This past week was a tough one. It began at an avg. pace, but became increasingly difficult to find any consistent pattern or concentration of fish. Especially by the end of the week, walleye volume and size both took a hit.
The weather was hot and we have had very little wind. There is also a noticeable smoke haze in the area from fires in the Northwest. The mayflies are hatching, but I don’t believe this to be the primary cause of the quiet bite.
The most dramatic change that we are seeing compared to most years is the wide range of depths and habitats that are holding walleyes. We found fish in shallow weeds, on deep rock, on mid depth sand flats and absolutely every other place in between. We caught walleyes suspended, we found the occasional active fish bite (usually shallow), but most spots produced just a few fish and then it was time to move on. With no real concentration of fish, most guides employed a run and gun strategy switching back and forth between deep and shallow water spots. The only volume was found in front of the weed beds, but this pattern held no big fish (top end was 25 in.) The bigger fish were found as deep as 30 ft., but they definitely were not active.
Effective presentations also ran the spectrum. During a good shallow water bite, jig and twister combos without minnows pitched in outproduced live bait. For the inactive deeper water fish, it was super slow with light jigs and straight meat. A few guides ran spinners to find a pod of fish and then doubled back with jigs to pick up the less aggressive biters. If you didn’t stay open minded and change up your patterns and depths several times a day, then you got smoked.
Volume dropped to an average of 35 walleyes over 18 in. per daily guide sheet. The highest daily total was 75. For the week, we caught and released 53 walleyes over 27 in., including 13 – 28s, and 1 – 29.
The bass are on their way out to deep water early this year. For the week, we had 17 over 17 in., including 6 – 18s. Many were caught in 10 – 20 ft. while walleye fishing. There were also a few big pike that showed up as incidental catch for walleye fisherman.
For the week, there was 1 – 39, 2 – 40s, and 1 – 41.
While reviewing the sheets, the numbers don’t look as bad as it felt. It may be that both guests and guides have been spoiled or it may be the drain from the mental gymnastics that were required to successfully guide a day.
There was one giant surprise for the week. While walleye fishing a deeper summer structure, Pat Keane caught a monster lake trout. The fish was 38 in. long and weighed approximately 27 lbs. We have caught the occasional laker over the past 8 years, but we were all shocked to see such a huge fish.
The weather was unsettled this week with showers, variable winds, and a significant cold front. The result was a tougher walleye bite and a trend towards deeper water. The weed beds are virtually fully grown and the major mayfly hatch has yet to occur, but we are finding many walleyes in deeper water in and around the main lake basin. We fished many of these spots as we would in July or Aug. There were still some nice walleyes caught shallow, but not near the number you would normally expect for this time of year.
The walleye bite was tough at times this past week. Overall volume fell from “ridiculous” to good. Daily guide sheets still averaged more than 40 walleyes over 18 in. per boat, but there were times that you really had to slow down and work for the bites. The highest daily total for the week was 95. The big fish bite remained consistent. For the week, we caught and released 41 walleyes over 27 in. including 11 – 28s and 2 – 29s.
When the bite was tough, we all went to lighter jigs (1/4 oz.) and just a jig body with a minnow or “straight meat” (jig and minnow with no plastic). Especially during the last 3 days, most walleye action was found in 20 – 30 ft. And that is where almost all of the big fish were caught. Spinners and bouncers were working well earlier in the week when the fish were a bit more aggressive.
The bass bite also faltered this week. It seems very early for the bass to be shutting down for the season and we are hoping that this was another weather related change. For the week we caught and released 18 smallmouth over 17 in. including 5 – 18s.
It is my opinion, that this deeper water walleye trend is the result of an early spring combined with unsettled weather and a significant cold front. I am expecting to see populations of ‘eyes pulse back shallow in the next few days, especially with the forecast calling for sunny skies and highs in the upper 70s to lower 80s.
*** Cancellation Notice ***
I did receive a cancellation for the outpost on Vaughn lake for the week of July 8 – 15. This housekeeping cabin on Vaughn has direct boat access to Lac Seul and this time spot is prime for guys targeting Big walleyes. Call the lodge at 800 567 8538 for details.