Saturday, May 12, 2018

St. Louis River Esox lucius! aka Northern Pike

Fishing opener in Minnesota!  Finally.  Headed out to my home water on the St. Louis River.  I had one species in mind, Esox lucius, aka Northern Pike.  And I found a few willing to bite.  Main river water temperature was @ 54-55 degrees.  Found some shallow bays with temps between 56-57.  Shallow being less then 2', yes that's two feet!  This was part of the equation.  The other part was wood and bulrushes nearby.  Find that and there will be some bigger pike hanging around.  Getting them to bite was a different matter.

If a pike wanted the fly, there was no hesitation.  I had a lot of follows, including a couple of fish probably in the low 40's.  Quite a few missed strikes.  Most of the bigger fish just finished up spawn as they looked a little rough.  The biggest one in the boat was 38", very good fight.  Four fish were in the low 30's and serveral more in the upper 20's.  Had two bonus catches, 18" smallmouth!  I ran into a few short stretches that had all smallmouth.  Once I caught one or one missed the fly, I moved on.  No pike in the same area as the smallmouth, plus smallmouth bass are not in season.  2 more weeks and game one!  I also turned a huge musky, had it one for a couple of seconds.  At first I thought I had a snag, realized it was a fish, set the hook, musky rolled over, then unbuttoned!  Musky season is another month away.

One thing that really stood out to me today was how shallow the fish were.  1-2 feet.  The St. Louis River has a distinct color to it.  Water clarity is maybe 2 feet for most of the river.  It doesn't help that the river bottom blends in with the water color. It's hard to fish two feet of water and not see the bottom.  Most lakes you would see the fish, not on the river.

I broke in my new Sage Pike Fly Rod.  Sage says is a 10wt.  What a fantastic fly rod!  One word, it is smooth.  The 50 feet to 70 feet is it's bread and butter range.  But it was easy to punch out 30 yards when needed.  False cast are kept to a minimum, loads quickly with a false cast, water load, then out it goes 20 yards.  The was the first day throwing a big stick this year, about 4 hours, and my arm feels a little tight.  I was expecting to get home and wrap some ice, nope!

Okay, what flies did I use.  I tied a few quick ties using Mangums Dragon Tails.  These things looks really good in the water.  Not the most durable things on the planet.  See the photos.  I think I can write off the durability with the quality of fish I caught!

Check out this pike's nasty bite mark.  I want to catch the fish that made that bite.  I'm guessing it was a good sized musky.

Tight lines for the rest of the season.

I'm going fishing!


Sunday, April 1, 2018

Namekagon River Fishing Report March 28 2018

Hit the Namekagon River today and brought along the Sony to shoot some video.  Well at least try.  It's been a long time since I've done a fishing video.  Definitely need to invest in some GoPros.  I apologize for the noise and no music.

The fishing was very good and a fantastic day.  Winter stones crawling around the snow, wind knocking a lot down to the water, very low surface activity.  That will pickup as the water temps warm up.  The water temp was 43F in the afternoon.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Namekagon River fishing report for April 10, 2017

Another great day on the Namekagon River!  I decided to do a little exploring by poling up river near Larsens Landing going almost to the HWY 63 bridge crossing.  Lots of fishy looking water with out a lot of foot traffic from what I could tell.  If you have never tried canoe poling, you should, great way to cover a lot of water, plus you don't need to worry about a shuttle.

Water levels were perfect for wading.  Late afternoon water temps were between 48 and 50 degrees.  Very breezy today, 15-25 mph gusts.  The air temps warmed up into the upper 60's.  The good thing was the wind blowing from the south, so I got a little help poling up river.  Mostly sunny, with a some high thin clouds.

15 browns in total, mostly covering a lot of water wading downstream swinging streamers. I did get a few on nymphs, but mainly interested in covering new water. Biggest fist was around 15".  I did break my Brook trout record, 15" inches!!  I've never fished the Cable area of the Namekagon River, but know that brook trout exists in the river and have caught a few above the Hayward area.  I had the best day for brook trout on the river today.  They were going hard on the streamers.  Once you catch one, you most likely in a stretch where more of them are holding.  They don't exists in all areas of the river.  You have to put the leg work in to find the better holding areas.  Caught 4 more from 10"-13" inches, but lots of nippers and a few that unbuttoned.  Now I can understand the old reports from years ago about catches in the pounds.  Please cherish this precious resource for generations to come.

Remember to de-barb those hooks and practice CnR.

Tight lines!

Namekagon River fishing report April 4, 2017

Quick report on my first outing to the Namekagon River.  The river flow was stable and in very good wading condition.  Most of the snow is gone, so very little snow melt run off this year.  Normally we would have a good snow pack, melting only during the day.
A few stones flying in the late afternoon, and spotted a few small risers, but not much actively feeding on top.  Water temp at noon were from 46-48 degrees.  Clarity was normal.  Did not see anyone else on the water all day.  Fished the section between Phipps and Larsens landing.  Mostly sunny and slight breeze.  Did well on a heavy point fly nymph (Missy D) and small dark dropper nymph.  My first fish on the nymph was a 16" brownie.  Had a great rest of the day, mostly 10"-14" browns.  A few good fights with false browns......redhorse suckers! Lost a couple of nice browns swinging a bugger cross down stream.  Great first day on the Namekagon River!

Tight lines!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Damage control on Chequamegon Bay

This is what happens when you have four great days on Chequamegon Bay!  I had to do some damage control on my fishing thumb to round out the last day on the water.

No need to mention again what a great fisheries Chequamegon Bay is with many fish over 3 lbs., but I just had too.  Along with quantity comes quality out on the bay.

Fished with a good friend on Friday and Saturday.  Continued with Larry and Ron from outstate on Sunday and Monday.  What a great group of people to share the boat with, lots of good laughs and great conversations and making lasting memories.

Friday June 6, 2014
Very nice day out on Chequamegon today.  Lots of big bass boated on the fly.  Intermediate sink tip line twitched slowly was a good bet.  Lots of little ones willing to take faster moving flies up shallow.

Saturday June 7, 2014
Good sized thunderstorm and heavy rains Saturday morning until about 2pm.  Overcast becoming sunny later in the afternoon.  Winds were low until the clouds blew out and the wind picked up.

Sunday June 8, 2014
Cool, sunny day.  A lot of boats today and the landing was packed.  We managed to get a bunch fatties.  I wanted to fish the deeper drop offs and channels, but the boat traffic was too much.

Monday June 9, 2014
Cool, mostly cloudy, light winds in morning.  Sunny and wind picked up in afternoon.  The top water bite was good in the shallows early morning.  Ron managed his biggest smallmouth on the fly rod at 19.5".  What a nice looking fish.

There are some bigger fish located on the first drops in deeper water.  Most people were fishing up shallow, 3 feet or less.  The bigger males and females are hanging out in the deeper water 5-8 ft.  Hard to fish with fly rods when the wind is blowing, but it is doable.  Using jigs in the deeper water was a good bet.

Overall the water temps ranged from upper 50 to mid 60's for the majority of the bay.  There was some warmer temps near 70 as you getter further up into Sand Cut and Kakagon Slough areas.  Air temps ranged from mid 50's to upper 60's as there was a easterly wind much of the weekend.  Lake Superior water is probably still in the upper 40's, ouch that cold.

I expect the spawn to be in the latter half after this weekend.  There are plenty of areas that smallmouth spawn that never see a lure.  There are also lot late spawners, and usually bigger males out in deeper spawning areas.  Areas where you usually can't see the bottom.

Rock bass are coming in heavy which signals the tough fight for protecting males and means rapidly warming waters.  The juvenile bass are starting school up and chasing minnows.  The bigger fish will join them soon.  If the water stays relatively cool, the bigger fish will stay shallow picking off young of year fry and other baitfish.  This makes for great top water action!

Everyone get out while the action is hot.  It won't be long until the deeper weed lines and structure, with warmer water draws the big fish out to the main lake.

Tight lines!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Chequamegon Bay June 4 2014

It was an excellent day to be on Chequamegon Bay!  Tim and I had a great day catching some big bronzebacks.  Tim is a great fishing partner and made the trip very enjoyable, thanks again.  The action was much better in the late morning to early afternoon.  After a major wind shift blowing from the SE, the action slowed down.  A few Seiche tides happened through out the day.  Wind blowing one way and the boat going the opposite direction can screw with your mind.  The air temps were hovering in the 60's.  The winds were from light and variable to 10-15 mph gusts in the afternoon.  When the sun was out and the winds were low it was t-shirt weather.  Just a slight breeze brought the jackets back on.  The water temperatures ranging from 58 on the main lake to about 65 around the Oak point area.  Kakagon Slough area was off colored a bit from the recent rains Monday/Tuesday.  There are plenty of fish to catch, so get out and get some action!

The one thing I did not want see is a half dozen 3 to 5 pound smallmouth floating dead in the water!!  I'm sure there were a few more that I didn't see.  That's just unacceptable!  Fish with gills tore up and one with a hook line still attached clearly cut to spare the fish.  It sucks to see a big 4 pound female full of eggs trying to stay up right and line running out of its gullet  Hey, I understand fish are going to die from time to time, but damn, do your best to not let it happen.  At least the fish won't go to waste as there are plenty of eagles in the area.

I have an idea which boat it was because it was a fairly slow day boat wise.  You can spot bait users easily a mile away out on the bay.  I have nothing against using live bait and everyone is entitled to fish their way.  I just choose not to use live bait when there are a high number of 3 to 5 pound smallmouth in such a small concentrated area?....come on!  Why are they in this area to begin with??  To spawn!

Each person is allowed to fish with three rods.  One boat had four rods going, three bobbers and one casting.  It looked they were slip bobbering for walleyes.  If your going to use live bait, please hold on to your bobber rods and set the hook the second it goes down!  Start using bigger hooks and/or circle hooks.  There is no excuse to let these big smallies run with the bait and waste time winding up slack line.

Let's protect this great resource we have on Chequamegon Bay!  I say we start a petition to go back to artificial only.  Every fish counts.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Can't touch this....Clouser time!

Clouser's ready for action!

I have some new recruits to add to the arsenal I already lost this year.  The Gamakatsu B10S stinger hooks are sticky sharp!  A fish just needs to breathe on the fly and they are hooked :)  I'm trying a few different experimental colors and tying just a bit sparser this year.  The secret Chequamegon Bay color is somewhere in there ;)  As I wrote this, I wondered who takes pictures of the flies they tied.......Hope everyone it out enjoying the weather and wetting a line!
Tight lines!