The dog days of summer are now upon us as you can probably tell by the temperatures this past week. I don’t know where the official or unofficial saying came from, but I can picture a guy sitting in a rocking chair on an open porch with his old hound lying beside him. The heat makes the old hound just lay there, moving only to shake loose from a pestering fly. Now this could be called a dog day. At least that’s my version.
In Minnesota we have a lot of fishermen who call this time of year by that name simply because fishing usually slows down. Finding them is one thing this time of year, but enticing them to bite is another story. For years we took family vacations in August, especially the years I worked at Wilson’s as a meat packer. Vacation sign-up went strictly by seniority, and in my department I was pretty low on that list. I could usually get the week of the fair and September was open.
Fishing in August was difficult at times if you were a walleye fisherman, but luckily I was not locked in on a certain fish. My family enjoyed fishing for northern so that was basically the fish we sought. I have eaten northern all my life and I can tell you that once the bones are removed this fish is very tasty. Bones have nothing to do with taste, but I can tell you that, to me, there is nothing worse than biting into a piece of fish and getting a mouth full of bones.
That said, fishing in the dog days is a little different, so an adjustment needs to be made. I have, at times, had some pretty decent walleye fishing in August. Most folks say you will find them in deep water next to deep water humps. This is more than likely true, but I have had some of my best luck fishing walleye in the weeds. These fish seem to like the weeds because of the cover and the abundance of baitfish. I have found pockets on weed beds have held fish and early morning seems to be the best time.
Weeds are also where you will find bass, and I’m talking some real “hawgs.” Late summer is when the bass will hit top water lures fished over submerged weed beds. Again, early morning or late evening are usually the best times to seek out these fish.
Getting back to walleye; one July we were vacationing with friends at Sand Lake near the little town of Squaw Lake. My friend Kenny and I had taken the boat out in the afternoon, headed south of the resort and stopped in front of “the old brown cabin,” which is how we marked spots in those days. I noticed a pocket in the weeds so I told Kenny we would put on Little Joe spinners and one split shot tipped with a chub minnow. I began to troll slowly over the weeds to that pocket and back. Each time we went over the edge of the weeds one or both would have a bite. We caught eight nice walleye that hot July afternoon. At the time most folks didn’t look to the weeds for walleye in mid-summer, but the kid in me decided to give it a try and it paid off.
In those days we marked a hot spot by picking out landmarks and coordinating them to find the approximate location, unless you threw out a buoy, which told everyone where your “hot spot” was located. I had an old “green box” I had purchased from Uncle Ben, but I spent more time shipping it off to the manufacturer than I did using it. When they sent it back the last time they packed it in a box for an Eagle Silent 30, which I naively thought was replacing the old box. The joke was on me because inside was that old box with a note saying they couldn’t fix it. I eventually got that Silent 30, which I really liked and used it right up until the squirrels chewed the end that plugs into the flasher when I had the boat sitting in my backyard. There was no fix and nobody has that part anymore, so it just sits in the basement atop my artificial fireplace. I had gotten really good at reading that flasher, but I had to upgrade to a more sophisticated fish finder; I still miss that flasher.
Getting back to the late summer fishing and finding fish in the weeds, fishing weed edges for pike will produce small pike but the larger ones will be in deeper water and I can attest to that because my grandson Dylan and I caught them in the fall trolling the middle of the lake near our cabin in 70 feet of water.
Don’t overlook the dog days for some good fishing and the next time you do, give the weeds a try. Please take a little time to make a few summer memories by sharing time in the outdoors with family.
Please take some time to honor those that have sacrificed so much for the freedoms that we enjoy today. Take a little time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, those who served and those troops that are serving today.