The end run of summer begins this week.
Time to get on the water. As we move into mid August look for fish in the usual summer places, but watch for them to have periods of time where they will actively feed. Water temps are in the mid to high 70's, but are slowly trending down due to the changes in the photocycle and the length of daylight. This is a trigger mechanism for the fish, and you can expect to see activity levels peak and ebb during each day. The photocycle really starts dominating fish activity this time of year because it is tied to everything else.
Panfish 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. Out with the kids the last couple of weeks, we caught lots of nice gills just above the bottom in deep sand along the 12-18 foot drops, and suspended just off the transition.
Crappies can be taken suspended over midlake structure or cribs/ Fish vertical with a tightline. Plastics tipped with spikes or waxies, tail hooked minnows or small jig and plastic combos have been productive.
Largemouth will continue to come in using two primary patterns in the short term. On the 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 on the fly as they switch on and off. Look for them around transition areas and over flats where the topwater bite can really be fantastic even in the middle part of the day.
Deeper fish will continue to use weededges and points that reach out to 12-18 feet of water, but don't overlook schools of fish chasing bait over deep water about 6-12 feet below the surface. Some fish are relating to rockbars in 5-12 feet of water as the crayfish move up for the last run of the late summer molt. Tube baits and skirted grubs are a great way to target these fish.
Smallmouth are starting the early fall pattern of making 3 maybe 5 shallow foraging moves each day. When you are contacting active fish in shallow water, the bite can be incredible. Topwaters, including size 9 or 11 floating rapalas (classic patterns are classic for a reason) or poppers in natural patterns can get you started, but be ready to switch to tubes, wacky, skirted grubs or twister tail grubs as the day progresses. When things are slower, look for them to be just off the first major break in deeper water. Crankbaits in white or chartreuse, spinners or live bait are better for the deeper fish, we caught several very nice smallies this week on leeches when targeting walleyes.
Walleyes will continue to hold in their summer patterns for another couple of weeks, but they will quickly make a move to shallower weedy areas as the baitfish move in for their fall spawning run. For now jigging or backtrolling with live bait around weededges or drop-offs in 12-18 feet of water is a good place to start, and be ready to adjust to deeper water on sunny days or shallower on cloudy or windy days. A steady breeze is your friend, because you can drift. If its still, you may need to rip jig in brush or weeds for consistent action.
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. Regardless of where you go, bring lots of bait and expect to see some cats and whitebass mixed into your catch.
Northern pike activity has been s 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 fishing is starting to pick back up as the water cools. Hit those major windows, and look for fish around the ends of weedypoints where panfish and perch are suspending over open water.
Good Luck Out There.