After a week spent with my family in Door County Wisconsin, it was time to get back to work on Monday. Heavy hearts filled the boat however as Dave Casper and his wife Cindy from Eagle, WI joined me in the Hayward area for a trip in remembrance of their son Jeff who passed away last August. Dave, Jeff, and I had an amazing trip last July, and we were going to do our best to make him proud. The "Dog Days" have definitely arrived in northern Wisconsin, and we had tough but "typical" conditions. High skies, hot temps, flat water, and a major bug hatch greeted us at the landing, and our prospects for having a big day were slim. We worked it out though, and Cindy was able to land some nice fish including a 30" pike as well as an 18" smallmouth on slip bobbers and minnows. We missed a few as well with a slow and stubborn bite. We marked lots of schools over rocks in anywhere from 15' – 30' of water, but they weren't exactly jumping in the boat. Cindy did an awesome job though and even put one in the net at the buzzer. Pretty fitting I thought… At noon we switched crews and lakes. Dave's son in law Tom Schroeder from Eagle as well joined us in the afternoon. A change of scenery was just what the doctor ordered, and we were able to get into a few nice fish drifting 10' – 20' breaklines with minnows. The bite wasn't fast, but it was steady. We'd have action on every drift, getting one or two hits out of every school we marked. The quality of the fish we landed was excellent and included a fatso 21" smallmouth landed by Dave that was the largest fish I've seen out of that particular lake and his personal best as well. Perfect! Tom also contributed to the cause and put a few fat smallies in the net along with another nice pike. Water temps hit 79 degrees, and it was one of those days that you worked for and appreciated every fish landed. It's always hard to put a day like this into words, but I know one thing for sure. Jeff would have been proud. RIP brother!
There's always lots of familiar faces this time of year, and I look forward to seeing every one of them. The Cramer Bornemann gang from St. Paul, MN was back on Tuesday for day #1 of their two day August trip. There was a twist however. Michel and his son Nico usually team up to join me, but Michel gave up his spot this time to his wife Sally Berryman. We've had lot's of father/son trips over the years, but not many mother/son trips. Cool! They fished out of River Rock Inn, and we started our day on Chequamegon Bay fishing smallmouth. Temperatures continued to cook, but a good west wind made it comfortable and pushed us nicely over rocks as we drifted with minnows in 12' – 18' of water. Sally started us off right with a really fat 20" fish, and we had steady action throughout the morning. The highlight was Nico landing his personal best 40" pike, and the largest one we've seen in the boat this season as well. He did an amazing job fighting it. I thought it was a lost cause after it slipped out of the net on the first attempt. Nico hung with it though and was able to put it in the bag after some tense moments. What a fish, and what a fight! We went inland in the afternoon to investigate a topwater bite that usually treats us well this time of year. Top water wasn't happening, but we did get into a few fish on jerk baits and plastics working rocks in 4' – 8' of water. Water temperatures hit 78 degrees, and we had a few fronts moving around us but avoided a direct hit. A cold front is on the way, and I think this was just a warning… Sally was a welcome addition to the Cramer Bornemann trip, and she definitely held her own with some big expectations to live up to. Now we just need to get them all in the boat together… Congratulations on landing that pike Nico. What's our next "Big Fish" going to be???!!!
I didn't want to say it out loud, but we needed a cool down. Well, we got it! Northeast winds off Lake Superior kicked in overnight, and our temperatures tumbled. My thermometer read 58 degrees when I woke up. What a swing… Mid 80's to high 50's. If anything has been consistent this season, it's been the inconsistent weather! Plan A was to spend the morning with Nico and Sally on Chequamegon Bay, but a strong northeast wind wasn't going to make that possible. Sally decided to let Nico and I do a little exploring, so we headed inland to see what the bite was like. It turned out to be one heck of a day. Nico and I made long drifts with minnows in the morning and found a pile of fish stacked up on wind blown weed points in 12' – 20' of water. If we stayed in the wind, we were in fish. Nico landed a nice mixed bag that included a bunch of smallies up to 19", a high 20's pike, and an 18" largemouth. Sally was back with us for the afternoon shift, and the bite might have gotten better. A little sun poked through the clouds, and we stuck with the same strategy. We found nice schools of fish on wind blown points with weeds, and my crew didn't disappoint. They landed a pile of good smallmouth including our second double of the day. Sally and Nico were on point, and all I had to do was work the net. Good day to be a guide! Water temps hit 76 degrees by quitting time, but I would expect that to drop over the next few days with more rain and NE winds in the forecast. What else would you expect?! Thanks to Sally and Nico for memorable trip. We missed you Michel, but your crew did well. You've got a fish catching family on your hands my friend!!!
Fishing conditions are sure to change over the next couple of days on the lakes in northern Wisconsin after this weather system moves through. We'll keep you posted!