The weather still felt like summer this past week. The daytime highs and surface temps may have moderated a bit, but the fishing was on fire. Pick your favorite species as they were all three popping this past week.
The surprise for me was the pike fishing. Usually when pike transition from spring / spawning patterns to summertime locations, they are generally difficult to consistently pattern and target. My general advice to the guide crew is to mix your day up a bit by casting for pike if you want, but always be ready to fall back on the more predictable walleye bite. Many guests this past week asked to spend time fishing for pike and they were very successful.
For the week, we caught and released 31 pike over 37 in., including 8 – 38s, 3 – 39s, 3 – 40s, and 2 – 41s. Spoons and big cranks were the most productive presentations. The locations were split evenly between late spring feeding zones and what I would consider standard summer locations. Main lake weeds are already over 2 ft tall and in many areas that was enough to begin holding big pike.
There were a few slow times for walleyes, but for most of the week, the walleye bite was hot. The numbers; 70 over 27 in., including 9 – 28s, 5 – 29s, and 1 – 30. The key was to search for the walleye bite that produced numbers of walleyes over 24 in. and then grind it out for the really big ones. Sometimes it was on sandy transitions, others it was on current based rock bites, and there were still good bites on the shallow sections of classic main lake summer sand. The key was not to try to replicate the previous day’s bite. The most successful guides ran multiple experiments on a variety of different locations until they found a pattern and duplicated it. There were a few bites that responded to plastics, but most success this week revolved around what size jig, what speed, and what depth to fish minnows. Those details may sound tedious, but they were the difference between doing well and crushing it. We talk about catch rates all the time. In general, 5 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per hour is the recipe for a good day. Guides left those bites this past week and often found better. The key depth for big walleyes this week was 10 – 14 ft.
The smallmouth bass are definitely ahead of schedule. That doesn’t mean they were always easy. They have definitely moved towards their preferred spawning locations. There were the sporadic reports of a few beds sighted, but there were also several days of not just neutral, but absolutely negative bites. I heard several guests say they saw a hundred bass swimming around, but only caught 3. At the same time, there were a few feeding windows where it didn’t matter what you threw in front of them, they were going to eat it. For the week, we caught and released 23 over 19 in., including 6 – 20 in. bass. Plastics were preferred, cranks caught a few, and surprisingly, a few were already looking for topwater.
The Take Away – Gouws is my stats guy this year and he took some time off for his sister’s graduation. Justin volunteered to tabulate the numbers for the week. When he came upstairs to hand me the results, he said, “MW, this was a total Big Fish Beat Down!” and I agreed.