Walleye fishing continued last week’s blistering pace and top end size actually increased. It was good all week, but at times it was fast and furious. Bass fishing is improving and should peak in the next week or two. It is still a challenge to target pike, but the big ones are out there and they eat jigs too.
Gulp pulled at speed (1 – 1.4 mph) on a ¼ oz. jig was lethal when walleyes were active in 6 – 14 ft. Speed is the key when fish are spread out on the flats in or near growing weed beds. You could still catch walleyes with traditional slow presentations as long as you didn’t mind watching other guides using speed catch 3 times the number of fish.
The key for me is to coach my guests to give up on the concept of thumping the bottom with their jig. “Let those baits glide above the bottom on long lines and those active walleyes will come up and grab them. Miss a fish – drop your rod tip back and twitch. Sometimes they will hit 3 times before you hook up.” The long lines keep you out of the snags as well. When the Gulp bite did slow, we went back over areas that had held active fish with live minnows and 1/8 oz. jigs. We still fished with long lines and speed, just not as much of either. We are also beginning to see the first groups of walleyes move out onto the main lake summer sand and had modest catch rates in 15 – 25 ft.
For the week, we caught and released 92 walleyes over 27 in., including 12 – 28s, 7 – 29s, and Jessica Ginter caught a giant 30.75 in. fish. To put that in perspective, there were 84 guided days last week, meaning that we averaged over 1 – 27 per boat per day. Walleye volume continued to be extremely strong with guide sheets averaging 50+ walleyes over 18 in. per day. The highest daily total was 104.
Bass fishing picked up this week and many groups fished for them. For the week, we had 98 over 18 in., including 21 – 19s, and 3 – 20s. Top waters and tubes were top producers. If the weather holds, this coming week will be big for bass.
We had just a few groups spend time targeting pike with fairly limited success. There were however, quite a few really big ones caught incidentally while walleye fishing. For the week, we boated 16 over 37 in., including 4 – 40s, 1 – 41, and Pete Russell caught a massive 45.5 in. pike of a lifetime.
With so many groups returning year after year, my biggest challenge this week was to manage expectation levels for next year. The Bollinger group had 30 big fish photos on the wall before they left and they know that this was one of their best weeks ever. No fisherman ever comes back hoping to catch half as many big ones as they did last year, but 15 photos on the wall is still a great week for a group.
The Take Away – smashed the big walleyes, pike are still random, but Lac Seul’s biggest pike are Huge, and we are positioned for a big bass peak.
Walleye fishing was off the charts this week. Last week I said the walleyes hit the South shore of Lac Seul in Waves. This week, it was a Tsunami. As always, there were slower days than others when the wind didn’t blow, but the fast days were as good as I have ever seen them. I really don’t feel like we did anything new or different, we just maximized our production on fish that moved into areas in force.
Weather-wise, it was warm and stable with the expected rain for this time of year. Normal is the only word that comes to mind, but the walleye fishing was as good as it gets. We have had weeks with higher numbers of big fish, but the volume of walleyes this week was the shocker.
For the week, we had 81 walleyes over 27 in., including 13 – 28s, 4 – 29s, and 1 – 30. Guide sheets averaged 60 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per day. The highest daily total was 129. This week will be the new bench mark for walleye volume and it was great for big fish as well.
As usual, jigs and minnows were the key in depths of 5 – 12. We did break out the Gulp and on the hot bite days, did very well. When the wind didn’t blow, it was live bait only.
The Pike bite was still expectedly random. Transition is always tough. There were a few big fish caught casting, but there were just as many caught on jigs while walleye fishing. For the week, we had 10 over 37 in., including 2 – 38s, 2 – 39s, and 1 – 40.
The bass have started to move into the shallows. Early stage areas already have big fish set up in 1 – 4 ft. and guides broke up flat water afternoons by targeting bass. It will still be a week or two before all of the bass move shallow. For the week, we caught 51 over 18 in., including 18 – 19s.
Dan Sigurdson has been bringing his sons Nick and Alex to the lodge since they were in middle school. They like to spend their evenings at the lodge in their boat at the dock getting organized for the next day. I joined them on their arrival day. Alex had already caught a 28 and they asked about the big fish numbers for the year. I always keep track, and I told them that this year was good for 29’s, but we hadn’t had a 30 yet. We all agreed it was just a matter of time. Two days later, Alex put the first 30 of the year in the boat.
Take Away: Epic Walleye Bite, Pike still on the move with weed beds 1 – 4 ft. high, and bass moving into the shallows in the next week or two.
It has been so long since we have seen a normal year that we almost forgot what one looked like. The recent years have been riddled with extremes; late ice, lots of rain, high water, early ice, etc… This first week of June had some cool mornings, some sunny days, and great walleye fishing. The lake level is just above normal for this time of year and finally the calendar matches what you would expect to see the fish doing. Waves of walleyes moved into the transition areas of the south central basin. The pike are in transition from spawning to summer locations, and the bass are getting ready. Surface temps are between the low 50s to the low 60s and we are starting to see tree pollen on the lake.
Walleye volume and size were both excellent this week. Guide sheets averaged 40 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per day. The highest daily total was 72. For the week, we caught and released 66 walleyes over 27 in., including 12 – 28s, and 4 – 29s. Jigs (1/8 oz.) and minnows were by far the most productive presentation. There were a few walleyes caught shallow on the pitch bite, but most (and all of the big ones) were caught dragging long lines in 7 – 14 ft. of water. We did find fish on the main lake but transition areas between the back bays and the main lake were the most consistently productive.
There was some time spent chasing pike this week, but they were scattered and it was tough. For the week, we caught and released 5 over 37 in., including 2 – 39’s and 1 – 41. The randomness is hard to get around. Some were way back shallow, some were on the main lake, and I think you had just as good a chance of catching a big pike while walleye fishing this week.
We did have a few guides spot check the bass areas. It is a “normal year,” so there were a few bass in that 4 – 8 ft. staging zone in the warm water bays. The shallow, shallow was vacant, but not for long. For the week, we caught and released 9 bass over 19 in.
Long time guests Jerry and Jane Callahan were up this week. Jerry and I have known for many years that the ladies always catch the big ones, but this week Jane dominated the photo board with a 19 in. bass, 3 – 27 in. walleyes, and a Master Angler 29 in. walleye. I presented quite a few Master Angler pins this week, but Jane’s is the one that I will remember.
The Takeaway: Great Walleye Bite, High volume with big eyes, Pike on the move, and Bass Staging.
Spring finally arrived and the cabins filled up on May 22. We have seen so many days of sunshine and 70 that it is hard to believe how bad the weather was last week. Both the walleyes and the big pike moved back into the shallows and we had a great fishing week.
It wasn’t as strong of a peak as last year, but the pike fishing was really good. For the week we had great volume along with 25 over 37 in., including 5 – 39s, 3 – 40s, 3 – 41s, 1 – 42, and Kevin Winkley caught a massive 45 in. pike of a lifetime.
The big pike were back in the shallow bays, but not necessarily always in the shallow back. Many were suspended on the front side of the bays. If you found baitfish jumping away from your cast or super warm surface temps, you were in the right spot. The most productive baits were spoons and big floating plugs (6 in. Jakes and Shallow raiders). It all happened very fast. I know that many fish spawned before the big storm and the rest finished quickly after. At the end of this week, my gut feeling is that we are well into transition and the pike are moving on.
The Walleyes are on the move as well. The south central basins near the lodge are walleye central, but many of our summer residents spawn elsewhere. They are finally done and migrating to summer zones. For the week we caught and released 36 walleyes over 27 in., including 3 – 28s and 4 – 29s.
Walleye volume averaged 20 fish over 18 in. at the beginning of the week and ended with sheets averaging 50 over 18 in. It was a night and day shift. The water warmed up, the fish arrived, and we caught them. Jigs and live bait produced the most, though it was surprising to see how many fish were caught from shallow water with husky jerks and spoons.
The bass are showing up on the walleye bite, but the big push shallow is still a few weeks away. We saw five over 19 in. this week, but that will skyrocket soon.
The water level has risen 2 ft. in 3 weeks since ice out. It is still above average for this time of year, but will continue to rise with the recent rains.
It never ceases to amaze me how fast the different phases of season come and go. Spring is a blink and this year it happened this week. And then we move on like we always do. We are already finding the first groups of walleyes showing up on main lake transition spots.
The take away: The Spring pike peak is fickle and tough to predict, but when you time it perfectly, it can be the best big pike fishing of the year.
The official ice out date for the South Central basins of Lac Seul was May 8 for 2015. We would consider that uncharacteristically normal, but the weather after was not. Prolonged cool conditions followed by a Monster spring storm shook up the lake and sent the fish everywhere but the expected shallow spring locations. I have seen many spring snow storms over the years, but this one was exceptional in intensity. It rained several inches, the winds were sustained at 30 mph gusting to 40 for 2.5 days, air temps dropped into the 20s for daytime highs, and then the freezing rain turned into 2 inches of snow. It was a huge weather event. After the previous late ice outs in 2013 and 2014, I decided to plan camp opener for May 22. With a full book, I did have some adventurous groups willing to gamble on the early season weather. They made the most of it, but the fishing was not great. We had a total of 16 anglers in camp this past week. Walleye volume was less than expected. For the week, we caught and released 14 walleyes over 24 in., including 3 – 28s, and 2 – 29s. Guides targeted fish near main lake spawning reefs or back in some of the isolated warm water bays. Jigs (1/8 oz.) and minnows were the most common presentation with just a few caught on cranks. The disappointment was the big pike bite. Usually it only takes a day or so for the big ones to reverse direction and head back into the shallows. It has been warm since the last storm, but 4 days after and there are still very few fish in the back of the bays. There has been some debate amongst the guides as to whether it is done, delayed, or possibly split the groups of fish between those still in pre spawn and those that accelerated into transition. Time will tell. For the week, there were 20 pike caught over 37 in., including 3 – 40s, 1 – 41, and 2 – 42s. Spoons, big cranks, and Husky Jerks were top producers this past week. There were a few bass caught, but all were incidental while fishing for pike and walleye. Despite what is being written on a few of the fishing forums, Lac Seul lake level is currently above normal for this time of year and rising rapidly. The other surprise was how quickly we found walleyes out on main lake transition spots. Some of the old stand by spring spots produced far fewer eyes than areas that normally don’t start holding fish until June. The Take Away; It was a big storm and the fish definitely felt it.
The 2014 guiding season has come to a close for us here at Silver Water Wheel. We do have one more boat fishing just one more day with the lake to themselves, but other than that our boats are officially off the water for the season! And it was a good week to finish our season on. The first half of the week had a lot of our boats hunting for trophy pike, with good results. The big pike were found on rock when the weather was less pleasant, but popped back into the weeds quickly as soon as we got a little cool sunshine. All the big pike were caught casting but there did not seem to be any one thing they were looking for. They answered to a wide variety of baits, anything from spoons to spinnerbaits, bucktails, or divers. During the past 10 days since our last fishing report 35 anglers fished with us and we caught and released 29 pike over 37 inches, with three 40’s, three 41’s, two 42’s, and two 43’s.
The second half of the week almost all our anglers focused on Walleye – also with good results. There were some high volume days out on the main-lake summer type sand structures, the highest daily total was 63 walleye over 18’’ on the guide sheet. But our big walleyes this week came from rock structure at transition depths and locations. The guides reported a lot of our big fish being caught using light jigs to work underwater rock points and shelves on the way into bays around the lake, but some of the best big fish bites came by trolling these structures and the flats around them – using speed to trigger responses from otherwise negative fish. In the ten days since our last report 35 anglers fished with us, and we caught and released 30 walleye over 27 inches, including eight at 28 inches, and four over 29 inches.
Here at the season’s end, we always look back over the summer and from a guide’s perspective some things really stand out about our 2014 fishing season.
The Walleye did not follow their usual progression this year. The late ice out followed by immediate warm weather jumped the walleye to transition locations early, later cold fronts and mixed up weather moved them back to spring spots some days and out to deep water other days. They settled in to more usual patterns through the summer, but it was one of the most unusual and unpredictable springs\transitions we’ve seen.
A big change from the last few years is the amount success we had jig fishing instead of trolling gulp at speed this year, especially in mid-summer. The big walleye clearly answered better to jig fishing this year, while over the last few years speed produced. The root cause of those kind of changes may be debatable (the guides debated that a few times this year!), but to a guide the lesson is clear – when fishing Lac Seul be flexible, be versatile, and be prepared to change tactics every day.
We also noticed a continued increase in the top end fish. This season there were 3 walleye caught that reached the 31 inch mark, and two northern over 47 inches. While making predictions is always risky, when we put those numbers together with a steady increase through the past years in 27+” walleyes and 37+’’northerns, the guides are looking forward to an increase in numbers of top end fish for both species in the years to come.
On the other hand, some things did remain as expected this season. We experienced some phenomenal weeks for big Pike both early and late season again this year. For guides, those weeks are something we anticipate and will aggressively search for next May and September.
For me, the changes Lac Suel throws at us each year, week, and day are what makes the hunt a hunt, and what keeps me searching and trying different tactics all through the season. I think that’s what makes fishing Lac Seul interesting and fun for anglers and guides day after month after year.
Hope to see you all in 2015 at ‘the wheel’,
On behalf of the staff here at Silver Water Wheel this fall, I’d like to pass on a sincere thank you to all the guests who singled out to us the staff members that had gone the extra mile for them or done an exceptional job during their stay.
The only constant anyone fishing Lac Seul this time of year can expect is change. This week gave proof to that. Water temps came down and the walleye were found on lots of different types of structure and in more varied depths – our guides reported 27 to 29 inch fish being caught on sand and mud flats in 15 feet of water, and off rock and sand in close to 40 feet. But if the depths and locations where fish were caught changed, the presentations they responded to best remained the same. Almost all our big walleyes this week were caught by anglers using subtler presentations. On the windy days out on the big lake, the guide staff emphasized in their reports that good boat control was essential to keep anglers using light jigs and fishing straight up and down over key spots on the structure.
Over the course of this week a total of 25 anglers fished with us, and our guide reports averaged 23 walleyes over 18’’ each day. We caught and released 18 walleyes over 27 inches, with 6 over 28 inches including a 29 and 29.5 incher caught by a father-daughter team who have been fishing with us for quite a few years now.
The guide staff have been waiting and looking for it, and this week the Northern Pike in Lac Seul started acting like it was fall. As the big pike started responding more aggressively to the lures they saw, quite a few of our anglers chose to change how they spent the majority of their day. Most of our boats spent at least part of their day casting and a lot of our boats devoted the majority of their time to pursuing big pike.
Every year, as September rolls through, lake surface temps steadily come down. As this week progressed the surface temp fell more quickly than usual, and by the end of the week we ended up with a layer of cooler water on the surface and warmer water below. We found some big pike in the remaining weed beds as usual this time of year, but as that surface layer of water cooled so did the weed bite. Later in the week, working deeper running lures off rock points directly adjacent to deep water also produced a lot of our big fish. For the week we caught and released 14 pike over 37 inches, including 3 over 38, a 40.25 and a 41 incher.
With just 10 days of fishing remaining in the 2014 season here at ‘the Wheel’, I’m looking forward to reporting on the big pike hunt to come, and whatever change Lac Seul decides to bring us next week.
Sand, sand, and more sand! The guide reports at our round table meeting were steady all week, the walleyes were on sand, and they were there in droves. Main-lake sand structures were our best producing spots this week and, as often happens in September, the fish trended towards a more active bite. We didn’t get to a full on ‘’gulp’’ presentation, but some of our boats found good bites using live bait on heavier jigs and moving faster – a big change from the trends of the last few weeks.
Walleye numbers were strong this week. The guide sheet average was 43 walleyes over 18 inches caught and released each day and the highest total was 75 in a day. Along with that, we caught and released 32 walleyes over 27 inches, with 7 over 28, including a 29.5 and 30.25 incher. I know to regular readers of these weekly reports those numbers may not sound exceptional – to put them in perspective, there were only 34 anglers through camp this entire week. I have to say that while I was out there, and listening to the guide reports each day, it felt like a great week to be fishing on Lac Suel. There were just 47 guide sheets turned in this week, and 11 of them had ‘’filled the back’’ (that’s 60+ walleyes over 18’’) – a SWWL guide’s standard for an exceptional day. One of our most senior guides, Mike Owen, saw a best for his 9 years on Lac Suel. His boat caught and released 6 walleye over 27 inches including 3 at 28 inches, all in one morning’s fishing! Days like that don’t come very often, you just have to enjoy them when they do!
Almost no time was devoted to casting for pike here at SWWL this week, but the boats that decided to pursue big pike found them. For the week we caught and released 6 fish over 37 inches, including a 40 and a 41 incher.
The end of our 2014 season is drawing closer. This week two more of our guides fished their last day of the 2014 season. Both received a parting gift from Lac Suel – their best day of the season. Ryan boated the biggest walleye of his season at 30.25 inches, and Stefano put his net under 4 walleyes over 27 inches on his final day. Both great days of fishing any time, and fantastic ones to finish your season on! I hope I get to finish the year as well as they did.
Until next week, and the next bite.
Well, I talked a lot about fall last week, but this week it truly arrived. We experienced some unsettled weather with fast changes in temps and conditions. There was a little rain, some wind, and some cooler temps…. Yep, fall.
The walleye were scattered, and definitely seemed to be moving. Over the course of the week we found bites in shallow water and deep, on rock structure, on sand, and on transitions. But guide reports had our biggest fish coming consistently deeper, in 30-40’. The fish steadied into a mid-depth sand bite with a sudden change to stable weather at the end of the week. With the stable weather there were multiple boats returning to the dock with reports of 60-80 walleye over 18’’ for the day, with the highest daily total at 100 over 18”. For the week overall, we caught and released 23 walleyes over 27 inches, including 6 over 28 inches, and one 29.
This week our anglers chose to spend almost zero time pike fishing, but a few big fish were caught anyway! One of each at 38, 39, and 40 inches.
I’ve always liked the change of seasons out on Lac Seul. Whether it’s spring to “transition” or summer to fall, the change means walleyes will be settling in to new patterns. And for me as a guide, searching, experimenting, and finding the next bite is what makes fishing great.
Until next week and the next bite,
It may only be August 23rd, but it sure feels like fall has arrived at Silver Water Wheel. For us that means the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting cooler, but what really brings it home for me is members of our guide staff giving their last daily “round table” report of the season.
The first of our younger guides headed back to college today, more are due to depart shortly, and Mike is heading back to Iowa. Every year around this time I get started thinking about fall fishing trends, and one of the first trends I get eager to focus on is big pike becoming active in the weed beds again.
Towards the end of August and beginning of September here on Lac Seul we usually see the big pike concentrating in smaller areas as the weeds begin their fall die off and the number and size of weed beds begins to shrink. And with cooler nights bringing surface water temps down the bigger fish are often more responsive than they are on hot summer days – chasing baits fast and coming back to strike at them multiple times.
Well, when you combine guides expecting a big pike trend to start soon with a day that really needs a subtle presentation to generate success with walleye, what you get are guides encouraging their anglers to spend part of the day chasing big pike. And there were some anglers fishing with us this week that preferred the big pike hunt to finessing walleye, so the guide crew spent a little more time than usual looking for big pike. As a crew we tried a few different tactics, but the boats that devoted most of their time to working deep water adjacent, main lake weed beds with spinner baits and spoons were the ones that produced the big fish. For the week we caught and released 13 pike over 37 inches, but the real story is a giant 47.25 inch northern caught by Darrick Werner! Very close to matching the new lodge record set earlier this season.
The weather was mixed this week. We had a bit of everything – sun, cloud, warm days, and cool days and winds were light and variable. With changing weather and a different wind each day – and sometimes each hour – to me it felt like there wasn’t any reason for the walleye to concentrate in any one area or become active. To get ‘em the guide staff targeted the spot on spot, had their anglers using 1/8th oz. jigs, and moved the boat slowly most of the time once again this week. Most days some boats devoted a little time to checking for more active fish, pulling gulp or just moving more quickly with live bait over larger structures. But every boat ended up returning to light jigs presented at slow speeds to generate their success this week. For the week we caught and released 37 walleye over 27 inches, including 9 over 28 inches.
Until next week,