2017-08-24 / Columns

Outdoors This Week in the Eastern U.P.

By Stephen King

Flowers and berries are looking good in the Eastern U.P. right now, but it’s time to get back to what life is really all about. Fishing.

Beverly at K&V Grocery in Moran reports that for the last week or so, pickin’s been good on the blueberries, not so good on the fish. Makes for a great breakfast, with those blueberry pancakes and blueberry syrup. But, the fish dinner is lacking. Those spuds look awful lonely on that plate all by themselves.

But don’t go all teary eyed just yet. I’m pretty sure the fish didn’t catch a bus and head out west to watch the total eclipse of the sun. They’re still right about where they usually are. I will get to that shortly.

Jeri at Mick’s Bait in Curtis Jeri said reports have been conflicting: “I have been getting reports that they are catching nothing. And, I have been getting reports that they are getting limits. People have to change things up. The ones that are catching fish are doing that. Right now, jigs are working the best. Purple seems to be the color. The perch and walleyes are suspended about eight or 10 feet down.”

Rick at Johnson’s Bait on Drummond

Island said, “They’re picking up some nice catches of trout and salmon, out by the lighthouse. Not many really big ones, but a lot of nice eaters. And, they seem to be hitting the green spoons the best.” He went on, “They’re also picking up some nice catches of walleye, on the north side, using crawler harnesses. And the perch are also starting to show up. Plus, there are a lot of pike out there. A little small. You catch four and keep two, but there are a lot of them.”

So, overall, fishing sounds pretty good. It’s August, and the weather has finally calmed down a bit. Nice and warm. No hurricane force winds. So, being on the water is not a bad thing.

But this can be a hard month for some people to catch fish. Like Jeri said, “You have to change things up.”

Right now, the weeds in the lakes and rivers are at their peak. This means that in a lot of areas, trolling is out. Drifting is still not a favorite of mine. See, with fishing, a whole lot of catching fish is about putting the bait in front of them in a way that makes them bite.

At some times of the year, like right about now, the fish get just a little slow. Think about it. The water’s warm. There is food everywhere. There is no real reason to be in a hurry to go chasing after things.

What you have to do it to present them something they want to nibble on, in a way that makes them want to nibble on it. For comparison, picture this scenario: You’re sitting in your favorite chair watching TV and suddenly, for no reason at all, your spouse drops a plate full of your favorite munchies and a beverage right next to you, without even any begging or pleading on your part.

So, even though you may not be all that hungry at the time, you munch and sip away anyway. Just to be polite.

For fish, you have to do the same. (I learned this some years ago fishing with World Champion Walleye Pro Mark Martin.) You have to put that bait right in front of the fish. On running water, just a tad upstream. On flat water, right smack dab in front of them.

You do this by jigging. The spinners and hard bodies and other things you throw require a lot of action on the part of the fish. Jigs? Not so much.

With a moving bait, the fish is like, “Ummm. There goes… Something. Do I want… Ummm. It’s gone.” But with a jig, it’s like, “Ummm, what the heck is… Hey, that’s food.” Then, “I’m not really that hungry. But, it’s just there. Right in front of… Oh, darn, now I’m the Friday night special.”

Out on the open water, look for the weed beds. On shallow water, that’s pretty simple. This time of year, they are right up to the top. You can see them. What you do is look for either edges or holes. Fish are stealthy. They like to hide and munch whatever swims by. So, just take that jig and drop it straight down, either along a weed line or in a hole in the weeds.

Then, don’t be in too big of a hurry, and don’t make any huge jigs. Just move a few inches up and down. So that the bait looks like an injured bait fish or bug.

If the spot looks really promising, anchor there. Fish move and they will come to you. Those are the places to camp out in. Don’t make this a permanent home, however, if the fish quit biting, or start to slow down, move on.

If the fish aren’t liking what you’re doing, do something else. And remember, the early bird may get the worm. But the late afternoon fisherman catches the walleye.

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