Aug 10, 2017
Turtle Flambeau Flowage (TFF)
Last year, the walleye fishing on the Turtle Flambeau Flowage (TFF) got tough later in July. The theory was a rich food chain gave them a lot of options other than what was on your hook. In this tougher bite, we did find walleye to take our offerings, and they were most often in shallow weeds or in deeper wood. Either half a crawler or a leech were the bait of choice.
Being a guide who offers shore lunches, not catching fish is not an option. If the walleye got too tough on these days, we looked at panfish as another option. Interestingly, there is becoming a viable population of big bluegill in the TFF, many in the 8 to 9 foot range. Most often, their later summer range is in water in 15 to 20 feet of water. They are usually relating to wood structure, both natural deeper wood and man-made fish cribs. These cribs are found in a minimum of 14 feet of water, down to the 25 foot range. Fishing this structure also yields perch, crappie, walleye and an occasional unplanned encounter with a musky.
Musky fishing has been good in the summer months, fall is the time for bigger, heavier fish but summer fishing often provides more action. Shallow weeds are good locations, often much shallower than people would think. I also like smaller offshore humps in the 5 to 8 foot range with bigger diameter stumps on them, bucktails and topwater baits work well here.
The smallmouth are often found a little deeper in the summer. Good wood cover, in the 10 to 12 foot range, produces fish. We catch them mainly while live bait fishing for walleye. A dead stick with an 1/8 oz. jig and a leech is pretty hard for them to swim by.
Jeff Robl, Bobber Down Guide Service
Oneida and Vilas Counties
We are ahead of our precipitation average by a large margin in the area, which has water standing in a lot of areas and makes it a mosquito’s dream! I do remember, however, a few years back when water levels were very low to the point that launching on certain landings was impossible. Water levels can go from one extreme to the next, and can affect spawning areas and a fish’s habitat. We need to be stewards to the land and the water to preserve them for our future generations.
Despite a slower than normal spring warm up, the fishing has been good. July and August are two of our warmest months, and all fish will be most aggressive now due to high water temperatures. When fishing, we need to use faster and more aggressive techniques. For muskies, use faster moving baits. Use topwater lures at a faster pace, and ‘burn’ bucktails just under the surface. For bass, use Rat-L-Traps, X-Raps, and spinnerbaits, along with topwaters. While using Rat-L-Traps, vary your retrieve speed. ‘Dance’ an X-Rap by using quick twitches of your rod tip. For walleye, try a crawler harness or jigging with an aggressive cadence. For panfish, entice them by twitching your line while jigging or using a slip bobber. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try new techniques and faster speeds.
August always seems to be a magical time of the season for me in the Phillips, Wisconsin area. Water temps start to cool a few degrees and the fish start getting more active as the month fades closer to the fall season. Musky topwater action really ramps up for me in August, as the fish are stacking to the mid-lake humps and any deeper weed edges. I like to throw a larger profile surface lure, like a Lake X Cannonball Jr., over the tops of these bars or weeds in lowlight conditions, or any other time of the day for that matter! I also do well on bucktail style lures like the triple bladed Musky Frenzy Apache, Kramer Brothers Revolution, and TnA Tackle’s Angry Dragons at this time of year. Remember to keep that lure moving. The fish are usually really aggressive and have no problem catching up with lures being burnt along.
Most of the crappie have moved out into the main basin areas of our larger lakes like the Phillips Chain, Solberg and Butternut by now. When targeting crappie with clients, I use my side-imaging to locate schools of what I think are crappie and drift back over the top of them with 1/16 oz. jigs, tipped with sliders, tubes or twister tails. Pink and white or orange and chart jig and plastic combinations seem to be my best producing colors. Crib action can be very hot right now as they load up with bluegill, walleye and smallmouth bass. Try a weed weasel or a slow falling jig with a half of a crawler around the area lakes’ cribs for some great mixed bag action. I like to use a St. Croix Avid X medium-light, fast action rod when fishing this way. The lighter fast tip gives me the sensitivity to detect the lightest pickup, but this rod still has the backbone to drive that weedless jig home and pull the fish up out of the crib structure. Fishing on our area rivers, like the Flambeau and Elk, is still very good at this time of year as well. Fish will start to make their seasonal movements to their fall areas of the rivers. The challenging part of fishing rivers is that the weeds are starting to die off and wash downstream, so it can make for some very frustrating fishing conditions.
Long Lake, Washburn County
Midsummer fishing on Long Lake can be a lot of fun if you like to catch fish. Lots of different species of fish are out on the deep weedlines this time of year, and are readily available. We do a fair amount of jigging with leeches or soft plastics, the Gulp! minnows are a favorite of ours. Keeping your bait down near the bottom in 12 to 16 feet is critical. Slowing down is also key, those who tend to fish too fast catch more bluegill than game fish.
Lost Land and Teal Lakes
Lost Land and Teal Lakes, in Sawyer County, offer some nice late summer musky fishing. We do well during this time frame throwing topwaters and bucktails over shallow cabbage weeds. Overcast days, or early and later in the day, seem to be best most of the time. Try fishing new waters nearby during midday as a way to keep things fresh, and return to your best spots early and late.
Jim Stroede Guide Service, 715-520-7043
U.P. of Michigan
The season got off to a slow start, it seemed winter was never going to end up here in the U.P. Cold and windy conditions for weeks. Getting east, northeast winds with cold front after cold front, kept the water temps down and a slow start to new weed growth.
As the water temps rise, the fishing improves. As we get into midsummer, the fish tend to head for deeper water. When that happens I will be spending a lot of time in the main basin of the lake, which I call “the mud.” I target the fish and the depth that they are at on my Lowrance HDS 12. I won’t start fishing until I see fish on the screen. I let the sonar unit tell me where I should start sticking my lures in the water column according to what I see. I use my Precision Trolling app that I have on my smart phone to reference the different baits that I like to use on Gogebic. This app gives you a dive chart for almost every bait out there; a “must have” for the troller. Drifting this area with live bait, or pulling crawler harnesses is also an option.
Other areas worth checking out are the wind blow breaks on both the eastern and western shorelines. These are steep breaks, and I like to be working out of the bow of the boat using my Minn Kota to work the breaks up and down until I find a depth or specific area that is holding active fish. It could be rocks or a deep water weed edge.
During early mornings, evenings and low-light conditions, slip-bobbering in the weeds is always an option that can’t be over looked at any time of year on Lake Gogebic. This presentation can be very productive. Most of our customers that are visiting us at The Timbers Resort pursuing panfish are primarily targeting the weeds on the north end of the lake all year long.
If you get the chance to get away this summer and are interested in fishing on beautiful Lake Gogebic, give us a call at The Timbers Resort and we will be happy to help you with any questions you have, or provide you with any information you would like on our area.
Captain Tim Long, Owner of The Timbers Resort and Eyes-Guy Guides Service, 906-575-3542
West Coast of Wisconsin
Lake Pepin and Mississippi River Area
Hello all! Reporting in from the West Coast of Wisconsin. The water level is finally down to a manageable level. One thing about being on the Mississippi River system is it can be quite rugged. The Chippewa River is down to 6 feet in Durand. This river has a real influence on the Mississippi and Lake Pepin. I won’t put people on the Chippewa if it gets above 9 feet and we were at 16 feet for a stretch during the early summer. Anyway, if you want to slay the sunnies right now, the mouth of the Chippewa is where you want to be. If you go up the Chippewa a bit, you will have good luck with the perch and you will find some really nice northern. The channel cats are always there, if that is your fancy.
Out on Lake Pepin a person can catch just about anything. The smallmouth have been active just before sundown about 100 yards offshore near the boat landing on Deer Island. The walleye have been good just south of the marina in Pepin. If you don’t want to pull a boat all the way across the state, don’t be discouraged, the fishing has been great right off the jetty in Stockholm Park. Now, to the guys out there, this is just between you and me; if you want to score some points with your sweet little lady, bring her over here to Stockholm. She will think you are finally becoming a little sophisticated when she sees the art and culture our town has to offer and you can spend your day on the jetty slaying the fish. Anyway that’s all for now from this river rat, have a great rest of your summer.
Bart Armstrong-Spring Street Inn
West Central Wisconsin
July can be a great time to fish for walleye on Lake Wissota. Though, sometimes it seems they may be harder to find with the jig bite. I have had a lot of success trolling both crankbaits and live bait rigs. The fish are going to be deeper this time of year, often in over 20 feet of water during the day. Now, of course, your mornings and evenings are going to be a better bite. It may be slow to downright impossible to find them during the daytime seemingly. And, being a largely recreational lake, you have to deal with the jet skiers and the water skiers. So, you just got to know how to pick your battles.
Generally speaking when a potential client calls me and wants to go fishing on a weekend I stay away from the evenings. The water, in my opinion, is just too churned up by all of the recreational traffic at that time. I will typically only book weekend clients in the mornings. And, when I say morning, I mean crack of dawn 5 AM. That is going to be your best chance at catching walleye, or any fish for that matter. Now, if it's during the week, it is a completely different story. Sure, you will get your rec traffic in the afternoon, but it's not nearly as bad. I have had some phenomenal nights during the middle of the week.
How do you catch these fish? Following me in this magazine and on my Facebook page, you know that I am a firm believer in using the slow death rig for sheer numbers and if you want to go get a meal. Now that it is July, don't be afraid to pump up the speed of your rigs to 1.2 miles an hour. I usually start out pretty slow in the beginning of June at around .8 and that will fluctuate depending on the water temperature. Don’t shy away from the use of artificial crawlers. I have had a lot of luck with the Gulp! Killer crawler. Some years that actually out performs live bait. Don't overlook the use of crankbaits either. Trolling is a great way to cover a lot of ground out here. Having good electronics should help keep you in the right depth. Shad Raps, reef runners and Flicker Shads work well, trolled up to 3 mph. Lead core anglers do well also, in the deeper depths over 20 feet.
Catfish anglers are in a channel cat paradise on Lake Wissota. Evidence of this happens while you may be fishing for walleye, crappie, or anything else. To target them, fish during the lowlight periods of the day, in calm water. A little current is ok. My personal favorite is cutbait, while many folks like to use chicken liver, crawlers, or even stink bait. Flathead anglers swear by small live bluegill.
East Central Wisconsin
Lake Winnebago System
And, so begins the dog days of summer. The fly hatches have come and the temperatures have risen to leave us with some of the factors surrounding our fishing environment here on the Lake Winnebago System. As we move into the peak summer months, the bite can sometimes become more difficult, even on good years, so we must target the fish in a way that correlates with their pattern.
The tactics are endless on our system, along with the locations, so it all comes down to what you want to do and what methods show promise. As I have said numerous times before, trolling produces fish, but I personally love to feel the tap of a jig rod, see the plunk of a slip bobber, and/or feel the thud of the rod from a casted crank, before reeling in a fish taken via trolling methods. While my trolling rods are at the ready on any given day on our system, this time of year they are getting wet more and more and you will mainly see them brandishing crawler harnesses.
Running a harness is something you absolutely need to look at your map and plan for, that is if you decide to target a structure area. If you want to run the harnesses over a ten-foot hump of a reef that is surrounded by 15 FOW, a great way to break it down would be to run one side of harnesses over the hump with approximately 18 ft. of line out from the 1 oz. weight. At approximately 1 mph, that will run your harnesses about a foot above the hump. The other side of the boat could then be worked through the deeper water off the hump. You never know where fish will relate on these humps, so it’s important to not just think “top of the hump” or “bottom of the hump.” Maybe fish could be holding mid-way through and you will have to adjust accordingly. Let your bites (or the lack there of) dictate your target zone.
Harnesses work all over and not just on structure. They can work in the shallows (under 4 FOW) all the way down into the depths of the wastelands, aka the mud. As always, when fishing the deep water, it’s very important to pay close attention to your electronics to see where fish are holding in the water column. I will usually save the harnesses for later in the day, but again, you never know what the fish will want on any given day!
It’s no secret, a jig and a crawler (or a leech) can be deadly. This simple way to catch fish doesn’t just work for the reefs on Winnebago, but also on rocky points and weedbeds throughout our system. I have always found that, when presenting a jig, I will always go with the lightest tackle as possible to feel the jig. Usually, a 1/16 oz. jig suffices when using 6 lb. braid with a fluorocarbon lead. While I can never make up my mind on which rod I like better (5.5’ or 7’), there is just something to be said about catching a chunky eye on an ultra-light rod.
If you decide to target weeds with the jig combo, there’s a good chance that some weedbeds, whether the emergent canes or the sub-mergent types, will not hold the fish you are after. You will have to jump around to different locations until you find your targeted size and species. The other day, I hit a couple of cane beds that held loads of catfish and I needed to keep moving until the eyes started showing themselves. Fishing the small pockets in your selected location is absolutely crucial.
I hope everyone is having a great open water season so far! If you want up-to-date fishing reports, make sure to check out the OB Outdoors Facebook page (facebook.com/oboutdoors). Until next time, “Tight Lines. Stay Dry.” - Kyle
South Central Wisconsin
Petenwell and Castle Rock Flowages
This time of year, July and August, is considered the "hot water season." Water temps are in the upper 70's to lower 80's and even warmer at times. However, water temps will cool down a few degrees at night. On both Petenwell and Castle Rock, the trolling bite is very hot this time of year. Most will be trolling the main lake flats, humps and targeting areas of 12 to 18 feet of water and deeper at times. A few anglers will jig live bait early morning and late evening along the main river channel.
When trolling for walleye, I like to target suspended fish. These will be your most actively feeding fish. When trolling, you’re going to want to troll from 2 to 2.2 mph and sometimes even faster. The best presentation is to troll with baits that have a hard wobble and baits with rattles. Bright colored baits work the best. Both flowages are very stained bodies of water. Sunny days can make for some of the best fishing. A lot of fish can be caught midday, from 10 am to 2 pm.
Another great area to fish this time of year is downriver from the headwaters of dams. Fish will be in deep holes, wood edges and along the main channel. Some can even be caught off shallow rock piles early morning and late evening. Pitching weedless jigs, tipped with leeches, crawlers and plastics works well. For those interested in chasing panfish, this time of year is very, very good. Most will fish deep water structure. A half crawler, red worms and leeches work best. Many fishermen will also be targeting bass this time of year. The top water bite is very rewarding. Casting cranks along rocky shorelines can be just as good. Most fish deep wood with jigs, plastics and spinner baits. The musky top water bite can be very good this time of year as well. Musky fishermen will also catch them casting weed edges with bucktails and trolling big cranks over deep water. This time of year you’re going to want to be extra careful while handling muskies. Keep them in the water as much as possible, snap a picture and send him back to fight another day. I, and other anglers I know, won't fish muskies in water temps above 70 degrees, it just puts too much stress on a fish this size. For more information or if you have any questions, feel free to email me at email@example.com, or check us out on facebook and Lake-link.
Fish will seek cooler water this time of year. Searching for springs scattered throughout the lake can be time consuming, but worth it. With such a large body of water, electronics are a must! Drive slowly and look for subtle temperature changes, a few degrees can make a huge difference. Marking these locations will save time during future seasons.
To help cover big water and locate springs, trolling is very productive. However, large algae blooms have been present the last few seasons and can make pulling boards more work than normal. Be prepared to clean lines more often. A large variety of crankbaits will produce fish, but Flicker Shads, Rapala Shad Raps and Salmos are good choices. Also, crawler harnesses should not be overlooked when working the main lake basin. Color preference can change daily, but fire tiger and perch colors are always a good choice. To fish more lines and move lures away from the boat, using planer boards will greatly help catch fish. Planer boards run with an attached “tattle flag” will help detect small fish and weeds.
Drifting slip bobbers, rigged with crawlers or leeches, is a simple but productive way to target walleye, panfish and catfish. Locating the limited structure found on Koshkonong, such as the mid-lake rock pile, are prime spots to try. If fish are found congregated near a spring, try anchoring nearby and pitching jigs or throwing out bobbers.
The upper river system, near Blackhawk Island, has cooler, deeper water and will hold fish year-round. Vertical jigging or dragging jigs, tipped with live bait, works best while drifting downstream. However, trolling 3-way rigs also can produce an assortment of fish. When jigging, ⅛ oz. sizes work well, but weight can be varied depending on current speed. Panfish can also be found hanging around shoreline structure, especially if minimal current is present. Slip bobbers, tipped with live bait, can pull out decent sized bluegill and crappie.
The lower river system, from Newville to Indianford Dam, has some great spots. This area is shallow like Lake Koshkonong; however, it has a decent flow of current moving through, despite low water typically seen this time of year. There are plenty of rocky structures, bridges and shoreline structure to find in this stretch of river. Jigging, trolling, bottom fishing with Lindy rigs, and bobber fishing shoreline structure all can produce a variety of fish. Be careful of snags when fishing between the Hwy 59 bridge and I-90 bridge. Also, the I-90 bridge is currently under construction and equipment is positioned in the river. A channel for boat traffic is well marked, but it’s pretty narrow.
Find the weeds and you’ll likely find 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. 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 and black, purple, and white colors seem to work well. If fishing deep in the weeds, a slip bobber will help keep your bait above them. 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 leave the 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, Kalins, 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 moving schools of fish is valuable. Good Luck!
Captain Adam Walton, Pike Pole Fishing Guide Service, www.pikepolefishing.com, 608-290-3929
Southeast Lake Michigan
The fishing on Lake Michigan in southeast Wisconsin has remained very consistent. The coho salmon bite has moved a bit closer to shore with good amounts of fish being taken in 90 to 120 feet of water, and fish have been scattered from the surface down to about 90 feet of water. The brown trout bite can be had in the structured areas in about 15 to 25 feet of water, and that bite has been best from Kenosha to Milwaukee, and all areas in between. The chinook bite has been slow, but a few are coming in 50 to 60 feet of water. It has been a spoon bite, with Michigan Stinger’s wonderbread and confused blonde doing very well. The other bite is a flasher/fly bite with pro-troll flashers, in Mt. Dew color, doing very well. The lake temperatures remain very cold and it will have to setup for a chinook bite to really kick in to the south. The lake trout bite has also been very good in 80 to 120 feet of water and Spin-N-Glo's doing the best, accounting for a good number of fish. The new rules allow for each angler to catch five lake trout, so keep that in mind when targeting them. Lake trout are great smoked, grilled or used in a fish boil. This is a great time of the year to get out and fish as all species are starting to school together, making for a great day on the water. The days are starting to fill up, so if you would like to get out, make sure you call right away. July 15th-23rd, Salmon Unlimited of Wisconsin is hosting the event Salmon-A-Rama with large cash payouts and other great prizes, so check more out on that at www.salmon-a-rama.com.
Jim La Fortune, A1 Big Fish Charters