Late July brings with it a feeling of predictability: Days are shorter; fall hunt seasons loom (and Aug. 1 deadlines for some fall permits); heat can rise alarmingly; and, yes, the second half of property taxes are due! Such a strange mix this week will bring!
The heat of a week ago broke this week; it felt like September to many with a cool, dry breeze. But don’t expect it to continue; August can bring real heat. For now, though, all seems good. The mix of rain and warmth has gardens and the backwoods all looking good. Raspberries are ripening and blackberries will follow.
And while fishing is only so-so, most outdoor activities are in good shape.
We expect late July and early August to see a slow-down in fishing. Happens most every summer. Summer fishing can be slow, but it does not have to be a complete disaster. Savvy fishermen never give up in summer, they just key in to the one factor that always can produce fish: weeds.
Weeds in the summer give fish cooler water, shelter from predators, a quiet place (big boats usually avoid thick weeds), and, critically, food. Small fish find insects in weeds; medium-size fish find small fish; big fish…well, you get the picture.
Bottom line is, find weeds and you will find fish. Doesn’t mean you’ll catch them, but that is where they will often be.
We had reports this week of panfish, crappies in particular, in shallow water, maybe 4 to 6 feet deep. But the key was there were thick weeds there and the crappies were drawn to them. Small jigs and Gulp tails did the trick. Other anglers found crappies in the shallows gorging on small crayfish. But all were in weeds.
Ditto for walleyes, though they are in deeper water where leeches and crawlers (often only half a crawler) are taking fish. That, again, is typical for summertime.
And if you mix summer heat and heavy weed cover, you come up with some great fishing for largemouth bass. Big bass love the thick weeds in the heat and the past two weeks have brought glowing reports of bass fishing in heavy cover.
Muskies? They started off slow in late spring and have never picked up. Some are blaming a late, cool spring that left many fish unable to spawn and put them off their pattern. But whatever the reason, musky fishing has been slow this season.
Look for them near heavy weeds or, in deeper lakes, in deep water. Bucktails always work well and large, splashy surface lures often turn fish in the evening.
The fish are there, but they have been uncooperative of late.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.