Don’t blink… Football practice is starting, back to school sales have begun, and it’s County Fair season in northern Wisconsin. Hard to believe that we’re in the home stretch of summer, but the days are noticeably getting shorter. Don’t shoot the messenger! Fishing has continued to be exceptional through the Dog Days, and we’ve been on a walleye roll with some fun smallmouth days mixed in. Don’t forget the trout and salmon! Here’s what’s happening on the Hayward Lakes, Lake Superior, and Chequamegon Bay in northern Wisconsin.
HAYWARD AREA LAKES
Smallmouth Bass fishing in the Hayward area has been consistently good throughout the summer, and the trend continues in August with water temperatures in the high 70’s on most lakes. Deep and clear lakes have fish holding in 15′ – 20′ of water during the day. Search rocky points, humps, and shorelines with your electronics for small schools of fish. 3 – 5 fish per school is the norm at this time of year. Anchor up or Spot Lock and pick two or three out of a school before they scatter and you need to move on. Fish are feeding heavy on crayfish right now, but there’s also been some big mayfly hatches on some lakes. Match the hatch with NED rigs, Drop Shot rigs, or NEKO Rigs. A Z-Man TRD rigged Texas style on a Bait Rigs Odd’ball jig and dragged through the rocks makes a killer NED that has accounted for a bunch of fish in our boat over the last couple of weeks. If they get stubborn, don’t forget that a live leech, crawler, or minnow suspended a couple of feet off bottom is hard to resist. Stained water lakes and flowages can really get going at this time of year, and they tend to produce best when the water is the warmest. The best part is, you’ll find shallow fish in less than 10′ with a top water bite that can be on fire. Shorelines with scattered rock, boulders, and wood are good places to look, and don’t be surprised if you find fish in less than a foot of water. I had the pleasure of fishing once again with my friends Joel Kantor and his father PK from Tulsa, OK. PK is 90 years young and still catching smallmouth bass with the best of them. The bite was tough during our two day trip, but it was a treat to watch Joel work the fly rod and PK crank in some big fish. Always a great couple of days with these guys!
Crappies have moved off weed edges on some lakes and can now be found suspended in 15′ – 20′ of water over mud flats. Jigs and plastics tight lined or under slip bobbers just above the fish are both effective tactics to use. Cousins Preston and Mason Berg from Orono, MN wore out a pile of slabs one afternoon catching fish after fish and showing their dads how it’s done. Heck… They wore me out! Walleyes are suspending over open water basins or holding tight to deep rocks and weeds in 15′ – 25′. Trolling crankbaits and crawler harnesses over basins or slip bobbers and leeches near structure are the best methods to get bit right now. Musky fishing has been best during low light conditions with the high water temps, and I’m hearing reports of increased fish activity over the past week. That should only get better with the August full moon always producing some monster fish. Bucktails and topwaters pitched toward weed edges and rock structure and trolling open water basins with large crank baits can all be productive right now.
CHEQUAMEGON BAY & LAKE SUPERIOR
Walleye fishing along the south shore of Lake Superior has been excellent over the past couple of weeks. Conditions have set up perfectly with water temperatures ranging from 65 – 70 degrees due to lots of warm days with little rain and reasonable winds out of the south and west. The big lake is hard to beat in August when it all comes together like that! We’ve been trolling crankbaits around 2 mph in anywhere from 15′ – 45′ of water depending on the day. Just keep chugging along running baits from 12′ – 20′ down behind boards until you find schools of fish. On some days they can be bunched up thick and on others they’ll be spread out. When you start to mark schools of bait fish on your electronics, you’re getting close. River and creek mouths are good areas to start, and experiment with different lure shapes and colors until you find the flavor of the day. Water clarity is another factor to pay attention to. If you can find tea colored water on the edge of a mud line, you’re in business. Remember that this is big water, and you have go be mindful of wind and weather. When in doubt, don’t go out. We’ve had some big numbers days along with some really big fish that included an absolute beast landed by Shawn Wortman from Onalaska, WI. It taped out at 28″ with a 15″ girth. There’s also been a few mixed bag days that include trout, salmon, and pike. Nico Cramer Bornemann battled a fish for around 30 minutes that came unpinned under the boat. We never got a good look at it, and could only speculate on what it might have been. One thing is for sure… It was big! A heart breaker, but that fish will only be bigger next year Nico!
We love everything about summer. Warm weather, t-shirts, shorts, and sun tans are our kind of style. Try to soak it all up this time of year and appreciate every bit of it. Fish are biting and the weather is great. What more can you ask for? Find a lake, get out there, and get after it!