Rain, wind dampen opener, but fishing action not bad – Northern Wisconsin Report
Chequamegon Bay smallmouths were thick in the Sand Cut and Kakagon areas last week. Fish were in 5 to 8 feet of the Sand Cut and in 3 to 5 feet at the Kakagon. Also, a few pike and walleyes were caught in the same areas, as usual. Water temps were right at 50 and dipped a bit from the continued overnight northeast winds and rain. Covering water on the staging flats was the name of the game, and once a pod of fish was found, working the area with varying techniques helped in getting more fish in the boat. Try crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and jig/grub combos. Then slow down with tubes, football jigs, Carolina rigs, and drop shots.
Fishing was a bit tougher on the clear systems like the Pike Lake Chain and the Eau Claire Chain, but fish were still caught. Crappies and bass were biting on these waters, where crappies moved up shallow and the smallmouths were staged off the breaks. Fishing seemed better, especially for walleyes, on Namekagon, where folks were finding them in the new weed growth by pitching jigs or slip bobbering. Crappies were near new weed growth.
Angler’s All, (715) 682-5754.
River Rock, (715) 682-3232.
CHIPPEWA FALLS / EAU CLAIRE / MENOMONIE AREA
In Chippewa County, despite a rainy opening weekend and slow fish activity, there were a lot of anglers out. Some lakes were starting to pick up for bluegills. Crappie success was mixed. In Eau Claire County, rains caused high water and swift currents on the Chippewa and Eau Claire rivers. Shoreline anglers have been catching a lot of fish below the Lake Altoona dam. The north shoreline has produced some nice catches of perch, and anglers at the south shoreline caught walleyes up to 29 inches. The opening weekend was kind of a bust in the eastern portion of the county because of rain.
Big Mama’s, (715) 231-0839.
Mouldy’s, (715) 723-3607.
Bill’s Sport Shop, (715) 723-9033.
In Marinette County, opening day saw a good number of anglers and some success. Stream trout anglers caught some good numbers of fish. Boaters fishing out of the mouth of the Peshtigo River did well on walleyes, smallmouth bass, and northern pike by trolling in 5 to 7 feet of water with crawler harnesses or crankbaits. Pike anglers have had success casting spoons in the bay and in the river. Fishing had been slow on the Menominee River, with some trout and walleyes caught by shore anglers from Stephenson Island up to the dam.
In Oconto County, panfish and smallmouth bass have been the mainstay of anglers on the upper Oconto River, with slip bobbers and live bait working for panfish, while smallmouth bass have been responding well to plastics and crankbaits. Smallmouths were caught in the Pensaukee River on jigs and plastics or crankbaits. Anglers out of Oconto Breakwater Park to Oconto Park II had a great opener for walleyes, with many boats coming in with limits. Trolling a crawler harness and crankbaits have been producing lots of nice fish.
MBK Sport Shop, (715) 735-5393.
MINOCQUA/WOODRUFF/ LAKE TOMAHAWK AREA
A wicked wind from the east put a damper on what had looked to be a possible great opener. Panfish anglers were reporting lots of game-fish activity prior to the opener on Saturday. Cold, wind, and some rain put a stop to the hot bites for just about everything. Crappie action is fair to good. Walleye action has been fair. Fish are deeper than expected, with better catches coming from larger lakes in 14 to 20 feet. Try red-tailed chubs, black chubs, and suckers on jigs and Lindy rigs. Due to the cold front, shallow fish were negatively impacted for the most part with a slight drop in surface temps. Pike action was poor to fair, but not a lot of anglers were targeting pike yet. Largemouths and bluegills were roaming the shallows, but few were caught.
Island Sport Shop, (715) 356-4797.
Great Outdoors, (715) 356-6818.
Captain Hooks, (715) 277-2405.
J & J Sports, (715) 277-2616.
EAGLE RIVER AREA
Northern pike are putting on a great bite around weeds in 10 feet of water or less. Anglers are having a ball catching these aggressive fish. Walleyes are just outside the weeds in 10 feet of water or less. As the weather warms each day, the walleyes are moving into the weeds. Use a jig and a fathead minnow. Crappies and perch are being caught in and among the walleyes, just outside of weeds in 10 feet of water or less. Use a light jig and fathead minnow for consistent action.
Eagle Sports Center, (715) 479-8804.
Guides’ Choice, (715) 477-2248.
The Chippewa Flowage gave up a mixed bag of fish from walleyes to panfish. Those using smaller jigs and minnows were having the best luck in 6 to 10 feet of water. A few anglers were getting larger walleyes in slightly deeper water on larger minnows or crankbaits. Bluegills were pushing shallower on warmer days. Lake Chetac has been producing good numbers of bluegills and crappies in 3 to 8 feet of water. A few walleyes have been mixed in with the panfish, but the best walleye fishing has been in the 8 to 12 feet of water on the breaks.
Pastika’s, (715) 634-4466.
Hayward Bait, (715) 634-2921.
PRICE COUNTY AREA
Anglers found some success on the trout lakes. Most of the trout were in the 8- to 10-inch size, but some nice rainbows and brook trout up to 18 inches also were caught. Walleye anglers found the action to be a bit more erratic, as the rain and windy conditions seemed to hamper success. Jig and minnow and slip-bobber rigs seemed to work the best. Crankbait anglers did find some action as well, especially when casting the shallows near dark. Northern pike action was only fair, with the fish seeming to prefer live-bait rigs and slower-moving spinners. Bass action was pretty good. Panfish action was just starting to pick up.
Bridge Bait, (715) 762-4108.
Ross’s, Phillips, (715) 339-3625.
With water temps now reaching 60 degrees, walleyes are finalizing their move to late spring/early summer haunts. A lot of nice fish are in 6 to 10 feet of water, with a majority of fish holding in 12 to 16 feet. The shallow crappie bite is going strong in shallow cover like wood, downed timber, and around docks. Use slip bobbers or clip-on bobbers with a small jig set down about a foot to 18 inches. The bass bite has been pretty good in shallow water and tight to shoreline structure like rocky shorelines or wood.
Hooksetters, (715) 693-5843.
Wisconsin Angling Adventures, (715) 297-7573
UPPER PENINSULA REPORT
Lake Gogebic’s walleyes are ready. Expect anglers to be fishing in areas not commonly fished this early in the season. Fish may be spread out due to early spawning, so keep on the move to locate active fish. The Lake Gogebic Chamber of Commerce Walleye Tournament will be May 19-20.
Bear’s Nine Pines, (906) 842-3361.