Jarrid Houston column: Slow-rolling rigs land lunkers

Fishing this last week had a bit of an uptick despite the hot, humid and inconsistent weather. Best bite continues to be the low-light periods of the day. Many different tactics are producing some fish, but our favorite this last week has been on a steady troll routine.

There is still lots of traffic on area waters, so be cautious and courteous of other vessels on the water. If you are ambitious and adventurous, there is a good after-dark bite going on in select waters around the area.

These waters I speak of have something in common. Any guesses? Those who said “water clarity” are correct. The gin-clear inland lakes are producing some nice bites in the after-hours. For those less ambitious, best to stick to mornings and late-afternoons and evenings. Water temperatures are still on the higher side, so best to concentrate efforts in deeper waters or under the cover of any shade or structure.

Here is our report:

Lake Superior has had a decent bite as of late for many different species. Fishing depths of 100-200 feet of water has been best for some suspended lake trout and the very occasional salmon.

The best tactic continues to be working baits deeper with riggers or other means necessary. If you don’t have riggers, utilizing a heavy snap weight can work. Or, try fishing lead line or copper. Spoons and flasher fly combos tipped with minnow heads have been best.

The South Shore bite has somewhat of a walleye bite showing up again. Trolling stickbaits behind offshore planer boards going 2-2.5 mph has produced some nice fish this last week. The challenge is finding the active pods of fish that can span somewhere between Superior all the way past Brule and beyond.

With that said, you find them, and it can be magical. The areas around Ashland and Washburn have a nice smallmouth bite going on as well. Casting heavy-headed plastics are turning some nice fish.

The St. Louis River continues to be a dynamite catfish bite. Utilizing slow-rolled or still-fished live bait rigs is bringing some nice catches of ol’ whisker tails. Some of these fish are large and a lot of fun to catch. Concentrate efforts off shoreline breaks.

Bigger fish are definitely showing up near low-light periods. Some bass are being caught in the shallower and faster-moving waters above the dams. Walleye fishing continues to be on the slow side, but before you know it we will start to see a few bites coming back. Best chance at getting some walleyes to go is long-line trolling techniques in around the lower sections of the river.

The inland waters have many different bites going on. No surprise to most that concentrate efforts on inland waters. For largemouth bass, anglers continue to work dock areas and heavy vegetation. Fan-casting shallower running stick baits have been good.

Fishing near heavy cover, it can be super-fun to work top water baits like hula poppers, buzz baits or jitter bugs. Don’t be surprised to tangle with the occasional big pike, especially in the low-light times of the day.

Speaking of pike, we are seeing some good catches on deeper weed edges. Casting spinner baits or slow-drifting live bait is taking some nice fish. Panfish are being located in the deeper vegetation as well. The best and most fun tactic is utilizing a bobber over a worm chunk. Get one fish to go, and you should be in business.

If you are not getting bites, do move to seek out more productive areas. Inland walleyes have been chomping on bug larvae in the soft mud recently. Our favorite tactic this time of year is either speed-trolling stick baits or slow-rolling worm harness rigs on short snells pulled behind bouncers.

The slower the better. Don’t be afraid to mix in some curves in your troll trail as well.

Jarrid Houston of South Range is a fishing guide (houstonsguideservice.com) on Minnesota and Wisconsin inland waters, the St. Louis River and, in winter, on Lake Superior.