The effects of a historic late ice out and the volatile spring weather can still be felt this week. Summer has still not arrived on Lac Seul and even though the weather is improving, we have yet to settle in to what we would consider normal patterns. Despite the weird year, walleye fishing was good for size and great for volume. We don’t know about the bass and fishing for big pike was not productive.
I was guiding friends for the first half of this week and Steve asked me if I minded if he dropped a camera down on the spot we were fishing. I said no and he lowered the lens into 27 ft. of water on a main lake sunken island. The visual on the screen was just what I expected, but this camera had a temp sensor and it displayed 62 degrees F at depth. Surface temps that day were 64 degrees F.
The group had read my fishing reports and had joked about my “blender” reference from the week before, but this single piece of information truly put things into complete perspective for me. It is all about the food. If the temps are the same from top to bottom and from side to side, then the baitfish can and will be everywhere. And they were. And so were the walleyes. During the first half of the week, there were big walleyes caught in 10 ft. and 30ft. Towards the end of the week, many populations of walleyes began to trend shallower. The smaller fish always go shallow first, but there were many 23 – 27 in. walleyes caught in 10 – 12 ft. by weeks end.
For the week, we caught and released 67 walleyes over 27 in., including 13 – 28s, and 5 -29s. Overall volume was very good with daily creel sheets averaging over 40 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per day. The highest daily total was 98.
Many guides spent time pulling Gulp and big jigs with speed for very limited results. Live bait was the answer this week. Again, it is a strange year!
There was a substantial and unwarranted amount of effort spent chasing big pike this week. Transition for pike on Lac Seul is usually the third week of June as we bass fish and it doesn’t feel that bad. This year, Transition is this week. There were a few big pike caught off main lake weed beds, a few caught in the way back skinny water, and once again the rest were in between. It was tough piking. For the week we only had 3 over 37 in., including 1 – 38 and 1 – 41. I can personally attest that it was a waste of time that could have been spent smashing walleyes, but as good guides, our job is to check it all out.
Windy conditions and colored water kept many guides from Bass fishing. Those that checked it out, proved the point. It is very tough to justify 1 bass per hour compared to 6 walleyes per hour. For the week, we did catch and release 4 bass over 19 in., including 2 over 20.
It will take sunshine and warm weather to push the walleyes all shallow, but we have been close this week. As always, the weather will once again be the story for next week’s fishing report.
Tell me if this sounds familiar. This week’s fishing was once again dramatically affected by a huge weather system that blew through during the beginning of the week. Tuesday was Canada day and my staff postponed the beach party because of the cold, windy, and rainy conditions. Usually by this time of year the summer pattern has set in and we will get the occasional showers or T-storm. This was another May /June like blow out with sustained 30+ mph winds ending with cold rain. Lac Seul is FULL! We are almost at the extreme high water mark.
The weather did improve towards the end of the week and the fishing rebounded quite quickly, but to put things into perspective, the main lake surface temps were below 60 degrees F for the first week of July. That never happens up here.
Walleye fishing patterns ran across the spectrum. We found walleyes in super shallow spring spots, down deep on main lake rock, on the shallow side of main lake summer sands, in front of the weeds, and everywhere in between. The fish are phenomenally scattered.
For the week, we caught and released 68 walleyes over 27 in., including 16 – 28s, and 2 – 29s. Numbers were way down during the storm, but improved during the end of the week with guide sheets averaging 35 walleyes over 18 in. per boat per day. The highest one day total was 68.
Typically, our big plastics bite is full on at this time of year and despite many attempts, the results with big jigs and Gulp have been modest at best. Most of the guides are rigging 1/8 oz jigs for live bait even when they drop down to deeper structure. The shallower fish tend to be more active, but the deeper fish can still be caught if you gear down with light jigs and live bait.
The Bass are a head scratcher. Some areas have been productive, but other sections of the lake that historically have been good a little later in season are a bust. We caught bass in 10 – 12 ft. while jig fishing for walleyes. It is either going to be an extremely late spawn or some may just skip it. Compounding the bass fishing troubles is high, dirty water and a tremendous amount of new weed growth. There were a couple of good bass days and the highest one day total was 97, but there were also many groups that opted to focus on walleyes. For the week we caught and released 6 – 19s and 2 – 20s.
Pike fishing was attempted by a few, but most were incidental catch while walleye fishing. We caught and released 13 over 37 in., including 1 – 39, and 3 – 40s.
Regardless of what the weather is like for the 2nd half of the summer, 2014 will go into the books as an all-time extreme. What is even more surprising is how consistent the big walleye production has been despite the challenging conditions. I know that there are some bites and locations that we would have missed or not found 10 years ago, but the accumulation of knowledge over the years is a huge asset to a highly motivated guide crew.
This week was once again dominated by unsettled weather. Monday was another wind driven rager with a ½ inch of rain. Lac Seul water levels are approaching the highest that I have seen them and are definitely at the highest I have seen for this time of year. You actually have to step up onto the floating docks from the fixed dock. There are floaters everywhere. I saw one today that was 3 huge ancient trees entwined together. If you ran into it at speed, I don’t know that you could get your boat off from it. Especially with just a slight chop, it is very hazardous driving on the lake right now.
The continued unsettled weather resulted in more unsettled fish locations. The “blender” is the most common term that SWWL guides use to refer to the current conditions. There were catchable walleyes on main lake rock in 35 ft. of water and at the exact same time there were 25 and 26 in. walleyes being caught by guides bassin’ and pikin’ in 2 – 5 ft. of water, way back in the skinny. The fish are absolutely everywhere. Tonight at round table, I found out that I was 10 ft. too deep on one trolling pass and 10 ft. too shallow on another that I fished earlier in the day. My result was zero and the other 2 guides hit a good streak. Not a great streak, but 4 on the sheet or 8 on the sheet always makes a difference at the end of the day.
It was definitely hard work guiding this week. Fish deep for lethargic risers? Fish shallow sand? How shallow? How fast? Summer spots? Spring spots? Transitions spots? They all held some fish. And 20 minutes later and an hour later, you find yourself having to run down the same set of questions again and again. Finding a big fish did not mean that you solved an equation. It just meant that it was probably time to move and search for another big fish at a different spot.
There were some really good 1 day patterns put together and we did catch some big fish, you just weren’t picking one spot and one pattern and spending the day on it. For the week, we caught and released 36 walleyes over 27 in., including 8 – 28s, 4 – 29s, and 1 – 30. Volume was all over the place, but in the end the average was the same as last week with 30 over 18 in. per boat per day.
The bass fishing improved in some sections of the lake, but remained behind in others. It was never full on, but we did have quite a few groups apply concentrated effort chasing bass. For the week we caught and released 147 over 18 in., including 28 – 19s, and 3 – 20s. There were no 100 bass days and I don’t know if there were more than a few 50 bass days. I would say that the peak is still on the way. Tubes were the bait of choice, but there were some mornings especially, when a Mann’s Baby 1 minus twitched on the surface outperformed every other presentation. The key was to work it like a skitter pop, twitch it, let it sit, let it sit, twitch it, let it sit, let it sit, let it sit, then twitch it. Instead of balking at the pop R or the skitter pop, when they came up on the Baby 1 minus, they ate it. The results were significant.
During the best of times, fishing for pike during transition is a crap shoot. With a late spring and unsettled weather this year it is even more chaotic. There were some nice pike caught this week with 7 over 37 in., including 1 – 38, 2 – 39s, and 1 – 40. All of those fish were targeted, but they were all caught in dramatically different types of water. The Blender hit the pike as well.
I can’t remember the last time that I didn’t have some extreme fishing or weather condition to talk about and this week was no exception. Along with the massive weather system that closed out last week’s fishing report, we were again subjected to two more huge fronts with rain this week. We are talking inches of all day rain. I cannot remember seeing Lac Seul this high at this time of year. Water levels are already higher than they were at the peak of last summer.
Big weather changes result in big changes in fishing patterns. Senior Guide Brett McCallum described it best, “hot weather at ice out sent walleyes on to the main lake fast, but these last three blasts of cold rainy weather have acted as a complete RESET. There are still walleyes on main lake transition spots, but they are very hard to catch. The walleyes that weren’t in the shallow back water bays have finally moved back in and that is where many of the big ones were caught last week.”
Main lake walleyes are deeper and require slower presentations to catch. Big walleyes in “Retro” spring time locations are the first to respond to big plastics at speed and we saw many of our biggest walleyes this week caught on Gulp pulled fast.
It was a week of tough choices. Senior guides know that they have to check out the “next” step areas, but the options contracted with the onset of bad weather. We still caught a bunch of big fish, but the major story this week was the result of the weather, not the quality of the fishery.
Despite the bad weather, it was still a good week for big walleyes. We caught and released 43 over 27 in., including 5 – 29s, and 2 – 30s. Average volume dropped to 30 walleyes over 18 in. per day on the average guide sheet.
The biggest effect of the weather was on the Bass fishing. This is the time of year that groups that love smallmouth book their trips knowing that the timing is critical. Well it is, and last week’s weather kept surface temps in the back water bays below 62 degrees F. The bass boycotted. There were a few up, a few deep, a few back in the super shallow bays feeding, and who knows where the rest of them were. I cannot remember a single season before this where we had not hit our bass peak by this time. Despite significant effort to find them and pattern them, we only caught and released 45 Bass over 18 in. for the week, including 3 – 19s, and 3 – 20s. The bottom line is that when the warmest backwater bays are only at 60 degrees, the big bass just have not moved into the shallows.
The Bass definitely felt the reset.
I like to be right. It probably is a character flaw, but it is a fact about me that I know. And this week I was wrong. I did not expect the biggest pike to move back into the super skinny water, but some of them did. I do not know why. Water levels may be part of it, the storm fronts may be in the mix, and I have to remember that 1 month ago there was still 1 foot of ice or more over most of the lake. The guide crew know to take nothing for granted, and especially when the fishing is tough, they take chances to figure out what is going on.
We had a few groups chase big pike this past week and the results were mixed and unpredictable. For the week, we caught and released 9 over 37 in., including 2 – 40s, 2 – 41s, and 2 – 42s. Bright spoons were the most productive presentation and many of the really big fish were caught back in the “spring time” skinny water.
Readers of this post have different agendas and motivations. I feel that my job is to post the conditions, facts, and relative trends as best as I see them. The biggest surprise was how dramatically the bass migration was slowed by the bad weather. It was also significant to note that even though the weather hurt volume for the week, we still caught a nice bunch of Big walleyes.
I keep trying to stop predicting, but the Bass must move into spawning mode soon, the pike always move to transition spots when the weeds are half way up, and the walleye bite should get snappy when surface temps creep into the low 60s across the main lake. Instead I will watch the weather closely and like all of my guides, we will continue to search and push to find that weird weather answer. The big fish are out there this year, we just have to work through the variable weather to find the pattern that works. And a few weeks later it will all change again. And that keeps it Fun!
Historically, the second week of June has been a time of transition for both weather and fish movement on Lac Seul. The weather was normal this week, but the fishing results were extraordinary.
The lodge record Northern Pike was broken this week when guide Kevin Mifsud landed a 47.5 in. monster. The second largest pike this week was a 45.
There was a 30 and a 31 in. walleye caught.
There were 28 walleyes over 27 in. caught in one day at the lodge.
One guide boat reported 24 walleyes over 24 in. for one day….
These are just a few of the details that help describe the quality of the fishing despite the fact that Thursday was an absolute “blow out” day and that Friday was “post frontal.” We still caught fish on those days, but 30 mph wind driven rain with High temps in the 40s made for some tough fishing conditions. We still caught fish on Friday after the front passed, but we did not see as many big fish.
What that means is that almost all of the top end production came from the first half of the week when the weather was “normal” and the fishing was awesome.
For the week, we caught and released 68 walleyes over 27 in., including 12 – 28s, 5 – 29s, 1 – 30, and 1 – 31. I highlighted Pete Bloom in last year’s second week report and although there was some debate about whether this was 31 or 33 straight years of fishing at the Wheel, I can tell you that Pete’s 31 in. walleye was certainly the biggest that I have held in many years.
Walleye volume was excellent this past week with guide boats averaging 40 over 18 in. per day despite the blow out days included. There were several distinct groups of fish that the guides targeted at different times. We are still finding numbers of walleyes and some big fish in the traditional warm water bays, but the guides are also finding large groups of bigger fish already located on main lake transition spots. Walleyes in the typical spring areas were caught from 6 – 12 ft., but main lake fish were holding one level deeper at 10 – 20 ft.
General walleye activity level was still tepid. Minnows and light jigs far outperformed Gulp or plastics and most fish were caught on 1/8 oz. jigs.
There was a small but concerted effort made to chase big pike this week and the results were very good. For the week, we caught and released 18 over 37 in., including 1 – 40, 1 – 41, 3 – 42s, 1 – 43, 1 – 45, and the new lodge record at 47.5 in. Big spoons were top producers on the first points or structure outside of the shallow spawning bays, but some big fish did pulse back into the skinny water.
There was some effort made to check the progress of smallmouth bass movement into the shallows. A few fish have moved up, but most are still off the first break in 8 – 12 ft. This week’s storm further slowed the mass bass migration into the shallows. The next sunny warm stretch of weather will flip the switch. Most of the big bass this week were caught as incidental catch while walleye fishing. For the week, we had 22 over 18 in., including 5 – 19s and 2 – 20s.
The sudden hot weather at the end of May actually has balanced out the effects of a late ice out. Surprisingly, this week was a fairly normal first week of June. The big pike are on their way out of the shallows, the smallmouth are just starting to move in, and the big walleyes are in high gear.
To put things into context, the main lake temps are in the low 50s, many of the transition and back water bays are in the 60s, and some of pike spawning areas have already been over 70. That is about as normal as you can expect. The only difference is that the main lake heating up as fast as it did, has resulted in many main lake transition areas holding walleyes much earlier than I expected. Without the massive temperature difference between main lake and back bays, there just wasn’t as much motivation for all the walleyes to push back into the shallow back water bays.
That same trend affected the big pike. There are still small pike back in the shallow spawning bays and the random cruiser, but most of the big pike this week were caught on transition spots. For the week we had 20 pike over 37 in., including 4 – 38s, 3 – 39s, 4 – 40s, 2 – 41s, and 1 – 43.
It was a great week for big walleye action. Volume was really good with guide sheets averaging 35 or more walleyes over 18 in. per day. For the week, we caught and released 55 walleyes over 27 in., including 15 – 28s, and 5 – 29s.
Most of the big fish were caught off the first break in 10 – 15 ft. of water, but there were also a few big fish caught along with numbers of smaller fish pitching gulp or plastics into the shallows. Pollen is such an important indicator for hot shallow water bites this time of year. You can see yellow streaks of pollen pushed into inside corner shorelines and these often coincide with pockets of warmer water and bait fish. Many times we find a pod of fish by pitching shallow and then we move out deeper looking for the big ones.
The bass actually showed a little more resistance to moving up shallow in response to the warmer surface temps. We tested out our normal early spring spots and found a few, but they are still not up in force. For the week we caught and released 22 over 18 in., including 6 – 19s, and 1 – 20. Some were caught as incidental catch while pike or walleye fishing. Another week of warm or even normal weather should begin to push them into the shallows.
Despite the Horrific Winter and Spring, it was a great first week of June on Lac Seul. Nothing makes a boat of anglers happier than their guide sliding the net under multiple 5 pound plus walleyes in a day.
I know that many of you reading this report south of the border are wondering why it took so long to post the first fishing report. Those of you living closer to the Canadian border already know. It was a Horrible, never ending winter. I planned to arrive at the lodge 5-6 days later than normal and that was 2 weeks too early. We had to plow to get in, there were 5 – 6 foot snow drifts and 2 ft. of ice on the lake. I will spare you the details, but it was the most difficult opener that I have ever experienced. The official ice out date for Lac Seul this year was May 26. That is 3 days later than the previous record.
Spring arrived on May 23 and lasted for 6 hours. The last ice went off the lake under a blazing “summer” sun. Missy and the kids arrived on May 25 and the high temps have been at or over 80 every day.
The extremely late ice out and surprisingly hot weather resulted in the most unusual spawning conditions that we have ever seen. Both main lake walleyes and Pike spawn occurred at the same time. The walleye spawn was more intense than usual. And we found more than a dozen new main lake spawning locations this year.
We had to cancel all of our first week guests. I tried to steer most of our 2nd week guests away as well, but with no dates available later in the year, some chose to come up anyway. The first few days were tough. We started fishing with only 8 miles of open water with the main lake still locked in ice.
As a guide, there is no way for me to explain how fast the fishing has changed in the last week that will make sense to the casual angler. At ice out, the pike fishing was absolutely awesome. And the overall take away from this week’s report is that this was likely the Peak of the big pike fishing season. For the week we caught 61 over 37 in. , including 13 – 39s, 11 – 40s, 3 – 41s, 2 – 42s, 1 – 43, and 1 – 44. To put that into context, those results were from fewer than 20 anglers. We smashed the big pike.
Walleye fishing was a different story. It was cool to watch them spawn and to discover new spawning areas, but getting them to bite was not easy. We fished both spawning locations and isolated, warm, shallow water areas that attract post spawn fish this week. Both produced at times, but at the end of the week, there were 50 times more locations producing walleyes than at the start of the week.
Locations that held zero walleyes 4 days ago with surface temps at 42 degrees, today produced great volume and size with temps pushing into the mid-60s. Today was the first day of truly good walleye fishing. Many of boats caught lots of fish from a number of different locations. For the week we caught and released 20 walleyes over 27 in., including 5 – 28s, and 2 – 29s.
During iced “Iced-in Guide Training Meetings” last week, I told my new guys, that in just a few weeks we will have forgotten about the days of staring at stubborn ice. It may take a little longer to forget this year, but it is beginning to feel like a good Lac Seul walleye fishing season again.
Hello again from the North!!
Sorry for the delayed fishing report this week, the Internet has been down for a few days. But we are back up and running, and with only one more group left to arrive at camp for the year, this will be the final fishing report of the season.
Once again, this report starts out with a familiar summary: we had an excellent week of fishing here at SWWL. The weather continued to be great, with a nice mix of sun and cloud, milder temps (much nicer than some Septembers), and even the stormy days turned out to be nice and fishable once the weather passed.
The big story this week was the Pike fishing. It has been absolutely awesome. Most of the guided days on the water were dedicated toward chasing big pike around, and our guests caught both excellent numbers and great size. For the week we had 24 pike over 37 inches, with 12 over 40, including 3 X41s, a 42, 3X43, and the largest pike of the year, a 45.5! It was an exceptional week of Pike fishing to say the least. The guides were covering lots of water, and fish were found where they should be: shallow, targetable water with nearby weeds (or the remains of old weed-beds) and deep-water access. All of the pike came casting simple presentations such as large spoons and in-line spinners.
For the few boats that were walleye fishing this week, it was still good! Guides managed to fill up their sheets, averaging 30-40 fish over 18 inches per day. The highest daily total was 72 fish over 18. For the week we saw 12 fish over 27 inches, with 2 28s and 1 29. For those groups yet to arrive (Larson), things are still looking good out there!
On a personal note, I feel like this has been one of the best years I have had yet working at Silver Water Wheel. It just seemed to have it all: Great guests, a killer staff, amazing fishing, awesome weather, and lots and lots of fun. So thank you to all those who made it a great one, and especially to all of our valued guests. Let’s do it again next year!
Wishing you all a great year ahead, and looking forward to seeing you next season.
Senior Guide, SWWL.
The first week of September has been a beauty up here. The weather still feels a lot like summer, with temps being 20-25C and the water temps hovering in the high 60s / low 70s. This fall seems to be going faster than some, but I think it is simply due to the cooperative weather, good times, great guests, and of course, awesome fishing.
As with every fall up here, it is around this time that we start dividing our attention 3 ways. On any given day we usually have 3-4 boats walleye fishing, 2-3 boats pike fishing, and the other 2-3 guides working on the bear hunt. So our big fish numbers for the week may look shy but in reality they are decent considering the reduced number of boats out there slaying.
This week was great for walleye fishing, and the volume bite was especially excellent. We had 3 or 4 days with multiple guides having daily totals exceeding 60 walleye over 18 inches for the day. The highest daily total was 72. Overall our most successful depths and tactics stayed the same: 20-40 ft. jigging deep sand and rock. I had some success moving fast with bottom bouncers and spinners, and even some gulp, but overall moving slow and jigging pods of fish vertically seems most effective. For the week we saw 15 walleye over 27 inches, including 2 28 and 3 29s.
The pike fishing is starting to heat up as expected, although we are still waiting on those cold nights to really bring them into shallow, targetable water. For the week we saw 10 pike over 37 inches, with 2 40s and one 41. I am still running into A LOT of mid-30s pike down deep on the sand breaks while walleye fishing, so it feels like the majority of the larger pike are yet to arrive up shallow. It should just keep getting better from here on in.
From a personal perspective, I had some of my favourite guests up for a 5 day trip this week and they caught a total of 7 walleye 27 or better, with a 28.5 and 2 29s. That makes this week one of my best weeks of guiding this season for big fish. I am not saying that to “toot my own horn”, but to stress that there are lots of big fish yet to be caught out here this year. If you have never been up to see ‘The Wheel’ in all its fall glory, and the huge ‘eyes and pike feeding up for winter, there are a few gaps in our book for next year that have yet to be filled, so get on it!
I hope you all have a great week and check in next Saturday for our next fishing report.
Senior Guide, SWWL
It has been an incredible week up here at Silver Water Wheel Lodge. But then again, I say that about most weeks on Lac Seul, as it is simply an incredible place!
The weather has been unseasonably warm, as it has been most everywhere this week. The temps were well above 30C on most days, with humidity so high that all of our big fish pictures on the photo board were curling up. I’m talking ‘bout hot! It is crazy to see the birch leaves turning yellow in the forest and the water temps reading 80F on top. So begins the most wonderful time of the year: Fall at The Wheel.
The fishing was great this week, although there were some hard days, especially in the afternoons. The wind would lie down, the lake flattens out, and we have to play the 1/8th ounce jig game. That said, overall the fish cooperated and we found both numbers and size, and of course, had lot’s of fun. Much of our success this week came from jigging deep rock, moving at slow to moderate speeds, and gearing down to more finesse approaches when necessary. Our average depths were in a larger range than normal – 20 to 38 ft., with some fish also showing up in the mid teens, possibly progressing towards fall feeding trends.
This week our guests saw 41 Walleye over 27 inches, with 7 28s, 2 29s, and 2 30” fish being caught. Volume was also good, with guide sheets averaging 35 fish over 18” a day. The highest volume day saw one boat catch 82 walleyes over 18 inches! What a fishery, that’s all I can say.
These numbers are on pace with some of our best weeks this summer once you take into account that some of our guide staff (and fearless leader Mike Willems) are now off the water and finished for the season. But the 9 of us will keep hammering away, and it is looking like a great month coming up for those guests that have yet to arrive.
I describe the pike fishing this week as “on the verge”. There were a number of afternoons that guides dedicated to chasing big pike, but only 3 over 37” were found, with one 38. By “on the verge” I mean we are entering into the prime-time for hunting trophy pike on Lac Seul, but apparently they are not yet ready to commit. Even though we only boated a few big pike this week, the roundtable reports described at least a dozen fish over 40” seen following baits, or hooking up and getting off. So the big pike are now arriving to more targetable locations for their fall feed, and our guides are getting ready to chase them around for the next month.
That’s it for the report this week. I hope you all have a great week and check back in with us on Saturday for our next report.
Senior Guide, Silver Water Wheel Lodge