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Southern Wisconsin Fishing Reports

Southern Wisconsin Fishing Report - April 17th, 2015


Surface water temperatures on the area lakes and rivers were in low to upper 40s last week. The Rock River in Fort Atkinson and Jefferson has produced pre- and post-spawn walleyes, catfish, white bass, and crappies. Anglers caught the most fish near deeper holes, while larger fish were caught in shallow water. A light jig dressed with a minnow or a 3- to 4-inch plastic tail, such as a Moxy, Pulse R, ringworm, or twister, produced fish. A three-way or slip-sinker rig with either a floating jig, streamer fly, or No. 4 hook baited with a minnow was effective, as well. Many catfish were caught on a river rig baited with a nightcrawler, minnow, or stinkbait. Crappies were found under fallen trees and brush. Use a small fathead minnow baited on a No. 6 hook or a light jig suspend under a small pencil bobber. White bass were caught by casting a light jig baited with a fathead minnow, half of a nightcrawler, or 3-inch twister tail. Three-way rigs with a streamer fly and pencil sinker also produced fish.

The Fox River at De Pere is the destination for anglers looking for trophy walleyes, as there is a 28-inch size limit (only one can be kept now). Pre- and post-spawn walleyes have been caught. Anglers did best using a jig dressed with a 4-inch plastic tail or minnow. Casting crankbaits worked best at night.

Panfishing on the area lakes will improve as warmer weather arrives. The key to catching panfish in the spring is to look for the warmest water and green weeds. Prevailing winds will help determine in which part of the lake to look for the warmest water. During warm, sunny days, bluegills and crappies may move into shallow, dark-bottom bays, channels, and marsh areas in search of warm water and food. Afternoon and evening hours are the best times to fish, when the water will be warmest. Small baits, slow presentations, and light line must be used.

Bluegill anglers did best using ice-fishing jigs or light ball jigs baited with spikes, wax worms, red worms, or small plastic tails. A black ant fly tipped with a wax worm also works excellent. Suspend these under a casting bubble or rocket bobber and make long casts for best results.

Crappies were caught on a small fathead or wax worm baited on a rocker ice jig or No. 8 Aberdeen hook suspended under a small slip bobber or rocket bobber. Casting a jig dressed with a small plastic tail can also work.

Lake Michigan harbors have produced brown trout. Casting a darter jig dressed with a 4-inch Gulp minnow was effective. Soaking a spawn sac or shiner minnow suspended under a float worked, as well.

The Root, Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Pike rivers have produced a few steelhead. Soaking a spawn sac under a slip float will produce, as will flies, wax worms, and small spinners.

DNR hotline, (414) 382-7920.

Smokey’s Bait Shop, (262) 691-0360.

Dick Smith’s Bait, (262) 646 2218.


Strong north winds have slowed fishing. The water is still cold. On the bright side, there are lots of walleyes on Lake Wisconsin’s Tipperary Point and at the railroad trestle on the Merrimac side. Crappies are hitting on Lake Wisconsin at Harmony Grove (at the fingers). Walleyes are active by the Dells dam and on Hwy. A and also at the Sauk-Prairie dam. Panfish are stacked on the north side in 4 feet deep on Crystal Lake. River walleyes were caught on jigs dressed with plastic tails or minnows, slip sinker rigs and minnows, or by casting crankbaits.

Wilderness Fish and Game, (608) 643-5229.

McFarlane’s True Value, (608) 643-3321.

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