During the summer heat, finding ways to enjoy the outdoors in the daytime can be a challenge. This time of year, dawn and dusk are best bets for outdoor enjoyment. Even better is a little nighttime catfishing from a riverbank. Don’t let the heat keep you locked up indoors. Plan accordingly and you can still do well outside during the dog days. Here are four Midwestern fishing trips worth making during the peak of summer.
Kentucky – Laurel River Lake Bass
If you like to fish beautiful waters, then Laurel River Lake is known as one of the most pristine in the Bluegrass State. It’s deep, clear and surrounded by the hardwood hills of the Daniel Boone National Forest. The scenery may be worth the trip alone, but the bass fishing will keep you coming back again and again. Laurel River Lake is home to three black bass species: spotted, smallmouth and largemouth. A 2018 bass assessment conducted on the lake by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife showed at Laurel River Lake, the length of a 3-year old largemouth bass averaged 13.5 inches. When compared to other lakes of similar size, this is considered to be excellent growth for largemouth bass. Meaning, this is where you find big bass.
Minnesota – Lake Superior Lake Trout
Native to the Great Lakes, the lake trout is one of the most prized fish to catch in the North Country. Perhaps that’s because they taste incredible when brined and smoked. Captain Rob Hering of Optimum Charters in Duluth, MN says, in August the “lakers” are going to be down deep. “Feeding lake trout want cooler water in that lower 50s to mid-40s range. Those temperatures are going to occur at 90 or so feet deep. You need downriggers to get down to them.” He said you want to fish with big spoons, flashers and flies. On the North Shore, he said to focus on fishing the shipping lane by the Lester River up to McQuade. “The Line,” which is an affectionate name of the Minnesota and Wisconsin border is another top spot. He said on The Line, you need to go out 7 to 8 miles from shore to reach water 90 feet deep. A pro tip Hering offered is to use a Fish Hawk TD to give you the water temperature down deep. That way you know right where to put your lures.
Nebraska – Missouri River Flathead Catfish
Ask any catfish connoisseur in the know and they’ll tell you flatheads taste better than other whisker fish. It’s said this is so because flatheads eat live food. August is a great time to load up on flatheads from the Missouri River in Nebraska using bank poles and trotlines. Little bluegills are a favorite flathead bait. They can be used if they are purchased from a bait dealer that acquired them legally, or if they are caught by hook and line and used on the same body of water from which they were caught. Nebraska has a 15 hook limit, so you can use one trotline with 15 hooks or three trotlines with five hooks each. You can use up to 15 bank poles with single hooks. All bank poles and trotlines must be checked every 24 hours.
Michigan – St. Joseph River Smallmouth
Flowing 200 miles along the Michigan and Indiana border before its confluence with the “Big Lake”, the St. Joseph River offers topnotch angling for smallmouth bass in an area of the Midwest easily accessible by most. Chicago, St. Louis and Indianapolis and are all within an easy drive. Big enough for power boats but still safe to canoe, the St. Joe is really one of those rivers that offers it all. Whether you are a fly angler or a spin fisher, August is a great time to get out on this river to chase smallmouth early in the morning and late in the evening.
See you down the trail…
Picture: Smallmouth bass from the St. Joseph River offer a summer fishing adventure.
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