The lakes are busy with boaters on the weekends, but the mid-week is much less crowded on the lake and at the accesses. If you are fishing on the weekends, you just have to get used to, or accept, that you will have jet skiers, skiers, wakeboard boats, pontoons cruising, and other pleasure boaters on the lakes and in your space.
The weekends will also be more busy with anglers, and some community spots can get overcrowded. The weather is nice and I think people are anxious to get out and enjoy the outdoors after experiencing the unusual shelter in place due to COVID-19.
It seems more busy to me on the lakes since Memorial weekend than in years past because of the desire to get out and about. It is encouraging that fishing license purchases set records this year! I also like the fact that more young people have become licensed to fish. For many years, outdoor enthusiasts and those promoting the fishing industry have been concerned about the drop in youth fishing and tried to figure out how to get them engaged. Who could have guessed the answer was a worldwide pandemic, and having to “shelter in” with parents!
You have probably noticed we are into full steam ahead with bug hatches. The black flies, mosquitos, gnats, and dragonflies have been around for a week or two, but now we have started the mayfly hatch.
This hatch is significant for anglers and can make for some challenging days on the water when the hatch is on. Walleyes in particular will key in on the larva coming out of the mud. It is hard to compete with nature's abundant food source.
Look for the hatch to increase as we get some bright sunshine days. When water surface temps get to the upper 60s or 70 degrees and we get sun -- It becomes mayfly hatch time.
Look for the walleyes to go deeper to the mud that the hatch is coming from. On many of the lakes in our area, the transition from sand to mud/muck happens in 22 to 26 feet of water. The other area to check is the mud in the cabbage weeds in 9 to 13 feet of water.
Multiple species of fish will be using the food and shelter in the cabbage at this time, including sunfish, bass, rock bass, crappies, northern, walleye, and yes, even the muskie.
Walleyes in the deep water during the hatch will like the leech and crawler offerings on a live bait rig or bottom bouncers and spinners. Fishing in the cabbage can be difficult to pull rigs through, so pull baits over the top of the weeds, instead, with split shot rigs or spinners.
A slip bobber on a jig or hook under a bobber fished a couple feet off the bottom can also do the trick to produce bites and fish. Casting or trolling and snapping light jigs tipped with minnows or plastics is also a fun option to pry fish from the protection of the weeds. Get out and play around with different techniques and see what works for you. Remember to clean, drain, and dry when you leave the lake.
(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)