Jarrid Houston column: Smallies, big pike hit on Chequamegon Bay
Finally, a crappie pattern emerges on the St. Louis River Estuary.
Good day, anglers. Hope everyone is continuing to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors.
We have guided our last scheduled open-water trip of 2022. That doesn't mean we are finished for the season as we fish 52 weeks a year at some capacity. Also, we usually pick up an extra bonus trip from a new customer looking to get out. I forecast we will be boat fishing for another three to four weeks depending on weather of course.
Speaking of weather, we’ve seen crazy up and down temperatures the past week. Last weekend, we got our first taste of snow, but it was followed up with pretty comfortable afternoons. As I write this report, things have been cold with strong north winds, but the forecast looks pretty comfortable for the weekend.
We have been finding some success on a few bites, which should continue all the way up and through early ice. One thing I want to mention is water temperatures are spiraling downward and are dangerous if you happen to fall in. We highly encourage all to wear a life jacket all times of the year, but especially now.
Let's dig in to this week’s report:
Lake Superior has seen fewer anglers this past week mostly on account of the weather and winds. For those who are getting out, we are hearing most reports from Chequamegon Bay. Closer to the Twin Ports the big lake has been more or less a ghost town.
If you do find yourself tickling the waters of Chequamegon Bay, your best bet for action is to chase late fall smallmouth bass. They are still active on channel edges and in some cases have schooled up.
Many different tactics are turning some fish, but it's hard to beat a simple sucker minnow slowly dragged away from the boat. The beauty of such a technique is that you will certainly run into some pike and a few walleyes along the way. Speaking of pike, if you're after some giants, Chequamegon Bay should be on your list. Bring your muskie gear and get busy as they are very active.
As for stream fishing, anglers are still getting some nice bites of brook trout, a few browns and a few steelhead. Salmon are kind-of showing up on select days in select areas, but as mentioned in previous emails, a little rain would be nice to get things really moving.
On the St. Louis River Estuary we have been having fun chasing fun smallies up in the skinny waters using crankbaits. A fun tactic is to use the current to your advantage but placing a stick bait off a planer board while anchored up. Walleyes mixed in with a few crappies (yes, we finally got some crappies patterned) are coming off of most channel edges.
If you are strictly looking for crappies, it has been kind of a grind, but we are finding them with speed corking (mobile bobber fishing) with crappie minnows. Although a few walleyes are being caught this same way, it's better to go to a simple jig bite if you're after walleyes. Pike are showing up, as well as a few perch, too.
Inland fishing has continued to be a good bet for action. Panfish have slipped deeper into depths of 20-25 feet over soft substrate. Doesn't hurt to pitch smaller 1/16th-ounce jigs tipped with a worm chunk or a smaller crappie minnow to get some fish to go.
If you are after walleyes, I would continue to concentrate your efforts on weed edges and substrate transitions like rock to mud, or mud to sand. It is hard to beat a good-sized chub minnow and regular one-eighth-ounce jig.
As usual, don't be surprised to run into a few smallies and pike along the way. If you are still after largemouth bass, they are still being found under docks and old swimming grounds.
Muskies continue to get active, and if you're looking for the biggest muskie of the year, get out there now! 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.