The end of my season always sneaks up and surprises me. After I write this report, I am packing my gear to get ready for my annual Musky adventure with long time friend and former guide, Cory McKiel. We have 3 days booked at the other end of Lac Seul and when I get back on Tuesday, I pack up to head home for another Fall deer guiding season. I said it in an earlier post, time flies.
The information for the fishing report is second hand this week. I spent most of my time bear baiting and preparing for our first bear hunter to arrive on Tuesday.
It was an odd week. Overall, walleye fishing was a bit of a challenge. Little fish were everywhere, finding slot fish happened in streaks, there were the usual number of bigger walleyes, but if you caught a big one this week, it was Huge. For the week, we caught and released 25 walleyes over 27 in., including 3 – 28s, 4 – 30s, and an absolute monster 32.
Last week was exceptionally windy. Most of this week was unbelievably flat, until Fall arrived today. Especially on days with light to no wind, it was a vertical light jig and minnow bite. There were a few days where the walleyes responded well to Gulp pulled at speed, but not as many as last week. There was a definite shift to deeper water for bigger walleyes this week. Most were caught in 30 – 35 ft. At the same time, you had to spot check shallower as many were also caught in 20 – 30, including the 32.
Volume was all over the board. There were days when everyone had 40 or more on their sheet and there were days when only half the crew got onto the back (23 walleyes over 18 in.) The seasons are changing and when the fish are on the move, it can be a challenge to catch them consistently.
We did not spend much time pike fishing, but those that did had good results. For the week, we caught and released 8 over 37 in., including 2 – 38s, 1 – 39, 1 – 40, and 1 -41. Spoons, spoons, and more spoons. There are a few weed beds that are starting to die off and the surface temps have dropped into the upper 60s. We don’t quite have the formula for a full-on Fall, big Pike bite yet, but it is getting closer.
We get to know so many people in this business. One of my longest running guests and his friends and family were in camp this week. I can still remember the spot on Lake St. Joe where I guided Tom Thomas to a 28 in. walleye back in 1991…. or maybe it was 92. Tom was fishing with Brett on Thursday and they hit the right spot at the right time. They caught several big walleyes including the biggest walleye that Brett has ever put in the boat. Tom’s big one was a huge 32 in. fish that will go down as one of the biggest walleyes that we have ever caught at the Wheel. Our lodge record is 32.5 held by my Mom from back in 1999, but with more and more 30s, I don’t know how much longer that record will hold.
As a guide, an angler, and a hunter, I am always in search of outliers. I want to know those areas that consistently produce big whitetail bucks, or big bass, or big walleyes, or big crappies, or big pike. For anglers like me, this fishing report is not a great one for numbers or consistency, but it does make a point. We caught and released 5 walleyes over 30 in. on what would be considered a less than average production week. Lac Seul is an outlier.
Combine that status with an excellent guide staff and it is easy to understand why most of our guests return year after year and why it is so difficult to get a spot.
It has been a great year at the Wheel. I will hand the reigns over to Brett and Missy tomorrow and I am already looking forward to the 2024 season.
As I look back on the 2023 season, I credit a successful summer to a great staff. Everyone still at the lodge did well, but the senior staff were the key; Raelene, Rachel, Brett, Brandon, and Orrin are the bedrock of our program. I hope to keep them with us long into our future.
As I close out this report, I would like to thank all of our guests who have supported us and returned again and again over the years. We plan to continue to improve our program and hope that you also want to come back for years to come.
MW – out