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Southern Wisconsin Fishing Reports

Southern Wisconsin Fishing Report - March 20th, 2015


The landing on the Fox River just opened, thanks to guys chopping holes just big enough to get boats in the water. The first guys used that opening to get out the evening of March 12. Ice fishermen had commented on improved walleye action just before the ice left the Fox River at De Pere.

    Smokey’s on the Bay Bait, Tackle and Guide Service, (920) 436-0600.


The warm, sunny days have caused some of the access areas to open up, especially where there was vehicle traffic, and near current or marshes. Bluegill action has picked up. Early morning or evening hours were the best times to fish bluegills. Using a portable shanty during sunny conditions will help “darken the light” to get finicky ’gills to bite. The best action was around weeds in 5 to 12 feet of water. A Ratfinkee, Moon Glitter, Marmooska, or teardrop ice jig baited with a wiggler, wax worm, spike, or plastic has produced.

Crappie fishing was great on area lakes last week during early morning and evening hours when they were found suspended above mid-depth weeds or over deeper water. Often these fish will only be a foot or two below the ice. Use tip-ups or tip-downs rigged with No. 14 treble hooks and baited with fatheads or rosy red minnows.

Perch were active in deeper water. Jigging lures such as a Slender Spoon, Swedish Pimple, No 3 Jigging Rapala, or Kastmaster baited with a spike or a piece of minnow attracted aggressive perch. A Rocker or Ratfinkee baited with a wiggler or a spike worked, too.

The rivers have started to open up for anglers looking to use “the long rods” in search of walleyes, sauger, and northern pike. Anglers have been fishing, mostly from shore, below the dams on the Wisconsin River at the Dells, Prairie du Sac, Castle Rock, and Nekoosa. The Rock River has some open water below the dams in Jefferson and Indianford.

    DNR hotline, (414) 382-7920.

Smokey’s Bait Shop, (262) 691-0360.

Dick Smith’s Bait, (262) 646 2218.


Lake Mendota perch fishing improved last week, with a few limits being caught. The ice is holding up yet, although the shorelines may be softening up by this week. Catfish were the big surprise last week. Guys were catching a lot of channel cats off of Governor’s Island on cut bait in 20 to 25 feet of water. Cameras helped them catch fish. Anglers also were catching perch off of Governor’s Island in 45 feet of water. More perch were found between Fox Bluff and Second Point in 60 to 70 feet of water, with some schools now suspending. 

Lake Monona is still the best place to fish for bluegills, with action in Monona Bay and the Triangle picking up last week.

Mud Lake is still producing a few nice bluegills and a few crappies. On Lake Waubesa, there has been some night crappie action between Rockford Heights and the Bible Camp. There has been no news from Lake Kegonsa.

    D&S Bait & Tackle, (608) 244-3474.

    Dorn Hardware, (608) 244-5403.


Our break from winter’s cold came with high winds, making it tough to capitalize on the warm weather to fish panfish. With the forecast having temps in the 40s and 50s, it looks like there will be plenty of opportunity to ice fish without freezing.

Bluegills: Action has been good to very good. The best action has been early in the morning on waxies, mousies, and Chena bait on No. 3 and No. 4 Fiska jigs in 10 to 12 feet of water. Also try plastics in pink, red, purple, or maroon.

Yellow perch: Action has been fair to good. The best fishing is still a bit deep, 16 to 22 feet, over mud. Perch are rooting through these areas for mayfly larvae and blood worms. Use a No. 25 Hali, No. 2 Pimple, or No. 5 Fiska to get a wiggler (mayfly larvae) down quickly. Stirring up the mud is a good way to raise attention for bands of roaming perch. Tip-downs with are picking up perch over deep mud flats and a few fish along 8- to 12-foot weed edges. 

Crappies: Action has been fair to good. At times the action can be surprisingly soft considering the warm weather. The best times are before and after light in the morning, then again just before and an hour after dark in the evening. Tip-downs  and minnows have been the answer in 14 to 18 feet of water along transition zones. Most fish are still hanging just outside of the bays in 12 to 14 feet, with the fish moving into weeds and taking Lethal Cecils, Rockers, and VMC nymph jigs tipped with waxies, Chena, or plastics (silver, white, and chartreuse this weekend). For tougher bites, use Rembrandts and Purist jigs.

With snow still on the ice and ice thickness averaging 28 to 32 inches on most lakes, we still have some ice fishing to go, but with a forecast showing highs in the 40s and low 50s, we will lose the snow cover quickly, then start to lose the ice. One thing keeping ice on a while longer will be below-freezing nighttime temps.

    Island Sport Shop, (715) 356-4797.


Anglers were still fishing the backwaters through the ice last week for panfish. They weren’t saying much, but they must have been catching fish because they were buying a lot of bait. Word has it that guys were putting boats in at Genoa last week to start tracking down Mississippi walleyes.

    Stark’s Sport Shop, (608) 326-2478.


As March 10, the ice was still good on most lakes in the area. Be cautious of the river channel on Lake Wisconsin, but ice on the bay was fine last week.

Crystal Lake bluegills and crappies were biting from dusk until dark on any kind of jig, but gold has been the best color. Most anglers were using wax worms. On Fish Lake, the bluegills were biting at and to the right of the boat landing. At the dam in town, there was one word, and that word was walleyes. They were up and active. Use a jig and minnow or a hair jig tipped with a minnow. Anglers also were catching lots of small sauger. Be careful releasing those fish. At Devils Lake, the DNR will be stocking about 15,000 brown trout in April.

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

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

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