Jarrid Houston column: With rivers roaring, inland lakes, Lake Superior produce better fishing

High stream flows have made many rivers, including the St. Louis, unfishable of late.

Jarrid Houston
Jarrid Houston
We are part of The Trust Project.

DULUTH — Hope everyone had a successful start to the season and was able to spend it with good friends and family.

We certainly made the best of another opening day in Minnesota. Up until our Friday night fish fry at a local restaurant, we had planned to dump the boats into the St. Louis River. However, we made a last-minute decision to fish another body of water north of Duluth. Sure glad we did as the river was high, fast, dirty and really not very fishable.

The couple lakes we have been visiting this past week have had some escalating water temperatures into the high 50s. We are even starting to see the very start of early vegetation in some locations.

Unfortunately, looking ahead at the upcoming forecast, we will be slipping back into less-than-summery weather with cooler temperatures and pesky winds. Not to mention what always seems to be present in the forecast lately: rain and thunderstorms. To all the big water communities up north flooding and causing head/heartache, we all feel for you; be safe.

Let's dive into this weeks fishing report:


The Lake Superior smelt run seems to have ended faster than it started. What a weird year for all fishing-related things, and smelt are no exception.

As for the bigger Lake Superior fish, things have been going good to great. Lots of lake trout have been coming boatside with a mix of a few coho here and there. We have even got word that a few big brown trout have been caught lately. In our region, the Gitch seems to be doing the best as far as fishing success goes.

Most anglers are still trailering the popular flasher-fly combos and fishing in deeper sections of the water columns in and around 100 feet. Trolling stickbaits like down deep Husky Jerks or Bagley Rumble Sticks are getting a fair amount of upper-column fish as well. With the forecast cooler temperatures coming, I’m sure these tactics will continue to prove successful for the next couple weeks.

For anglers targeting streams along the shores of Lake Superior, bummer. It looks like we are back to high flowing and dirty water. A few fish are still being caught, but it certainly has slowed down from the anglers we have been consulting with.

The St. Louis River Estuary has been unfishable. Last week, my wife joined the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and some valued Twin Ports Walleye Association members to help with the walleye survey. It is my understanding they did not reach their goal for fish counts.

The river continues to be high and mighty, moving lots of water downstream to Lake Superior. With more precipitation we have received this week, the ol' Louie is showing no signs of letting up. The only fish we have heard have been caught are a few accidental sturgeon and maybe a pike or walleye here and there. In all my years fishing the river, this ranks up there with bad spring starts. Hopefully, things get better in the coming weeks. Until then, we will head inland.

The reservoirs north of Duluth had a fair number of anglers this week battling the windy conditions. Most boats and shorelanders did find some success. It was nice to see the local DNR officers out working our neighboring waters and making sure anglers were following the rules and regs.

We found lots of active pike and walleyes with a few perch mixed in by pitching jigs and minnows. Both crappie minnows and fatheads caught fish and it did not really seem to matter the size of the live bait. Best color was a bright orange jig.


For panfish in both Minnesota and Wisconsin lakes, we are not seeing anything to target quite yet, but we are getting closer. We have found some back in shallow bays where water temps are pushing 60 degrees. Before you know it, we will start to see some flowers which will time out some good future bites.

Until then, get out there, bundle up, be courteous to each other and have some fun fish outings. We will see you on the water.

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.

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.
What to read next
Send us your big fish photos by email to
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources report for the week of July 5.
Some 5 milliion people may be eating more fish than recomended by health advisories, according to research by the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The bird was spotted in Carlton County, more than 1,000 miles out of range.