The weather can be a bit of a crap shoot this time of year. I don't get to book too many guide trips after late October, but I try to pick good weather windows and make every effort to get out. Each mild day we get from here on out is truly a gift and it is THE best time of year to catch quality fish.
My best Muskie of the year (so far) showed up on a 55 degree November afternoon and I'm pretty sure I had Leech lake to myself. This 53"er had a healthy 25-1/2" girth, a solid 40# fish.
While grinding out a slow Walleye bite a few weeks ago, this 30-1/4 incher made my day.
This 21" Leech Lake Bass ate a big swimbait and had many other quality fish with her.
A baseball player who excels at hitting for average, hitting for power, base-running and speed, throwing ability, and fielding abilities is said to be a 5 tool player. Really great Walleye fisherman need to be proficient at jigging, live bait rigging, bobber or float fishing, casting or jigging lures/crankbaits, and crankbait trolling. While I will admit that there are plenty of holes in my game and I am no where near this well rounded, It does indeed seem to me that consistent Walleye success on Leech Lake does not favor the one trick pony.
Rigging chubs on deeper structure produces quality fish in summer and fall. Reading electronics and boat control are essential to "chubbing".
This Nebraska angler cashed in on limits of keepers as well as some quality picture fish while trolling small crankbaits on leadcore line.
Trolling smaller crankbaits ups an anglers odds at smaller eater sized fish. Paying attention to boat speed can be critical some days as well.
Fan-casting a good old jig-and-minnow sealed the deal with this Leech Lake bruiser. Shallow water fish often require us to get our offerings away from the boat a ways. Casting and retrieving jigs can be deadly.
A bobber is another great way to target fish in the weeds and rock piles without spooking them. Often, reluctant fish want a really good look at the bait before eating it.
The Muskie bite is finally going and multiple fish days are not uncommon. This 51"er hit on a boat-side figure 8 maneuver during one of my scouting missions.
These anglers booked a trip through Leisure Outdoor Adventures and got to see first hand the power of the mighty Muskellunge when this monster 52"er struck right at dusk. Leisure Outdoor Adventures is a first class outfitters, offering guided fishing trips on premier Minnesota lakes.
I will admit that Walleye fishing in August is less consistent than early summer, but enough keepers and bigger slot fish are coming in most days to keep it interesting. This is my favorite time to cast artificial lures and troll crankbaits for these tasty favorites.
The shallow Rippin' Rap bite was going good on this particular day.
Bigger Sunfish are a real treat when we can find them.
As water temps creep up, our versatility gets tested some days. The past few weeks we have caught Walleyes pulling spinners near rock piles, slip bobbering cabbage weeds, pitching jigs on windy shorelines, rigging leeches and minnows in sand and burning crankbaits in 25 f.o.w.
Some days we get dialed in right out of the gates and other days we work for it a bit.
We have had some awesome weather.
The Leech Lake Smallmouth Bass population is definitely increasing.
A nice main lake "hog" Walleye.
Some days it's been all keeper sized fish and I have had as many as 20 bigger slot fish other days with just a few keepers to show for it.
I have had the pleasure to fish with some really great guest anglers.
An evening limit.
Here is dad with a beauty, helping me scout on my "day off".
Each day really is an awesome new adventure on Leech Lake.
I headed southwest early last week and met up with my tournament partner Jim to get in an early pre-fish on Lac Qui Parle Lake. Heading to the prairie to broaden horizons literally and figuratively, our goal was to break down this lake that we had never fished before and get an unfettered perspective before the other AIM Walleye Series anglers arrived.
A prairie reservoir with muddy water and current is hardly in my comfort zone, our main goal was to work hard and learn as much as we could.
We started at the well known spots that had produced big for tournament winners earlier in the season. We caught fish in these areas but ultimately decided that these areas were going to suffer from fishing pressure, and playing bumper boats is not our style.
It doesn't take long to get bites on LQP but they are not all walleyes. Me and Jim landed many sheephead along with sunfish, crappies, bullheads, pike, we never knew what was going to end up on the end of our line.
Finesse jigging the transitions between the rocks and the flat, soft bottom basins proved to be our best pattern in pre-fishing. Pitching and dragging our light jigs through the rocks in 8-10 feet of water and onto the soft bottom produced the bites we were looking for. These fish were literally sitting tight up against the last rock out in the rock piles and breaklines, most were in 9 feet of water. Dozens of casts to the same little areas were required to engage these quality fish.
The final day of pre-fishing was mostly spent running these transitions with sonar and side imaging looking for irregular features such as steep drops, inside turns, extensions in the rocky break-lines, and of course marking fish. Our final strategy left us willing to live or die in these 9' deep transition areas where abnormal features were located, and we stuck with our game plan.
Equal parts hard work and luck landed us second place in this competitive field, we couldn't have been happier...well of course another pound or two would have....we couldn't have been happier!
I would like to send out a special thanks to my partner Jim Kiley, Anglers Insight Marketing, and all of the support from my family for allowing me to fish this fun event.
Genghis Khan raided innocent populations, conquering without end, and showing no mercy. Early summer Walleyes scatter and seek out new territory upon reef, mud-flat and tranquil shoreline in search of protein. Molting Crayfish, Shiner runs, the Yellow Perch spawn, midge hatches, Hexagenia mayfly hatch etc. etc. Meanwhile, anglers compete with these throngs of prey items and try to keep up with these hungry nomads. Some say "transition period" while others claim "they aren't biting". I say, arm thyself with nightcrawler, leech, minnow and crankbait, and chase down these nomadic denizens. I say be swift and be prepared to "leave fish to find fish".
Each day offers a different experience. One day the harvest is robust, and the next,
slot fish rule the day.
The weather has really been something. If you don't like it, wait ten minutes.
I had the pleasure to pinch hit for Leisure Outdoor Adventures on Tuesday, a class bunch of fellas. Thanks guys!
Here is a pair of over-slot fish that were the highlight of this day.
It was another great week aboard the "All Wx" on Leech lake. One day the bigger slot fish and over slots are on the chew, and the next it's all eater fish. You never know what each day will bring, either way, we just go with it.
Jim ended up with this hog (his P.B.) on Tuesday on a jig and Leech.
Lex dialed in his fan-casting with jigs and shiners and really cashed in.
A nice 35" Pike.
I love showing people what this lake has to offer!
For years I have been telling people that when the water temps are in the 60's on Leech Lake, stay nimble and bring every bait type and lure that you can get your hands on. You never really know what each day will bring. Whether it's trolling crankbaits, rigging leeches, pulling spinners and crawlers or the standard jig and shiner, or even rigging big chubs in Walker bay, leave nothing off of the table. One day you can have an incendiary pattern of rigging leeches in 9 f.o.w. and the next, snap jigging minnows is the only thing that will wake them up. Being willing to "shake the etch-a-sketch" and start all over when bites are slow is really key in June.
This week I found some schooled up fish and jigging shiners or rigging leeches was the best presentation to maximize the catch.
When fish were scattered, a spinner rig and minnow or shallow crankbait located some really nice ones and allowed me to dial-in on some smaller loose schools.
Having a system while trolling is important. I like to start shallow and work deeper. I like to use a couple of different presentations that work at similar speeds. Shallow crankbaits behind planer boards and spinner rigs on bottom bouncers strait back both work well trolled at 1-2 mph.
Having more than one live bait type out to start the day has been a good idea too.
We have been seeing a fun mix of 1/2 keepers and 1/2 bigger slot fish the past week.