Northern Wisconsin had been in high fire danger status throughout most of May, but plenty of rain over the last week has taken care of that issue. Rain gear has been standard apparel lately, and the smallmouth didn’t seem to mind… Merle Erickson from Hinsdale, IL was with me in the Hayward area on Tuesday for the second leg of his trip. We spent the morning sight fishing spawning fish in 4′ – 8′ of water. Conditions were challenging with clouds and wind making visibility tough, but the fish we targeted in the morning were very aggressive. Merle put bunches of fish up to 20″ in the net for an outstanding morning. In the afternoon we switched tactics to fishing the edges of spawning flats with crankbaits in 4′ – 10′ of water. That was effective also, and we caught several more fish including a couple of porker females that had yet to spawn. As quitting time approached a thunderstorm was bearing down on us, and we got off the lake in the nick of time leaving the landing in a downpour. Water temps were 61 – 64 degrees. Merle is an excellent fishermen with a passion for all things fishing, and it was a pleasure to share the boat with him for a couple of days. Tight lines Merle!
Love has been in the air lately… Newlyweds Matt and Chelsea Tande from Elk Mound, WI spent the first day of their honeymoon with me on Thursday, and we were after walleyes in the Hayward area. We had to work for every one we caught though as we fished shallow weeds in 4′ – 9′ on two separate stained water lakes. Weed beds and edges are just starting to fill in and should thicken up over the next couple of weeks. As the weeds grow, the bite will improve. Until then, you need to spot hop catching a fish here and a fish there. Slip bobbers and jigs with minnows produced walleyes for us up to 20″, and we had a few bonus smallies up to 18″ to go along with them. Small pike were not a problem however, and I think we caught one on every cast in some spots. Water temps ranged from 61 – 63 on the lakes we fished. Matt and Chelsea did an excellent job and connected on most of the opportunities we had. I may have even converted Chelsea from being a “wrong hander” on the fishing reel… Congratulations Tandes. We wish you many years of happiness!
Mike Lee from Lakeville, MN and his father Dick from Owatonna, MN returned to fish Chequamegon Bay with me on Friday. We had a banner smallmouth day last year, and this time they brought along their boys to experience it. Mike’s son Aaron along with cousins Dane and Evan Loberg from Eagan, MN joined us on a foggy, cool, and damp day. Water temps had dropped to 60 degrees down 6 degrees from the last time I was on the bay. Dane and Aaron were first in my boat and we had a bit of a predictably slow start considering the conditions. That changed around mid morning when we got into a smoking hot school of fish in 3′ of water. Action was fast until right before lunch when an east wind kicked up and seemed to shut the bite down again. Dane and Aaron put good numbers of fish in the boat up to 19″ including a really cool double that was almost a triple! We switched crews in the afternoon as Dick and Evan took the p.m. shift. It didn’t take us long to get into another really good school of fish on plastics in 4′ – 6′ of water. Dick and Evan caught multiple 20″ fish including a giant 21″ landed by grandpa. Grandpa Dick still has the touch boys! Action slowed around mid afternoon, but a late day rally helped us reach or goal for the day with some really good numbers. Another banner day for the Lee gang. Aaron, Dane, and Evan all performed like pros, and it’s obvious they’ve had excellent teachers. Job well done Mike and Dick!
Saturday was spent back in the Hayward area with Katie Knospe and Mitch Badeau from Merrill, WI. The forecast called for a wet day, and we drove through rain on the way to the landing. We got lucky though, and it quit when we put the boat in the water. Wish I could take credit for that… The rain held off, and we had a really fun morning picking off nice smallmouth on jigs and plastics in 4′ – 8′ of water. Katie and Mitch had never sight fished before, and it was really cool watching them experience it for the first time. They learned quickly and put good numbers of fish up to 20″ in the boat before noon. Water temps were 63 – 64 degrees. We switched lakes in the p.m. and tried a couple of walleye spots. Flat calm conditions made for a tough bite, so we didn’t stick with it long and were back after the smallies. Not a bad Plan B… Katie and Mitch wrapped up the day with a bunch of nice fish, and we may have a couple of new smallmouth nuts on our hands. Welcome to the club Katie and Mitch! You guys were great. Good stuff!
Have a great Memorial Day everyone. Please tip your cap to any veterans you see, and remember that some gave all…