May 10, 2016

Northern Wisconsin

Mercer Area/Turtle Flambeau Flowage (TFF)

May 7th brings the long awaited opening of the game fish season in northern Wisconsin. With a little later opening than typical and possibly a warmer spring, I may start my search for walleye on shallow flats with stumps and scattered logs on soft bottom. There are abundant areas like this on the Turtle Flambeau Flowage where I begin my fishing season.

Some years, opening weekend and early May coincide with still spawning walleye, or walleye that have very recently finished spawning. In this case, fishing the original river channels with a jig and a minnow can be the “go-to” method for a nice catch of walleye. After the spawn, a lot of fish move into the warmer shallow water to feed.  These can be good areas for the month of May and June. Often the fish are spread out over these flats and drift fishing slip bobbers with live bait is a productive way to search for active fish. On windy days, using a drift sock to slow the boat down is key in keeping the lines hanging vertical and the bait close to the bottom.

Another big draw to the Turtle Flambeau Flowage is some of the state's best smallmouth fishing. Catch and release season for smallmouth begins on opening day of the game fish season and the date fish can start being kept is the third Saturday in June. There are some regulation changes for the TFF and the connecting Trude Lake this season. Previously, two fish over 15" were allowed, this year, five fish per day all under 14 inches, or four under 14 inches and one over 18 inches are allowed to be kept. There are lots of ways to catch smallmouth in May and June.  Fishing shallow water by casting tube jigs, small crayfish colored crankbaits and wacky worms work well. By later May into all of June, various top waters are my favorite way to entice action from these aggressive hard fighting fish.

Jeff Robl, Bobber Down Guide Service

Lost Land and Teal Lakes

What a great time of year! We have the whole open water season ahead of us, and great fishing right now!

Early season muskies are a blast on numerous lakes and flowages all across northwest Wisconsin. Teal and Lost Land Lakes are among the best for a combination of numbers and size. The fish here love mid-sized bucktails run over the tops of newly developing cabbage weeds, and there is no better time than a windy, early summer day to fish these lakes. Cover water quickly, use multiple colored baits, and mix in a twitch bait now and then. The "quiet lakes" are always good early.

Round, LCO and Grindstone 

The big, deep, clear lakes around Hayward are home to an amazing trophy smallmouth bass fishery. Big bronze backs, pushing 22 inches are not uncommon. In fact, the average size on these lakes is around 16 to 17 inches. These fish are long, fat and fight like crazy.  Pre-spawn, spawn and post-spawn fishing is all catch and release insuring great fishing into the future. Smallmouths can be caught on a variety of baits, jigs and soft plastics.  Crankbaits and topwaters are the most commonly used. Clear water means stealthy fishing is very important, fluorocarbon line is a big advantage here, as is keeping boat noise to a minimum. This time period kicks out the biggest fish of the year!  

It is a great time to have fun, stick a big one, and watch it swim away after release. How cool is that!?

Jim Stroede 

Oneida and Vilas Counties

Undeveloped Lakes:  This spring and early summer, Oneida and Vilas counties offer great opportunities to catch spawning crappies and bluegills along with some outstanding bass fishing. In our area, there are hundreds of lakes to fish; some big and some small. Of these lakes there are those that are fished heavily and some that don't get fished much at all. This report is about hitting those small (mostly under 100 acres), undeveloped lakes where there is little to no fishing pressure, no boat landings, and only a few or no houses dotting the shorelines.          

The one thing to make sure of is that it is not all private land surrounding the lake. A lot of these lakes are on national, or state protected lands. These lakes can sometimes be seen and accessed off of paved roads, but in a lot of cases they need to be navigated through unpaved roads, snowmobile trails, old logging roads and, in a few cases, on foot by making one’s own path through the woods. Usually, when I fish these waters, I cast from shore or wade in shallow water. You can also navigate these lakes by kayak, canoe or float tube.  I have found lakes as small as one acre that have produced some giant panfish!  

Here are a couple of ways to find these small lakes. I've found them by looking in lake map books, where they most likely won't be named or explained.  When that is the case, I use google maps and zoom in to the area to see what I can find out. Other times, I skip the lake map book step and just use google maps to find small water that looks intriguing.  Once you have a handful of these lakes picked out, take a road trip. It is best to do this in early May before the vegetation gets too full. These “off the beaten path” lakes allow you to get back in touch with nature and forget about the busy stress filled world, at least for a little while. These undeveloped lakes only have so many nice fish in them and are really a dying breed so please practice Catch Photo Release (CPR) so they can be enjoyed for years to come.    

"SET THE HOOK!" 

Andy Hendrickson, Hendo’s Angling Expeditions, (715)401-0475, www.HendosAnglingExpeditions.com   

Western U.P.

Lake Gogebic Area

 As we head into late spring/early summer, the Western U.P. has much to offer. Fishing, hiking, biking, mountain biking, siteseeing, kayaking, ATVing, boating, camping, etc, etc. Anything outdoors you want to do, you can find it here. If you have never been up in this neck of the woods, the Lake Gogebic area is an awesome destination for the outdoor enthusiast!  We have 150 different waterfalls in the immediate area. Many of these waterfalls are nothing less than spectacular.

We also have many pristine brook trout streams in area. The Timbers Resort has brought on a new fishing guide that offers multi-species kayak fishing on these streams. Lake Superior is our northern border, with excellent opportunities for lake trout and salmon fishing.

Then of course we have Lake Gogebic, the largest lake in the U.P. It is approximately 14,000 acres, 18 miles long and 3 miles wide at its widest point and has around 40 miles of shoreline.

At this time of year (May/June) the fishing is in full swing on Gogebic with walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike, perch and crappie as the main targets for most anglers. Catching them is typically not a problem.

 This past November, we had a legislation change on Lake Gogebic. This change allows anglers to keep two walleye that are 13” to 15” and three walleye over 15” for a total daily bag limit of 5 walleye.  Although this law is in effect for this season it doesn’t mean that you have to keep fish in that 13” to 15” size range as part of your daily bag limit. All of your fish can be over 15” if you choose to keep larger fish. It just gives you the opportunity to keep smaller eyes.

Lake Gogebic is also considered a trophy smallmouth bass lake. I have personally had smallies up to 25 inches and it is common to catch smallmouth over 20 inches. Personally, I specialize in walleye fishing, but will catch everything while fishing for walleye.

Give us a call at The Timbers Resort to book your trip to the Lake Gogebic area or to get a current fishing report.

Tim Long, Owner of The Timbers Resort and Eyes Guy Guide Service

West Central Wisconsin

Lake Wissota

This is a great time of year to chase just about anything on Lake Wissota!  Now that the open water season is here, most folks will be chasing walleye.  Jigs and minnows take good numbers of walleye early in the season.  The Yellow River, near K Bridge, is a great place to start.  Upper Wissota is a good place to pull cranks or drag jigs.  This is big water, so having a good lake map and good electronics will always help.  Zigzag the slow drop-offs, marking bites on your GPS, and keep working those marks to increase your odds.  If a spot hasn't produced a walleye within 15 minutes, move on.

In early May, you may notice if you are walleye fishing a number of large crappie being caught in between.  So, why not try your hand at catching some of these slabs?  They can be caught a number of ways.  When fishing areas 12 to 20 feet deep, I like to drop a jig and minnow over the side of the boat and suspend it about a foot off the bottom.  Floating jig heads will also work with a split shot.  When the water warms to around 60 degrees, crappies will move in shallower, and are around the timber. Anchor shallow, or tie off to a log. Fish minnows, about 18 inches under a bobber, and have fun!

Otter Lake

Right around Memorial Day, the bluegill should be in full spawning mode. Many folks will be fishing the shallows with a Cubby, tipped with waxies. Leeches or bits of nightcrawlers will also take gills.  But the really fun way to catch these fighters, is on the fly rod! Black foam spiders, or poppers fished in the shallows are just a hoot!  Make sure you wear your polarized sunglasses, so you can see the bluegills go into full predator mode! If you don't have a fly rod, you can also fish your fly about 3 feet behind a clear bobber, and retrieve very slow, with short pauses and jerks. It’s an awesome time!

Chris Powell

West Coast of Wisconsin

Pool 4, Mississippi River

I want to give a little information about the area on which I am reporting in case you aren’t familiar with this side of the state. It is called Pool 4 of the Mississippi River. This pool encompasses Lake Pepin, which is approximately 23 miles long.  From the top of the lake, it is twelve miles north to Lock and Dam 3; from the bottom, it is twelve miles of river and backwater south to Lock and Dam 4.

May: Based on the rain and snowmelt this spring, water levels should be pretty normal and the water temp should be a little cool. The crappies should be biting in the backwaters where the Chippewa runs into the Mississippi (the Tiffany Bottoms). This time of year, walleye fishing out on the big lake is going to be good.  If the rains hold off, the water remains clear and a person is willing to work up and down the whole pool, May is a great time to be on the water.

June: When fishing the river or lake this time of year, an angler will need to change their fishing patterns. The river can be very unpredictable. A good rainstorm can raise the river significantly and the water clarity can get bad. An optimistic outlook is the number of small walleye that are in the system, and, based on how quickly they grow, the future is bright for Lake Pepin. The fishing on the backwaters is always good for panfish and such, and if you’re looking for some monster river catfish, you have come to the right place.

Come join us on the West Coast of Wisconsin! The fishing is great and the views are extraordinary. There is also plenty else to do for the non-fisherperson in your family, while you spend the day on the water.

Bart Armstrong

East Central Wisconsin

Fremont Area

May temperatures bring plenty of fishing action on the Wolf River. Catfish, white bass, panfish and certainly walleyes, are all plentiful in our area. Catfish are getting active with the warmer weather and warming water temps. Cut bait works best early in the season.  I fish sand flats above fallen trees and log jams. I use a slip rig and fish with circle hooks. The trick to circle hooks is locking them in a rod holder and only lifting them out when your rod is bending.  

White bass are bountiful in the “White Bass Capital of the World.” Spinners, Wolf River Rigs with flies and little jigs, tipped with minnows, work best for these aggressive fish. If you're not catching fish in 15 minutes, move! The biggest mistake of many white bass fisherman is staying in one spot too long. 

This time of year, the bluegills begin to get on their spawning beds. This is the best time to catch large-sized and numbers of bluegill. Slip bobbers in the bayous and channels are the trick. Stick and move is the game. Like white bass fishing, don't sit in one place too long. Red worms and wax worms work best.

Walleye can be found in the Wolf River and further south. From dragging jigs, to trolling the lakes, walleyes can be found. I use 1/8 oz. jigs and a half a crawler in the river. I use Salmos, Shad Raps and Flicker Shads to catch them on Lake Poygan and Winneconne. 

Tight lines!

Capt Patrick Morack, Moracktion Guide Service, (920)216-9085, www.MoracktionGuideService.com 

Winnebago System

May is a great month, with super fast action, to catch white bass on the Fox River, Wolf River, and in Winneconne. Casting small crankbaits, spoons, or pulling flies are my lures of choice. 

On Lake Winnebago, May and June are excellent months to slip bobber, jig, or cast small crankbaits on shallow structure for hungry post spawn walleye. The crappie and bluegill will be moving into the shallow bays to spawn.  Pitching bobbers with small minnows, small twisters, or a piece of worm are all hard baits for the panfish to resist. 

Tim Euting, Get ‘em Hooked Guide Service, (920)960-1220, www.GetEmHooked.net

Bay of Green Bay

The fishing season starts the first Saturday in May every year in the state of Wisconsin. For those of you out to chase walleye here are a few tips that I hope will help you catch more fish. Typically, water temperatures are in the low to mid 50s.  You can find walleye on top of rock reefs and along the flats and edges. Often, when it gets to be late morning, you find yourself looking for the walleye that were on these reefs earlier. Over the years, we’ve been led to believe that walleye like to go into the depths away from the sun, not so.  With the colder water temperatures in spring, walleye will travel long distances for warmer waters. Find yourself a sunny shoreline or a shallow flat, preferably a northern shoreline, and you can find walleye as shallow as 2 to 3 feet of water, clear or dirty. The sun warms these waters more quickly than other areas in the lake. Walleye will head into these shallow waters to warm up, even more so when the sun is high and bright.

Good luck, be safe, and have fun,                                                                

Captain Jeff Boutin

South Central Wisconsin

Castle Rock and Petenwell Flowages

May and June can make for fun times on both Castle Rock and Petenwell Flowages. Walleye are done spawning and have left the spawning grounds, heading back towards the lake. However, not all walleye will leave the lake on both flowages to spawn in the river. There are still a good number of fish that will spawn in the main lakes.

Around the third week in April, white bass and crappie will start to spawn. This normally runs into the second week in May. The last 5 years, the walleye have been just about done spawning around the second week of April. As soon they are done spawning and heading downriver, the white bass and crappies are thick in the river. Of course, this will depend on weather and current flow. Like the walleye, not all white bass and crappie will spawn in the river.

Water temps will be on the rise through May and into June. Fishermen will be trolling crankbaits out on the main lakes. Areas to target are shallow flats in 8 to 15 feet of water. Another good area to troll crankbaits is in shallow backwaters in 5 to 8 feet of water. A good tactic is to start out trolling stick baits or smaller cranks in May. As the water temperatures are on the rise in June, switch your cranks up to more of a wobble or to cranks with rattles.

Another great way to put fish in the net in May and June is to pitch plastics or use slip bobbers on the main lake. Fishing shallow water over brush and along rocks are great spots. These areas will hold large numbers of walleye, white bass and crappie.  Walleye are up shallow putting on the feedbag while crappie and white bass are finishing up the spawn and feeding.

The last couple years in May and June, the headwaters have been very good on both Petenwell and Castle Rock. These are the areas where the river or rivers are flowing back into the main lake. For Petenwell, this would be the Yellow Banks area. On Castle Rock, it is the train tracks on the Wisconsin River side and on the Yellow side it would be the Buckhorn Bridge area. A good idea is to fish up and down the edge of the main channel.  Another way to fish it is jigging and rigging with live bait. 

Good luck, be safe!

For more information check out our facebook page Green Water Walleyes Guide Service. Feel free to give it a like. You can also check us out on lake-link.com cell (608) 547-3022 Email Greenwaterwalleyes@yahoo.com

Lake Koshkonong

  • The shallow make up of this large lake allows water to warm faster than deeper systems. With warm water present and hungry post spawn fish on the prowl, Lake Koshkonong offers great opportunities for anglers. With a lot of area to cover, trolling crankbaits and crawler harnesses helps tremendously in locating pockets of fish. If you prefer mixed action of white bass, pike, walleyes, and occasional perch, trolling at faster speeds should keep you busy. If you’re specifically targeting walleye, try trolling at slower speeds and up-size your crankbaits.  Many times this tactic helps keep aggressive white bass and pike at bay. Also, use trolling planer boards to help move your lures away from the boat in this shallow lake.  Experiment with colors, but perch patterns seem to constantly work well.  Anchoring on, or drifting across the rock pile, located near the middle of the lake, will produce a variety of fish as well.  Dragging or casting a small jig, tipped with a nightcrawler is hard to beat, as is a simple slip bobber rig.

Upper Rock River

  • The upper Rock River system will continue producing fish throughout the season. Vertical jigging or dragging this area works well.  Trolling is also legal in this river system as of last year.  Work the deep holes and their edges in this area.  When jigging or dragging, use the smallest weight needed to maintain occasional bottom contact.  Live minnows and a variety of plastics work well, as do nightcrawlers.  For plastics, try Kalin’s Sizmic Grubs or an Authent-X Moxi lures.  Casting paddle tail plastics towards the banks, and slowly working them back to the boat, will help pull fish sitting in cover.  If fish are short biting and keep nipping the tail of your bait, try adding a stinger hook, but be ready to find a few snags.

Lower Rock River

  • The Newville area can offer good action in late May and June. Try using the same techniques mentioned above near the area where the river exits Lake Koshkonong. It is shallower here, compared to the upper river, but there is plenty of rocky structure between the Hwy 59 and I-90 bridges. Trolling can produce some nice fish here, but it may become difficult as boat traffic increases with warmer temps. Shore anglers can easily fish the Indianford Dam and Monterey Dams. Both offer great fishing opportunities for a variety of fish. The Indianford Dam can be found just outside Edgerton, Wisconsin while the Monterey Dam is further south in Janesville, Wisconsin. Casting minnow tipped jigs, cranks, and plastics all work well here. Slip bobbers, tipped with small minnows or crawlers, also work well in eddy areas or calm water. Two local bait shops are near each dam. Trep’s Bait & Tackle can be found above the Indianford Dam and It’s A Keeper Bait & Tackle is near the entrance to the Monterey Dam.  Both owners have extensive knowledge of the current fishing activity. 

 

Madison Chain of Lakes

  • Spawning panfish bring many anglers to these waters. Target weedy areas and the fish should be nearby. A basic live minnow under a slip bobber works well for crappie along weed edges, as do lightweight jigs slowly popped through cover.  Small 1/32 oz. or 1/16 oz. jigs, tipped with Gulp! baits or Northland Tackle bloodworm jigs work well.  Working shallow sandy pockets inside weedbeds will produce bluegill as the temperature warms.  Wax worms and red worms under a slip bobber will do the trick.  Working small jigs through weedbeds as stated above will also work on bluegills.  Please be selective when targeting any spawning fish, especially bluegill that can be easily picked off their beds.

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