is usually worth the trouble. Luckily, on Wednesday it was.
I can't say that the fishing action was fabulous, but it was good enough to provide us with our full bag limit of Walleye. Size was reasonable, a 50/50 mix of 6 nice fish, ranging between 16 and 18 inches and 6 "eaters" that fell between 14 and 16 inches. Those were the lucky fish that provided another fine fish fry not only us, but a few guests who were gathered at the Gosh Dam Place yesterday evening.
Fishing the shallow breakline along the north shore, we used Lindy's 1/16 ounce Live Bait Jigs tipped with fatheads. They produced the 12 I mentioned, along with another dozen smaller fish that we flipped back into the lake.
The key depth was 4.2 feet of water, but we caught some fish as deep as 7 feet. We fished near the rocks, but not right on top of them, the fish seemed to prefer a slack water area located downwind from the shallow rock spine we targeted.
The north winds had blown into the south shore for several days, so fishing that side was slower. We managed to back a few fish just west of Mort’s Dock, but fishing up north was definitely better. Surface water on the north end had fallen to 57 degrees already, while temps on the south end were warmer, 62 degrees.
Now that we have a day of pre-meditated Walleye fishing under our belts, I'm tempted to go for a mixed bag today. Maybe we can bag some Crappies, Walleyes and a few more Perch. Whenever I know, you'll know how day 4 of Fun with Dick and Paul plays out.
Fishing Report September 14, 2016 - "Q&A Lake Winnie Walleye Patterns"
Q) “I am heading to Cutfoot and Winnie on Friday Sept 16th through Tuesday the 20th. Last year I was up at the same time and the crappies were both in the weeds and in the deep holes and we caught the walleyes on Winnie with gold spinners and ½ a crawler on the outer weed edges.
Any chance the spinners on the weed edges will still work this year or has that pattern played out? Any other tips would be great. I will look for you on the water.” Steve Sykes
Steve, if you’d asked the same question 4 days ago, I’d probably have said that the patterns for both Walleye and Crappie were nearly identical to the 2015 fall fishing season. They still actually might be, but this year, there’s a colder weather pattern arriving early compared to last fall.
Surface temperatures on both Cutfoot and Winnie have fallen several degrees over the past few days and that threw a monkey wrench into the fishing on Tuesday.
On September 7th, Bowen Lodge reported that surface temperatures ranged between 66.5 and 69 degrees. Yesterday, we fished on Winnie and the low surface reading was 63 degrees.
Small pods of Crappies beginning to move away from steep, shoreline structure provided catchable fish in water depths of 24 to 28 feet.
Rapidly falling temperatures, combined with the influences of the full moon which arrives on Friday are liable to encourage fish to move fast this week. So even by the time, you arrive on Friday; this report could be obsolete, so take it with a grain of salt and watch for updates. Here’s what I know for sure right now.
I have not fished Cutfoot myself since Sunday, but when we were there, the surface water was 66 degrees and we noticed Crappies beginning to move away from steep, shoreline structure and into slightly deeper, open water. There were small pods of catchable fish in water depths of 24 to 28 feet and they were being heavily pursued by fishermen. In fact, it was a lucky break for me that I stumbled into one decent school of fish that hadn’t been pestered by anybody. That single school of fish allowed us to bag 15, 5 short of a two person limit for my crew.
Little Cutfoot showed no sign of any significant migration. There were some small packs of fish in open water, also heavily pursued by anglers, but the big schools, if they were in the lake at all, were still buried in heavy vegetation.
Out on the big lake, spinner fishing continues to produce results for some anglers, but I’ve turned my attention toward jigging.
On Monday, my 5 day stint of Fun with Dick and Paul began with some very encouraging jig and minnow action on Winnie. By Tuesday, the Walleye action fell flat, at least for me. Probably caused by the sudden cold snap, Walleyes were unresponsive and it was Perch that rescued me from a tough bite.
Even though we caught a reasonable catch of quality Perch, they were not really jumping in the boat compared to the action that’s been reported over the past week. That returned me to my original theory about the sudden temperature drop; I think the fishing will improve as soon as the fish adjust to their changing environment.
Weed growth remains lush and it is filled with baitfish. We caught Perch ranging in size from 3 inches all the way up to 11 inches and everything in between. All of those small fish are attracting predators which are easy to see on the Humminbird, so I’m confident that there will be good action when the timing is right.
Not everyone agrees with me, but I believe that the entire key to success for Winnie Walleyes is timing. Low light, breezy conditions encourage Walleye action, but they do not guarantee it. When the weather is stable AND ideal conditions present themselves, then I catch fish consistently. Throw any one element out of whack, and it’s anybody’s guess how the day will turn out.
Some Walleye fishermen have turned to night fishing on the big lake and for them, catching Walleye has been easy. Almost all of them are trolling with crankbaits; some over the tops of deep weeds, others over the shallow rocks on the lakes north and west sides.
For today, Winnie isn’t on our play list, but I’m sure that there will be reports over the next couple of days, so stay tuned in and have a fabulous trip!!
Fishing Report September 12, 2016 - "Chilling the Chillable"
64.9 degrees was the surface temperature on Little Cutfoot Sioux yesterday. That was the first surface temperature reading that I’ve seen dip below 65 degrees so far this fall.
Trending downward, slowly, that’s the ideal scenario for Walleye fishermen. With any luck at all, the temperature drop that’s headed our way will arrive gently, encouraging Walleye, Perch and Panfish to start their fall feeding runs in earnest.
The Harvest Moon, my favorite full moon of the year will arrive this Friday. Often the catalyst for change, it appears to be on track to usher in seasonal changes this week. The weather forecast for tomorrow includes brisk northwest winds and overnight low temperatures dipping into the 35 degree range; coincidence?
There are already signals that the action is about to improve and even though the “hot bite” hasn’t kicked into high gear, it is definitely going to happen soon. Some varieties of weed growth are beginning to die off, and yesterday the screen of my Humminbird was filled baitfish moving toward the outer edges.
Crappies that were holding in small packs, tight to the shoreline, have begun breaking up into smaller schools, moving away from the steep edges, advancing toward open water. Perch are showing up in shallow water, feeding heavily on young minnow-size Perch. Birds are feeding actively now too, moving along over shallow weeds, devouring minnows whenever they find them.
I think that the next cold snap will force a migration of baitfish and “weed dwelling” gamefish. Colder water temperatures push them away from shallow water weeds, and out toward the deeper edges where water temperatures are more stable. Patches of green weeds like Cabbage and Coontail will become more important as other, more delicate weed varieties wither and disappear.
Yes, I think that this little cold snap will be good news and luckily for me, it arrives at the very beginning of my 5 day adventure, “Fun with Dick and Paul, IX-MMXVI”.
I’ll be able to range more freely this week, exploring the explorable and discovering the discoverable. Whatever we find, you will be the first to know!
Most of the fish are over 10" in the tub. Below, two 12" jumbos.
Lake Winnibigoshish, Joe Thompson, September 11, 2016 Four Seasons Resort
"The “PerchFest” continues! Jumbo Perch are still biting in the mouth of the Mississippi River and limits of 9-12" perch have been a daily ritual.
Jigs and minnows are the best bait. Find some larger perch and throw a marker. Fish vertical around the marker until the small ones find you. Pick up the marker and find a new spot. See the photos of the perch we caught today.
Northern Pike fishing is still very good. We caught a four person limit of twelve Northern Pike this morning using jigs and minnows. Trolling, casting, and fishing with sucker minnows are still working very well.
Some walleyes are showing up on the shoreline breaklines. I caught several the past couple of days in 7-9' on jigs and minnows. No mother lode yet, but it is a good sign to start catching them on jigs and as the water continues to cool down, the jig bite should get better and better.
We still have openings for the upcoming weeks. All cabin reservations are 20% off. Get that last fishing trip in before you put the boat in storage. Winnie is the place to be this fall. Hope to see you soon." Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
Fishing Report September 9, 2016 - "A Rocky Weekend Fishing Update"
By now, most of you already have plans for the upcoming weekend, but just in case you're "on the fence" about where to fish tomorrow, here are a few last minute observations.
Rocks, gravel and deeper water trumped weeds for production of both Walleye and Crappies for me this Thursday.
I'd had a feeling that I was holding on too tightly to the weed patterns that have worked well for the past 6 to 8 weeks. But after spending most of the day on Wednesday picking away at odds and ends in the weeds, I knew that I’d have to look someplace else if I wanted to pick up the pace.
An experiment to see if there were fish on a small, shallow, shoreline related rock pile yielded 2 Walleye and 2 Crappies. That was enough evidence to make me try another rocky bar, this time a mid-lake structure that topped out at 18 feet, and surrounded by water depths of 20 to 25 feet. This time we bagged a few more Crappies and a few more Walleyes too.
Added to the Perch, Pike and Walleye that we’d already bagged in shallow water, our larder looked better than I was expecting, especially in the wake of the severe thunderstorms that shook the Itasca Area overnight Wednesday.
Surface water temperatures were fairly uniform, ranging between 66 and 67 degrees. That made me “feel” like a jig and minnow bite would work, and it did. We used 1/8 ounce Lindy Jigs tipped with the largest fatheads available to me. If there was a color preference, I think the white phosphorescent glow may have been it. But we also caught fish on gold, pink and glow blue, so the color was likely less important than the size of our minnows.
Boat speed, more important now that we’re trying to stretch the limits of these light weight jigs, was .3 to .5 MPH. That gave us just enough movement to cover the territory, but allowed us to get those small jigs down into the 20 foot range. We could have switched to heavier jigs for the deeper water, but then we’d have to trade ‘em out for smaller sizes when we experimented with shallower structures. That’s why I compromise on jig weight and control both speed and depth using the MinnKota to “slip-drift”.
For me, this method of fishing is the single most compelling reason that there is for using my tiller steered boat. I keep the stern of the boat pointed into the waves and depending on wind speed, I run either the Vantage or the Verado in reverse, allowing the waves to slap into the Wave Wackers.
The force of the boat moving back against the waves acts almost like an anchor, allowing me to pin the drift speed right where I want it. Because the boat drifts at an angle slightly perpendicular to the structure, I can run all four lines out of the same side, most often the port side of the boat. This way, the crew each has their own little slice of territory and the fishing action is more balanced among them. That’s nice, but even nicer is the fact that I can keep all of the lines out in front of the port bow, in clear open water where nobody gets tangled in the outboard prop.
Cautiously optimistic, that’s the term I’m using for my fishing trip today. I think that the deeper water “rock pattern” is the real deal. Unless my crew tells me that they want to fish Panfish, I’ll be spending most of my day running down these small, isolated bars and humps that contain rocks.
Success or failure; either way I will report in tomorrow morning with a smile!
A small, shallow, shoreline related rock pile yielded 2 Walleye and 2 Crappies. That was enough evidence to make me try another rocky bar.
A mid-lake structure that topped out at 18 feet, and surrounded by water depths of 20 to 25 feet. yielded a few more Crappies and Walleyes too.
Fishing Report September 8, 2016 - "Lake Winnibigoshish Readers Email Questions"
Q) Bob Ford “Hey Jeff, I won a cabin rental on Winnibigoshish for this weakened and will be staying at Northland Lodge. Curious if you have any tips for that side, (east/southeast) side of the lake. I typically am on Leech and only have ice fished Winnibigoshish. Thanks! Bob”
Q) Lee Jamison “Hi Jeff: I will be fishing on Winnie this weekend with some of my relatives. We will be staying at Bowen’s as we always do. So if you have a moment, can you give me any pointers for fishing on Winnie; Location especially? Thanks, Lee”
A) The most up to date reports about Winnie and Cutfoot have come from Bowen Lodge and there was a fresh update just yesterday. Read >> Fishing Report September 7, 2016.
In my opinion, Walleye action this weekend will be completely dependent on getting a lucky break from Mother Nature. We've had 3 storms, big ones this week and that has had an un-settling effect on the fish, Walleye in particular.
Without speculating about what ifs and maybes, I do know for sure that there are fish still residing in the weeds on Tamarack Point, Stony Point and along the east side of Winnie, south of Highbanks.
Walleyes, like this one caught last Thursday are still residing in the weeds on Tamarack Point in 10 to 12 feet of water. Stony Point, Mallard Point, Highbanks and Little Stony have produced action too.
Walleye fishermen are also targeting stretches of lakes "main bar" and catching some fish in water depths of 14 to 22 feet. Big Musky, Eelpout and the Long Bar are all areas that have produced fish recently.
If there's a good wind, shallow water fish will turn up at Raven's Point, Stony Point and at Little Stony Point on the south shore.
Until now, Cutfoot Sioux hasn't kicked into "Fall Fishing Mode", but with all of the turbulence we've experienced, some fish could get shook up enough to begin moving toward the gap and into Cutfoot. If that happens, we might be pleasantly surprised by the action that a "fresh school" of fish can provide, especially at this time of the season.
One more thing that I know for sure is that there are good numbers of ideal eating size fish in the system and as soon as water temperatures, wind and timing come together, there is going to be a good fall bite. I hope it arrives in time for you both to enjoy a great weekend, if you see me drive by, be sure to toot your horn!
Thanks Jeff and you can call me on my cell if easier that answering this email.
Fishing Report September 5, 2016 - "Capitalize On This Good Fortune ..." Windfall of Pike!
You'd have to be a YES fan like me to remember the line from their 90125 album; "Capitalize on this good fortune, one word can bring you round.”.
"Changes" are usually associated with some sort of discomfort. That is unless they bring you a bountiful harvest to help tide you back while you wait for the magic of fall to take effect.
Northern Pike, if you let them can provide that bountiful harvest right now.
It was only a few weeks ago that anglers on Winnie were in "Walleye Heaven".
Photo courtesy Mike Nolan: Northern Pike, if you let them can provide that bountiful harvest right now.
Limits of nice size fish were falling for easy trolling presentations and even the casual angler was able to muster enough fillets for a fish fry. That was a good sign, it tells us that we are in for some excellent Walleye action as the waters cool and fall fishing begins in earnest.
Frequent visitors to this page may recall words of caution though, describing a period of transition between summer and fall that make finding Walleye challenging, even for "Big Time Pros". The period of transition that we are enjoying right now doesn’t mean that we can’t catch any Walleye; it only means that for a while, we have to work harder and smarter, for less.
Bowen Lodge has the transition, and what anglers should do about it fairly well nailed in their most recent Lake Winnie Fishing Report
. So instead of me covering the same territory again, why don’t I just tell you how lucky I’ve been to fish with folks who love catching and eating Northern Pike?
I AM really lucky to have spent the past few days pursuing primarily Pike!! I AM really lucky to have spent the past few days eating them too, baked pike, blackened pike, boiled pike … they’ve all been fantastic and according to DNR fisheries, we’re probably doing the lake a favor while we’re at it.
There’s an overabundance of young Pike in the system right now and that means that gathering fish to eat is easy. Trolling, casting, still fishing, crankbaits, spinners, jigs … they all work and they’re all fun. That means that you can pick your favorite presentation, find some decent looking weeds and start fishing. Odds are that you will enjoy Pike for dinner the same night.
As long as we have this windfall of nice size “eater” Pike, I’ve taken advantage of them and I don’t think that I’m alone in urging to you to follow suit. So don’t be surprised when you see more stories extolling the virtues of these scrappy, delicious and plentiful fish.
Fishing Report September 4, 2016 - Fall Magic Up North
"If I could have anything that I wanted, it would be adding a few extra days to the calendar during the fall.
As much as I love the rest of the seasons, I have a soft spot for autumn; there's just something special about this time of the year.
This is the season when all of summer's production reaches maturity and for hunters, fishermen; almost everybody, it's harvest time in the northland. View Video >> Fall Magic Up North" View Video >> Fall Magic Up North
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!