Conditions shaping up favorably for May 5 opener - Northern Wisconsin Fishing Report
Trolling is still the No. 1 thing that is going on out of Ashland, Washburn, and up to Bayfield. Cohos have been the main catch. What has changed is location and fishing style to stay consistent in catching the fish. Right now, more and more fish are using deep water and have turned to patterns that include more spoons and attractor/fly combos. Fish are still hitting crankbaits on the surface; do not get rid of those, but do add Dispy Divers, leadcore, and riggers to your spread. Work out to 40 feet or deeper and start bringing lures down to catch a few browns, splake, and rainbows, as well.
Folks are now catching more northerns, walleyes, and other fish around the Ashland shoreline, too, while casting and trolling around docks, pilings, and other structure. Also, remember the smallmouth bass season will open May 5. Things seem to be right on par with previous years, even with early ice-out. The fish are just starting to push into the Sand Cut and Kakagon.
In the Apostle Islands, fish are still shallow, with good coho action from Bayfield to Cornucopia, with some nice kings and browns in the mix. There have been a few reports of lake trout being caught by trollers in the shallows around Long Island, Madeline, and the like.
On inland lakes, crappies are the name of the game right now. Folks are doing well on many of the lakes, mostly in a shallow pattern right now until spawn.
Angler’s All, (715) 682-5754.
River Rock, (715) 682-3232.
BOULDER JUNCTION AREA
White suckers have spawned on most area waters, and crappies have begun hitting along fallen trees and brush piles on area lakes. The walleyes are at least two weeks past peak spawn on most lakes.
Boulder Junction Chamber of Commerce, (800) 466-8759.
Northern Highland, (715) 385-2134.
CHIPPEWA FALLS / EAU CLAIRE / MENOMONIE AREA
Turkey hunting has been a little slow. Many hunters are reporting sparse turkey numbers and quiet mornings. Warm days have been good for locating panfish in bays, but most panfish are still in deeper waters. Reports of active fish have been mixed.
Big Mama’s Bait Shop, (715) 231-0839, Menomonie.
Mouldy’s Archery & Tackle, Chippewa Falls, (715) 723-3607.
Bill’s Sport Shop, Chippewa Falls, (715) 723-9033.
EAGLE RIVER AREA
The water temps have risen to the upper 40s, but that’s still a bit cool, so the panfish action continues to be somewhat slow. Anglers are catching fish, but they’re not “jumping in the boat.” Crappies are in about 12 feet of water or less – and that’s day-dependent. If the water warms, the crappies will be caught in about 5 feet of water. If it is cool, the crappies will be in 12 feet of water, and a couple feet off the bottom. Fish areas with weeds, or off break edges, near weeds. Use a crappie minnow under a slip bobber or small jig. Perch are tight to bottom in 10 feet of water or less. The perch are a little shallower than the crappies, but not by much. Fish shallow weeds or just off breaks near weeds. Use a crawler or a minnow under a slip bobber.
Eagle Sports Center, (715) 479-8804.
Guides’ Choice, (715) 477-2248.
In Marinette County, high winds have kept fishing pressure minimal on the Peshtigo and Menominee rivers. Fishing for panfish on inland lakes has been slow, with water temps staying in the low 50s. Many hen turkeys have been seen along roadsides, sneaking off to sit on nests. Turkey hunters in the third spring period continue to report seeing or hearing numerous gobblers.
In Oconto County, bluegills and crappies continue to provide some good fishing at the Stiles dam. Crawlers and minnows used with a slip bobber or free floating worked well. Smallmouth bass continue to bite on the Oconto and the Pensaukee rivers. Walleye anglers out of Oconto Breakwater Park and Oconto Park II have been having success in 7 to 10 feet of water trolling crawler/harness.
MBK Sport Shop, (715) 735-5393.
Hook, Line and Sinker, (715) 854-2073.
MINOCQUA/WOODRUFF/ LAKE TOMAHAWK AREA
Morning temps last week hit the low 20s, but highs were in the 40s to low 50s by afternoon. Fish make a move to the shallows as the lakes warm each day. Crappie action has been good, with the afternoons finding fish moving to 4 feet and even less at times. Minnows under small floats with little or no weight have worked the best. Try tiny hair, plastic, or tinsel jigs drifted below wind-blown floats. Perch action is fair to good on small fatheads or half crawlers below floats in 5 to 8 feet over soft bottoms, scattered weed, and wood. Bluegill action has been fair. Wait until the afternoons to fish. Use waxies or leaf worms 5 feet or less in calm, sunny bays. Panfish action picked up as the week moved along. Some anglers were rating the crappie fishing as very good. With a gradual warmup, these bites will only get better.
Island Sport Shop, (715) 356-4797.
J & J Sports, (715) 277-2616.
Water temperatures continue to hover just below the 50-degree mark and this allowed walleyes, northern pike, and perch to all but complete their egg-laying for the season. But the low temperatures have delayed the muskie-spawning period, and these large predators continue to trickle into the shallows to conduct their reproductive rituals. Expect this to continue for at least a couple more weeks. Largemouth and smallmouth bass, as well as most panfish species, have been reluctant to move into the shallows, and their spawn is still several weeks away. A few anglers have been out trying their luck for panfish and suckers and most have found rather low success. Some decent crappies and bluegills have been picked up in shallow bays on warmer days, but this has been a hit-or-miss proposition. Sucker fishing also has been fair, with some decent catches of redhorse and white suckers coming from the deeper holes on the rivers.
Pastika’s, (715) 634-4466.
Hayward Bait, (715) 634-2921.
The last walleyes were attempting to finish spawning on the St. Louis River system last week. Smelt also are past the peak of their spawning run, but some good catches were still being reported. Recent rain and winds have muddied the near-shore waters along the western end of Lake Superior’s south shore, but good catches of cohos, lakers, and browns have still come in as conditions allow.
Bait Box, (715) 398-3554.
PRICE COUNTY AREA
The water on the North Fork of the Flambeau River is a bit low for spring, but is still making for good paddling for those brave enough to weather the colder temperatures. The South Fork is up and at a more normal springtime level. Redhorse are spawning along the river, and walleyes are in their second spawning cycle.
Bridge Bait, (715) 762-4108.
Ross’s, Phillips, (715) 339-3625.
Waterfowl observed near Crex Meadows and Fish Lake wildlife areas are nesting and will be sitting on eggs for the next few weeks (about 25 days). Hen turkeys also are nesting and will be sitting on eggs for the next few weeks (about 28 days). Panfishing has been slow; the action should pick up as the weather warms. The St. Croix River has moderate to high water levels for upcoming canoeing and fishing trips. Water temperatures in most area lakes were 53 to 57 degrees last week. Anglers were catching a few crappies, but the bite should just be starting, with water temps increasing. The next two weeks should be good for crappie fishing if the weather stays mild. Turkey hunters are reporting getting a few birds. Overall, most hunters have stated that turkey sightings are down for the second year in a row. Many believe that’s because of two hard winters in a row in 2010 and 2011.
Big Mike’s, (715) 349-2400.
Fur, Fin and Feathers Sports, (715) 349-8445.
The walleye bite is still going strong with a lot of nice fish in that 15- to 19-inch range in shallow water and rocks in 3 to 5 feet. A few fish are starting to move to summer haunts, with some transition-area fish in 6 to 10 feet of water. It’s been a good spring for smallmouth and largemouth bass action. With the water temps moving up in the 50-degree range, a lot of fish are in shallow rocks and wood. Try lipless crankbaits and jigs tipped with tubes and plastics. The crappies haven’t quite moved into their spawning areas. They are in 8 to 12 feet of water, but they’re active. Use slip bobbers set so baits are suspended several feet off the bottom, or just swim jigs through the water at different depths without a bobber. The turkey season is starting off very well. Birds are readily coming to calls and decoys. Most of the action has been early and late in the day.
Hooksetters, (715) 693-5843.
Wisconsin Angling Adventures, (715) 297-7573.