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Jarrid Houston column: Inland lake pike on a tear, but river walleyes still slow for Team Houston

Lake Superior trollers catching lakers, salmon in most areas.

Jarrid Houston
Jarrid Houston
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DULUTH — We are still grinding and finding some success on the water but, it’s no secret, this has been one of the most challenging spring fishing seasons we have had in some time.

The big downfall has been the cool temperatures mixed in with inconsistent weather. Thank goodness we have finally started to get some summerlike temperatures infiltrating the Northland. The good news is that we are now getting closer to the summer solstice. Daylight hours continue to grow and temperatures are rising: water and air.

It seems like it took forever, but we have finally started to see some bass and panfish make spawning colonies. On one particular lake, the big smallmouth bass literally made a bed overnight and started doing their thing the next day. This was the first I have ever seen such a fast transition. For the next few weeks, it will be tempting and easy to pick off bedding fish. Please, please, let's leave these fish alone and let them do their thing.

Here’s our report:

Lake Superior produced some great catches of salmon and lake trout this past week. We are also hearing a few reports of chinook and browns in the Duluth-Superior area. In the Bayfield area, anglers are doing well with a mix bag of splake, browns, lakers and cohos. Out in the deep cuts of the Apostle Islands, anglers are into a pretty consistent lake trout bite. Lure selections have remained consistent with stick baits and flasher fly combos. Boats are now starting to move offshore a tiny bit deeper, but there are still lots of near shore fishing opportunities. Even the stream anglers are starting to find some success with a few willing brook trout and native browns.

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The St. Louis River continues to be slow for us. I truly feel things will pick up these next couple of weeks. We will continue to stick to our game plan of casting stick baits in past productive areas and hope for the best. At some point the fish will bite. We just have to be there when they do. The good news is the river continues to slow down a bit each day, which is a good thing. We all know it has been a super weird spring for river walleye fishing. A few muskies have been sighted for follows upstream but we have not heard of any bites.

Inland lake panfish are staging in the shallow shorelines and back bay areas. We will elect to leave these beauties alone and let them be for the next few weeks. This goes for sunfish and crappies.

With that said, it is fun to cruise around and check out the colonies. I recommend a good pair of polarized glasses and look to the areas of sand bottoms and mud to sand areas. Although the crappies can be mixed in similar locations, they seem to prefer any bullrush-type areas. The panfish spawning time of the year gives us a quick glimpse of size and structure and what to expect for each lake. This is a good time to get out and do some homework.

Walleyes are coming off the 10-foot breaks trolling or jigging live bait. Leeches are now starting to produce a few fish, but I still prefer a large chub minnow. Have not heard a lot of reports of inland musky success but we have seen a few this last week while fishing. They are always fun to see. Pike have definitely dominated our catch rates this last week. Because of the cooler water temperatures this spring, they have been on a tear.

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.
What to read next
Watch your hook size for panfish so as not to injure fish that will be released.
Anglers can take a survey or attend local meetings.
You can apply online or at a license agent in person.
This weekend will feature hot tempeatures across parts of the Dakotas with a little cooler weather to the east.