Pictures from report:
better clarify, last report: all smallmouths were released, have to be under 14" to keep and one over 18 can be kept ( not sure I'd want to eat a fish that old)
Question about depth off bottom:
I set the bait 6-8" off bottom. I don't generally use jigs on my slip bobber poles, I use # 2 hooks, usually gold. I buy them in bulk like mustad, and with a needle nose pliers bend the hook with the same offset as a Tru Turn brand hook. If I were a casual fisherman 30 cents per hook would be fine but I go through a lot of hooks. I then use two colored beads, red and chartreuse, a large split shot about 14' away from the hook, this is on 3' of 6 lb. mono leader followed by a barrel swivel and 12 lb. on the reel. This set up allows me to use the best slip bobbers available and seldom lose them. Stan's bobbers are the best for a number of reasons (this answer is already getting long) I like the larger oval shaped model 53. Stan's came out with their own slip bobber knots last year, there isn't a knot on the market that comes close to their's in quality. Sounds like an insignificant component in the equation but it's knot, hmmm I guess I can make a joke. They don't over tighten and fray your mono , they don't constantly loosen up, and with daily use they don't degrade in a week or two like all the other knots I have used.
There are exceptions to the above set up but 90% of the time this is how mine are set up. Another thing I do is use a clip on weight to set the depth, most people who ice fish are familiar with these and use them to set out tip ups. It is painful to watch someone slowly fiddle around trying to set the depth without using a weight or by guessing. I want my bait exactly 6" to no more than a foot off the bottom, except occasionally for suspended crappies.
Monday my customers endured fishing in the cold rain all day. We were rewarded with a nice mixed bag catch of fish. We released a lot of small walleyes had some real nice perch and 8 smallmouth mostly in the 16-17" range . Our best spot was one I hadn't fished since June, boulders in 12'.
First cast Monday I caught a big smallmouth, I told the customers I would rather not catch a fish on the first cast, it can be a jinx, turned out not to be. Yesterday fished an afternoon with a solo customer. In the middle of my narrative on how to catch fish with a jig, on the first cast, I was interrupted by the bite of a walleye, I set the hook into our first and only keeper walleye of the afternoon. We did end the afternoon with another nice mixed bag catch including two blue gills over 9". Our jigging bite seemed to die when the water flattened to not even a ripple. We turned to spinner baits and found some action on pike in shallow weeds.
A few more pictures:
Musky that grabbed a walleye and hung on to the end
Baits: Jack's jigs. The spinner baits are boonie baits, when the trailer twister tail gets tore up I replace it with a 5" Kalins lunker grub. There are a lot of spinner baits that would probably work, these are from Turtle River Trading in Mercer (3/8oz.). A good choice for a topwater is a Dr. Evil , Donners Bay on the TFF has them, the one in the picture is loon color actually I think I like the darker colored one better, not sure what John calls it. The bait that I have had the most musky action on is the bucktail by Man Cave Bait Co. If I could only throw one bait in the summer that would be the bait. I think the hammer gold blade and skirt colors must replicate a perch or walleye to muskies. It is not a big bait, overall length is 8", easy to throw all day. Tim at Man Cave Bait spends a lot of time fishing the flowage he may have other suggestions. Brian at Sunken Horse has some of Tim's baits for sale not sure if he has that particular one or not.
I might be retired by the time the kid in the picture starts guiding.
Done early today beautiful morning to be on the water. We had a good morning of walleye fishing, caught 16, nothing big but a lot of action. The perch on some spots are thick and relentless , in 6 hours of fishing they contributed heavily to the consumption of 5 dozen crawlers. I cleaned 10 of them to add to the fish to take home, some were on the small side but there are a lot!! of them down there.We fished with crawlers and leeches but today the walleyes seemed to prefer crawlers. Been doing the best on numbers of fish in that same 12-16' depth range mostly wood at the edge of river channels. We did have some bigger walleyes on 12-13' wood and rock the other day. Had another day with quite a few dandy smallmouth in the 15-18" range on two different 10-12' humps fishing live bait, crawlers and leeches.
They don't bite all day and some days they are tough but in general the walleye fishing in this late summer period has been very good, compared to the last two years at this time of summer, it has been impressive, not always big fish but catching good numbers.
Today was a special day for me, fished with father and son Greg and Kyle, for the last several years now. Greg thought this may be his last year, has had cancer for a long time, now in more advanced stage. The last fish of the day was landed by him on a slip bobber pole, an 18" smallmouth that took a long time to come to the net. Greg's family has a place on the TFF since the 30's he's shared a lot of great stories. Amazing attitude and sense of humor.
Docks: They get pulled anywhere from mid October to early November. Last couple years has been later. They are not permanent docks and would likely get beat up by the ice out. The dock at sportsmans I'm not sure of but for sure springstead and fishermans get taken out.
Walleye or pike for bait: my understanding is what nisif said. Did put a call in if for clarification if the answer is different I will post.
A few trips ago I set the hook into a walleye, almost immediately the pole was about yanked from my hand, I handed the rod off to a customer and after quite a battle got the fish in the net. It wasn't a huge musky but fun to catch, he had the walleye cross ways in his mouth "like a dog with a bone" and didn't spit it out until right when I netted him, unusual, usually when they see the boat they let go.
I do agree with Paul if I were going to use a game fish it would be a pike, I know they eat them I also think it is a competition thing with them and they just don't tolerate them.
Lot of days have had pretty flat water and have just been working the 1/8oz. Jack's jigs slowly across bottom, no bobbers. Mostly using the blue/purple some days orange/yellow.
Good fishing to you enjoy the summer it is winding down. Last minute trip ? I do have a couple days open next week. I do enjoy the musky fishing anyone interested in that.
Thank you gentlemen. I was reading the book pictured below and Tony Rizzo wrote about how deadly a 15 to 18 inch northern pike can be for a musky. But one time at Lake of the Woods I caught a little pike on a crank bait and just cast the whole thing back out and our guide reprimanded me and said up there it is not legal to use game fish for bait. Good to know that it's ok on the Flowage. I'm gonna give it a try this fall.