Well the hot part of summer dropped in on us this week, and conditions have changed substantially on our area lakes. Water temps are in themid 80s, but it was the air temps and humidity you had to watch out for this week.
The other key factor on the water is that the majority of local lakes are way down from a couple of weeks ago. While you won't notice much a difference on the main lake, areas that are current based, there's not much happening. If you can find some flowing water, it'll have bait and some quality fish fish in it.
Panfish have moved to mid-summer depths. Look for them suspended off weed lines and main lake points about 18-22 feet down over deep water. The bug and shiner hatches over the last ten days really have them schooled up out deep, but in areas with shade and current, you can still find some decent keepers shallow, and with the water temperatures we have right, they are almost cooked by the time you reel them in. Drifting with slip bobbers, tightlining vertically or long-lining split shot rigs tipped with live bait is the best way to target keepers. Watch for bugs surfacing in the mornings and evenings, and there will be fish nearby.
Bass fishing was surprisingly good given the heat. Some fish are on the weedlines in 12-18 and 18-22 FOW, but a decent number are still holding along the shallow to deep transitions lines that have thick weeds on them. Crankbaits, slow-rolled spinner baits, flapper grubs or texas rigs are the best options on the deeper fish. Live bait in the form of larger shiners or small suckers on a slip sinker rig with produce. Look for feeding periods from just before sun-up until about 8:30-9, and then again from about 4pm to just after dark. The fish are actively chasing bait during these periods, and can be caught on grubs, ringworms, ned rigs, flapper tail grubs, and jigworms. Topwater action slowed down a bit since the heat set in, but is still producing early. After the initial feeding, look for fish to get tight to shallow cover, docks, slop or weed edges, and then chase them down with wacky, tubes, and jig/craw combos. Pay attention to the shadows, and don't be afraid to make multiple skips or pitches to fishy looking spots. The slop bite was producing, but producing lots of smaller fish right now. Best bite has been on shallow weedflats with scattered cover, where you can visibly see baitfish schooled up and swimming around. This week I caught fish at essentially every depth between 18 inches and 30 feet.
Smallmouth action has been a little slower. They are still biting, but like the largemouths there's periods of time during the day for active feeding. The crayfish are not in full molt yet, and when that starts expect the smallie action to go gangbusters for 10 days - 2 weeks. Right now you can catch some smallies on the flats and mainlake structure, especially along the drop-off edges, or suspended off the breaks in deep water. Tubes, wacky, grubs and soft jerkbaits are all producing the shallow fish, while suspending jerkbaits and crankbaits are catching the deeper fish. Docks were holding some fish late last week, and I was catching some decent numbers and sized fish using a downsized presentation before the bite dropped off .
The walleye were biting at either end of the day, especially just before dawn and around sunset, but after the weather shifted the bite got tough. The fish I was seeing this week were in the deep weed edges in 14-18 FOW, but I know some guys fishing at night were getting some as shallow as 6 FOW just after dark.
Northern Pike fishing has slowed down with the heat. Deeper pike are biting good, especially those patrolling deep sand flats. Crankbaits, live bait or spinner baits will produce.
Musky fishing has been very slow, but a few people are trolling for them. Look for them to be suspended around schools of cisco over the deepest water. Please be careful with caught muskies this time of year, the heat is very hard on them. Give them plenty of time when reviving them, and don't keep them out of the water any longer than necessary.