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Despite the little warm up we are having the next few days, it sure has felt like fall. The leaves on some of the trees are starting to turn color on, and it won’t be long before we are in full color. The month of September is always fun as the early fall fishing bite picks up, hunting opens, cool weather sets in, and the colors start to change on the trees.
The fishing has really picked up. The days are getting shorter, the water is cooling down, and the fish are plain and simply starting to bite. The smallmouth bass can be found in deeper mid lake humps and underwater points. They seem to be congregating in areas with bigger rock and boulders rather than small gravel or sand. Brown and white tubes have been catching fish, but colors can change by the day. The largemouth bass can still be found in shallow water outside the vegetation, but also if you can find some shallow flats or mid lake structure that has vegetation they are holding around there as well. Plastics are still working well, and bulking up the size of the presentation seems to be working. Light colors seem to be producing good amounts of fish.
The walleye bite is really heating up now as the lake temps are around the low to mid 60’s. Fish are moving deep, and sitting right at, or just above the light thermocline that is still out there. These fish will sit around that level until the lakes turn over. The minnow bite, or jig and plastics is really going well. The crawler bite is still producing some fish, but the minnow imitation is producing bigger and more fish. These fish are still fairly aggressive so don’t afraid to jig fast, and troll with some speed. Color has not seemed to be a deciding factor as orange, blue, green, yellow, and gold have been catching fish. One go to pattern this time of year is a perch pattern. Fish can be found over deep mud basins chasing perch, or just on the outside of the deep weed edges. If you can find sand with a little vegetation, hold on to the rod, because you’re flat out going to find fish right now.
Good luck fishing and remember, introduce someone new into the outdoors. They will appreciate it for a lifetime.
What a cold front we had for the month of August! Water temps the night before the cold front were at 80 degrees, and after that they had plummeted down into the 71-72 degree range. The lakes are sure refreshing to jump into for a swim on a warm summer day, but a temperature drop like that can really put a damper on the fishing.
The walleye action right before the front was hot and heavy. The fish were aggressive as we finally had some stable weather. Since the front they have slowed down a bit, and are changing every few days right now as late summer rolls on. Big balls of bait are forming just outside of the weed beds as small perch are now growing in size and starting to venture out deeper. The walleyes are close behind them and starting to capitalize on the abundant food source. The best way to get these fish to bite is to run a crawler harness with a bottom bouncer through them. Spinners have been effective, but also a “Spin-N-Glo” has worked if you need to slow down after a cold front and still need some action. That may be a little bit of a hint…… These fish will become more aggressive as august rolls on and as these perch and baitfish grow, shad style baits will become more popular. The structure fish have moved off a little bit and are sitting just off the edges. If you want to use leeches, now might be your last ditch effort to try and find the last remaining few at a local bait store. The leech season is basically wrapping up at the stores, but if you can get your hands on some, the walleyes and bluegills are still biting on them.
The largemouth bass can still be found in 5-10 feet of water in the weeds or just on the edges of them. Use plastics to cast into the mid depth range and pull it back and let it fall. They have been aggressive so set the hook as soon as you get bit. If you find the right weight to let the plastic fall slow enough, you will see your line dart off to the side instead of feeling a bite. If you see this then set the hook right away. Browns, blues, and greens are the top producing colors right now. If you’re targeting the smallmouth, they are sitting on underwater points and rock piles. Tube jigs have produced many fish, and brown with some orange or red seems to be working to imitate the crayfish.
Good luck fishing and remember, introduce someone new into the outdoors. They will appreciate it for a lifetime.
For one of the longest stretches in a while here in Rice Lake, the weather finally stabilized. Fishing has been on the upswing, and summer patterns are catching fish. We have some cool weather coming in the forecast, and as August rolls on, we usually have warm daytime temperatures followed by cooler nighttime lows.
The walleyes are still in 3 areas of the lake right now. There is a good hatch of baitfish going on the local lakes, and fish can be found chasing these baitballs around in the mid lake open basins, as well as starting to show up more and more over the deep mud. The open basin fish are suspending fish that can change depth daily which makes them a little more difficult to catch. Trolling is the way to target these fish, so spread some lines out and vary your depths to figure out what is working. The mudflat fish are typically found near the bottom. I like to pull spinner rigs or trolling crankbaits over these fish to get bit. They are aggressive fish that are chasing bait near the bottom so if you aren’t getting action, switch colors and adjust your speed to find whats working. There are still some fish hanging out on deep structure. These fish usually hang there throughout the fall season but will adjust the depth and area of the structure they will sit. Live bait rigging and jigging is the way to optimize catching these fish.
The bass have been biting, its just trying to find the bigger fish that has been more of a challenge. There are plenty of largemouth in the shallows that are aggressive and feeding heavy. Casting weighted or unweighted plastics in the mid depth range of 5-10 feet of water has been working. Find the edges of the weeds and work them over thoroughly. A combination of a blue/black, or greens and browns have been the hot colors. If you want to chase some smallmouth, work the edges of mid lake hard bottom structures. Set the boat in deep water outside of the drop off edge and cast a brown tube jig onto the break. Slow moving has been triggering fish when trying to imitate a crayfish swimming over the bottom.
Good luck fishing and remember, introduce someone new into the outdoors. They will appreciate it for a lifetime.
The fishing continues to be an up and down roller coaster. The fish go in short spurts of biting, and then slow right down. This year has been interesting to say the least, but with all of the fronts coming every few days, it’s hard for the fish to get stable.
The walleye are still spread out across the lake. Fish can be caught on the edges of weed lines using a slip bobber and a leech, or with a crawler harness trolled on the edge. The key is to find patches that have broad leaf vegetation. There are some more quality fish that are located on mid lake structures and they can be caught with slip bobbers, or by rigging live bait. These fish and the weed line fish are going to slowly start sliding into deeper water over the soft bottom to chase the perch hatch. The biggest fish are out in the basin chasing deep suspended baitfish. Trolling over these with artificial lures is most effective.
The big bluegills are hitting their late summer patterns, and are being found in deeper water on the edges of underwater structure. They are very aggressive, but not being found in huge numbers which is typical for the big gills. Sitting next to the gills, you can also find the smallmouth bass. They are inhabiting similar areas right now. Using tube jigs in brown or green colors have been working.
We are coming off of a busy holiday break where the lakes were loaded with boat traffic, and people enjoying the great fishing opportunities we have here in the Rice Lake area. The weather overall was much better than anticipated, but we are still dealing with some up and down temperatures, and the rainfall which is making fishing a bit of a challenge.
There is no doubt summer walleye fishing can be a challenge, and as of late its has been a “no gimme”. The fish are scattered on different areas of the lake from the edges of the weeds, mid lake structures, deep basins, and suspended fish are starting to show up more frequently as they are chasing baitfish. The structure fish were very spooky for the last two weeks with the added boat pressure. You could find fish and catch a couple, and then they would hunker to the bottom, or push off the edges. Head to the next spot, and the same thing would happen. To combat this, I would roll into a spot, find the fish and catch a few on each spot, then give them a break and come back to those spots later in the day. This would allow us to catch fish in different areas, but also not put too much pressure on them. Leeches are working the best right now when working the structure. Whether thats on a jig, lindy rig, or a slip bobber, they are all working. As for the fish in the weeds and in the main basin, using a spinner and a crawler, or a crank bait is working the best.
There are still plenty of bass and bluegills in the shallow water for people to catch. The water temperature is a little on the cooler side for this time of year so the shallows are still holding fish. You can find the bluegills in 3-6 feet of water. They are sticking around structure containing wood and weeds. Casting a bobber tipped with a worm is working, but I tend to catch a little bigger sized gills by using a small leech. The leech can still catch smaller fish, but overall the size structure seems to increase. The bass can be found in pockets of the weeds, and on the very edges. Casting plastic worms, or a Texas rig with a plastic worm are catching fish. On the calm evenings, there have been lots of bass surfacing, so take advantage of the fun and exciting topwater bite.
What a week of weather we had. Lots and lots of rain, cool weather, and some bad storms. The lakes were gaining speed on the water temperature, and now things are all over the board when it comes to water temps. Some lakes are affected differently due to the size, depth of the lake, and how much runoff makes it into the sysytem from rivers and streams. Moving into a holiday weekend, fishing is going to be back to a trial and error for a few days, but fortunately it’s looking like we will have nice weather for the long holiday weekend.
The crappie spawn is happening, it just may be a little touch and go depending on your lake. Find the 60 degree water temps, and some brushy cover and you will find the crapppies in, or very close to it. Water temperature is the key factor here so check that and use that as a starting point. Use small jigs under a bobber tipped with a crappie minnow, or a plastics grub of some sort. If I use plastics, white is my first go to color. If that doesn’t work, keep switching to find a color that is producing fish. I sometimes like to ditch the bobber and cast into a brush pile or some trees and slowly jig it back. Crappies are very aggressive and territorial right now and will smoke the jig. It’s a very fun way to catch them.
Walleyes are still holding in some of the deeper water, and some have made their way out to mid lake structures. When searching these mid lake structures, find the deep edges as fish are relating to these. They will move shallow at night, but are holding off of the breaks during the day. I still run a jig and minnow on these deep fish, and you can surely transition into a jig and Leech right now. Lindy rigging these edges is also an effective tactic for this time of year. I run leeches behind a 3/8-1/2 ounce weight depending how deep I need to get. Run your speed at .06-.09 mph and work the edges.
It should be a great weekend to be on the water. It will be busy, so let’s all respect each other.
Good luck fishing and remember, introduce someone new into the outdoors. They will appreciate it for a lifetime.
The temperature is warming up, so is the water, and then just in spring fashion, we are getting some cooler weather and a rainy week to slow things down. With an early spring, the lakes were open earlier and the water was warming at a steady rate. It puts the fish in a biting mood as they feed heavy to prepare and recover from the spawn. The fish are still biting, but with the outlook on weather, things may slow down for a little bit. Bring the rain gear this week….
Crappies have made their way to spawning areas on some lakes, and are very close to doing so on others. The lilac’s are a dead give away for the crappie spawn. When they start blooming, crappies have the feed bag on and are in the shallows spawning, or preparing to do so. Water temperature is key, and you are looking for around the 60-62 degree mark for peak spawn. Mornings the surface temperature can be a little cooler, but by mid to late afternoon, the water is at its warmest for the day, so concentrating on afternoon bite has been a go to for me. Small jigs tipped with a crappie minnow, or a plastic tail are the baits of choice, and can go under a bobber, or slowly jigged back towards the boat. Find the woody cover, and you will find the crappies.
Walleyes are still in the shallows, but are starting to move out deeper. Look for drop offs into deep water and vertical jig them. I like to use a 3/8 ounce jig tipped with a fat head minnow and slowly hover over the breadlines with an electric motor to put my presentation in the strike zone. I like that size jig so I can keep control over it, and still keep bottom contact which is the most important part while doing this. Once you catch them in a specific depth, keep concentrating in that part of the water, as many of them will be in that zone. Right now is also a good time to cast husky jerks (size 10, or 12) towards the shoreline, and do a slow jerking retrieve back out. Many of the aggressive fish will cruise the shallows in early morning and a little before dark. These fish are extremely aggressive, and will crush the bait.
Good luck fishing and remember, introduce someone new into the outdoors. They will appreciate it for a lifetime.
Another Wisconsin fishing opener has come and gone. That was an opener to remember, as the fish were biting, and the weather was very nice. The wind tested the skills at times, but overall, the warm weather and water had people out, and the fish were active.
The walleyes were still holding close to the shoreline. Before light, we pitched 1/8 ounce jigs into the shallows targeting 4-8 feet of water. With the added boat pressure and sun coming up, fish slowly slid out into deeper water and made their way to their mid day haunts before moving back into the shallows in the evening. Jig and minnows were the main focus this week with water temperatures anywhere from high 40’s to mid 50’s depending on the lake. These fish will hold true to this pattern for a little while longer, so get out there and work a jig back slowly off the breaks. As the water continues to warm, we should see the fish start to suspend off the first break, and get ready to head out to the flats.
With the warm weather predicted, the crappie bite is going to be strong within days. Some lakes have fish in the shallow water, but the spawn hasn’t seemed to start. Once the water hits a consistent 58-62 degrees those fish will be popping. Look for shallow, dark bodies of water for the first set of spawning fish, and the bigger and clear lakes will follow up. Use a small jig under a bobber tipped with either a crappie minnow, or a plastic to catch these active aggressive fish.
The bass will are in slightly deeper water. As the sun starts to warm up the lakes again, concentrate on shallow water, keying in on areas with dark bottom as they will warm up faster. Start looking for largemouth outside of bays and channels. Find the nearest weed or wood for cover and target those fish using swim jigs and weightless senkos. For the smallmouth, concentrate on shallow areas of 4-12 feet with hard bottom, and cast jerkbaits or shad raps to connect with some fish.
Here we are once again, another fishing opener is coming up. What an exciting time of year, as the turkeys are strutting, birds are back North, and things are already starting to green up. Weather is definitely ahead of schedule, so remember that when hitting the water on opening day. The lakes are a little warmer than some openers, so adjust your fishing plans accordingly.
The walleyes have already spawned, so they will still be shallow and close to the shorelines. At first light, start casting the shallows with a jig and minnow or a jig and leech combo. As the sun comes up, start to work into deeper water, as the fish will move out due to pressure from the boats. As the evening rolls in, concentrate on the first drop off, and fish will start to move into shallow water to feed. Jigging is my go to tactic, but if you find a concentration of fish, stop and slip bobber with a leech.
The bass will be in slightly deeper water as the cold front has pushed in. As the sun starts to warm up the lakes again, concentrate on shallow water, keying in on areas with dark bottom as they will warm up faster. Start looking for large mouth outside of bays and channels. Find the nearest weed or wood for cover and target those fish using swim jigs and weightless senkos. For the small mouth, concentrate on shallow areas of 4-12 feet with hard bottom, and cast jerkbaits or shad raps to connect with some fish.
The big snowstorm missed us, the temperature has not dropped, and the warm weather trend is continuing for another week. I thought a cold snap would hit us by now, to set the ice back up and allow another week or two for getting the permanent shacks back out there. I do not see that happening, and its sad to have those wrapped up and put away for another season. There is still ice out there, and some of the best ice fishing of the year is ahead of us. March ice fishing can be lights out with the right conditions as fish get more aggressive and move up in the water column.
Search for the crappies in the mid lake basins. These fish will still be closer to the bottom, but on your warmer days, they will raise up several feet off of the bottom. These are the fish you want to target. They will be most aggressive, and most willing to take your presentation. It is very important when targeting these fish, to watch your electronics. If the fish comes at your bait, but swims off, and after seeing this happen from a few fish, switch it up. People get wrapped up in trying the same bait and presentation time after time, but read the fish, and give them what they want. Color, lure size, hair vs. no hair, can all make a difference. Find out what the aggressive fish want and target them.
This time of year the big walleyes and pike will start to feed heavy again on their last stage of preparing for the spawn. For pike, shallow bays, creek and river inlets, along with areas that are edged with submergent vegetation are key areas to target. Go big with your presentations and don’t be afraid of shallow water. They will be in there chasing, so take advantage of it while big game is still open. The walleyes will be still hitting deep water, but target the deep structure. Moving on and off these areas to feed, fish will find these deep underwater points, and humps to stock up on needed fats for the spawn. I really like to target these fish with a large jigging spoon right now, and tip it with a half or whole minnow.
Im not sure if Mother Nature has her months mixed up this winter or not. I sure hope not, as it would only be a tease if the month of March and April turn out to be cold, and miserable. Maybe winter is going to end early this year to give us a little more time to look at open water. The extended forecast looks almost unbelievable, with two days forecasted of 50+ degrees with some rain mixed in. The warm weather should keep the fish biting, but once again, its like a broken record this winter, but use caution when venturing onto the ice with a vehicle. The lake itself will be solid, but boat landings and shorelines are the areas that get sketchy when the sun beats down. When in doubt, it never hurts to walk or take a four wheeler.
The lakes were busy this week, and especially this weekend with people enjoying the warm winter weather and sunshine. If it wasn’t for the wind, it would have felt like a spring day. The fish were out and active like the fisherman, and when they were biting, it was on. The crappies and bluegills were very aggressive, and seemed to like a bigger presentation. I like to use as big of a lure as I can for them, as when the bite is on, you can get back down the hole and into the strike zone faster. The gills were biting well during the daylight hours, and crappies were being a touch more finicky. On sunshine days, the hot crappie bite was right before the sunlight hit the treeline and lasted an hour or so. The cloudy days, I found them working about 1.5 to 2 hours before dark and feeding slightly into darkness, then shutting down for a while. At that point its just a waiting game, and picking a few out here and there in the next school to come through.
The pike were providing good action this week, as flags were flying, and people ran to check their tip ups. With the warm weather staying around, I expect this bite to stay hot, and provide good action. If you’re out looking for the walleyes, a jigging spoon, or a jig and a minnow are a go to lure right now. They will slowly become more aggressive going into March as they start to put on the last feedbag of the season. Be patient with them, and this bite should get better every week. Search deep water structure, and don’t be afraid to hit main lake basins for these fish.
Good luck fishing, and remember, introduce someone new into the outdoors. They will appreciate it for a lifetime.
It seems odd to say this at the end of January, but be careful while driving out on the ice right now. After a week of warm weather, rain, and abnormal January temperatures, conditions of the ice are all across the board on the lakes. Nothing locally happened this week that I have heard of, but around state, and into Minnesota, vehicles went through the ice on a few different lakes. Another week of mild weather is ahead of us, but should be slightly cooler than the last 7 days we just had.
Fishing has been ok, but not lights out. You can find some good steady crappie bites, and some with some good size have been coming through the holes. Find open basin areas which typically have a soft bottom. The fish are cruising these areas, and depending on the water clarity is subject to when they usually bite. On a stained color lake, many times the daytime bite can be good. On your clear water lakes, first and last light, going into dark is primetime. Schools of crappies swim around these basins looking for food, and when the school is in, make sure to be ready. I like to fish with one active jigging rod, and one dead stick. I use a small bobber on the dead stick rod with a crappie minnow. If the fish are active, they will hit your jigging rod. The more docile fish will come and look at the bait on the jigging rod, and then come to the dead stick with the live minnow. This time of year, have the dead stick 3-4 feet off bottom to capitalize on the fish.
When looking for those bigger pike, search the deeper water now instead of the shallow inside weeds. These fish move out deeper as they are searching for some bigger meals before heading back into the shallows to spawn. I like to use a big minnow, as they are eating less to conserve energy, but eating a bigger meal to make it worth while. Gradual drop offs, and deep water structure are good areas to target. Places at first ice where you caught them, drop out a little deeper to connect with these fish.
A little arctic blast followed by some warm weather this past weekend got several people out on the ice to enjoy some fishing. There is some unseasonably warm weather coming in the next week, so get out and enjoy the warm ice fishing weather while you can. The warm front is here for a while, so fishing should be great without the up and down temperatures.
The walleye bite is slowing down, which is expected this time of year in January. Start to search deeper water, and find the structure that extends farthest into the main lake. Many times the fish will sit on the soft bottom, and then hit the hard to soft bottom transition lines as they gradually come in to feed. Work around structure with a jigging spoon tipped with a whole or half minnow, and set the tip ups on the break as fish will move in and out to feed.
The crappies and bluegills are still hunkered close to the bottom. You can get them to come up a few feet to eat, and with this warm weather they will become a little more aggressive. Find out what type of presentation they like by switching colors and the size of baits. Typically you can get by with a bigger sized bait when these warm fronts hit. This helps with hookup percentages. There are several nice fish still being caught right now, but overall the numbers have dipped since the first of the year. Search the main lake basins, and you can diverge off of tight structure as fish will be out actively looking for food in the next week.
The cold weather finally arrived which made the lakes lock up fast and furious. With that said, it is still very early, and not all areas have “safe” ice to go out on. Use extreme caution when walking out to go fishing, as this time of year ice can vary in thickness. With arctic temps forecasted, we all can hope for some good ice building nights before we get a bunch of snowfall on top of it.
The walleyes can be found in the shallows chasing their prey. Key in on low light time periods, and avoid as much movement on the ice as possible. Fish are not used to people making noise over their head yet, and avoiding any unnecessary commotion on the ice can help you catch more fish. Do not be afraid to run your bait in very shallow water as fish will still go in very shallow to chase the baitfish. This is a great time to catch fish that are very aggressive with a jigging action on a rod and reel combo. Find the first drop off and work both sides of it, and you will find the walleyes moving in and out to feed. Use a jigging rap, or a spoon tipped with a minnow. When deploying tip ups, make sure to use some type of leader material of 12 inches or longer with a small treble hook.
The panfish can be found in two locations right now. I like to start along old weed beds, and underwater structure to start the season. If you know where there are fish cribs, or a stump field, fish will congregate around these. You just need to make sure you are very close to these structures. Fish can be skittish right now, so drill some holes and give it a little time for the fish to filter back in before giving up on a spot. If the fish are not found on the structure, bump out to the main lake basin areas with deeper water. Make sure to stay safe, and be smart out there right now.
Fall is a great time of year. We have plenty of options to choose from on what we would like to do in the last few weeks before the cold winter sets in. With the weather the way it has been, getting those boats out of the garage is a wise choice. It’s not too often we are given weather like this in November. Some don’t like it, others are taking advantage of it on the water.
When searching for walleyes, look for the fast dropping edges. Hard bottom areas that drop to the deepest parts of the lake hold big numbers of fish. A simple jig and a minnow is all you need right now. Start in the shallower water and work your way out deeper. Keep an eye on the depth you catch the fish at and then slow down and vertical jig that area for consistent bites. Fish have the feed bag on, and this is a great time to tie into a trophy sized fish. I like to run a 3/8 ounce jig tipped with a fathead, and I tend to run bright colors right now.
Muskies are still being caught as well. This is a great time of year for the live bait bite on the biggest sucker minnows you can find. Big baits, equal big fish. You also have the advantage to cast a bait and bring that bait to the ever waiting sucker below your boat. This gives a following muskie the choice on which one it wants to eat.
Crappies are suspending over deep water and are also feeding heavy. You can run a small jig tipped with a minnow, or the plastics have been just as effective as well. Right now you can vertical jig them, run them under a slip bobber, or set a soft tip rod in a rod holder and have it act as a dead stick.
What a difference a week makes. The temperatures are warmer than usual right now, the leaves have turned and are falling more and more by the day, its getting darker earlier, but its not dark on the water right now. The fish seemed to have turned on lately, and this bite should continue. We have been waiting for the good fall bite, and it seems to have hit.
The walleyes and muskies are key targets this time of year. The muskies are popular for their live bait bite with large suckers. Slow trolling can be effective, but it seems best to slow things down, set out a live bait rig or two off the side of the boat, and cast to the shallows or breaks. Many muskies will follow a presentation out to the boat but not strike. It is important right now to have your live bait close to your “figure 8″ at boat side. When a fish follows but does not strike, lead them with a figure 8 right to your live sucker rig and many times those fish will hit that “sitting duck” like presentation.
The walleyes have turned on their feed bag. A lot of smaller fish are hitting, but the bigger fish will follow soon. The most important thing to remember with these fall walleyes, is access to deep water. The fish like fast dropping shorelines, and deep underwater points where they can go to deep water quickly and easily. Jig and a minnow have been a great go to tactic. The fish are hitting it on the way down many times, so if you see your line go slack, set the hook right away. Bright colors have been working.
The fall colors are at their peak right now, even though it was a longer drawn out period than most. We have had one frost, and the fall seems to be a little warmer right now than usual. The fish seem to be a little like the colors right now. Not exactly sure when they want to transition into that full stage fall bite. Usually right now, the fish are in full feed bag mode and in tight congregated areas which are easy to target. The water is warmer than normal for this time of year, and I think that is the reason the fish are a little tougher to catch right now.
The walleye are in deeper water, but seem to be spread out. The best areas to target right now are long underwater points, and fast dropping shorelines. When a point or underwater structure jets out into the lake, the fish right now will usually sit on the corner that has access to deeper water the fastest. Work around the structure with a jig and a minnow, or you can slow troll or drift the wind with a Lindy rig and a small sucker minnow. When fishing the jigs, try to stay as vertical as possible, and do not be afraid to run a bigger jig and minnow. The walleye are not afraid of size right now. Set the hook as soon as you feel a bite. When running the Lindy rig, use a small sucker minnow, or the biggest fathead minnows you can find. Since these are a little bigger presentations, and you are working them slower than a jig, give the fish a few seconds to get the entire bait in their mouth before setting the hook. If you are not finding fish, move on. Fall fish congregate into small areas. Find one, pay attention to the depth, bottom structure, and you will have the puzzle solved for the day.
Cooler temperatures in the morning sure remind us that the fall is officially here. This is a great time of year as you can pick your poison of what you want to hunt from deer, ducks, grouse, to fall turkeys. There is no better way to compliment a good hunt, with a good day fishing on the water after that. This is a great time of year to find trophy fish, and they are susceptible to being caught as they are hungry and group up in certain areas to ambush their prey.
The Bass are located on underwater points and fast dropping areas. Throwing suspending stickbaits is working well. If you have fish located in a specific area, throw some plastics at them. The water is cooling rapidly so make sure to slow down the presentation and go with natural looking colors.
The walleye are finding fall haunts, as they have headed to deeper water in 22-28 feet. You can slowly lindy rig these fish with a crawler, or using a big minnow which is starting to pick up productivity. This and trolling cranks will help you cover more water. As you start to hone in on where the fish are, tie on a jig with a minnow and vertical jig them. They will cover a small area but you can work over them and really pile up the fish.
The fishing slowed down this weekend with the strong winds and cold front that moved through. Fish that were biting and being aggressive seemed to shut down and be tight lipped. The water is cooling down by the week, as we roll deeper into the fall. The fish will come back around as they are going to be feeding to pack on some weight for the coming winter months.
The walleye seemed to be active and biting, until the cold front pushed them tight to the bottom and they became a little more dormant. The fish that are hanging off of bottom a few feet are the ones to be targeting. They are the most active and willing to bite. White and bright colors seemed to be producing the best this past week. The fish are still in deeper water, and are hanging over the mud chasing the food while it is still there.
The crappies have been biting well and some real nice fish have been caught. They are hanging a little shallower than the walleyes in 12-18 feet of water. They are very aggressive right now. They are not afraid of fast action so when you are trying to locate these fish, feel free to work baits fast to get the reaction bite. Whites, greens, and yellow have been good producing colors.
September is here, and to me, that means fall. The start of hunting seasons across the state, and the fishing starts to get really good again. The busy holiday weekend is over, so you can find a lot of water to yourself if you decide to drop the boat in. The dog days of summer are over, and the fishing really starts to pick up again. Do not put your rods away just yet.
The walleyes are doing one thing right now, chasing food! This is the time when the eyes are starting to bulk up and store fat resources for the spring spawn. They are chasing down baitfish, and taking no prisoners. Find the soft bottom, or hard to soft bottom transitions to find the food they are chasing. I locate these bait balls by watching my fishing graph and you will see the bottom transition from hard to soft bottom, and then the big bait balls will show up. I have found out that you need to be within 1-2 feet of the bottom to get consistent bites and fish. I like to match the hatch the majority of time, but I am always switching colors to find the most productive one. Using a crawler harness and a bottom bouncer, or a weighted system and a small shad style bait is going to be most productive with fish on the soft bottom. Take good notes of the depth and area you’re catching fish, and work over those areas back and forth as that is where the active feeding pod of fish are at.
The bluegills are still holding on hard bottom areas. Lots of nice sized fish are biting and they seem to be very aggressive and active. Right now, small amounts of a nightcrawler, or a worm will do the trick. Find one, and you will be in for a fish catching frenzy. There are a few walleyes mixed in with these fish, but those walleyes will tend to be on the smaller side. As you move a little shallower, you can find some crappie and bass on the edges of the weeds taking advantage of what is left for the available food source. Work the edges as the main beds are still healthy and to thick to cast into until the water cools down.
We had a little taste of early fall over the weekend, but temperatures look like they will be back in the 70’s for the coming week. Daylight hours are becoming shorter, but as the lakes keep cooling, the fishing is going to pick back up hot and heavy. The early fall bite has already started.
The walleyes can be found in a couple different areas right now. There are a lot of fish that are concentrated in deeper water over soft bottom. Many perch are out in these areas right now and the walleye are chasing them. When targeting these fish, matching the hatch can be crucial. Somedays the fish will only hit on perch colors or a very close variation. Crawler harnesses with a perch colored blade, or small crank baits will be the best way to target these fish. Make sure you are within a foot or two of the bottom to get bit. The edge of the weeds can also be a good area to target fish right now. Fish can be in good numbers, but will be on certain locations of the weed bed. Finding the exact spot can be a little more difficult, but once you find one, stay on them.
If you are chasing largemouth bass, locate the weed beds and target areas that have a change in them. Weed edges parallel to shore tend to not hold as many fish as when an open pocket can be found, a point in the weeds that stick farther into the open water, or a sharp inside cut. Cast plastics with a bullet sinker into these areas and work it back to the boat.
Summer is slowly nearing the end as kids are starting fall sports, and will be heading back to school soon. Many people will start trading the fishing rod in for a gun or bow. No need to do this yet as there’s plenty of good fishing, as it will continue to be good as we roll into early fall.
The largemouth bass are sitting in the vegetation as they search for small baitfish to feed on. Find keys areas in these weeds such as open pockets, weed points that stick out farther off the main bed, or where your weeds meet a hard bottom area. Pitching plastic worms into these areas has been providing a fair amount of strikes.
The smallmouth are holding in deep water over the hard bottoms. When you find one, you will find several that are feeding in schools. They are actively feeding on crayfish so make sure to imitate colors when selecting your lure choice.
The walleye are holding in two different areas of the lake. The thermocline is very prevalent right now and pushing the fish into certain areas. There is a hard bottom bite of rock and gravel humps, as well as fish sitting outside of the weed edges over the mud bottom. While targeting the mud bottom fish, try trolling, as many of these fish are chasing schools of baitfish. Trolling spinners or crankbaits over these fish will help you cover water and figure out what the fish want as far as speed, depth, and color. When targeting the hard bottom fish, slip bobbers and Lindy rigs are go to tactics. Leeches are already harder to come by at the local bait stores, so do not be afraid to try crawlers.
The weather has been great for fishing, and this stable weather pattern will continue through the next week. It looks like some rain in the forecast for Thursday, but other than that we will have great weather. The fish are going to start to transition more and more by the day as the nights get cooler and daytime high temps are going to slowly start dropping also.
The walleye are still holding on mid lake structure, and deep underwater points. As many of their food sources are getting bigger and leaving the vegetation for deeper water, the walleye are following them. Each lake will transition at a different time period, so make sure to move around to find fish. If you are not catching them, chances are they are somewhere else. They are being very aggressive right now so move to find the fish. Also a side note, every day that passes, leeches are harder and harder to come by if you need to pick up one last container.
The bluegills are holding in deeper water as well. This can be on the deep edge of a weed line, or on mid lake structure. Using a half of a leech, or a small portion of a worm or crawler under a bobber has been producing lots of fish. Once you find a fish, keep in that area as they are very congregated on certain spots.
The month of July has flown by. After this weekend we are already into August, and the heat we have had is reminding us we are in the middle of summer. This next week looks a little cooler, but we will still have hot and humid temperatures. The lakes are stratifying and having a thermocline, lots of rain and warm weather have taken some of the water clarity away, and the fish are definitely moving into deep summer patterns.
The walleye were hot and heavy on the live bait bite two weeks ago, and that has slowed down from its peak. Fish can still be caught on crawlers and leeches if presented right, but the “hard” artificial baits have really started to shine. As the baitfish are now reaching a bigger size, they are moving away from the vegetation and heading out to deeper water. The walleyes go where the food is, so they are starting to follow them. Right now there is a deep bite chasing the baitfish, and there are still some fish on the underwater structure. The structure fish are on very pinpoint spots so make sure to locate some and fish the area. Late summer fish can be tough, so do not be afraid to break out of the box and try something new.
The panfish bite is still going strong with live bait. They have moved to deeper water and can be found in 10-20 feet depending the lake. They are biting well, and they are aggressive. The best way to catch them are with a slip bobber 2-4 feet off of the bottom tipped with a half a leech or a small garden worm.
Late summer and into fall is a great time to chase Muskie. It really heats up on Rice Lake and you can throw big aggressive baits at them. Bucktails and Jerkbaits are the go to lure of choice right now. Find the underwater structure and fish the tops and edges of them. Fish can always be found on the edges of the weeds as they cruise the edges looking for baitfish. People always cast perpendicular to the weed edge. Try something different and try casting parallel to them, or at best a 45 degree angle. This will keep you in the strike zone longer and create more follows and strikes.
What a great past week of weather we had. The stable weather helps keep the fish biting, and its comfortable to be on the lake fishing without lots of wind, and the typical July humidity. Its been a warm and enjoyable stretch here, and the fish seem to be liking the weather as well.
The walleye bite right now is some of the best I have seen. With local lakes having water temperatures in the mid 70’s the fish are holding in summer haunts, but the water is still cool enough that they are unattainable to catch. The bite has been phenomenal on the leeches. It seems if you put a leech in front of a walleye right now, they are going to eat it. I have fished several different lakes in the last week and this was the case on all of them. Whether you’re along the weed edge, or finding fish out on the edges of deep structure, the fish were hungry and active. It was a numbers week, and a week for some BIG fish as well. This bite should continue for another week or two so get out and enjoy it. The walleye were holding in various depths from 12-32 feet of water. Each lake the fish will hold in a different part of the water, but they are holding on structure for now, and they will be until the humidity and summer heat really kick in before they start to suspend.
The edge of the weeds is holding a lot of fish in general and they are willing and ready to eat. From bass, bluegills, crappie, northern pike, and perch, the weedy vegetation areas are loaded with fish. Casting a leech, or worm under a bobber is a great way to just plain catch fish. If you can find areas where there are pockets without weeds, or where the weeds jet out into a point, or an inside turn, they are holding more fish than the typical straight edge of weeds. If you are looking for a fish fry, this is a good place to find several fish species right now, and they are on the chew.
Fishing report courtesy of Jordan Marsh from Marsh Outdoors
The next week is going to be a busy week on the lake with the holiday weekend coming up. Fishing has stayed decent even with the amount of rain we have had in the area within the last week. With the amount of boat traffic we will see this weekend, we all need to respect each other and enjoy the great natural resource we are so lucky to be able to enjoy here in Northern Wisconsin.
The walleye bite is still going well as the lake temperatures have not sky rocketed due to the rain. The wind and rain help keep surface water temperatures down a bit, and are not sending the fish completely out of the shallows yet. There are still plenty of walleye that are still buried in the shallow weed beds. They weeds are mature now and hard to fish inside of them, but stick close to the edges or find an open pocket to find the fish. Casting a jig right to the edge and working it back, or using live bait to work around the edges have been producing fish. There has also been a deep bite on mid lake structures. Fish will tend to concentrate on the very edges, and the most active ones are on the top to feed. Many times these fish are found on the side closest to deep water as they move on and off the flats to feed. Using leeches and crawlers are the go to baits of choice right now.
The weeds will produce your bass and bluegills right now. The gills are feeding and you can still find some good fish relatively shallow. Find a weed bed and drop a half a worm under a bobber and you will stay busy catching fish. The best bet for the largemouth bass is to find developed weed growth and throw plastics on the edges. The fish are aggressive right now and hitting worm imitations. Experiment with a few colors, and you will be able to find which color they prefer real quick.
The weather has stabilized, and the fishing has done the same. The end of May and beginning of June was on fire for all fish species, and now the fish have started to move into the summer haunts. Fishing is still good, and they are hungry, but you need to start searching new areas to find the fish.
The panfish have wrapped up the spawn, and have made their way out to some deeper water to feed and bulk up. Vegetation beds are holding a lot of fish. As the fish move from spawning areas to summer areas, they will stop around wood and vegetation to eat the abundant amount of food that hang out in the weeds. Some fish will stay and live there all summer long depending on the size of fish, or availability of other food sources in the lake, but right now there are loads of fish to be caught on the edges of these plants. Casting a real small jig tipped with a minnow, leech, or worm can be a fun way to catch aggressive fish. Casting a hook with the same bait and top it off with a bobber is the typical way to catch them, and has been very effective. You do not need to be on the bottom for these fish. Many times they will suspend and also swim up for your offering. Move around until you find a group of fish that are active.
The walleyes have started to move into deeper water as well. The summer haunts are in full swing. They have found the deep water gravel and rock bars. There are still a good amount of fish that are still in the shallow waters in the vegetation that are actively feeding on baitfish, but many of the bigger fish have slid down into deeper water. Live bait rigging has been the most effective tactic and the fish are really taking leeches right now. A very important component to this is making sure to have a real active and lively leech presentation. If you catch a fish and the leech is tattered and beat up, throw a new lively one on there. The fish seem to be holding right on the tips of structures in small areas so make sure to move around to find where the group of fish are holding.
When it comes to fishing, usually consistent weather is a good thing. Consistently raining though, is not always the best situation. It drops the water temperature, can push some fish out of the shallows, especially when lighting and thunder are mixed in. With all of the weather we have been having, the fish are still pretty active, but it has affected the bite.
Bluegills are still pushed up in the shallow water with some of the fish spawned out, and some are still waiting to spawn. This greatly depends on the water temperature of the lake that you are fishing. Casting in a small bobber with a hook and worm, or a small leech have been keeping people occupied. There are still a lot of boats out fishing and enjoying our great resource. Check the shallow water areas where fish have made their spawning beds, and cast in and around them. Typically these will be in shallow water from 1-3 feet, however, in a clear lake this weekend, I saw them down as deep as 5-6 feet. Do not get too close to the beds and spook the fish. Slowly roll into the area with a trolling motor, or a paddle. This will keep the fish on their bed, and more willing to bite right away. It is always a good reminder to not harvest all of the fish out of an area. Take what you need, and save some of these spawning fish for the next group.
The walleye are still in the shallows of 8-14 feet of water, but the bigger fish seem to be moving down deeper into the 14-18 feet of water. Live bait has been very effective. They are holding tight to the structure right now. That can be a newly growing weed bed, or on the edges of a drop-off, but they are definitely holding to something. They have been sitting in schools, so if you catch one, go back over that area and you will find more there. There have been a lot of big fish biting lately, and this should continue for a little while before they find their deep summer haunts.
We have had some great weather the last week, and I hope everyone was able to get out and enjoy it on the water. The coming week looks wet and soggy, and could put a damper on the good fishing bite that is going on right now. Water temps are rising, and the fish are active.
The walleye have started to hit the deeper water, and slowly filtering onto some mid lake humps. They are still hitting the shallows along the shorelines in low light, but not in great numbers. My bait preference has switched from using minnows, to now using leeches and some crank baits. The fish are more aggressive now, and showing them something with a little more action will work. Minnows will still catch fish, but as the water warms, they stop losing the effectiveness with baitfish naturally hatching in the lakes.
The crappie bite is good on many different lakes right now. The spawn is all dependent on the size of the lake and the water temperature. The prime water temperatures for the spawn are anywhere from 56-60 degrees. The small or shallow lakes are in post spawn, while the medium to bigger sized lakes are just heating up and getting good. A bobber with a small jig and minnow underneath are always a great choice, and tipping a jig with plastic is a great alternative if you don’t have live bait. I really enjoy ditching the bobber all together and casting in small jigs and I tip it with a minnow most of the time. I can hop it over and around timber real well, and the crappies are very aggressive and sometimes prefer this over a bobber rig. A long medium-light action rod is best for this application. With the crappies in the shallows and how easy they are to catch this time of year, it never hurts to hit the conservation mode. Let those females spawn, and select harvest on the males. The male will be very dark black in color, and you should be able to see the bulging bottom of the females that are full of eggs. They will also be lighter in color.
Have fun fishing and make it a safe holiday weekend. Pack the rain gear!
Fishing reports via Jordan Marsh from Marsh Outdoors
The fishing opener has come and gone again for another year. It sure felt good to have the boat back in the water on our home lakes, and the sound of boat engines was great. It had to be one of the nicest openers weather wise that I can remember. Despite some wind on Saturday, the warm weather and sunshine was plentiful. I heard some mixed reports on people catching fish and not catching fish, but it is early yet and there is plenty of time to keep catching fish this summer.
There are all types of bodies of water out there to catch fish in, but I am a walleye guy and spent the weekend using jigs and minnows to catch them. In the dark and at first light, the fish were biting well, and being found in 6-8 feet of water which is typical for having an opener this late, and having the early spring we did. As the morning progressed and more boat pressure showed up, the fish slid into deeper water and sat off of the first break into deeper water. Instead of casting shorelines, I used a vertical approach to catch the fish. When casting into the shorelines, use as light of a jig as possible such as 1/8 oz. and slowly bring the jig back. If it is windy, you will have to use a bigger jig to keep bottom contact. When sliding deeper, I like to use a 3/8 oz. to stay vertical. Jig and minnow seemed to be the best bet, while the leeches took a few fish. Right now is a great time to take advantage of these walleyes feeding in low light along the shorelines in the shallow water.
The crappies are starting to move into the shallow water to prepare for the spawn. With some warm weather, the small lakes will be getting prime to catch some of those fish. Using a small jig tipped with a crappie minnow or small plastic is all you need. The fish are pre staging right now and can be found just outside of typical spawning areas. Watch the water temperature and when it hits the low 60’s this is when the crappies will be most active and on the spawning sites.
The famed Wisconsin fishing opener is two and half weeks away. I have seen numerous boats coming out of storage, docks and lifts are starting to dot the shorelines, and some warmer weather has a guy excited for the first day of fishing inland waters. This weeks article is not going to cover how and where to catch fish, but I’m going to explain what I use in the first few weeks of the season for equipment to help catch those sometimes finicky walleye.
There’s no doubt, a simple jig and minnow combination is the go to tactic for early spring walleye. It’s such a versatile presentation that can be fished vertical or horizontal, with different speeds and action. This year with the ice leaving so early, fish will not be in numbers congregated right up tight on the shorelines. Check deeper water as fish will be pushed more onto those secondary breaks.
I like to have a medium action rod which gives you great backbone to set the hook, which is needed if the fish bite mid jig or with some slack in the line. I spool my reels with 6lb monofilament line. The meat and potatoes comes down to the jig and minnow. I choose fathead minnows when it comes to the meat, as far as the jig goes, will vary lake to lake and due to weather conditions.
When casting shorelines, I like to pitch 1/8 oz. jigs but a 1/4 oz. jig can be needed in a stiff wind. Due to the early spring, vertical presentations are going to be a very popular tactic for opener, and they require a heavier jig to help maintain bottom contact, which is the most crucial part. Generally I will run a 3/8 oz. jig and move around my area at a speed that keeps that jig vertical, or a slight vertical drag. I have also had great success by jigging a shoreline, and using a dead stick rod with a jig and minnow that sits 12-18″ off of bottom. You will be surprised at how many fish this extra rod will catch you. Slip it into a stable rod holder, and loosen the drag in case of a snag. Using a very limber light action rod is great for this. As the rod “loads” up and bends, set the hook and reel in the fish.
Slip bobber rigs are also a great early season tactic. Again, I use 6lb test monofilament line, but you can get away with a medium light action rod on these. One thing I really like to do is to add a small barrel swivel to the end of the main line, and tie on a 12-18″ fluorocarbon leader in 6-8lb test. First off, fluorocarbon line is clearer underwater, and secondly this will keep your sinkers from sliding down which can deter fish, and cut up your line. Just make sure to put the sinkers between your barrel swivel, and the bobber. Thirdly, I like to run leeches all the time on slip bobbers because they give more action than a minnow. Leeches love to swim and spin which can cause troubles in your line. Adding this swivel will allow the leech to do his thing, and will avoid line twists. The leech should be attached by a number 6, or number 8 hook.
Ice is going fast out there right now. Use extreme caution wherever you go out fishing, as the ice conditions are changing by the day right now. Last weekend I was fishing a spot that had about 13″ of ice on Sunday. I drove by this weekend and there was open water right where we were sitting. Use caution, as no fish is worth falling through the ice over. With rain on Tuesday and Wednesday, it can make for very poor ice conditions. There are two things that can really chew up ice quickly, and that is wind and rain. With rain the last two days, and wind blowing in the high teens Wednesday and Thursday, fishing this weekend could be sketchy.
For those still trying to venture on the lake for some late ice panfish, look higher in the water column. Fish will feed up much higher now, as water drains back down the hole. You can try very aggressive fishing, and if they are not active, move on. Fish this time of year should be going fast and furious. As the ice leaves the lakes, hit the fish cribs for early open water crappies and bluegills.
If you do venture onto the lake, be safe, be smart, and good luck fishing. Remember, introduce someone new into the outdoors. They will appreciate it for a lifetime.
We had quite the change of ice conditions over the last few days. Early last week the lakes were looking bare, and it was hard to find snow on the ice. After a few inches of fresh snow on Friday, the lakes were covered Saturday, and half of a day on Sunday. We are now back to standing water on the ice. Unless the forecast changes, the ice is going to start deteriorating at a fast rate. Some boat landings are already pulling away and starting to look sketchy. There is still 13-16″ of ice once you are on the lakes depending on where you go, but as the temperatures stay warm, some rain is in the forecast, and not getting below freezing at night, safe ice will diminish fast.
The big game fishing season has closed now until the fishing opener on May 7th. Put the tip ups away, and start rigging up the boat and long rods. It will be here before we know it! For now, there is still a good bite for catching late ice panfish. This is my favorite time to target them during the ice season, as they get real aggressive and start to eat fast and furious. Fish are already suspending off the bottom more and more. This will continue to happen as the ice starts to deteriorate and the weather stays warm. Crappies and bluegills have been finicky the past few days, but figure out what it takes to make them bite and you will catch them. My best tactic for crappies was to jig real aggressive with a “moon glow” style jig, and as the fish fired up and came after my jig and crappie minnow, I held it completely motionless. If I continued to jig, it seemed to push them away. This can change by the day, so always find what the fish prefer.
Its always a saddening feeling when you watch the “villages” on the lakes start to dwindle down to just a few lonesome shacks on the ice. Its been a tough winter for making ice, and the weather made numerous people pull their shacks off of the lakes this past weekend. When the weather gets warm like that, the edges of the lakes are what start to go first. There is still a solid sheet of ice on the main lake, but around boat landings where people drive on is where you need to check and use caution as we move forward here.
The panfish were very suspended off of the bottom this last weekend. When the water warms like that, and there is some water that runs back into the hole, it seems to fire the fish up. The fish were sitting within a few feet of bottom, but as I was dropping my bait down, fish would swim up and my fish were caught 8-12 feet off of the bottom. For as fast as the fish would swim up to check out my presentation, they were finicky to bite, and after watching them react on my electronics, I knew I needed to change something. Size was a big factor for me as I had a hard time catching fish on a big presentation. I dropped way down on the size of my jig, and went with only one wax worm, but I covered almost all of the hook. Sometimes pressure will make fish harder to catch, and this seemed to be one of those circumstances. I also found fish wanting little to no action at all in the bait. I would hold my rod tip completely motionless as the fish approached. One trick I also like to do is to pack some snow or slush next to my hole. I get the bait to the desired depth and set my rod and reel on that pile. This keeps my rod motionless. I will keep my hands off the rod, but waiting to grab it as soon as those fish bite. I had this work many times, and sometimes you need to do these small things to get more bites.
The rain on Friday turned the lakes into a mess with water sitting on top, turning into slush, and also freezing making the ride on the ice not a very comfortable one. The weather has still been mild which is nice on a guys body and hands, but we definitely do not have the safest of ice out there so be sure to use caution for the rest of the season. We are looking at another nice day Saturday, and even some decent weather on Sunday. One can’t complain about the nice weekends we have had this ice fishing season!
The fish were active before and after the rain this last week. The panfish were more suspended, and once they were found, they were very active to bite. A small jig and either a wax worm or spike was a great producer. White, or an off white color was working well. If you are on a group of fish and they do not seem interested, move on, there are groups of fish that are very aggressive and want to eat.
I have not targeted walleye for a little while now, but historically this time of year, I am fishing in deep water off of edges that go from hard bottom, and transition into a mud or soft bottom. Good key areas are fast dropping edges, or long underwater points that stick out into the main lake. They will also be in the deeper water basin close to these underwater structures, as they suspend and chase bait as they bulk up for the spawn. Do not be afraid to go big and aggressive on these fish. Entice them into taking a look and close the deal with an aggressive jigging action.
The weather can play a huge roll during the ice fishing season. When its warm and comfortable, people are all over enjoying the lakes. Then when we are given bitter cold days like the last few, it makes it hard to get out and fight the temperatures. The weather is calling for a nice warm stretch, but with rain in the forecast, it could make the ice and lakes interesting. We have not had many long stretches of continuous extreme cold weather, so one thing to always watch for is ice safety. Depending on the rain that we get over the next few days, make sure to use caution as always when on the ice. Rain can beat up ice very quickly, and make things messy. If it freezes it will add more ice, but that’s not always the best type of ice.
I am going out on a limb by saying this, but I am predicting this next week the fish will be biting well. With the warmup after a big cold front, and some weather moving through, I plan to catch fish this weekend on a consistent level. Keep it simple right now with the fish. Dropping small presentations tipped with wax worms, or spikes will be what you need to target the crappies and bluegills. As the sun fades, add small crappie minnows under a slightly larger jig, or under a bobber to entice the schools of crappies.
You will be able to find the Northern pike roaming the shallows just inside or on the very outside of old weed edges. Also do not overlook where creek channels, or rivers flow into a system to target pike. They are going to be putting on the feed bag heavy as they start to prepare for the spawn. Do not be afraid to use the largest sucker, or shiner minnows you can find this time of year. There are still a few weeks left to take advantage of the big game fishing season and this can be a great time to put a trophy on the ice.
The weather has taken the opposite turn, and it’s going to stay that way for the next week or so. This is going to make fisherman less mobile as we try to stay warm on a more “typical” winter weather pattern for this time of year.
Fish have already started to become a little more tight lipped as the cold front has pushed in. One way I like to combat that, is to drop down in size of bait and less action. When chasing crappies, I will switch to the more conventional slip bobber rig as fish I can use a small crappie minnow and I use a very tiny treble hook on the business end. My slip bobbers will hook the majority of the fish, and my other rod I will send down a small jig tipped with a minnow as well. The dead stick with a bobber should be left alone, and kept natural and just let that minnow do it’s work.
I have been doing the exact opposite for jigging the walleyes. I have seen many fish come up on the electronics, and go back down to the bottom as they do not have much enticement to bite. I switched to a very aggressive style lure and started to ice a few fish. I like to run a blade bade which sends off a lot of vibration, brings fish in for a look, and you’re aggressive fish will hit on instinct. These fish will fly off the bottom and hit hard, so be ready!
It is not to often we are given many warm days in January. We were gifted with a beautiful warm weekend and it seems like a lot of people got out to enjoy the lakes fishing. We have about another week of mild weather, so get out and enjoy the fish while they are active, and the weather is favorable to ice fish.
The crappies were on a steady bit this week. Depending on the lake, the morning, midday or after dark bite has been good. It seems each body of water has its “time to shine.” Wax worms or spikes have been very productive in daylight, and then I have been switching over to a minnow as the light fades into darkness. I did very well on green and white colors, and the bigger size baits were working for the crappies. The bluegills had a little more of an attitude and were finicky on the color, and size of the presentation. I also found that a more subtle jigging approach was more effective for the gills, and the crappies were aggressive.
Walleyes are still being caught in the shallows, but many of the fish are sliding out into deeper water. February is a great month to head out to some of the deepest water of the lake, and find fish that are suspended and ready to eat. Pick a deep water area and jig suspended. If you are using electronics, and you see a suspended fish, go after it. Many times they are aggressive, and will hit a jigging spoon tipped with a minnow, or a jigging rap. Be patient with these fish as the size will be better than quantity, and the bite will get better as the month goes on.
The temperatures have finally caught up to the calendar and we are getting a more “normal” Wisconsin winter. Cooler temps have made more ice, and more ice means more people fishing on the safer ice. It was a long wait, but the ice fishing season is in full swing.
The crappies have been biting for a few hours in the evening. It seems as if they are biting the last hour of daylight, and will continue for a few hours after. Then they seem to shut down. Schools of crappies move in and out of areas, so take advantage of biting fish while you can. When you catch one fish, get the bait right back down as more fish are willing to bite. Some nights the fish want as much glow as possible. Other nights they want some or no glow at all. Find the right color and amount of glow and you will take advantage of those traveling schools.
When looking for those walleyes, find some shallow water that has vegetation by it. Fish will sit in deeper water and move up during low light hours for short feeding windows. Key areas are spots that fish can move from shallow water, to deep water in a few flips of a tail. During daylight hours, entice the walleye with a jigging spoon tipped with a minnow out on the edge of the deeper basin. As low light draws near, have holes punched leading into shallow water to intercept the feeding fish moving to shallow water.
Cold weather has finally arrived, and the local lakes have finally become hard water. It has been a long drawn out period for many that were waiting for cold weather. The cooler temperatures are here, the local forecast is bringing cooler weather so get out and enjoy the ice fishing season.
People were out in full force this weekend trying their luck, and many had a very successful outing. The walleyes were still hitting the shallow water as the sun dropped. Find the old weed edges and drop a small sucker, or shiner minnow down with a tip up in 10-14 feet of water. As the light fades, the walleye will slide out of the deeper water and roam the shallows trying to find their nightly meal. For those looking for some fish before the sun drops, check out the deeper water with a jigging spoon, or jigging raps to entice an early bite.
The panfish were also eating in full force. Find the deeper basin of the lake and fish will be sitting there. Right now fish are holding tight to the bottom. The higher in the water column you can find fish, will be your most aggressive feeders. Use a small tear drop style jig tipped with a wax worm.
Many people are enjoying the unseasonably warm weather we have had so far. If you are an ice fisherman, this has been a terrible start to winter. Mother nature teased us early on with a skim of ice that covered some smaller lakes, which was slowly taken away from warm weather and rain. The weather is slowly cooling down, and as the new year approaches, temperatures are still looking mild for this time of year.
For those venturing onto the first inches of thin ice, make sure to use caution. With these cooler nights, we are building some ice, but it is by no means safe. Start with the smaller lakes to venture out. There were a few people out on Rice Lake over the weekend, but there were still a few spots of open water on the south end. Try targeting the first areas of deeper water as we are nearing January, fish will be found sitting in basin areas. Underwater structure is always a good starting point when trying to find fish, so search the adjacent deep water next to it and the fish should be close.
Good luck fishing and remember, introduce someone new into the outdoors. They will appreciate it for a lifetime
The Wisconsin gun deer season has come and gone for another season, duck hunting is closed, goose season is nearing an end, and just about everyone has their boat stored away for winter. A select few are still hunting with a muzzleloader or holding off for a last chance archery hunt The majority of people are waiting for the first safe ice. Some lakes have ice, or sections with ice on them but by no means are you completely safe to go on them in my opinion. The extended forecast is showing temperatures in the 30’s and 40’s, so we wont be adding a lot of ice in the near future unless the temps change, or its clear and cold at night. Ice fish with caution on this so far mild fall/winter.
When you safely decide to head out for the first ice, walleye are typically a main target. When trying to catch them, start in shallow water and work your way deeper as the season progresses. As the season starts, I generally like to target 6-12 feet of water. Fish will roam the shallows in low light time periods chasing food. Finding structure is a good go to starting point. Finding underwater points, rock piles, old weed beds, or any abrupt change in depth or a contour area is where the fish will be. Make sure to use a fluorocarbon leader between your hook and the main line to avoid spooking those walleyes. The ice season is when you will find the cleanest, clearest water as the algae has died off, there is no runoff from rainfall, and the wind can’t stir up the lake. So the fluorocarbon line puts you in a stealth mode. Tip a #10 treble hook with a sucker or shiner, and set that 1.5 – 2.0 feet off bottom for the best results. Walleyes will feed up, and with the clear water they will have no problem finding your bait.
Cooler temps in the 40’s and 50’s in the forecast definitely have it feeling like fall. Most people will be taking to the deer woods for the next month as the bucks are moving more and more by the day. The lakes will be bare if you feel the itch to get some good fall fishing in.
Finding fish deeper is the best place to start looking. Walleyes are a very structure related kind of fish, and if you find the areas they are in, you will have great success right now as they are schooled up. Sharp drop offs are a great place to look in the fall. The walleyes prefer the sharpest drop-offs in the fall so concentrate on those areas when you head out to the lake. Do not be afraid to use big bait as the feed bag is on. I tend to run a heavier jig this time of year to get the bait deeper fast, and to add some bulk to my presentation. You can control your vertical drop speed by slowly lowering the jig and minnow down. Trolling is a great way to cover water and find an active pod of fish. Once you do, slow it down and hover over them with a jig to catch fish after fish.
Good luck fishing and remember, introduce someone new into the outdoors. They will appreciate it for a lifetime
The lakes are being used less and less each week. As more hunters take to the woods and field, the fish are putting on the feed bag more and more. The majority of walleyes are in deeper water now. As fall progresses, fish will find deeper water until first ice hits. Finding fish deeper is the best place to start looking. There is a lot of deep water out there and a lot to eliminate. Find deep underwater structure which can be sand flats, rock piles, and even mud flats. A slight rise of even 2-3 feet can be all it takes to hold these fall fish. Eliminate dead water by finding long underwater points, steep drop offs, and long bars. Fish will generally sit on one particular area so move around until you find them.
Some eyes are being caught in 12-14 off the weed edges but they won’t be in as big of a concentration.
The lakes are starting to see more color, and less boat traffic. The fall is a great time to catch fish, and a great time to find some of the biggest fish of the season. With the fish in a fall feeding frenzy, now is the time to get some peaceful time on the water and catch numbers of fish.
Walleyes are feeding heavily bulking up for the winter and spring spawning season. It’s hard to think of the spring spawn at this time of year but that’s exactly why these fish are feasting. Fish are holding on sharp drop off’s and deep underwater points. If you can find hard bottom deep down, you will find fish. If you find a school of them, try a jig and minnow. Vertical jigging fall walleyes is a blast, and many times if you find a big school you can boat 40-50 fish in a half day. Find a color they want and work over the fish slowly. Another great way to catch fish, and sometimes catch the biggest of fish, is to troll crankbaits over them. The fish are still aggressive so if there’s a certain shape or color that is not working, switch it up and the fish will tell you what they like.
The smallmouth are still relating to structure and many of them in shallow water in 6-12 feet. Find green vegetation, underwater rock piles, fish cribs and structures, and the smallies will be near by. They are being caught on spinner baits. Make sure to find a speed the fish will bite on. As the water cools, the baits will need to be worked slower.
The colors are slowly starting and should be great by next week. The water is cooling down, and the weather looks great for this coming weekend. Some of the best fishing of the year is happening right now, and will progress into October. Finding the fish is key right, but when you do, you’ll find big schools and have fun catching.
There are many bass right now that can be caught in the shallow water. Finding weeds are crucial, and if you can still find healthy green weeds, your on the spot. Since the water is cooling, slow down your presentations. Smaller bullet weights for your plastics are a good idea, and if your casting cranks, make sure to keep it slow.
The walleyes are being caught in two different areas. They are hunkered in the green weeds with the bass, or out deeper on hard bottom areas with a sharp drop off. By far the best presentations right now are a jig and minnow combination, or trolling cranks. If you find a pod of fish sitting on a distinct area, take your time and jig. If they are in pods along a break line, troll cranks by them to get bit.
Cooler temperatures have the fish on the fall patterns, and definitely starting to eat. Some bigger fish are being caught as the fish are starting to bulk up.
The walleyes can be found on both the mud and hard bottom areas. This time of year fish will school to some extent with fish of their size. So if you’re caching all small fish, move on to find some bigger caliber fish if that’s what you want to find. If you find fish spread out over an area such as the mud or along a break line, trolling is your best option. Cranks are going to be a great option so you can cover water. If you find fish concentrated on a point or a particular area, stop and jig with a crawler or minnow to entice a bite. Slowly move around and pick off these hungry fish. When jigging I like to use a heavy 3/8 ounce jig and stay vertical on them. They will be very aggressive and if you find a school you can boat 20-30 walleyes on the same spot with how congregated they are.
September is here, and to me, that means fall. The start of hunting seasons across the state, and the fishing starts to get really good again. You can find a lot of water to yourself if you decide to drop the boat in.
The walleyes are doing one thing right now, chasing food! This time of year the perch are hanging over the soft bottom areas in the lakes. The walleyes will be close behind them on a feeding frenzy. I like to troll spinners with crawlers, or smaller crankbaits through these bait balls and the fish will be biting. I locate these bait balls by watching my fishing graph and you will see the bottom transition from hard to soft bottom, and then the big bait balls will show up. I have found out that you need to be within 1-2 feet of the bottom to get consistent bites and fish. I like to match the hatch the majority of time, but I am always switching colors to find the most productive one. You will also find northern pike mixed in, and sometimes you will find some real nice sized ones as well. Take good notes of the depth and area you’re catching fish, and work over those areas back and forth as that is where the active feeding pod of fish are at.
August can be a month where fishing can be very difficult. It seems there’s always a 1-2 week window when the fish are hard to find, and tough to catch. One thing I always tell people, is if you are not catching fish what you’re doing, then switch it up until you find something that is working. It might not be the best of the best fishing right now, but there are always fish biting somewhere no matter what. You need to adjust and figure out something that works.
The walleye are still congregated on the hard bottom areas. You can find them on gravel bars and mid lake humps. The best way to fish them, is live leeches or nightcrawlers. My go to tactic would be a slip bobber, or a lindy rig tipped with this live bait. Fish really seem to hold to certain areas and or structures at this time of year, so once you catch one, mark that spot with a marker buoy for an exact location mark. These fish are slowly going to work their way down into deeper water soon and start to hold over mud bottom as the perch school up. This can happen any day now so if you catch fish on hard bottom and the next day they are gone, slide deeper and deeper. They will be there close to where you just caught them.
There are some panfish holding in the weeds in the lake. Slip bobbers can be very effective so you can switch your depth when needed. Find fish right on the edge of the weeds chasing baitfish, or you can cast just into them. Make sure if you cast into them, you need to shallow up your presentation so you are above the fish, and not buried in the weeds. Search for open pockets to cast into as well. Your best vegetation to fish are your broadleaf pond weeds. Stringy dense weeds are harder to fish in and will get stuck on your presentation much easier.
The walleyes are being found in a variety of depths depending on the body of water. Find the depth that the fish are located in, and you will be able to catch several fish. This time of year, many fish can be caught trolling. This allows you to cover water, and find the aggressive fish. Cranks or spinners are working, so pick your poison and go after them. Fish are really following the baitfish, and you will find plenty perch in the system right now. Depending on the lake, you will find these buried in the weeds, or sometimes over the soft bottom areas. Some days it is best to match the hatch and use perch colors, and other days, its best to do the exact opposite. Experiment and see what the fish tell you.
Slip-bobbers are still catching plenty of fish as well. Fish are sitting on the edges and moving onto the flats at night. Catch them moving up and you will catch plenty of fish to keep you busy.
The bluegills are sitting in deeper water on mid lake structures where you can find hard bottom areas. There are some bluegills located in the weeds, but your bigger gills will be found on the structures. Small leeches are the ticket, and they are very aggressive right now so you can set the hook right away. They are in big schools but sitting in specific areas. Once you find them, you’ll have your hands full.
The bass are hiding within the stumps for cooler water and some shade to avoid the bright sunlight. When you hook one, make sure to aggressively bring the fish to the boat. They will hit the bait and try to drag you into the stump, sometimes not being able to get the fish. Throwing plastics are your best bet.
The hot heat and humidity are here, and one may think of wanting to spend time on the lake swimming, or doing water sport activities before fishing to beat the heat. In recent history though, fishing heats up with the weather as well.
In years past, I have personally had great luck in the hot humid days of summer. The walleyes really congregate in certain areas, and there can be plenty of “dead” water so you need to find the fish. Once you do, there should be a good school of them to catch. In the summer heat, fish will use the vegetation to hide from the heat, as well as deep structure where the water is cooler. Live bait is my favorite go to tactic. Make sure to keep the live bait fresh and active. With my leeches, I like to use a “leech tamer” to add a few dozen leeches in for the day. I will throw that in my livewell and pump fresh water into that all day. It will acclimate your leeches to the lakes water temperature, and it seems to keep them very active, rather than having them sit on cold ice all day. Keeping crawlers cold and firm is also crucial. As soon as they heat up, they will turn soft. Keeping them to a nice firm figure will make them look more plump and a better meal for the walleye.
The largemouth bass are hiding in stumpy areas to combat the hot heat. The stumps provide overhead cover for them. When locating these stump fields, work them over well. Plastics are a great go to lure right now, and also will help keep you from snagging. The plastics will allow you to put the bait right in front of the fishes mouth and entice them to bite. For the smallmouth, check deeper rock structures for fish. These fish will pick a certain area of the hump to sit on so make sure to work over the whole thing. When you catch one, make sure to stay in the general area as there will be others near by.
It’s hard to believe that the 4th of July has already passed us, and sadly we are heading the other way on the fishing calendar now. The dog days of summer are in front of us before the fish start to eat heavy again for the fall feed bag. The lakes were busy with boat traffic and fisherman over the holiday weekend, but the fish were still biting great.
The walleyes were on a hot bite and where they were found over the weekend is many times where they will spend their summer time haunts at. Hard bottom mid lake structures held the fish this weekend. The fish were very aggressive even with the boat traffic. Live bait was the go to tactic when searching for fish on these structures. Many times you will find these fish in very specific areas on a structure. Also, not all structures are created equal so make sure to scan these areas over by graphing them on your electronics. Do not spend time fishing an area that you aren’t marking and catching fish. This time of year many of your big walleyes will start to suspend and start eating baitfish that hold over the deep water basins in the lake. Trolling stickbaits or shad raps can catch some fish, but you will be targeting bigger fish, so your catch numbers will be low.
Panfish can be caught on the edges of weeds and also on downed timber in a little deeper water. Look for cribs and underwater structure and the fish will be congregated on them. Bobbers tipped with live bait increase your odds to catch them. Move around to find the aggressive feeding fish and work them over to find the bigger fish.
The lakes around the area are going to be busy this week with the holiday weekend. Fish are going to be pressured from extra boat traffic, and more lines in the water as anglers test their luck. One thing we all need to remember is the water is public, and we need to respect boaters, anglers, and anyone enjoying the lake as a whole.
Walleyes can be found along the weed edges in 10-14 feet of water. On a sunshine day, the fish will be up tight buried in the vegetation as they are in search of shade and staying out of the hottest part of the water. On a windier day, the fish will be running in and out of them as they are hard searching for an easy meal. Fish can also be taken on mid lake humps in similar depths. They will hang on the edges in slightly deeper water during the day but will come up to feed in the morning and evenings. Take advantage of this feeding window by dragging lindy rigs, or casting slip bobber rigs with leeches or crawlers.
You will find large-mouth bass on the weed edges as well. Searching for underwater stump fields, or woody debris will also be holding fish in the hot sun. Casting plastics is a great go to tactic this time of year. Color can be a big factor at times, so make sure to switch out colors, or have you and your partner with a different color and profile bait to see what the fish prefer for the day.
Good luck fishing, have a fun and safe 4th of July! Remember, introduce someone new into the outdoors, they will appreciate it for a lifetime.
With the weather in the 70’s during the day for the next week, what could be better than sitting out on the lake catching some spawning gills, or chasing some bigger game fish? Select harvest on the bluegills is always a good idea so we can have plenty of fish to catch for the future.
The big gills are still on beds on many local lakes. Periods of some rain this week may slow that down or can push them in a bit deeper water temporarily. If that happens, fish slightly deeper in four to six feet of water and the fish will be staging just outside their beds. If you find some high pressured fish, try something different. Use a plain hook and a small sinker, but leave the bobbers at home. Cast it into the shallows and slowly jig, or slowly swim the bait back. You will be surprised how effective this can be.
The bass are being found in shallow water right now. Casting cranks into these shallow areas with hard bottom is a good choice, and if you are finding them in the weeds, top water baits are a hot ticket right now. The top water bite is by far the most exciting when it comes to bass fishing, just make sure when the fish takes the bait, you wait till you feel the fish before you set the hook. Too many people make the mistake of setting the hook at first sight of the fish taking the lure. Wait for the weight of the fish, set the hook, and your top water success rate will increase.
Finding the walleyes right now seems to be more of a spot on spot situation. They are sitting on certain areas, but when you find them, you should be able to catch several of them. Find some of the more developed weed structures as these will hold plenty of bait fish which is what the walleyes will be chasing. Right now several tactics are working. Slip bobbers with a leech, lindy rigs, jigging, and spinners are all producing fish. Depending on the situation and where the fish are holding should dictate your presentation.
June is hard to beat when it comes to fishing, and having the potential to catch fish. You can hit the shallows and fish are all around and many different species of them. We have some great weather coming up with a little chance of rain, light winds, so fishing should be on top of the list right now.
Cruise the shallows when looking for bluegills. The nice thing about our local area is the spawn lasts a while because have have many lakes of different sizes so they hit different water temperatures at different times. Just a small bobber and a hook tipped with a worm or waxie will do the trick.
The walleyes can be found and caught doing a few different tactics right now, but one great area to find them is in the shallow weeds. This is a great time when lots of panfish are up real shallow, and the vegetation is not to thick. Work the weed edges to find aggressive feeding fish. You’ll also find some of your fish just past the first break where the soft and hard bottom meet. These fish are staging to hit the shallows but they can also be caught by dropping lines in front of them.
We have hit a little cold front here in Northwest Wisconsin. Memorial Day weekend looks to be on the wetter and cooler side, but let keep our hopes up that the weather will change its mind.
The bass are starting to wrap up the spawning on many local lakes according to local bass fisherman. The fish have started to migrate to deeper water and the look for cover and they are putting the feedbag on to gain back weight lost during the spawn. The pan fish have already moved in to start or stage for spawning. If you find them you’ll find the largemouth nearby feeding on them. Right now surface lures and tubes are your go to options to catch these fish. As the weather stabilizes and the water temp increases, this bite will only get better.
The walleye in the area can still be caught in the shallows on hard bottom areas in low light conditions. Jigging or slip bobbers tipped with leeches are your best bet. Cast suspending stick baits over shallow hard bottom underwater structures for more aggressive feeding fish. When targeting them during the day, slide out a little deeper into the first hard bottom to soft bottom transition area and vertical jig to catch them.
The forecast looks like we have some wet and windy weather coming to us. That can make getting out fishing tough, but if the weather clears, or you feel like facing the elements, the fish will still be biting somewhere.
The bass are scattered in all kinds of depths. This makes it fun for chasing them because there are a variety of tactics you can use to catch them. You can start in the shallows by throwing some top water baits. There’s nothing more exciting when you’re bass fishing and they are hitting on top water. If you feel like getting down with a little more depth, throw a spinner. One thing to keep in mind is to make sure you’re fishing SLOW. The water is still cool and the fish don’t want speed right now. Slowdown that presentation and you’ll bag more bass.
The walleye are slowly and steadily moving deeper. You can still catch them in the shallows in low light, but slide into deeper water when the sun is still up. I like to vertical jig these fish right now as any times you will find them on the first deep break in a group of fish. When you find one, keep jigging that area as they will be grouped up. Leeches are going to really turn on now. The leeches are really working beneath a slip bobber so don’t be afraid to anchor up and throw out a few slip bobbers. This can be very effective when you find a school of walleyes.
Good luck fishing and remember, introduce someone new into the outdoors. They will appreciate it for a lifetime
The fishing opener turned out to be a great weekend weather wise, and many boats took the water this past weekend. The last two openers were almost nonexistent, so it’s great to know people got back out to enjoy it this year.
It was by no means a slam dunk opener, and there were mixed reports of some guys catching a few fish, to some not catching many, or any at all. The fish are still on the shorelines and many will stay there for a few more weeks. Jigging is the go to tactic right now, but throwing slip bobbers is always a great option to catch early season walleyes. Many fish were caught in 5-9 feet of water which tells me the fish are slowly moving out deeper and deeper. Don’t be afraid to slide into deeper water and try vertical jigging. Right after a lot of boat pressure that can be a great tactic. When using jigs, a minnow is good, and while deploying slip bobbers, don’t be afraid to try those leeches.
The famed Wisconsin fishing opener is just days away, and the eagerness to get the boat in the water and wet the lines are increasing by the hour for many of us. The weather for now looks great with warm temperatures, low wind, and only a small chance of thunderstorms on Sunday. It should make for a great and enjoyable fishing opener.
Opening day can be great, and it can also be frustrating because we don’t know exactly where the fish will be. The best we can do is start with a tactic and location, and learn from there. The last two weeks I covered tactics and How-To’s, now let’s cover what a typical fishing opener should be like. Since the ice went out earlier this year than the past two years, there will be several lakes where the fish will be done spawning, or on the very tail end. The walleyes will still be on the hard bottom areas and in the shallows. Opening morning, target rock and rubble from 2-12 feet. When you catch fish, take note of where your bite came from. If the fish are up tight, save some time and once you jig out a bit and don’t catch a fish, pitch back into the shallows where the fish are congregated. If you are catching fish closer to the boat, slide the boat into a little bit deeper water to connect with more fish.
Run through many different colors to find out what the fish prefer. I also like to run a dead stick rod in the holder when slowly working a shoreline. I put on a heavy jig for this, typically a 3/8 ounce. This gives me more chances to catch a fish, and I think many times we bring fish from the shallows out into deeper water, but due to the colder temps, they are lethargic and don’t always hit the jigging bait. All of a sudden there is a minnow just sitting there and they take it. I have caught countless fish doing this. Use a light action rod, and let the fish bend it over before setting the hook. Drop the jig to the bottom, reel 2-3 cranks up and let it sit. The motion of the boat going up the shoreline will keep the jig far enough off bottom to avoid snags.
The famed Wisconsin fishing opener is two and half weeks away. Boats and equipment are starting to come out of storage, the walleyes are starting the spring spawn, and preparing your gear early is going to give you a jump on this years fishing season. This weeks article is not going to cover how and where to catch fish, but I’m going to explain what I use in the first month of the season for equipment to help catch those sometimes finicky walleye.
There’s no doubt, a simple jig and minnow combination is the go to tactic for early spring walleye. It’s such a versatile presentation that can be fished vertical or horizontal, with different speeds and action. I like to have a medium action rod which gives you great backbone to set the hook, which is needed if the fish bite mid jig or with some slack in the line. I spool my reels with 6 lb mono-filament line. The meat and potatoes comes down to the jig and minnow. I choose fathead minnows when it comes to the meat, as far as the jig goes, will vary lake to lake and due to weather conditions.
When casting shorelines, I like to pitch 1/8 oz. jigs but a 1/4 oz. jig can be needed in a stiff wind. Fish are still lethargic from the cold water, so the slower the fall, the better. Vertical presentations require a heavier jig to help maintain bottom contact, which is the most crucial part. Generally I will run a 3/8 oz. jig and move around my area at a speed that keeps that jig vertical, or a slight vertical drag.
Slip bobber rigs are also a great early season tactic. Again, I use 6 lb test mono-filament line, but you can get away with a medium light action rod on these. One thing I really like to do is to add a small barrel swivel to the end of the main line, and tie on a 12-18″ fluorocarbon leader in 6-8 lb test. First off, fluorocarbon line is clearer underwater, and secondly this will keep your sinkers from sliding down which can deter fish, and cut up your line. Just make sure to put the sinkers between your barrel swivel, and the bobber. Thirdly, I like to run leeches all the time on slip bobbers because they give more action than a minnow. Leeches love to swim and spin which can cause troubles in your line. Adding this swivel will allow the leech to do his thing, and will avoid line twists. The leech should be attached by a number 6, or number 8 hook.
Warm weather has started to deteriorate the ice conditions around the area. Cooler nights will slow down the melting process, but we still have some warmer days in the forecast. This time of year you need to use extreme caution when accessing the ice.
Depending on the lake, you’re able to find fish shallow, and also find those fish deep. Finding areas where runoff is flowing into a lake can be huge. That water is warmer, and fish will congregate to that water. It may only be slightly warmer, but it’s a huge key to helping locate fish this time of year. The key is to find water that’s not to cloudy and dirty. Some fish are able to be sight fished if you can find shallow enough and clean water.
If fishing the deeper water, locate 18-22 feet of water and you should find plenty of fish out there to keep you busy. As the water pours down the holes from melting, fish will raise higher and higher into the water column. Try to catch those fish as they will be most active.
Good luck fishing, and remember, introduce someone new into the outdoors. They will appreciate it for a lifetime.
Fishing has continued to stay somewhat slow overall. Fish are being caught, but you’re working for each and every one of them. Once we start to get some steady warmer weather, that should start a steady bite again. Things will only go up from here.
When it comes to catching crappies and walleyes, one typically targets them in low light periods, or after dark. The crappies are being very finicky, and you must work to entice each and every bite. Wax worms have been working, even after dark. I always like to have a second rod next to me with a slip bobber set up about halfway down the water column to catch those crappies that are cruising and feeding hard. Use a small treble hook tipped with a bigger crappie minnow.
The bluegills are around and biting, but you have to work for them also. Hole hopping is a good idea as you are finding the few active fish in that area, then move to find new active fish. Search for the panfish in deeper water right now in the mid lake soft basin areas. There will always be fish on the bottom, and that are willing to bite, but the farther you can find fish up and suspended are your best chances to get bit.
What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time, travel on the ice was almost impossible with the amount of snow and slush we had. Right now, travel is very easy on the ice which is a good thing when wanting to chase finicky mid winter fish. I always like to say, stay mobile and always continue to look for the right fish you want to catch. Sometimes you need to find cover, or sometimes searching a different area in the water column is all it takes.
When chasing pan fish, this can be very critical. You might have loads of fish near the bottom that will bite and catch fish after fish, but sometimes raising that bait 8-15 feet off the bottom will find you less fish, but a more quality size structure. With the cooler temps coming, you may need to scale down the size of the jig to get bites. If the small jigs don’t work, do the exact opposite and bulk up the jig size. When being able to use a bigger jig you are able to be much more aggressive in your jigging which can entice finicky fish.
Search for walleyes in the deeper water. They will sit suspended chasing the roaming bait fish, or sit just off the edge of a sharp deep break line. The walleyes will become more aggressive as the days get longer.
Good luck fishing and remember, introduce someone new into the outdoors. They will appreciate it for a lifetime!
February is one of those months that can make for some tough fishing. Fish are settled in their winter haunts, and some are not to overly aggressive. Location is a big factor to help get bites
The walleyes are sitting in deep water at this time of year. Some are suspended chasing open water baitfish, while some are still cruising the bottoms chasing bait. Two ways to target these fish are with tip ups or jigging them. The best way to catch the suspended fish are to deploy tip ups with BIG minnows. These walleyes are chasing baitfish, so you want a big presentation to entice them into taking your minnow. Suspend these tip up depths throughout the water column to find out where the fish are biting. Stay in the deep water just off edges of sharp drop offs to find these fish. When targeting fish on the bottom, a jigging spoon and half a minnow will do the trick. Work the break line up and down to run into fish that are actively feeding.
The panfish are hovering over the open water basin. Swimming in schools, you’ll need to be patient and wait for them to swim through, or hole hop to stay on active feeders. Color was a big factor this weekend, and black hair jigs seemed to be a very productive color. The fish are very finicky, so make sure to keep moving that bait, and as they close in, lift the bait up a bit to make them bite.
Warmer weather over the past few days has given way to more cooler temps and fall like weather. As the temperature cools, the water will follow and fish will push more and more into fall and early winter patterns. Make sure to locate fish and be aware of their locations. This will help you locate future fishing areas throughout the day. Slow presentations down more and more as the water temp cools.
The bass are locating themselves on underwater points and fast dropping areas. Target these fish throwing jerk baits and let them suspend. Throwing plastic worms for fish on the bottom will work, just make sure to have fish located. Casting jerk baits will help you cover water faster.
The walleyes are dropping deeper into the depths as the water is cooling. Locate fast dropping shorelines with hard bottom close by. Fish are being found in 24-30 feet of water around the area. Trolling crankbaits to cover water is a great tactic. If you find fish on a certain area, drop the trolling motor and vertical jig over them with minnows.