Frank Walsh's Fishing Reports

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Fishing over the week seemed slow and steady. It was one of those deals where it seemed slow, but at the end of the day had a fair bucket of fish. There was definitely a talent factor involved this week. Lots of haves, and haves nots! During the grips of the continuous cold fronts, the most successful presentation was a plain hook, with a very small splitshot. The key to the rig was to use a Ice Buster bobber trimmed way down to make it neutrally buoyant. On the few warmer days, the trick was to punch holes outside of the house, and move around the reef. It seemed like fresh holes, even though they may be five feet apart, triggered a fish. We are continuing to see a large number of northerns, and have seen a fair number of bigger fish with a few mid twenties caught over the week. Lee Johnson from Crosslake caught a 27 incher, and a member of his party lost a bigger one at the hole. Lee's son Bud caught an approximate 18 pound northern. Pictures this week are of a few nicer walleyes and northerns caught mid week. Just don't ask who screwed up the picture of the 27 incher. However, I am sensing a pattern.


Fishing continues good, but with the warmer weather became a little Squirrelly. We have had a constant battering of fronts with the wind being south, then switching to northwest later in the day. Then back to south the next day, and repeating the cycle. Although some days it might fool you and start north and switch to south. 

During this fluctuating weather, the fishing remained surprisingly good, but very cyclic. Long dry spells, with sudden periods of good activity. The late afternoon bite is by far still best. We have also moved the houses deeper, closer to the reef's edges, and have been paid off with the addition of jumbo perch and sauger along with the walleyes. No special presentation, or lures are reported dominant, and I still recommend the typical small jig and bobber on one line, and an aggressive jigging presentation (Swedish Pimple, Rapala, Chicada, etc.) for the other, until a daily presentation is discovered. 

The warmer weather had also created some slush conditions. Nothing major, but something for the snowmobilers to watch for. However the colder weather this week has healed most of it. The snowmobile trail to Kenora has also been installed, and from what I can see, quite a few people are taking advantage of it.

I had an opportunity to attend the Chicago Musky Show this past weekend. Talk about an event. I have never seen such a collection of frustrated, pent up fishermen counting every moment until the season begins. And I was one of them! With all of the fishing tackle booths, and manufactures, I almost seen as many lures as in Pearson's boat. Even got caught by the bug myself, and added (quite) a few to my measly collection. Matter of fact, I think I opened an account at Thorne Brothers. I was there so much, they thought I was another employee. Incredible seminars. Maina, Pearson, Bucher, and a list of other greats far to long to mention. What a way to beat those mid winter: "can't wait, blues". I had so much fun, there is a good chance that we will do the Minneapolis Show as well this March.



Winter is in full swing at the Northwest Angle portion of Lake of the
Woods. As most everyone in the Midwest is well aware of: the cold came
quickly, and in great abundance. We were fortunate to have a sufficient
thickness of ice prior the (relentless) snowfall, thus minimizing the
slush problems normally encountered with heavy snow on first ice.

We have been ice fishing for a little over a week now. Conditions have
been good right from the start, and everyone appears to be completely
operational with their heavy equipment. Bombardiers and track vans are
buzzing around the lake like they are in the parking lot of the local
Wal-Mart, and all of the large fish houses are out and located on the
typical “first ice” locations.

I guess I should get to the part everyone’s concerned with. The fishing.
The first week of fishing has been very good for us. We quickly zeroed
in on a depth of 20 to 22 feet as being by far the most effective. We
had virtually no success either deeper or shallower, regardless of the
time of day. And speaking of time of day, it is very critical right now.
The mornings have been fairly good, but drop off drastically at about
11:00. The real prime time starts at about 3:30, and runs until dark,
tapering off somewhat about 4:30.
Not uncommon to catch a limit of fish during this “golden hour”.

The average size of the fish kept for dinner has been very good. And we
are seeing a lot of throwback-sized fish providing lots of activity. We
have not seen any trophy sized fish as yet, but have released quite a
few walleyes up to 25 inches. We are only seeing a few perch, and have
not caught a sauger yet either.

Most typical ice fishing presentations are working with about half of
the fish coming off an idle bobber rig, and the other half coming from
aggressive jigging. Swedish Pimples tipped with a minnow head or tail
has been working well for the jigging presentation.

Most of the snowmobile trails are marked, and a number of them are on
the grooming program. As of the first week in January, the trail to
Kenora is not in yet, but should be complete shortly



Not too much to report this week. We are on borrowed time, as the lake should be frozen by now, but is just hitting the 40 degree mark. There is virtually no one fishing at this time, and we only had one party up for a weekend of musky fishing. On Friday, they fished about half a day and caught two. Today, we went out for the day and nailed a six pack, the largest being a whopping 53 1/2 x 26 inches. The rest were in the low 40's, with a couple in the high 30's. The hot ticket (as you would expect) has been 10" Jakes. Especially the glitter perch pattern.


Lots of ducks still in the area. Some bluebills, and a lot of buffelheads, with a recent influx of goldeneyes.
This week's picture is of Dennis Klaus with his trophy 53 1/2 incher.

What a way for Dennis to finish up the year!
Looks like me may still have a few more weeks of open water if anyone is
getting the itch to say hello to these unmolested babies.


I have got absolutely nothing to report regarding walleyes, crappies, etc. The season is pretty well winding down, and we did not fish at all for these fish.

I have got two words for the musky fishing. ON FIRE! We certainly paid our dues this year with sporadic fishing, but this week has been the hottest bite I can remember. We fished a fair amount this week (when we weren't duck hunting) and did incredibly well on mid sized fish. No monsters boated. We were trolling typical shoreline structure with the usual suspects. 10" Jakes in fire tiger, orange tiger and glitter perch. Got one small one on a Superman, and none on last year's favorite, Tennessee shad. The strange thing is that the fish were stacked up on the structure. On a number of spots we caught multiple fish, and even a couple of doubles. One spot gave up six (boated), and one lost, in about two hours. If we did not have to run in for an emergency phone call, who knows how many we would have caught off that piece of structure. Yesterday, between the ducks, we fished about 2 hours. Boated three low 40's, and one upper 30's. Incredible week. The sad thing is that it looks like the season is over as far as fishermen, but not the fish. There are virtually no boats on the lake, and the water is far from freezing at 44 degrees, and no cold weather in sight. The fishing should only get better!

Duck hunting has been up and down. Throughout  the week we had good and bad days. Really depended on the weather, and especially the wind direction. Today we had a very good day, as indicated by this weeks photo of the Dan Miller party. Looks good, but we really had to work for them. It seems that most of the birds that we here earlier in the week, have moved on to greener pastures. Either South, or in our freezer. As usual, I never have a camera in the boat to include a musky photo. But I'm sure Paul Wharton will get his developed quickly and we can include 
some in a future report.

We do not have much to report on the walleye situation this week. We
only fished about 10 minutes for them, during a cold front, and did not
catch even one. Crappies either.
Muskie fishing continues it's strange pattern for the year. We trolled
half a day Saturday, and all day Sunday, without so much as a bump.
Monday we trolled about three hours. Boated six, lost one, and had 2-3
short strikes. Even had a double for the first time trolling. All on
fire tiger Jakes. Go figure! Today we trolled about half a day, and got
one mid 40. Water temperatures are stagnant at the mid to upper 40s.
Ducks in the area have really slowed down. We are still seeing lots of
ducks, but they are extremely decoy shy. One group today stumbled on
some large flocks of bluebills, that are resting in the rice filled
bays, and shot their limit. Tomorrow we will revisit that game.



Walleye fishing was great, but took a dive at the end of the week, as
the result of a major cold front. Instead of large numbers of fish per
spot, it became a 1-3 fish per spot deal. Crappies continued great, with
a number of 12-14 inch fish caught. Perch also continued good.

The cold fronts appeared to trigger the muskies. Trolling activity
picked up markedly, with a number of fish being caught. Bait fish appear
to be stacked up almost everywhere, but the majority of fish were caught
on shoreline structure. Bret Miller's group caught a 52 incher on
XXXXXXXX Point, and Dave Yuenger's group boated 29 fish for the week,
utilizing  a combination of casting and trolling. Dave's success came
from perch colored crankbaits, while mine was more with the 10" Jake in
a "Glitter Perch" color.

Bluebill hunting in the Minnesota waters slowed down markedly. The cold
fronts were not severe enough to bring down many new birds, and the few
remaining are extremely wary. The bright spot this week was the bill
shooting on the Ontario side. Fantastic! We have stumbled on large
flights of birds to the east, and are doing extremely well, with limits
being the standard.



Fall walleye fishing in the area has been fantastic. Jigging a minnow in

most of the classic fall spots will yield a limit in short time.
The Gap in Deepwater Bay, Devil's Elbow area, and the Western points of
Falcon Island are all producers. As a bonus, the perch are going crazy
as well. You can catch as many as you are willing to clean. Crappie
action has been extremely good. Some of the typical locations have been
slow, but a number of the deeper points and rock ledges surrounding
Falcon Island have been incredible.

Musky fishing has continued sporadic. It seemed the colder weather a few
weeks ago was triggering them, but the warming trend has returned them
to spotty. You can go a day without seeing one, or catch four fish in a
day. Toss of a coin. With the warmer weather a number of people have
returned to casting. This resulted in seeing some really big fish, but
all near misses, or window shoppers. Working the lure slowly appears to
be the key right now. We nailed a really fat 50 last night trolling a
chartreuse/purple Jake. The boat speed was barely moving. Probably under
2 m.p.h. It also seems the bigger fish are structure related. Steep
ledges, points, and underwater humps. While the smaller fish have been
caught trolling the suspended baitfish clouds in deeper water just off
the structure. Slower speed retrieving lures while casting has also been
more effective.
Lots of decent sized northerns have been caught in pursuit of muskies.
Many in excess of 40 inches. And I know of one 45 incher.

Duck hunting action has been mixed. Last week the bill hunting in
Minnesota waters was phenomenal, but a week of going to Winchester
University, along with the warm weather, has made the remaining ducks
"land shy". We will need some colder weather to bring down some
"newbies". The good news is that we have a number of smaller rafts
lurking around in Ontario waters. The key is to stumble on them, and get
ready for some fantastic action. Don't expect me to reveal the location
of these gems. Mallard and ringbill hunting has been very good in the
wild rice bays, but inconsistent due to pressure. We have had great
hunting one day, only to return in a few days only to find that someone
had rousted the ducks out of there.

This weeks pictures are of Bret Miller's "Cheesehead" group. The first

with a great catch of crappies and walleyes. The second is a picture of
Holly with a partial batch of bills we shot in Ontario. And the third is
of Bret with the strangest looking bluebill he shot last night while
diver hunting down at Crowduck Island.



This week's report was almost the reverse of last's. Since the last

report all I have been doing was walleye fishing, and had very little
input on muskys, other than the water conditions. Over the week, the
water temperatures remained stable at approximately 69 degrees. The
algae bloom continued as it's normal pain in the rear, and the weeds
continued their dying off. As normal, the wind and current moved the
algae around, so there was no way of knowing where you would find it
other than to physically look.

Over the weekend, Chuck Strauch came up to musky fish. Chuck reported
seeing fish, but no takers.
I ran into Judd Fuhrmann, who many of you know, and Judd had just
released a 52 inch, and seen another big fish, on the rocks at
&%&(**(_)(//?. You don't think I'm going to tell you, do you? He nailed
the fish burning a Lillytail over the shallow rocks. The team of Chuck,
Judd, and I went out for a few hours yesterday evening. and boated three
fish. Two in the low 40's, and one in the 46-47 inch range. The small
one came off a Glitter Perch Jake, and Chuck nailed the bigger ones on a
(black) Globe. One an a weed point, and the other off rocks. The first
one came off a rock ledge. Pretty consistent pattern...Eh?

Another nice touch yesterday, just after releasing the last fish, was
being checked by MNR Game Warden, Rich LeBlanc. Rick had just checked
another boat, and had an opportunity to see his first musky released.
Point being, others were catching them at the same time. The water
yesterday was the clearest that I have seen in weeks. Kind of a cold,
cloudy, and rainy day. I'm suspect that the lack of sun kept the bloom
from darkening during the day. Also, the current was ripping faster than
I (or Judd) have ever seen it. No explanation as the amount of rain we
received could not have amounted to .01 inch. They must have the dam
screaming up at Kenora.

With the cooler weather, I spent yesterday morning digging my 10" Jakes,
and Depth Raiders out of mothballs, and getting them into shape for the
upcoming trolling season. Kind of a "Spring Training Season". Getting
goose bumps (Wood, for you adults) just thinking about it.

Walleye fishing for the week was awesome. Jigging crawler bits at 25-40
off of the deeper north reefs was very productive. Lots of jumbo perch
as well. Fished the reefs in Deep Water Bay a bit on Thursday, and did
surprising well. Bigger (but fewer) fish being caught, up to 26 inches.

. Awesome Week!

Frank Walsh


I sure wish I was doing this report last Monday when I should have. We

have had a tough week since then. A constant battering of cold fronts,
wind, and bloom have made fishing tough towards the end of the week.
Water temperatures have been dropping, and are hovering around 70

Looking at the bright spots, we had three nice fish caught last week. A
52" by Brian Whyte, and a 54" by Jim Laverne. Both from the Rockford
area. Jim is also the guy that nabbed the 49 incher, that made the last
report. The scary part is that all three of these fish came from within
a mile of camp. Oh... the third fish was a 48 ", caught by some lame
guide out of here. All the fish, as well as some BIG, Near Misses, came
off of a black Top Raider. The 54" came off a chartreuse/black home-made
tandem. Fishing at the earlier part of the week was tolerable, with a
number of two fish per boat days, but again got real tough at the end of
the week. The team of Ken Cress and Steve Crook were also able to squeak
out a few (low 40 inch) fish, when others were running for the dock with
their tail between their legs. Stable weather should straighten this out
though. Great bucktail  productivity (early in the week when the fish
were more active) came from Blackburn Tackle's chartreuse/black tail
with a french blade.

Walleye fishing was very good, but suffered the same wind problems. Not
so much the fish activity, but finding sheltered reefs that held active
fish. We has very good reef fishing surrounding the Skeet Island area.
Nothing big, but lots of nice 15-20 inch fish. We also did well jigging
the weed lines. This was more of a by-product of seeking shelter from
the wind, but was a blast. Bloom in the Tug Channel made weed line
fishing difficult there. Bloom does not affect reef fishing, but sure
reduces productivity when fishing weed lines.

laverne54j.jpg (85775 bytes) (click to enlarge)
Picture this week is of Jim Laverne with his 54 inch fish. I think Jim
is the first guy to have back to back photos. Great week Jim!

Frank Walsh