Report provided by Mitch Mode of Mel’s Trading Post, Rhinelander
We’re into the days of heat and humidity now, days when the temperature can top 80 and the humidity can top out higher than that. Nights can be pleasant and daybreak absolutely wonderful for its cool freshness. Recent rains have been bringing lake levels up (thought many lakes remain low) and while those same rains have contributed to swarms of mosquitoes we are enjoying some true summer weather this week.
What does that mean for fishing? Typically July and August bring a slowdown as the heat rises. But that is not always the case. Fish still feed under the high sun of mid summer and the key is to finding them.
Musky fishing has been slow but steady of late. The key to summer muskies is the weather. A hot, sunny day is generally not worth going out on but if the clouds build up on a muggy day muskies can move during daylight hours. On those days work along weedy areas with bucktails (black tails with gold blades have always been the first choice on darker waters) or crankbaits.
If the day is sunny the best time out is at sundown or, for early risers, dawn. Top water lures work well then, big, splashy lures that draw fish from a distance.
That same strategy is true with largemouth bass, a staple of summer fishing. With bass we always like to work the edges of lily pads and other thick cover, using a frog imitation in the pads, a fake minnow or plastic worm. All those lures will produce bass on a summer evening or at daybreak.
Smallmouth bass have moved to deeper water on most lakes. Look for rockbars or gravel beds in deeper water and use deep running crankbaits or crayfish imitations to take them. Or, fish some of the area rivers, concentrating on deeper holes or in faster moving water.
Walleyes are also deeper these days. Location is the key to walleyes in the summertime; they do not like to move out very far from deep weeds. But if you can place your jigs near to the edge where the submerged weeds meet some open areas you can take walleyes during the heat. Jigs tipped with crawlers or leeches or a good scented artificial will do well. More anglers are using artificial plastic leeches these days as they’re tougher, easier to handle and very effective.
Panfish will usually be in deeper water now, at least those panfish worth taking. Smaller fish will be evident in shallower waters but don’t be deceived by them. Work deeper water for bigger fish.
As will all summer fishing weather is a key factor both in when fish might feed (avoid easterly winds or high sun afternoons) but also for storms that can blow up in a short time. If you’re in a boat keep an eye on the sky. If you see dark clouds start to rise up we’d get off the water.