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June 15, 2024

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Changes!
It was a typical week of mid-June weather; a little sun, some wind, and a cold front. The lake level continues to rise and is not far from normal. Even with typical weather and lake level conditions, the fish are moving, and the patterns are changing rapidly.

The walleye bite was variable this past week. There were a couple of unbelievably fast bites and there were a couple of tough days as well. The fastest walleye fishing occurred on wind blown transition areas in 8 – 15 ft. of water. I had a few guide boats that routinely checked deeper looking for bigger fish and they did find some, but it was never an aggressive bite. I continue to be surprised at how many walleyes are still being caught from 20 – 30 ft. of water. They may have always been down there, but we have been much more consistent at checking the depths regardless of season.

For the week we caught and released 37 walleyes over 27 in., including 8 – 28s. Overall volume was strong with guide sheets averaging 45 – 50 walleyes over 18 in. per day. The highest daily total was 87. What we don’t really talk about is how many walleyes between 24 and 26 in. that we are putting in the boat every day. Jigs and minnows produced the most (I heard a lot more reports of ¼ oz jigs and speed this week instead of long lining 1/8s.) There were a few good pitch bites at the end of the week and guides are also starting to see some good numbers dragging plastics. The 4-inch Zman twister has been a winner and so has the Gulp crazy legs Jerk shad.

It was feast or famine for big pike this week. There were some big ones caught, but there were also some reports of a great deal of time spent casting with very little result. The best big fish bite occurred early in the week during the second day of bright, hot sunshine. Most of us assumed that the super shallow water spring bite was over for the year. A few of the guides were just being thorough and checking all our early season patterns when they ran into some really big pike back in the skinny water. They weren’t all the way back in 1 – 2 ft, but they were just one level off those areas. The cabbage weed beds are between 3 and 4 ft. tall on the main lake today. Those transition fish will be moving into their pre-summer haunts soon. In the next week, we are still going to have to fish it all to find them.

For the week, we caught and released 25 pike over 37 in., including 12 – 37s, 5 – 38s, 4 – 39s, 1 – 40, and 3 – 41s. It is so hard to beat a spoon for production this time of year. They cover water fast and they work to not only hook active fish, but also to get neutral fish to follow. Locating a big one this time of year is often half the battle.
The biggest change for the week was the bass fishing. When the painted turtles start digging nests to lay their eggs in the sand around the lodge, then we know we are getting close. They started this week. We have not hit the peak yet, but it is not far away. Our south shore regions are already producing large numbers of bass along with big fish. The main lake basin and north shore areas are turning a few fish, but not with the consistency of the south shore. The key is finding known bass areas with surface temps rising into the low to mid 60s. Jigs with twisters, small cranks, and tubes all turned fish, but we are still a few degrees away from a consistent topwater bite.

For the week we caught and released 35 smallmouth bass over 19 in., including 6 over 20. There were several daily reports with 20 – 40 bass between 15 and 20 in. boated in an afternoon.

The Take Away: I have been part of many good guide staffs over the years, but it has been a long time since I have been surrounded by a group of professionals that simply are not satisfied to go out and collect fish off known grade A spots. Every nightly round table has multiple surprises; walleyes in 30 ft. of water on summer sand spots, big pike still in the back water shallows when they should be moving to summer transition, and smallmouth bass with numbers and size in new areas. And those are just the highlights and wins from all the experiments conducted this past week. Many of the other experiments failed, but those guides were being just as brave and clever. This guide staff is hungry for knowledge and information, and I am excited to be part of it.

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