Fishing in Lakes Country

By Ross Hagemeister,

Summer is flying by in Lakes Country. Tomorrow is the beginning of August—already—and it’s the time of year that I notice more folks tubing, jet skiing, and pleasure boating than I do see them fishing on the lakes. That’s the normal order and there’s nothing wrong with that. After all, the water is very warm and great for swimming!

The best thing about summer fishing is that the fish, for the most part, are set up in well established patterns. What they are doing now, is what they will continue to do for next 3-4 weeks. For fishermen, that’s good news. When anglers find fish and catch fish (any species) today or tomorrow they should be able to repeat and reuse the pattern and information. The fish have been gravitating towards the weeds this season—for best results fish near weeds. Crappies and sunfish can be found directly over weed patches on flats and sunken islands. And just because they are panfish, it doesn’t mean they are shallow. It’s not uncommon to find sunfish in 20-30 feet off of deep weed lines, and crappie hang in and near tall and dense weed patches in a varied range of water depths (6-20 feet depending on the lake, lake type, and weed growth). While northern pike do cruise weeds for food, don’t forget about the fish that remove themselves from the weeds and suspend near deep weeds and the thermocline. Walleye fishing is challenging on many lakes right now, as the warm water temps force them into shallow and mid depth weeds—which makes angling for them challenging.

Photo by Ross Hagemiester You never know what you’re going to catch! Here’s a nice “bonus” catch on a walleye fishing outing. Lake Sturgeon have been a welcomed addition to the Ottertail River/lakes system over the past dozen years. They are a great fighting fish and will challenge your gear and knot tying skills. They are a catch-and-release only fish so if you are lucky enough to catch one—take a quick photo and release it.

Folks angling for panfish in weeds with jigs and twisters/Gulp baits and Beetle Spin type lures often catch walleye by accident.  My first walleye efforts in mid-summer are geared toward deep weed lines and sandy/rocky islands.  If those efforts fail, then I shift to the inside weed edge—commonly found in about 6-8 feet of water on most lakes in the county.  If the inside weed line doesn’t work, I fish directly over weeds and sort through perch and sunfish to get to the walleye.  If you choose to fish over weeds for walleye, try Gulp Fry and spinners, than the perch and sunfish can’t destroy your live bait stock.  

Good luck fishing Otter Tail Lakes Country this week.  And remember to clean, drain, and dry your boat before moving to new lakes.  

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