Where are the fish biting?

Monday, July 23, 2018 will go down as a magical day for Julie Collman and her daughter Jessica Berg Collman. The two were fishing for walleye on Saganaga Lake but weren’t having any luck. Because of busy schedules, it was the first time the two had gotten a chance to fish together all summer, although Julie noted she has gotten out “quite a bit.”

“The water was 80 degrees, flat, calm and we weren’t catching walleyes so we decided to go to the Canadian side to see if we could catch some northerns,” Julie said.

Mother and daughter were trolling using large muskie plugs in a secret spot that Julie occasionally fishes for trophies. Her biggest catch before Monday was 39 inches.

Julie, a Cook County sheriff’s deputy, hooked the first lunker, a 45-inch, 25-pound northern. “We tried to revive it for 40 minutes,” she said. “When I first put it back into the water, it dived straight down, but then it came to the surface. It did that several times before it died. I wasn’t going to leave it for the seagulls, so we kept it. But I am the biggest fan of catch and release.”

An hour and a half later and about one-quarter of a mile from where Julie caught her trophy, Jessica hooked into a monster. Like her mother’s fish, this northern was also 45 inches long, but Jessica’s was three pounds heavier. “I told Jessica mine might have been as heavy if we had weighed it sooner,” Julie said with a broad smile. Jessica’s fish was severely hooked, and they ended up keeping that one as well.

“We are getting them both mounted. But I’m not fishing that spot again when it is so warm. These were both old fish. Their teeth and mouths were worn, so I don’t think they were going to live too much longer. But I think the heat stressed them, and we kept them. Normally I would never keep fish this large. I have a high mercury count, and I can’t eat old fish.”

The mother and daughter were out on the water for the first time together this summer. “Jessica has been working three jobs, and she hasn’t had much time to fish,” Julie said. “We were there to fish and to plan my wedding. I’m getting married next Saturday,” she said, adding, “We were making wedding plans, and we caught these two trophies. It’s a day I will never forget.”

Captain Kelly Shepard of North Shore Outdoors Lake Superior Charters reports that limits of lake trout are being caught in the 90- to 170-foot depths using flashers and flies or watermelon spoons. Shepard said the good news is that salmon are showing up. Surface water temps are in the 50s.

Inland, Shepard has been catching walleyes. His bait includes using crawler harnesses in 15 feet or deeper on all local lakes.