"Late Fall lunkers lurking in the depths are moving up into shallow weedbeds," said AIMfishing.com walleye pro Mark Martin, hooking an eater walleye on a Northland holographic spinner jig and 3-inch Gulp minnow during his Last Cast Fever tour of Lake Gogebic last weekend.
Lake Go has been one of my favorite Yooper fishing holes since the 60s, and here's why:
"We don't call it Lake Go for nothing," said Carolyn Maves, hoopnhollertavern.com. "You can go fishing, go hunting, go snowmobiling, go boating, go biking and hiking, go camping, go birdwatching, or go partying, and when we get tired of all that we go Green Bay."
The Hoop is home of the westernmost bar stool in the Eastern Time Zone. Their specialty is sea salt wings, but they offer a formidable Friday night fish fry with salmon, halibut, haddock, grilled Crabby George cakes, and walleye fingers. I know, who knew fish had fingers?
What I like best about the Hoop besides you can tie your boat up to it, is it's homey with a touch of Yooper deer camp charisma. There's a copper bar with a waterfront view, and in the men's room, there's a shower curtain you pull for privacy between the toilet and the urinal. I hear the ladies room is a little fancier.
"The U.P.'s largest inland lake and the second largest in Michigan stretches from Bergland and M-28 on the north shore to Gogebic County Park and US-2 on the south end," said WW&W Lake Go correspondent Mary Nesco. "With 14,000 acres of water and 36 miles of shoreline, there's always something fishy going on."
The lake was turning over at 49 degrees and we fished it from north to south, top to bottom, from the tall blonde weedbeds between the Bergland boat launch and Hoop 'n Holler to the shoreline rip-rap and mud flats around Bear's Nine Pines and Ice House Bay on the south end, with the Root Cellar, Gogebic Lodge, FishTales, Walleye Lodge and other hospitable fishing holes in between.
From now 'til ice-over is when the hungry predators come out to feed and serious fishermen come out to feed them, casting for scrappy walleye, big smallmouth, gnarly northern and pigged-out yumbo perch prowling the weedbeds and lurking along the drop-offs, much more aware of the onset of winter then they are of the potential treachery lurking inside a fat, juicy minnow or crawler, or a Gulp impostor.
"Most northern won't bother with a straight-line retrieve," said Russ Hewitt, Russ' Bait & Tackle, 365-5505, Bergland. "It takes an erratic presentation to trigger the bite. Try twitching a big Rapala or Storm Thunderstick, or buzzing a Mepps bucktail spinner across the top of a fishy looking weedbed."
"Big northerns have a juicy backstrap in them just like deer," Mark Martin added, "If you think those venison medallions are good eatin', wait'll you taste northern backstrap; they slice up and melt in your mouth like scallops."
Locals are doing well fishing from shore. "They're catching meaty 16-20-inch walleye drifting slip bobbers with minnows through weedbeds in seven feet of water," said guide Tim Long, thetimbersresort.com, call 575-3542 to book a fishing or bird hunting trip.
"The woods surrounding the lake are world-class partridge country where hunters enjoy more flushes per hour than most toilets," he switched seamlessly from fish to feathers.
"Upland gamebirds have been on the upswing with ruffed grouse and woodcock all over the place," said WW&W Lake Go birding correspondent Merri Weather. "Ducks of all kinds nest on the lake, mallards, mergansers, canvasbacks and woodies, but our waterfowl aren't as popular as our partridge."
"With very little boat and angler pressure, they're catching 'em on crankbaits in the evening and after dark," tipped Barry "Bear" Drews, ninepinesresort.com, 842-3361. "Guys fishing sucker minnows in green weeds are also getting bit."
There are lodges, resorts, motels, cabins, bars and restaurants surrounding the lake that cater to late-season fishermen and bird hunters, then transition into deer hunters. From December-March the area is a snowmobile magnet. Visit lakegogebicarea.com or call 888-GOGEBIC (464-3242), choose a place to hang your hat and go nuku, or make a day trip out of it. Either way you can fish and hunt yourself silly.
Jim can be reached 24/7/365 at firstname.lastname@example.org, even when he's drying off and rehydrating at Hoop 'n Holler.