Jul 10, 2015

Scouting Report

Northern Wisconsin

Turtle Flambeau Flowage

Here is a brief summary of some of the places to look for fish on the 13,000 acre Turtle Flambeau Flowage in July and August. In early to mid-July, walleye, perch, pike and smallmouth are often still found in shallow water. Some of the shallow water that hold fish are shallow flats with log-strewn bottoms, flats with stump cover and submerged weeds. Pike can often be caught all summer in shallow bays with weeds. Casting spinnerbaits are a good way to locate and catch them. After the spawn, crappies are found in deeper water. We have the best luck on deeper wood in 15 to 20' of water. If you can find cribs, they often hold summer crappies. Small fathead minnows or plastics are most often used to catch crappies. The TFF has a growing population of crappies. The 10" minimum length and 10 panfish limit have contributed to some quality crappies, commonly in the 12 to 14" range.

As the summer progresses, the hunt for walleye and smallmouth usually goes deeper, the key to finding fish on the TFF is finding wood. Finding wood structure in the 14 to 20' range is often where the best late summer fishing is. The wood we're looking for are remnant trees that, in 1926, before the flowage was created, were part of the natural forest. There are deeper flats with this wood, along with wood structure in the miles of original river channels that course the bottom of the TFF.

Most of the fishing we do is with live bait over slip bobbers and casting 1/8 oz. slow fall jigs. The baits of choice in summer are crawlers and leeches. A half crawler and a jig are pretty hard to beat for taking summer fish, I always take both. Some days the fish prefer the leeches.

Jeff Robl, Bobber Down Guide Service, (715)776-0140, www.BobberDownGuideService.com

Long Lake, Washburn County

Summertime fishing on Long Lake generally means a two pronged attack; long line trolling and jig fishing.  We often start the day with jigs and leeches, looking for a mixed bag of walleye, bass, pike and panfish.  Weeds, rocks and breaklines might all be holding fish on a given day.  The smaller spots we jig and the larger, more expansive areas we troll crankbaits or spinner rigs to cover water quicker.  If we get multiple bites in an area, we'll return and work it more thoroughly with the jigs.

Lost Land and Teal Lakes, Sawyer County

These two lakes are connected by a navigable channel and are good musky producers all summer long.  Lost Land has some huge weed beds that seemingly go on forever. On windy days it's tough to beat a controlled drift over these areas while casting bucktails and retrieving them over the weeds.

Teal Lake fishes a little differently as it has a lot more small spots that are made just for jerk baits and soft plastics.  Be sure to check weeds spots and rocks as either or both could produce on any given day.

Good luck and good fishing!

Jim Stroede, Jim Stroede Guide Service, (715)520-7043, www.JimStroedeFishing.com

With the water temps at or near peak here in Northern and North Central Wisconsin, fishing during mid-day can be grueling in the summer heat. You can find bass and pike cruising weed beds in the early morning and evening hours. Crankbaits and topwater baits work well for bass and pike. Muskies are now eating machines and can be found on weed edges, windblown rock bars and points, and at times wind beaten shorelines with weed, rock or timber structure. If you are raising muskies, and all they are doing is following to the boat, be sure to stop back throughout the day especially during major feeding times and moon phases. Maybe give them something different to look at than the lure you had them follow.  You can do this by changing the bait or the speed of your retrieve, slow or speed the bait up. By taking a different approach the second time through, it could increase your odds at a fish of a lifetime. Bucktails, topwater baits, and big soft plastics’ like Bulldawgs, and Red October Tubes work well for muskies.

Remember, keep your hooks sharp and drags set tight. Make it a great day in the outdoors.  

Todd Schulz, Musky Moon Guide Service, (715)212-9745, www.MuskyMoonGuideService.com

West Central Wisconsin

Lake Wissota

  One thing that surprises people on this body of water, is the enormous catfish population.  While large flatheads are present, the majority of what you will catch is channel cats. Conventional catfish wisdom will tell you to fish the low light periods of the day, such as early morning, or the middle of the night.  From my experience, I will tell you, yes, that does work.  But, on Wissota, you don't have to be an early riser.  The Chippewa River is always a good option when targeting channels.  I like to try a variety of baits, from cut bait, to crawlers to live suckers.

Lindy rigging for walleyes should be in full swing.  We have been having great luck trolling leeches, Gulp! Twister tails, and crawlers on slow death rigs.  Finding them is not very hard either.  Look for weed beds near humps and sharp drop-offs.  Get away from the crowds, and think outside the box.  While the sun is still high, you can also try a little finesse jigging in deeper depths.  It all works.

Mississippi River Pool 5

  I really enjoy getting down to Pool 5 when I can during these months.  The multi-species action can be stupendous.  There is awesome fishing right off the Alma boat ramp.  Texas rigged Power Worms or Zoom Lizards will produce some nice bucketmouths.  If largemouth are not your thing, try some panfish on for size.  Find ANY wing dam, and park your boat.  I like to use a flu flu, tipped with a waxie, or even a small Gulp! Minnow under a bobber.  One fun thing I like to do down here this time of year is to keep score of how many of each species we catch.  You never know what you are going to catch!  Plan this trip accordingly though, because on the weekend, you will have to contend with all of the recreational traffic.

Chris Powell, Chippewa Valley Guide Service, (715)577-9771, www.Lake-Wissota.com

South Central Wisconsin

Lake Koshkonong

With an average depth of only 6 to 7 feet, this lake commonly gets shallower during the late summer months and the water can get very warm, very quickly.  This is a key factor in understanding fish movement.  Most fish will not tolerate abnormally warm temps and will attempt to congregate in cooler areas.  Try locating one of the many springs scattered around the lake.  Along with springs, look for inlets from feeder creeks.  These areas have slightly cooler water and will attract fish.  When searching for these cooler areas, electronics are a must!  Look for subtle temperature changes, a few degrees can make a huge difference. 

To help cover big water and locate springs, trolling is very productive.  Try working the rock pile areas with runner bottom bouncers, tipped with Uncle Josh Pork Crawlers or live crawlers.  Crankbaits work well throughout the main lake basin, with Berkley Flicker Shads, Rapala Shad Raps, Salmos, and Cordell Wally Divers being top choices.  Color preference can change daily, but fire tiger and perch colors are always a good choice.  When fishing this shallow water, getting lures away from the boat is important.  Incorporating planer boards to your trolling package will greatly help catch fish.  Off Shore Tackle planer boards run with an attached “tattle flag” will help detect small fish and weeds.  

Some shallow springs can be located in back bay areas where trolling isn’t practical.  These areas require pitching or casting lures, which can be unbeatable. Spinners and shallow running crankbaits work well here for pike and bass.  Also, when the water is calm, surface baits produce too, but make sure you have heavy enough tackle to handle some of the large pike prowling here.

Rock River

The upper river system, near Blackhawk Island, has cooler, deeper water and will hold fish year round.  Try drifting this area while vertical jigging or dragging Lindy rigs.  It can produce nice walleyes, along with occasional pike, white bass, and catfish.  Depending on the current speed, jigs from 1/8 to 1/4 oz. work the best.  Usually late summer brings slower current speeds associated with lower water.  Experiment with colors, but chartreuse, orange, black, and white seem to do well.  Trolling is legal in the Rock River System as of July 1, 2015.  The river can be very congested, so please consider long line trolling over the use of planer boards in this area.

The lower river system, from Newville to Indianford Dam, also has some great areas.  There are four bridges on this stretch of river that consistently hold fish.  Along with producing shade, all have rocky structure and a little deeper water.  Try fishing bridge pylons for walleye with jigs, tipped with crawlers or plastics.  Panfish can also be found in these areas where less current is present.  They can also be found near fallen trees extending out from the shoreline.  A simple slip bobber tipped with a chunk of crawler or wax worm works best.  If panfish are aggressive, try pitching small plastics or Pork leeches near the edge of any structure.

Madison Chain

The Madison Chain of Lakes will continue to offer great panfishing opportunities throughout the summer months.  With spawning rituals complete, panfish are hungry and eager to bite.  Any location growing weeds will most likely hold fish.  First, try fishing the edges of these areas and work your way in, if needed.  Work the area parallel to the weed edge by pitching a small Northland Tackle Bro’s Bloodworm jig or a small 1/16 oz. jig tipped with Uncle Josh Pork Pan Fish Leeches.  Using a quick popping motion while retrieving works well, but make sure to allow time for the jig to fall.  No bobber is required with this presentation. Black, purple and white colors seem to work well.  If fishing deep in the weeds, a slip bobber will help keep your bait out of the jungle.  Keep the line distance from the bait to the slip bobber short and pitch it into the weeds.  Let the bait fall, then retrieve it a few feet and let it fall again.  Repeating this process can be deadly on crappies and bluegills. 

As summer progresses, some fish will get uncomfortable in shallow warm water and leave the safety of weeds for deeper, cooler water.  Use your electronics to mark large schools and try vertical jigging.  Live bait can work well, but we’ve also had great luck using small Northland Tackle and Berkley plastics.  Make sure to work the entire water column and target suspended fish.  Many times these fish are the most aggressive biters. Using a trolling motor to maintain position over schools of fish is valuable.  If strong wind becomes an issue and using a trolling motor to maintain position is difficult, try using a drift sock.  Good Luck!

Captain Adam Walton, Pike Pole Fishing Guide Service, 608-290-3929, www.pikepolefishing.com

Petenwell and Castle Rock Flowages

July and August can be some of the warmest water of the season.  Normal temps will be lower 70’s and upper 70’s in the afternoon. To target panfish, focus in on deep structure in the river with lots of wood and heavy weed cover.  Both crappies and bluegill can be targeted.  For crappies, we like to use slip bobbers with weedless hooks and a crappie minnow.  Work tight to the wood structure areas.  For bluegills, pitch small weedless jigs, tipped with red worms, half of a crawler or leeches.  The object is to get real tight to the weedy areas. Don’t drive the boat over the top of fish around the area. 

When fishing wood, try not to bump the wood. Fish around it with the trolling motor or anchor out away from the wood you are fishing.  Walleyes can be caught pitching weedless jigs, tipped with half of a crawler or leeches along deep wood structure, fallen trees or deep holes with lots of wood in the river. 

Another way to target walleye is to troll the main lake flats in 12 to 18 foot of water.  Try trolling with Hot ‘N Tots, #7 Flicker Shads, #7 Shad Raps.  You are going to want to pull your baits a little faster, between 2 and 2.4 mph.  At this time of year, it’s more a reaction bite than a feeding bite with all the bait fish in the water.  A lot of the spawn that hatched this spring are large enough for walleyes and other game fish to feed on.  The fish to target out on the main part of the lake are suspended high in the water column.  Another good technique is to fish deep along the river channel, pulling slow death rigs behind a bottom bouncer, tipped with a crawler. 

Catfish can be targeted anywhere from the river to the lake in shallow or deep waters.  If you are targeting flathead catfish you will want to fish deep holes with structure in the river.  Live bait rigs with suckers and bluegills work the best.  For channel cats, use cutbait, stink bait, or nightcrawlers.  I prefer to use the stink bait (it also helps keep the sheephead off). 

Bass fishermen will target large and smallmouth bass in deep wooded areas of the river.  More of the smallies will be in the deep rocky areas.  For smallies, use small plastics, small jig and crawlers and small crankbaits.  Largemouth can be caught over heavy weeded cover with weedless frogs. When fishing heavy timber along the channel edge, pitch jigs and crawlers, Senko or spinnerbaits. 

Target muskies in the early morning and late evening.  The water temperatures are cooler during those times of the day.  Catching a musky during the heat of the day causes a lot of stress and could take their life.  Use surface baits, large crankbaits, jerk baits, bucktails.

Jesse Quale, Green Water Walleyes, (608)547-3022, www.GreenWaterWalleyes.com or www.Lake-Link.com

East Central Wisconsin

Wolf River

The Wolf River will still be giving up some smaller male walleyes. These fish can be caught by casting a jig and nightcrawler along the shoreline.  Use a small crankbaits such as Flicker Shad or Shad Rap along the sandbars. The best fishing times to fish the Wolf are early mornings and late evenings.

The Wolf is also noted for holding many catfish. These fish can be caught by using cutbait or stink bait while fishing the deeper holes or submerged timber. Again, the best fishing times for catfish are late in the evenings, into the dark or early mornings.

Lake Poygan

Lake Poygan is still producing walleyes at this time of the year. These fish are being caught in the deeper holes. Crawler harnesses and crankbaits are the baits of choice. Remember, when  trolling a crawler harness you should go about 1 mile an hour. When trolling crankbaits such as Flicker Shads and Shad Raps, speeds should be between 1.75 and 2.25 mph. Fishing the shorelines early in the morning and later in the evening will also produce fish with a jig and a nightcrawler. The man-made reef will produce some walleyes and panfish.

Fox River

The Fox River still has walleyes and catfish available for the taking. These fish are caught by vertical jigging and/or casting a jig and a nightcrawler. Catfish are caught by fishing the deeper holes using cutbait and stink bait.

Lake Winnebago

Lake Winnebago should be on fire this time of the year. Walleyes will be caught up on the mud flats trolling crawler harnesses and crankbaits. Crankbaits of choice are Flicker Shads, Reef Runners, Shad Raps, and Salmos. When trolling with boards on the mud flats, you will be fishing in 15 to 19 feet of water. Watch your electronics and look for fish suspended somewhere between 8 and 13 feet down. These are your target fish. Remember, they don't bite all of the time. There is a specific bite window when these fish will feed. Slip-bobbering the reefs and rock piles will also produce walleye and perch this time of the year. Baits of choice when fishing the rock piles and reefs are leeches and nightcrawlers.

Perch fishing starts to heat up as the weather stabilizes. Perch can be caught by fishing the edges of the rock piles and reefs. They can also be caught by fishing them in the mud flats. Again some of the best ways to catch these fish is by slip bobbering. Bait of choice for fishing perch on Lake Winnebago would be Hellgrammites, wigglers, or nightcrawlers.

The Bay of Green Bay

Walleyes, muskies, and smallmouth bass are the primary targeted species at this time of year. Walleyes are caught by trolling boards with nightcrawler harnesses and crankbaits. Crankbaits of choice to use on the Bay of Green Bay include Flicker Shads, Reef Runners, Shad Raps, and Salmos. The walleyes are caught in 12 to 40 feet of water. When fishing the deeper water, look for suspended fish 10 to 15 feet down.

Muskies have been caught in summer months by casting bucktails and or trolling crankbaits.

Smallmouth bass are caught by casting plastics along the shorelines on the rocky points.

There are also a fair number of perch being caught at this time of year on the Bay of Green Bay. The perch are usually caught in 10 to 40 feet of water, using hellgrammites, wigglers, or nightcrawlers as bait.

Remember enjoy all the outdoors has to offer but do it safely. If you have any questions about fishing any of these bodies of water please feel free to give me a call.

Captain Jim Klein, Bills and Gills Guide Service, (920)680-7660