Outdoor Report: Cooler August could mean hotter fishing
Typically mid August brings sweltering heat; lake temperatures rise to the level of bath water and there is little place to hide from the high heat of the warmest month. Not so this stanza as once again the weather, as it has all year, seems out of synch with any norm we once took for granted. Cool nights and days of moderate heat have thrown things out of whack once again. It’s been that type of summer (not to mention that type of spring).
Bottom line is that now, when we’d usually be dealing with the Dog Days of summer we instead are finding lake temperatures dropping rather than rising, marking conditions far more typical of early September. That has put a damper on summer water sports, water skiing and swimming in particular, as well as thrown off fishing to a certain degree.
The August heat may well rebound; one has to expect some high 80s or 90s still to come. But for now we’re dealing with cooler weather and deal with it we must.
Fishing in August is generally dominated by heat. Fish go deep, seek shadow and cool strata of water, and fishing is generally slow. All bets are off now as water temperatures are lower than we’d expect. That usually brings more active fish and better fishing and this week will tell if that is the case.
We think walleyes will stay fairly active, as they have been this past week or two. They’ll be in their usual summer realm of deeper water weed beds; that simply does not change. And we expect that they will still respond to crawlers or leeches; it seems too early for minnows, no matter what the water temperatures. Walleyes have been active lately and that should continue into this week.
Bass action has slowed for a lot of anglers but we still are seeing decent catches of both smallmouth and largemouth and that should be the case this week.
Smallies are usually in deeper water; largemouth shallower. Weeds and other cover remain the best place to fish largemouth on most lakes. The big bass like the heavy cover and the basic lure selection of top-water frog imitations usually work as do old reliables such as Hula Poppers and Jitterbugs; those two having worked well now for decades.
Muskies remain a puzzle without a solution this summer. They started slow and stayed slow this season. We still like bucktail spinners along weed beds and large surface lures at sundown but overall this musky season has been a disappointment to date.
And while August is undeniably summer, September and autumn are now on the horizon and that means hunting. Archers should be dusting off the gear and getting ready; bird hunters should be working off the off-season weight gains of both dogs and, dare we suggest, hunters. The time of the hunt season is very rapidly approaching.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.