Nov 28, 2016

Scouting Report

Northern Wisconsin

Turtle Flambeau Flowage

In November and December, there is definitely the most "elbow room" on the lakes. There are some duck hunters and a few musky fisherman but mostly a lot of vacant water.  I admittedly spend most of my time deer hunting in various states during this time. I do fish in early November and again in later December, when there is safe ice. 

When I put my boat away in early November, I can tell you that the walleye bite is still very good and continues until ice up. Mainly casting 1/8 oz. jigs and fathead minnows into 15 to 24 feet of water, over rock or hard sand structure. On deeper Northwood’s lakes, fishing for bigger walleye means fishing with bigger bait; redtail chubs, and deeper sand and rock bars in the 30 to 45 foot depth range.

Crappie fishing can also be good at this time on the Turtle Flambeau Flowage.  We tend to find crappies in the 18 to 24 foot range while walleye fishing or, if targeting them, drifting these depths with a spinner rig and large fathead minnows.

This is also a time to catch the biggest muskies of the year. They can be found in the same deeper water with the walleye.  But, sometimes they can be found in shallower water on the edge of drops into deep water, points extending into the deeper water and in river channels where current has drawn walleye.

As the water temps drop, a slow presentation works well.  Try using rubber baits like bulldogs and medusas. Of course, a lot of the fish are also taken with suckers. In shallower water, a sucker on a quick set rig with a bobber is a good way to go. In deeper water, if I suspect the muskies are near the bottom, I have found that weighting them down with a 1 oz. rubber core sinker and rods in rod holders work well.

Last year’s mild weather enabled us to continue open water fishing into December in northern Wisconsin.  At the time of this writing (mid-October), the water temps are in the low 50's.  There may be a lot of open water fishing ahead.

Last year we didn't get safe ice until after Christmas on a lot of the northern lakes.

Early ice fishing gets a lot of people excited and it can be great fishing, but use caution and get local reports before you go out. 

Early ice means tip-up fishing for walleye for me. The bite varies considerably. Sometimes we are getting fish very shallow and other times on flats with wood covered bottoms anywhere from 6 to 12 feet.

The most important thing in musky fishing: don't hook your partner (haven't had that happen) and the very most important thing in early ice fishing: don't fall through the ice, seriously ask yourself, “Is it really worth taking high risks to catch fish?”

Jeff Robl, Bobber Down Guide Service

Vilas and Oneida Counties

The weather has turned into early winter.  Like me, some of you will still brave the boat in sub-freezing, snowy, cold and windy conditions.  Some years, November is a mild month. While other years, I've seen 20"of snow by the middle of it. This time of year is part of the fishing season that I call "changeover.”  This happening occurs twice a year.  It means that lake fishing is virtually not possible, as well as not at all safe.  You can't boat or ice fish; so what's an angler to do?  

         A good angler always keeps up with maintenance of equipment.  There is oiling reels, changing line, and switching from open water gear to ice fishing necessities, just to name a few.  But there is also another dimension to things that an angler can use to his/her advantage on the ice...Technology!!   

Most of us use some sort of electronics on our boats for open water, but there is even more equipment an angler can use in the winter.  

The first item most ice anglers will get, in terms of technology, is a flasher.  There are a few main brands of flashers that are all very good.  Humminbird, MarCum, and Vexilar are the top three I would recommend.  I use a Humminbird 'ICE 55'.  

The next piece of equipment I recommend is a handheld GPS with a mirco-SD lake chip installed.  The two brands I recommend are Magellan and Garmin.  I use a Magellan 'eXplorist 710' with a Navionics 'North' micro-SD lake map chip.  These little pieces of equipment work wonders on the ice, and can be used for driving navigation as well as hiking and beyond.  One practice that is useful for me is the ability to share GPS coordinates between my boat’s electronics and my handheld GPS and vise versa.  Doing this enabled me to share spots between equipment.  Whether it is wood, rocks, a steep drop-off or a deep hole, you can have it at your fingertips all year round.

The last piece of equipment to look at is an underwater camera.  These cameras have made leaps and bounds over time.  The main device that I recommend is made by Aquaview.  I remember having a camera that you could barely see an image on when you had semi-dark conditions.  Now, there are cameras that are HD. You can see great in any conditions, although it does still help to take cover under a sweatshirt to get a greater view underwater. In today's market, there are ways to combine these tools together, but I will not touch on them because I have no experience in that arena.  Anything I write about I have a firsthand knowledge about.  

In conclusion, always do research on any and all equipment before buying.  Having the Internet at our fingertips makes things very easy to do research and I do just that on all of the products I buy, no matter what aspect of life I use them in.  So start doing your homework on fishing technology. I guarantee it will make you a better all-around angler.           


West Central Wisconsin

Chetek Chain of Lakes

By now hopefully we have good ice.  First ice is always a great time to be out on the Chain. Anglers will do well on Prairie, Ojaski, and Pokegema as well.  Ten feet of water or less will be a good starting point for panfish. Moon jigs, tipped with waxies, are my personal favorite, but don't overlook Purists or Flirty Girty's.  Tip-up fishermen find success fishing shiners or small suckers in the shallows.  The Chain has some good pike, bass and walleye to keep you chasing those flags!

Lake Wissota

Nice walleye can be taken on both jigs, and jigging Rapalas during the morning and late afternoon hours. Rip and pause, rip and pause.  The pause is critical.  I always try to put a dead stick with a fathead out too.  Either on a tip-up or Automatic Fisherman.  The State Park is a good area to try, as is the area in front of the view.  Crappie anglers do well on tip-downs near Camp Kenwood. Sometimes the numbers aren’t there, but you can always count on good-sized crappie out of Lake Wissota!

Chris Powell

West Coast of Wisconsin

Lake Pepin and Mississippi River Area

November, all and all, is a great time to enjoy the last open water fishing as long as the temperatures hold. The water levels are high so the backwater fishing in the Tiffany’s is excellent, especially for crappies. Some real good fishing can be had in the deeper water just off of the underwater ledges.  The river walleye and saugers have arrived and the fishing can be really active. As a general rule, November is a good time to be out on the big water of pool number 4. That is between the dams in Redwing and Alma. It is also fun to watch the bird migration.  This river is one of the biggest flyways in North America. The bird watching is an added bonus while you fish.  

   December is a good time to fish the shorelines from Maiden Rock down to Pepin. The lake can be mighty rough this time a year. The walleye will continue to show up. The bluegill are hitting hard on the backwaters in the Tiffany’s, just south of Lake Pepin where the Chippewa flows into the Mississippi, and it allows you to get some fishing in when the big lake is a bit to tumultuous to get out on. As the temperatures continue to fall, the fishing should stay consistent as we wait for the ice to show up. The West Coast of Wisconsin is calling- you will not be disappointed in the late season fishing.

Bart Armstrong

East Central Wisconsin

Fremont Area

The early part of November is a beautiful time of year. Boat traffic is minimal, while the walleye and crappie are biting. Minnows are the bait of choice because of the water temperature. 

Walleye are all up and down the river gorging on bait for the winter. Large shiners and fatheads on a 1/4 oz. jig head generally work the best. The best fishing can be found in the deep holes. Zip or blade baits also can be productive. 

Crappies are schooled in bayous and sloughs. This makes for easy pickings. Templeton bayou is a great example. Casting around the docks, trees or seawalls are prime locations. Small 1/32 or 1/16 oz. jigs with small fatheads is the best method. Slip-bobbers can work very well too. 

These methods work until the river or sloughs freeze up. Then it's time to put the boat away and start ice fishing!  Most people target crappie and bluegill for early ice action. Small tungsten jigs with wax worms are my weapon of choice.  I choose tungsten because it falls faster in deeper water, which gets you back to catching faster. Tungsten also shows up on a flasher better. 

Early ice northern fishing is also very popular. The bayous and sloughs are your best bet. Large shiners and tip-ups work the best. Frozen smelt also work. Staggering your baits from 6-18 inches under the ice usually works well.

Good luck and tight lines. 

Capt Patrick Morack, Moracktion Guide Service, (920)216-9085, 

Bay of Green Bay

Many people do not realize that even with the promise of snow and ice that the months of November and December bring, these months are still able to offer some of the most peaceful, temperate days of fishing a fisherman could ask for.  November typically has the same temperatures as mid-March to early April, and often as in many years past, December will also give us a handful of these gorgeous days. Last year my wife and I went fishing on the Fox River on Christmas Day, and guess what? We were the only boat, and we caught fish for several hours casting crankbaits up by the dam. It was one walleye after another. If you like springtime river fishing, you'll love the fishing in the fall. The difference, or should I say, benefit is the number of boats on the water. In the late fall, much of the time I find myself alone or with one or two other boats on the entire Fox River System. The male walleyes are stacked in the deep holes up near the dam in De Pere, and when they are ready to feed they head up into the shallower water. If you enjoy casting for walleye or you want to refine your jigging, this is the time of year to get out and catch fish with no one to bother you. Using a 1/8 oz. jig with a tail, or tipped with a piece of crawler, and a jig with a minnow, are all absolutely deadly presentations.  Cast into the current breaks and these walleye cannot resist.  Casting crankbaits in the same current breaks with an extremely slow retrieve will have the same results. If you are not sure about how and where to fish these walleye, contact Captain Bob Claus from Finfinatic Charters, he has an afternoon fall Fox River special.


If you are after the late fall trophies, you'll need to head up to Little Bay de Nocn (LBDN). The bite up there can be tremendous in late November. This time of year it is a night bite, the waters are cold and dark, so make sure you are prepared. Trolling large crankbaits slowly over the steep drop-offs can produce walleye of a lifetime. It might be worth your time to hire a guide for an evening. They generally have it dialed in and it will help you prepare for a cold dark evening on LBDN.

Good Luck, have fun, and be safe.

Captain Jeff Boutin, Team-Outdoors LLC

South Central Wisconsin

Big Green Lake

In November and December, when I'm not hunting, I am on Big Green Lake chasing monster smallies as they slide deep into their wintering grounds. Late in the fall, I find smallies, from deep weed edges all the way out to 75 feet of water, chasing baitfish. I catch them on plastics, retrieved slowly and jigging spoons, jigged erratically. It is the time of year that I see the biggest bass in the lake, as they feed heavily prior to their winter dormant stage. Another great bite is the cisco, also known as lake herring, on Green Lake. Cisco are a fall spawning fish, like trout and salmon, so they school up heavily and are lots of fun to catch.  

Justin Kohn, All Seasons Adventures, (920)229-3494,

Petenwell and Castle Rock Flowages

The month of November can make for some very good fishing. Water temperatures have cooled down, the lake has turned over and the fish are putting the feedbag on. This time of year, fishermen and women won’t see much for boats. Most people are hunting the rut, chasing ducks around and getting ready for the Wisconsin gun deer season. 

A lot of the anglers that are out this time of year are chasing muskies. On Petenwell Flowage, a good place to target is the stretch of river from the Nekoosa Dam down toward the north end of lake. Some good options are fishing sucker rigs and casting a large variety of bucktails, jerk baits and blade baits. On Castle Rock, many will fish muskies below the Petenwell Dam toward the north end of the lake. Both areas have many different areas to fish. Some of the options are shallow backwater sloughs, submerged timber and big weed flats. 

Fishing for walleye this time of year can also be very good!  A good place to start are the bends in the river. Pitch jigs in the trees in shallow water and fish deep water out on the main lake. A productive option is to fish live bait using large chubs, large fatheads and small suckers. Try fishing these behind lindy rigs or slip rigs with a floating jig head. 

Panfish also can be very rewarding this time of year. Most fish the river pitching weedless jigs tipped with small minnows and half crawlers.

In the month of December, not many will be out fishing the lakes. Only a few diehards will be out fishing. Most will have their boats put away and will be getting ready for the hard water season. For the last couple years, we really haven't had safe ice until late December into early January. Normally though, this time of year people are fishing the backwaters for pike, bass, panfish and walleye. On Petenwell Flowage, folks will fish Devil’s Elbow and Chester’s Creek early ice. On Castle Rock, good fishing can be found on the backwaters of Fish Lake and along the railroad tracks by the old Ken’s Marina. Most of these areas, on both lakes, are shallow water, 4 to 6 feet.

Jesse Quale

Lake Koshkonong

As of now, Lake Koshkonong is higher than normal.  If the water level remains high, fishing throughout the entire lake can be quite productive.  Last year, we had similar rising water conditions during late fall and extending into first ice.  Trolling a variety of crankbaits will produce walleye and pike right up to icing over.  Last year’s high temps were a bit abnormal and open water fishing lasted well into December.  However, if things remain normal and ice takes hold, setting tip-ups in the northern bays can produce pike and walleye. For pike, we rig large shiners or suckers on a large treble hook with a 25 lb. test metal leader.  For walleye, we rig a fathead or chub on a single hook with an 8 lb. test fluorocarbon leader.  Pike action will keep you busy during the day and walleye action really picks up after dark.      

Rock River

With higher water present, expect the lower river system near Newville to remain productive.  Trolling cranks or jigging/dragging live bait works well near the mouth and bridge areas.  Once the water drops and begins to clear, fishing this area can slow quickly.  Crappies can be found near shoreline structure in both the Upper River and Lower River systems.  A simple bare hook or small gumball jig tipped with a crappie minnow under a bobber is all you need.  Be prepared to move often when searching shoreline structure.       

Madison Chain

Anglers can be found trolling cranks and live bait rigs throughout the Madison chain for late fall musky.  Use a detailed topography map of this system and target areas with sudden contour changes, especially close to weed cover.  Panfish can be found schooled in deeper water.  They’ll stay in these areas throughout late fall and into the winter.  Fish can be caught with simple vertical jigging techniques.  Using small plastics, waxies, and tube jigs work well.  Acme Tackle Kastmaster’s also work well when jigged vertically.  Some fish will remain near weeds, but as the cover begins to die, those fish move out quick.  

Captain Adam Walton

Pike Pole Fishing Guide Service