Josh Hagemeister

Capt. Josh Hagemeister, who runs Minnesota Fishing Guide Service, has been a successful multi-species fishing guide throughout Minnesota for 20 years.

Posts about Walleye

Hot weather, Hot fishing

Posted by: Josh Hagenmeister Updated: June 28, 2009 - 9:59 PM
Wow, after a never ending string of below normal temperatures, summer has finally arrived with a punch.   Water surface  temperatures on many of the lakes I fish throughout the state have warmed to near mid-summer surface temps in a matter of days--and the fish activety has followed suit.  
This last week I found myself on 6 different bodies of water ( and the Mississippi) ranging from Central Minnesota up to the Canadian border and one thing was for sure--the water has warmed up nicely.  Summer fishing patterns are taking hold and making the constistent fishing patterns I rely on more apparent and lethal.  Largemouth Bass activety on the mid-range flats, lily pads, deep weed edges, bull rushes and the ultra shallow slop and cattails is in full swing-on just about any bait, but to keep it simple stick to a jig-worm on the edge, spinner baits on the flats, and scum frogs in the slop.  If all else fails, a jig and a minnow or leech is always a bass catcher.  Walleye fishing is also on cruise control.
Fish catching patterns such as utilizing mid-day shallows (7-11 ft deep) seem to be more solid than a few weeks ago.  Deeper mid-lake humps (some down to 49 ft) are also kicking out fish.  And dont forget the obvious weedline fish.  For the most part I have officially put the minnows away until Mid September and will concentrate on the basic night crawler no matter where I am.  How about Northerns?  Hmmm.
Yep-- the Northern Pike action has really been good,  Wow, what an under rated fish for catching and eating!  Any new cabbage bed near deep water will have hungry gators roaming around ready to take the bait.  The bait of choice-- a fire tail jig worm for the less agressive fish, rattle baits or spinner baits for the basic aggressive fish, and  who can resist a Husky jerk being twitched back to the boat half way down in 9 feet of water?  Plus a bonus bass as well.  The bigger the cabbage flat--the more fish there will be!    Now what--anyone have a salmon report from The Green Bay area?   I've got the yearly itch to run over to Door County and catch Kings and Smallmouth.  That's it for now, my week starts at 5:15 am on Monday, See Ya!!    

Fish outside the box--put more fish in the box.

Posted by: Josh Hagenmeister Updated: June 8, 2009 - 4:38 PM
Wow, what an interesting  week last week turned out to be.  Seven days, 14 trips, 3 shore lunches,  8 different lakes and about 60 different anglers with as many different skill levels involved about sums it up.  Throw in the fact that the weather hasn't really been "fish friendly" lately because of the cold temps, high winds, cooler then warmer water temps, multiple there anything that didnt happen last week?  Well yes,  there was one thing that didnt happen--not one client was dissapointed with their catch!
As a fishing guide promising anything short of miracles creates stressful situations almost every day there isn't a solid fishing pattern established.  Thats what makes this time of the year the most challenging in my book.  Im not sure who started the whole "June is the best time to fish"  phrase-- but I think it should be deleted.  I will take July or August any day over June.  Oh well, it is what it is. One way to stay "in the black" is to constantly re-think the game plan throughout the fishing trip to avoid getting stuck in a non-productive rut which many anglers unknowingly do.  In other words, think of plan B and C while plan A is being used.  
    My goal when fishing so many different environments is to establish a pattern for each body of water in one hour or less (over a 4 hour trip) and then capitalize on my findings for the other 3 hours.  Some "tweeking" of the pattern will also take place during that time frame.  At times, finding a pattern  may take a little more time because of a few "false leads" that may happen during the search process, but generally a pattern will emerge.  I like to start my search for information by ignoring most of the information that is available or in other words ignore most of the fishing reports available. Figuring out the puzzle (on your own) from scratch is must easier than wrestling that constant echo of a fishing report in your head.  I hate to say it,  but the only good fishing report is your own.  The reason is because the majority of  fishing reports contain information that is outdated.  If it was published by someone at 10:30  p.m. and it happened yesterday, I would take it with a grain of salt. The report is old news.  So I disagree with the  great fishing in June theory  and Im advising anglers to basically ignore fishing reports--ouch. about not using GPS coordinates on maps to find good fishing spots?  I'm not even sure I know how to enter a map marked coordinate to "go to" a "spot".  Of the hundreds of coordinates I have, I found them all myself.  By the way,  my GPS is for sale for $50,000--just kidding, its worth more than that.  It's funny to sit on a lake for a day and watch the boats funnel through the map marked GPS spots and community holes.  Little does anyone know that before they arrived at their chosen fishing spot, 6 boats have already pounded it to death --kinda like Muskie fishing?--sorry guys.  Something to think about.  Personally, I like the marked spots because it keeps anglers busy and away from my "honey holes".  
Ok, heres the abrupt ending --like in a cheap movie, I've gotta go prep for another 7 days, 14 trips, 3 shore lunches, 8 lakes, and about 60 anglers, --Good luck, Capt. Josh

No glory!

Posted by: Josh Hagenmeister Updated: May 14, 2009 - 11:52 PM
I remember when I was younger-- scooping up as much fishing information as I could.  It was plentiful then--1984.  Videos, outdoor papers, cassette tapes, VHS, T.V. shows --it was an avalanche of information at the time.  The probelem was I soon realized that most of what I consumed did not apply to my fishing excursions.
Its true.. 80% of the fishing information that is gathered,  happens 20% of the time.  Why?--why not!  Walleyes in 4 ft of water on a hot July day?  Walleyes hitting hard over sunny skies?  Walleyes living under docks with bass?   Happens all the time.  That what helps make catching walleyes easy--there is a ton of room for error.   
Understanding that there is nothing to understand is the key to success.  Understanding that the fish are as predictable as your 13 year old is how it works.  There are no rules in fishing, if you can think of it--it will probably work sooner or later.  Why write this?  ?Hmm,   my advice is to think outside the box to put fish in the box..good luck, Capt. Josh

A successful opener

Posted by: Josh Hagenmeister Updated: May 11, 2009 - 1:04 AM

I had it all planned out--start shallow and work deeper.  Turns out, most of the fish my clients and I caught were in small groups hanging around the 19-30 ft range--so I did the opposite.  With 46 degree water temps (basically only 2-3 degrees cooler than Lake Superior on a summer day) and a delayed shiner run, the fish could have been anywhere.  With a little searching around with the electronics and a little information from the locals it didn't take long to realize that the fish were a little deeper than planned.  Par for the course on "Opener".  
Starting the day at 6:30  or so, I "marked" some fish and "bait balls" clearly in the 19-30 ft range just outside the  first break off shore.  No problem I thought, all I have to do is have a story for the local "Patriot" radio station who would be calling me @ 7:30 am live to the boat.  One hour to catch some fish?-- sign me up. 
Sure enough after 15 minutes we had three fish in the box and a story to tell the station when they called.  Bottom bouncers and a shiner minnow and some precise boat control and we were in business.  Thankfully I was in a "stay put" mood focusing on each fish I marked--giving each fish multiple chances from all trolling angles to bite--and most did.  Trust me, I am not a patient person and will move spots immediately if fish are not caught in 5-10 minutes.  After exhausting the bouncers utilizing a fast clip on the troll, we switched to live bait rigs to filter out the remaining fish that could be triggered take the bait.  With the active fish removed from the school,  it was time to change fishing spots.
Moving spots is always a gamble--no matter what.  There is always that "what if" devil guy on your shoulder.  I say ignore him and follow your gut and dont look back.  Well maybe 2 hours later look back, and then hit the same spot again,-- other then that--no way.  This time the results of not looking back and finding one other spot with similar characteristics was my meal ticket.  Four of us had our fish by lunch time and it was once again a successful "Opener".  Remember, the fishing only gets easier throughout the season.  Good Luck, Capt., Josh

Opening Day Strategies

Posted by: Josh Hagenmeister Updated: May 7, 2009 - 10:32 PM

I made my plan today on how I am going to begin my search for Mr Walleye on Saturday morning.  Its simple and some variation of the plan usually works just fine.   There are a few key points you might want to utilize to construct your own plan of attack on the ever to important opening day.

First, I try to determine by using a lake map or DNR information where the walleyes in a particular body of water may have spawned.  Typical spawning areas are where creeks/rivers flow into the lake, rock/rubble shore lines that get constant wave action when windy, or shallow sand/gravel flats near shore in the 2-6 ft depth range.  Once 2-3 spawning areas are located concentrate on the shallows flats that surround the spawning areas.  These flats should be sand/gravel with patches of newly growing weed scattered throughout.  The weeds are where the baitfish and walleye will be holding.  An average depth range for these "feeding flats" is 4-8 ft of water--give or take.  Drift or slowly troll these flats with live bait rigs or a 1/16-1/8 oz. jig tipped with a minnow, leech, or 1/2 of crawler--my favorite is a shiner minnow--a major food source for walleyes for the next 3 weeks or so.  Try green, white, or blue for jig/hook colors.  A little red is always good as well.  Keep your bait away from the boat (a short cast) to avoid spooking fish that are basically 3 ft below you outboards lower unit!  After I check a few different flat areas out and hopefully put a few fish in the box I head for the first break line (drop-off) related to the flat that leads to deeper water. 

I prefer a fairly quick drop to help concentrate the numbers of fish verses a long gradual slope that can scatter fish.  Look for little cuts, points or inside turns in the break line by using you sonar.  The corner of an inside turn is my starting point.  Better yet, look for the baitfish and take a mental note of what depth the baitfish are appearing--start fishing close to the baitfish at the depth they are holding in.  Whenever baitfish are found --the walleyes will be close by-within 20 yards or less.  The average depth range when fishing these "initial breaks" is 9-15 ft ...give or take.  If Im not having much luck I just simply concentrate my efforts deeper.

On the same breakline I will scan the bottom with the sonar looking for baitfish and or walleyes.  The depths I search may lead down to 40ft..or more in some unique cases.   Either way, I am still hanging around the first breakline just out from the shore line flats.  Bait?--same thing, jig or rig tipped with a minnow.  If I am marking fish but they but seem to be tight lipped I may try a slip bobber for a few minutes.  If the bobber doesn't take a fish then its time to get a little more aggressive.

Another option is to "snap jig" a 1/4-3/8 oz jig (much heavier than needed) to try to trigger a reaction strike from the fish.  Snap the jig off of the bottom and let it fall back down to the bottom full speed.  Its funny how it works on fish that may not touch a slower approach.  Another option is to troll at a good clip with a 1/2 -3/4 oz bottom bouncer with a #4 hook tipped with a minnow, leach, or crawler.  Try a leader of about 2-3 ft in length.  The bouncer may trigger an extra hit or two.  If nothing jumps in the boat after all of that, then change spots and try to find fish that are more aggressive in a different location.  Have a good opener and dont forget Mom.  Capt. Josh


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