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Jarrid Houston column: Summer finally here, and fishing is hot

Inland lake fishing has been "lights out" for walleye, pike and panfish.

Jarrid Houston
Jarrid Houston
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Goodbye spring and hello summer. We finally have some summer-like weather in the Northland. Not only are most of us anglers happy, but it seems the fish are liking the weather as well.

This last week we have had our best fishing of the open-water season so far. The landscapes are plush green with blooming flowers and gardens are starting to show early signs of a good harvest. Water temperatures have crept up to about 70 degrees on many smaller waters to the south, and the waters to the north are not far behind.

This week we expect to see more recreational boating, swimming and such. So be careful when sharing the lakes. For many area waters, we are continuing to monitor panfish and bass spawning, but some lakes are just about done. That means bass and sunnies are about to be on a feeding binge to replenish their bodies.

Here is this week's fishing report:

Lake Superior has been very busy with many anglers after some lake trout and salmon. On the lake from Duluth and Two Harbors, as well as the South Shore, many trollers continue to trailer different kinds of stick baits. Best colors this past week were oranges, greens or purples. Pulling spoons a bit deeper, just above the thermocline, has triggered some good bites as well.

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Most anglers are getting fish before mid-morning, but some are sticking it out for full days. A good rule of thumb is after 10:30 a.m. it pays to start dragging bottom for lakers. The walleye bite is starting to become a thing on the Gitch and anglers after trout and salmon also are landing walleyes. If you do hook up a big western Lake Superior walleye, we encourage you to revive her and send her back to the lake to make more.

Over in the Chequamegon Bay and the Apostle Islands area we have been receiving good reports as well. Our good friend and owner of Beyond the Catch Guide Service, Tommy Hicks, checks in: “Nearshore fishing 20-50 feet of water has been great with the warmer 40- to low-50-degree water temps.” Tommy says "stick baits and spoons have been best, but look toward the murky mudlines. The deep-water bite is also starting to pick up.” Thanks, Tommy!

On the St. Louis River Estuary, we are seeing some consistent action on the flats for smaller walleyes, a few catfish, perch and some bonus crappies. Number 5 crankbaits have been good in purple and firetiger color schemes. Slow-trolling crawler harnesses also has turned some fish. Planer boards have been a thing, but we have managed to also boat fish without them as well.

Best depths have been in and around 4-8 feet of water, although the nicer fish have certainly come in 10 feet and deeper water.

Fan-casting deep diving cranks over channel breaks is a super fun way to square up with a big walleye, pike, bass or the occasional musky encounter. Now that summer is here, we are finally starting to see more of a normal river recipe for action. I’m looking forward to the months ahead.

Inland lake fishing has been lights out this last week with plenty of different bites going on. The big waters north of Duluth have been turning out some good walleyes in 10-16 feet of water with slip bobbers and/or jigging live bait. Bobbers have been better for not snagging up so often so you can focus on snaggy areas where the fish hang out. Panfish have been going well near shorelines and in fresh green vegetation. Bass and pike have also been hanging in said areas.

In Northwestern Wisconsin, water temperatures have pushed a lot of spawning action to the "almost" complete stage. Best bites have been over the mud to rock/sand areas, but lots of fish are starting to relate to the new growth of weeds.

Great pike action continues to be had casting spoons, spinners or crankbaits near shorelines. Don't be surprised to run into some good smallmouth or largemouth action along the way. As the temperatures climb higher, fish will now start to utilize peak feeding times. That means fish early and fish late.

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Ladies and gentlemen, we are there! We made it to another Northland summer. Get out and enjoy. 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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