Sep 9, 2017
Turtle Flambeau Flowage (TFF)
At the time of this writing (early August) the walleye bite has held up very well. There have been days (or periods in the day) when the fish didn't bite, but in general it has been a very good summer on the Turtle Flambeau Flowage for walleye. Seems like the summer went by faster than usual as we have had a busy summer of fishing. Thinking about fall, it is certainly my favorite time of year for fishing.
September is a month of change. The water temperatures often drop by 20 degrees or more and the change in scenery is dramatic as the trees change from dark green to their beautiful fall colors by month’s end. These seasonal changes also affect the fish both in terms of fish locations and bait choices you will want to use.
Walleye, for much of September, will be found in a wide variety of cover from; shallow weeds, to offshore humps with rock and wood cover on them, to wood structure on the edge of river channels. When fishing for walleye in early September, it is often still advisable to be done with crawlers and leeches. By the month’s end, it is strictly done with minnows. The bait of choice on the TFF are extra-large fatheads and an 1/8 oz. jig.
In the fall, some of the bigger walleye remain in water under 10 feet. There is, however, a seasonal migration to deeper water. The deeper water is usually in the 18 to 25 feet range, which are holes in the river channels and on the periphery of some of the original lake basins. This deep-water pattern emerges at different times. Some years it occurs by mid-September. The last two years, with warmer weather, it was at the end of the month. This pattern holds up into early November at which time I put my boat away to go hunting.
Fall walleye fishing for these deep-water fish is a lot of fun. Most days, high numbers of fish are caught. Of course, there are also many that are too small which are returned to fight another day. But, a fish fry of keeper size fish is usually easy to come by once the fish are found. Late summer, the walleye often have a lite bite where just a slight weight is felt. This bite is sometimes hard for customers to detect. In the fall, most days, the walleye bite with the classic heavy thump and are much easier to put in the boat. A slow retrieve across the bottom is the jigging method I most often use. When I feel the bite, I lower the rod giving the fish 5-15 seconds depending on how aggressive they are taking the bait. Seldom is a fish deep hooked waiting this long. Then, I take up any slack, lift the rod up gently, feel the weight of the fish and set the hook.
September/ October musky fishing is much the same as walleye fishing. Early in this time period, musky can still be found in very shallow water. Musky on the TFF feed heavily on perch and walleye. Therefore, some of these muskies follow the walleye to deeper water. A good chance to catch these fish is with suckers on quick set rigs, weighted down, from halfway up the water column to closer to the bottom. Rubber baits, jigged off the bottom, can also produce fish.
This walleye/musky- predator/prey relationship accounted for our biggest musky last fall. We were in an area where there are typically fall walleye. The area is only 7 feet deep, but it has a creek bed with boulders on the bottom and a slow current. With a sucker out on a bobber, we also cast various baits. With flat, calm water and only 7 feet deep, my customer tried a topwater bait. A musky exploded on the customer’s topwater, but he missed. I quickly grabbed the sucker rod and threw the live bait in the wake of where the musky erupted. Within a minute, my customer set the hook into the fish as he quickly found the sucker.
Good luck fishin’ and I look forward to seeing you soon.
Lost Land and Teal Lakes Hayward
Fall is prime time for muskies in northern Wisconsin, and there may be no better place to be than on Lost Land and Teal Lakes. These lakes are each approximately a thousand acres in size and are connected by a navigable channel allowing you to pass back and forth from one lake to the other.
This time of year, the majority of muskies are either relating to weeds or rocks. In Lost Land, you'll find large expansive cabbage weedbeds. The best way to fish the big weedbeds is to use the wind to your advantage. Get yourself in position and drift over the weeds while tossing jerk baits and twitching crankbaits.
Over in Teal, the spots are smaller and more precise, so boat control becomes much more necessary. On this lake, weed humps and rock bars in the main lake areas can be dynamite.
Lots of fish are caught on artificial baits early in the fall. But, as water temperatures drop and the days get shorter, live suckers become the top option.
Always use a quality made quick strike rig with your suckers. I've been using the Clip and Go Rig from Shumway Tackle the past few years and they are made the right way, no break offs, no problems, just boated and safely released Muskies.
Hang a 14”-18” sucker in a rod holder off each side of the boat, one high in the water column, and one down deeper. You'll find, as it gets colder, more fish are taken on the suckers.
Big Round has a history of big muskies. Deep and gin clear, three thousand acre Round Lake provides a beautiful backdrop for a day chasing giants. Similar tactics, as outlined above, will work here, but natural colors are the norm for your baits on this lake. Also, keep in mind that big, heavy, soft plastic jerkbaits, fished slow and deep, catch some of the biggest fish here every fall.
Trolling on Round is also a great choice. This is especially true late in the season when cold weather makes casting difficult. Try trolling big minnow baits 70 to 80 feet behind the boat while running main lake shorelines.
Fall muskies are a blast, be sure you get out there this year!
Oneida and Vilas Counties
My favorite time of the season has arrived!! The school year has started and vacationers are down to a minimum. For us as anglers, we have the water more to ourselves. The crisp mornings develop into beautiful fall days. Fishing this time of year is my favorite!! Less competition, less stress on the fish and a thermos full of hot coffee. The one thing we need to watch out for is turnover. When our summer thermocline starts to disappear, the lakes will shut right down!
This time of year we need to jump out of our comfort zone and explore new waters. Try and fish deeper clear waters, a very shallow body of water, or even a river system that may have a different timed turnover than the rest. Once you get this Badger Sportsman Magazine issue in your hands, start looking at maps for potential lakes that could have a different turnover time than the norm. Do a Google search for a 'WI DNR lake map' followed by the lake name and you will find a PDF file of the lake you searched. This can be printed out and filed for your personal use. I have mine categorized and filed away in alphabetical order in a file cabinet so I can refer back to them whenever I need to. Make this a project on your 'to-do' list and it will make things much more convenient. And, it will broaden your knowledge as an overall angler.
"SET THE HOOK!"
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 and 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 that caters to 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 is sure to find what they are 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 the feedbag on this time of year.
I specifically target walleye myself at “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, and what I call “rigging.” For slip bobbering, 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 the size of hook I am using depends on what type of live bait I am using at the time. If I am fishing with 4” sucker minnows, I will use a #4 Gamakatsu octopus hook. If I’m using leeches or a smaller fat head type minnow, I may downsize to a #8. Another fun way to go after 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 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. One is that we have over 150 different waterfalls in the immediate area. The Northern lights are spectacular over Lake Superior at night. And, my prediction for this year is that the fall colors should peek around the end of September, going into the first week of October. Come on up to the U.P. and enjoy what we have to offer!
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.
Captain Tim and Sarah Long
West Coat of Wisconsin
Lake Pepin and Mississippi River Area
Welcome back to the West Coast of Wisconsin! The water has been cooling, so this is the time to catch trophy walleye. As the air and water temperatures drop, the fish are moving toward the dam to aggressively feed. A great place to fish is trolling the main channel wing dams. When you find fish, drift along with a jig or anchor the boat above the channel wing dam and cast to them. Fall is by far the best time to fish for walleye. The sauger will also stay by these dams year-round in the deep water.
If you want to get into some real good white bass fishing, a great spot is right at the mouth of Bogus Creek. Look for surface area feeding activity to locate the schools. You can put in at the boat launch on Deer Island. If you move upriver just a bit to Ivan’s Point, there is a long sand bar that extends from the shore. Fish the edge as it drops off to deep water. The walleye and sauger love this area.
The backwaters are a good place to get into crappie as they move back to these areas for the winter. This is also a good area to find northern as they hang in the slop before they head to the deep water for the cold winter months.
September is going to be the last good fishing month in the trout streams. The water is cooling and the trout are biting again. The browns are starting to migrate, so there may be an opportunity to land some real nice fish, which have been hiding under the rock ledges all summer.
Fall is the time to get in your car and come visit the beautiful West Coast. The leaves are in full color, the eagles are active and the fishing is great! So until next time, your friendly ‘sippi river drifter’ is checking out.
West Central Wisconsin
Fall is finally here. The crowd has dispersed and the party boats are pretty much gone. Even a lot of the true fishermen are off pursuing other interests. Most of them are now sitting comfortably in a treestand or a duck blind waiting for the perfect shot. In the meantime, Lake Wissota is as smooth as glass. The trees have changed. The smell of a campfire in the distance adds to the experience on this 55 degree day. Goosebumps... It's fall fishing.
One of the first places I go to look for walleye on this lake of more than 6000 acres, is the Yellow River area. This area is prime walleye territory. It has everything that I look for and need for walleye cover. During September, I work the sharp drop-offs near cover. Vertical jigging minnows, Rip-n-Raps, blade baits, and even small spoons will work. I always have a dead stick out too. Pitching jigs with minnows will also take fish this time of year.
In October, the meat bite is on. Jigs and minnows will produce a lot of fish as long as you're on top of them. Use your electronics to pinpoint where exactly they are located. As always, I fish with a dead stick during this month, too. Sometimes I go to a larger minnow, such as a walleye sucker on the dead stick, in an effort to attract larger fish.
Get out and enjoy some great walleye fishing before ice up!
East Central Wisconsin
Bay of Green Bay
September and October are great months to be on the water. First and foremost, most sportsmen are hunting. Fishing pressure is much less, so you should be one of a few boats on the water. In September, the fish will be found in the deeper rock structure on Oconto Reef, Young's Reef and Larsen's Reef. Use your Humminbird locator to mark these fish on the many humps on these reefs. When you locate these fish, back off the humps, put your Minn Kota trolling motor on "Spot Lock" and cast for them using a smooth ripping action with your rod. This is a great time of year to refine your jigging techniques on the Bay. Shiver minnows, and jigs with plastics work very well. Running crankbaits like Flicker Minnows and Flicker Shads can also be very deadly. With the bay a few weeks behind schedule, this bite should continue through the end of September.
Come October, it is a good time to start fishing the Fox River. There will be plenty of walleye heading up the river getting ready to fatten themselves up before the cold hits in November. Casting jigs on the many new gravel beds, tipped with a crawler, will work well in the early part of October. The dam in De Pere also will hold many fish. There you will want to cast shallower running crankbaits like Flicker Shads. Cast sideways to the current and slowly retrieve your bait as it goes downstream, this way you can feel when the walleye grab your bait.
Good Luck, have fun, and most importantly, be safe!
Captain Jeff Boutin
We are on the homestretch to the end of our open water season here on the Winnebago System. Whether that’s something you like to hear or not, one thing’s for certain – the fish have been hungry! The question is: Will this awesome bite continue? My guess, absolutely!
If you have been reef jumping, running crawler harnesses, towing cranks or messing around in the weeds, I am sure you have been getting rewarded as all of the areas listed have been providing fish to my boat! With the dog days of summer fading fast, this time presents a more comfortable, mid-day fishing environment. If you’re looking for some intel on the system to get some more fish in the boat, here we go.
Trolling crankbaits in various areas of the system has been showing success. The wastelands of Winnebago have been heating up with fish being taken throughout the water column. Rocky shorelines and breaks have shown promise, but it seems as though earlier in the day or later in the evening have been the most successful. This would coincide with the 77-80+ degree temperatures being reached in the shallows around 5 FOW. Anglers have been turning to the infamous Flicker Shads and Salmos, as usual.
The crawler harness bite continues to be hot. The best depth has been hovering around 15 FOW, but we know that it can certainly change on a daily (or hourly) basis. A little faster presentation has triggered some bites when increasing the speed to 1.4 mph, ultimately decreasing the speed back to 1.0 mph. While I haven’t heard of fish being taken off of any specifically named structure, the contours that the northern part of the lake holds, has always done me well during this time. Pink/orange and blue/chartreuse bead and blade patterns have both been great!
The reefs and the weeds go hand in hand for this report. This is because most fish have been coming on jigging methods in the two listed locations. Crawlers and jigs have been the most talked about combo, but I’m one to never throw out the option of a leech. As always, the plastic action can be had, but this should be reserved for the times in which fish are largely more active. The weedbeds will start to constrict as we push into the cooler temps which, in turn, will cut the forage from these areas. This will ultimately kill any walleye action that was there to be had as the fish will have moved on. It’s important to note your success while on a certain type of weedbed and apply that data to the day’s fishing pattern. As with the last report, fish those pockets and fish them good! Refer to my article on page 100 in this issue for more details surrounding reef fishing… We break that down in the most successful manner I know how!
As we push through into the cooler months, be sure to keep an eye on the OB Outdoors Facebook page (facebook.com/oboutdoors) for fresh and real-time updates. Until next time, “Tight Lines. Stay Dry.”
South Central Wisconsin
Petewell and Castle Rock Flowages
September and October can be some of the best fishing all season. During this time of year, the kids are back to school, football is on TV and a lot of people are out in the woods chasing whitetails. Normally, during this time of year, the water temperatures will start to cool off. However, over the last 3 years, the water temperature remained very warm up until late October. Assuming this year stays consistent with the past, most will be targeting walleye trolling main lake humps and flats in 12 to 15 feet of water. As the water temperatures start to cool down, people will start to switch over to live bait. The focus moves to fishing deep holes in the river. Also, there is good fishing along the main river channel and main lake points. In this area the tactic is to vertical jig 1/8 oz-1/4 oz. jigs, tipped with large fatheads or a half crawler. Another technique is to pull Lindy Rigs and floaters, tipped with fatheads. For the fall months, you will want to match the size of bait with what hatched in the spring. Large chubs and suckers work great since the spring hatch is in the 2 to 4 inch range.
For those interested in targeting muskies, this is one of the best times to do so. Water temperatures are still warm enough to fish topwater, but cool enough to not put too much strain on the fish as it had been during the summer months. For muskies, the best place to focus is to troll deep water. Many musky fishermen troll in 20 to 30 feet of water with large cranks over treetops. Try the creeks and backwaters up in the river. For this area, try and soak suckers and/or cast bucktails, Suicks or big rubber baits.
Panfishing this time of year can be very rewarding. One way is to fish slip-bobbers out on the main lake. However, most people fishing panfish will target them in the river and backwaters. The key to finding panfish on both Petenwell and Castle Rock Flowages is structure. The majority of the panfish caught are in deep wood structure. A tried and true tactic is to pitch 1/32 oz. to 1/16 oz. jigs, tipped with plastics, red worms or crappie minnows. If fishing wood structure, be sure and fish with a weedless jig since a majority of the fish will be in heavy cover.
For any questions on Petenwell/Castle Rock Flowage, to book a guide trip, you can contact me at Greenwaterwalleyes@yahoo.com. Check us out on Facebook; Green Water Walleyes Guide Service, and feel free to give it a “like.” You can also find us on Lake-link.com or call 608-547-3022
Lake Koshkonong continues to offer above average fishing. The high water conditions that occurred most of the season have helped. Large populations of 15 to 17 inch walleye are being caught, but larger size fish numbers are down. Trolling throughout September and October will remain productive. Walleye, pike and white bass will likely be caught, along with an occasional large crappie or perch. A variety of crankbaits can produce fish and don’t be afraid to experiment with colors. Perch patterns are a good start, but other colors can produce better results on certain days. Also, as the water cools, especially in mid to late October, game fish tend to target bigger meals. It may be worthwhile to upsize crankbait presentations during this period.
Slip-bobbering and pitching jigs near structure will also produce fish. The mid-lake rock pile and weedbeds, which are beginning to take hold throughout the lake, harbor a variety of species. ⅛ oz. Kalin’s round head jigs, Northland stand-up jigs, and Fin-Tech Knuckle ball jigs are commonly used. Tipping them with a half chunk of nightcrawler or a leech and slowly working them back to the boat can work well for walleye. Kalin’s Sizmic Grub and Sizmic Shads, along with their Lunker Grubs have worked well when bouncing plastics for walleye as well. Smaller sized jigs under a bobber, tipped with a red worm, can work well for light biting perch and bluegill. If the water level remains above normal, shoreline structure, such as docks or submerged trees, can also hold decent sized panfish and shouldn’t be overlooked.
The upper river system will hold walleye, pike, white bass and crappies in a variety of areas. Vertical jigging or dragging the deeper areas found here is tough to beat when targeting walleye. Trolling cranks or three-way rigs is also productive, but the narrowness of the river can make things tricky if other anglers are drifting. When the walleye move shallow, pitching swim baits and plastics along the shoreline timber or rocky flats can work well. Large fall crappies can be found 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, but be willing to move frequently between timber locations.
The lower river system, near Newville, can be a good spot for fall walleye and occasional perch. Although trolling cranks in this spot can produce fish, dragging jigs or fishing Lindy rigs, tipped with fathead minnows or crawlers, may work better. Bridges and rip-rap near them offer great cover and can be fished with a jig/live bait combo or with plastics. The I-90 Bridge remains under construction and some congestion can be expected. A narrow channel through the construction is marked with a few navigational buoys…use caution when traveling around this area. Like the upper river, fallen trees along the riverbanks and the plentiful boat slips can be great spots for fall panfish. As mentioned above, live bait presented just below a bobber works well.
Madison Chain Panfish
Weeds and weededges will hold fish consistently, but many fish travel to deeper water and suspend this time of year. Using electronics to find suspended fish can make for a more productive day. When a school is located on sonar, mark them. Try drifting across your mark when wind is present or use a trolling motor to stay on top of fish. Using precision boat control, like Minn-Kota’s Spot Lock, will help hover over a school and this tactic can be more beneficial than drifting through them. Also, vary your lure depth to change with fish activity. Although schools may stay tight to an area, they can change their suspension depth quickly. 1/32 oz. jigs tipped with a crappie minnow or small plastic like Kalin’s Crappie Scubs, Kalin’s 2” Triple Threat Grubs, or Northland Tackle Blood Worms, can all be deadly on these deep water suspending fish.
Captain Adam Walton
Southeast Lake Michigan
Not sure where the summer has gone, but it is getting to be that time of year with cooler nights and brisk mornings. The chinook salmon are starting to stage in front of the harbors and are getting ready to do their run up the rivers. The action remains good in southeastern Wisconsin with larger than normal fish being caught and, in shallow water, this can be a blast. The best action for us is by using J-Plugs with short leads on the downriggers; usually being 5-8 feet down. The Slide Divers allow us to get the baits away from the boat and the short leads make for easy netting, as this is a great way to boat those skittish fish that see a lot of boat activity each day. The Slide Divers are pulling Michigan Stinger NBK, and Michigan Stinger Confused Blonde spoons. The 1 and 2 color lead core have been really active with red or gold Rat-L-Traps behind Church Tackle walleye boards. This time of year, a great tip is to also use Church Tackle TX-12 boards, which pull very well and allow for these big chinooks to make big runs. The 3 color lead core has been pulling the Michigan Stinger UV Confusion spoon, which has been our most consistent spoon this year.
The coho salmon are also starting to show those beautiful fall colors and have hit the traditional tackle already listed, but don't eliminate Rapala J-13's from your spread and some bright Flicker Shads will also help boat these great fighting fish. This has been a year of adjusting as the size of fish has greatly increased, and the bait being plentiful should keep this fishery going strong for years to come.
If you get out fishing the pier heads, I ask that you please pay attention to your surroundings and don't cut the other boats off. The best policy is to go the same direction as the rest of the boat traffic, and watch for those who need room to fight fish. There is plenty out there for all of us, and that few minutes to get back on your track is not worth someone getting hurt. We have openings available, so give us a call. Hope to see you on the water!
Jim La Fortune, A1 Big Fish Charters