August 19, 2016

August 20th, 2016 by

Julie Tomkin 28

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,

Mike Willems

 

August 12, 2016

August 13th, 2016 by

Mark Neustrel 30

Mark Neustrel 30

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.

August 5, 2016

August 6th, 2016 by

Stephanie Deery 28.5

Stephanie Deery 28.5

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.

July 29, 2016

July 30th, 2016 by

Ray Bissen 29

Ray Bissen 29

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.

 

July 22, 2016

July 23rd, 2016 by

Jackson Kolb 47.5

Jackson Kolb 47.5

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.

July 15, 2016

July 18th, 2016 by

Tim Finucan 39

Tim Finucan 39

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.

 

 

July 8, 2016

July 10th, 2016 by

Mike McCortney 29

Mike McCortney 29

Historically, the week of the fourth of July has been one of less demand than the rest of the summer.  The cabins were all still occupied, but we had a few more guides with some time off and some of our regular unguided groups staying with us this week.  We were still on the water, but we were not out in force.

It was very much a carbon copy of the previous weeks for weather and fishing results.  The weather changed dramatically every day and the fish continued to be scattered and tough to pattern.

As a change of pace, I am going to tell you what happened in my guide boat today to give you a snapshot of what it is like on Lac Seul right now.  The control of the experiment is that I was guiding guys that I have fished with for 15 – 25 years.  I know that they like big fish.  Earlier in the week we had 1 slow “scouting” day, we had 1 good pike day with 3 over 37, and we had one good walleye day with 10 over 25 in., and on day last, their only request was to hunt big fish.

We started the day pulling big plastic with jigs on a main lake sunken island and quickly caught a 25 in. walleye suspended 5 ft. off the bottom in 20 ft.  And then nothing.  We marked a few fish on that pass.  Switched our gear and worked ¼ oz. jigs over a few arcs in 18 – 20 ft.  We caught some eaters and a few slots, but it was slow.  The guys mentioned piking, but we decided that we should fill out our lunch fish before we started.  We moved to another area to fish in 10 – 12 ft. in front of the weeds looking for “eaters” with jigs and live bait with some speed.  We caught a 24 in. walleye and then nothing.  We left there to go to a pike spot that we had fished the previous day.  It was not a known walleye spot, but with a SE wind blowing into a weed bed, I had marked some big arcs the day before and thought it was worth a try.  We instantly caught all of our eaters and put some fish on the sheet.  Time to go piking.  At the first “pike spot,” the first fish in the boat was a 21 in. walleye that hit a spinner bait near the surface in 4 ft. of water.  The morning pike spots were OK for action but we never even saw a medium sized fish until after 11.  In the afternoon, we focused on Grade A pike spots and fished them as fast as we could.  Some were main lake weeds, but others were “retro” back water weed spots and both produced.  At the end of the day, the guys finished with lots of pike action, a dozen medium sized pike, and top end of 37.5, 39, 39, and 40 inch pike.  It was a smashing pike day for our boat and at the same time the walleye results were a mess.  We didn’t spend any more time fishing for them, but we still caught another 24.5 in. walleye out of the middle of the weeds in the afternoon on a 6.5 in. spoon.

That same type of search, test, experiment, and adapt approach happened in every guide boat every day this past week with varying degrees of success.  Once again, the weather made it hard.  It was warm, then flat, then a front, then windy, then rain, then cool, then repeat.  The fish were never in the same place from one day to the next.

Walleye volume suffered this week with fewer boats on the water, but mainly because of the conditions described above.  Guide sheets averaged 30 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per day.  For the week, we caught and released 40 over 27 in., including 9 – 28s, 7 – 29s, and 1 – 30.  As I write this, I am thinking that those are good results, but I was here and I know the level of creativity it took to catch them.  To not call this a tough week on Lac Seul would be untruthful.

There were just a few guide boats pike fishing this week and their results were good.  Main lake weeds and even some transition or “retro” weed areas held numbers and some big pike.  For the week we caught and released 12 over 37, including 3 – 39s, 2 – 40s, and 1 – 41.  Big spoons were number one, but the weeds are topping out and spinnerbaits and top water were just a bit more effective in the heavy weed beds.

The big surprise for me this week was the bass.  We only had one or two days of guests that targeted them for a very short amount of time, but they were on.  In hindsight, it is likely that the peak for some of our best areas happened a week after we were targeting them heavily.  With just 2 guide sheets targeting bass for 1 day each, we had 8 – 19s, and 1 – 20 for the week, all on top water.

July 1, 2016

July 2nd, 2016 by

Jeff Pitts 28.75

Jeff Pitts 28.75

It was another roller coaster of a week on the south shore of Lac Seul.  I know you have heard this story before, but the weather truly was all over the place.  We had a morning low of 45 degrees F.  We had a daily high of 86.  We had high winds.  We had flat calm.  We had inches of rain and Thunderstorms.  We had 3 wind shifts in one day that ended flat calm.  And I could go on.

It wasn’t just the weather that was all over the place, the walleyes were too.  We caught walleyes in the weeds including fish up to 29 in.  And then they left.  We caught walleyes down deep at the base of the drops on summer sand.  And then they left.  We caught walleyes on shallow windblown rock.  And then they moved.  We caught walleyes on big plastic at speed in 10 ft., 20 ft., and 30 ft.  And then they didn’t bite anymore.  We caught walleyes pitching shallow.  And then, you guessed it…  Not only was the bite inconsistent, but you were almost better off fishing the extremes to come up with a temporary pattern.  We never caught fish at the same place on consecutive days.  They ALWAYS moved on.

It was a challenging week to guide, but the results were still pretty good.  Walleye volume averaged 30 fish over 18 in. per boat per day.  For the week, we caught and released 41 over 27, including 14 – 28s, and 2 – 29s.  About 5% of these were caught on Gulp, but the vast majority were caught on jigs with minnows.  The trick was to figure out where to fish them and how fast to move.

There were a few boats that targeted big pike this week.  Despite the weather, the results were good.  All of the big fish targeted were in the weeds and most were caught on spoons.  For the week we caught and released 10 over 37 in., including 4 – 38s, and 3 – 40s.

The bass bite is definitely winding down.  The mayflies are hatching in different areas and this seems to be one of the annual events that marks the beginning of the end of the Bass season.  I think we can still catch a few more, but it won’t be a bite to spend your afternoon on.  For the week we had 10 Bass over 19 in.

All of the guides struggled at times this week.  But at the same time, there was at least 1 or 2 reports at each nightly guide round table meeting that were exceptionally clever, creative, or productive outside of the box.  As a crew, we don’t get better when the bite is easy.  But we improve exponentially when the bite is difficult and we share and build on our solutions.

June 24, 2016

June 25th, 2016 by

Mark Walters 45

Mark Walters 45

Discovery channel has “shark week” and Silver Water Wheel has “bass week,” and it just happened.  We have had top bass weeks with stronger volume, but this week was about as good as it gets for top end size.  We caught and released 71 smallmouth bass over 19 in., including 7 – 20s.

The series of heavy cold fronts that so affected the walleye bite earlier in the year also had an effect on the bass.  There were days when the strike window was 5 ft. and fish would chase baits down and the very next day after a big cold blow, the window was down to 5 in. and it was then time to go chase walleyes or pike.  There were a few trends that worked for us; dirty water was good ground for bright spinnerbaits, flat calm water with heat and sun was the recipe for good topwater action, and when you were searching or fish were scattered, shallow diving cranks and suspending jerkbaits were a good solution.  If you weren’t changing baits and doing different experiments every hour, then you were not winning.  With lower water levels, we had to fight through more weed growth.  Tubes and plastics worked on occasion, but there were many areas where they just didn’t produce.

Despite the heavy pressure on bass, it was still a very good walleye week.  The same disclaimer applies.  When it was on, it was great.  After the front, when it went flat calm in the afternoon, it was slow.  For the week, we caught and released 53 walleyes over 27 in., including 12 – 28s, and 5 – 29s.  Production was evenly split between main lake deep water spots and spring transition areas in the shallows.  The sun and heat towards the end of the week pushed a few more into the shallower water weeds, but it wasn’t a mass migration.  Some big fish were still caught out deep in 20 – 30ft and some were caught in 8 – 10 ft..   You had to try it all to come up with a pattern each day.  There was no pattern for the week.

With water levels 1.3 ft. lower than normal, the cabbage weed beds have peaked earlier than usual this year.  When they hit the surface, the pike bite is usually on.  We just didn’t have that many guys chasing them this week.  Results were pretty good for those that did with 6 over 37 in., including 1 – 40, 1 – 41, 1, – 42, and 1 – 45.  Weeds were the key.  Baits that got through without getting hung up were the ticket; spoons, spinnerbaits, and occasionally jerk baits.

The patterns change quickly this time of year and the fish can move with surprising speed.  Last week’s report talked about bass fishing picking up and this week’s report feels like it is winding down.  Next week will be the first week of July.  Will the walleyes have moved deep onto summer locations?  Or will they trend shallow towards the weeds?  Maybe they will move “backwards into retro transition zones.”  Only time will tell and that is why the “formula” is the key to our consistent guiding success.

 

June 17, 2016

June 18th, 2016 by

Emma Larson 29.5

Emma Larson 29.5

The last few reports have referenced some version of a blender.   This week, we are finally settling in to some more normal patterns and production and it was a good week, but we haven’t had a “rager” walleye bite yet.

As a group the guides are still working through their day by spot checking dramatically different areas.  The deep water bite was never fast, but did continue to produce some big walleyes.  The difference at the end of this week is that we saw the first stages of the shallow water weed bite begin and it included some really big fish as well.  I think the best way to describe the difference between this year and last year, is that in 2015, when it was “on,” almost all the guides would be in 2 or 3 areas and they could stay in one spot for the entire day.  This week’s stats totals were not quite as good for numbers, but the top end was solid.  The difference is that this week, the guides would have 5 – 10 different locations on their sheets where they caught a few good fish.  The key is making good decisions based on catch rates.

Walleye volume went up this week as some groups of fish moved more shallow.  Guide sheets averaged 35 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per day.  For the week, we caught and released 67 walleyes over 27 in., including 10 – 28s, 4 – 29s, and 1 – 30.

There were a few times and places where Gulp and speed produced, but it was largely a live bait bite.  Jigs ¼ and 1/8 oz with minnows were top producers. There still was no predominant depth, but this week we caught just as many 27+ in. fish in 8 – 12 ft. as we did in 14 – 30 ft.  If the weather is warm and stable, that trend will continue into shallower water.

The water is still about 1 foot lower than normal this year.  That difference means that some of the main lake cabbage weeds are a bit closer to the surface than normal.  The result is that the pike have set up shop much more quickly than in previous years.  There were still a few random big fish caught in the back water skinny, but most of the Bigs were caught from transition spots with newly emergent cabbage.  For the week we caught and released 12 over 37, including 2 – 40s, 1 – 41, and 1 – 44.  Spoons and big plugs were top producers.

The bass fishing is just starting to pick up speed.  At the end of the week, guides were adding 10 – 30 bass over 15 in. to their stats sheets.  It definitely was not the peak, but it was fun.  For the week we logged 19 bass over 19 in., including 2 – 20s.  Best presentations were totally dependent on conditions.  Flat calm, sunny days were good for top water.  Dirty water, windy bays were good for ¼ oz. white spinnerbaits.  Areas with low concentrations lent themselves to covering water with super shallow diving cranks and rattle traps.  Even though I know not to make predictions, next week should be good for bass (unless there is some crazy weather.)