All Silver Water Wheel guides are required to record their results from every guiding day. We care about the details and we care about the trends, but the simple act of writing down the data of each day as it happens, helps you do a better job of guiding. We talk about catch rates per hour and time invested in experiments. The primary purpose of this information is to objectively evaluate the fishing results of the week.
In review, it was another very challenging walleye bite. Part of the reason that the big pike results were better, was because our guides wanted a win. Walleyes were difficult, so they shifted gears and focused on gators. With this weird weather year, smallmouth bass were still an option and some of the guys took advantage of the opportunity and targeted bass in the afternoon.
I am not going to sugar coat it. This was a very difficult week of walleye fishing. I don’t care what the stats say, I was out there and I struggled. We teach all of our guides the system. Do your homework, make a plan, make another plan, do your experiments, and be creative until you find what works for that day and then replicate it. I personally got stuck on what works that day.
The weather was the complete opposite of previous weeks. In general, we had many more calm and sunny days. In fact, there were several days of blazing hot sunshine, with no wind. We have done this long enough that we think we know what to expect. When the sun beats down on flat calm water in early July, we are quick to check for a weed bite. And there were some walleyes shallow, but they were tough to catch. If you follow along with this fishing report page, you will remember that the higher lake levels in spring time extended our early season big pike bite. Well, that high water from spring has made every weed bed bigger, growing deeper, and much less fishable. By the end of this week, the entire lodge staff knew that the walleyes were moving shallow, but it was very difficult to do anything about it. We understand neutral, to negative deep-water walleyes. We know how to catch them. But what do you do when the walleyes are shallow, in the weeds, and negative? Our answer was to shift gears and target another species.
For the week, we caught and released 24 walleyes over 27 in., including 4 – 28s, and 2 – 29s. Volume was down, with daily guide sheets averaging fewer than 30 walleyes over 18 in. per day. Gulp, plastics, and speed only worked occasionally. There were many more stories of guys switching back to lighter jigs and minnows to catch reluctant shallow water walleyes. More than 75% of walleyes caught this week were turned with live bait. Minnows were the key.
We almost never talk about bass this time of year, but with a late spring, we were still able to catch the tail end of the season. The reality is that we had very, very few anglers in camp that wanted to chase bass. Those that did, had strong results. For the week, we caught and released 16 over 19, with 3 – 20s. Tubes, cranks, and top water were top producers.
The surprise was the pike bite. I don’t know if it was extra effort put in to get away from walleye fishing, but guests caught big pike this week. We recorded, good volume with 21 over 37 in., including 8 – 38s, 2 – 39s, 1 – 40, and 1 – 43. The cabbage weeds are not quite to the surface, but they are close enough. It was a high speed, weed bite for gators. Spoons were hands down the best producers. The Williams Whitefish and 4.5 in. Cabela’s five of diamonds were hard to beat. We did land a few of the bigger pike on double 8s, but if you had to pick just one bait, it would be the William’s Whitefish spoon.
The Take Away: In the middle of the season, it is always about the weather. Blazing sunshine on flat calm water is just about the worst forecast that you can see for consistent big walleyes. Rather than pound a round peg into a square hole, consider you other options. This week, it was big pike.