Lake Gogebic provides a variety of good fishing throughout the year for Walleyes, Smallmouth Bass and Jumbo Perch and can be fished many different ways depending on wind conditions and water temperatures.
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From the May 15th opener to mid June, jig fishing for Walleyes normally provides the most action. Since the water temperature is still colder you will want to go with lighter set-ups, 4 to 6 pound test line with ultra lights and 1/16 to 1/8 ounce jigs to feel the bite. There are days when a plain jig and minnow works the best and on some days you will do better with a Fuzz-E-Grub type jig with the yellow/green or white/pink tails. One of the best things to do is stay flexible. Jig colors and styles can change from day to day and even hour to hour.
Another thing to remember is don’t get hung up on a presentation. Most people feel the only way to present a jig is to raise the rod tip 12-18 inches and leave the jig settle back down. On most days there is the best way to fish them, however, on still days or after a cold front you will normally want to slow your presentation down. This can be done by leaving the jig on the bottom and dragging it a foot at a time with a long pause in between. When fishing like this you will feel an added weight when you move the jig rather than the familiar tap-tap of a normal bite. You may want to hook your minnow on upside down, the minnow will constantly be trying to turn right side up giving an injured minnow effect.
Another way of slowing down your presentations with a slip bobber and a small jig- this again can be very effective when there is little or no wind and after a cold front. Some of the better early season fishing will be along the shoreline structures in early morning and late afternoon with the fish hanging in anywhere from 2′ to 10″ of water. During the day, fish the deeper edges of the structure.
Once the water starts to warm by early June you will see many of the large Walleyes suspending under the schools of young Cisco. If you have a locator you will see large schools of baitfish 10-12′ down in 20-25′ of water with larger fish around them. Many of these larger fish will be Walleye. One of the best ways to trigger these suspended fish is to troll large crankbaits through the baitfish #11 and #13 Rapalas, Thundersticks and Hot-n-Tot have been some of the most constant producers.
Early June is also one of the better times to get into some very good Smallmouth Bass fishing. Many of these fish will not have spawned yet and should be released. While much of the shoreline is rocky and holds Bass throughout the year, during spawning time you should be looking for areas that have a rock to sand transition.
Small Spinners, Tub Jigs and Shad Raps/Rattle Raps are some good baits. Since crawdada are abundant in the lake, lures with a reddish brown tint will be effective. Once you have young weees growing, the Bass will relate to this cover also. Remember that the Smallmouth Bass fishery is fragile and catch and release is encouraged at all times, especially during spawning time.
If you are interested in some early season Perch fishing, your best bet will be in the shallows on the north and south end around the emerging weed beds. Light line with wigglers or small garden worms should be your bait of choice.
Annual Tagged Fish Contest
By Ron Montie
The Lake Gogebic Area Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with the Department of Natural Resources has been tagging fish in Lake Gogebic for the past seventeen years. Each year one $1,000 and eight $500 walleyes are tagged. In addition, 20 additional fish consisting of bass, northern and perch are tagged. They are worth $250 each. To enter the “Tagged Fish Contest” and to be eligible to win up to $10,000 in prizes you must purchase a $5 button prior to catching the fish. Buttons are available at all local businesses.
Any proceeds left after prize money is paid out goes back into the Lake Gogebic’s fisheries program. For the past several years, this has been used for the minnow stocking program and the fish crib project.
2012 results: Ted Kottke, $1,000 winner
FISHING WITH GENE
Being in the resort business, I’m asked a lot of questions by a lot of people and one of the most common is “What is the best time to come up here to fish?” My answer is that there is no bad time to go fishing. Some days are just more productive than others. We should always remember that it’s the total experience you are after, fish are a bonus!
There are better times than others to fish on Lake Gogebic. Early season can be rewarding if weather conditions are favorable. One favorable condition would be if the ice were to break up late. This would mean the fish would still be spawning in May when the season opens. June is when the bug hatches start and fish are recovering from the vigor’s of spawning. Then combine that with the cold fronts that move in at this time of year and the fishing will pretty much shut down.
Walleye tend to suspend early season, making the use of planer boards a popular technique. Drifting in the middle of the lake is also a popular method any time of the year. I prefer fishing from July all the way through late fall when the lake starts icing over. Weed beds are up by July, which are a favorite hang out for walleye, perch and bass.
Speaking of bass, they spawn in early to mid June. This makes them an easy catch with the season opening the first week of June. I really promote catch and release at this time of year. There are a lot of nice bass in the lake, but they can be wiped out by over fishing during the spawn. Bass are also extremely sensitive to cold spells this time of year. In fact, if we get extreme cold weather they will not spawn and they will redigest their spawn within themselves. The lake can lose a complete year class of fish. If this happens for two years in a row along with heavy fishing pressure in early June, it will devastate the fishery.
In July I like to work the ledges and drop-offs with lead head jigs. A minnow will work for bait, but you just can’t beat leeches for the most desired meal from July through September. While anchored I’ll cast to the upper part of these ledges, and I will also use a slip bobber changing the depths of the slip bobber as needed. If I’m not using a slip bobber I like to hang an eight- to nine-foot fly rod over the boat, rigged with monofilament line and a night crawler. I keep it about a foot off the bottom and leave a lot of pole hanging over the side of the boat; this will give you a nice jigging motion. This will sometimes produce action when other methods aren’t working so well. Catching a big perch or walleye on a fly rod is a whole lot of fun! When using minnows during the early season I prefer minnows two to three inches long. In the fall it seems like the walleye are after a bigger meal, and I have better luck with minnows that are three to five inches long. Just remember to change your hook size accordingly.
In our area we are blessed with many small lakes, most of which are in National Forest land. Many have no buildings on them other than campsites, boat launches and outhouses. They offer some excellent bass, bluegill and crappie fishing. I love to take my grandchildren and friends to get in on the hot action. Sometimes you can literally catch hundreds of fish, but I will keep fish that measure seven to ten inches and release the rest. Crappie spawn early and can be a lot of fun to catch in the bulrushes early in the year. The bluegills and sunfish like warm weather starting in June when they can be found in the northeast part of some lakes. This is due to the fact that the sun shines there the longest this time of year. They will be hanging out in shallow water where the bulrushes grow. You may also find them by tree branches in the water six to twelve inches deep. This is sure to be a real hot spot.
In the fall I always get wrapped up in hunting grouse, deer and bear – not to mention the excellent fall walleye fishing Lake Gogebic has to offer. Even though I’ve been fishing this area for over fifty years, there is always something new to learn. This fall I had some guests staying at the resort and while they were having dinner in our restaurant I went over to their table to chat. I asked them how the walleye fishing was going and to my surprise they said that they were here for their annual fall bluegill fishing. They noted that they had a least 200 in their freezer that range between eight and ten inches. They found them in fairly shallow water and said that they seem to be in groups just like in the spring. Apparently they feed heavy before the lake freezes over. This was all news to me. Like I said, you’re never too old to learn something new! Now that I think about it, this theory holds true for fall walleye fishing on Lake Gogebic. The fish will be in shallow water, about ten to fifteen feet during the day and right near shore in about three to six feet of water closer to evening. This part of the U.P. also has an abundance of creeks and streams that harbor some beautiful brook trout. Some small lakes will have a combination of brook trout and rainbow trout. Trout fishing in the streams early in the spring when the water is cold can be a little slow. My uncle Eino from Wakefield claims you need to wait until the mosquitoes and black flies are healthy and active – that’s when the fishing is good on the streams. A little “bug dope” is all you need to take care of the problem, and catching even one brookie makes it all worthwhile. I compare the table fair of brook trout to that of eating lobster.
Please enjoy our many lakes and streams and always treat them with respect.
LIVE BAIT FISHING IN LAKE GOGEBIC
by Tom Blooming
Lake Gogebic Fishing Guide
Here’s how it goes! I was mindlessly cruising Lake Gogebic’s mid-lake area and noticed a slight hump rising from the flats of 17″ up to almost 8′ at it’s shallowest, but averaging 9-12′ with some scattered weed growth. Throwing out a marker buoy, after first noticing a quick depth change on an otherwise featureless flat, I determined that this was definitely a very fishable spot. Several drifts and about an hour of fishing provided absolutely nothing, so I picked up my marker, reeled in and took off in the lake for greener weedbeds.
Instead of writing off the area, I decided to wait for an optimum time of day to try it again. Later in the day might be better. So as the shadows of evening lengthened I once again approached the hump and dropped my marker buoy.
This time, however, the “twilight bite” kicked in and in less than five minutes I felt a very definite thump on my 1/8 oz jig and minnow combination. A second’s pause and a firm hookset produced the first walleye of the evening.
As the evening progressed, I added a second rod rigged with a slip bobber and live bait, switching between leeches and minnows. Before black dark had fallen and the bite totally quit, I was able to boat over six Walleye, plus one or two rockbass and pike. All the fish were taken within 20 yards, scattered about the sloping hump rising off the lake floor.
This particular evening is very typical of a fishing day on Lake Gogebic. First of all, the most important things to me are 1) exact location, 2) fresh live bait, 3) appropriate tackle for the conditions.
The most popular methods of fishing on Lake Gogebic are trolling, drifting, or anchored. Each has its place according to weather conditions and personal preference. In the incident described above, a combination of very slow drifting and stationary fishing was used. Because there was no wind, I could fish vertically with out having to anchor the boat, then slowly move from spot to spot with the electric trolling motor. This would be similar to drifting on a windier day. This slow or motionless presentation was necessary to tease the fish into striking. The “strikes” were very subtle bumps or nudges showing that the fish were not all that aggressive. When I noticed how lightly the fish were striking the jig, I immediately added a slip bobber to my presentation, as this is absolutely the slowest presentation you can use outside of “tightlining” from the bank.
Because the bait hangs motionless beneath the bobber, the fish has a much longer time to decide to take, as compared to bait on a jig which is usually constantly moving due to boat movement, rod tip twitching, or wind action on the line.
When you fish a slip bobber alongside a jig, you can often decide quickly which works best at that particular time. But don’t conclude that one way is better than the other as a general rule, because that keeps changing from hour to hour as the fish’s mood swings from more to less aggressive. It’s often this attention to detail that will turn around an otherwise unsuccessful trip.
Slip bobbers, while a deadly method, don’t work at all if there is much boat movement. It’s primarily an anchoring technique or for very still days.
For trolling and drifting, stick with either a jig and live bait, or some other live bait system such as bottom walkers, or lindy rigs. Just a heavy split shot 12′ ahead of a hook work’s just fine for me in water up to 20′ deep, especially if the boat is not moving too fast. It’s absolutely necessary to keep that weight dragging on the bottom, or you’ll be out of the strike zone most of the time.
If you’re unsure about any of these methods, or need some advice on them, don’t be reluctant to ask for advice at a local bait shop, resort, or best of all, another angler. Once you expand your techniques, you’ll find less and less times that you come home skunked.
See you on the lake!
Lake Gogebic Fishing Guide
Fishing in the Western U.P.is good clean fun! Our endless variety of lakes and rivers will provide you with whatever type of fishing you want. From ”Big lake” charter boat fishing, to the fishing with a float tube on a small secluded lake, and every thing in between.
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In 13,380 acres of prime fishing water, Lake Gogebic offers walleye, small mouth bass, northern pike, jumbo perch and some whitefish. With shores that range from sandy to rocky to clay banks, you’ll always be challenged. Learn to read the lake and how to use the right fishing method in the right place for the big reward.
AJ’s Walleye Lodge has several things going for it when it comes to planning a fishing trip. Starting with your hosts who love to fish, you will usually see us out early in the morning catching a fresh batch for breakfast. We also will give you the latest fishing info at check in to help get you of to a good start. We are actually located on the lake, on the North shore of Bergland Bay, which is home to some of the best fishing on the lake. Might not sound like much but when you can see your boat from your room and you get to enjoy the great lake views you will feel it‘s a big plus.
The bay offers large weed beds, calmer waters and a wide variety of fish. We have a live bait and tackle right on the property as well as a fish cleaning station and plenty of freezer space and Guide Service is available. We have over 400’ of dock space in the summer at no charge to our guests, so bring your own boat or rent one of our fishing boats or our pontoon boat.
Lake Superior offers many choices for the angler. Charter boat fishing is available at Ontonagon, Black River and Saxon Harbor. Many of the charter boats have a no fish-no pay policy. You may take your own boat out from one of the boat launches at Ontonagon, Silver City, Black River Harbor, Little Girls Point and Saxon Harbor.
With all the talk about lakes our region is also rich with clean rivers and streams. Fly-fishing is alive and well with brook, brown, and rainbow trout. A few streams have spring creek characteristics while others are classic freestoners. Insect hatches are wide and varied. Guides are available.
If that’s not enough to win you over, how about 21 units that can comfortably sleep up to 120 guests? These units are large, clean and the most reasonably priced on the lake. From single motel rooms, to kitchenettes, to fireplace apartments, to two bedroom apartments we have a wonderful selection that will surely meet your needs. We rent all units by the day, week or month. We live right here on the premises to be of help if you need us. Give us a try and let us help you create some great memories!
Thanks in advance,
Jim, Mary Beth & Anthony (and our faithful black lab – Buddy!)