We needed a cool down, and we got it. After a few nasty days of rain and wind in northern, Wisconsin I was back in the boat with long time customers and friends Greg Lewis and Tim Thompson from Mason City, IA on Saturday. Funny thing is that we've never actually got to fish together until now. They bring a big crew for an annual trip in September, and circumstances haven't put them in my boat. Problem solved! We fished the Hayward Lakes Area and targeted smallmouth. The weed edge bite I'd been on slowed considerably. We caught a few fish in the morning, but it was slow. I wasn't marking many fish on my electronics and decided to look a little deeper. Bingo! Right before lunch we found a good school on rocks in 20' – 25' of water and picked off a few. It made sense with the high skies and flat water we had. Water temperatures had dropped into the low 70's as well. The deep water pattern continued into he afternoon as Greg and Tim put some super fat fish up to 19" in the net using minnows. It was really a classic example of late summer fishing. Keep working and looking until you figure something out. It took a long time to get these guys in my boat, but it was worth it. Greg even mastered cranking one in "wrong handed". You looked good doing it buddy! Great guys and a fun day. See you next month fellas!
You never know how things are going to play out this time of year. Gregg Anderson (Dairyland, WI), his brother Gary (Minneapolis, MN), and Carl Lentz (Dairyland, WI) spent Sunday with me on Chequamegon Bay. When we got to our first spot, I wasn't encouraged. High skies, flat water, and water temps had dropped into the high 60's from all of the rain a couple of days ago. We've been here before… Predictably, we started slow only catching one small fish along a weed edge in 15' of water. I wasn't seeing many fish on our electronics, so it was time to move. It proved to be a good choice, and my crew got into some good smallmouth up to 20" with slow but steady action as we drifted with minnows over rocks. We moved to another weed edge in 15' of water before lunch and put a few more good fish in the net. I certainly wasn't expecting that kind of action with the conditions we had. We'll take it! After lunch, stiff winds kicked up from the east. I told the guys in the morning that there was a fine line between not enough and too much wind on the bay. This was the line. After getting into a few fish along another weedline that included a fat low 30's pike, we moved back to rocks late in the day. I was hopefull that the wind kicking up would fire up a good afternoon bite. We had action on every drift with a few short hits and misses, but the bite slowed considerably. Apparently they wanted flat water and high skies today. You can't argue with a fish! Excellent work by this crew. They didn't miss on many opportunities, and we also learned a valuable lesson about banannas… Apples or Oranges next time Gregg! Thanks for a fun day fellas, and congratulations on some great fish!!!
One of our favorite families was back in town this week. The Francheks usually come in June but switched up plans this year for a late summer trip. Jacob Franchek (Charlotte, NC), his brother Coleman (Duncanville, TX), and Matthew Cox (Troy, OH) were in my boat on Monday, and we spent our day on the St. Louis River fishing walleyes. Jacob and Coleman's mom Cindy gave up her usual spot in the boat so the boys could get in a day on the water, but she made it clear that nobody should catch a fish without her present. We had to disappoint her… The walleye bite was slow, but we were able to find some fish up to 19" in 5' -8' of water trolling crankbaits. There was plenty of action in between walleye bites however as the guys cranked in lots of pike, sheephead, and even a bullhead. Can't remember the last time I saw a bullhead… It was fun getting everyone involved in the process, and we were a well oiled machine by the end of the day. We had several "fire drills" and my crew was flawless. Water temps started at 67 degrees and hit 72 by quitting time with high skies, warm temps and light winds. The bite fizzled late in the afternoon, but we ended with a bang. Jacob and Coleman put a douple in the net to finish things the right way. The guys caught a bunch of fish, and there was nothing I could do about it Cindy. Sorry about that! Great job fellas, and thanks for another great trip. Lots of fun!!!
More favorites back in the boat on Tuesday. I've got lots of favorites… George Hollow (Elmhurst, IL) was back after pulling one heck of a prank back in June when he and his buddy Wilbur managed to land a pirannah skeleton when they were with me. I'm still laughing about it. George was fishing out of Northland Lodge, and we spent our day in the Hayward Lakes area. We started out looking for walleyes, but that wasn't going to work. The day time walleye bite has kind of fizzled out over the past couple of weeks, and we didn't spend much time sticking with it after marking a few schools in deep water that weren't interested in anything we had to offer. They'll get hungry soon enough. We quickly bailed on the walleye plan and went looking for smallies. After anchoring up on a few schools of fish that didn't want to cooperate we changed tactics and began drifting rock edges with minnows in 12' – 18'. That was the ticket! Once the pattern was dialed in, we were in business. George landed a bunch of nice fish including a magnum 21" plus fish to wrap things up at the end of the day. The fish we caught were all fat and have obviously been dining on a heavy diet of crawfish lately. They left evidence of it all over my boat… It was another good example of working through conditions until the fish cooperate. Anchoring up didn't produce, but using the wind to drift put fish in the net. We'll take it! Water temps were in the low 70's, and it was a beautiful summer day with sunny skies and a good west wind. My kind of weather! No pranks, but a memorable day with a really good guy. We've got more Hollows coming over the next couple of days. Looking forward to it!
It's certainly been a smallmouth kind of thing lately, and that trend continued. George Hollow brought along his son Dan and grandson Jeremy (Huntley, IL) on Wednesday, and we stayed in the Hayward area targeting brown bass. Three generations of Hollows in the boat. That can only be a good thing! Our morning started out quickly with some good flurries of action as we drifted weedlines in 12' – 18' of water with minnows. A few doubles along with a couple of nice largemouth mixed in made for a good start to the day. After a mid morning lull, we got into another good school on an 18' rock pile with a bunch of fish landed including a father/son double right before lunch. The picture doesn't lie… Jeremy got the best of dad on that one! It was a typical August pattern. They're either on weeds, rocks, or both. Our afternoon started like the morning ended. We had a nice south wind and drifted another weed edge in 12' – 15'. Action was steady until some rain moved in and the wind stalled. Just like the morning, there a mid afternoon slow down before we got into some fish on deep rocks again at the end of the day. Winds picked up, and the Hollows put more in the net including a magnum 20" fish landed by George. Water temperatures held around 72 degrees, and it should be interesting to see what all of the weather fronts moving through do to fishing conditions. Awesome day with an awesome crew. Nice job Jeremy. You showed the "Old Guys" how to do it!!!
The smallmouth around Hayward are going to be glad to see the Hollows leave town… As promised, rain had moved in overnight with a cold front pushing it through. Despite the weather, the deep rock pattern we've been on continued. I'd mark fish in anywhere from 15' – 25' of water and we'd use the wind to drift over them with minnows. Each school we ran into had biters, and the Hollows were able to land some good ones up to 18" including another father/son double. I believe that was our 6th double over the past three days. I also believe that Jeremy will have bragging rights overe the next year… Sorry Dan and George! Other than a goofy stretch we fished in the "Twighlight Zone" with lines breaking and fish getting off, action was steady until noon. The only good thing about a stretch of bad luck is that it has to come to and end. Thankfully it did, and we finished our morning going 3 for 3. That's more like it! In the afternoon, we turned our attention to crappies. The weather system moving in kicked the wind up out of the NW, and the first few schools of fish we marked in 10' – 15' of water were less than cooperative. So we kept moving… Eventually we hit the jackpot, and the Hollow men clobbered a pile of fish up to 12" on slip bobbers and plastics in 12'. There were a bunch of doubles, triples, and the guide even got to catch a few. Staying mobile has definietly been the theme lately, and today was another great example. If you're on fish that won't bite, find some that will. Water temperatures continued to hold in the low 70's. Awesome way to end a super trip with these guys. Take it easy on your dad and grandpa Jeremy. I'm sure you won't rub it in too bad!!!
Northeast winds this time of year can be a killer, especially on Chequamegon Bay. Robin Drackley and Kathy Matsko from Crystal Lake, IL were back, and we started the day on the bay, but it didnt' take long to realize a move was in order. Water temps were 66 degrees, and a stiff NE wind had everything tight lipped. No worries, we've got lots of options… Inland we went, and it wasn't long before we were into some good smallmouth. It's either been a weed thing or a rock thing lately, and today it was a weed thing. We dirifted along weedlines in 12' – 20' of water and had steady action with some exciting flurries. Most fish we caught had a buddy following it to the boat. Fun to watch! The rock spots I marked fish on produced a few fish, but weeds were definitely the ticket. That's been an interesting pattern lately. It's either one or the other, not both. We're happy to catch them any place they want they want to bite, and I had an excellent crew in the boat to take advantage of every opportunity. Robin and Kathy did a super job putting some fat smallies in the net up to 19 3/4". We tried like heck to break 20", but just couldn't get there… Water temps inland were 72 degrees, and it looks like things will be heating up again over the next few days. Excellent job today ladies, and congratulations on some really good fish. Root hard for those Badgers this fall!!!
I hate to say it, but I'm starting to see a few trees with changing colors. It always amazes me how fast the season goes by. Summer isn't done yet though. Enjoy every warm day while you can!!!