June was an interesting month of fishing. Inconsistent weather, coupled with mayfly hatches, busy boat traffic on some days, plus short feeding windows and lack of fish activity made June bass fishing a challenge. Like all problems we face on the water, there are often solutions. My boat succeeded, but fell far below my high standards. We have officially entered the early summer period. Bass are recovering from post-spawn and feeding more frequently. Water temperatures on our Vilas and Oneida county lakes are anywhere in the range from 68 to 72 degrees, though it may vary by lake size and depth, and clarity. In June there weren’t many obvious bass patterns. Mayfly hatches, the early and much prolonged bass spawn, marine repairs for the Ranger, and bad weather forced me to explore new waters, fish places that I normally wouldn’t visit this time of year, try new locations, and experiment with presentations I am not accustomed to.
What another wet and wild month of May, 2016 it was! The weather was lousy, but bass fishing good enough. Thank goodness the season started! Now rain, please go away. It rained 4 inches on us in Minocqua last week. Last month I had the privilege of fishing throughout the northwoods from May 14th through the 31st. Being my first season of operation, I would like to personally thank all friends and guests who joined me aboard my vessel thus far in 2016. I’m glad to fish with, and host, a number of different great people, and instruct and share knowledge with bass anglers of all skill levels. I look forward to scheduling outings with new anglers as 2016 rolls on. In the last few weeks northern Wisconsin avoided a spring season altogether, as in one week we went from 30 degree snow showers to 80 degree sun. Summer already happened, and it took place on a Wednesday this year. In consequence, water temperatures rose from 48 degrees on May 13th, to as high as 65 degrees by May 21st. This resulted in one of the most difficult and lethargic bass fishing bites I had ever encountered.
Spring bass fishing has always been personally challenging, engaging, and exciting for myself and guests throughout the years. More heavyweights tipping the scales between 4 and 8 lbs. are caught and released in May and early June than most months combined. Catching them consistently however, isn't easy. While their movements from ice out to pre-spawn are generally predictable, it's usually the unpredictable weather and water temperatures that's throwing curveballs our way. This winter was mild and tolerable, but spring, despite an early ice-out, has been meaner and colder. I anticipate a cold spring season that will last until Memorial Day weekend. This could undoubtedly slow the fishing. There are no shortcuts to consistently catching trophy northwoods bass in spring, but there are certain strategies and methods you can implement to improve your success. The most important order of business is to spend most of your time fishing the right waters.
On Labor Day weekend I had the pleasure of hosting my girlfriend, Amanda, up north. After almost 8 months being happily together this was her first time with me in God’s country, at my happy place, where I spend the most time from May through October. She was able to take the weekend off from medical school, and we took off for a long weekend adventure. We departed from Chicago late Friday evening and arrived at midnight, ready to fish for most of the day Saturday, Sunday, and half the day Monday. My priority for the weekend was to mainly relax, and spend quality time with Amanda, doing more tourist activities than fishing and showing her around my town and the places I spend all my time at. But as we quickly found out, she is a natural at fishing and I couldn’t keep her off the water. Since all I do now is mostly smallmouth fish for leisure and guiding, I treated my sweetheart as if she was the VIP client. Thus I barely tried hard, did the coaching, and allowed her to do most of the catching. Each day Amanda and I fished at least 6 hours. We worked a few local lakes in the Minocqua region that are good for catching smallmouths in numbers and size, and usually have low to minimal boat traffic.
My musky tournament partner and good buddy Steve Peterson and I recently had the pleasure of traveling to Green Bay, Wisconsin and fish it for muskies for the first time. It was a quick 2 day marathon trip for us. Having built a good network of friends and guides in the area thanks to my regular day job, I was able to schedule this quick 2 day trip way back in January and reserve our fishing dates. This visit to fish with guide buddy, Brett Jolly, and Stephen Wesoloski of Toothy's Tackle was long overdue. We were excited to fish world class waters with friends, and learn a new fishery so that we may be comfortable returning with our own boats next time. On Thursday August 27th, Steve and I left Chicago at 4am, high on coffee, and drove 3 hours straight to the boat landing. Brett, who will be retiring from being a fishing guide in November, was kind enough to take us out on Day-1 for a combination of casting and trolling.
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