‘Secret’ humps key to fishing success

We have six visitors all staying with us on Rainy Lake.
They are all retired and share a passion for fishing, and love to come to Rainy Lake to enjoy its scenery and its bass fishery.
Traditionally, they fish impounded lakes in the Missouri area and their biggest concern is that they will run into one of our thousands of submerged reefs on Rainy Lake.
Out in front of our cabin, with low water, one could see five reefs above the water in late May. The last of those five reefs slipped under the water late last week.
Only when a two-foot swell is rolling across the lake does one see many of those reefs.
The lake in front of the cabin looks easy to navigate. Everything now looks clear. The water is deep blue and inviting, but submerged only inches below the surface is Canadian Shield granite.
It is those reefs that come only inches below the surface to 20-30 feet below the surface that attract many of the species of fish on Rainy.
As a fisherman, you love the reefs, and as the boat driver, they worry you. More than one angler has gotten turned around in the lake and has left the top of a reef covered in silver jewellery.
And more than one angler accidently has backed into one of those reefs and clipped a blade from their prop.
As I have learned from Wayne Howard and my brother, Don, many of those deeper reefs on Rainy Lake were missed by the teams that created the hydrographic maps of the lake.
Those same reefs have not been placed on the “Navionics Hot Map” and Fishing Hot Spots maps of Rainy Lake.
But serious guides and fishermen constantly are adding those spots to their GPS maps. And when you see them fishing a part of the lake in the wide open and you check the map, you begin to wonder what they know that you don’t.
The secret is that they have found a hump that is “secret.”
Every time one of those guides or fishermen find one of those unmarked reefs, it is added to their systems. They will come back and fish those deep reefs on their own time.
During the late 1990s and first few years of this past decade, the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship was won—and lost—on those secret spots.
The bass in those years were following the “smelt” to deeper water. The smelt held to those deeper humps and that was where the bass were.
Walleye and northern pike all took their turns feeding on those bait fish.
But getting back to those visiting fishermen, as they have crept around islands and grassy shorelines, those darn reefs keep popping up in front of their trolling motors.
On impounded lakes, the last thing those fishermen expect to find is a reef. It is a learning experience.
I understand that early pre-fishing for next week’s FFCBC has been remarkably tough. Those six fishermen from Missouri are discovering that and so are other early pre-fishing anglers.
Beginning tomorrow, anglers will arrive every day for the tournament and the roar of throaty powerful outboards will be heard from dawn to dusk.

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