Walleye successes recently, have been a hit or miss opportunity on many of the local lakes. Some anglers are reporting good catches of "eyes" in deeper sections of water as the temps begin to fall, in some cases, down to fifty-five feet. Anglers have been relegated to just a few keepers in the fourteen to sixteen inch range while plying relatively shallow waters.
Pike and smallmouth bass action on the other hand has been very good on most lakes as the leaves begin to fall. Live bait such as suckers fished either under a float or slow-trolled in five to fifteen feet of water has been the way to go for some, but just as many anglers have been whacking some really nice fish trolling or casting spinner baits and larger crank baits.
Crappie action remains good with some reaching the sixteen inch mark. Both larger and smaller lakes are giving up some hefty stringers of keepers.
Crappie fishermen have been dominating the scene lately as the fish are beginning to bunch up in deeper water. Most crappies are suspending three to eight feet from the bottom, and can readily be caught by dropping a minnow there. Some folks are using small spinners or diminutive crank baits to locate these roaming schools of fish, and this has led to a better understanding of just where these silver slabs are concentrating.
Walleyes, too, are beginning to put on the feedbag, and they have sunken to somewhat deeper water. Anglers are plying the holes adjacent to flats, where the fish are feeding at night. Trolling or drifting spinners tipped with crawlers or minnows are scoring some nice fish, and this action should just continue to get better as lake temperatures remain on the decline.
Pike and musky anglers are nailing some giants as they ply the waters along weed edges with plus-size crank baits and large tandem spinner rigs. Some are finding these giants in deeper water as well, down to twenty-five feet or so. Keep in mind that these fish are becoming increasingly aggressive as temperatures fall, so speeds of 2.5 mph and more are not out of the question.
Smallmouth and largemouth bass are still on the agenda for many people fishing the local lakes. Keep in mind that bass fishing season remains open here in the Northeast quadrant of the state until February. Tactics are as varied as plying the waters with crank baits, tube jigs and spinners all remain viable methods of catching these aerial acrobats.
Fishing action has picked up a bit and anglers are having most of their success in shallow water. Big small mouth bass are being reported, and walleyes have been a by-catch of those plying the shallows for both large and small mouth bass.
Walleyes have been roaming near shoreline waters in search of minnow schools, and are hitting both crawlers laden hooks and crank baits.
Big pike are smashing plus-sized crank baits and spinners as they cruise the weed bed edges and rocky points in search of an easy meal.
Crappies are beginning to school up along the thermocline and will take anything from a lively minnow to small soft plastics on a jig head. A recent resurgence of the use of Beetle Spins and Spin Bees are helping fill the stringers.
A few impressive rainbow trout in the twenty inch range have been coming out of area stream trout lakes for folks fishing crawlers in the timber.
Walleye action remains fairly consistent with the most successful anglers working at or above the thermocline. This separation of water temps and oxygen levels is the place to run your baits. The level of the thermocline varies from lake to lake, even different parts of the same lake where water flow and clarity can alter temps. Most lakes checked show this line to be at twelve to twenty feet. You can visually see it if you have a sensitive locator by turning the gain up higher on the display. Work at or just above this level.
Many folks are having success working deep diving crank baits, or smaller weighted spinner/crawler combos. Often times you will see small bait fish, with larger marks interspersed, and that is where you want the bait to be running.
Bass fishermen are having a heyday on most lakes. Trophy-sized smallmouth are smashing surface baits early and late in the day, and then hitting shallow divers during mid-day. It is not rocket science, just keep working along shorelines and weed edges down to about ten feet. Crank baits, swim baits and crawfish imitations are drawing the most strikes down deep.
Pike remain active, and are more than willing to smash a spinner bait or spoon. Average pike are running from six to ten pounds, with an occasional whopper up to twenty pounds reported.
Walleyes are actively biting on live crawlers. Due to the ease in handling and keeping crawlers, this is a bait to keep in the boat or canoe. Toss a couple dozen crawlers in the cooler and you have access to lively bait all day in spite of the high ambient air temperatures. Trolling crawler harnesses has really been paying off recently as people ply the local waters in search of walleyes.
Depth really hasn't been a big consideration as fish are coming in from waters as shallow as four feet, and continue down the scale to over sixty feet in deeper lakes. Crank baits too are accounting for a good portion of the fish harvest both for walleyes and northern pike. Larger cranks displace more water and their inherent erratic action will draw predators from a greater distance. Try working the water with these at transition points between the shallows and deeper water.
Crappies are biting! Most are coming from fifteen to twenty feet, but a few are cruising at mid-depth as they chase minnow schools. These fish tend to be the most aggressive biters. Tiny crank baits and Beetle Spins can be trolled through these suspended fish with some success.
Some lake trout have been caught recently, but average size tends to be on the smaller end of the scale at less than six pounds. Trout are taking deep jigged soft baits and trolled spoons.
Fewer fish have been reported this past week as the dead of summer takes shape. Although the success rate of anglers has been down, there still have been a few happy anglers; most of them are boating fish by switching up fishing strategies and trying different lakes.
Night crawler sales have been brisk as the availability and size of leeches has taken a down turn, as is normal at this time of year. Crawlers are a fine alternative to leeches and have led many folks to a successful trip. Whether you fish them on a crawler harness or just suspend them under a bobber, few fish can resist them.
Another option at this time of year is to pursue the various trout species available in the area. The cool, clear waters here do abound with some fine specimens of rainbows, brook, brown and lake trout. Many of these deeper lakes remain cool throughout the summer, and it can be as simple as finding what part of the water column is currently holding the fish. The stream species, such as rainbows and brook trout can be caught by trolling or casting Mepp's style spinners or small spoons, as well as just relaxing on the bank with a worm under a bobber. Lake trout can require a bit more effort and equipment, as these hard fighting specimens are holding in much deeper water and warrant the use of a boat and equipment that allows you to troll in depths of fifty feet or more. Downriggers work well, but can be cumbersome and a bit expensive for casual anglers. A fine alternative is to rig your line with a Dipsy Diver or larger keel type sinker to get your bait down to these depths that hold the fish.
Although the fishing cannot be considered great, many anglers are managing to catch a few nice fish. Walleyes have been the most unpredictable, with some being caught on deep drop-offs, while others are hitting baits offered to bass in relatively shallow water. Crank baits have been the choice of many folks as they come in a good variety of diving depths, which can be a blessing when fish seem to be spread out all over the water column.
Bass fishermen have been having the most fun, as smallmouth and largemouth bass alike have remained very active at this time of year. Crank baits, spinner baits, and a wide variety of soft baits all remain effective. The most exciting time to be fishing for bass is early and late in the day, when they are exploding on surface baits like poppers worked along shorelines and submerged cover.
A few northern pike over forty inches have been caught recently, and they definitely have shown an affinity for live suckers fished right on the bottom in ten to fifteen feet of water. Pro-active anglers are doing their fair share of catching pike by working cranks and spinner baits along weedlines and other structure.
A few lake trout are being caught by deep jigging white tubes or twister tail soft baits in fifty to seventy-five feet of water, or trolling spoons below fifty feet.
Many of the folks fishing the Ely area recently were tough to convince that the summer doldrums have descended upon us. A good number of walleyes, pike, and bass have been landed and reported to the local bait shops. The walleye bite this time of year has been unusual to say the least. Bass anglers have been cashing in on the "eyes" while tossing spinner baits and soft plastics in as little as four feet of water, while others find them while trolling crawler rigs and plus-sized crank baits along the thermocline in fifteen to nineteen feet of water.
Pike are busting spinners and spoons along island points and the entrances to shallow bays near the deeper drop-offs.
Some nice crappies are filling the stringers for some. Most are finding the fish suspended about half way to the bottom.
A few lake trout have been coming up from the depths for anglers trolling spoons and Rapala Glass Minnows at about fifty-five to sixty-five feet of water or more.
It may be a scorcher sitting out there in the boat at this time of year, but as they always say, "It beats working", and if you feel it's too hot out, you can always take a dip in these cool, clear waters.
Some folks are bringing in some really nice fish lately, while others still have their stringers remaining dry in the tackle box. The best way to connect at this time of year is to remain flexible.
Fishermen are landing some nice walleyes while fishing soft tube baits and small crank baits in as little as four feet of water, while others are pulling walleyes out of thirty feet of water using a bottom bouncer and spinner combo.
As the weather has warmed, many anglers are using crawlers as their go-to bait since crawlers are easy to maintain by just storing in the cooler and almost every fish that swims will eat them.
Big pike are readily taking spinner baits and spoons worked a bit deeper along drop-offs down to ten to fifteen feet.
Minnows and deep diving crank baits are allowing anglers to take some decent lake trout from area trout lakes. The lakers seem to be doing most of their feeding in fifty to sixty feet of water.
Recent reports have indicated an upswing in the catch rates of folks heading out from the Ely area. A good number of walleyes over 24" have been taken, as well as smallmouth bass hovering around the 20+ inch range. The most successful angler have been catching the walleyes where they have been suspended down from 9-12', or just above the thermocline. Speaking of which, if you have a good depth finder on your boat, turn the gain way up so that you can easily see where the thermocline lies, and put your baits in this zone. This may be difficult for some, as they are using the old tactic of putting their baits just above the bottom, far under the active fish. This is where a good crank bait comes in handy as you can adjust their running depth by either letting more line out or adding some small weights just ahead of the lure to put it in the target zone. Smallmouth bass are working the shorelines for whatever baitfish or crustaceans may reside there. Crawfish imitations or soft swim baits really shine under these conditions. Even on those lakes that have been experiencing mayfly hatches, the brown bass are smacking on top water cranks, chuggers and poppers.