A typical late July day may well find temperatures hovering in the 80s, pushing 90 on many days. Not so this year as 70s seem the norm over the next couple of weeks. A pattern of repeated cold fronts has slowed fishing, but as we head into the weekend and next with the forecast is predicting some more favorable weather patterns and that should bode well for anglers.
Fish like steady weather so the forecast is good news. Lake temperatures have drifted lower in the cooler weather and we think a return to more normal late July early August temperatures should spur some better fish action.
Walleyes are still in a normal summer pattern, which means they will usually be in 12-15 feet of water on most lakes and most certainly seeking weedy areas adjacent to either sand or gravel. If you can find such an area on a walleye lake you should be into some fish. Jigs tipped with leeches or crawlers is still the bait of choice. There are some very good artificial leeches on the market now that serve well if naturals are either tough to find. Jig sizes and colors varies, there is no universal choice there.
Musky fishing is typically slower in the latter months of summer and this year has been no exception. The big fish still need to eat and you can still get some action. Fish along the edges of the weedlines with medium size lures, bucktails or, if conditions are right, use top water lures. It is entirely possible that the most productive lure in this area has been, for decades, a black bucktail with a gold spinner blade.
If there is one fish that seems more active in late summer it is the largemouth bass. As a bonus they are fairly predictable in that they prefer shallower water and heavy cover. Find that combination and you may well find yourself in some hot bass action. Bass are aggressive, taking minnow imitations, plastic worms as well as top-water lures. Use some heavier tackle as you will have to move fish away from cover when you hook them.
Smallmouth bass will be in deeper water and prefer habitats similar to walleyes. You will need to find a sandy lakebed in 15 feet or so of water, and work deep-running minnow or crayfish imitations. An option for smallmouth is some area rivers that hold good populations of smallmouth. Rivers are shallower and easier to fish than many lakes and an hour or two in a canoe floating areas of the river can be very productive.
Smaller bluegill and crappie remain active in the shallow shoreline weeds and along the docks. Crappie minnow, waxies or worm pieces will provide plenty of entertainment for the children and a lot of works for the parents. Larger panfish has moved deeper in the 6 to 10 feet of water along weed edges. Electronics would be a big help in finding these fish. Crappie minnow or small plastics fished under a bobber will provide the action. Adjust the fishing depths in the water column as sometimes these fish will be suspended.
Overall fishing remains fairly good despite the weather conditions.