This week’s weather was a little atypical for the middle of September here. Temps were steadily cool, and just like most fall weeks, we had a bit of everything else – sun, clouds, rain, fog, and mist. But we went almost all week without any heavy wind days. The calm or light wind weather was conducive to pike fishing and a lot of our guests took advantage of that this week.
We had a total of 36 guided days on the water this week, about average for us this time of year. Out of those 36 about half were days where the boat’s main focus was chasing big pike. Those 18 guided days concentrated on pike did produce some good fish, but getting to those fish often took devoting a good portion of your day to casting. Those boats that kept the faith and spent the time required regularly caught northerns in the low and mid-thirties, and boated 13 northern over 37 inches including two over 39 inches, two over 40 inches, and a 41 incher. When our guides compared notes at the end of each day we usually weren’t able to see one pattern or bait that was the answer that day, but looking back over the week half of the fish over 37 inches came on big spinner baits.
Our walleye this week were once again caught on rock structures – either open water underwater piles or main lake island points. The general trend was for the fish to be deep on these structures, but as the week progressed we found a couple of good bites in shallower water, tight to shore or up on top of the rock piles in just 10-15 feet of water. The walleye were not aggressive and we often had to experiment with different presentations at each spot to produce fish, jigs and minnows remained the most effective way we found to do this. We continued to check the sand structures that have been so good to us in the past but the walleye were not there this week, instead our guides shifted their focus to some of our favourite fall transition spots and we began to find good fish at them. Out of 36 guided days this week, only about half were dedicated to pursuing big walleye and our numbers for the week reflect that – we caught and released 15 walleye over 27 inches, with two over 28 inches.
Our guides fish hard all week and all season, and they always like to see something new or unusual. For our guides, the most unusual thing this week was a Musky. With all our boats on the water fishing all day every day, this central section of Lac Seul – the part that we regularly fish – only produces about one Musky for us every two years. There was a good one caught this week, our first of the year and the biggest we’ve seen come out of our section of the lake, at 41.75 inches.
At Silver Water Wheel Lodge
The best description of this week’s walleye fishing is, in a word, ‘spotty’. Not the way the word is usually used – in the sense of catching a few fish here and a few fish there. Instead, meaning that each day our guides may have had to search hard and experiment a lot to find a location that held good fish and a presentation that worked, but when they found that perfect combination the results were really good. Out of just 34 guided days this week there were seven guide sheets that had 50 or more fish over 18 inches recorded for the day, all with multiple fish over 25 inches. The best guide sheet had 66 walleye over 18 inches for the day, with 16 of those over 25 inches, topping out with a 28.75 and a 29 incher. And every time those great days happened this week, they came from searching until we found a location and presentation that produced good fish and working it all day. The tricky part was that even with identical weather and conditions, when we went back to those hot spots the next day (or even that afternoon) the fish were gone and we needed to start our search again. The walleye were on the move, pursuing bait or staging for movement to fall locations, but clearly not holding on any structure for more than a few hours.
For the week we had 34 guided days on the water and our boats caught and released twenty walleye over 27 inches, including five over 28 inches, one 29 incher, and a giant of a 30 inch fish.
Almost every night in our dining room somebody was talking about a great day of walleye fishing, and many of our guests chose to spend their days working on finding another walleye hot spot rather than hunting for big pike. The hours we did spend pike fishing produced some good fish – seven over 37 inches, with the biggest of the week being a 41.25 incher. The main lake weed beds continue to thin out and most of our piking time was spent concentrating on the remaining patches to produce good fish, but unexpectedly this week most of our big pike were caught either in shallower weedy areas or on rock structures. Spoons were our best producing bait.
A guide’s takeaway: The only sure way to catch fish is to keep fishing. This week, when we kept searching and kept trying the next experiment is when we found those great walleye bites, or that big pike.
At Silver Water Wheel Lodge
This week saw many of our guests begin to focus on big pike. Though the weather varied throughout the week, we did not see the extremes of last week. Some rain and some sun but overall fairly stable. Regardless of the daytime weather typical cool fall nights meant lake surface temps continued to drop, and the main lake weeds are already well into their fall die off. Add some cool sunny days to that mix, and the guides here started looking for the big pike to really get going and encouraged their guests to devote more time to hunting for ‘gators’.
Our best success for pike this week came from the remaining weed patches with access to deep water. As the main lake weeds died off, the big pike concentrated in the remaining patches available, and put the fall feed bag on. Buck tails and spinnerbaits were our baits of choice in the weeds but spoons produced best for the big ones we found on rocks. For the week we caught and released 12 northerns over 37 inches including 4 over 39 inches, 3 over 40 inches, and a huge 42.75 incher.
As our guests and guides shifted their focus toward northern fishing, less time was spent searching out the next move of the walleyes. The big fish we caught kept with the trend they were following last week and stuck to the rock structures through this week too. Sand continued to produce good numbers of fish up to the 22 inch range but the guide staff dedicated their time to main lake rock structures when searching for the big ones. General production was fairly good with the average daily guide sheet totalling 30 fish over 18 inches per day, and top-end size was strong for the week. With 51 guided days this week we caught and released 24 walleye over 27 inches including four over 28 inches and three walleye over 29 inches.
A guide’s takeaway this week – looking forward to more good pike fishing next week.
At Silver Water Wheel Lodge
It is fall here at ‘The Wheel’. I know late August is still summer in most places, but here on Lac Seul this time of year we can feel fall beginning. Cool nights are having their effect on surface temps, the weather is more changeable, and fronts move through increasingly often. Walleye follow the weather like they do all summer, but as the weather shifts to fall patterns the effect the weather has on the walleye can be more sudden and more drastic.
Take this week – early on we were catching our best fish on rock structures in regular summer patterns, we saw good volume in the 18 – 22 inch range with big ones showing up regularly. Mid-week had a temperature drop and rain – a front moved through and saw our guides sorting through a high volume of smaller walleyes at any and all depths and structure types to get to the big fish. Volume was very high for those few days but getting through to the bigger fish took persistance and some luck. The very next day with sun and steady winds we were back to finding good production for bigger fish on mid-depth sand. Fall is full of changes in the weather and in the walleye. Our guides stayed with the big fish this week by staying flexible and versatile – checking for changes and the next pattern all the time.
For the week, we caught and released 33 walleyes over 27 in., including 5 – 28s, 2 – 29s, and one 30 incher!
The hints of fall had some of our guides taking their boats piking when the weather looked right, but most of our groups remained focused on walleye. Overall piking effort was limited and production reflected that. We caught and released 5 northern over 37 inches, including 1 – 40, and 1 – 41. Buck tails and spinnerbaits were the bait of choice for most guides with spoons a close second.
A guide’s takeaway for this week – stay flexible, stay versatile, the quicker the fishing changes the more flexible you need to be.
At Silver Water Wheel Lodge.
The first signs of the changing seasons are here; cool fronts, the first few yellow leaves, and the fish are starting to move again. We found more big pike on main lake rock near deep water this week and had many reports of multiple T-bones on small walleyes being brought up from deeper water.
There were dramatic swings in the walleye bite this week. We experienced days where the average number of walleyes over 18 in. boated was over 40. And yet on Thursday, the average was under 20. We could mark fish
and we could catch lots of little ones, but you just couldn’t put a pattern together for bigger fish. And then it switched back to a good walleye bite again on Friday. All of these changes occurred with almost no perceptible change in the weather. The ups and downs were felt equally on both main lake rock and sand.
For the week, we caught and released 36 walleyes over 27 in., including 7 – 28s, and 2 – 29s. A significant observation is that almost all of these Big fish were caught in water 30 ft. or deeper. Jigs and minnows were by far the most productive.
Many of the cabbage weed beds are still in good shape ev
en though some are starting look a little slimey or sparse. We caught pike volume in the weeds, but they were mostly smaller fish. Most of the bigger fish this week were caught on diving plugs, spoons, or blades and came off of main lake rock points. For the week, we caught and released 11 over 37 in., including 4 – 38s, 1 – 39, 1 – 40, and 1 – 41.
Missy and the kids are on their way back to Iowa to get ready for school and it is still hard to believe, but I will be packing this week as well. Brett will be taking over lodge management and the fishing report for the remainder of the season.
Already looking forward to Next year,
The walleyes are finally fully on summer patterns. Both main lake rock and sand held fish with most being caught in the 20 – 30 ft. zone. There were some high volume days with a large amount of slot fish to just over the slot fish mixed in with some big ones.
For the week, we caught and released 54 walleyes over 27 in., including 9 – 28s, 4 – 29s, and 2 – 30s. We did find a couple of big fish patterns with groups of larger walleyes relating to mid depth flats adjacent to deep water. One of the keys to this pattern was that there was a constriction or bottle neck between a large fertile back bay area and a main lake basin. Quality electronics were a requirement for this bite. You just can’t move that slow over a large area with very little structure and hope to contact that many fish. The guides scanned with electronics. Located a key depth and then stayed on top of the fish. It wasn’t fast, but it was a high quality bite.
Guides gave their guests choices this week. You could head out to traditional main lake structure and sort through the small and medium sized fish or you could slow down and work one of the mid depth summer transition zones and hunt for just big ones. Most guides chose to do a little of both each day. Overall volume was high with daily guide sheets averaging 40 walleyes over 18 in. per boat.
Big plastics and jigs were used occasionally with moderate results. Often, guides were searching structure while pulling plastics and locating groups of fish to go back to with live bait. Jigs in ¼ – 3/8 with minnows were by far the most productive presentation this week.
There was very little time spent chasing big pike this week and the results reflect it. For the week, we caught and released 5 over 37 in., including 1 – 38, 1 – 39, and 1 – 42.
The days are getting shorter and the mornings are getting cooler. Summer isn’t over yet, but the first hints are there.
The changes are incremental, but the trend continues as the walleyes are becoming more concentrated. Earlier in the week, we were still catching walleyes everywhere from 8 – 35 ft., but by the end of the week, the trend was definitely towards the mid – depth zones. Both size and numbers for walleyes were caught from 18 – 25 ft. by week’s end.
We did see the typical variations between good bites and slow, but overall it was a good week of walleye fishing on Lac Seul. Guide sheets averaged 35 walleyes over 18 in. per day. The highest daily total was 77. For the week, we caught and released 46 walleyes over 27 in., including 10 – 28s, and 2 – 29s.
The majority of walleyes were caught with ¼ oz. jigs and minnows, but there were also some occasional good bites on big jigs with plastics. Gulp Alive crazy legs jerk shads are still the guides favorite at this time of year and when the bite is on, they do select for bigger fish. The most difficult decision to make is when to invest the time dragging plastics at speed (1 – 1.4 mph.) A few of the guides employed a “compromise” approach and used 3/8 oz. jigs and live minnows at a medium pace to cover ground on sand flats and had relatively good success.
Relatively few groups hunted pike this week and the results were mixed. There were some nice fish caught on spoons and spinnerbaits in main lake weeds near deep water, but there were also quite a few groups that reported tough pike fishing days as well. For the week, we caught and released 7 over 37 in., including 2 – 38s, 1 – 39, and 1 – 40.
The only other take away from the week that can’t be explained by any stat or report was the “camp” atmosphere. Groups are here from various backgrounds and areas but there is a noticeable click with returning guests. We shared premium Russian vodka in the lodge at supper, had another great 9 iron competition with a floating raft target in the bay, and many enjoyed the “Hall and Oates” party on the deck. I was in the office, but our guests told me it was a great time.
The southern basins of Lac Seul are settling into summer. There are still a few random groups of walleyes in and out of the weeds, but there are more and more finding their way on to the main lake deeper rock and sand structures where we expect them to be at this time of year.
There were still hit and miss bites and I would say that there are still some walleyes using the 12 – 18 ft. zone, but the most of big walleyes were caught between 20 – 34 ft. Volume was still a little lighter than what would be considered normal for this time of year. The daily guide sheets averaged around 30 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per day.
Big walleyes numbers were very strong. For the week, we caught and released 51 walleyes over 27 in., including 12 – 28s, 6 – 29s, and 1 – 30. About 10% of the big ones were caught on Gulp with big jigs, but the vast majority were caught using minnows and ¼ oz. jigs. A big part of the equation was having guides and guests going on the lake hunting big walleyes with intent. There were some smaller fish down deep, but you had to have faith to stay on those bites to be successful.
We had a few groups chase pike this week and once again, the results were good. Weeds near depth were the key. Spoons and blades produced equally well. For the week, we caught and released 12 pike over 37, including 2 – 38s, 1 – 40, and 2 – 41s.
The long term forecast is calling for stable and warm temps. On paper, walleye volume should continue to improve. I hope we can maintain our pace with the big ones. I’ll tell you how it turns out next week.
Summer finally arrived to the south shore of Lac Seul. With the daytime temps soaring into the 80s, the bite in general has begun to improve. Groups of fish remain scattered throughout the water column and you still have to bounce around, but it is getting easier.
Having said that, the news of the week is BIG FISH! Jackson Kolb caught and released the new Lodge Record Northern Pike. It was 47.5 in. long, but it was also a massive, broad, and deep world class trophy of a fish. Oh, and he also caught a 43.25 in. monster pike as well. Not bad for a first trip to Canada.
Howard Albrecht caught the biggest walleye of the year to date at 30.5 in. It was also a really big fish for its length. For the week, there were a total of 38 walleyes over 27 in. caught and released, including 6 – 28s, 6 – 29s, and the 30.5. Volume improved with guide sheets averaging 35 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per day.
The pattern for the walleye bite is that there still is no pattern. With the heat, there has been a shallow weed bite in some areas. Those bites produced volume and nice mediums, but not as many “bigs.” There were some good bites on main lake rock and main lake sand in 20 – 25 ft., but they were never consistent. And there were some really nice fish caught on main lake sand and rock down deep in 30 – 35 ft. There weren’t quite as many fish down there yet, but sometimes they were easier to convince to bite. Some fish were caught at speed with Gulp and big jigs, but the vast majority were on live bait and quarters.
There were just a few boats that spent time casting for pike this week. The results were fairly good. Most days had relatively good volume and there were 9 caught over 37, including 1 – 40, 1 – 41, and Jackson’s 2 big ones. Spoons and big spinnerbaits were top producers. Weed beds near deep water were the key.
As a guide crew we have a tendency to take a great fishery for granted. But on a week like this, it is important to underscore the top end potential of Lac Seul. This lake is still one of the very few that has the potential to produce giants along with outstanding volume and numbers of medium sized fish. Our guide staff and guests can become a little spoiled and need to be reminded of how fortunate we are to have Lac Seul in our back yard.
The last five fishing reports have discussed the impacts of cumulative unsettled weather on fish location and fishing production. For the week of July 8 – 15, you can once again take that effect and then multiply it by 3 times.
We started warm and trending more stable and humid, then went off the rails with massive rains and storms, followed by 2 days of winds pushing over 30 mph, waking up to morning temps in the 40s, and then going to cool, flat, glass calm sunshine. Once again, we found ourselves chasing walleyes around every corner of Lac Seul. They were deep, they were shallow, they were suspended in the middle of the basins, and sometimes they didn’t want to bite. The only thing you could count on is that if you found them on a spot one day, then they would for sure be gone the next.
I think the best way to describe the change from a normal season would be to look at the predictable mega bites that we usually see occur each year. There are at least 6 major “bites” that usually happen by now that will result in at least half of the guide boats spending the entire day in one specific location. Every boat would normally be filling sheets. These bites typically happen in May, June, and July and so far, not one of them has happened. They are all based on environmental conditions that encourage walleyes to congregate and feed. The constant barrage of unsettled weather has done everything but encourage walleyes to congregate. They started scattered and they stayed scattered.
Walleye volume dropped to less than 30 fish over 18 in. per boat each day. For the week, we caught and released 32 walleyes over 27 in., including 7 – 28s. Gulp worked only occasionally. Most were caught with ¼ oz. jigs and minnows in anywhere between 5 and 35 ft. on either rock or sand, in areas that would be considered transition or summer spots. You get the Point.
The bright spot was the pike fishing. Some guides were successful at convincing their guests to focus on pike when the walleyes got tough. The results were pretty good. For the week, we caught and released 20 over 37 in., including 4 – 38s, 3 – 39s, 1 – 40, and 1 – 41. Summertime weed locations were the key. Spoons were tops, but double 8s worked as well.
Bass with intent are done at the Wheel for the year.
Almost 90% of our guests have fished with us for more than five years. As a manager of guides, that helps. The guests know that the Lac Seul is the real deal and that the issue is Weather.