Jul 10, 2018
South Central Wisconsin
There’s been an increase of weed development throughout the Lake Koshkonong System over the past few years. A few theories exist, but I believe one factor directly relates to the carp removal by commercial anglers.
Weeds obviously make for great cover and harbor a variety of fish. There have been numerous reports of better panfishing, along with more bass and musky being caught compared to previous years. However, weeds in this shallow system can be troublesome too, especially if you like to troll. Gummed up lures, clogged planner boards, and gunk stuck on the line are just a few problems many encounter. If you’re willing to work to keep lines clean though, this is still a very productive way to catch fish and to cover a lot of water.
Flicker Shads, Rapala Shad Raps and Salmos are still top choices for pulling crankbaits. Also, crawler harnesses should not be overlooked when working the main lake basin. Colors and lure types change depending on visibility, which can be altered not only by water cleanliness, but also by sunlight and cloud cover. What works in the early morning may need to be changed later in the day. When it comes to keeping your lures weed free, planer boards with an attached “tattle flag” indicate when a lure gets caught up.
A better way to stay weed free is to use slip bobbers rigged with crawlers or leeches near the limited structure areas found on Koshkonong. Pitching jigs tipped with live bait and slowly retrieving them is a great way to target fish here too, along with pitching plastics such as Kalins Lunker Grubs or Kalins Sizmic Grubs. When it comes to locating these structure areas, using the mega side imaging released by Humminbird has helped us tremendously to map small, but productive, locations found scattered throughout the lake.
Keep in mind the shallowness of the lake allows it to heat up quickly compared to deeper lakes in the area. Fish will relate to cooler water during the dog days of summer, so search out springs or inlets and fish will likely be nearby.
When water gets warm, the upper Rock River near Blackhawk Island has cooler, deeper water and draws fish year round. Vertical jigging or dragging jigs tipped with live bait works best while drifting down stream, however trolling three-way rigs also can produce an assortment of fish.
When jigging, ⅛-ounce sizes work well, but weight can be varied depending on current speed. The Rock River Bait Box is located on the upper section of the river and has a good selection of baits specific to the season.
The lower river system south of Lake Koshkonong from Newville to Indianford Dam has plenty of rocky structures, bridges and shoreline structure, but it’s much shallower than the upper section. Dragging crawlers and trolling crankbaits can be productive, but it also has a lot of recreational boat traffic. Color and lure type can change based on a variety of factors, so stay flexible and switch things up when it gets slow.
Captain Adam Walton, Pike Pole Fishing Guide Service, 608.290.3929, www.pikepolefishing.com
Petenwell & Castle Rock flowages
The summer months of July and August is hot water season on both Petenwell and Castle Rock. Water temperatures will be in the mid-70s to lower 80s. With warmer water temperatures, fish are on the feed and can be caught many different ways.
Those targeting walleyes should troll crank baits over flats and humps. This technique targets suspended fish, which are the most active fish. Those trolling will pull their baits a little fast this time of year, likely at speeds of 2.1 to 2.3 miles per hour. While trolling, some will also pull baits with a much larger profile and with rattles. Another great way to catch walleyes this time of year is to fish deep wood structure in the main river channel. The go-to bait is typically a ¼-ounce weedless jig tipped with a leech or half crawler.
It’s also a great time of year to target panfish. Fish areas with heavy wood cover. Small jigs tipped with plastic, a half crawler or with smaller leeches.
White bass are also on the feed. Catch them trolling small crank baits, casting jigs and plastics up shallow early morning and late evening. At times you’ll see plenty of them all over the water’s surface chasing bait fish. Chasing white bass is a great way to have a blast with kids.
Catfish can be caught year around on both Castle Rock and Petenwell flowages. During July and August, many anglers will catch cats up shallow and deep in just about any given spot out on the main lake and river. Stick baits and cut bait work the best for channel cats. Some guys use crawlers as well. One problem with using crawlers is that sheepshead will clean your crawler off the hook within seconds of it hitting the bottom.
Jesse Quale, Green Water Walleyes, 608.547.3022, www.greenwaterwalleyes.com
This large lake east of Spooner in Washburn County is a nice destination for a mid-summer fishing trip. Walleye, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, pike and a variety of panfish are readily available here. Weed growth is at a peak for the year now, and most species of fish are relating to it most of the time. We use a variety of tactics to pick fish out of the weeds, depending on the spot, the depth and the type of weeds present.
Lindy rigging with a bullet sinker and a leech set up works great at times for fish hanging tight to the deep weed lines. It can be frustrating sometimes picking weeds off your bait so frequently, but the fish are there and will bite a clean offering. I like trolling deep-diving crankbaits along the massive weed edges on Long Lake as well.
Late summer is the beginning of the best musky fishing of the year on "the Chip" in Sawyer County. Surface baits take some nice fish this time of year. Top Raiders and Tallywhackers are tough to beat – they fish fairly fast, cover lots of water and hook fish well.
Early and late in the day, it's a good idea to slow down and aggressively fish proven spots with a Bitten Tackle Creeper. Fish slow and give the muskies a good chance to grab on before changing locations. Some of the best spots to try are main lake bars with heavy weed cover. Good luck and good fishing,
Jim Stroede, Jim Stroede Guide Service, 715.520.7043, www.JimStroedeFishing.com
Musky activity is in full swing with the warmer water temperatures of summer and the metabolism of fish at the summer peak.
Fishing suspended bait pods is one of the best ways to target feeding fish this time of the year. There are two ways of going about targeting fish in or around the pods. Casting rubber has been a standard for targeting these fish for many years. Trolling is another option with line counter reels and crank baits. Always try to present your baits – whether rubber or cranks – just above the bait pods to trigger strikes from active fish.
Night fishing and casting surface baits can be a great way to fish when getting out on high-pressure recreation lakes. Many of the lakes in the area are churned up during the day by water-ski boats and personal watercraft. Musky will switch feeding activity and go nocturnal this time of the year.
Walleye fishing will switch from minnows to crawlers and leeches for live bait presentations. Trolling spinner rigs with bottom bouncers rigged up with half crawlers or leeches will be productive. Target mud and sand transitions off secondary breaks or around gravel humps. Many of the mayfly hatches will be wrapped up and fish will remain in the areas where the larva came out.
Anglers that prefer to use jig and leeches can increase lines with lighted slip bobbers with leeches on jigs. Good luck and tight lines this summer.
Dan Gropengiser, Grop’s Guide Service, 715.360.1601,
Turtle Flambeau Flowage
Summer walleye fishing on the Turtle Flambeau Flowage last year remained pretty good throughout July and August. In July, action was found for walleye and perch in both wood and weed cover. Wood cover that held summer walleye in July consisted of mid-lake humps with larger diameter stumps on them. These humps were mainly in the 5- to 12-foot range of depth. The stumps are very obvious on your sonar unit.
The three varieties of weeds on the flowage are cabbage, coontail and narrow-leaf pondweed. With the darker stained water, these weeds are mainly found in shallower water in the 3- to 5-foot depth range. There are limited amounts of cabbage weed in deeper water.
The weeds can be fished with weedless jigs or slip bobbers – keep the bobbers close to the boat or make short flip casts with the jigs to land fish. The fish fight hard in this shallow water and it’s difficult to bring a fish in from a distance through the weeds. Often what’s fighting at the end of the line isn't limited to a perch or walleye. Smallmouth bass, bluegill, pike and musky also use this weed cover.
Late summer last year, I found a consistent walleye bite working deeper wood cover on the edges of the original river and creek channels that course through the flowage. This wood is mainly remnant stumps from bigger diameter trees that were growing on the creek or river bank before the flowage was created. These, too, can be found using electronics.
Late summer also offers some great musky fishing. You don't have to over think things when hunting for musky – they are where the food is. All the above-mentioned areas and structures will also hold musky. In fact, some of the musky we caught last year were at spots where they grabbed a perch or walleye we were bringing to the boat. One even hung on to a perch a little too long and I got him in the walleye net – always a fun bonus. Lot of lures work in the summer. We mainly throw bucktails and top water baits.
In addition to the flowage, there are many good lakes to fish in Iron, Price and Vilas counties. Most of these lakes have clearer water with deeper weed growth. The weed growth on these lakes is where I look for summer action on most varieties of fish. Finding the edges and pockets in the weeds usually provides action. Good Luck and Stay Safe!
Jeff Robl, Bobber Down Guide Service, 715.766.0140, www.BobberDownGuideService.com
East Central Wisconsin
Lake Michigan/Green Bay
August means big Chinook salmon – also known as “kings – here on the west coast of Lake Michigan. One of the most fun ways to catch them this time of year is by jigging. Kings return to the ports from which they were stocked. The port of Milwaukee is just one example.
Use your locator to check the gaps in the breakwater. Use jigs with plastics like the Kalins Jerk Shad or use blade baits. Cast out and rip jig or try vertical jigging. Get out there early in the morning and try to stay away from other boats to have the best success.
Andy Mack, Andy Mack Sportfishing, 262.510.1452, www.AndyMackSportfishing.com
Walleyes can still be caught in the river and Lake Poygan. Dragging leeches or crawlers on a jig will be the best method for river walleye. Trolling with crawler harnesses on Lake Poygan and Winneconne will catch these toothy creatures. Casting jigs with leeches in the cane beds is also very productive.
The crappie bite should be heating up with the summer weather. Jigging small jigs with plastics and small minnows works best for the river crappie. I fish the fallen trees in the river. Bluegill should also be biting in the sloughs and channels. A slip bobber with either a wax worm or piece of crawler work best.
The catfish and flathead bite should also be hot. Wolf river rigs with cut minnows, stink bait or raw shrimp will work for the channel catfish. Live suckers and bluegill work best for the flathead. Flatheads are predators and will normally only eat live bait. Remember the slot limit for flathead before you go fishing.
Large and smallmouth bass will be biting as well. Weedless frogs and spinnerbaits produce the best catch for largemouth. I fish a lot of sloughs, bayous and channels for largemouth bass. Most of my smallmouth fishing is done on the river. Pitching big tube jigs, weedless jigs with crawfish tails and crankbaits around the piers and pylons will definitely land you some nice smallies on the Wolf River. Remember the size and possession limits for the species you’re targeting. Happy fishing and tight lines.
Capt. Patrick Morack, Moracktion Guide Service, 920.216.9085
Lake Winnebago System
Following the much-anticipated run, most of our walleye and other species have found their way back to their summer homes. Anglers, in turn, are spread out in various corners of the Winnebago System hunting down the fish using a variety of different tactics. While some show more promise than others, here’s what has recently been successful in my boat.
On Lake Winnebago, I’ve found myself approaching the reefs as normal. The bite has been hit or miss, which has resulted in me trying to be efficient, jumping reefs as quickly as I can and looking for the reefs containing active fish. Dragging a 1/16-ounce or 1/8-ounce jig – depending on the wind factor – with a crawler has been best. A completely black jig has been the better producer, but a bright green option isn’t too far off as well.
The cranks have been getting wet, not only on shallow contours down to five feet of water, but also in the mud. So far this year, a No. 5 Flicker Shad in the growler pattern has been my hot bait. The fish seem to like the smaller profile, so when fishing in the deeper water, I’ve needed an inline 1-ounce weight if the electronics show these fish deeper than the lure’s dive depth. As always, some of these fish in the mud have been suspended, so keep a keen eye on your electronics and adjust accordingly.
On the upriver lakes of Butte des Morts, Winneconne and Poygan, I’ve found myself pulling crawler harnesses along with working the cane beds. When running harnesses, I target areas with a depth of seven feet out from cane beds or the sharper contour drops. Harnesses with green or pink characteristics have produced the best for me.
I’m not sure if the boards or boat might be spooking fish, but I’ve noticed they seem to like a lot more line out from the board. This has resulted in running line weights down to ¼ ounce to gradually drop the rigs into the strike zone with more line out. With the yearly cotton fall – along with the floating weeds and debris – it’s been crucial to constantly check lines for fowling. It makes for a grueling and repetitive process, but it’s necessary to coax the fish into committing.
As for the cane beds, it’s no secret these hold fish. As the weed growth continues, it will become harder to work our jigs through them, but it can pay off. These fish have been spread out around these locations, so don’t be afraid to cast away from the edges or pockets within. The jig/crawler combo is producing, but a cast of a crank can sometimes pay off as well. The color that stands out in the jig is yet again the solid black. The bite on the canes has been the best in the early hours or later in the evening. I hope you all have an awesome summer bite, and until next time, “Tight Lines. Stay Dry.”
Kyle Sorensen, OB Outdoors, check out video online at www.oboutdoors.com
West Coast of Wisconsin
We are right in the middle of summer and water levels are normal. The Mississippi River is around 9 feet out of Lake City, Minn. and the Chippewa River is 5½ feet out of Durand.
The fishing on the main channel has been real good. The sauger and walleye have been biting early in the day and I’ve had good fishing off the rock jetty in Stockholm. If you are looking for smallmouth, you want a calm night just before dark about 50 feet off shore, and you’ll be able to see the ripples in the water where they are. Be real quiet and you will slay them.
The backwater of the Chippewa has been extremely good for northern. You’ll want to put in at Huck’s landing right off State Hwy. 35. You can work both sides of the highway – float all the way down to the Sippi or go upstream as far as you can before you hit some dead tree falls. From the West Coast of Wisconsin, take care and happy fishing.
Bart Armstrong, co-owner of Spring Street Inn, Spring Street Outfitters and Har-nes Gallery in Stockholm, 715.204.2410