We had our first hints of the coming Fall this week. We had some September style weather and there are a few trees near the shoreline that are starting to show some yellow leaves.
There was a midweek cold front that sent some walleyes back into retro – Fall locations and we ended the week with 3 straight days of sustained 30 mph winds with some gusts that were even stronger. The weather was a bit of a challenge, but the fishing results were good.
Most of the walleyes caught this week were in 20 – 30 ft. of water. There were a few outliers, but that was the baseline that most guides began the day with. The exception was the rainy, heavy northwest wind cold front day. One of the patterns that we have seen over time is that type of weather, especially in Fall, can send walleyes back into some of the shallower basins that we normally associate with Spring fishing. They are not going back into the 6 – 10 ft., but they do set up on the edge of the deeper water in those basins. There were several 26 – 28 in. walleyes caught in 18 – 28 ft. in those regions that we generally consider springtime zones. As fast as that bite happened, it shut down just as quickly when the weather changed.
As usual, it was big Gulp at speed with big jigs or lighter jigs fished vertical with minnows. The answer was different every day and often different between regions. If you weren’t trying both, multiple times a day, then you were not going to consistently chalk up a win. Almost everyone is on ¾ oz jigs with big Gulp now when they are covering water with speed. The crew is fishing ¼s with minnows most of the time and reluctantly going to drop shots if the walleyes are being super stubborn. Main lake sand and rock were both productive this week.
Volume was really good this week with guide sheets averaging 40 or more walleyes over 18 in. per day. For the week, we caught and released 35 walleyes over 27 in., including 6 – 28s, 3 – 29s, and 1 – 30.
We did have several groups this week that spent serious time casting for pike and their results were also good. For the week, we caught and released 11 over 37 in., including 5 – 38s, 1 – 40, 1 – 41, and 1 – 43. Our guests chose to throw a lot of different presentations this week, including, bulldogs, medusas, and big cranks. They even convinced their guides to try a trolling run or two. At the end of the day, casting spoons and blades at main lake weed beds or basin rock structure still turned the biggest pike. As a guide crew, we try to be open to new ideas and presentations, but it is hard to not push what we know works. This week, tried and true caught the win.
I made a decision early this year to personalize the fishing report. For those of you that have never been to the Wheel, we know that we are a source of intel for your fishing trip somewhere else and we hope you appreciate it. For those of you that are in the club, we welcome you back.
The Take Away: My last guiding day is tomorrow. We talked about turning the page last week and we did. This is another one. When you go 100 mph all year long, it is very difficult to come to a grinding halt.
But as I do, my guys (and Hayley) come up to my room to say goodbye.
I don’t like it.
I know that I am probably not going to have Gouws, Jason, or Hayley back up to the lodge next year. I get it. We wish nothing but the best for them and they are always welcome back. But I understand.
Jason and Gouws were part of the core of our senior guide staff for the 2023 season. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the contribution they have made to our program over the years. They are great people and excellent guides. They will be missed by their guests, me, Missy, and the crew.