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muskieswen

Is there something wrong with the lake vermilion fishery

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muskieswen

This should be a good topic...I think. I have fished lake Vermilion for walleyes for only about 10 years but it seems like this year is quite a challenge to catch not only eaters but slot fish as well. I know there are a few out there that are having good luck but the majority of people I have been talking to are in the same boat I am. Reading the posts here it even looks like the top guides are not putting the fish in the boat that they been in the past years. Anybody have any info or hear what is going on. I am not a bad fisherman but it sure looks like it this year.

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upnorth

Could be as simple as a lot of bait fish or other food in the lake. We were struggling out there a couple years back and one weekend the few Walleye did catch puked up huge amounts of cray fish into the live well. Each fish had to have coughed up at least 6 crayfish.

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delcecchi

This should be a good topic...I think. I have fished lake Vermilion for walleyes for only about 10 years but it seems like this year is quite a challenge to catch not only eaters but slot fish as well. I know there are a few out there that are having good luck but the majority of people I have been talking to are in the same boat I am. Reading the posts here it even looks like the top guides are not putting the fish in the boat that they been in the past years. Anybody have any info or hear what is going on. I am not a bad fisherman but it sure looks like it this year.

A couple of thoughts from a dabbler at walleye fishing.....

If you read the DNR summary of the state of the fishery you will see where it says that their gill net sampling catch is down from like 19 per net to 13, if I recall correctly. There were some excellent year classes especially on east end in like 2002,3 and 2006 and 2007. These are getting fished down and moving into the slot.

I have also noticed on the west end that the old community spots don't work any more for some reason I can only speculate about. For example, evening slip bobbers on reef don't work at all. The reef tops are pretty much deserted, according to my depth finder. Not even any bluegills like a few years ago. Perhaps this is also happening on east end as well.

I would be happy to speculate on reasons beyond bad weather a few springs out of the last several years, but that is outside my competence. It has been a long time since we had a big cisco die-off.

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Uncle Boney

Been fishing the West End for 10 years now and agree with Del.

The whole range of fishing has changed:

Walleye are low in numbers and not in normal spots, especially my favorite evening bobbering of flats.

Largemouth are exploding, big ones and in rocky areas where Walleye used to be.

Perch and Bluegill are numerous, but not in typical areas either.

Northern and smallmouth are the only ones that seem about the same.

Musky sightings are more and more (I don't fish for them)to the point of following bobbers and jumping and surfacing more that before.

Way beyond my paygrade to figure out why, but that is what my group has been experiencing.

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Cliff Wagenbach

I think that a lot of the bad bite problem stems from:

#1. Very unstable weather

#2. Tons of young-of-the-year perch in the water column especially on the East end

#4. moulting crayfish, (which the walleyes love).

#5. or just possibly the walleye count really is down.

We are not catching very many throw back small fish this summer. Mostly eating size fish or fish that are in the slot.

The next week or two will really show if the numbers are down or if all of the above factors were the cause of a poor catch rate.

Cliff

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Jarrid Houston

keep tapping this, interesting...Last time I was up there we decided to drive past Vermillion and go to another lake, and it paid off that we did. Hopefully things turn around

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muskieswen

I was going with the too much forage theory also in my own mind.

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DaveSorensen

I get to talk to a lot of people in the store. First off the guides have a difficult job because they are taking people fishing when the people want to go fishing not necesarily when the fish are biting. People fish how they always fish. I've heard that there is success using bobbers and fishing shallow, I don't know that someone who hires a guide wants to go and fish with a bobber in the shallows and a lot of walleye fisherman won't do that. Everyone I'm talking with that is catching fish says they are full of perch minnows. If you follow Mille Lac's throughout the years you see the same sorts of things, years with good perch production the fishing is not fast and furious, years with poor perch production people are hammering the 'eyes. I think when there is ample forage it's going to be more difficult. Most of the people I'm chatting with that are doing well seem to be getting an early morning bite and a later evening bite. I think there just is a lot of forage this year and the weather certainly has been all over the board. That's my two cents worth based on what I'm hearing from people in the store. I'm not an expert I don't fish as much as I should but just repeating what I hear from people.

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Sorgy

Having fished the opening weekend since the mid 70's I have seen very distinct changes in the early walleye fishing. We used to use only bobbers (slip's came along ?)in the early spring thru early June we used to catch limits almost every time out(cleaned many fish in those days). I would say that since the mid 90's on the West end - Black Bay area we have not done very well on slip bobbers- Can you say sunfish and bullhead? I don't hardly remember catching sunfish or bullheads until the late 80's. I think we mainly used minnows until leeches became popular in the mid 80's? Since the mid 90's we started catching most of our fish trolling.

Now some of my questions are do the sunfish feast on walleye fry? What role do bullheads play in the equation?

I agree that there is a massive forage base the past 3-4 years on the West end and that is affecting the catching of walleyes and muskies.

I believe that the influx of good fishing boats- large hp motors and good information led to a larger yearly harvest than in the 80's and that catch and release is just coming of age for waleye fisherman. I am a fan of slot limits. I love releasing the big walleyes but numbers are definitly down.

I feel that in 5 years this discussion will be quite a bit different?

Good topic

Good Fishing

Steve

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chucker1101

In ten years of fishing, I'm doing better this year than i ever have on Vermilion, fishing the east end exclusively. My log book shows me with more keepers and more slot fish at this time than any time in the last several years. Although a lot of the keepers have been 13". I'd attribute that to several things:

1. I've gotten to know the fishing spots and patterns better, as i've followed Ace and Cliff around i've worked many different spots instead of the usual four or five Big Bay spots. smile

2. I've started throwing more crankbaits and trolling when i'm not catching fish with jigs or Lindy rigs. This has really worked well. (thanks to Ace's mid-winter thread for getting me to do this ). Actually caught my first Muskie ever this year, throwing Rapalas.

3. I've fished hard between 7pm and 9:30pm, with four different presentations ready to cast (jigs, lindy, crankbaits, deep trollers). This has helped me find what walleyes are hitting faster. 80% of my fish have been caught between 7 and 9:30, and most in spots where there aren't any other people fishing.

4. Shallow water - even during the warmer summer months, i've caught a lot more fish in 10-15 ft. than at 25+. Especially at night.

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guideman

The big problem for a lot of anglers is that they get in a rut and keep on doing the same things, even when they aren't working. I have been doing very well this month trolling in open basin areas and along the breaks later in the day. True the numbers are down a little this year, but they are still much higher than the state average. When things change you have to adapt to those changes, repeating the same ineffective presentations is not the way to go. The fish arfe still there, we have been marking Walleyes everywhere on the east end. You simply need to change your tactics and adapt to what the fish are doing.

I also agree with what Cliffy said.

"Ace"

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Steve Foss

I also strongly echo the unstable weather. That's made it difficult for the fish to settle into established bite patterns. There have only been two stretches of nice sunny weather lasting 3 days or longer up here in Ely all summer so far.

More often, it's been a weather system followed by one nice day, then another weather system and one nice day, then . . . you get the idea. Because there have been such short intervals between weather systems, and because air moves from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure, we've also had quite a lot of wind in those intervals. Strong winds are another fishing challenge.

That has made it an interesting year so far for many northern Minnesota lake fisheries.

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upnorth

No doubt some stable weather would help a lot. Considering many of us are weekend warriors on the fishing scene, not a lot of time to experiment with different patterns. Usually pick a couple and go at it. Would be different if a guy could spend 5 or 6 days a week on the water.

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delcecchi

Talked to DNR guys yesterday, seining on beach. One thing they said is that west end hasn't had a real good year class since 2002 and 2003. They are not quite sure why that is. (my recollection of what he said).

My latest speculation is that the water quality is getting better, with less nutrients entering the lake (Tower upgraded sewage plant, new septics, etc) and so there isn't as much algae and so on for the fish to eat. Probably totally wrong but I was just thinking.....

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muskieswen

Steve,

I am not sure I agree with the unstable weather pattern theory completely. I buy no means am a fishery expert but the fish have to eat to survive right? If we have a year of unstable weather are we saying then that the fish are just not eating?

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Steve Foss

If we have a year of unstable weather are we saying then that the fish are just not eating?

No. A year of unstable weather makes the bite less predictable and somewhat harder to figure out. And since most anglers are limited to weekends, as has been pointed out, they may have a tougher time finding active fish.

So that's a negative.

Vermilion walleye anglers do have something going for them that anglers on some other lakes do not. As a stained lake with poor visibility and low light penetration, the daytime bite for walleyes is more reliable than on clear lakes.

So that's a positive that helps counteract the negative a bit.

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BigVLover

I'm with Chucker on this one. This has been my best year on Vermilion in the 8 summers we've had our cabin. This year, I've fished for Walleyes only in the evenings and only in shallow water, 8-15 feet. I haven't had a reason to change yet. For what it's worth, in other years, I've done poorly when others did well. Chuckers first point about learning and knowing spots is the key.

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upnorth

I think most will agree that their feeding patterns change when the weather is un stable.

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muskieswen

I like the comment on some of us get to fish the weekends only and the way the weekends have been this year (east wind) that explains a lot.

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trolloni

agreed unstable weather has huge effect on fish, also water conditions ,temp ,lake levels,rising ,falling,although not as noticible on a big lake like vermillion.i think whats going on with the lake right now is the eco system is pumping at high capacity right now just off the mayly hatch, perch fry and every other kind is pumping on high right now,along with crawdads molting.a whole smorgasboard for any kinda fish to dine on . youve noticed some guys are still doing good while the rest of us are beaten the water to a froth with no results,those guys are doing things differently and fishing different areas of the lake,now is the time of year to think outside the box try different things,i learned a long time ago somewhere somebody is nailing em yet!some things weve done is throw cranks all day and evening to the banks you would be surprized how many walleyes are a foot deep in summer ,planer boards ,with a crankbait or spinner rig/crawler will get some attention.Del those dnr guys are just telling you what they want you to believe.if you get the chance ask them why hundreds of thousands of walleye fry are flown to other lakes, out of the pike river hatchery,and how many go back in vermillion.if you get fed up with the vermillion lockjaw syndrom get a small boat and head to vermillion river launch at 2 mile crick it is truly a gem and you will get bit by walleyes ,smallmouth and pike also deerflies be prepared , bring a pound a leeches and handfull of jigs you will have a blast along with awesome scenery!

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Sorgy

I cannot tell you how many wonderful buitiful weekends I have enjoyed over the last 5 years. Drive up in the rain- come Saturday morning clear and sunny - with the East winds. The weather is always getting better for fishing as we pack up and leave on Sunday late afternoon.

I cannot complain- Many fabulious family friendly weekends.

I agree with the shallow connection on the Eastern basins of the lake with the Rusty Crayfish- I think Muskies, Walleye's, Bass gorge on them. How deep do they go? Do walleye fishermen pull them out of 20 feet of water?

It definitly takes a day or two to start to put together a pattern.

Good Luck

Steve

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delcecchi

I don't have a problem with fry from pike river used around the state. Remember the eggs in the hatchery all hatch, while mom nature's results are a lot worse. If all the fry went back into Vermilion, then there would be no point in a hatchery. They do put a bunch into Vermilion to compensate for the eggs taken.

I think the DNR working guys are telling the truth so far as they have it figured out. But it is complicated and they don't necessarily have it figured out.

I guess maybe cranks on the bank and spinners on the weedline is the next thing. I don't devote that much time to walleyes, but what I have been doing isn't working. I was out on a nice rocky point about 15 feet deep dropping to 30 (hoover island, I think is the name). Got like 7 bluegill and a rock bass.

So I am giving up on reefs and going to weedlines, banks, and maybe open water long line or I think I have a side planer somewhere. If that doesn't work, maybe some lead core.

Sort of tough here on west end. Bass doing pretty well though.

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delcecchi

Usually after the rain, I thought we got the howling NW wind, the howling east wind is before the rain. smile

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Esox_Magnum

We see several eyes each year we are up along the weedlines, a few not far from your place Del, little island out to the left of your place... might have to use muskie baits though lol....7" Wades Wobbler might surprise you what it will catch....

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PostFrontal

My dad is a dedicated walleye fisherman, and we've had the cabin on the west end for 17 years. He keeps track of all his catches, weather conditions, keepers vs slot, etc. He was catching good numbers, but was at 1:3 to 1:4 keepers to slot this year. The last couple weeks, as it has gotten warmer, it has been 1:2.

It has been a weird year for all species on most lakes. It may be that the keepers are just in a different spot this year from where we traditionally catch them, and just the slot fish are there. Walleyes are big time predators too, and if I was a 13 inch walleye, I wouldn't want to hang out with a 26 incher. I would say wait it out and see how you end up at the end of the year.

I tell my dad that my theory is that when you are retired and live in paradise without a care in the world, and the walleye fishing is that good, you got to find something to complain about. That's what you're supposed to do...lol laugh

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