Northern Wisconsin Fishing Report – May 17th, 2013
Most area launches were open as of May 2, with people reporting good catches of cohos and browns. A few splake were caught, too. The best method has been trolling around the mouths of rivers. Fishing mud lines will be key during the next few weeks as dirty streams will be dumping muddy water into the big lake. Walleye action should be good on crankbaits. If the water stays muddy, the fish can be caught shallow during the day, but if it clears up, low-light angling will prevail. Smallmouths should be moving in, but it will be day to day until the water warms up. Smelting is expected to be great, although not many people will be doing it because of the late spring. Stream fishing has been great despite muddy water, with many steelhead being caught.
Angler’s All, (715) 682-5754.
River Rock, (715) 682-3232.
BOULDER JUNCTION AREA
Even though a fresh coat of snow was dumped just days before the opener, the ice should be gone by the time this report goes to press. Lakes in the Tomahawk area were already opening almost two weeks ago, but Boulder, Upper Gresham, and Little Crooked should be the first to offer open-water fishing. Bank fishing might still be the best bet until the launches are fully open. Wind will play a key role in accessibility.
Northern Highland Sports Shop, (715) 385-2134.
CHIPPEWA FALLS / EAU CLAIRE / MENOMONIE AREA
Turkey hunting has been tough, as snow seemed to keep birds quiet on the sneak and not as eager to gobble. River fishing has been better than normal below dams for walleyes and smallmouths. Some open pockets on Lake Wissota are holding several species of migratory birds.
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.
River fishing has been good for northerns and walleyes, but suckers are coming down the river in droves, annoying some anglers by their sheer numbers. Some anglers caught 40 suckers to one walleye. That problem should be lessening. Local lakes are “open for business,” but not many reports have come in.
MBK Sport Shop, (715) 735-5393.
Hook, Line and Sinker, (715) 854-2073.
MINOCQUA/WOODRUFF/ LAKE TOMAHAWK AREA
Well, this was the worst opener locals can recall. Not only were the opportunities limited, but, on the few places anglers could fish (either by boat or ice), the bite was terrible.
Ice Fishing: For the most part, ice fishing is over almost everywhere. There were reports of two anglers falling through on Big Arb on May 4. Reports were of ice from 13 to 17 inches, but punky and soft. Both anglers got out OK. Some small crappies were being caught, and just a few walleyes. Even the bluegill bite on Carroll shut off. Anglers did get onto the ice on Trout Lake (south basin) from the east shore. They were in good spirits.
Open water: Very poor. Anglers at Murray’s Landing pitched a complete shutout, according to reports. Same for the Rainbow Flowage. The only good reports came from the Tomahawk area, where water temps in the low 40s (vs. mid- to upper 30s up north) put walleyes in a biting mood. The one bright spot: Casting Rattlin’ Rogues and Floating Rapalas after dark from shore produced some big walleyes from 25 to 29 inches. These full-of-spawn females were released, but the few fortunate anglers working this bite also caught some eater males. This method should work well all week. As of May 6, nearly every lake was still ice-covered, but the ice was black and melting quickly with the 70-degree temps. The bite is soon to go from zero to 60 as shallow-water temps hit that 42- to 45-degree mark. These female walleyes have been holding their eggs a long time and are more than ready to spawn. Expect some fantastic fishing by midweek and through the weekend. The Willow Flowage by the dam is open to launch, but there is too much ice to get anywhere.
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
It’s unlikely that ice will be completely off area lakes that are void of current, but there has been a strong bite for walleyes and crappies on the Wisconsin River. If a person can find open water, look for walleyes where they were when ice was present. Stick to small ice jigs and waxies, as the water will be cold. All species of panfish were being caught around any green weeds in 10 feet of water or less or out in 12 to 30 feet of water on main lake mud flats. Walleyes and northerns should be biting well in shallow water as the lakes open up. Turkey hunting as been slow, but should get better as the temperatures rise.
Eagle Sports Center, (715) 479-8804.
Guides’ Choice, (715) 477-2248.
While the flowages are open, some area lakes have some ice remaining on them. Pike and walleyes should be catchable and still shallow from the spawn. Go slow, and experiment between live bait and jerkbaits. If water temps remain too low, or a cold front comes in, make sure to have some crappie minnows along for insurance.
Hayward Bait, (715) 634-2921.
Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau, (800) 724-2992.
LAKE HOLCOMBE AREA
The lake finally opened up the first week of May, so fishing pressure has been light, save for some panfishing. Anglers should still keep an eye out for any straggler ice, but it should be gone as of press time. Crappies will be biting and some game fish, too, but stick to bays and areas out of the wind, where warmer water may be found. Work slip bobbers around downed wood in the areas for panfish and even a walleye or two. Pike should be active.
Lake Holcombe Sport Shop, (715) 595-4293.
PRICE COUNTY AREA
Area lakes are open, but anglers would be best off fishing for crappies for a sure bet. Work around wood and in shallow bays. Smallmouths will be setting up to spawn, so concentrate on rock, with tubes and crankbaits. Walleyes and northerns should be active shallow; go with crankbaits, shad baits, and spinnerbaits for the best action.
Bridge Bait, (715) 762-4108.
Ross’s, (715) 339-3625
RICE LAKE AREA
Rivers have been the best bet as of late for walleyes, smallmouths, and some modest panfish action. Caution needs to be taken, as some lakes will have weak ice. Don’t be afraid to fish from shore and target open water with a simple hook and minnow for both game fish and panfish.
Rainbow Ace Home Center, (715) 234-8116.
J.C. Bear Paw Co., (715) 236-7300.
ST. GERMAIN AREA
On most up-north lakes, ice has just left the building, so plan accordingly. Larger lakes will have just opened, so make sure to check with local bait shops regarding launches. The good news is that most fish will be shallow, so casting the shoreline is not a bad idea. Crappies will be active and accepting minnows.
St. Germain Chamber of Commerce, (715) 477-2205.
The best spots to fish are from shore anywhere a creek or river hits a lake. Most lakes are open, but fish are sluggish. Crappie fishing has been great and will be the best opportunity for a fry. Some rivers are giving up bass, walleyes, and panfish.
Backwater Sports, (715) 536-9056.
51 Sport Shop, (715) 359-5204.
Gander Mountain, (715) 355-5500.