We are now entering what many anglers refer to as the “dog days of summer.” Some waters are already well into the turnover cycle and some are in the preliminary signs.
It certainly can be a tough time of year to find success. However, good fishing can still be had.
This is the time of year where you want to constantly change tactics or locations until you find success. Many anglers describe numerous lakes as pea-soup green and those are not the ideal waters you want to fish. The green pea-soup colored water is caused by warm temperatures that spur algae blooms.
Local water temperatures had some fluctuation this last week and that put a few bumps in our bite. For example, we were fishing a 1,000-acre lake the other day with an 82-degree average surface temp. We were doing well, but then we had a very cool overnight, and the temps dropped to 77. The bite also dropped, so it was another day of having to adjust and adapt to a new tactic.
Lake Superior fishing has been busy this last week, except for the one day where the wind was too much to handle. Most anglers are still finding the same success trolling flasher fly combos tipped with meat. The laker bite continues to be the most dominant, especially in the areas out near the shipping lanes on both the Wisconsin and Minnesota sides.
Many anglers are also finding success up the North Shore with good reports coming in from as far away as Grand Marais. The adventurous type that take the trip out to Isle Royale are being largely rewarded. On the South Shore from Superior past the Brule, some anglers are finding mixed success on walleyes and the occasional laker or brown trout. Trolling deep diving crank baits has been hit-and-miss, as has using heavy bottom-bouncers with nightcrawlers in waters 30-50 deep. Concentrated efforts should be in and around river mouths.
Speaking of rivers, the Lake Superior tributaries are heating up this last week with good reports of brook trout and the occasional brown. Swinging flies or casting hardware in the form of small Beedle spinners has been a good tactic.
St. Louis River fishing continues to see the least amount of traffic. Musky anglers are finding mixed success but not a lot to report as far as catches go. As overnight temperatures continue to decrease, both the musky bite and the walleye bite will start to pick up. For walleyes, anglers should concentrate efforts in the lower sections of the river. Fish will start to trickle in from Lake Superior in the coming weeks.
Trolling the expansive flats of the St. Louis and Superior bays will hold the best chances.
Another great opportunity often overlooked this time of year is the sturgeon bite. I have said it many times, but we have a good sturgeon fishery for the patient angler. Set up near deep current cuts and toss out a wad of crawlers with a bell sinker. Time is the biggest variable, but who doesn't enjoy tangling with a big-bodied species that resembles a shark. I should note, these fish can be very old, so it is important to treat them with the utmost respect and release them quickly.
Inland waters continue to have a decent troll bite going on for walleye and the occasional pike or bass. Working deep, weedy areas of 10-30 feet of water is best. Time of day can play an important role as well.
As mentioned the last several weeks, I prefer first light and last light or even after dark. Sunken islands or mid-lake reefs are holding fish as well. Leeches under slip bobbers has been a good tactic, as well as drift-jigging live bait. It is important to work the bottom more than suspended areas of the water column.
Panfish are still on the chew, in and around pencil reeds, cabbage or dock structures. Musky anglers are starting to frequent some popular lakes as well. Kind of cliché to say, but truthfully the number one tip for muskies right now is “put in the effort.”
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.