Sep 10, 2016

Scouting Report

Northern Wisconsin

Turtle Flambeau Flowage (TFF)

We had a good summer of fishing on the Turtle Flambeau Flowage (TFF), walleye got a little slower late summer, but they were catchable and other species picked up the slack. Looking forward to fall fishing, it is probably my favorite time to fish the flowage. Crappies, walleye and musky are targeted species in the fall. The last week of September to the first week of October are the most scenic weeks of the year with fall colors in full bloom, peak varies with the year but it is in that time span. 

The fishing from early September to the end of October varies greatly in where these fish are found. Early to mid-September is more of a summer pattern, with many of the fish relating to wood structure, some of the wood structure fish are relating to is found along the edges of original river channels. Early to mid-September can provide some excellent musky fishing with a lot of the fish still relating to shallow cover. Casting bucktails and surface lures in areas with good weed growth offers you a chance to tie into a big musky. If you fish the eastern end of the TFF you will likely catch pike and an occasional largemouth and smallmouth bass, fishing this weed cover. For more action on pike and bass, you can downsize your lure selection, use a light steel leader and still have a chance to land a musky. 

As September advances and the water cools, numbers of these three species start to move deeper. This phenomenon is mostly water temperature driven and didn’t occur until late in the month of September last year. This is the time to be using minnows for both the crappies and walleye, I don't buy small minnows for crappies, I use extra-large fatheads for both species. The crappies are nice sized on the TFF and many in the fall are in the 11-14" range. Casting an 1/8 oz. jig and minnow is the bait of choice from mid-September until ice up. Depending on where you are targeting these fall walleyes, the depths they are found in on the TFF range from 15-30 feet of water. 

Muskies can also be found in this deeper water, as logic would have it they can be found where the food is. Walleyes, crappies and perch in this deeper water are targeted by the muskies. Running suckers down deep with a quick set rig and a heavy rubber core sinker to get them in the strike zone can be an effective way to land a heavy fall musky. 

There are other deep water lakes in Iron and Vilas counties where this deep fall bite occurs for both fall walleyes and musky. Some of these lakes have trophy potential for both species. Lakes on the Manitowish Chain, Flambeau Chain and Trout Lake are great places to target big fish. Many of these lakes have mid-lake humps with deep boulders, a good place to search for these fish. For targeting bigger walleyes, redtail chubs are a good choice, expensive but effective.

Have a great fall.

Jeff Robl

Hayward Area

Fall walleye fishing in northwestern Wisconsin can be fabulous; beautiful fall colors, little boat and fishing pressure and big, hungry walleyes add up to a great time for anglers.

Big walleye suckers and jigs take plenty of fish on Long Lake in Washburn County. Fish shoreline drop-off areas with some fallen trees for 'eyes. Trolling crankbaits can boat a few also, just keep moving until you contact fish and then slow down and break out the jigs.

Musky fishing is at its best in northern Wisconsin in autumn. Big fish are feeding well in preparation for winter. Large 14-18 inch suckers rigged up on quick strike rigs catch lots of muskies in fall.  Concentrate your efforts a little deeper than you would in summer for best results. The Chippewa Flowage in Sawyer County near Hayward is a great place to get a big fall muskie. 

For a more information on fall musky hunting, read Jim’s article, “Multiple Options, Multiple Fall Muskies” on page 20. 

Jim Stroede

Vilas and Oneida County

Now, I know it's fall. And fall is hunting season!  I love a wide variety of hunting too, but what is my real passion? ...musky hunting!! Oneida and Vilas Counties in northeastern Wisconsin together host 50% of the musky lakes in the world.  Up here, we are in the center of the musky fishing mecca, and musky fishing today is bigger than ever and still growing rapidly!  Lots of vacationers, and even locals, love the quietness of an early morning sun peaking over the pine trees as it develops into a warm summer day, mixed with a few hours of musky fishing.  We all love these days! But, what gets my adrenaline pumping is fall musky hunting.  There are a handful of different reasons I love this time of year so much.   

First off, the water temperatures are much cooler after the lakes go through turnover, which greatly reduces the mortality rate of these very precious fish.  Warmer water temperatures can make a musky struggle to catch its 'breath' during a thrashing battle to the net after being hooked.  Fall water temperatures mean less stress on these fish.   

Next, the main vacationing season is over after the kids are back in school, and who wants to freeze their tails off on a jet ski, or waterskiing with water temperatures under 50 degrees and air temperatures that can be down below freezing? Even full-time residents on these lakes want to enjoy a pontoon ride in warmer summer weather and some will have their watercrafts off the water by Labor Day.  So the point is, there will be a lot less boat traffic to deal with.   

Lastly, in the fall a muskies metabolism slows down which means they will eat less often, but they will eat bigger meals.  So with this you will get very short, intense feeding windows that can mean multiple live bait rods going off at the same time. Which reminds me, we can't forget to mention the use of suckers as live bait, which is my favorite technique for fall muskies. I call it playing the “musky lottery,” because you don't know what has a hold of the bait at the end of your line.  Is it snagged up on a fish crib, or is it a northern?  Is it a 30" musky, a 50" musky, or something in between?  The fish, a lot of times, will be fatter this time of year and will put up a better fight with the colder water temperatures, but will still swim right off after a quick measurement and picture. And nothing beats a quick and successful release of a 30-pound musky while listening to a Packer game on the radio!  

One of the secret weapons that I love to use in my boat is side imaging.  Now, it does take a trained eye to know just how the angles come off the transducer to give you the bottom images, and also deciphering what you are actually looking at on your locator screen.  I am currently working on an article about side imaging that will go into way more detail about using this to your advantage.  It will include pictures straight off my sonar screen of what certain structure looks like on a side imaging screen.  The article will appear in Badger Sportsman Magazine probably in spring/summer 2017.  I've had many clients, and friends that know I am a fishing guide and they remark about how awesome/easy that must be.  This is a huge misconception!  I love my job as a fishing guide, but it can also be very frustrating when the fish are not cooperating.  In most regular jobs, you do your time and you are done.  With guiding, I pre-fish almost every trip I have, except if I am fishing the same species on the same body of water multiple days in a row.  I basically put in double the time on the water as it condenses with the number of guide jobs I have.   I've spent hundreds of hours idling around lakes just looking for structure to mark on my side imaging.  So in a few words, what I am saying is that you need to use the tools that are available to you in fishing technology.  It is a real pain learning how to use a new piece of equipment that costs $1,000-$3,000, because you get what you pay for and fishing electronics with this kind of price tag will be able to do hundreds of things that will take you months, if not years to learn how to use.  But to gain an advantage, you need to put time into your locators because your payout will be many muskies and memories.   

Fall muskies mean bigger fish, bigger lures and live bait.  Short feeding windows are happening that you need to take advantage of, so spending all day on a lake is sometimes necessary.  Use your electronics!  You bought the expensive models for a reason, so take advantage of that.  Put your time in during the spring and summer doing recon of lake bottom structures.  But you will never know it all when it comes to your electronics, and you will never have all useful structure marked on any body of water.  Continue to run with your side imaging on, especially during the fall while you have live bait soaking off your boat’s perimeter.  Nothing is as real as live bait to a musky, so being on useful structure always pays off eventually.  As a guide, I specialize in muskies, but my ultimate specialty is fall muskies with live bait.  So if you are up in the area or you want to book with me in the fall do it quickly, because dates will fill up fast! 

"SET THE HOOK!"

Western U.P.

Lake Gogebic Area

Fall, my favorite time of year! The temperatures are starting to cool down and the colors are starting to pop. It’s a great time of year for the sportsman. A great time to be in the outdoors. Hunting season begins. Bear season opens on September 10 and grouse hunting opens on September 15th. The grouse population is on the upswing this year and we are expecting a pretty good season. The Timbers Resort (www.thetimbersresort.com) is a hunting and fishing resort and we cater to the grouse hunters. We are also a pet friendly resort and do not charge for dogs during the hunting season. With nearly a million acres of State and National forest wrapped around us, the sportsman or woman is sure to find what he or she is looking for.

As the water temps start to drop, the fishing heats up. The fish need to put on weight for the winter so they really start to put on the feedbag this time of year. I specifically target the walleye myself, “Eyes-Guy Guide Service” (www.eyes-guy.com). A couple of my favorite ways to target walleye this time of year is to slip bobber them in the weeds. I like to find the edges of the weeds or the pockets within the weeds. I usually use a bare hook with live bait, so depending on what type of live bait I’m using will determine what size hook I’m using. If I am fishing with 4” sucker minnows, I will use a #4 Gamakatsu octopus hook. If I’m using leeches or a smaller fathead type minnow, I may downsize to a #8. Another fun way to go after the walleye is what I call rigging. Probably my favorite way to fish, being up in the bow of boat with rod in hand. Specifically, I like pulling a slow death. It is a really good way to rig those steep breaks on both the east and west shores of Lake Gogebic, or a Lindy rig setup works great too.

Just a few other things to mention in this scouting report for the Western U.P. is that we have over a 150 different waterfalls in the immediate area. The northern lights are spectacular over Lake Superior at night, and fall colors should peak around the end of September going into the first week of October, is my prediction for this year. 

If you have any questions about lodging or just want to talk about hunting and fishing you can call us at The Timbers Resort and we will be happy to help you out. Come on up to the U.P. and enjoy what we have to offer!

Tim & Sarah Long

Owners of The Timbers Resort

Captain Tim Long

Owner of Eyes-Guy Guide Service 

West Central Wisconsin

Lake Wissota

Now that the summer crowd has dwindled down, the fish have settled down, and it's a great time to get out and chase some walleye on Wissota.

Walleye are now schooling up and putting on the feedbag. We get them a number of different ways this time of year. Vertical jigging blade baits can be deadly. As can casting, and slowly retrieving minnow tipped jigs. It's not a bad idea to dead stick a small walleye sucker, too, to try and entice a bigger walleye into biting. The cool thing about this time of year is that it really doesn't seem to matter what time of day it is, you can still do well. The Yellow River bar can be a good starting spot, as well as near the S Bridge. 

While many folks are trying their luck at a trophy whitetail right around Halloween, others are trying their luck on big musky. I'm not an expert musky fisherman by any means, but I have fished them! Cast bucktails or small Bull Dawgs in the little lake, or Pine Harbor. The whole while, soak a large sucker under a large bobber behind the boat. Many times musky will follow your lures to the boat, and take the sucker instead.

Chris Powell 

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 walleye 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 has been 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

The fall is an excellent time of year for fishing. White bass, crappies and of course walleye will all be biting. It's no longer 90 degrees, and the river becomes a very scenic ride with the changing colors of the leaves.  

The crappies move back into the bayous and sloughs. I fish them with slip bobbers and small minnows. Some of the best spots are downed trees and deep pockets. Remember that crappies normally suspend in the water column, so don't fish the bottom. I also use 1/16 and 1/32 oz. jigs, with minnows and small plastics to catch these wonderful eating fish.  

The white bass are spotty but catchable in the fall. Most people, including me, use a Wolf River rig with a fly and minnow.  Depending on the level of forage in the river, the white bass may be in shallow chasing minnows or in the deep eating anything that moves. Zip lures or blade baits, inline spinners, and a jig and minnow work well.  

Walleye come up in fall, chasing the spawning gizzard shad. You can catch them most places you fish in spring for them. While the water is warm, I drag 1/8 oz. jigs with crawlers. Later in October, I switch to jig and minnows. 

I hope this information helps you catch more fish. Tight lines!

Capt. Patrick Morack 

Moracktion Guide Service 

Lake Winnebago System

On Lake Winnebago, the fall walleye can be a little difficult to locate active fish. Trolling crankbaits along deeper reefs or pitching 1/8 oz. jigs with half crawlers or minnows on the reefs are great spots to start off. On Lake Poygan, the trolling bite can be good and vertical jigging minnows on the Wolf River can also be very productive. 
     As soon as the water starts to cool off, the white bass school up and are super fast action on Lake Winnebago, the Fox River in Oshkosh and in Winneconne. Watch for them boiling on the surface, or watch for flocks of seagulls going into a frenzy. Cast a small spoon or shallow running crankbait into the school and start reeling.  Make sure to take a few extra buckets because you can fill them up quickly!  

Tim Euting

Bay of Green Bay

Fall is a great time of year to get out on the water. Most of the fisherman have put their gear away for the start of the Wisconsin hunting seasons. This leaves the select few of us with little to no fishing pressure, and some of the best days on the water!

I always see September on the Bay of Green Bay as a transition month. Early in the month, the walleye are in their early fall patterns. They tend to sit on deep water reefs and the steeper edges of this type of structure. With the days getting shorter and the evenings getting cooler, the surface water temperature starts to drop dramatically. Generally, around the second or third week of September, the cooler water sinks to the bottom and the bite literally shuts off. After the recovery of this transition, which is generally 5-7 days, the walleye on the bay will start their feeding in the evening. It literally becomes a night bite. You can find these fish around the typical rock humps, except these fish have a tendency of moving up to the shallows in the evening to feed. This fishing is generally pretty good through the month of October. 

Another great place to find walleye is in the Fox River. The Fox River is loaded with gizzard shad this time of year and walleye head up the river to put on the feedbag. The river is loaded with walleye, and as the water cools, you can cast the warm water discharge areas with jigs or crankbaits. Always try and approach these areas from upstream, and cast downstream. This way, you will be able to feel the bite when the walleye hit. Other areas to find walleye are the deeper river channels and deep holes up by the dam. This is a great time to vertical jig as long as there is some current. These areas are best fished with a simple jig and a minnow. If you decide to head up to the dam and fish, my favorite bait to cast is a #7 Flicker Shad. I like to cast these to the side of the current and retrieve them very slowly as they move downstream. Again, this is the same principle, you will not always feel the hit if you are casting upstream, and your bait will not have the proper action as it floats downstream. 

Enjoy this time of year because you might have the water almost to yourself. It can be some of the most enjoyable fishing you will have the entire season. 

Good Luck, have fun, and be safe.

Captain Jeff Boutin

 

South Central Wisconsin

Petenwell and Castle Rock Flowages

Now can be some of the hottest fishing all season! For the last 4 to 5 years we have been having very warm weather in the fall. During normal seasons, the water temperatures will cool down to the upper 50’s to lower 60’s. For the last 5 years, the water temperature has been in the upper 60’s to lower 70’s. With the warmer fall water temps, many fishermen troll the main lake flats or main lake humps. Many also troll the river. 

As the water temperature cools down, some will start to put the trolling gear away and bring out the jig sticks! Fishing big bait in the fall is a popular technique; use 3 to 4 inch chubs, suckers and large fatheads. When fishing big live bait you will want to use a hook big enough to hold the bait and still be able to have good hookups on fish. Using too small of hooks can cause problems as you can't get the hook in the fish because most of the hook is in the bait.

Another good place to fish is the main river stretch below the dams. Using jigs, tipped with large fatheads and crawlers, is a good option. On Petenwell Flowage, another place to fish are the big bends in the river and wood along the main river channel in 8 to 12 feet of water. Out in front of Browns Creek, 10 mile and Chesters, all the way down along Yellow Banks in the main channel. Deep holes can be very good this time of year.

On Castle Rock, people will fish below the Petenwell Dam. A good place to fish is the main lake and the train tracks on the north east side of the lake. In the river, most will fish in 8 to 10 feet of water. If trying below dam and train tracks, fish the deeper holes. 

Also this time of year on both Petenwell and Castle Rock, musky fishing can be very good! Fishermen will target the lake, river and below the dams. Guys will fish weed cover in the shallows and wood along the main river channel. Out on the lake, try trolling the deeper water.  

The panfish bite can be some of the best all season. Many target them in brush and shallow weeds in 4 to 8 feet of water. They can also be caught out on the main lake along the river channel over wood. When fishing brush/weeds, use weedless jigs, tipped with red worms, small minnows and leeches. Out on the main lake, jig for them and slip bobber fish in and around deep wood.

Catfish can be caught just about any given spot on the lake or river on both Castle Rock and Petenwell. Most use cutbait, stink bait and crawlers for the channel cats. For flatheads, most will use live suckers, and fish deep holes below the dam/river. Channels can be caught in both shallow and deep water. 

Jesse Quale

For more information On Petenwell and Castle Rock, check us out on Facebook.

Green Water Walleyes Guide Service.

For booking of guide trips check us out on lake-link.com

Cell (608) 547- 3022 

Lake Koshkonong

Lake Koshkonong continues to hold a large population of 2012 to 2014 year class walleye. Most of these fish are ranging between 10 to 14 inches, but some have finally grown to the legal harvest size of 15 inches. Although we’ve seen a drop in larger walleye over the last few seasons, if one puts in the time, bigger fish in the 18 to 25-inch range can still be found. Pike are very plentiful and quite a few giants roam these waters. It’s tough to beat trolling crankbaits for pike and walleye on this system. However, slip bobber or jig presentations can also produce fish, especially on the mid-lake rock pile. Occasional perch and crappies will also make appearances throughout the lake, but large numbers of them are uncommon. As the water cools and fall sets in, game fish tend to target bigger meals. Try upsizing crankbaits, live bait, and jig presentations during this period. When out enjoying this great fishery, please consider practicing catch and release of bigger walleyes and pike. 

Rock River

The upper river system entering Lake Koshkonong is a great area to fish in the fall. Walleye, pike, white bass and crappies can all be found in a variety of areas. Vertical jigging or dragging is tough to beat when targeting walleyes, but now that river trolling is legal here, crankbaits should not be overlooked. If trolling, please keep in mind the narrowness of the river and planer boards don’t always work well. Long line trolling can still catch plenty of fish and make for fewer confrontations between boaters. Working swim baits and plastics along the shoreline and near shallow rock areas will also produce a variety of fish, as will live bait / bobber presentations carefully placed in shoreline timber. Fall crappies love hanging in river timber and action can be off the charts once fish are found. A simple 1/32 oz. jig and minnow combo placed a foot below a bobber will often do the trick.

The lower river system near Newville is shallower, but plenty of fish still frequent this area. Although trolling cranks in this spot can produce fish, dragging jigs or fishing Lindy rigs, tipped with fathead minnows or crawlers, seems to work better. The Hwy 59 bridge pylons and rock structure in the immediate area offer great cover for fish, but snags are common. Also, the I-90 Bridge downriver is currently under construction and two wing dams have been built under it. A narrow channel between the wing dams is marked with navigational buoys. With the congestion of activities near the I-90 Bridge, it’s probably best to stay clear when fishing. If you’re looking for crappies, search boat slips, piers and fallen trees along the riverbanks, away from the construction. As mentioned above, live bait presented just below a bobber works well.

Madison Chain

Although some panfish can still be found near weeds, many travel to deeper water and suspend this time of year. Using electronics to find suspended fish is key and when a school is located on sonar, mark them. Although schools tend to move slowly from an area, they may change their suspension depth quickly. Try drifting near your mark when wind is present or use a trolling motor to stay on top of fish. Using precision boat control to hover over a school tends to produce more fish than drifting through them. Also, vary your lure depth to change with fish activity. 1/32 oz. jigs, tipped with a crappie minnow or small artificial baits, are deadly on these deep water suspending fish.          

For fall walleye, 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