In southeastern Wisconsin, warming waters good news for Saturday’s fishing opener

This warmer weather is coming at just the right time because this Saturday, May 5, marks the Wisconsin 2018 fishing opener, and unless a cold front hits, fish might just be willing to cooperate in and around southeastern Wisconsin.

Ron Heidenrech, of Smokey’s Muskie Shop on Pewaukee Lake, said that fishing should be pretty good this weekend, especially if people stick to mostly shallow water.

“The weeds are a little behind, but when people find them, there should be a lot of different species around them,” he said. “Docks should hold some fish, too, so long as we don’t have a bad cold front blow in.”

If an angler is looking to land a Pewaukee muskie, Heidenrech said to fish in less than six feet of water.

“Smaller baits will work the best,” he said. “Smaller bucktails or cranks. Bass baits will work for muskies this time of year, too.”

Pewaukee Lake has been a great bass lake for the last few years and there’s no reason it won’t be this year. For the opener, live bait will work great, or try artifcials like plastic worms, lipless crankbaits, and jerkbaits.

Walleye will be feeding, but Heidenrech said he hopes people don’t target them – at least not on Pewaukee Lake. He was worried because there are so many undersized walleyes in the lake that he didn’t want the population getting hurt before the fish have time to grow to a legal size. Even when fish are released, delayed mortality can occur, especially for walleyes, which tend to be a bit on the fragile side.

Although bluegills and crappies are not even close to spawning, Heidenrech said they will be in shallow water and pretty easy to target with minnows and small plastics.

Mike Smith, of Dick Smith’s Bait and Tackle in Delafield, had some thoughts on where he would go this weekend if he had the weekend off.

“I was out on Nagawicka Lake last week and caught some bluegills in shallow,” he said. “I actually found 62-degree water, but it has gone down a bit from the cold nights we’ve had. Still, with this warm water, things will heat back up and the fish will be trying to get shallower to warmer water and food.”

Smith said bluegills will be moving in, but the crappie action should be on fire.

“I’d start out for crappie in about three feet of water,” he said.  “Any brush or willows or weeds should have fish in them. Minnows will work better than leeches or worms right now. Plastics will pick up some fish, too. It should be really good. I would try Okacuhee, Keesus, Pewaukee, and Lower Nemahbin.”

Bass should be shallow, too, cruising around bays that are protected from the wind.

“Pewaukee and Okauchee are two lakes that I like fishing early in the year,” he said.  “Senkos, jerkbaits, and swim jigs should work really well. Most of the lakes around here have good bass populations. Just fish shallow and fish any weeds you can find and you’ll catch some fish.”

Walleye are tougher to find around these parts, but Smith said he would try Pewaukee, Lake La Belle, Nagawicka, and Upper Nemahbin.

“Jigs and slip bobbers with minnows will be good,” he said. “Upper Nemahbin has been stocked and it’s starting to pay off. We did pretty well there last fall.”

Walleye should be in less than 10 feet of water and around rocks and weeds.

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