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June 24, 2023


There are many story lines from this past week at SWWL on Lac Seul, but the most obvious is that we hit the peak of the smallmouth bass bite with our groups that most appreciate it.   Many of this week’s guests don’t care to chase smallies and they devoted their time to fishing for big walleyes or hunting big pike.  Surprisingly, all three were success stories.

Kendal Hartley and Mark Bailey have been bringing a big group up to the Wheel from Texas for more than 20 years.  Some of the guys prefer to fish for walleyes, but many of them love to catch big smallmouth bass.  Timing is critical.  Some years they have been a little early and some years, they have been a little late but this year, the weather was perfect and the bass bite was on.  For the week, we caught and released 53 smallmouth bass over 19 in., including 9 – 20s.  My buddy Davis Hartley caught 2 – 20 in. Master Angler smallmouth bass during his stay.

Volume was high for most days, but there were a few off periods.  Today was the first day that I fished grade A smallmouth spots and saw mayfly casings on the water with a few adults.  On Lac Seul, the beginning of the mayfly hatch is the environmental marker that let’s us know that the smallmouth bass bite is on the wane.  Some years, there is a wide span of time between the hatch in the range of smally spots.  This year it is happening all at once.  The cold front last week was a break and the heat this week kicked it back to full speed.  This is the first year that I have seen the mayfly hatch start on the North shore.  We will see a few more big bass on the sheet next week, but my prediction is that it is going to come to a grinding and screeching halt.  I saw surface temps in the low 80s today.  And we have already had reports of random bass being caught out of 12 – 15 ft.  For my boat, bass season ended today.

Ed Rosenow has been fishing for big pike on Lac Seul for more than 30 years.  He taught my guides a few spots back in the day.  He and his wife Debbie have been fishing with us for years and they had a good week of pike hunting.  Ed caught a 38 and 39 and Debbie caught a 40 with Jason.  They spent some time on bass and walleyes, but they prefer to chase pike.  And for them, this was also a successful trip.

For the week, our pike anglers caught and released, 18 over 37 in., including 5- 39s, 4 – 40s, and 1 – 42.  I could spend a week telling you what worked.  The bottom line was, be aggressive and versatile.  The guides love to debate this issue on a daily basis, but the truth is that sometimes emerging weeds are the key, sometimes wind-blown structure is more important, and sometimes during transition, you just cover as much water as you can and hope for the best.   Spoons (Williams whitefish and Cabela’s) were top producers, but Jakes, spinnerbaits, and In lines were also up there.

There were many big walleyes caught this week, but there was one that was off the charts.  Brett McCallum has been guiding at the Wheel forever, and he will tell you that Emma Larson is magic.  I did not look it up, but I think she started catching big walleyes when she was 9.  Back in the day, Brett would say, “she is a great young walleye angler and just catches big ones…..”  This week, Brett just said, “She did it again.”  Emma caught and released a massive 30.25 in. walleye that is our cover photo.

For the week, we caught and released 61 walleyes over 27 in., including 18 – 28s, 4 – 29s, and 1 – 30.  Volume was high and then it wasn’t.  The big ones were caught deep in 20 – 30 ft. and then they weren’t (10 – 14 ft.).  We had to slow down and fish finesse presentations down deep and then we caught them pulling big Gulp at speed shallow.

Sometimes I am concerned, that readers will get frustrated with our seemingly random fishing report.  But then…. this is what happened.  And to be truthful, for every success story there was another one that was not so successful.  And some days, that is my story.  You appreciate the win more when you have to fight through the loss.

The last story line is that I still guide every day.  I know that I shouldn’t, but I have groups that I love to guide and I can’t give them up.  And for that reason, I am writing a fishing report at 12:31.  It will not be Shakespeare, but I am going to do my best to tell the story…. and then I am going to get up tomorrow morning, make plans with my crew, and we are going to do it all over again.

Living the dream… but a little tired.

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Additional Photos for June 24, 2023