It took awhile, but things are finally warming up in northern Wisconsin. I mean, REALLY warming up! It’s been a struggle to get water temperatures above the mid 60’s on most of the lakes we fish, but that’s changing in a big hurry. Rising water temperatures have just about everything swimming on the feed, and you really can’t go wrong regardless of what or where you’re fishing. If you can get on the water, right now is the time to catch a bunch of fish!
Walleyes are really starting to chow with a couple of different patterns setting up nicely. Weedbeds and weed edges are holding a lot of fish right now, and the approach is pretty straight forward. Locate weed growth visually or with your electronics looking anywhere from 5′ – 8′ on stained water lakes and 12′ – 18′ on clear water. Suspend Willow Spoons tipped with leeches under slip bobbers targeting the edges and middle of the weedbeds. Weedmaster jigs tipped with leeches or minnows can also be effective. A good wind blowing into the deep weed edge is a perfect scenario. Bug hatches are starting to happen, and you’ll also find eyeballs chomping on bugs near mid lake rocks and humps in 15′ – 25′. A lively leech under a slip bobber and casting Jigging Raps are a hard program to beat in this situation. Locate pods of fish near bottom on your electronics, work them over until the bite slows, and move on to the next pod.
The post spawn smallmouth bass feeding binge is on, and we’re having some big numbers days catching fish in a variety of ways. Most fish have moved off nests and are roaming rock/gravel shorelines, points, and flats in anywhere from 2′ – 10′ of water. Smaller males tend to be shallower right now with larger fish hanging off the first break. A good mayfly hatch on some lakes has triggered a topwater bite with poppers and walk the dog baits getting strikes. A few casts at each new spot will let you know if they want it on top. Slow sinking plastics and swimming Grubmasters are consistently producing right now as well as dragging bottom with tubes, jigs/plastics and NED rigs. Explore the top, middle, and bottom until you dial in the bite of the day. We’ve had some great days with great guys over the last week. Lots of fun!
The first hot weather days of the season usually trigger a musky bite, and we were able to take advantage of it when Dave and Nick Russo (Winfield, IL) arrived fishing out of Angler’s Haven. These fellas are no strangers to putting big muskies in the net, and they connected once again when Nick landed a good 40″ class fish on a morning trip. We had perfect conditions with storms rolling in, and the Russos took advantage of the opportunity they had. We tossed bucktails and top waters to weed edges in 6′ – 8′ of water. Good things happen when this gang gets together!
After hanging in the low to mid 60’s for nearly a month, we’re starting to see 70 degree water on some lakes in the Hayward area. The crappie spawn has finally wrapped up and they’ve moved into weed beds and off weed edges. We’re catching good looking post spawn fish in anywhere from 4′ – 8′ of water depending on the lake using Panfish Cobra Jigs and plastics under slip bobbers. They’re hungry right now, and it doesn’t take long to put good numbers in the boat once you land on a school. Suspend your jigs about half the distance from bottom, make long casts to cover water until you locate them, and start catching! Here’s a couple of good slabs in the 12″ range caught by Bill Balinski (Paletine, IL) and Kurt Ewald (Becker, MN).
It’s a time of transition on Chequamegon Bay with smallmouth bass beginning to move and spread out. Water temperatures are warming into the high 60’s, and recently hatched spot tail shiners are the food of choice right now with post spawn fish chasing schools of minnows. Big numbers days are still possible, but you have to be willing to move and cover water until you find feeding fish. Shallow flats, and weed beds in 5′ – 6′ of water are key zones right now, and make sure to use your eyes. Follow diving birds and boils in the water to get bit. Slow sinking plastics, swim baits, and top waters are all possibilities depending on the day. Some days it doesn’t seem to matter what you’re throwing, but they can be kind of picky on others. Pay close attention to size and color when you start getting bites trying to stay consistent with what they want. Dan Fenske (Valparaiso, IN) returned for his annual trip and brought along a couple of new guys that we sure hope to see again. Mike Leddige (Grand Forks, ND) and Jason Weimer (Fargo, ND) fished out of the River Rock Inn and got a taste of what the bay has to offer. After a slow morning they put a bunch of big fish in the net when the PM bite kicked into gear with several 20″ fish stretching the line. Great having you in the boat fellas, and don’t be strangers. Set the hook Sled!!!
ST. LOUIS RIVER
We’ve been hearing about a strong walleye bite on the St. Louis River over the past month, and we were finally able to see what all of the fuss was about. We’re catching good numbers in the 15″ – 22″ range as well as some really big fish up to 28″. Trolling crankbaits like T-Boned Shads behind planer boards is a really effective and efficient way to cover water and locate hungry schools of fish. Concentrate on channel edges and flats in anywhere from 5′ – 10′ of water experimenting with colors and speeds. Water temperatures are starting to warm into the high 60’s, and there are still lots of fish in the system that haven’t migrated out to the big lake yet. Pals and Vietnam Vets Tom Huckaba and Greg Munich (Joliet, IL) had an amazing day despite cold and windy conditions when they boated a pile of fish with several in the 24″ – 28″ range. It was big fish after big fish all day long, and we didn’t mind battling the elements with results like that. There’s just something special about Lake Superior walleyes. What a day!
If the weather man is correct, we’re going to see some hot weather over the next week. Hey, no complaints here… There’s a ton of good stuff going on right now, and it feels good to put away the long underwear and parkas. Have a great 4th of July everyone. Be safe, and remember that your freedom wasn’t free!