Outdoors: The early summer fishing transitions

Smart anglers know what time of the year to make adjustments. (Photo submitted)
Smart anglers know what time of the year to make adjustments. (Photo submitted)

By Steve Carney

Contributing Writer

We have leapfrogged into the mid-summer patterns on our central Minnesota lakes in record time. Just a few weeks ago we were well behind in water temperatures and the fish were sluggish and unresponsive.

Things have now drastically changed. The recent warm temperatures in the 80s and 90s have propelled the water temperatures to the middle 70s,  creating a whole different ballgame. Here are some tips I use to make this transition.

Lake choices

The demise of the mid-Minnesota, shallow lakes has happened. The water temperatures have now made most of our central lakes almost unfishable with the milfoil and pond leaf going absolutely nuts.

This happened quickly with the high temps. The water quality has now made me switch over to some of the deeper, clear lakes farther north. Instead of struggling on lakes with poor water quality, make the switch. Deeper lakes such as Ottertail, Koronis, Mille Lacs and Leech lake are peaking in the next few weeks while our shallower, southern lakes are done.

As a guide, my job is to stay on active fish all season long. Making the leap from shallow to deep lakes is critical for success. It’s all about the timing and the weather patterns.


Although we are not quite into the spinner segment of the summer, there is no doubt the shallow fish of spring are long gone. Minnows, which were a stalwart of May, are now on the decline and crawlers and leeches are now the best bait hands down.  

Keep in mind there are lots of minnows that are newly hatched roaming by the thousands and the predator fish have no trouble finding a meal. Using crawlers and leeches gives them something new and different that will trigger strikes.

Lures and line

Mid-June is now where I switch all my line over to 8-pound test monofilament and remove the lighter 4- and 6-pound test.

As our water darkens into June, light line is not as critical and the 8-pound tends to hold up better for angling for bass.

Trolling crankbaits are now starting to work well especially during low-light periods of early morning and late evening. Crankbaits are a good way to first locate activity and then once you have made contact, flip out a leech or crawler on a jig head and have a ball!