Summer is progressing, with cooler-than-normal temperatures and below-average rainfall, which has been good and bad for fisherman. The cooler temperatures have meant the water has stayed a lot cooler later into the year, and the lack of rain has kept water levels down from a year ago.

This means fishermen must adapt to the cooler, dryer conditions and not select baits and techniques based on normal July/August fishing. Thinking ‘late spring’ rather than ‘late summer’ will bring greater success, with the water temperature still holding in the very low 70s in most areas, when it would usually be closer to 80 degrees now.

The fish will be more active in this temperature range, oxygen levels will stay stable, and bait fish habitat, such as weed beds and grass, will be widely available. This should make catch rates even better.

Normally at this time of year the way to catch walleye, smallmouth bass and the larger northern pike would be to fish the deeper, cooler water. This year I would recommend staying shallow (6 feet to 12 feet) and working faster-moving baits like spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and shallow-running crankbaits just under the surface.

Reports from around the area have been confirming this pattern. Fishermen around the area say shallow has worked better than deep, and faster presentations have worked better than slower ones. The reports from the Mississippi River (Pool 13) have the main river very muddy and debris-filled, but the side lakes have been outstanding, with really good catches of largemouth bass on frog baits run over the top of the vegetation. One angler in a local tournament posted a five-fish limit of 29 lbs. The reports from the near-area fishing hotspots show bass between 3 feet and 6 feet being caught in the Forest Preserve lakes, with early morning or late afternoon-early evening hours being the most productive. Again, most are being caught in shallow water from shore locations.

My favorite local hotspot, Lovelace Park, has been great this year. I’ve been there a number of times (every Saturday) and everyone is catching fish. What a great facility for our City to provide.

My next report will be coming from northern Minnesota – the family and I are off for a couple of weeks of walleye, smallmouth, bluegill and northern pike fishing. Until next time, keep a tight line.

— Dick,