The week of July 26 to Aug. 2 was as close to normal as we have seen this year. The weather was warm and humid and fairly consistent. The walleye fishing was excellent for volume and good for big fish. The bigger walleyes showed up in greater numbers towards the end of the week, but they were mixed right in with all of the same fish that we have been catching this summer. It would be nice to be able to go to the back of the book and look up the answers sometimes, but Lac Seul walleyes don’t work that way. As guides we plan our experiments, evaluate the results on the fly, make adjustments and hope we have that day’s answer before the clock runs out at 6. This week was not easier, but the results were better than the previous three.
The common thread and consistent talking point at round table this week was finding and marking fish that were negative to neutral at best. That and the feet of bait fish showing up on the graph in all areas of the lake. Both main lake rock and sand held fish. Frequently bait and walleyes were found 2 to 5 ft. off the bottom. Guides responded with several different solutions. Many tried downsizing with 1/8 oz. jigs and live bait held vertically off the bottom. Others long lined 1/4s with minnows at .5 mph. Guys also set up drop shot rigs with minnows suspended 2 ft. off bottom. We also used big ¾ oz jigs and 6.5 in. Gulp Nemesis at speed to trigger reaction bites from groups of neutral fish. Each one of these techniques worked at times. The trick was to find a presentation that worked for the conditions and your boat and try to duplicate it.
For the week, we caught and released 48 walleyes over 27 in., including 13 – 28s, and 1 – 30. Guide boats averaged 40 walleyes over 18 in. per day. Even though it was sometimes tricky, it felt good to have the big walleyes return to the schools of mediums. It was still 50/50 for results between light jigs finesse and minnows vs. big jigs and big plastics at speed. Key depths varied each day, but 24 – 30 was a good range for the week.
Pike fishing results were hit and miss this past week. We did catch and release 3 – 40s and 1 – 41, but there were also many afternoons where results were very modest.
The Take Away: After 30 years, I am still learning. Even 10 years ago, when I encountered the 2nd or 3rd group of negative walleyes that would barely bite a 1/8 oz jig with a minnow, I would not have made the decision to pull through them with big Gulp at speed. But that was the pattern that worked this week.
The week’s best results came from both super finesse or high speed with big plastics to get reaction bites. Especially when it gets tricky, you have to rely on the formula. Forget what you read. Skip what you know. You can still make your predictions and hope for the best, but “the Formula” is still the guide’s best answer. Plan and execute your experiments in a timely and logical fashion, evaluate the results, adjust, and duplicate. Hope that you have enough information and time in the day to lock in a win, and when you don’t, listen to round table and wipe the slate clean for tomorrow and try again.