Are we in the dog days of summer when it comes to angling success? We may be, but much depends on the body of water you target at this time of year.
For those fishing shallow lakes with a lot of weed cover, it can be frustrating finding any biting fish during the day. At night, however, these lakes tend to come alive, with active fish using the weed edges as ambush points. Windy, overcast days can also coax shallow fish into feeding.
Then there is current, the great equalizer. Current flow provides oxygen to summertime fish that are dropping deeper because of rising water temperatures. It also tends to concentrate baitfish, thus providing a prime feeding area for predators such as walleye, bass, pike and even big musky, depending on the lake, river or reservoir you are fishing. I can remember fishing in current in the Pinawa area of the Winnipeg River on a hot summer day with great success.
In lakes, wind creates current and on bodies of water such as Lake of the Woods, Lake Winnipeg, Rainy Lake and even Falcon Lake, many of the walleye will relate to this wind-generated current.
When fishing a lake that has deeper water in the main lake basin, something in the 20 metre or more range, a lot of fish will relate to the thermocline in 14 metres of water. If you combine that with underwater structures such as a sunken island or extended main lake point, you will usually find active fish when the wind blows. The addition of wind balls up plankton, the food of baitfish that big walleye and pike love to eat.
After I mark these big balls of bait on my depth finder, I have two favourite ways of catching the big predators. One is to troll crankbaits slightly above the active fish. This is extremely effective when the fish are scattered over a larger area. When the wind is really blowing and the fish are tight to a certain piece of structure, I prefer to drop a jig down to them. This can be tough to do for the inexperienced angler because boat control becomes an issue. That is one of the reason I prefer a boat with tiller steering along with splash guards. Backing into the wind and waves allows me a near vertical presentation most of the time -- a critical part of the equation. By presenting a jig rigged with Berkley Gulp Minnow or even a big Berkley Hollow Belly swim bait, you will catch fish. Given the size of the forage available in these spots, you are also usually catching very big fish, the largest in the system.
Angler Notes: Thanks again to Pete Dearborn for having me out to the annual week long fishing camp at Pioneer Camp. It was a great day and the fishing was exceptional on Lake of the Woods. Each July, Pioneer Camp holds the week-long event for youth between 11 and 14. This year I recognized many faces from the previous year as these young people become avid anglers. For more information on the camp, visit its website at www.pioneercamps.ca