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July 1, 2023

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Over the years, I have had a few long-term guests make comments or tease us about our brochure, “it looks like it never rains at Silver Water Wheel Lodge.”  And the point is well taken.  We choose to highlight the prettiest photos on the nicest days.  The fishing report is a different story.  I tell it the way it was.  Overall, this was another excellent week of production at the Wheel.  At the same time, there were some very difficult days when even the most senior guides struggled to come up with a pattern for walleyes.

We are finally getting some wet weather with showers and thunderstorms off and on this week.  I don’t think that it is enough to end the fire ban any time soon, but it is a start.  We expect to continue to mix it up using propane burners on the beach or coming back to the lodge for shorelunch.  We prefer to cook on driftwood fires, but we can still put on a pretty good show with propane burners.

The most important hour of the day at SWWL is the nightly round table meeting.  It is a time to share insights, discuss trends and patterns, and to talk about what to expect in the near future.  The fishing report is another marker in the season that I use to reflect back on what our collective experience was during the previous week.  Once again, the stats look great!  But Lac Seul and her well fed walleyes can be tricky.  Just about the time that you think about getting a little cocky as a guide, she will slap you down.

For the week we caught and released 54 walleyes over 27 in., including 6 – 28s, 6 – 29s, and 3 – 30s.  Volume was high with guides sheets averaging 35 walleyes over 18 in. per day.  The reason that there were production differences between days of this past week is that the walleyes were on the move.

Many of us were ready and prepared to move right into summer patterns and presentations.  If you were stuck on that mindset this week, then you were burned.  There were a few big walleyes caught off deep water rock and main lake sand, but the bulk of the production came on sand/rock transitions in front of the growing weed beds in 10 – 16 ft. of water.

If there was one take away for this past week, it was the use of plastics at speed to locate active walleyes.  Some guides were able to continue to work Gulp and plastics at speed for a win and others used plastics to locate a pod of fish and then went back on them with live bait and lighter jigs to pick off the rest of the reluctant biters.  You definitely had to be on your toes and even then, sometimes it didn’t matter.

I prefer to use the entire guide crew experience to explain the patterns, but to illustrate this week’s bite, I am going to describe my last 2 guide sheets.  On June 28, we had flat calm conditions and I fished absolutely everything I could think of.  At the end of the day, I had almost as many spots on my guide sheet as I had walleyes.  I did not fill the front of my sheet until 5:25 pm (23 walleyes over 18 in. from 16 locations.)  On June 29, I used a good piece of intel from Brandon’s previous round table and found a hot bite.  We only fished 3 spots that day and put 56 walleyes on the sheet with just a hand full of slots.  All of those fish were caught on Gulp at speed in 10 – 16 ft. of water on sand in front of weeds.  Everything was big and we never used a minnow.  That is the snap shot from the week of walleye fishing.  When it was good, it was great and when it was tough, we scrambled.  It isn’t always sunny at SWWL, but we always work hard to solve each day’s puzzle.

The past week’s most productive search bait was a 3/8 oz. jig with a 5 in. Gulp Alive Crazy legs jerk shad pulled at 1.0 – 1.4 mph in 11 – 16 ft. of water.  Many other variations worked, but if you had to pick one, that was the base line.

The big pike results surprised me again this week.  We caught and released 24 over 37 in., including 6 – 39s, 5 – 40s, 1 – 41, 1 – 42, and 1- 43.  On an average year, the cabbage weeds usually top out on or around the first week of July.  This year, many topped out this past week.  Timing of weed growth was part of the reason for a good week of results, but the guides responded to guest requests and put more effort into chasing Northerns as well.  Big spoons were the key to production, but in-line spinners also turned some nice fish.  A super highlight of the week – Tim Buckenberger caught and released the lodge record 42 in. tiger musky.  We do not see many, but over time, they are getting closer and closer to our home waters.  It is easy to get jaded guiding on Lac Seul every day, but this fish was Stunning!

The smallmouth bass bite lingered for a bit, but as predicted, it faded fast.  We caught and released 9 over 19 in.  including 2 – 20s.  It is still possible to catch a few bass, but we are moving on.  Bass season is pretty much over at the Wheel for 2023.

The Take Away –

We all would prefer to go “catching” instead of fishing.

We would all prefer that every day is sunny at SWWL, except when it ends up leading to a fire ban.

And we all want to guide big fish and lots of ‘em.

But it doesn’t work that way!  Even on a great fishery, it is tricky and complicated.  And that is what makes us appreciate it even more….

and is why we don’t book one day fishing trips!

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Additional Photos for July 1, 2023