Crazy doesn’t hardly describe the weather conditions we’ve had… 90’s to 40’s last week, with water temperatures all over the place. I don’t think our fish know if they’re coming or going…
An awesome bunch of guys was back on Monday. Chuck Reynolds, Chip Stringer (Mequon, WI), and their friend John Richter (Sayner, WI) were back for their two day spring trip fishing out of the River Rock Inn. Chequamegon Bay is always on the brain for these guys, but the weather we’ve had over the past week just wasn’t going to make it possible. Lots of rain and wind are never a good recipe for the bay, and we spent the first day of our two day trip in the Hayward area looking for smallmouth bass. It wasn’t a bad option at all. We finally got rid of the brutal cold front that’s been stuck on us over the past several days, and sunny skies with warm temps returned. Sure felt good to see the sun… If bass on the bay weren’t going to be an option, I’m pretty certain we found the next best thing. Smallies are in full spawn mode on all of our lakes right now, and a ton of fish can be found on shallow rock/gravel flats in 2′ – 6′ of water. My crew took advantage and worked over a pile of fish up to 20″ on several different presentations including jigs and plastics along with some fly presentations as well. Always cool to have some fly guys in the boat! Chip was the hero of the day however when he came up with the ultimate leech presentation that never failed. We’re never going to hear the end of this… Water temps dropped again and ranged from 62 – 65 degrees which are a bit more normal for this time of year. I’m hoping we’ll settle into some typical patterns from here on out. Hoping… Never a bad day with this crew in the boat. What’s in store for tomorrow fellas?
Even though we wanted to do it, Chequamegon Bay wasn’t going to be in the cards on this trip… Northwest winds had been pounding it during the weekend cold front, and they bay was a muddy mess. It’s going to take a few days to settle down. Chuck, John, and Chip decided to chase walleyes in the Hayward area on Tuesday morning. North winds and high skies weren’t ideal, and the fish were in a bit of a stubborn mood. We caught a limit, but each bite was earned. Eyeballs up to 17″ hit the net on jigs and minnows in 4′ – 6′ of water in new weed growth, but you had to move to get bit. It was definitely a “One Here, One There” kind of morning. We did well to catch what we did, but nobody disagreed when I suggested we switch lakes to site fish smallies in the afternoon. Who would argue with that?! Chip’s invention from the day before, now known as “Black Death”, continued to produce while we targeted spawning fish in 3′ – 6′ of water with jigs and plastics. We caught a pile of big smallies, but John’s work with the fly rod stole the show. The crazy bug hatch we’ve had going has continued, and he figured out how to get a few of those fish to commit to the fly. Really neat to see that happen! And by the way… Chuck managed to catch the biggest fish of the day at quitting time on a NED rig. He put a tank of a 20 1/2″ fish in the net, and everyone agreed that we weren’t going to beat that. It was a perfect ending to a perfect trip with some really good guys. Water temperatures seem to have settled in the low 60’s on most of our lakes, and I’d expect the smallmouth spawn to wrap up over the next week. This is one of those trips that you hate to see end… Fortunately, we’ll see these guys again in October. You’re a legend Chip!!!
One awesome crew left and another one returned on Wednesday. Absolutely love this time of year! George Hollow (Elmhurst, IL) and his buddy Wilbur Mennell (Warrenville, IL) were back for their annual 3 day trip in the Hayward area. We’ve had lots of good days with these guys in the past, and I always look forward to having them in the boat. Thunderstorms moved into our area in the morning, and we decided to delay our start. No need to begin wet if you don’t need to… Even with the late start there was a little bit of rain to contend with in the morning, but it wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle. We were on a walleye mission to put together a fish fry for these guys, and it didn’t take long to connect. The only problem was that the fish were were catching were under the size limit… Shallow weeds in 4′ – 6′ of water were holding lots of walleyes, but we couldn’t find the keepers. After moving around a bunch, we were able to put a few in the livewell using jig and minnow combinations along with slip bobbers and leeches. It was really just a matter of keeping the boat moving until you landed on cooperative fish. We had a ton of short bites and missed a lot along the way, and I’m pretty sure all of these weather systems have things a bit jacked up right now. I had the right crew in my boat though, and they came through with a sweet late day rally to put a limit of good fish up to 18″ in the box. Wilbur even added a thick pike in the low 30’s to make things interesting. Water temperatures held at 64 degrees throughout the day. When the bite gets tough, just keep grinding… Can’t wait to see what we get into tomorrow boys!
We haven’t fished crappies in awhile, and I had an itch to scratch. George and Wilbur were all about it, and we spent day #2 of their trip looking for slabs in the Hayward area. The crappie bite has been tough to pin down this year so far with pre spawn, spawn, and post spawn seemingly happening all at once. There’s been nothing “normal” about this year so far, and we’ve just been rolling with it until things even out. Things might be starting to even out… My good friend Scott Roppe gave me a tip that post spawn crappies were moving to weedlines in 8′ – 10′ of water, and he was spot on. That’s exactly where we found a bunch of good slabs up to 12″ using plastics under slip bobbers. After moving around a bit at our first spot, we settled in to a catching situation with crappies aggressive and on the feed. We like fishing, but we really like catching! Interestingly, most of the fish we caught were females that hadn’t spawned out. This is probably one of those years when a some fish don’t get it done. Mother Nature has a plan… Water temperatures were in the high 60’s on a really nice day with warm temps and light north winds. It finally feels like summer might be here… Maybe?! We caught a pile of fish, laughed a bunch, and and put a few in the freezer for a fry. Doesn’t get much better than that… See you tomorrow boys!!!
One more day with one of my favorite crews. This trip always goes way too fast…. George and Wilbur were back in the boat on Friday. With the walleye and crappie boxes checked on the first two days, chasing smallmouth was an easy decision on how to spend the last day of their trip. The weather was just about perfect with light winds out of the south, and we had good conditions for site fishing for most of the day. There are still a bunch of fish shallow and spawning, but I’m seeing signs that it might be wrapping up on some lakes. I even saw a bunch of hatched fry on one bed, so the end of the spawn is definitely near… George and Wilbur had no problem connecting on bunch of good fish up to 20″ using jigs and plastics in 2′ – 8′ of water. These guys always catch a pile of fish, and they lived up to their reputation today. George even caught one while I was trying to take Wilbur’s picture… Can’t you let Wilbur have some glory George?!!! I’m guessing that a good post spawn bite is about to set up, and the topwater bite should get going really soon! Water temps held around 64 degrees, and we’ve kind of settled in to a somewhat “normal” pattern for this time of year. Finally!… Always hate to see this trip end. Really good guys and a ton of fun to have in the boat. Until next time fellas…
We finally made it back to Chequamegon Bay on Saturday. Finally… Weather conditions have made it things tough out there lately, but we were able to put a day in with some old friends. Dan Fenske (Valparaiso, IN) and his father Don (Porter, IN) were back for their annual trip. They drew a short straw last year, and we had to cancel our day due to weather conditions. That wasn’t going to happen this year though… North East winds continue to persist on Lake Superior, but the fish still have to eat. We bundled up and spent the day casting slow sinking plastics in 4′ – 6′ of water. It wasn’t a crazy good bite, but it was definitely good enough. Dan and Don wore out a bunch of solid fish up to 20″, and we also lost a bunch of fish on short hits. The smallies we hooked up with were sure angry though and put up some awesome battles. Lot’s of jumpers and diggers. That’s why we love em! We never found huge groups of fish but would stumble into one or two at a time as we kept the trolling motor burning. Water temperatures hung around 64 degrees throughout the day, and there’s no end in site for that NE wind off of the big lake… I actually think the fish might be getting use to it! Don wrapped up our day in perfect fashion when he landed a nice 18″ bronzeback with time running out and ended our trip in style. Always good to end on a fish. Atta boy Don! This is always a fantastic team to have in the boat and can’t wait to have them return. See you next year boys!!!
I haven’t made it to the St. Louis River myself yet, but Tony Brown from Bait Rigs Tackle checked in with a report. He was able to spend some time in the harbor over the weekend and found a good bite while trolling crankbaits and crawler harnesses in 6′ – 8′ of water. Good news, and I can’t wait to get back there. Thanks for the update Tony! I hope you all have a chance to get on the water this week. Stay tuned, and we’ll keep you posted!!!