This week it was hard to convince ourselves it was still only August. The weather continued very fall-like, nights were cool and some days were too, and there were lots of cloudy skies and blustery days. The walleye acted like it was fall as well, moving from shallow to deep and back again and just being much less predictable.
From talking with the guide crew two trends stand out this week and they were widely different. We finally started to catch numbers and size out of “deep summer” depths. We’ve been dipping out to 30-35 feet regularly all summer, but this is the first week of the season where catching both size and numbers out 30+ feet was the rule rather than the exception. At the same time some boats found good fish by going the other way and targeting typical fall patterns in less than 20 feet. Overall, the best volume and most of our big walleye came from following the bite out to deep water, but a couple of the biggest ‘eyes of the week were caught following the shallow fall trend.
This week our best volume came from gearing down – Lighter jigs and finesse presentations were the answer. Whenever we’re working a finesse bite kind of day, we’ll put on big jigs and turn up the speed to check on the reaction bite that Mike has been talking about in his last few reports. We kept checking, but the walleye liked the subtler approach this week. Though of course there is always an exception – the biggest walleye of the week was caught pulling Gulp in deep water. Walleye volume varied a lot from day to day. Most days it was not uncommon for a boat to check a half a dozen spots before finding a location that produced any numbers of fish for the sheet. Guide sheets averaged 30 walleye over 18 inches a day and for the week we caught and released 33 walleyes over 27 inches, including 6 – 28’s, 1 – 29, and 1 – 30.
We did very little pike fishing this week, and it shows in the numbers – we caught and released 3 over 37 inches including 1 – 39 and 1 – 40.75 incher.
We felt the first little hint of a change in seasons this week; mornings were cool (below 50), when you study the shoreline you can pick out the first hint of yellow leaves, and some of the shallowest weedbeds are beginning to die out. It was still summer fishing with both main lake rock and sand producing consistently, but we know that more changes will be coming soon.
Walleye fishing volume varied on a daily basis. There were a few really hot bites, a few slower ones, and most days were just consistent. It was more common to catch 5 sheet fish from 5 different spots rather than smash 25 off of one. Guide sheets averaged 35 walleyes over 18 in. per boat each day. For the week, we caught and released 35 walleyes over 27 in., including 6 – 28s, 2 – 29s, and 1 – 30. It was once again an even split between our two most productive summer presentations. Live minnows on 1/8 – ¼ oz jigs fished vertically worked well to entice reluctant biters, but we were also still able to trigger reaction bites pulling 6.5 in. Gulp Nemesis on ¾ oz. jigs at speed (.9 – 1.2 mph). I have had a few groups that have had a hard time finding the Gulp product in stores. I recommend going to Berkley’s website and make sure to look for the Saltwater version. On Lac Seul, it is hard to beat white. Key depths for the week were 20 – 30 ft.
The pike bite was not bad and results for big fish were pretty good considering the amount of time spent casting. For the week, we caught and released 13 over 37 in., including 3 – 38s, 1 – 39, and 2 – 41s. Big spoons were hard to beat.
The Take Away: It feels like summer is faster now. I had a meeting today finalizing plans for the construction of the next new cabin. Construction begins the first week of September and the hardest part of that job is coming up with a name for the new 10-man cabin. Missy and the kids are already back in Iowa for the start of school, soccer, and volleyball. It is hard to believe that this is my last report of the summer season. I will finish guiding this week, spend a few days chasing muskies, and then it will be time to head back to Iowa to get ready for the Fall guiding season. Overall it was another great season on Lac Seul. Brett will take over and run the operation for Fall and will be writing the next weekly fishing report.
MW – out.
The major weather event this week was a substantial cold front that went through mid-week. Warm humid weather instantly flipped to high winds from the Northwest, with cool showers, and colder nights. It felt more like the first week of Sept. than the first week of Aug. The weather did move the fish around a bit, but overall it was still a good week for big fish and good numbers.
For the week, we caught and released 41 walleyes over 27 in., including 8 – 28s, 4 – 29s, 1 – 30, and Don Kent caught a huge 31.5 in. monster. Volume was up and down each day, but overall was good with guide sheets averaging 30 walleyes over 18 in. The strange part of the story is that some days “eaters” were hard to find and some days they were everywhere.
Key depths for the week ranged between 18 – 28 ft. Both main lake rock and sand produced, but not at the same time. We are still in the reaction vs. tease tug of war for presentations. When you encounter neutral to negative walleyes, you can either slow down and grind them with finesse presentations or gear up with big jigs and 6.5 Gulp Nemesis to trigger reaction bites at speed. Once again, both worked better than running the middle ground for speed and presentation. The lean for big fish went to the Gulp bite this week. When guides found a spot that produced a walleye over 25 in. on Gulp, they could often go back and work the area several different ways to pull more big fish from the spot. The hard part was finding the first big fish. The others around that one, were much easier.
Quite a few guides hunted big pike this week and the results were pretty good. For the week, we caught and released 10 pike over 37 in., including 2 – 39s, 1 – 40, 1 – 41, and a huge 43 for Drayven Ribbink. The pattern was good weeds near deeper water and a fast presentation. Spoons were top producers, but in-line spinners worked as well.
The Take Away: Some times a big cold front is bad news, this week it just meant that you had to hunt walleyes in different places to chalk a win.
The week of July 26 to Aug. 2 was as close to normal as we have seen this year. The weather was warm and humid and fairly consistent. The walleye fishing was excellent for volume and good for big fish. The bigger walleyes showed up in greater numbers towards the end of the week, but they were mixed right in with all of the same fish that we have been catching this summer. It would be nice to be able to go to the back of the book and look up the answers sometimes, but Lac Seul walleyes don’t work that way. As guides we plan our experiments, evaluate the results on the fly, make adjustments and hope we have that day’s answer before the clock runs out at 6. This week was not easier, but the results were better than the previous three.
The common thread and consistent talking point at round table this week was finding and marking fish that were negative to neutral at best. That and the feet of bait fish showing up on the graph in all areas of the lake. Both main lake rock and sand held fish. Frequently bait and walleyes were found 2 to 5 ft. off the bottom. Guides responded with several different solutions. Many tried downsizing with 1/8 oz. jigs and live bait held vertically off the bottom. Others long lined 1/4s with minnows at .5 mph. Guys also set up drop shot rigs with minnows suspended 2 ft. off bottom. We also used big ¾ oz jigs and 6.5 in. Gulp Nemesis at speed to trigger reaction bites from groups of neutral fish. Each one of these techniques worked at times. The trick was to find a presentation that worked for the conditions and your boat and try to duplicate it.
For the week, we caught and released 48 walleyes over 27 in., including 13 – 28s, and 1 – 30. Guide boats averaged 40 walleyes over 18 in. per day. Even though it was sometimes tricky, it felt good to have the big walleyes return to the schools of mediums. It was still 50/50 for results between light jigs finesse and minnows vs. big jigs and big plastics at speed. Key depths varied each day, but 24 – 30 was a good range for the week.
Pike fishing results were hit and miss this past week. We did catch and release 3 – 40s and 1 – 41, but there were also many afternoons where results were very modest.
The Take Away: After 30 years, I am still learning. Even 10 years ago, when I encountered the 2nd or 3rd group of negative walleyes that would barely bite a 1/8 oz jig with a minnow, I would not have made the decision to pull through them with big Gulp at speed. But that was the pattern that worked this week.
The week’s best results came from both super finesse or high speed with big plastics to get reaction bites. Especially when it gets tricky, you have to rely on the formula. Forget what you read. Skip what you know. You can still make your predictions and hope for the best, but “the Formula” is still the guide’s best answer. Plan and execute your experiments in a timely and logical fashion, evaluate the results, adjust, and duplicate. Hope that you have enough information and time in the day to lock in a win, and when you don’t, listen to round table and wipe the slate clean for tomorrow and try again.
It is still an unusual summer, but we are getting closer to normal this week. The weather was a typical summer mix of warm and humid days and a few showers or an afternoon thunderstorm. The walleyes moved onto the main lake sand and sometimes they bit well and sometimes they were a little more difficult. Walleye volume was excellent and we caught quite a few big ones although not quite as many as you would expect considering how high the volume was.
Guide sheets averaged 40 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per day. For the week we caught and released 44 walleyes over 27 in., including 12 – 28s, and 2 – 29s. Production was once again split evenly between big jigs and Gulp Nemesis and smaller jigs and minnows. Key depths changed every day but 18 – 24 was a good range to begin your search each day.
The big pike effort and results were both modest. For the week, we caught and released 6 over 37 in., including 1 – 39 and 1 – 40.
The Take Away: I have struggled to explain exactly what is different about this summer and why it feels like the walleyes are off their normal schedule. Yes, it was a cool spring, but surface temps have been above 70 for weeks. What I can tell you is that today, multiple guides in several different areas of the main lake basin reported the remains of a massive mayfly hatch. Even though I down play the effect of a hatch on our walleye production, it is still significant to note that in the previous 30 seasons of guiding in Northwest Ontario, I have never seen a big mayfly hatch this late in the year.
Despite some storms and volatile weather this week, we are just now starting to see the signs of walleyes beginning to concentrate at depths. By the end of this week, most of the action was from 18 – 22 ft. That helped the walleye volume, but I cannot say the same for size. The big fish were difficult to find this week. It is often tough to find big ones on those days when you get showers, then sunshine, followed by more showers and a Thunderstorm. This felt like even more of a struggle. We are still catching large numbers of over slot fish, but the big ones just didn’t seem to be in the mix.
For the week we caught and released 24 walleyes over 27 in., including 6 – 28s, and 1 – 29. Volume was good with guide sheets averaging 30 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per day. Production was pretty evenly split 4 ways; 6.5 in. Gulp Nemesis or 4 in. with ½ oz. or ¾ oz jigs or live minnows on ¼’s with long lines, or 1/8ths and dead sticking. We just ran multiple combination of experiments in different locations every day and tried to duplicate the pattern. Every combo worked at one time or location or another.
Main lake sand is just beginning to hold walleyes again. Main lake rock was off and on.
A few groups chased big pike this week and they did well. For the week, we had 11 over 37 in., including 4 – 38s, 3 – 40s, 1 – 42, 1 – 43.25, and 1 – 43.5. Most were caught out of weed beds with Big spoons and In-line spinners.
The Take Away: Sometimes we don’t have the answers. I cannot tell you why the big walleyes were hard to find this week, but they were. Volatile weather is a factor, but when I read fishing reports from the Great Lakes to the Midwest, there is a common theme. This Spring was tough fishing and early summer has not been a fast improvement.
It feels like summer. We had one big front with a giant rain event on Wednesday and some more storms and showers after that. The water is beginning to rise a bit, but it is still lower than normal for this time of year. The only thing that didn’t feel like summer was the lack of concentration of walleyes anywhere. Especially vacant was main lake sand. We start to live on the edges of the big sand flats this time of year, but for whatever reason, they are NOT producing walleyes. Main lake rock was good, but the hard part was a lack of a consistent depth. On a Tuesday, you could find them in 20, Wednesday in 26, and Thursday in 14 ft. Sometimes they moved in the same day.
It was a challenging week for the guide crew. I listened to round table reports where guides listed 8- 10 spots in a row that produced 1 or 2 fish each. I heard a report that was highlighted with 20 sheet fish in front of the weeds in 8 ft. smashing big Gulp, followed up by a report of dead sticking neutral to negative fish in 35 ft. with 2 sheet fish including a big one dead sticking 1/8ths and minnows. There were just a few patterns to be found each day and you had to shift through a dozen combinations of areas, depths, and speed to hopefully find one. At the same time, it is still Lac Seul and a tough day here still stomps a good day in most of the rest of North America.
Volume dropped off a bit this week with guide sheets averaging 25 – 30 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per day. For the week, we caught and released 26 Walleye over 27 inches with 4 over 29 inches. Production was still split about 50/50 between live minnows and Gulp Nemesis. The 6.5 in Nemesis surprisingly turned some big fish with flat calm conditions that felt like they should be for dead sticking only. You can guess, but you don’t know. You have to do the experiments to solve for that day’s conditions.
There were some groups targeting big pike and they did OK. It was a good day followed by a slow day, but if you got the right fish to bite and you didn’t screw up, you could put a big one in the basket. For the week we caught and released 8 Pike over 37 inches with one 39 incher, and a giant 42.5 inch fish.
Targeted Bass fishing is finished for 2019.
The Take Away – I spent some time at check out talking with Julie and Steve Blake from Iowa. They talked for 20 minutes about how much they enjoyed just catching big 21 – 24 in. walleyes. I shared our conversation with the guide crew at round table to make the point that we all want to guide “photo” fish, but we make a huge mistake as guides when we forget that a 21 – 24 in. walleye is a hard fighting, fun big one, and catching 12 of them is just as good or better than guiding for one 27 for most groups.
The changes are happening fast on Lac Seul this week. Above the surface, we had lots of stable warm flat days with a little rain. Below the surface, it was a scramble. The bass finished their spawn and moved on. Mayflies hatched and disappeared. The weeds are almost topped out and some pike almost moved in. And the walleyes are spread out through the water column and the spectrum of their annual spring transition. That means that you can catch A mature walleye on deep summer sand structure, A walleye on a transition spot next to one suspended, and A walleye holding on to the last bit of early season spring spots. The hard part was finding a concentration of fish. The guide crew didn’t find many, but when they did, they ground them out to get as much production as they could.
Overall Walleye volume for the week was really good with guide sheets averaging 40 walleyes over 18 in. per day. The only surprise is that it was hard to find the big
mixed in with the volume. Usually, if you find a bite that gets you half way down the back of the page (about 40 fish over 18), then you are going to just trip into some of those 26 – 29 in. fish. There were guide sheets this week reporting 60 walleyes over 18, but topping out with just one or two over 25 in.
There were some big walleyes caught this week, but they were a bit more scattered and more difficult to predict than normal. For the week, we caught and released 44 over 27 in., including 10 – 28s, and 4 – 29s. Many of the big ones were caught with big jigs and 6 in. Berkley Nemesis. You don’t catch as many fish with the big plastics, but it feels like those baits select for bigger fish. There was no key depth for big fish this week and that was the issue. Big eyes were caught in 30 ft. on jigs and minnows and in 3 ft. on pike plugs. They were everywhere.
The cabbage weeds are just starting to top out and that is usually a key window for big pike on Lac Seul. There were a few groups targeting pike and their results were OK. For the week, we caught and released 7 over 37 in. with 3 – 40s.
The smallmouth bass bite feels like it happened a month ago. There were still a few nice fish caught, but most have moved into their transition out into the main lake. Totals for the week – 48 over 18, with 10 – 19s, and 1 – 20.
The Take Away – This time of year marks the fastest change of pace. The weather drives our system. When it is consistent and the wind blows, it is easy. When it doesn’t, it is not. Tonight, we are hoping that a wind change blows the super heavy smoke out of our area.
Discovery Channel has Shark Week, and Silver Water Wheel Lodge has Bass week. And this was It! Almost every group fished bass for part of their stay and the results were impressive. There were 242 bass over 18 in. released this week, including 59 – 19s, 10 – 20s, and the new lodge record at 21 in. was caught and released by John Ivie.
Plastics and tubes were the preferred presentation for smallmouth, but top waters and cranks also produced at times. The first mayfly hatches started showing up at the end of the week and that usually marks the beginning of the end of Bass season on Lac Seul. It was fun while it lasted.
It was another week of almost no wind. Even though there was less time spent walleye fishing than usual, the flat-water conditions did not help with the top end walleye numbers. For the week, we caught and released 37 walleyes over 27 in., including 11 – 28s, and 3 – 29s. Volume was actually pretty good with guide sheets averaging 35 walleyes over 18 in. per boat each day. Production was evenly split between Gulp and minnows. There were walleyes caught from 2 – 32 ft., but key depths were 8 – 15 ft.
There was little time spent pike fishing. We closed the week with 9 over 37 in., including 1 – 38, and 2 – 39s. The main lake weeds have not topped out yet, but they are on their way. The first groups of pike are just starting to show up in the new growth.
The Take Away: It feels like there are more and more bass on Lac Seul every year. There is a significant increase in the number of places that we now target for big bass. And this year the weather lined up perfect for the groups that planned to target them. But, overall, there are more and bigger smallmouth everywhere.
We are like Midwest farmers, pretty much every conversation eventually turns to the weather. This past week was warm, sunny, dry, and there was remarkably very little wind. That was great news for bass anglers, a marginal improvement for the pike guys, but not the best of conditions for walleye anglers. I take that back a bit. The walleye fishing was still good, it is just that this is the time of year when the right conditions can result in one of those phenomenal bites that every angler remembers forever. We did not experience one of those.
Guide sheets averaged 30 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per day. For the week, we caught and released 47 walleyes over 27 in., including 9 – 28s, 2 – 29s., 2 – 30s, and 1 – 31. Even though the volume was just OK for this time of year, there were still some really big fish caught.
Gulp and 4 – 5 in. Power grubs pulled at speed were responsible for about ½ of the big fish caught this week. The other ½ were caught on some combination of 1/8 – ¼ oz. jig and minnow. The biggest variable from this past week’s weather was depth. Big walleyes were caught out of 2 ft. of water and 32ft. of water and every depth in between. Each day was a search for a key depth. Guides that found it quickly won, those that didn’t struggled.
The bass fishing has kicked into high gear. For the week, we caught and released 188 bass over 18 in., including 70 – 19s, and 7 – 20s. Tubes, plastics, topwaters, and cranks all worked at times. The results varied by day and weather conditions. I am expecting that the coming week will be the peak of the bass fishing season.
There was some effort put into chasing pike this week. Some days were tough, but there were also some good results. For the week, there were 11 over 37, with 2 – 38s, 1 – 39, 1 – 42, and on his day off, one of our guides, Kurtis Broad, caught a massive 44.
The Take Away: If you are reading this report for intel for your upcoming trip and the weather stays flat and calm, do not ignore the super shallow water bite for walleyes. We caught so many walleyes, including big ones, in less than 6 ft. of water this week. If the wind blows and the weather changes, then all bets are off. But the Lesson this week is that if you have multiple days of sunny and flat calm conditions this time of year and you are not finding the answer – go Shallow! Or go bass fishing!