High water, see our earlier post, and unstable weather continue to dominate local fishing conditions. You need to check the launches at each lake each day to understand whether or not the lake is under a slow no wake provision. In many places, like Moose lake, the prohibition is long term, but in others the restriction is day to day.
Water temps are in the mid to high 70's on most lakes, but a few of the darker bottom lakes can creep in the low to mid 80's. Lots of the lakes have some dirty water from the current and on/off again rains we've had.
All of that said, fishing is about average for late July. Notable is that with the higher water (and faster current in many areas) there's a large quantity of active fish in relatively shallow water this season. That's been the quirk this year, and I'm sure it has alot to do with the conditions we've had since late May. As we move towards August you can continue to look for fish in the obvious usual summer places, but watch for them to have periods of time where they feed actively. The changes in the photocycle become part of the fishing equation over the next month...and you can expect to see fish activity levels peak and ebb during each day.
Bluegills are still holding in deeper water, and will continue to do so for a couple of weeks. Look for them to suspend along weedlines in 12-22 feet of water, or to suspend over deeper sandgrass about 14-18 feet down over 40-50 feet of water. Action fish for the kids can still be found around swim platforms and many docks. Live bait rigs are great options as are small plastics tipped with live bait. As always, if you're on some fish but you keep coming up small, try to make your presentation deeper (ie lower) into the water column.
Largemouth will continue to come in using two primary patterns in the short term. On sunny days, you can find them around shallow docks, wood laydowns, slop and scattered weed clumps. As the sun gets up, look for them to move tighter to overhead cover, but here will be periods of time during the day where their activity level will increase for a short spell. Be ready to switch tactics as they switch on and off, especially around transition areas and over flats where the topwater bite can really be fantastic. Deeper fish will continue to use weededges and points in 12-18 feet of water, or be suspended over deep water about 6-12 feet below the surface. Some fish are relating to rockbars in 5-12 feet of water. Tube baits and skirted grubs are a great way to target these fish. Some fish are still being taken off the weedlines and off the weed flats by anglers flipping around heavy cover.
Smallmouth are starting the early fall pattern of making 3-5 active foraging moves each day and then suspending when not schooled up. When you are contacting active fish in shallow water, the bite can be incredible. Topwaters, including size 9 or 11 rapalas or poppers in natural patterns can get you started, but be ready to switch to plastics (wacky, jigworms, Ned rigs, grubs or tubes) when things are slower. After chasing them up shallow early, look for SM to be just off the first major break in deeper water. Some people are dropshotting out to 25FOW for SM, but most of the ones in my boat came in 6-12 FOW this week.
Walleyes will continue to hold in shallower weedy areas as the baitfish move in for their last spawns of the summer. For now jigging or backtrolling with live bait around weededges or drop-offs in either 6-9 or 12-18 feet of water is a good place to start. A few fish are appearing on mid-lake structure but many are staging off main-lake points, especially where there is bottom transitions from rock to sand or from sand to muck. Trolling with bottom bouncers and spinner harnesses or drifting with live bait rigs are great ways to target these fish.
Northern pike activity has been slow and steady all summer, and I wouldn't expect that to change. Smaller pike can almost always be found in shallow water around weed clumps and inside weededges adjacent to rock bars/shorelines. Larger pike can be taken trolling cranbkaits or backtrolling live bait along deeper weed edges, especially in 12-20 feet of water.
Musky reports have been slow, but a few fish are being caught early and late. For the next run, look for them to over weedy flats in 8-12 feet of water making for some great topwater or large bucktail action, or in deeper water suspended around baitfish which is perfect for a trolling bite. Action will pick up considerably in the weeks ahead.
Good Luck and Cheers.