The past week brought a surprising reprieve from the unusual heat of July, unexpected in August when temperatures usually run the hottest of the summer. Instead of the high 80s we had mid 70s, and more to come if the forecast holds true. That is not bad news; a lot of people are just plain worn out from the extreme heat of this summer. And as we move to the transition time of summer to fall, the slight drop in temperatures is an indicator of things to come.
The moderate temperatures continuing into the upcoming week should bring a rise in fishing activity. The heat had two negative impacts: First off it put fish in a sulk, sending them deep in to the cooler weeds. Second, it simply cut into fishing time for many anglers who simply wilted under the intense sun. The change in weather should help to change both of those factors.
Even in the heat people were catching some fish. There was a surprising amount of musky action given that those fish typically go very slow in the warm weather. Yet the past two weeks found more than a few anglers getting into muskies. There was no clear pattern of what was working, save that fishermen usually were concentrating on the edges of weed beds and usually with lures that ran at mid-depths; we have not heard of much success with surface lures of late.
We think the big fish will continue to be active, although at a much reduced level than we expect in the fall weather ahead. August is usually a low ebb for muskies. But from the reports we’ve gotten, it may well be worth your time to go after muskies this month, especially on cloudy days when boat traffic is less and the fish more active.
Bass are often the dominant fish in the heat of summer, and this year has been no exception to that. Smallmouth and largemouth both are hitting very well on most lakes, and that pattern should continue into September. Fish smallies deep except on rivers (always a good place to fish in summertime). Largemouth will more often range from mid-depths to shallower water, where they like minnow imitations and swimming jigs (for deeper waters) and floating frog imitations (for the shallow, lily pad areas).
While August is, undeniably, summer at its best, fall and hunting seasons lie close at hand. This week the waterfowl regs were approved (it always takes until mid August for the Federal guidelines to be presented). Duck season in this area will kick off on Sept. 22 (the youth hunt a week earlier) but early goose season is coming up Sept. 1, and that’s not too far off. And while the weather has been warm of late, there have been a few mornings in the past week where there was a distinct feel of fall in the air!
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.