Laabs column: Here's where the walleye are hiding
It seemed like it took a long time for water temps to go from 50 degrees to 60 degrees, and when they finally got to 60 degrees, the hot weather and sunshine of the week before last jumped water temps to over 70 at times in just a matter of days.
The cool nights of this last week has kept the water temps in the low to mid 60s in the morning and raising to the high 60s during the day and dropping them again at night.
These water temps have kept bait fish and fish shallow. Many times by mid-June, walleyes, in particular, have transitioned to deeper water and offshore structure.
On most lakes, the walleyes have remained shallow and are just now dropping off edges and onto breaks to deeper water. Many of the mid lake structure that typically hold fish this time of year will just have fish showing up over the next week or two.
Some anglers have been able to locate deeper holding fish, and larger female walleyes holding deeper, but many of the quality eating sized males have stayed as shallow as 5-8 feet.
Walleyes have also been using the cabbage weeds for food and shelter. It is always worth checking the cabbage weeds out for active fish. Multiple species use the cabbage weeds, so expect you may locate not only walleye, but bass, northern, crappies, sunfish, and even musky (on the lakes that support them).
Fish activity in the area has been very good, but weather is always a factor, and the bite can be as up and down as the weather. Cold fronts make for the most challenging fishing conditions, with the bluebird days that follow a cold front being many times a better day to mow your lawn than counting on getting a fish dinner for the table.
Pre-frontal conditions can be the best, as fish actively feed before hunkering down during the front. The fish always know the weather and what's coming before we do.
Stable weather is also a friend to us anglers, as fish become more predictable and repeatable in their location. During stable conditions you can "pattern" fish. If you find fish in a certain area (like a long extending point with sharp breaks to deep water, and they are holding at the bottom of the break) doing a certain thing (like feeding on night crawlers presented on a live bait rig), they will be doing the same thing in other similar areas on the lake.
A common question asked of a fisherman is: "did ya have any luck?" And yes, there can be some luck involved—but being consistent at catching fish isn't just luck. It takes some skill, planning, adjusting, and practice to become better.
There are some days, however, that it is better to be lucky than good when it comes to fishing. Get out and practice, enjoy your days on the water, and I hope you have some luck. Too!
(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)