Houston column: Time to troll for big muskies
What a roller coaster weather ride it was last week. The Northland has received plenty of rain that's raised water levels everywhere. The St. Louis River and numerous other tributaries are high, dirty and fast. But most of the rain feel at night and we were able to get out on fairly mild days to fish. And the fishing success last week was pretty dang good.
Lake Superior is experiencing some fall traffic in the Wisconsin areas of Chequamegon Bay. Near shore trout and salmon fishing has been good. Water temps are into the 40s and best areas to target have been near river mouths. Some of the river areas are holding a mudline that should be targeted. Casting spoons is a fun way to catch these fish, but trolling is of course productive as well. Smallmouth fishing continues to be steady near Ashland areas. Dragging sucker minnows over 10'-20' feet of water will turn fish. Casting Salmo Hornets or other cranking lures will work as well.
Stream fishing is still attracting many anglers. Getting to a section of the river early in the morning will eliminate "competitive" fishing. Flat fish, Small spinners and drifting flies continues to show some success. Anglers should wear some of orange (or pink) clothing as you wander around river areas. Hunters are in full force sharing the woods, so be safe.
The St. Louis River also hosted some traffic last week with both fishermen and waterfowl hunters. Again, wearing some sort of blaze orange will ensure duck hunters see you. There is a good amount of debris still floating around, so be cautious navigating. Slow and steady is ideal. Walleyes seem to be turning on, and we are seeing some Lake Superior fish coming into the system. Jigs and minnows have been best, but plastics have been working as well. Pike also have been biting.
Inland lakes are giving up some good musky fishing. Dragging around oversized sucker minnows continues to be a go-to tactic. Most water temps are below 45 degrees, triggering the big predator fish to be putting on a feeding frenzy. Smallmouth bass have been going good on live bait as well. Walleyes are being found on mid-lake structures. Jigs and minnows have been a good way to go. Slow drifting a live chub under a sinker near bottom will turn some fish too. Most fish have been transitioning to mid lake depths of 10-15 feet of 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.