It’s been one heck of a week. I don’t even know where to begin, but we’ll try to cover all of it…
Terry Peterson and I had an unexpected cancellation on Monday and found ourselves with a day to kill. What do fishing guides do when they have a day off? Go fishing of course!!! We try to add a new lake to our range in the Haward area every season, and this was a perfect opportunity to do some learning. A good crappie bite has been setting up along weedlines in 8′ – 10′ of water, and we were on a mission to locate as many schools of active fish as we could. We spot hopped to likely areas throughout the day, catching a few and moving on to the next. If we didn’t get bit within a few minutes, were were on to the next. It’s been a proven scouting method for us over the years, and today couldn’t have worked out any better. We caught a bunch of good slabs up to 12″ along with some big gills on slip bobbers and plastics. By the end of the day, we had located 9 different spots with active fish and were more than happy with the result of our efforts. When learning a new lake, it doesn’t always go as planned. When it does though, the payoff can be huge. I believe we’re starting to dial in a new body of water, and I’m looking forward to seeing what it can produce. Water temperatures hit 69 degrees with warm temperatures and south winds. That south wind sure feels good! Even though we had a cancellation, “The Professor” said it best… This was a good day!
A special gang was back with us on Tuesday. Scott Evans and his son Wyatt from Mineral Point, WI returned for their regular two day trip, and I always look forward to it. These guys have been fishing with us for quite some time. In fact, I think Wyatt was 10 years old on our first trip. Well, he’s not 10 years old anymore… He’s driving a car now, but still wearing out the fish! Scattered Thunderstorms were in the forecast, but we were able to get a good morning in. Walleyes in the Hayward area were our target, and the bite continues to be all about weeds. Weed growth is definitely behind normal patterns on most lakes, but warming temperatures have helped things catch up in a hurry. The Evans crew and I spent our morning working over likely spots that had new cabbage using jigs and minnows in 4′ – 6′ of water on a stained water lake. Action wasn’t fast, but we caught a bunch of walleyes up to 20″ on most spots. Scott’s 35″ pike stole the show when he put it in the net after a really cool battle on light tackle. Atta boy Scott! Almost lost a rod/reel on that odeal… We were ready for a change of scenery in the afternoon, and switched to a clear water lake thinking that the overcast skies would be perfect. Of course, conditions changed… Winds laid flat, and the sun came out. Flat water with high skies are never ideal, but we were able to locate and catch some good eyeballs up to 20″ over weeds in 15′ of water. Weed lines on clear lakes are just starting to set up in 12′ – 18′, and tons of fish are all over them when you find the right situation. I also noticed on my electronics that our lakes are starting to clear up and even out. Between pollen, bug hatches, and thermoclines trying to set up, it’s been difficult over the past couple of weeks to get a clear screen to work with. Maybe things are starting to settle down? Huge schools of small perch were cruising over the top of new weeds, and were were able to coax a few good eyes into the net using slip bobbers and leeches along with jigs and minnows. Water temperatures are in the high 60’s on most of our lakes. Scott and Wyatt clobbered them, but it wasn’t a surprise. These guys always get it done! We’ve got one more day left fellas!
The Evans guys were back on Thursday for day # 2 of their trip, and it was going to be a smallmouth mission. These boys will catch anything you put in front of them, but battling bronzebacks is their true passion. No better place to scratch that itch than Chequamegon Bay right now, and my brothers from another mother met me at the big drink to see what we could get into. Our morning conditions were flat calm, and smallies were boiling all around us as they chased schools of small minnows in 4′ – 5′ of water. It took us a bit to get dialed in but once we did there was a lot of fish hitting the net. Plastics were the way to go, and we would just cruise through new weed growth casting to every surfacing fish. Almost every time Scott and Wyatt hit the mark they got bit. It was pretty cool, and it reminded me of tarpon fishing in the Florida Keys. Smallmouth fishing tarpon style! I was also able to connect on a few using spinnerbaits, and Wyatt was gracious enough to let me join the photo club! Not only can he catch them, but he can also take some darn good photos… That’s one ugly mug he had to work with! We went in for lunch after getting some neat shots and video of a deer going for a swim. Lots of awesome stuff to see this time of year. In the afternoon we went from flat calm to a stiff SE wind, and it definitely changed up our program. The visibly feeding fish we saw in the morning disappeared, and the bite slowed dramatically. Things can change quickly on the bay! The rest of our day was spent catching one here and one there without getting into any bunches of fish. The fish were pretty snippy also, with a ton of short hits and misses. It was a very good example of how feeding windows and weather changes effect fish. Despite the slow bite, Wyatt ended our trip on a good note when he put a 21 1/4″ beast in the net at quitting time. Of course he did! It was our biggest fish of the day and well deserved. Water temps held around 68 degrees throughout the day, and there’s a lot of weed growth beginning to emerge. I think it’s safe to say that Chequamegon Bay is now in a “Post Spawn” pattern, but we should still have plenty of fish shallow over the next couple of weeks depending on weather conditions. Thanks to Scott and Wyatt for another memorable trip. Always a blast!
And then it rained. And rained… The next several days can best be described as a complete wash out. Northern Wisconsin became covered up in a weather system that dumped huge amounts of rain on us along with plenty of thunder and lightning to go with it. Unfortunately a couple of trips had to be cancelled, and there’s a significant amount of damage and flooding in our part of the state again. It’s a bit of Deja Vu… The road crews are going to have their work cut out for them after this mess. I was able to steal a small window of good weather one evening to get my nieces and nephews on the water. My sisters Jenny and Jocelyn along with my bother Jason all came to town with their families for a week of fishing, swimming, and fun. A boat ride and fishing trip with Uncle Jeff has become an annual tradition, and we were able to pull it off. Everyone that came along got a chance to catch a fish, and we even had a few “the one that got away” stories to tell. Slip bobbers with leeches along 8′ weed lines were the way to go, and I was super proud of my crew. I think it’s safe to say that the angling tradition in our family will be in good hands. Fish were caught, fun was had, and no equipment was broken. Perfect! As of Saturday evening, water temperatures were around 70 degrees in the Hayward area with more rain in the forecast for Sunday. Happy Father’s Day to all of the great dads out there. I hope you’re all able to spend it with special people and a fishing pole!
Well… After 3 consecutive days of pouring rain in northern Wisconsin, the results of the damage are in. It’s not good. Up to 13″ of precipitation pounded some areas, and there is lots of damage as a result. Many roads are washed out and closed, and we’ll be recovering for quite awhile I’m sure. Seems like we just went through this not long ago. With roads to the east and west from my house shut down, I was able to head south to Hayward so I could meet up with the Custer men for our annual trip. Ken and Darryl (Elk Mound) along with Doug (Chippewa Falls) were back, and we had some interesting conditions to contend with. High pressure with high skies moved in to push out all of that nasty weather we’ve had, and we had predictably tough fishing conditions at our first stop. Darryl was able to land 1 good 19″ walleye on a slip bobber and leech, but one walleye wasn’t going to cut it. Time for Plan B. We switched lakes around mid morning, and it was an improvement. The Custers put a few walleyes up to 17″ along with some small pike in the net using jigs and minnows in 4′ – 6′ weeds, but it was hardly a hot bite. Every fish was going to be earned today… Every now and then you have to go to Plan C, and today was one of those days. We bailed out and headed to lake #3 to see what the crappies were up to. Good move for sure. The boys were able to connect on a respectable amount of fish up to 12″ using slip bobbers and plastics in 10′ of water along weed edges. By quitting time a well deserved fish fry was in the box. Water temperatures ranged from 68 – 76 degrees throughout the day, and our “Interesting” season continues. Pretty sure we don’t need any more rain for awhile… Heck of a job today Custers, and thanks for hanging with things. That crappie I lost for you wasn’t as big as it looked Doug!
All of this crazy weather has definitely created some challenges for us, and the next few weeks should be interesting. With the information I have now, I’d suspect we’ll be in the Hayward area quite a bit until we can get some of these roads repaired. Chequamegon Bay and the St. Louis River will be a mess for awhile. Stay tuned, and we’ll keep you posted!