451 West Sheridan Street Ely, Minnesota 55731
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Fishing Report
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The walleye bite remains fairly consistent throughout the area. Most of the anglers out are using either crawlers or leeches, whether rigged on a spinner, or jigged around sunken islands or reefs. Most fish are coming from 15 - 22' of water right now, but some folks are picking up some nice catches near shore in 4-10' early and late in the day. Crank baits are also catching some impressive numbers of fish that are down deeper in the water column. Try using Berkley's Flicker Shad, Flicker Minnows or Rapala Deep Tail Dancers and Shad Raps. At times when fish are really running deep, you can either add a bit of weight to your current setup by using split shot or rubber core sinkers, and this will get you down into the zone. Another good option is to spool up a rig with lead core line as this setup works great in depths below twenty-five feet.

Smallmouth and largemouth bass have really turned on with the advent of warmer weather. Some of the largest fish have been smashing the new Whopper Ploppers and frog imitations that are worked around weed beds and shorelines. Throughout the daylight hours, spinner baits have been working very well, but some anglers are getting frustrated over the pike cutting them off. At times, when the action is hot, try using a wire leader.Most of the fish tend to ignore the leader and focus on the commotion of a good topwater bait worked rapidly. There are times of course when they may shy away from a leader, but this is the exception rather that the rule.

As mentioned, northerns will readily smash a surface bait, whether it's a duck, mouse, frog or any other of the variety of surface lures. Most of the action will take place around weed beds, but these are rapidly dissappearing on many lakes due to the proliferation of rusty crawfish,which can decimate the weeds that they use as a food source. In spite of this, the pike are still out there in good numbers and are more than ready to attack anything in their vicinity. Over the last several years pike fishermen are using large spinner baits with great success as well.

Lake trout have been active on Burntside Lake. Folks draging larger crank baits and spoons have been catching them in water depths from twenty-five to forty-five feet of water. Although the fish being caught are not trophy size, many of them are in the five to eight pound range with an occassional fish exceeding ten pounds. The larger fish seem to be holding in depths of sixty to seventy-five feet.

 

The holiday weekeng turn out of anglers was the largest since fishing opener, and many of those venturing out were successful in their pursuit. The reports of walleye catches were  impressive. Not only were there good numbers of fish being caught, but also some larger walleyes were being reported. The overall consensus of those that did well, was to fish at all depths till you find active fish. Some folks were trolling crank baits and did well for themselves. Cranks allow you to cover a considerable amount of the lake in the shortest amount of time, and this was key in locating the depth at which the fish were holding. Early and late in the day, one needs to work the shallows as this is where the walleyes travel to seek their prey during low light conditions. That is not to say that these fish leave the shallows during mid day, some will continue to feed there as long as the food source remains viable. Some walleyes were being caught during the day in as little as five feet of water. Tip a spinner rig with a crawler or a leech, and you can expect similar results. This method can also be the key when working a mud or sand flat. Many of the surrounding lakes have very rocky bottoms, but the majority of food sources will be found on soft bottoms. The insects and invertabrates continually rise from the silt, and this is where the smaller bait fish will be found. Find the bait, find the fish. Don't overlook mid lake humps or reefs though, as these can also be places of refuge for forage fish that find concealment there when surrounded by featureless flats. This might be the perfect place to either vertical jig or slip bobber live baits.

Pike fishing has been very good of late. Spinners and spoons or larger profile shallow diving crank baits worked along weed edges and rocky points have been most productive. Some pike fishermen are also having a great time tossing surface poppers and stick baits. There's nothing like the rush of a huge fish exploding out of the water smashing a top water bait.

Speaking of surface baits, bass anglers have also been enjoying some great action as the summer bite heats up. Tiny Torpedos, hula poppers and jitterbugs are lures that have been around for a long time, and are still a great choice to cash in on the surface bite. Although they are worked primarily during daylight hours, some fishermen love the sound of the baits being pounded during the evening or early morning hours of darkness.

Stream trout action has improved as well. Some fly fishermen have been having a great time plying the area trout lakes in search of feisty rainbow trout. These aerial acrobats are just a blast when caught on a nice limber fly rod.  This of course is not the only method to land a limit of rainbows. Some will take to trolling small spinners or spoons to get the job done, while others will just take the easy route by suspending a crawler under a bobber. Each method has it's own merits, and all can get the job done.

Walleyes have begun to take up residence in their summer haunts. Look for fish in transition zones where islands and reefs transition into a mud or sand bottom. This is a good time to dust off those deeper running crank baits and troll along these areas where baitfish and their predators congregate. Varying the speed of your trolling patterns are important right now as fish will respond differently to a crank bait that can be running too slow as opposed to running too fast. A zig-zag approach can help in this process and will help you determine your speed. When making the sweep, take note if you recieve a strike on either the inside or outside turns. Baits will speed up on the outside sweeps and slow or stall on inside turns. If the outside baits take the hit, then it's time to speed up. Whenever you mark fish and they don't seem to respond to a trolled crank bait, then it's time to anchor up just off the area and work it over with a jig and live bait presentation. Whether you use leeches, crawlers or minnows, is not nearly as important as the location. Another thing to consider is that the walleyes will bunch up according to size, If you begin to catch fish on the small side, then maybe it's time to search for another area that may be holding larger fish.

Northern pike are responding to casted spoons and spinner baits. Work over the areas adjacent to weed edges or rock piles as these predators are looking to pick off an easy meal as the bait leaves cover to forage. Live baiting with suckers or shiners can be very effective as well in these scenarios. Work the baits in three to ten feet of water. Some of the larger pike will readily grab a trolled crank bait or spoon on deeper drop-offs, and will also pick up on dead baits fished right on the bottom. Try using frozen smelt or suckers as giant pike will take these baits without expending a lot of energy. Big fish don't usually grow big by expending a lot of energy, they are opportunistic feeders that will opt for an easy meal.

Crappies on smaller impoundments have begun to create spawning beds in the shallows. Water temps have begun to climb and this will trigger their activities. These fish can be in as little as one or two feet of water, down to six or seven feet, so this is a perfect time to work micro size jigs tipped with minnows, soft plastics or feathers. When in really shallow water it might be prudent to eliminate the slip bobber and opt for just the jig on light line. When fishing more than four feet or so the slip or fixed bobber will help indicate the strike. try using the smallest float that you can get away with to make your cast. Remember that these fish are very spooky in shallow water, so it's best to stay well off your target area and make longer casts.

Smallmouth and largemouth bass have begun the spawning ritual too, and can be very aggresive in protecting their nests. This is a great chance to refine your casting techniques as baits that are presented near, and even through a nesting site will be rewarded with the most fish slamming it as they attempt to remove the threat. The nest themselves can be easy to determine as the fanned out spot can be a different color than the surrounding bottom. A pair of polarized glasses are of utmost importance as they allow you to see through the glare of the waters' surface. This is where a jig and soft bait can be very effective. Cast either over ar near the nest and slowly retrieve the bait. A small floating crank bait or surface lure works great under these conditions too.

Walleye anglers have been treated to some good catches lately as their targets are beginning to return to their summer patterns. Once again the areas which one fishes are more important than the presentation. Some fine fish are falling for slow trolled crank baits along the drops associated with shallow flats and humps, along with the use of jig and leech or crawler combinations. Crawler fishing has made a resurgence in the past couple of years, as anglers revert back to these tried and true baits. A crawler harness hooked up behind a bottom bouncer or walking sinker has been working very well. Try working up and down the drop walls until you find that sweet spot depth. Crawlers are much easier to keep for most folks as all they require is to keep them cool. Even in a longer duration trip such as into the Boundary Waters for days on end, it's possible to maintain, good, lively bait. All that is required is that you place a wet cloth over the bait container, and keep it out of direct sunlight. The evaporative cooling should keep the bait well enough on all but the hottest of days. Leeches should keep well to if you choose to use them. It's advisable to add a stone to your leech container to sink it below the surface, which holds the warmest water. Sinking a bait container three feet or more can reduce the temperatures by five to ten degrees. This also applies to anglers using minnows.

Largemouth and smallmouth bass action has also heated up recently as the males are on the beds guarding the nests during the spawn. Females too will readily hit a slow worked soft bait or crank bait worked in the shallow waters. Please release any egg laden females as these are producing the next generation of fish. Using a heavier line to catch them is essential as this allows you to get the fish to the boat quicker and return them to the water without the stress of a longer battle. Crawfish patterns are working extremely well under these conditions and should continue for the next couple of weeks. Some of the nesting sites are easy to locate, as the bottom that hold the eggs or fry will usually be slightly lighter in color than the surrounding bottom.

Northern pike have become more aggressive of late as the abundance of juvenile forage fish has increased with young of the year fry and fingerlings roaming the shallows. Spinner baits and spoons are the preferred bait for most, but a sucker fished under a bobber or simply laid right on the bottom are irresitable to these toothy denizens. Some anglers are beginning to see the merits of soft swim baits worked along shorelines, weed edges or rocky points. Your rate of retieval should vary until you find the proper speed that the fish will respond to. At times a slow retrieve will work just fine, but other times you may want to rip your bait across the surface. Some bass anglers have been hooking up some impressive pike as they ply the skinny water. Without a wire leader though many finish their retieve with a bare line. A good braided line can avert this result as well when tied directly to a lure.

The crappie spawn has been slow to materialize on many lakes as the water temps have taked their time to rise. On some of the smaller shallow lakes the action can be hot while on larger impoundments the temps are just now approaching spawning temperature. Simple rigs such as a minnow under a bobber work well, but if you want to cover more water try tying a small jig and plastic minnow or other soft bait such as a curly tail to your line. This also helps you to keep on casting to the productive spots without constantly rebaiting your hook. Johnson Beetle spins work well at this time of year, but keep a few different color tails on hand as at times this will make the difference of getting bit or not.

Lake trout have also begun to migrate to the deeper waters as temps rise. Most folks have begun to pick them up  thirty to sixt feet down in the water column, whereas just a couple weeks ago they were being caught at twenty-five feet. Spoons and cranks trolled at two to two and a half mph seem to be the ticket to draw a response. Color choice seems to vary day by day so it's best to have a selection of colors and change them often, to ascertain what the lakers will respond to. Downriggers are the preferred method to get the baits to depth, but in lieu of that, a Dipsy Diver or even a large sinker on a three way swivel should get you in the zone.

 

The walleyes are beginning to leave the shallows and are starting to roam about their summer haunts as the water temperatures continue to rise. Crank baits at this time of the season wll be the preferred tool of choice due to their ability to be run at different depths and speed. These search missions should begin in the shallowest parts of the lakes early in the day and work progressively deeper as the day wears on. Some anglers are having success at mid-day down to twenty-five feet, and this is where large lipped cranks can be very productive. Begin your trolling at speeds around .8 mph and gradually increase your speed up to about 1.7 or 1.8 if necessary. When you hit that sweet spot in your pattern and have a strike or you land a fish, make a note of your speed and direction, and try to dupicate it. More often than not there will be other fish in the area, as walleyes tend to school near a food source. For live bait anglers, it's a good idea to carry a variety of baits to dial in what the fish might prefer at the time. Leeches, crawlers, and minnows will all work, but one might stand out above the rest, and you might not want to be sitting next to a bucket of leeches while the fish are on a minnow bite.

The rising water temperatures have kicked in the pre-spawn for smallmouth bass. The bass are beginning to strike out at anything that encroaches upon their nesting site. This is a perfect time to refine your techniques of pitching soft baits and shallow running cranks. Soft baits can be extremely productive right now as they allow you to slowly crawl the bait along the bottom near and even over these nests. The bass's instincts are to attack and remove these threats. Many times they will not engulf the baits, but merely pick them up and move them away, and if you are watching this action with a pair of polarized glasses these fish can be hooked and played as they pick up what you have to offer. Catch and release should be dutifully practiced during the spawn as these reproductive cycles are the future of our continued success.

Crappies too are getting ready for the mating game. A few anglers have reported seeing crappies in as little as a foot of water, some even less, with their backs sticking above the surface. While it's best not to disturb or disrupt the process, it's hard to resist taking a few of the slabs home for the dinner table. Small minnows or tiny jigs fished under a slip bobber can be irresistable right now. Keep in mind though that when you're working these fish in the shallows, stealth is extremely important. Use very light line so that you may make longer casts as these fish are extra spooky.