451 West Sheridan Street Ely, Minnesota 55731
Fishing Report
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Fall has arrived, and has brought with it some cooler temperatures, which can be great news for anglers wishing to get in on the late season bite. Walleyes are beginning to migrate towards deeper waters as opposed to the shallows where they have been prowling for the past couple of months. This is prime time to break out those deep running crank baits to take advantage of fish that are beginning to put on the feed bag in earnest, before the big chill of Winter arrives. Some anglers are beginning to see the uptick in catch rates as they probe the depths for many species to include northern pike, smallmouth bass, crappies and of course the much sought after, walleyes. Crawler harnesses are still a good option as you are able to present these offerings at any depth, and as in this past Summer season, have been very effective. The fish will still be actively seeking a meal in shallower areas as the heat of the day warms things up.

Smallmouth bass anglers are returning to more sub-surface lures to include crank baits and soft plastics worked along and around mid-lake rock piles. This is not to say that one should give up on using surface lures, as these can still be very effective later in the day. This might be a good time to explore using a wacky rigged worm for those that have not experienced the effectiveness of this tactic both along shorelines and weed edges. These also can be weighted to work down to twenty feet or so in the water column.

Crappie action has been sporadic at best, but this is the time of year when they really begin to bunch up and feed voraciously along deep weed edges. Small crappie minnows work well for most people, but over the years many are beginning to see the effectiveness of small, soft plastics fished on a jig. One of the most attractive facets of using plastics is that you can get right back down into the water without rebaiting your hook, which is critical when you come across a school of active biters. When the bite slows, start fan casting to try and determine which way the school might be moving, so that you can continue to catch fish. As far as rigging goes, it may be best to use a small jig in the 1/64th to 1/8th weight under a slip bobber. The slip knot will help you adjust your depth to maintain contact with active feeders.

Pike are still hitting spinner baits and spoons, but this is also a great time of year to land some monster size fish on crank baits. The bigger the better at times as all of the newly hatched bait of Spring has had an opportunity to grow. Some more laid back folks are still using live sucker minnows in their quest for pike while those in the know have found that using a dead bait such as a sucker or frozen smelt can really account for some dandy fish. Big fish don't get big by chasing things around, they are opportunistic and will readily pick up a lifeless bait on the bottom.

Lake trout afficianados are still having success trolling crank baits and spoons in water from forty-five to sixty feet. Some of the best fishing for these deep water brutes is yet to come as water temperatures begin to fall.

Smallmouth bass fishermen are having a heyday on most of the areas lakes these days. Some are still finding that top water baits have been the go-to bait and the smallies have been smashing them with gusto. One of the area guides suggest that when the bait hits the water, just let the ripples from it's landing die down, then just give the bait a twitch. This has been when the big boys are attacking. Some of the bass have exceeded twenty inches and are really putting on the feed bag. At times they are so eager to bite that one or more fish have been following the hooked bass right to the boat. The fish have also been responding to spinner baits fished just below the surface. Chartruese has been the color of choice with yellow a close second. Small sucker minnows have also been responsible for some dandy catches when fished below a bobber three to five feet down.

Walleyes have begun to sink deeper in the water column and are falling for crank baits down to twenty feet. Bait selection has been all over the board as far as color is concerned, with many finding that silver or shad in clear water, and brighter colors in bog stained water being the best choices. It appears that patterns don't seem to matter as much as placement. Watch your electronics closely to find where the fish are holding, then drop your offering to just above them for best results. On deeper, clear water lakes, you'll find fish suspended from twenty feet all the way down to forty-five feet. This is where a rig with lead core line, or a line counter reel really shines as you can then replicate the depth that is productive time and again. Walleyes will rise to a bait as opposed to diving down to bite one, so keep that in mind for proper lure placement. Crawler harnesses are working well too at this time of year, and are much easier to put them right at the bottom where some fish are holding, in shallower lakes. Early and late in the day, try working your baits in shallower water which could be as little as five to seven feet.

Pan fishermen have been doing well as the sunnies and crappies are holding just outside of weed edges. Top baits have been wax worms or pieces of a crawler on a small jig dangled below a small slip bobber for the sunnies and tipped with a minnow or soft plastic bait for the crappies. Early and late in the day has been the most productive, but these fish will readily bite throughout the day.

Northern pike have been responding well to large crank baits and spoons fished in these same weedy areas. Some anglers have been replacing their treble hooks with single hooks to alleviate the accumilation of debris on the lure as they work close in to the weeds. As always, use a wire leader for pike as their sharp teeth will sever most monofilament lines easily. If you choose to not use wire, then use a heavier braided line on your reel, and examine it after each fish and then trim any frayed line before retying.

Trout anglers are still reporting some good catches in the areas stocked lakes. Small crank baits, spinners, and spoons seem to be working well. Try to get your lure down to ten to fifteen feet for best results. Even a floating crank bait can be worked at these depths by adding a small weight just ahead of the lure. For those who prefer to use live bait, then try a half crawler suspended under a slip bobber at these same depths. This can be a great way to get kids hooked on trout as the rainbows and brook trout will readily take the bait as they cruise by. Some lake trout have been landed by using slender crank baits or spoons fished down to forty feet or so on lakes such as Burntside and Snowbank. Color preferences have been all over the board, so it pays to switch baits often to see what they will repond to.

Another tourist season is drawing to a close, now that the Labor Day holiday is behind us. This is not to say that the fishing season is over, far from it. This is the time that the more serious anglers head to the North Country to get in on some of the best fishing of the year. Say what you will about the fishing opener, this is the time when fish species are beginning to put on the feed bag for the winter ahead as the air and water temperatures begin to cool.

Walleye fishing of late has been a hit or miss proposition for many, however those anglers who practiced their due diligence have been rewarded with some great catches. For the past few weeks, fishing has been best in the shallower flats of the lakes. Now, these same areas will be less productive as the water cools and fish will be dropping down in the water column to find a more comfortable water temperature. Crawler fishing will still remain a viable bait option as feeding fish will regularly consume the terrestrials that abound in the summer months. Within the next few weeks though, the fish will be returning their attention to bait fish that are getting larger and going deeper. Larger minnows (when available) will be a good ticket to action, as well as trolling or casting larger crank baits. An F-9 or F-11 floating Rapala can be deadly at this time when combined with a bottom bouncer to get them down into the strike zone. Other cranks will also work well when they dive to the 9-15' range. Keep in mind, that at this time of year the bait fish have had all summer to grow, therefore the bait profile that you offer should be larger as well.

Smallmouth bass have been responding well to surface lures and floating/diving lures. This should remain true as long as water temps stay in the 60s. When the water cools, it's time to break out the sub-surface tackle. This is when the soft baits such as crawfish and Senko style worms or tubes will really become the go-to baits. Begin fishing shallow rock piles and work progressively deeper until you find the depth that the fish are holding on, then concentrate your efforts on that depth range.

Big pike have been smashing larger crank baits and spinners in drop-offs adjacent to weed edges or rocky points. Cranks in the six to eight inch range are definitely not too large to attract these voracious predators. From now until the ice begins to form has inherently been the optimal time to catch giant pike. These fish know that winter is not too far off and they will feed heavily to put on their winter weight to see them through the months ahead, when everything slows down.

Stream and lake trout action has been very good, with more and more anglers turning their attention to these hard fighting species. Lake trout are readily taking large crank baits and spoons in waters from thirty-five all the way down to sixty feet. A Dipsy Diver will get your bait down into these areas with no problem, as long as you have a stout enough rod to get them there. This is a great tool to use, when you don't want to invest a lot of money by buying downriggers. Stream trout on the other hand require very little investment in tackle. One of the most productive way to catch them other than fishing a crawler under a bobber set at ten to fifteen feet is to troll or cast a small crank bait,spoon, or spinner at these depths. A small split shot will allow you to fish even a floating lure at ten feet down or more, depending on how deep you want to run. Watch your electronics to find at what depth and concentrate your efforts there. It's not necessary to be at the exact depth, as the fish will rise to stike.

Walleye fishing has remained fairly steady on most of the lakes up north as the fall season descends upon us. Some of the walleyes have begun to stage a bit deeper these days as the water temperatures begin to cool. This is the perfect scenario to drag out those deep diving crank baits from the tackle box and put them to work. The larger lures can be deadly at this time of year as the bait fish are at the largest of the season, after filling out over the past few months. Cranks up to six inches long are the norm for folks who are probing the depths down to twenty feet or so. Clear water lakes require baits that are neutral in color such as shad or shiner. Off color lakes that are bog stained are best fished with brighter patterns such as fire tiger or orange, which will show up better when fishing at depth. Live bait afficianados are still dragging crawler harnesses with good success. As the water cools further, minnows will begin to come back into play and this can be some of the best fishing of the season as most fish species will be seeking to put on some weight before the water temps plunge.

Smallmouth and largemouth bass are still attacking some surface lures, but this top water action will wane, then deeper diving cranks and soft baits will re-emerge as the baits of choice. Soft crayfish bait imitations can be just the ticket for catching some of the largest bass of the season.

Lake trout anglers are still having some action while pulling spoons and crank baits in water from thirty to forty-five feet down, while the stream trout such as rainbows and splake are staging from ten to fifteen feet no matter what the depth of the lake might be. This is also a good time to fish crawlers suspended under a bobber for those who wish to take a more laid back approach. Active fishermen have turned to trolling small crank baits and spoons at these same depths.

Crappies have been turning up in better numbers just recently, and this action should just keep getting better as the summer season draws to a close. One can slow troll small spinners such as Beetle Spins or tiny crank baits to locate schools of crappies, then you can work them over with these same lures, or switch over to minnows, or jigs tipped with soft plastics.

Pike anglers are gearing up for the months ahead before the lakes begin to freeze over. This is another opportunity to use larger crank baits and spoons fished along deeper drop-offs adjacent to weedy areas or rocky points. Thes fish will move shallower during the day, but seek deeper water during the evening or early morning hours.

Lake trout have garnered the attention of more and more anglers recently as they find out that these fish can be caught without investing a ton of cash on equipment. Many anglers have found that all one needs to do is get the lure down to the fish, whether it be by adding some extra weight by using a sinker or two on a three way swivel or adding a Dipsy Diver to get their offerings down into the strike zone. Another option is to invest in a large capacity reel that will allow you to load a spool of lead core line of ten colors. Five colors seem to be the best length for getting a lure into the strike zone. A dipsy Diver with get your lure down to fifty or sixty feet, which is right where you want to be at this time of year with just a small investment. Downriggers have been the way to go for most, but that involves spending a hundred dollars or more for the downrigger equipment. A Dipsy setup will cost you less than thirty dollars if you already have a rod with some backbone to hold up to the extra load on the line. Tie on a large deep diving crakbait or spoon, and you're good to go. Vary your trolling speed from 1 mph up to 2.3 mph and just move along in water depths down to a hundred feet. Most are finding fish cruising around for a meal between forty to sixty feet. Best lakes to provide action are Burntside, Snowbank,outside the BWCA, or Basswood, Thomas, or Knife inside those boundaries.

The top walleye producer during this time of season has to be a crawler on a Lindy style spinner rig. Crawlers are easy to care for and have been accounting for fish since fishing was born. A good fresh night crawler will give off a scent that seems to trigger fish like no other bait. Leeches, when and where available at this time of year, have been stored for a good while as trapping them during late summer has come to a screching halt. The longer a leech is stored, the smaller they become and any scent within has bled out. Minnows are another option, but during the summer the availability of them is way down, and keeping them in the warm water is difficult. Soon the minnow bite will return as cooler water temps will allow them to be trapped in better numbers and size once again.

Panfish action has remained steady, but should soon get even better. As the water cools, most fish will begin to bunch up and they will start feeding more heavily before the winter temperatures set in. Sunfish will readily strike a piece of worm or a wax worm or two on a jig head or plain hook, and the crappies cannot resist a small minnow placed in front of them. Some anglers are now seeing the benefits of small plastic baits for crappies and sunnies both, as they allow you to catch multiple fish without rebaiting. When the bite is on, rebaiting takes too much time out of the equation where you could be hooking up fish.

Northern pike are still very active. Large crank baits and spinner baits rule as top choices for hookups. Fish around weed edges or island points for the best chance at hooking one of the best fighting fish around. Some pike approach the thirty pound mark and can be a real challenge to land without a heavy action rod in hand. Some walleye anglers are getting a surprise when a big pike inhales their  catch right at the boat. It's not unusual to have them take a walleye of two pounds or more.

Bass action remains steady, whether it be largemouth or smallmouth. Top water presentation are still a viable option and should continue for the next few weeks. Some of the larger specimens are being caught a bit deeper, on cranks and soft baits to include tubes and crawfish imitations.