Roger Lapenter Smallie School Review

The inaugural Roger Lapenter Smallie School went down this past Memorial weekend and it was a wonderful time.  It's hard to summarize the entire event in one blog post, but if there's one thing I learned, it's that the future of fishing and the outdoors is in great hands.  It felt pretty darn cool to be able to show the next generation exactly what Roger had worked on so hard so that kids like them could enjoy this amazing fishery.  

Out of the many essays we received, we chose two kids: one local and one non-local.  Dawson and Jonathon were a prefect fit and the excitement level was at an all time high all weekend.  We started the school with a rundown on the history of the fishery and what makes Chequamegon Bay such a unique place.  We covered basic equipment and did a little casting practice, though the kids were already pretty proficient.  We spent the days on the water catching fish and learning techniques, and also toured the Bay to show the kids areas of concern and the contrasting forms of habitat in both the coldwater and warmwater sides of the Bay.  

Highlights of the weekend including Dawson catching his first smallmouth on the fly, and then his first popper fish as well as a very surprising appearance by a Steelhead, in which he not only hooked, but somehow survived an acrobatic battle in shallow water.  Jonathon caught a 20 incher and made some great shots at cruising fish and converted the sightfishing opportunities well.  He even managed to land a pike that was laid up in really skinny water.  Fun times.  

Hopefully the kids take what they learned and pass it on to their friends and family, and maybe someday will become conservation heroes like Roger Lapenter was.  

Thanks gang for a great time and we're all looking forward to next year!

Don't worry, it's coming.

 It's these kind of summer days that make living up here all worth it.

It's these kind of summer days that make living up here all worth it.

Spring.  It will be here eventually, but it's hard to not get a little twitchy when winter is hanging on like it is right now.  Scraping my windshield off in the morning is getting a little old, and I'm wondering if my son remembers how to run around in the yard without the spaceman like snowsuit he's had to wear since late October.  We fishermen seem to get really worried when we can't get out and fish because the lake is iced up, or the river is too high or things like that.  But what about all the other people who make a living outside?  I'm sure guys that have concrete jobs lined up, or a house project lined up don't really like this kind of weather either.  We all have to deal with it, and just learn to be patient.  I've often wondered what it would be like to not have to worry about when the ice will be gone.  Would the fishing season be as special as it is now?  Would I take it for granted?  Maybe someday I'll find out, but for now, I'll just wait 'till it's gone and when it is, I'll be out there and will have forgotten about how long this winter was.  

Thinking of the Brule River

 The Culvert at issue.  Located on Nabagamon Creek, a tributary of the Brule.  If this fails, massive amounts of sand will enter the river and slowly work downstream.

The Culvert at issue.  Located on Nabagamon Creek, a tributary of the Brule.  If this fails, massive amounts of sand will enter the river and slowly work downstream.

 We go to the Brule for moments like this.

We go to the Brule for moments like this.

It's really simple:  There's a culvert on a tributary of the Brule that needs replacing.  If it's not replaced and the culvert fails, bad things will happen to the river.  The $130,000 project is ready to go, but they're just a little short on funds (around $13,000).  

Here's how you can help:

https://www.gofundme.com/brule-river-s-shore-grade-project

Man, all this talk about the Brule has really got me thinking about that river the past few days.  I've had so many great memories on the Brule over the years, from falling into the river on opening day with my Dad when I was in the 4th grade to helping people from all over the country land their first Steelhead, the river has been good to me, and I can only hope to return one of the many favors it has given me over the years.  Thanks to everybody who has rallied and helped organize the efforts.

Upcoming Events and News

 TX Boy Dave knows how to roll and can finesse a soft plastic through the wood with the best of them.  We have a second boat available for select Pre Spawn dates, so contact us if you're interested in this prime season: reservations@freshcoastangling.com

TX Boy Dave knows how to roll and can finesse a soft plastic through the wood with the best of them.  We have a second boat available for select Pre Spawn dates, so contact us if you're interested in this prime season: reservations@freshcoastangling.com

It's officially the time of year to really start dreaming of the upcoming fishing season.  I really like this time of year and all the prep work that goes with it.  It's a good time of year to rig a couple rods, (it may be a little early, but who cares), fill fly boxes, go through tackle, and start to really get excited for fishing season.  Laura and I are patiently waiting the birth of our second child, which could come any day now, so that has us on our toes for sure and we're excited for Jay to have a little sister or brother.  

In the months ahead, there's a few events I'll be at.  First up is the joint meeting between the Wisconsin Smallmouth Alliance and the Badger Fly Fishers in Madison on Feb. 26th. at the Maple Tree Restaurant in McFarland (Madison).  I'll be giving my presentation on the Chequamegon Bay Smallmouth fishery and as well as the Apostle Islands Brown Trout fishery.  If you're not a member of the Wisconsin Smallmouth Alliance, you should be.  They are a great, and genuine organization who truly care about Smallmouth Bass and are strong advocates for great Smallmouth fisheries.  

Next up I'll be set up at the Great Waters Fly Fishing Expo in St. Paul March 16,17,18.  I'll have a booth representing Freshcoast Angling and Anglers All and will also be giving a presentation on the 17th.  Be sure to swing by and say hi, as this event has been a great way to shake spring fever the past couple years.  I'll also be showing my new edit "Two Shallow Seasons" at the film showcase the evening of the 17th.  

May and June dates are filling fast.  We do have a second boat available for select dates in May this year, so there's a few open days during peak pre-spawn that are available.  

As of 2-3-18, my open dates for spring are:  May 8 and June 8, 16,17.  Post spawn dates in early July are starting to book as well.  This is a sleeper time of year for great fishing, so if you're interested in an early to mid July date, let me know!

Contact: reservations@freshcoastangling.com for trip inquiries or visit our Chequamegon Bay Smallmouth info page to learn more.

Getting Excited

 Don with a classic pre-spawn smallmouth.  Pre-spawn fishing is some of the best action of the year with a great shot at big fish in shallow water.   

Don with a classic pre-spawn smallmouth.  Pre-spawn fishing is some of the best action of the year with a great shot at big fish in shallow water.   

I love to go through photos this time of year and look back on all the great memories we've had on the water.  I've been looking at a lot smallmouth photos lately and I'm getting really excited for the upcoming season.  Those of you that have experienced smallmouth fishing on Lake Superior with me know that each day is completely different than the last in many ways.  Weather, wind, current, water clarity, etc.  There's so much that goes on out on this body of water and that's what makes in interesting.  There's not many places in the world where you can find the quality of smallmouth that we have, but that's not what makes this place unique.  It comes down to the fickle nature of Lake Superior and how the fish have adapted along with it and how we as anglers can either go with the big lakes' ebbs and flows, or sit on shore and wait for it to get just right.  If you're looking to experience what Lake Superior smallmouth fishing is all about, let us know and we'd be happy to show you:

Contact us today to start your Lake Superior Adventure:

https://www.freshcoastangling.com/reservations

Season in Review

 Ice Out Brown Trout

Ice Out Brown Trout

 Pre Spawn epicness

Pre Spawn epicness

 Early summer, post spawn fishing

Early summer, post spawn fishing

 Leaving the marina at 5am in mid to late summer is good for two things: epic sunrises and BIG smallmouth.  This one topped out at 22 inches and weighed in at 6.6 pounds.

Leaving the marina at 5am in mid to late summer is good for two things: epic sunrises and BIG smallmouth.  This one topped out at 22 inches and weighed in at 6.6 pounds.

 Fall Brown Trout in the shallows.  It's awesome. 

Fall Brown Trout in the shallows.  It's awesome. 

Long overdue update to the ole' blog here, but here it is!

The 2017 Lake Superior light tackle and fly fishing season was another great adventure with lots learned and many new friends and experiences picked up along the way.  It was a tough year for many of us as we lost one of our best friends and guide mentor, Captain Roger Lapenter.  Roger helped me get to where I am as a guide and also as a person in many ways.  He always wanted to leave the Bay better than he found it and he sure did.  It's our responsibility to keep it that way and to continue his conservation efforts. 

2017 In a Nutshell:

I launched a boat for the first day on April 1 this year and was able to to share the day with Sam Cook, Outdoor Writer for the Duluth News Tribune.  We chased Browns along the ice covered spring shorelines of the Apostle Islands and had some luck, despite the water being 32 degrees.  You can read the full story HERE

With ice out progressing at a fairly normal pace, we were able to continue chasing browns for the better part of April, and we put many nice fish in the boat.  Once May rolled around it was time to head to our beloved sand flats and chase those infamous Lake Superior smallmouth.  I'm pretty lucky to have grown up on and live on a Smallmouth fishery where one can possibly catch the biggest smallie of your life every time you head out there.  It never ceases to amaze me at how big some of these fish are.  Anyways, as May began we had perfect water conditions and the fishing was banging right away.  In fact, probably some of the best fishing in terms of numbers of fish caught and size of fish happened in the first 2 weeks of the season.  There were  A TON of smelt around during the pre spawn bite, and that helped and hurt things.  The fish were feeding aggressively during windows throughout the day, then would go on break.  It was a blast.  We had one good week of nice weather the first week of June, then things started to get tough.  Throughout the month of June, we had lots of rain, clouds and cool temps.  The fishing was still great, though the conditions made it tough to fish the way we like to.  Also, with the higher water levels on Lake Superior, the currents and seiche were ripping at an all time high, tearing up the bottom in certain places.  It's a force and power you have to experience to really understand.  It's no wonder these fish are strong, living in conditions like that.  We spend the final days of June grinding out a tough few days of weather working on an upcoming warmwater fly fishing project with filmmaker Robert Thompson  The post spawn bite in early July has become one of my favorite times of year to fish.  We can find fish shallow, we can find them deep and there's no shortage of spots to hit.  This year, the fishing was epic, but mostly in the deeper holes for the bigger fish.  Lots of smaller, 17-18 inch fish stayed shallow for a long time, which made for some good fun too, but with water conditions being dirty, it was day to day on where to find clean water to make it interesting.  Mid summer is another sleeper time of year on the Bay for Smallies and this year I pretty much just ran early morning dawn patrol trips to get on the good early bite.  Leaving the Marina at 5am is tough, but makes it worth it to watch that sun rise while a 5lb smallie bears down on the end of your line.  In fact, the biggest smallie landed in my boat this year came at the end of August.  

We started chasing Fall Brown Trout pretty early, right around the middle of September and were happy to see lots of fish already patrolling the shallow rocky flats and points of the Apostle Islands.  We chased these fish until December 3rd this year, which was the last day in the boat for us this year.  There's too many good things that happened this fall to talk about here, so you'll have to come check out this fishery for yourself.  Good friend Tom Hazelton and his buddy Dave tagged along one day, read about that day HERE. Perhaps maybe the coolest thing to see was multiple fish blowing up on topwater baits, which gets us really excited for next year.  Also, the size structure of the seeforellen browns keeps increasing every year, which could make for some very big fish in the coming years.  

Well, that's pretty much the rundown.  We're booking up fast for 2018, so let us know if you're interested in a trip and we'll see what we can do!   

 

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