Warm days have been hard to come by this fishing season with lots of northeast winds off Lake Superior keeping the refrigerator going in northern Wisconsin. Water temperatures have remained cool and weed growth on most lakes has been slow to develop. The fish have to eat though… If you’re able to find new weed growth right now, you’re probably going to catch a bunch of fish. Pack your jeans, sweatshirts, and jackets. Here’s the latest report from Up North!
HAYWARD AREA LAKES
It’s been a real mixed bag in the Hayward area with water temperatures holding in the mid 60’s on most lakes and weed growth starting to pop. WALLEYE fishing has been going well for us with each trip getting better and better. Fish are grouping up in new cabbage, and you’ll find them in anywhere from 4′ – 6′ on stained water lakes and 12′ – 15′ on clear water lakes. Use your electronics on clear lakes to find that first weed edge and use your eyes to locate new growth on stained lakes. Bait Rigs Weedmaster jigs tipped with minnows popped through the weed growth and slip bobbers with leeches drifted over the top are excellent approaches. Sometimes fish are right in the weeds and other times they’ll be on the outside edge. It doesn’t take long to know if you’re on the right patch, and bites should come quickly if the fish are there. As a bonus, you should also stumble into a bunch of other fish. Scott and Wyatt Evans from Mineral Point, WI had and amazing day catching 8 different species that included walleyes, smallmouth, largemouth, pike, crappies, bluegills, perch, and musky. All fish were caught in or around new green weed growth.
SMALLMOUTH BASS are getting close to wrapping up the spawn on many lakes with fish beginning to leave nests and roam shallow rock and gravel flats. A few fish will remain on beds as long as water temperatures remain in the 60’s, but there will be plenty of hungry post spawn fish looking to eat and recover from the last couple of weeks. Pre spawn tactics are usually just as effective after the spawn, but you can usually fish faster. Jerk baits, slow sinking plastics, swimming grubs, and dragging NED type rigs are all good options. Don’t forget about top waters. When things are right, fish will start smashing anything you throw on the top. I always throw two or three casts with a popper at each stop before I move on to sub surface presentations. Post spawn can mean big numbers days with some really aggressive fish.
Every time I think the CRAPPIES are done spawning, we catch some that aren’t. Depending on the lake, you could find fish in anywhere from 2′ – 8′ of water right now with fish in every stage of the spawn. We are finding big groups of fish holding in new weed growth near spawning areas. Jigs tipped with plastics and suspended under a bobber or just slowly reeled through the weeds are a good way to locate fish. Once you find them, drop anchor and start catching. Tom and Nancy Huckaba had a fun afternoon with me putting a bunch of fish in the boat and taking home a few for a fry. Jerk and reel Nancy!
We had our first dedicated MUSKY trip of the season when Scott & Wyatt Evans spent the afternoon of their full day trip casting bucktails, topwaters, and jerk baits toward weed edges in 5′ – 9′ of water. It didn’t take long for Wyatt to hook up when he perfectly executed a boat side figure 8 and held on until his guide could slip a net under it. I did my best to screw it up for him tangling the net in everything imaginable before finally getting the job done. Quite a circus! It was a super nice 40″ class fish and a perfect “first musky” for Wyatt. Congratulations buddy. I’ll be working on my net job!
The SMALLMOUTH BASS spawn in Chequamegon Bay is mostly complete with the post spawn feeding binge beginning. Spot tailed shiners have hatched and fish are chasing them around shallow areas in 4′ – 6′ with wood or new weeds. On calm days, you can see feeding schools of fish chasing around big swarms of minnows. Slow sinking plastics have been the best presentation right now trying to match the hatch. It can be a “here today, gone tomorrow” thing though with weather and wind playing big factors in moving fish around. Lots of stiff west and northwest winds seem to be changing water conditions and clarity on a daily basis, and you have to be willing to move and cover water to get on them. Hang on if you get into a bunch though. They can come fast and furious right now with lots of doubles and big angry fish. Much like the inland lakes, water temperatures are hanging in the mid 60’s. Nate & Nick Gove brought along Drew Schneider for their annual spring trip, and we were able to give Drew a little taste of what the bay has to offer when we got into a classic post spawn flurry of fish during the morning of our trip before big winds blew us off. All of our fish came in a small area, but it was the kind of chaos we like. Always fun with these fellas!
We covered a lot of ground this week, and caught just about everything that swims around here. Even though the weather has been on the cool side, it’s hard to complain when the lines are tight. Fish are shallow, accessible, and hungry. Shorts can wait… Good luck on the water everyone. We’ll keep you posted!