Think panfish ahead of game fish for Southeast Wisconsin fishing opener
Although anglers up north are still crossing their fingers that ice will be off their local lakes by Saturday, May 4, around southeastern Wisconsin, lakes have been open for a few weeks. Still, because the water temperatures are so cold, it’s likely that opening weekend this Saturday will be a bit tough.
Kyle Drake, a DNR conservation warden for the area, said that if it were him, he’d still be fishing for panfish this weekend even though game fish season will be open.
“Crappies will be your best bet around here,” he said. “I’d be hitting Okauchee and Pine. If you want game fish, you’ll still be able to find pike, walleyes, and even muskies in the shallows, as they are still there from spawning.”
The key would be to fish around any green weeds with multi-species baits like small bucktails, jerkbaits, and crankbaits. It would be tough to beat a minnow or shiner on either a slip bobber or dragged behind a jig.
Sue Beyler, the DNR inland fisheries supervisor for the Southeast Region, said that it has been a late spring, but the spawn should not be affected negatively – biologically that is.
“The cool weather is definitely impacting the spawn as far as timing is concerned,” she said. “ We are two to three weeks late for most species, but it shouldn’t have a negative impact on the success of spawn.”
Beyler said it might make for a tough bit for the opener, but that there are fish to be had.
“The crappie bite is picking up,” she said. “So I’d target them this weekend. Good places to go would be Okauchee, School Section or Little Muskego. For game fish, I’d go for walleyes on Pine, Oconomowoc, or Nagawicka.”
Yup, the opener is here, but it may not be as “hot” as most people would like. Look on the bright side – there likely won’t be much of a line at the ramp so the best spots on the lake probably won’t have ten boats on them.