Wisconsin Outdoor News Fishing Report — May 19, 2017
It was a cool and windy opening weekend, but anglers had decent success on the inland lakes. The walleyes and smallmouths were mostly caught on crawlers, minnows, and even leeches. The crappie bite has improved as the water has warmed.
With the cooler and dirtier water on the bay, it’s been tougher fishing. There have been some anglers out trolling in the Apostle Islands and they are doing very well by fishing the mud lines and temperature changes for browns, salmon and lake trout.
Angler’s All, (715) 682-5754.
River Rock, (715) 682-3232.
Walleye anglers are finding some good success when drifting along shorelines while casting live bait rigs or artificial baits in the early morning and late evening hours. Some anglers reported catching up to 25 walleyes a day. Jig and minnow rigs, a hook and sinker rig, crawler or a leech rig worked well. Anglers casting small crankbaits and spinners slowly bumping the bottom also reported some good success. Bass anglers are fishing shallow shorelines and any early weeds. Pike were cruising bays and shorelines warmed from the sunshine. Bluegill and crappie anglers are finding some panfish while drifting deeper water, or by anchoring along shorelines with fallen trees.
Up-Der North Guide Service, 715-829-9477.
Jigs tipped with minnows or plastics are turning walleyes in 6 to 10 feet on Shell Lake and Red Cedar Lake. Rainbow trout are hitting spinners or crawlers at Pickeral Lake and Little Granite Lake. Northern pike are an easy catch with spinnerbaits or sucker minnows in 6 to 10 feet on Beaver Dam Lake, Bear Lake, and Vermillion Lake. Look for crappies and sunfish in less than 6 feet on Vermilion, Staples Lake, Big Round Lake, and Little Vermilion Lake.
Indianhead Sport Shop, (715) 822-2164
DOOR PENINSULA AND ALGOMA/KEWAUNEE AREA
Bass fishing has been super with lots of big fish being caught. Look for the warmest water pockets in whichever bay or flat from Little Sturgeon all the way north to the tip of the peninsula. Fish slow presentations with jerk baits, shorty tubes, paddle tails, Kalin’s grubs and marabou jigs. Pike fishing has been better than excellent the past month or so. The best area has been from the Sturgeon Bay ship canal south to Little Sturgeon – 5 to 15 feet of water has been the best depths. Large crankbaits, spoons, and suckers are the best baits.
Walleye fishing has been very good day or night by trolling or rip-jigging. The better areas have been from Henderson’s Point south to Bayshore Park, Sherwood Point, Potawatomi Park, downtown Sturgeon Bay, and the steep shorelines to the north. Best baits have been Rapala Husky Jerks, Rippin’ Raps, Smithwick Rogues, Bandits, blade baits and hair jigs, and suckers. Don’t be afraid to switch things up.
Howie’s Tackle, (920) 746-9916.
Algoma Chamber of Commerce, (920) 487-3090.
EAGLE RIVER AREA
Panfish: The best strategy for perch has been to set up slip bobber rigs with split shots and Aberdeen hooks or small jigs tipped with minnows – and fish around new weeds. Crappies will be starting to stage on the smaller lakes that are warming up quickly. Fishing for crappies with slip bobbers above a hook and minnow or a jig and plastic should do the trick. If you find some warmer water in the bays or shallow flats, you might find some bluegills, too.
Northern pike: Look around new weeds to find northerns. Pitching jigs tipped with minnows should trigger these structure-oriented water wolves that are waiting to ambush a meal.
Walleyes: They are in a post-spawn mood now, and you will have to fish a little deeper. Look for the first flat off of the spawning area and pitch jigs tipped with fathead minnows. Some of the fish will have moved to the new weed growth, so slip bobbers just over and around the weeds will catch you a nice fish fry, too.
Crappies: They are still coming in and can be found around lay-downs and weedy areas. Similarly, slip bobbers and a minnow are the ticket.
Eagle Sports Center, (715) 479-8804.
GREEN BAY/APPLETON AREA
On Green Bay out from the Suamico River, anglers were having good luck on the opener using Flicker Shads. They were catching three to four walleyes per person, and adding a few bonus northern pike. Fox River anglers found a tougher bite in the lower bay than did the anglers on the northwest shore. High winds made it hard to control the boat and trolling gear. Anglers were reporting one or two walleyes per person, with northern pike and sheepshead mixed in.
Shore anglers continued their good success catching a variety of species, including carp, sheepshead, channel catfish, white bass, and a few walleyes. Most success from shore has come at the metropolitan boat launch at the mouth of the river.
Smokey’s on the Bay Bait, Tackle and Guide Service, (920) 436-0600.
Walleyes are hitting minnows in 8 to 12 feet on the Chippewa Flowage, Lac Courte Oreilles, and Grindstone Lake. Lakes such as Moose, Lac Courte Oreilles, Round, and Grindstone are giving up smallmouth bass in 3 to 8 feet. Nelson Lake and the Chippewa Flowage are safe bets for panfish in shallow water.
Hayward Bait, (715) 634-2921.
Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau, (800) 724-2992.
LA CROSSE AREA
Lake Onalaska crappies are hitting like crazy. They are up in the brush along the shoreline. Bluegills are running a little slower. Bass are bedding in the shallows and hitting anything that comes near their bed. The Mississippi River is running pretty high, so fishing has been slow, although tournament anglers did catch some nice smallmouths on the river recently.
Schafer’s Boats, (608) 781-3100.
Bob’s Bait and Tackle, (608) 782-5552.
LAKE MICHIGAN/METRO AREA LAKES
In Racine and Kenosha, pier and shore fishing has been slow. In Racine, the Root River was running high and dirty, with few fish caught. Upstream of the steelhead facility, almost every angler who fished for steelhead focused their effort at Quarry Lake Park or at the Horlick dam. Yarn flies were the most common attack method.
In Milwaukee, fishing pressure on the shoreline was low once again due to strong winds on the lakefront. Large hatches of small black midge flies had covered the lakefront. Anglers continue to land brown trout under the Hoan Bridge. A few brown trout were landed recently on the Coast Guard pier by an angler bouncing Gulp minnows off the bottom. Anglers on the harbor side of Summerfest continue to target brown trout and cohos. The most productive bait for browns has been shiners under slip bobbers. A few cohos were caught with crankbaits and spoons.
In Port Washington, fishing is in a transition as anglers begin to search for salmon while the shallow brown trout fishing is slowing down. A few brown trout and the occasional lake trout can still be caught by trolling planer boards with crankbaits in shallow water along the beaches when the water is slightly dirty. Those targeting salmon have been going to clear water varying from 40 to 130 feet of water trolling with red dodger with flies or spoons with that are blue/green in color.
In the Sheboygan harbor and along the shoreline, fishing has been decent to slow, with anglers targeting brown trout lately. A few brown trout, carp, burbot and whitefish have been reported being caught on the south pier on a variety of baits from spoons to shiners on the bottom.
North and northeast winds had kept anglers off the north pier and most have been fishing inside the harbor fishing from the river mouth out to the end of south pier due to dirty water outside the harbor. Angling pressure on the Pigeon River slightly increased as anglers began to target game fish, such as northern pike, especially in the lower stretches downstream from Lakeshore Drive. Anglers were catching pike on spinners and shallow-diving crankbaits.
Smokey’s Bait Shop, (262) 691-0360.
Dick Smith’s Bait, (262) 646 2218.
LAKE WINNEBAGO AREA
Walleyes were hitting at an above average pace in the river between lakes Butte des Morts and Winneconne as of May 11. Most of the fish are ranging 14 to 16 inches, and are hitting jigs and crawlers, or live bait on Wolf River rigs. White bass are also active, with anglers averaging catches of 15 fish. The water is still a little cool. Walleyes were in the river at Crappies have started to move into the shallows. Farther downstream, white bass and walleyes are hanging out near the Hwy. 41 bridge and the mouth of the river on Lake Winnebago at the railroad bridge. A few crappies have also been caught in the feeder streams. Catfish are biting on Lake Butte des Morts off the golf course.
Critter’s, (920) 582-0471.
Fox River Bait, (920) 233-7409.
Dutch’s, (920) 922-0311.
Fishing action was spotty over the opener. Lake Mendota anglers found some crappies in the river above lake, and some catfish in the river and marsh. Lake Monona anglers caught some panfish in the bays and the Triangle.
D&S Bait and Tackle, (608) 244-3474.
Dorn Hardware, (608) 244-5403.
A few anglers are still having good success for walleyes in the upper reaches of the Peshtigo River using jigs and minnows. A few walleyes and pike were caught at the Peshtigo River mouth by trolling in 9 feet of water. A few browns, walleyes, and pike were caught out of the Little River Boat Launch with spoons, crankbaits, and crawler harnesses. The Menominee River was running high and dirty.
The few anglers fishing the Upper Oconto River reported catching a few smallmouths, suckers, and an occasional walleye. With high water and cool temperatures the bite has been slow. The walleye bite from the mouth of the Pensaukee River to Oconto Park II has been sporadic, with the best bite early in the morning or in the evening. Anglers are looking for pockets of warm water and having success. Crankbaits and crawler harnesses, as well as jigging with live bait or Rippin’ Raps, has been working around structure. Pike are hitting spoons and crankbaits.
A&K Bait & Tackle, (715) 732-9595.
MINOCQUA/WOODRUFF/ LAKE TOMAHAWK AREA
Opening weekend arrived with cold overnight temps and north/northeast winds playing against most angler’s hopes. Still, it was opening weekend and we get to fish so no one was complaining. Dropping nighttime temps and less than ideal wind direction pushed fish out of the shallows in most cases. But by working nearby depth, anglers reported some good walleye and crappie catches, if not by the speed and frequency they hoped for.
Walleyes: Good. A few pre-dawn anglers found shallow, active fish by casting 3-inch swimbaits, as well as No. 7 Floating Rapalas, in waters of 5 feet and less. And while a few other reports of shallow catches have trickled in, for the most part deeper water of 10 to 20 feet was required to find fish willing to feed. Thoughts are that the water temp doesn’t change as drastically at these depths so fish are more comfortable. Finding mostly mayfly larvae (wigglers) in the bellies of Sunday’s catch led a handful of anglers to use medium leeches on slip bobbers in 15 feet of water to procure limits on May 8.
Crappies: Good to fair. Wind and colder temps slowed this action, but some very nice 12- to 14-inch crappies were caught in 15 to 18 feet of water over the opener. They were not bunched up, so anglers had to work several spots.
Northern pike: Fair. Not a lot of strong reports – mostly from anglers targeting shallow walleyes and those pike tended to be smaller.
Bluegill: Fair. A few big bluegills were caught by anglers targeting walleyes in deep, wooded areas. As weather warms, watch for this bite to get better.
Early mornings had been tough, with temps dipping to low 20s by dawn. Highs in the low 60s helped late afternoon and evening bites. While the walleye spawn is done, some of the best fishing is yet to come as shallows warm into mid 50s and recovering walleyes move in to feed in the shallows.
Island Sport Shop, (715) 356-4797.
J and J Sports, (715) 277-2616.
PRICE COUNTY AREA
The opener wasn’t the best, but water temps hit the high 50s and low 60s a few days after the opener and a lot of panfish have moved shallow. They are pretty easy to catch. Walleye action has been OK. No one is catching a ton, but guys are catching some fish, mostly in 6 to 8 feet of water near feeder streams. Smallmouths were going good everywhere over the opener. Muskies just finished up with their spawn, so they should be active when the season opens in the northern zone on Saturday, May 27. Anglers were still seeing muskies paired up and shallow during the opener. Water temps on the Phillips chain were at 48 degrees on May 4, but up to 60.5 on May 10.
Bridge Bait and Tackle, Park Falls, (715) 762-4108.
Ross’s Sport Shop, Phillips, (715) 339-3625.
Minnows are producing walleyes in shallow water on Round Lake and Sand Lake. Look for crappies and sunfish on the 2- to 6- foot weed flats of Spooner Lake and Mud Lake. Northern pike, smallmouth bass, and walleyes are being caught on the Namekagon River.
AAA Sports Shop, (715) 635-3011.
Island Lake and Fish Lake have been giving up crappies in 8 to 10 feet. If the wind isn’t blowing, the Two Harbors area on Lake Superior has been producing coho salmon in the top 25 feet of the water. The murkier water on the Wisconsin south shore was also a safe bet for cohos and brown trout.
Chalstrom’s Bait (218) 726-0094
Cohos are still being caught in Lake Superior in both harbors, especially in the morning, but catch rates have slowed. The few anglers heading out for lake trout report a great bite, but pressure has been light. Some cohos and brown trout were also caught.
Gander Mountain, (906) 226-8300.
Perch anglers reported fair success in Lake Michigan’s Little Bay de Noc between the Day’s River and the Third Reef. Nightcrawlers and wigglers fished in 26 to 35 feet of water were producing the best results. Smallmouth bass fishing has been very good in the Ford River. Turkey hunting has been decent.
Bay View Bait, (906) 786-1488.
BayShore Resort Bait and Tackle, (906) 428-2950.
Fishing has been slow and fishing pressure light on Lake Gogebic. Most anglers are waiting for the walleye opener on May 15.
Bear’s Nine Pines Resort, (906) 842-3361.
IRON RIVER AREA
The trout opener was good, but fishing pressure was light. Turkey hunting has been good and a few morels are popping.
Luckey’s Sport Shop, (906) 265-0151.
Crappies and sunfish are now in the shallows on most lakes. The Bar Harbor area on Upper Gull Lake, or the shallow bays at Lake Margaret, Roy Lake, Wilson Bay on Gull, North Long Lake, and Round Lake are all giving up a mixed bag of panfish.
S & W Bait & Guide Service/ Nisswa Guide League, (218) 829-7010.
CASS LAKE AREA
Crappies and sunfish were suspended over 18 to 20 feet during the day, but they move shallow in the late afternoon and evening. Dick’s Bay and Allen’s Bay on Cass Lake have been the best options, but shallow bays on most lakes are worth checking right now.
Sunset Cove, (800) 279-4831.
GRAND MARAIS AREA
Reports from area lakes remain limited, but steelhead action continues to be good on the bigger rivers such as the Brule, Cascade, Flute Reed, and Devil Track. Trolling spoons at 100 to 120 feet has produced lake trout on Lake Superior.
Buck’s Hardware, (218) 387-2280.
LAKE MILLE LACS
Fishing pressure remains light, but look for crappies and bluegills to start moving into the bays and boat harbors. With water temperatures climbing, panfish should be a fine secondary option for walleye anglers opening weekend.
Johnson’s Portside, (320) 676-3811.
Terry’s Boat Harbor, (320) 692-4430.
LAKE OF THE WOODS
With the bays continuing to warm, pike are being caught in shallow water. Sturgeon action has been on fire throughout the Rainy River.
Lake of the Woods Tourism Bureau, (800) 382-FISH.
LAKE MINNETONKA AREA
You’ll find crappies and sunfish in 3 to 9 feet on Lake Minnetonka, Medicine Lake, and Lake Independence. Minnows or plastics are turning the crappies and waxworms are producing sunfish.
Wayzata Bait, (952) 473-2227.
A few more crappies have been showing up in the bays or entrances to them. Look for suspended fish just outside these areas or in shallower water the farther you get into the bays.
Pike Bay Lodge, (218) 753-2430.
Fishing pressure continues to be light, although the smaller lakes in the area are starting to produce crappies. Look for walleyes on the points, shoreline breaks, and shallow bars this weekend.
Crappies are being caught in Boy Bay, Kabekona Bay, and the north end of Sucker Bay in less than 6 feet. Most harbors are holding crappies as well and perch reports have been decent in the Narrows.
Reed’s Sporting Goods, (218) 547-1505.
Shriver’s Bait Co., (218) 547-2250.
Crappies have been tough to locate, but a few pike are being caught in the shallower bays – look for crappies to move in as well. Sturgeon action continues to be consistent in the deeper holes of the Rainy River with nightcrawlers or frozen shiner minnows working best.
International Falls CVB, (800) 325-5766.
Crappie reports continue to be light from the boat harbors, but with water temperatures improving daily, these fish should be moving in.
Mort’s Dock, (218) 647-8128.
Leeches, crawlers, and minnows are turning walleyes in 10 to 12 feet at Lake Waubay and Bitter Lake. Walleyes also can be had in less than 10 feet during low-light periods on Opitz Lake or in 8 to 15 feet on Blue Dog Lake.
Sportsman’s Cove, (605) 345-2468.