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Monday, August 3, 2020

Fishing Report 8-3-2020

The end run of summer begins and it is time to get on the water. 

As we move into August you'll find fish in the traditional summer places, but watch for them to have periods of time where they feed actively around rock bars and transition areas. The changes in the photocycle and the length of day are signals to the fish to start charging up, and you can expect to see activity levels peak and ebb during each day. After 40 years on the water, one thing I know is true: the photocycle starts dominating fish activity this time of year.

Panfish are still holding in deeper water, and will likely 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. 

Largemouth will come in using two primary patterns at least for the short term. On the (hot) 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 the overhead cover, paying close attention to the shadows, but here will be periods of time during the day where their activity level will increase for a short spell. You should prepare to switch tactics (and your presentation) as they switch on and off, especially around transition areas and over flats where the topwater bite can really be fantastic, early and late in the day. 

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 where there's baitfish or juvenile panfish schooled up. Some fish are relating to rockbars in 5-12 feet of water as the crayfish move up for a late summer molt. Tube baits and skirted grubs are a great way to target these fish.  The fish chasing molted and juvenile craws will bite all day around rock/gravel areas, but they tend to be in groups on a certain area on a larger piece of structure. Tip: If you see carp digging on the rocks (there's usually a cloud of dust when they forage) you're probably in the right area. Some deeper 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 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 rapalas or poppers in natural patterns can get you started, but be ready to switch to tubes, wacky, skirted grubs or twister tails as the day progresses. Note, it is less about the clock, and more about baitfish this time of year. 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. Fish the edges where weedlines touch hard bottom.  

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 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.  In the very early mornings and at last light, working a floating minnow bait through the tops of weeds can put a couple fish in the boat quick, especially if there is just a little wind.

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. 

I haven't heard much in the way of Musky for the last couple of weeks as most folks give them the mid-summer break, but with more rain and cooler nights on the horizon, things should start to pick back up.

Good Luck and Cheers.