We were actually able to make it back on Chequamegon Bay last Saturday. It rained (of course) but winds were manageable, and I teamed up with Josh Teigen to fish with a fun crew. Matt Hendricks from Shawano, WI returned and added a few to his gang. His wife Emily and father Bob (Minong, WI) were in my boat. Kevin and Tracy Toft (Stewartville, MN) along with Ben Rykhus (Bloomington, MN) were fishing with Josh. It was a boat of Viking fans versus a boat of Packer Fans. You know who I was rooting for! Northeast winds pushed us over 12' – 15' rocks in the morning, and we had a steady bite using minnows. After exorcising the demons from our first drift (4 fish lost for a variety of nonsense) we were finally able to get on track. Good thing we didn't need to make a sacrifice Emily. You would've been in trouble… Bob, Matt, and Emily put some good smallies in the net up to 20" including a couple of fun doubles. There were lots of fish spread out, and we'd get bites in spurts. The Hendricks bunch did one heck of a job, and we went in for lunch after Emily put one more in the net. End the morning on a fish. Perfect! Water temperatures have dropped to 59 degrees on the bay, and fall patterns are slowly starting to come together. It's taken awhile, but we might finally be there. Winds laid down in the afternoon, and our bite stopped along with it. We worked over the same areas that were productive in the morning, but the the fish weren't having any of it. After checking out some other options late in the day, it was obvious that the bite was over. Interesting how wind shifts can affect fishing, and today was a good example. We had a good first half though and solved a bunch of problems in the afternoon. At least we think we did… Always a good time with these guys! I can't say for sure which boat caught more fish, but a Badger and Packer win this weekend should take care of any arguments… Fun day!
David Russo was back in the boat fishing out of Angler's Haven Resort on Monday for his annual fall trip. David us usually accompanied by his son Nick for his twice a year appearance in our boat, but Nick is all grown up and attending Indiana University now. How did that happen? So, we had to continue on without our partner. For now… Cool temps and north winds moved into the Hayward area. Water temps dropped and held steady at 58 degrees on the day. That's the first consistent drop below 60, and our lakes are pretty close to turning over with just a bit of thermocline left on some. With below freezing overnight temperatures forecasted over the next 3 days, we should be there by the end of the week. Back to fishing… As always with the Russos, we were on a musky hunt. Nick put a massive mid 40's fish in the net on our June trip during a rainy two fish day, and I was thinking the cool down might really kick things into gear for David and I. Didn't happen… We spent a half day throwing at weed and rock edges with bucktails, crankbaits, and dragging meat but couldn't move a fish. Zippo! We're not off to a good start without Nick in the boat. I might have to make a few calls to his professors… Regardless of the outcome, it's always a good time with David. The Russo's will be back next June, and we'll have a "Get Even Day". You've been warned muskies!
A late cancellation left me with a couple of unexpected open days, and I couldn't have spent one of them with a better guy. Greg Miller from The Hunt With Greg & Jake was in between trips chasing big whitetail bucks, and we were able to connect on Wednesday for a day of chasing crappies in the Hayward area. One of our favorite things to do in October! Overnight temps have dropped to below freezing over the past several nights, and water temps have dropped into the mid 50's on most of our lakes. Thermoclines are disappearing, and we're really close to most lakes completely turning over. After a bit of searching, Greg and I located fish starting to group up in 20' – 30' of water and put some good slabs up to 13" in the boat on plastics under slip bobbers. Stiff south winds helped our presentation, but they died down in the afternoon. As the winds laid down, the bite got tough. We moved around a bunch to catch a few more fish, but we worked hard for every one. Greg was really impressed with all three presentations I had going at one time. Sometimes less is more, and more is less! From what I could tell the late fall crappie bite is just starting to set up, and I'd expect it to continue getting better over the next few days. We caught plenty, laughed plenty, and took a few home for a fry. Fall colors are peaking right now, and this is an amazing time of year to be on the water. Really good day with a really good dude. Nice work Miller, and good luck in the woods. We're all looking forward to pictures and stories of some big bucks!
Thursday was every reason why we musky fish… Jason Keesy from Cedar Falls, IA returned for a two day trip, and we spent day #1 working on checking a musky off his list. He's a very accomplished fisherman and has caught lots of cool fish throughout the country, but but the big "ski" has eluded him. Until today… With his experience, he was the perfect guy to take on one of my favorite river trips every fall in the Hayward area. All of the rain we've received has had a direct impact on our rivers, and it was the first thing I noticed when we put in. High water and fast current was something I hadn't dealt with before on this body of water, and it definitely made things interesting. We began our day fishing down stream, and it was a bit difficult to get boat control figured out. Around mid morning we were in a groove and had a good fish drill the sucker we were dragging just a few feet behind the boat. It was a dramatic strike, and Jason connected on his first musky. A really good looking mid 30's fish gave him one heck of a battle before he put it in the net. Cool fish, and good the get the monkey off his back! After some pictures and release, it didn't take long before we had another fish interested. A big musky chased our sucker around a deep hole and made a few swipes but never got serious about eating. It was sure fun to watch, but probably not so fun for the sucker! That fish will make another appearance later in the report… After lunch we decided to fish upstream hoping to have better boat control. Good idea! Not long into the PM shift, we had another musky interested in our sucker. This time it got drilled, and Jason put a fat high 30's fish in the net. Cool looking fish, and a fun fight. If there was ever a guy who deserved those fish it was Jason, and it was good to see him earn his membership into Club Musky. Water temps were in the low 50's, and it shouldn't have been surprising that a good sucker bite was happening. Our next goal was to land one on an artificial, and it was kind of strange that we'd only caught a couple of pike on the bucktails Jason was throwing at this point in the day. The musky from the morning that wouldn't eat was on our brain, and we made our way back to that hole. As we were setting up on it, Jason's first cast got drilled. The fish slammed his bucktail and threw it after a few nasty head shakes. River fish are vicious. Strike 2! At the end of the day, we had to give that girl one more shot. I have to admit that I didn't think we could get it to move again. It did… We threw a few different bucktails and crankbaits at it, but a jerkbait was more than she could resist. The big girl clobbered it again 10' from the boat, but after another bunch of crazy head shakes she was gone. Again! How does that happen? Strike 3, and our day was over. It was one heck of a day, but I know it left Jason wanting more. That's why they're so cool. Congratulations on your first muskies Jason. Now you're doomed!!! Muskies suck until you catch one!
Jason Keesy was back in the boat on Friday for day #2 of his trip, and we were on Chequamegon Bay to see what the smallmouth were up to. We began the day setting up on mud and rock transitions in 15' – 20' of water, and we were instantly hooked up. Jason had 4 fish in the boat before I could even get all of our lines in the water. Give me a chance Jason! A steady west wind was blowing, and the smallies were definitely in a good mood. Just the way we like it! After catching a bunch of fish on our first few drifts the winds switched to the north, and the bite slowed considerably. We were still catching, but the weather change had certainly changed the pattern. Water temps were in the mid 50's, and we used minnows throughout most of the day. In the afternoon we moved to a mud flat in 25' of water and instantly hooked up on a double. We thought we were on to something, but that kind of fizzled out. I started looking a little shallower and found some fish with our electronics hugging the mud in 18' – 20'. When fish are pressed that far down, it's usually tough to get them to eat. That wasn't the case today though. They were hungry, and we finished the day putting a pile of fish up to 20 1/2" in the net. Most of them came on minnows, but we did have some action on jigging spoons as well. A few more bonus doubles added to the excitement, and it turned out to be one heck of a day. Fall patterns are continuing to set up on the bay with big congregations of fish showing up, and I'd expect to see some nice walleyes mixed in as well as the water cools over the next couple of weeks. Two memorable days with a really good guy. That trip was one for the books Jason! Good luck chasing those trout tomorrow!
5 years ago, I spent a cold and snowy day with two really good guys catching big smallmouth. It's a day I'll never forget, and I'm always glad to see Jon Schlussler (St. Paul, MN) and his buddy Steve Leach (North St. Paul, MN) back in the boat. Jon and Steve were fishing out of the River Rock Inn, and we spent Saturday chasing big smallies on Chequamegon Bay. This was Jon's second trip of the year, and it was good to have Steve back with him. Temperatures dropped below freezing overnight, and we had a cool start with light west winds. Jon put three fish in the night right off the bat on our first spot as we drifted minnows over scattered rocks in 20' of water. He was more than willing to point out that he was the only one catching fish, and Steve was extremely happy for him. Well, part of that might be true… The light wind we had died down, and so did the bite. We made a big move to the mud flat that had produced the day before and immediately knew it was the right decision. I marked a bunch of fish in 19' of water, and my crew was instantly hooked up on our first of five doubles on the day. It actually should've been a triple, but the the guy in the back of the boat didn't connect. Bad guide! That was the beginning of a of some crazy good action with a pile of fish up to 20.5" hitting the net. Minnows were our best producer, but I did have a few slam a jigging spoon as well. East winds started to kick up before lunch, and the bite definitely got different in the afternoon. Water temperatures continued to hold in the mid 50's. We started the p.m. shift hot with another double, but the winds were building and making it tough to stay on fish. After missing a few, we made some adjustments and figured things out. We needed to slow things down a bit, and a little more weight in our presentation was the answer. Steve definitely got into a groove, and Jon was happy to see his partner produce. Ok. I might be making a few things up here. Truth is we caught a bunch of fish, and these guys are always a blast to have in the boat. Tons of fun, and I always hate to see it end. Be good to each other fellas. See you next year!
No walleyes in this report, but I'm sure we'll have an opportunity to get back after them at some point. Time is running out on our 2017 open water season, but we've still got a couple of reports left before it's done. Can't wait to see what the next several days produce. We'll keep you posted!