Jarrid Houston column: Warmer water is heating up the fishing

Father-son duo take 40- and 50-inch sturgeon on the St. Louis River.

Jarrid Houston
Jarrid Houston
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DULUTH — Good news, Northland anglers, the bite seems to finally be picking up.

I know I sound like a broken record, but it really has been a long time coming. It has been one of those years where we have looked to our colleagues and counterparts and been jealous of success. Inland water temperatures in the area are on the doorstep of that 70-degree mark depending on the lake and/or day.

Fish are well transitioned from spring time routines and moving into early summer patterns. Live bait is certainly a thing still, but stickbaits and soft plastics are definitely starting to make a difference. Boat traffic on most waters has been busy and with people finally starting to swim and enjoy other recreational marine activities things will only get busier. I know we say this every year, but don't forget to protect yourself from the sun. I prefer a nice garment that has SPF properties engineered into the clothes. My preferred choice is Blackfish gear, but there are certainly other great options out there as well. Also, also, in case you haven't noticed, it’s getting pretty buggy during the mornings and early evenings.

Let’s dive into our fishing report:

Lake Superior charter captains have been working hard to get customers on fish. This past week we have had a couple of hard blow days that had to sideline some plans. But, for the most part, Lake Superior anglers have found success.


Around Duluth and up toward Two Harbors, the scheme continues to be trolling flasher fly combos with a few stickbaits and spoons mixed in the program. Recently the best color options have been purple and pinks. Chrome also has been popular of course. There really is never a bad time to use chrome! Most fish have been stacked up together, so electronics have been important. Temperature breaks are our structure, and with the recent hard northeast winds blowing into Duluth, fish have been in a biting mood.

Over in Chequamegon Bay our good friend Nate Barron of Up North Guide Service reports pretty good smallmouth action. So far the “May and June bite have been prime and the 22-inch minimum size continues to keep the fishery awesome,” Barron said. Methods for Captain Nate have included but not been limited to: jerkbaits, tube jigs, senkos and ned rigs over sand flats. Natural colors have been his go-to as of recent. Thanks Nate.

The St. Louis River Estuary has put out some fun fishing recently. It took long enough, but we finally got some different bites dialed in.

This past week we caught walleyes, pike, rock bass, white bass, catfish, sturgeon and crappies. Any avid angler knows, you never know what you're going to catch, especially when fishing a river system. Locations have been broad as fish have been biting from upstream and all the way to lake Superior. Trolling has produced fish on the flats, dragging some smaller crank baits and/or worms, but it has been more enjoyable getting fish to go with jigging plastics and live bait off of channel breaks. Catfish have certainly started to dominate some area bites, but walleye have been in on lots of action as well. The other fish have been nothing short of bonus catches. On a trip late last week, we had a family of four get to experience something special. Dad got his first sturgeon, a strong 40-inch fish. A few minutes later his youngest son beat out his dad with a 50-inch sturgeon.

Inland reservoirs north of Duluth have had some good bites off and on this last week as well. Island Lake continues to have a good walleye bite in 10-15 feet of water. Same goes for the other reservoirs. On other area waters, including Wisconsin lakes, we have been looking to new weed growth for a mix of pike and walleyes. Smallmouth and sunfish/crappies are continuing to lay eggs currently, so we have left them alone. Rip-jigging on sand to mud transitions are finally starting to turn some fish as well. Muskie action in the area has been on the silent side as we have not heard of any fish being caught this last week. Be safe and courteous to each other out there! See you on the water.

Read more about fishing
Watch your hook size for panfish so as not to injure fish that will be released.

Jarrid Houston of South Range is a fishing guide ( ) on Minnesota and Wisconsin inland waters, the St. Louis River and, in winter, on Lake Superior.
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This weekend will feature hot tempeatures across parts of the Dakotas with a little cooler weather to the east.
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