The weather this week had a little bit of everything – sun, clouds, warm, cool, windy, and calm. But no extremes of anything. Overall, it averaged out to pretty stable, and lake surface temps remained in the 60-65 degree range. That meant pretty similar water temps from the surface down to 30+ feet, and the walleye had a lot of water in their ‘comfort zone’ temperature range to choose from. We haven’t yet found many fish in less than 15 feet of water this fall, but we’ve caught good walleye from depths ranging from 15 to 40 feet. Our time and our best production were split pretty evenly between classic deep summer water and transition depths this week.
When the walleye are both deep and shallow, finding fish takes time and a back and forth approach. Many of our guides used speed and Gulp this week to search the various depths as efficiently as possible and pick up any active fish. Then they went back and targeted the less active biters with jigs and live bait. Overall, we spent more time with live bait and most of our big ‘eyes came that way.
This is the time of year when our staff numbers shrink, and we run at about half to two thirds the number of boats on the water. We average over 80 guided days a week throughout the summer months – this week we totaled 48 days on the water. Volume was spotty and heavily weather dependent, the average day’s guide sheet had 22 walleye over 18 inches. The top end was good, for the week we boated 22 walleyes over 27 inches, with 6 – 28’s, 1 – 29, and 4 – 30 inchers.
Our boats spent more time pike fishing this week. The weed beds are well into their fall die-off, and the big winds last week helped speed that along. That means the big pike are more concentrated now in the fewer remaining weed beds than they were throughout the summer, and we invested a lot of our time searching the weeds when the sun shone. But some of our best fish came from transition -type rock structures when the weather was grayer. Spoons and spinnerbaits remained our best producing baits when we were working the weeds, but deeper diving lures and jakes worked on rock structures. For the week we caught and released 9 pike over 37 inches, with 3 – 38’s, and 1 – 40.
My take-away: The seasons change, the weather changes, the bite changes, but ‘the program’ remains the same. Go fast, slow, deep, shallow – experiment, gather information, and apply it. The fish will come.