Water surface temperatures are averaging 69-72, and with current average air temperatures and forecasts, it should remain stable in that range for a while. While the timing of the season could have been characterized as a bit behind an average year, everything is quickly catching up. Weed growth is as good as I’ve seen it in recent years, especially with the normal or slightly high water levels. However, regardless of the lake section, weed growth has been ahead on west/northern shores and a bit behind on the east/southern shorelines/bays. Now that water temperatures are averaging near the 70’s, all are quickly growing and filling in.
The mayfly hatch has wound down and patterns for all species are starting to stabilize into predictable and regular summertime locations. While the hatch is ending, pods of suspended larva are still evident at 10-18’ here and there, so there could still be some bug feeding going on. During the hatch, while there was a good weed/flats bite going on, the best action came from pulling spinners and crawlers, long lining Flicker Shads and Shad Raps, and jigging the biggest concentrations of larvae. The fish were concentrated at 25-32’ on rock/mudlines and small isolated hard bottom areas surrounded by mud bottom in main basins. Jigging, Lindy rigging minnows and leeches, and slow death rigs with crawlers produced best and will continue to work when you find walleyes feeding on wigglers. In most areas, now that the hatch is winding down, fish are switching to minnow and crustacean forage and the bite is moving shallower up onto the rock bars and humps at 16-25’. Almost all the humps in the Vermilion Bay, Portage, and central sections are now holding fish, and the numbers will just increase on a daily basis now.
Average Size Is Also Increasing
During the hatch, the catch was comprised mostly of 16-22” with an occasional over-slot fish, though we did have a fish go 33.5” and 13.5 pounds and several others caught over 30” and 10 pounds. Now that the hatch is over, there are still many eater fish below the slot, but a lot of fish 22-28” are being caught regularly now and more fish are pushing and over 30”. Jigging and rigging with minnows has been best, but crawlers and jumbo leeches are producing sometimes even better in isolated spots/circumstances, so it’s a good idea to have an assortment of bait right now.
With the slightly below average water temperatures extending into July, lots of nice pike 32-40” have been caught by those casting reed edges with cabbage, weedy bays, and shallow rocks with Mepps, Husky Jerks, spinnerbaits, and spoons, as well as incidental catches by both walleye fishermen fishing deeper with bigger minnows, and muskie fishermen casting shallower, so they are roaming anywhere there is food right now.
Muskie activity has been very good, though until recently, patterns have been helter-skelter. Fish have been found both shallow and deep, with the walleyes, suspended near structure during cold fronts and dropping water temperatures, to warming sand beaches after. One day they are on shallow, wind-swept rocks, and the next in the thickest weed patches. With the right attitude, it has been fun playing with the many different patterns and options
Muskie locations have been getting increasingly more predictable as they fully recover from the spawn, water temperatures rise, and the mayfly hatch finally ends. Both weeds and rocks, and especially smaller combinations of the two have been good. Smaller blades, sized 7 through 9 have been essential baits, with top waters picking up over the last few days with several over 50 and high 40’s boated. Cranks and rubber work on tougher days off the rocks and deeper breaks. Trolling cranks after cold fronts and dropping water temperatures was effective with several fish over 50”, but with the rising and steadier water temperatures, a lot of the suspended and deeper holding fish are coming into shallower structure and that option is slowing down. Weed fish have been very active, but some big fish are showing off shallow rocks now.
All sections of the lake are showing active fish, with the Western Arm and Portage Bay trout water sections dragging behind just a bit. All-in-all, it looks like the muskie bite, which has already been pretty good, is itch’n and ready to explode.