Nov 10, 2015

Scouting Report

Northern Wisconsin

Turtle Flambeau Flowage

There is only one outdoor pursuit that takes precedent over fishing, for me, and that would be deer hunting. This being the case, most of November and the first part of December is spent tracking deer (providing there is snow) and living in a wall tent, occasionally taking some time out to chop wood for the stove.

It is hard to take the boat out of the water with the fishing so good; I fish into early November. Last year, the last day I fished, the temperature in the morning started at 14* this can make jig fishing for walleyes a little more difficult with ice forming in the micro guides. Is it worth the effort? The walleye fishing can be fantastic and it was that day. You may hear shots from duck hunters shooting diver ducks but you will be one of the few boats on the water pursuing fish. Look for walleyes on deeper rock structure, sometimes they are relating to simply a sand bottom. This deep rock and sand structure makes for easy jig fishing, the rocks are generally rounded boulders and jigs work through them pretty well. At this time of the year, I am using 1/8 oz. round head jigs with extra large fatheads and a slow retrieve. If you are on waters with trophy walleyes, it will be worth the money to try some redtail chubs, they are expensive but walleyes love them. I want a bigger jig for the larger minnows and may also put them out on a slip bobber or have a rod out on the bottom with a lindy sinker and an 18 to 24 in. snell. You will want to let the fish take the bigger minnows a little longer (10 seconds) without worrying about deep hooking them. On the Turtle Flambeau Flowage, I am finding walleyes in the 15 to 30 feet of water range. On some of the deeper lakes in Vilas County, I would be looking down to 45 feet.

It is also the best time of the year to put hooks into the biggest, heaviest muskies of the season. The big fish are feeding with the long winter ahead of them. Being cold-blooded creatures, metabolism slows, they are feeding, but slower presentation will catch more fish. Jerk baits like Suicks, Eddie baits and Bobbie baits with a longer pause are a good choice. The best action from live bait is a sucker on a quick set harness; it’s pretty hard to beat. Handle the fish quickly, have a long needle nose ready and a side cutter to cut hooks if need be, don't forget your camera and a tape measure.

Crappies are also aggressive in the fall, drift fishing with minnows, using a lindy rig or other bottom rigs, can be a good way to locate them in deeper water in the fall. I am focusing on walleye and crappies at this time.

Early ice is commonly known to be some of the best ice fishing of the year. In Northern Wisconsin, this sometimes coincides with approximately the time deer season opens; other years it’s not until early December. Tip-up fishing for walleyes with walleye suckers and golden shiners are the bait of choice, fish are often caught in shallow water. Extreme caution needs to be exercised, every season someone ventures out before they should with dire consequences, the good fishing isn't worth that risk.

I usually take my shanty out right after the muzzleloader (mid-December) season, providing the ice is ready. Looking forward to the ice season, lots of fun and beautiful scenery on the Turtle Flambeau Flowage, give me a call to book a trip.

Jeff Robl

Western U.P.

Lake Gogebic

Late fall is a busy time of year for any sportsman going into November and December.

There still is some open water fishing opportunities possible in the early part of November. Some years it remains great right up until the ice arrives. Then it’s on to some of the best ice fishing of the year! Early ice is my favorite time for ice fishing.   I am fortunate enough to own lake front property here on Lake Gogebic in the Western U.P. of Michigan. Being the owner of The Timbers Resort has some perks, but seriously, I like being one of the first people to venture out on to the hard water for the year.  My property is located on the north end of Lake Gogebic which is typically the first area of the lake to freeze up. Checking the ice on a daily basis, I can be working my way out to the first structure breakline where the depth drops off to 5, 6 or 7 feet of water with good green weed growth. That is where I target walleye.

The weather at this time of year is still pretty nice. I like to target walleye during the lowlight periods of the day. So with that being said, I am heading out a couple hours before daylight in the morning, or going out a few hours before sunset and fishing for a few hours after dark. I like to setup a couple underwater tip-ups with lights and jig out of one hole. I would like to share with you the tip-up lights that I like to use. They are called Light House Tip-Up Lights. The reason I like these tip-up lights so much is because they mount to the spindle of the underwater tip-ups so when the tip-up is tripped, the light is giving you information. When the fish are running, the light will spin with the spindle turning so that from 50 feet away you can tell what the fish are doing; it’s “very cool.”

Another tip I would like to share with you is that I like to use glow spoons while jigging, tipped with minnows, keeping the spoons charged so they glow.  I bang the bottom aggressively every couple minutes to attract the fish to me. I have a tip-up set very close to me as my dead stick. Quite often the walleye will come in to see what all the commotion is with my aggressive jigging action, then see the live bait on the dead stick or tip up and take that offering. This presentation works very well for me. Give it a try and see how it works for you!

If you would like to book a trip to Lake Gogebic or check on current ice conditions give us a call at The Timbers Resort (906)575-3542.     

West Central Wisconsin

It is a special time of year.  Family get-togethers, great food, football games.  And there is the stuff us guys and gals who love the outdoors get excited about.  Bowhunting during the rut, rifle season, and of course, the beginning of ice fishing, which will be in full swing in the Chippewa Valley (normally).

Chetek Chain of Lakes  

“The Panfish Factory,” as I like to call it.  These lakes freeze over quite quickly, and you can find the best ice in shallow bays.  (Be careful, no ice is safe ice, use a spud bar.)  You can find a good bite in the early mornings and the last couple hours of light.  Moon jigs, tipped with waxies, as well as purist jigs, will catch good amounts of crappie and bluegill.    Tip-ups along drop-offs will pick up decent numbers of northern pike, largemouth bass and the occasional big walleye.  Try early ice options such as Six Lakes Resort, Veteran's Park or Happy Landing.

Miller Dam (Chequamegon Waters)

Early ice anglers will stick to the shallow, wind-protected area known as Beaver Creek.  Some slab gills can be caught out of here.  Hole-hop until you find them. Sparkled moon jigs have traditionally been my favorite.  Unlike Chetek, Miller Dam has more of a midday bite.  As the ice gets thicker, a good place to go off of is Fisherman's Loop.  Every year I see either a 4-wheeler or shack go through right where you go on the lake, so be advised.  Miller also holds some giant northern pike and largemouth bass, so I never go here without my tip-ups!  Scatter them in the shallows, around the weeds and structure.

Lake Altoona  

I like to fish the cribs just west of the Handicap dock.  Try hole hopping for big perch and crappies.  Lil’ Cecils work well, as well as smaller jigs.  Tip-downs, fished anywhere between 2 to 5 feet off the bottom, are a popular option out here as well.

Chris Powell

West Coast of Wisconsin

Lake Pepin

The fall fishing on Lake Pepin in November is very consistent.  Everything is biting.  The walleye and crappie are hit and miss, but well worth your effort. The days are winding down on crappie, so now is the time. The saugers are going strong, both in numbers and size. As can be expected, the large and smallmouth bass are hitting, making the catch quite a mixed bag. The water levels are up a bit and the water temperatures are dropping, but the fishing is still very productive. I recommend moving away from live bait.  Some really good fishing has been in the deeper water just off of the underwater ledges. November, all and all, is a great time to enjoy the last open water fishing as long as the temperatures hold.

December fishing is exhilarating and can be great due to the ice factor. An excellent place to fish is right off of the marina in Pepin, where one can catch some decent size fish.  Along the shoreline from Maiden Rock to Stockholm, the fishing is good; make sure you test the ice thickness. If it is safe enough to stand on (minimum 4 inches), the fishing should be productive. If the ice levels are not safe enough for your comfort, the boat launch on the Wisconsin Channel, just north of Bay City, is now open and the river fishing is great just as you get to the headwaters of Lake Pepin. The bluegills are hitting hard on the backwaters in the Tiffanies, just south of Lake Pepin where the Chippewa flows into the Mississippi. This is a good time of year to get out and get your hook in a hole. 

The weather forecasts are favorable and the fish are biting. So come enjoy the jaw dropping scenes of the West Coast of Wisconsin while you close out the year and get ready for the holidays.

Bart Armstrong

East Central Wisconsin

Fremont Area

The weather is getting colder and the walleye fishing is heating up. The fall migration of gizzard shad are in the river and so are the Winnebago and upriver lakes walleyes. Drifting and jigging with minnows is your best bet. With the current right now, 1/8-1/4 oz. jigs is what I use. 

The fall weather has also schooled up the crappies in the bayous. Excellent crappie fishing is to be had. Slip bobber with a lively minnow is my weapon of choice. 

As we see Ice in our future, the best ice fishing begins. As soon as there is 3 to 4 inches of safe ice, I will head to the bayous and catch some crappies and bluegills.  Small jigs with spikes or wax worms work best.  Flashers help a lot.  

Good luck and tight lines!

Captain Patrick Morack, Moracktion Guide Service, (920)216-9085

Lower Bay of Green Bay

The fishing on the lower Bay of Green Bay has been very good for walleye. Trolling offshore structure with #7 Kinchou Shad or jigging with Berkley 3” minnows has been putting many fish in the boat. With the cooling temps, the fish will start moving into the river and jigging with blade baits like the EchoTails or Thinfin will catch those walleye putting the feed on before winter. The musky bite remains awesome, with 2 to 3 fish the norm! The fish have been running 40 to 55 inches and are very solid. Trolling Raz Shads has been very effective in perch color. Casting, the “go-to” bait has been the Toothey’s double 10 Saber in red and black or the Toothey’s Tickler.


Scott Allen,

South Central Wisconsin

Lake Koshkonong

Lake Koshkonong can be tough fishing fish this time of year, but not impossible.  Working the limited structure will produce some fish, as will slow trolling crankbaits.  Once the freeze closes in, the main lake basin will likely remain open, but shallow bays and boat slips channel areas may start producing safe ice.  These areas can hold some decent panfish and great pike fishing opportunities.  Try jigging waxies or spikes for panfish and throw out a Beaver Dam tip-up, tipped with a shiner minnow, or large sucker for pike.  As always, be very careful when venturing out on early ice.  Lake Koshkonong is notorious for its hidden springs and ice shifting.

Rock River

Working the upper river, near the entrance into Lake Koshkonong, is a good area for walleyes and occasional pike.  Jigging both live and artificial bait for walleyes is common practice.  Large fathead minnows work well for live bait and both Kalin’s Sizmic Jerk Minnow and Berkley Gulp Baits work well when using artificials.  Jig weights from 1/8 oz. to 1/2 oz. seem to work best.  Pitching plastics into structure near the shoreline should not be overlooked.  Slower jig presentations and casting retrieves are key.  For late season crappies and white bass, continue working cover along the banks with slip bobbers rigged with a small crappie minnow.    

The lower river system near Newville will remain ice free most of the winter. The area below the Indianford Dam however can produce late fall/early winter fish.  Pike, walleye, crappies and white bass can be caught from the shoreline using a variety of baits.  Try pitching a minnow up current and let it drift downstream along the bottom.  Casting crankbaits, Kalin’s Sizmic Grub plastics, or Kalin’s traditional grub twister tails can also work well.  

Madison Chain

Madison lakes in November equal musky.  Many anglers can be found trolling cranks and live bait rigs along steep breaks.  Use a detailed topography map of this system and target areas with sudden contour changes, especially close to weed cover.     

Many crappies and bluegills remain schooled in deeper water.  They’ll stay in these areas throughout late fall and into the winter.  Fish can be targeted with simple jigging techniques.  Using small plastics, waxies and tube jigs work well.  Acme Tackle Kastmaster’s also work well when jigged vertically.  Some fish will remain near weeds also, but as the cover begins to die, those fish move out quickly. 

Stoughton Ditches

This area is one of the first locations to freeze up in December.  Located off the Yahara River, this backwater area can produce some pretty decent panfish action early on, along with some bass and pike.  Pike and bluegills run smaller, but the crappies and bass can be decent size.  The depth is only about 3 feet and there is plenty of weed cover present.  For panfish, be mobile and simply sight fish while jigging.  For pike or bass, set out a tip-up, rigged with a shiner minnow or blacktail chub, and wait for them to strike.  Good luck and please be safe!

Captain Adam Walton, Pike Pole Fishing Guide Service

Petenwell and Castle Rock Flowages

During the month of November, the water temperatures have cooled down. Lakes have turned over and the fish are putting on the feed bag. A lot people fish below the Petenwell and Castle Rock dams. There are a good number of crappies, white bass, and walleyes that will move back up river from the deep holes that are found south of the dams. The main ways to catch these fish are to use blade baits, jigs tipped with minnows, and chubs on slip rigs.

A lot of muskies can be caught this time of year as well. These fish will be caught by using suckers deep and shallow. Another way is to cast bucktails, jerk baits, and large crankbaits over weeds out along the main river channel.

For those still fishing the main lake out on Petenwell and Castle Rock, most are fishing live bait along the main river channel’s deep drop-offs and main lake humps. The main baits to use are large baits like suckers, chubs and magnum fatheads. When pulling large baits, like suckers, the best technique is to use a slip sinker rig with a larger sized hook. The reason for this is because at times it is necessary to feed the fish a little line with the big bait. The large hook ensures that when fishing large bait, the bait will take up most of the hook. And this way you will have a better hook set.

December means early ice. A few brave souls will still will be fishing in their boat below the dams. But for the most part, the main lake is starting to form ice and guys are fishing the backwaters. On the Petenwell Flowage, the majority of fishermen and women will target Chester’s Creek, Devil’s Elbow and Skiba’s Slough. Those fishing on Castle Rock, will target fish in the lake shallows west of May’s Point and the backwaters of the Little Yellow. The main fish to target are pike, walleyes, bass and panfish. For pike, bass and walleyes, the bait of choice is large shiners along weed and wood structure in water depths of 4 to 6 feet. For panfish, the main producers will be jigs; small jigs tipped with plastics, spikes, minnows and waxies. Tip-downs are also a good choice for crappies and perch. Rosies dropped just below the ice work the best. In these areas, water is typically 6 feet or less. Some of the areas will have a lot of weeds and wood.

Another important issue is safety at this time of year. Don’t head out alone. Take a friend. You will need a solid 4 plus inches before heading out.

Jesse Quale

Big Green Lake

Big Green Lake has a great bite for giant smallmouth through the late fall until the water temperature gets down in the lower 40's. These oversized smallies come out of the deep as the temperature lowers in the fall. They gorge on minnows and panfish around rocks and weeds in 10 to 15 feet of water before they go dormant for the winter. This is the best chance you will ever have at multiple 5 to 6 pound smallmouth, or even bigger. They are catchable on bass jigs, Senkos and jerk baits.

As the shallow backwaters and channels of Green Lake freeze along with Lake Puckaway the first possible ice fishing in the area is on. Bluegills are plentiful in the shallow backwater areas and are caught best with a small jig and plastic tail. Many years, pike and walleyes are also being caught through the ice on Lake Puckaway right around Thanksgiving time.

Justin Kohn is a full time fishing guide and avid tournament angler across central Wisconsin.  To contact him, call (920) 229-3494, or follow