Sep 10, 2015

Scouting Report

Northern Wisconsin

Turtle Flambeau Flowage

Fall is a transition time with respect to many aspects of fishing. In early September, the late summer pattern of finding walleye, perch and crappie relating to deeper wood structure, mid-lake humps, weeds and the other diverse structure gives way to a deeper water search for these fish in mid to late September.  The body of water I spend most of my time on is the Turtle Flambeau Flowage, a 13,000-acre flowage in Iron County but this transition is occurring in most of the northern Wisconsin lakes. Not all fish in these bodies of water migrate to the deeper water but it is definitely a numbers game. It’s hard to pass up the fun that this bite provides, with most days providing big numbers of walleye caught along with crappies and, occasionally perch, depending on where you are fishing.

This deeper water bite usually starts around mid-September but is dependent on water temperatures and turn over. By late September, this bite is on. These fish are usually found in water depths that range from 15 to 30 feet of water depending on the area of the flowage we are fishing. On the edges of the original lake basins, the fish are often found in the 20 to 30 foot depth and in the river channels that coarse through the flowage in the 15 to 25 foot range.

Another part of the transition is the type of bait on board; no more shop vaccing worm bedding out of the boat at the end of the day or changing water in the leeches in the refrigerator (wife is happy with the garage frig).  The live bait bite has transitioned to minnows. Extra large fathead minnows are the minnow of choice. Red tail chubs are a fantastic minnow also. But, when you are going through a livewell full of minnows, the red tails would be a pricey option. They would be the best choice for deep water rocks and trophy walleyes on other bodies of water. Another change that takes place is the type of jig we are throwing.  Instead of ISG slow fall jig (a weedless jig) in 1/16 and 1/8 oz. we are using simple round head jigs. The sand, gravel and mostly rounded boulders we are retrieving over don’t eat all the jigs the wood does.

The detail required would need more space than allotted, but don't forget about fall musky fishing; a lot of fisherman's passion, especially in October. Muskies can be found where the species mentioned above are found.  After all, that is what they are eating. A wide assortment of baits are thrown at them in the fall, but many of the fish are caught with suckers on harnesses while retrieving artificial lures to the boat.

One of my favorite fall transitions are the fall colors, this usually peaks in the last week of September or the first week in October which coincides with some great fishing and a perfect time to make a trip to the Northwoods.

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

Hayward Lakes Area

Fall is an awesome time for chasing muskies around the Hayward area.  The multitude of lakes and flowages are seemingly endless. There are always new bodies of water to try for 'ski's.

Certain lakes/systems are always reliable this time of year; the Spider Chain, Lost Land & Teal and LCO/Grindstone all are worth considering.

This year the trolling/position fishing controversy is no longer an issue, as the rules now allow trolling on some level everywhere.  To be safe, check local regulations before launching when not certain.  Lots of muskies are taken here using the one two punch of casting jerk baits and crankbaits while running live suckers near the boat.  Both following muskies and random muskies willingly take quick strike rigged suckers this time of year.  We also catch many on artificials.

Good luck and good fishing,

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

With the kids going back to school and summer vacations ending, the waters here in the north are quieting down.  The days are getting shorter and temps are slowly starting to drop, many of us have bowhunting and fall musky fishing on our minds. Whitetail bucks are getting a little territorial by now.  Look to set up on runways that lead from bedding areas to a food source and if you did your homework, you will better your odds at filling you tag on a trophy buck.  Most of us diehard musky fishermen look forward to this time of year in hopes of a chance at a trophy musky.  Even though the feeding windows are shorter, you increase your chances at boating that fish of a lifetime. Using suckers for live bait on quick set rigs have been a Wisconsin tradition for many years and it just increases your odds.  I start out with 8” to 12” suckers in early fall and increase the size as the water temps drop. The baits of choice this time of year are Bull Dawgs and Red October Tubes.  Also, big glide and jerk baits as well as big crankbaits worked slowly. Don’t overlook fishing shallow water in September as the muskies move in to eat bait fish hiding in or around the last remaining weed and timber. As the water starts to cool down even more in mid-October, look to fish steep break lines, in search for that fish of a lifetime.  With muskies being one of the toughest freshwater fish to catch, do yourself a favor and use high quality quick set rigs like the ones made by Smity. Whether you hunt or fish and maybe you’re like me and try to spilt up your time in the stand and on the water, just remember safety first, and “Make it a great day in the outdoors.”

Todd Schultz, Musky Moon Guide Service, (715)212-9745, www.muskymoon.com

Western U.P.

Lake Gogebic

The Lake Gogebic walleye bite tends to pick up as the water temps cool down. This is the time of year when the winds start to blow and fishing is not for the faint of heart. Of course, some of the worst weather days can be the best days of walleye fishing. Probably the most popular way our guests target the eyes is slip bobbering for them with live bait; typically using the white sucker minnows, tuffy fatheads, and fatheads. Another technique that can be effective is rigging (position fishing using a lindy rig setup) working rocky break lines.  Other species to target at this time of year are smallmouth bass, perch, crappie, and northern pike.

Besides fishing there are all sorts of other things to do in the Western U.P.  Bring or rent (locally) an ATV or Side by Side and ride the 550 miles of trails.  The grouse hunting up here is world class. We have a million acres of state and national forest wrapped around us to explore.  Hiking, biking, kayaking, canoeing, the list is endless.  There are also 150 different waterfalls in the immediate area and viewing the northern lights over Lake Superior is just incredible. 

Captain Tim Long, Eyes Guy Guide Service, (906)575-3542

West Central Wisconsin

You can feel summer winding down, the air is getting cooler and the leaves are turning colors.  The recreational boat traffic is all but gone.  As if Labor Day was the signal for winterizing your boat.  Many docks are already being raised out of the water.  Everyone has his or her reasons.  The days are shorter, school activities are starting, and many of us outdoorsmen have switched the focus to hunting deer or waterfowl.  So, now is a great time to be a fisherman.  The fishing is getting better, and it is with less competition from fellow fishermen (imagine the Packers having to go from playing teams like the Seahawks and Patriots to playing the other teams in the NFC North).

Lake Wissota

As a guide on this lake, it is very weird for me to come out here on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, and see maybe a couple of other boats.  As a fisherman, I avoid this lake like the plague on the weekends from June to August.  I also wouldn't be trying to fish for walleyes mid-day.  But right now is a special time of year.   Walleyes are stacked up in large schools and can be found using your electronics.  Vertical jigging areas, such as the Yellow River Bar, the S Bridge or the entrance to Pine Harbor, with jigs tipped with fatheads or blade baits produce good numbers of walleye.  It is also a good idea to dead stick a minnow over the side of the boat. Trolling areas, such as the Chippewa River or Small Lake Wissota with crankbaits or small suckers will produce larger walleye.

Those targeting smallmouth should do so by slow retrieving plastics in the shallows of the Chippewa River.  B Fish N ringworms, Gulp Alive emerald shiners or Powerbait double-tailed grubs will all produce fish.

 Musky fishermen do well by soaking suckers.  Little Lake Wissota is a popular destination.  These big girls are putting on the feedbag, and this is your best chance at a true trophy!

St Croix Flowage (Gordon)

This is such a beautiful body of water, especially in the fall. And on top of that, it is a great lake for northern pike action.  Throw spinner baits toward any, and I mean any, weed bed.  You will catch northern pike all day long.  Mostly the fish will be “hammer handles.”  If you are looking for larger pike, fish the deeper, 5 to 6 foot holes.  Some decent largemouth bass are also present, and are caught on spinners as well.  Look for panfish in the shallows.  Chunks of nightcrawler or small gulp minnows will all work. The St Croix Flowage gets a few waterfowl hunters, so be sure to give them their space.

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

West Coast of Wisconsin

Lake Pepin

Here we are on the West Coast of Wisconsin.  Fall is rolling in and fishing is also in a transitional stage. On Lake Pepin, one fish, which has been consistent, is the crappie. The walleyes are slow but steady. They seem to hit on plastics in the shallows. The saugers are biting in the morning, and the crappies in the afternoon, which makes for an enjoyable and active day on beautiful Lake Pepin. As the water temperatures drop on the lake, so does the ebb and flow of the fishing. All in all, the fishing is fine. The dropping water levels and cooling lake temperatures lure the walleye on their trek to the river. With picturesque scenery and fine fishing, Lake Pepin is a good choice for your fall fishing destination.

Pine Creek and Rush River

September is the last good fishing in the Driftless Area streams. The water is cooling and the trout are biting again. You do want to make some adjustments when fishing trout. Ants, grasshoppers and crickets will still work, but insect hatches are slowing down, and you may want to switch to patterns mimicking crayfish and other bottom dwelling creatures. The brown trout are starting to migrate to the smaller tributaries for a spawning habitat, so there is an opportunity to catch a trophy, which has been hiding in the deeps all summer. Fall is here.  The fishing is consistent, and the views are breathtaking. This is a perfect time to visit the West Coast of Wisconsin.

Bart Armstrong,

East Central Wisconsin

Fremont area 

Fall is an exciting time on the Wolf River. Walleyes, whitebass, crappies and flathead are all getting ready for winter.  Bow hunters are in the woods. Pleasure boaters have put their boats away and the river is very peaceful.  It is an excellent time to do some fishing

Walleye and whitebass follow the gizzard shad up the river. The gizzard shad are coming up to spawn. Depending on the water temperature, minnows or crawlers are the bait to jig for walleye. A lot of the same areas that are fished during the spring run are great again this time of year. Zip lures work well in these areas in the fall too. 

Whitebass will be in the shallows chasing shad. A small jig and minnow works well for catching these exciting fish. Zip lures or spinners also work. The number of whitebass won't be as high as spring, but good numbers can be caught. 

Crappies are starting to school up and chasing any kind of minnow or shad they can find. Fishing fallen timber with small jigs, tipped with minnows, or slip bobbers will produce fish. Small jigs and plastic tails will catch fish as well. Keep hopping from fallen timber to the next fallen timber, not spending too much time at any one spot. Remember crappies are spooky fish. Use your trolling motor to approach the brush piles and tie off to a branch. Start by fishing high in the water column and work your way to the bottom. 

Last but not least are flathead catfish.  The season ends at the end of September so I fish them hard during this month. Wolf River Rigs with 50 lb. braid, 5/0 circle hooks and 3 oz. weights are my weapon of choice. This time of year, use the biggest suckers you can find.  Hook them directly through the snout.  Using bait clicking reels to identify a bite is most effective. Once the flathead has the sucker, raise up the rod slowly which will set the circle hook. Remember the slot limits and regulations for flatheads. 

Good fishing and tight lines.

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

South Central Wisconsin

Lake Koshkonong

Lake Koshkonong offered great spring and summer walleye opportunities this year.  A lot of smaller 9” to 13” walleyes were caught, but numerous large 15” to 24” fish were also present.  With such a large amount of smaller fish present, Lake Koshkonong looks to have a “bang up” future, over the next few years, as these fish grow into legal size.  I anticipate the smaller fish to continue making an appearance this fall.  Water levels are technically considered normal right now, but most anglers would say it is low.  The mud area will continue to hold fish and trolling crawler harnesses or cranks will produce the best results.  Once water temps start to dip in late October, harnesses tend to become less productive but cranks will continue to produce fish.  The rock pile near the center of the lake will also continue to hold many species during the early fall.  There are various ways to fish this area, depending on many factors.  Slip bobber presentations while anchored here will catch everything from bluegills to pike. Bobber fishing with live minnows or crawlers near the bottom works well here when there is a little wave chop present.  Trolling this area or drifting 1/8 oz. jigs with live bait over the rocks can also produce a mixed bag.  Pitching and slowly bottom bouncing Northland Tackle Impulse baits, Berkley Gulp, or Uncle Josh Pork baits through the rock pile is another great way to catch fish holding here.  A little trial and error is required when using these artificial baits.  As the season goes on, try using larger bait profiles, whether using live or artificial baits.  Fish are looking to bulk up and prefer more bang for their buck.  

Rock River

The upper river system from Blackhawk Island to Fort Atkinson is a great area to fish in the fall.  With deeper holes present, vertical jigging or dragging these spots with live or artificial baits will catch fish.  Walleyes are common, along with catfish and sheepshead.  Pitching towards the shallower shoreline area, near cover, will also produce fish.  Again, as fall approaches, increasing the profile of your bait can result in more fish.  When river fishing, we like to double up artificial minnows on one hook or simply use larger 5” to 7” artificial minnows to offer large profile baits.  If using the double up technique, ensure you leave enough gap between the hook and the bait to help with hook ups.  If there is no gap, fish will come off easier or you’ll miss strikes all together.  Along with artificial minnows, twister tails, paddle tails, and Moxi plastics work well here in the fall.

The lower river system near Newville is shallower, but should not be overlooked.  Although trolling cranks in this spot can produce fish, dragging jigs or fishing Lindy rigs seems to work better.  When using these two techniques, live bait works best.  If pitching the bridge pylons or if you’re pitching baits in the shallows, artificial baits such as Northland Impulse baits or Berkley Gulp baits work well.  If you’re looking for crappies, boat slips, piers and fallen trees along the river banks will hold fish.  A slip bobber presentation, baited with a crappie minnow or waxie, is a great way to fish these areas.   

Madison Chain

Many panfish can be found schooled in deeper water in the fall.  Use electronics to find these schools and look for the more aggressive suspended fish.  When a school is located on sonar, mark them on GPS or with floating buoy markers. Try drifting through them when wind is present or use a trolling motor to stay on top of the school.  Using precision boat control to hover over a school tends to produce more fish than drifting through them.  1/32 oz. jigs, tipped with a crappie minnows or small artificial baits, are deadly on these deep water suspended fish. Northland Tackle Impulse baits have been very productive, along with Uncle Josh Pork panfish leeches.         

For fall walleyes, especially toward the end of October, the Monona Terrace area on Lake Monona and Tenney Park area on Lake Mendota offer great night action from the shore.  Casting Rapala Husky Jerks are a favorite here, but other suspending crankbaits work well also.  Trolling breaks and weed edges throughout the lake will produce fish and jigging these areas will do the same. 

For musky, slow trolling live suckers near John Nolan Drive on Lake Monona will produce fish as water temperatures start to drop.  Also, breaks near Christy’s and Bible Camp on Lake Waubesa have shown decent results while trolling live bait.  Don’t overlook using Bucher Depth Raider’s, glide baits, and Esox Assault spinner blades along other numerous weed edges and breaks also.  Please practice catch and release with these awesome fish.  Remember to handle them gently and return them to the water as soon as possible.     

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

Castle Rock and Petenwell Flowages

On both Castle Rock and Petenwell Flowage, fish can be caught using both trolling and live bait presentations.  For the last 3 years, the weather has been very warm into September.  Overnight water temps are in the mid 60’s and daytime temps can reach the mid 70’s.

When trolling, target fish on main lake flats in 12 to15 feet of water or deep water trolling over main lake humps.  A lot of these humps will have deep water surrounding them. These humps will top out at 8 to10 feet. The fish will be stacked along the edges or on top early and late.  We like to troll with larger baits in September and October;  #7 Flicker Shads and #7 Shad Raps at 1.8 to 2 mph. 

As the month of September closes and October comes around, water temps will cool down and the trolling bite will start to slow down also.  This is when live bait rigging the main river channel with large suckers or redtailed chubs proves successful.  Or vertical jig points and fish the drop-offs along shore.  Target the Yellow Banks on the north end of the lake, Halls Point, Long View and the south buoy line on the southeast side of the lake. 

The river also can be a great area to fish in the fall.  For the last few years, large numbers of whitebass and crappies have been caught in the river during these cooler months.  Whitebass can be caught on jigs and plastics, or jigs and live bait, or pulling flies.  For panfish, pitch slip bobbers, small jigs and plastics, or minnows and red worms tight to a wood area structure.  Fishing below the dams in the fall is also good.  A lot of walleyes, whitebass and crappies will move up toward the dam for food.  Fish will be targeted using live bait rigs, jigs or blade baits.  The blade bait that I would recommend is the Echo Tail by Vibrations Tackle. 

Jesse Quale, Green Water Walleyes, (608)547-3022. He can also be found on Lake-link, facebook-Green Water Walleyes Guide Service and Twitter @GrnH20Walleyes.  Feel free to give us a like on our facebook page.  Call anytime to book a guide trip at 608-547-3022 or you can email at greenwaterwalleyes@yahoo.com.  Website:  www.greenwaterwalleyes.com