It's that time of year

I always have a hard time believing some people don't get up early and miss these kinds of events.  PHOTO: CAPT. LUKE KAVAJECZ

I always have a hard time believing some people don't get up early and miss these kinds of events.  PHOTO: CAPT. LUKE KAVAJECZ

With warm temperatures through most of the month of September, water temperatures on the big lake have hung in the low to mid 60s right through the end of the month.  Normally I would have guessed that this would keep those big, chrome Brown Trout out of the shallows but it hasn't been the case.  After spending some time out in the Islands looking around a few spots, there's already some very nice fish around.  Based upon what I'm seeing, there's going to be some very, very nice Brown Trout caught this year.  They seem to just be getting bigger, and bigger.  Yesterday, I hooked one, and lost, that I'm still thinking about.  It's actually been quite a while since I've lost a fish and have been really bummed about it, but this one is still haunting me.  That big lake takes a long time to cool down, which means fishing should be great for a long time this fall.  

Experience the Resource

You could double haul and just about land your popper in the proposed Back Forty mine from right about here.

You could double haul and just about land your popper in the proposed Back Forty mine from right about here.

The fish are not the only reason we go, but it's a big part of it.

The fish are not the only reason we go, but it's a big part of it.

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Don't just buy a T-Shirt.  Go experience the resource.

Get breakfast at the local joint, get gas and beer at the local convenience store, book the guides who care about and take care of the resource, have dinner at the local supper club, tip the servers well, stay at the local motel and show the people of the community that you really appreciate a wild and scenic river with big Smallmouth in it and why you travel there to experience it.

Experiencing a few spectacular days of Smallmouth fishing with Tight Lines Fly Fishing Company is one thing, but what really impresses me every time I go down and fish the Menominee River, is how the local people genuinely appreciate not only Tim Landwehr and his guides, but the people that are coming from all over the country to experience this amazing resource.  Tim's guide business has truly made an impact on this region not only economically, but has shown the people in a little slice of NE Wisconsin how important it is to maintain and protect the resource you have in your back yard.  Hopefully this awareness continues and the shadow of the Back Forty mine looming over the river will disappear like a Boogle Bug being sipped by a healthy, native Menominee River Smallmouth Bass. 

"If something happens, we're left with a giant hole. That's it. We're left with a poisoned river, and a giant hole."

-Tim Landwehr

Change of the Guard

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We're running a new boat this year and it's time to let go of the old boat. It's funny how you can become attached to a boat.  You get to know the feel, the sound of the hull against the waves, how much water you can get in, how rough is too rough and the exact pitch and hum of 4200 RPM.  It's been an absolute awesome boat.  It can handle rough water, but get shallow and is a great platform for pure light tackle angling and fly fishing.  It's never been used in Saltwater.  I don't know the number of hours on it.

I'll be glad to send more details and pictures if you're interested.  Email me at luke@freshcoastangling.com

$22,000

  • 2007 Ranger 191 Cayman
  • 2007 Yamaha HPDI 200 
  • Trim tabs
  • Minnkota Riptide 101 Stern Mount Trolling Motor
  • 8 ft. Power Pole Blade
  • Trim Tabs
  • Humminbird 997c
  • Aluminum RangerTrail trailer

The next season

Would you believe me if I said this fish was hooked, but got off, then came back to eat again?  Well it did, and there's 3 witnesses.  PHOTO: CAPT. LUKE KAVAJECZ

Would you believe me if I said this fish was hooked, but got off, then came back to eat again?  Well it did, and there's 3 witnesses.  PHOTO: CAPT. LUKE KAVAJECZ

There's really two shallow seasons around here.  The first season is the spring/summer smallmouth fishery.  Once September rolls around, those big lake bass tend to roll into deeper water and although the fishing can be fantastic, it's not that classic shallow water fishing we all enjoy and after 4 straight months of smallmouth, one tends to look forward to fishing for something else.  The next shallow season is right around the corner.  We'll be moving outside the bay and running bigger water to chase big trout on shallow shorelines.  It's a fishing experience that makes me more and more excited each and every time we head out there.  It's the kind of fishing you can tell somebody about, but until you get out there and see it, only then does it make sense.  It's not easy, but it's not too hard either.  If you like the idea of heading out with the hopes to hook a big fish in an extremely unique setting, this is for you.  It takes the right mind-set, but it's hard to get frustrated when there's so much to look at out there.  The water can seem empty for most of the day, especially when in a spot where you can see all the rocks, sand and pebbles on the bottom and swear there's no fish anywhere only to be surprised when a big, dark shadow rockets out from behind a boulder and inhales your offering.  Then it's game on and you had better hope you stuck that fish good, because who knows how many more chances you'll get.  

Summer Daze

Mid-summer, high sun, blue skies, endless opportunities.  PHOTO: CAPT. LUKE KAVAJECZ

Mid-summer, high sun, blue skies, endless opportunities.  PHOTO: CAPT. LUKE KAVAJECZ

Oh man, this has to be my favorite time of year to fish smallmouth on Lake Superior on a fly.  The fish are scattered around some super cool areas and yeah, you may not catch big numbers of fish, but you get to see the fish do what you really like them to do.  Zero-dark-thirty moring missions have been the best way to get on a good bite as the fish are blitzing shiners as the sun rises.  It's really cool to see the way smallies will use structure to confuse baitfish and herd them into areas they are vulnerable.  This results in fish crashing the surface and waking across the shallows to ambush the schools of lake shiners.  If you're there when it's happening, you'll understand why I get pretty darn excited.  So that's the program for the next few weeks.  Rise early, fish the morning blitz and then go look around and see what we find.  It's also been pretty hard to ignore that little voice in the back of my head that keeps whispering something about cooler temps and ripping streamers for big browns, but I'll just ignore that for now.

The "Roger Rig"

Kathy worked a "Roger Rig" out the back of the boat while her husband Gary threw topwater flies out the front.  Both picked up fish including this one.  Yes, that little hook on the 1/32 oz jighead can work on a big fish like this.  

Kathy worked a "Roger Rig" out the back of the boat while her husband Gary threw topwater flies out the front.  Both picked up fish including this one.  Yes, that little hook on the 1/32 oz jighead can work on a big fish like this.  

1/32 oz jighead and a soft plastic.  As easy as it gets. 

1/32 oz jighead and a soft plastic.  As easy as it gets. 

I take great pride in working with both fly and light tackle anglers on Lake Superior.  Some of the best fishermen and fisherwomen I've been around can throw tight loops on an 8wt into the wind, but also pick up a texas rigged spinning rod and drag a soft plastic through a scraggly wood pile with such finesse it would make a butterfly working a group of flowers jealous.  One of the funnest and simplest light tackle bass rigs I've ever seen or fished is what I'm officially calling the "Roger Rig."  It's the rig Capt. Roger Lapenter used for nearly 30 years on the Bay for many reasons.  Roger didn't care how you fished out of his boat as long as you were easy on the fish.  Crankbaits with multiple treble hooks?  Not easy on the fish.  Flies, and soft plastics with single hooks?  Easy on the fish.   Beyond that, the Roger Rig simply works.  Most people are extremely sceptical when you show it to them. They say "that little hook can't possibly be enough for those big fish."  I like it because I can literally tell people how we catch these fish, you know, completely tell the truth, and they still don't believe me.  The people on my boat have different opinions and usually buy the fixings for the rig at Anglers All before they head out of town.  In the end, it's all fun no matter how you do it.

The Roger Rig:

Nose hook a 5 inch grub onto a 1/32 oz jig head.  Work it slow.  

*Roger would sometimes go to a 1/64 oz jig head too, when the heavier rig didn't work.

A day on land....

With a Gale Warning in effect for the waters of the western Lake Superior, I cancelled my trip for today.  It hurts a little, because the fishing has been great and there's been nobody around, but this will turn into a much needed maintenance day.  The boat needs cleaning, tackle needs replenishing, my accounting info is way behind, blah, blah, blah.  It's actually pretty surprising that this is the first day I've had to cancel due to wind/weather this year.  May is notorious for some bad weather at some point, but it can also offer some of the best weather of the year as well as some of the best Smallmouth fishing of the year.  Luckily, we got 12 good days in a row in, and we'll start back up tomorrow and hopefully continue all the way into July.  The pre-spawn fishing has been great, and yeah there's been lots of fish, but it's been really fun to see all the things that make this time of year special out there.  From watching bears eating fresh buds in the trees, to hearing the Sand Hill cranes to watching groups of Pelicans fly around and dealing with the cool onshore Lake Superior breezes, it's really a special time of year up here.  A really neat thing about this season so far has been the amount of Smelt cruising around in the shallows.  It's made fishing either really good or pretty tough at times.  I've actually seen Smelt cruising around only to be eaten by an aggressive Smallmouth.  Many of the fish we've caught have spit up Smelt on the way in too.  Obviously, flies that look like Smelt have been best.  Well, for now, enjoy just a small sample of some photos from the past 12 days and stay tuned for more.  Hopefully this Gale quiets down in the next few hours and we can get ready for tomorrow.

Changes in the Season

Watching this fish eat our offering multiple times made it that much more special.  The fact that it ate in about 4 feet of water was even better. Photo Courtesy of Matt Benka.

Watching this fish eat our offering multiple times made it that much more special.  The fact that it ate in about 4 feet of water was even better. Photo Courtesy of Matt Benka.

The seasons we look forward to all winter long can come and go in the blink of an eye.  It wasn't that long ago I was driving around looking for a boat landing free of ice to launch and start chasing big browns.  Now, as I type this, my lap is full of Bucktail trimmings as I try and fill out my box with Clouser Minnows for the upcoming Smallmouth season.  It sometimes is hard to take everything in as it's happening, but it's important to take a step back when the smoke clears to reflect on those transpired events.  In this whirlwind month of April, the fishing was simply awesome. Those of you who got out to experience it with me saw the potential of this fishery, and at times I thought this is exactly what I've always dreamed of.  For now, we'll have to slide these spring memories back into our off-season dream reserve and focus on the next task at hand:  Pre Spawn Smallmouth.  It's time to change the season, and we're ready.