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Jarrid Houston column: Inland lake fish on eating binge

Lake Superior bite has been good even with cooler water temps.

Jarrid Houston
Jarrid Houston
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We had another week of good fishing, and with the late start to summer this year, it seems the good bite is happening later than usual. In a typical year, we would already be seeing some of the hot bites trailing off. But that hasn’t happened yet. So I guess the silver lining to the tough fishing conditions earlier this year is the exceptional bite we have going now as we enter the Fourth of July weekend.

Speaking of Independence Day festivities, the waters are sure to be swarming with a lot of traffic, so be extra careful and take your time. With the increase of water traffic, fish are going to start to have more sporadic bite windows. We have already started to notice fish in the busiest lakes being more active in the early to mid-mornings and after dark. Daytime light is still on our side as we are still able to be on the water past 9 p.m.

Did the 2012 flood make St. Louis River Estuary walleyes harder to catch? Or are there fewer of them?

Let's get into what is happening in our part of the fishing world:

Lake Superior has had a couple blow-off days this last week with strong winds. However, things are going good as of this report, with little to no wind and very comfortable temperatures. This week, we are checking in with Capt. Lorin LeMire of Fish of the Gitch charter service. LeMire reports that “this has been a different year for sure."

"Normally, water temperatures are much warmer by now," LeMire said. "With the late start and constant blow days, water temperatures just have not really set up yet. Focusing on the warmest water you can find will be best. A good variety of fish continue to be turned with stick baits and spoons over the top 40 feet of the water columns. Using a combination of leadcore and snap weights has been instrumental."

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Pick your fish species, rod size and colors, and the Chisholm resident will do the rest.

"Finding lakers in the deeps has been productive with dragging baits down near the bottom with riggers," LeMire said. "Soon, we should start to see more consistent weather to set up a nice thermocline. This will help target the fish as we will have a better idea of where to locate them.”

LeMire goes on to note that "fishing has been good, but the better fishing is right around the corner." Thanks Lorin!

Stream fishing has been picking up as we are starting to see lots of different aquatic bug hatches taking place. If you are looking for something different, grab a pack, rod and reel and a handful of baits and start hiking through the woods along some of our great tributaries. Summer stream fishing is about to heat up!

On the St. Louis River Estuary we had a big dispersal of walleyes this past week. Where they were a week ago they were not there this past week, not even close.

However, we did re-find the big school and we were able to target some fun bites. The bigger walleyes have become hesitant to eat smaller baits, so upgrading size and profiles has been key. Long lining No. 7 stick baits like some of the new Bagley lures from Northland have been great, although we are still getting some good jig/drift bites as well. Smallies are finally starting to set into a productive pattern as well.

Fishing the faster waters over hard bottoms or gravel have turned a few nice fish. We are still not hearing too much about musky action but the musky anglers are certainly trying.

Inland lakes have been the best choice for consistency by far. No surprise, as inland fish seem to always be easier to target. Most species have now finished up their courtships, but there may be a few select waters that have some residual spawning still happening. For the most part, our favorite waters to target are now going gangbusters with fish on an eating binge and putting on the feedbag.

Walleyes have been found biting good in the deeper weed edges during the earlier and later periods of the day. Slow-trolling has turned some fish, but if you run into an area where you're getting good bites don't hesitate to turn off the trolling motor and cast some deep-billed cranks into said locations. Chances are you will run into more than a few pike and bass along the way.

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Crappies and a few sunnies have been swarming the fresh vegetation as well. Best bet is to utilize the old slip bobber over live bait. Leeches are starting to make a presence for some good bites, but it is still hard to beat a crappie minnow or piece of nightcrawler.

Hope everyone has a great Fourth of July! See you on the water.

Jarrid Houston of South Range is a fishing guide (houstonsguideservice.com) on Minnesota and Wisconsin inland waters, the St. Louis River and, in winter, on Lake Superior.

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