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Boundary Waters Quetico Forum :: Fishing Forum :: When the fishing is slow
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02/03/2020 11:39AM
Downsize lure presentation, SLOW DOWN LURE PRESENTATION.
01/27/2020 09:35AM
I have a talking point for you all while we are sitting around waiting for summer to arrive. Looking for some advice for when the fish just aren't biting.

Last year I took a group of 5 to LLC in early June and from everything I read beforehand, the fishing in that area is supposed to be excellent. From what I read on this site, the fish in Boulder River during that time are practically jumping into the boat. I couldn't have been more excited leading up to it.

Then reality hit. We arrived it was SLOW. I threw everything at them. Crankbaits, live leeches, spinners, topwaters, gulp alives, other plastics. Fished deep, shallow, and everything in between. In 4 days, I think we caught 4 walleyes total and maybe 6 smallies. I don't think I have ever tried harder to catch fish.

I felt like a failure and felt like I let our group down since I planned the trip. But other groups we talked to nearby also struggled. And we got back to the outfitter and the owner told me "fishing has been slow for everyone". Reports from others coming in the past couple days were overwhelmingly negative.

My question is, could I have done something differently/better? I am wondering if you guys have advice for when fishing is slow. Techniques? Presentations? I feel like I tried everything I can think of but I am far from an expert. I am guessing it was something weather related (front/wind direction/etc) since we weren't the only ones to struggle.

I am lucky enough to go to the bwca once a year and I want to be better prepared for when slow times happen. Thanks for your advice!
01/30/2020 08:46AM
QueticoMike: "It was a cold spring and the fishing was tough. They weren't in there regular areas for the time of the season. If you aren't catching any fish in your spot, move. Look for warmer water. We found fish where the water was warmer last spring. If you are looking for walleye look for muddy bottoms with emerging weed growth. "

Completely agree based on our mid June Basswood trip last year, we marked the coldest water temps noted in my 12 consec years going there at same time. Zero walleyes out on open water humps and points, but they were biting well in shallower weedy areas. Smallie bite in deep water (more than 5 feet) was useless, but using QM flukes, wacky senkos and top waters on very shallow rockpiles (avoid sandy/rocky mix if you want to leave the bedding males alone) in the sunny afternoons was beyond spectacular. Walleye and bass are always busy feeding somewhere in June, but they are hard to find if canoeing sometimes. I admit to be a retired canoeist (its my lazy friends!) with 14 day use motor trips to Sag and Basswood more recently...much easier to adjust with a motor, electric, sonar and 6 rods rigged for different techniques. We got many similar questions from passing canoeists last year.
02/03/2020 03:39PM
walllee: "Downsize lure presentation, SLOW DOWN LURE PRESENTATION."
02/02/2020 09:40AM
Not a lot to add, more echo others.

You picked the most likely spot, that area should of had the warmest water—which usually attracts the fish that time of year. Did you try sunset and sunup fishing in the area. Sometimes you only get a short time period to catch them. If that didn’t work then I’d go deep. Sometimes early in the year the baitfish are still in the deeper basin in their winter pattern—the fish follow.

At least ya know many had a tough time wasn’t just you.

02/03/2020 06:46PM
i'm sure the low water temp was a factor but definitely more a weather factor/front/barometric pressure. when a front comes through it can shut fishing down for a week , sometimes it's just bad timing , but, yes i agree with everyone also down size and slow down , especially for walleyes.
and always easier said than done in the BW/Q but night fishing to target walleyes. or some kind of slip sinker set up from camp after dark.

01/27/2020 02:34PM
Been to LLC a couple times, each time the fishing fell pretty flat compared to what I had read. I believe the lake is just too big to be as great a fishery as say Iron or SAK. I bet every dollar there's bigger fish in LLC, just good luck finding them from a canoe. Iron lake and. Sak On the other hand... even on a slow day your wrist gets a workout.
Savage Voyageur
01/27/2020 02:52PM
I like to troll a large Rapala in about 9’-16’ FOW. Basically paddling next to shore and keeping this depth.

Still fishing after you find a good spot. You will need two basketball hoop to use as anchors. Tie one end off and fill with rocks. I like two anchors because of the wind turns your canoe around. Then use a slip bobber with plain hook with leeches or crawlers l
This has been the best way for me to catch Walleye. Inflate crawlers with a blower.
It keeps them off the bottom.

Another way is to use leeches on a spinner rig. 36” line with a green spinner. Use a keel sinker or a drop shot weight for this rig. You WILL get stuck in the rocks, but that’s exactly where the fish are. Kind of a trade off, snags vs fish on. Use a worm blower to inflate the worms.

For top water Smallmouth Bass try a Zara Super Spook, (walk the dog presentation) or zig-zag. Deadly for Bass. Fish any rocky point and you will find Bass.
01/27/2020 06:06PM
Sometimes they just don't go.
But, here are some ideas. When it is VERY tough, try it VERY slow, VERY fast, VERY deep, VERY shallow, and VERY late at night. You get the idea. Tiny lures or giant lures. And, during summer, weeds. Or, suspended crankbaits over "nothing."
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
01/27/2020 03:24PM

Yeah, those cold cold springs the past couple years are getting old. You are probably right in that had a lot to do with it. Hopefully we can get back to something resembling normal this spring since I yet again have an early June trip planned.

Gear guy, I have yet to go to Iron or Sak. Aren't those bigger lakes as well though?

Savage, I slurged and got one of those canoe anchor bags. Such a great investment! Slip bobber and leech is probably my favorite technique.

My early June trip this year will be on a smaller, shallower lake than LLC so maybe that will mean the water temp will be warmer even with a cold spring.

I will still take more suggestions for what you guys do if the fish are just stubbornly not biting. Thanks!
01/28/2020 07:55AM
It was a cold spring and the fishing was tough. They weren't in there regular areas for the time of the season. If you aren't catching any fish in your spot, move. Look for warmer water. We found fish where the water was warmer last spring. If you are looking for walleye look for muddy bottoms with emerging weed growth.
02/04/2020 07:10AM
If you had leeches, I'm guessing you couldn't have done much better than you did. How deep did you fish? One time, I ran into Al Lindner on Lake Superior. Conditions were tough. I had a smaller boat and managed to catch some fish in mats of weeds. Al went the other way, going way out and fishing deep. He also caught some fish. In-between, people were struggling according to the chatter.
01/31/2020 02:50PM
Last year was definitely not a normal spring, early spring was cold but I went in Snowbank on the 27th the air temp was 44degrees, I hit Thomas the next day (28th) we had a high temp of 73 degrees, on the long portage into Insula on the 30th we hit 83 degrees. Surface temperatures skyrocketed overnight. The lake trout went to the bottom and stayed there. The worst fishing I ever had in the BDub.
01/27/2020 01:51PM
Last Spring was cold and the water didn't warm until mid to late June. I recorded a surface temp of 53 in Burt the first week of June last year. I wouldn't consider anything in Boulder bay as deep water. If you didn't catch any eyes under the rapids/falls they were probably out in deeper water waiting for the water to warm(which usually happens in Boulder bay first before the rest of LLC). Did you concentrate on dawn and dusk with dusk being the preferred time?