It is difficult to acknowledge that the main of summer has passed. It is August, a month of transition. In August we often have the burning heat of summer yet by month’s end there will be the sharp red of early fall color, chill mornings and the first hint of autumn. Thirty days from now thoughts will turn to the hunt, children will be tidied up and sent to school, and another summer will have passed.
There were days in the past week that felt much closer to fall than the calendar would indicate, cool mornings and days that never budged much in terms of warmth. None of this did much to put people in good spirits, nor did it encourage much in terms of doing things outside. Bikes hung unused, boats gathered dust, fishing gear never saw the light of day.
That changed some for the better this week but the fact remains that we’ve not had a particularly good week for outdoor activities. The weekend weather forecast holds some promise of moderate temperatures so we are taking a turn in the right direction but the heat so often associated with August does not seem poised to make an appearance.
If there is one lesson to be had it seems this: If the weather is good, get out and to something. Good weather does not last and this summer has been an on-again-off-again season that offers no guarantees. One other thing that was brought to mind this past week: Cold fronts pretty much shut down fishing activity.
A sharp cold front, no matter what the time of year, simply puts fish in a funk and fishing suffers accordingly. So it has been this past week with reports coming in of some hard efforts with little to show. Muskies continue to be a puzzle; they simply have not turned on this year at all and many big fish anglers are now pinning their hopes for a strong late season to salvage things. That does not do anything positive in the short run.
But warming weather this week may give fish a reason to move again and if we were fishing muskies we’d go with the basics: Bucktails and medium size lures worked along the edges of weedy areas during daylight and dusk mixed with top-water lures as the sun goes down. Big fish have been rare this summer but they are still out there and eventually we expect some action.
Walleyes remain in their typical summer pattern, lurking in moderate depths in the shelter of weeds. They have been fairly active this week in spite of the iffy weather and we would expect walleye fishing to remain good. Jigs tipped with crawlers or leeches should still be a good bet.
Smallmouth bass are also in deeper water on most lakes and use deep running minnow or crayfish imitations to reach them. Largemouth will be shallower and pretty aggressive in the warm weather. Fish as close to cover as you dare with minnow imitations or plastic worms. Or wait for sundown and go with surface lures.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.