Northern Wisconsin Fishing Report – May 15th, 2015
Chequamegon Bay anglers are registering some legal sturgeon, and whitefish action is good by the lighthouse. The perch bite is decent off the ore dock, and anglers are catching a few northerns along Ashland’s shoreline. Trollers flat-lining crankbaits over 20 to 60 feet of water in the bay and the triangle from Houghton Point to Long Island to the Onion River are catching good numbers of cohos and brown trout. Fish often come up after shallow-runners, but try deeper-running baits on deeper drops. Smallmouth action should be excellent in the Sand Cut as the water warms and clears. Jigs with twister tails are always a good bet. Stream fishing is good for steelhead and should be good for browns and brookies on the opener.
Angler’s All, (715) 682-5754.
River Rock, (715) 682-3232.
Minnows and leeches are producing walleyes in 8 to 12 feet on most lakes, highlighted by exceptional action on Long Lake and Birchwood Lake during the evening. Crappie and sunfish reports have been good on most lakes, but Beaver Dam and Staples have stood out this week in less than 6 feet.
Indianhead Sport Shop (715) 822-2164.
EAGLE RIVER AREA
What a great weekend for the opening of fishing season! The weather was great for the opener and the fish, for the most part, cooperated fully. For the first time in years, guys had to go back on Saturday and get more bait in the afternoon. Those who were attentive moved deeper and really found walleyes during the daytime, and found that the crappies were moving toward shore in the evenings. Conditions could not have been better overall for great fishing for the first time in a number of years. Lake levels are higher than several years, landings are in great shape, and if you look real hard you will be able to find a few green weeds on many lakes. Water temps were in the 48- to 55-degree range, depending on the size of lakes and the time of day.
Walleye fishing was good to very good for many anglers. They were off the shorelines on all but the deepest, coldest lakes and done with the spawning process. Male and female fish were feeding actively, and minnows were by far the best bait to use. We were surprised by the number of fish in the holes on the Eagle River Chain. As the weeds develop, we’ll find that the fish will move back from deeper water and find these weeds for their habitat.
We expect this active pattern to continue, as long as the water continues to warm up.
Northern fishing also was good, as these fish are early spawners and become active quickly. They were everywhere, but especially in any cover such as emergent weeds or brush piles. They were hitting any type of minnows. Many northerns were caught by walleye fishermen who were not really targeting them.
Bass, believe it or not, were starting to cruise the shorelines feeding and looking for spawning spots.
This pattern will continue unless we get a cold front right up to the time we see them decide to spawn. They can be caught on crankbaits easily during this period.
Crappies are on the move. They were caught on the chain from the holes right up to shallow shoreline cover. Let’s hope the water temps continue to rise, as they’ll be up for several weeks soon to spawn. This provides the best crappie fishing of the year. A hint for these fish is to use fatheads rather than crappie minnows, as this tends to size-select the larger fish. Just look for the warmest shorelines with cover for these fish.
Bluegills will be up for their spawn, but not for a week to two weeks, as they are the last to spawn and stay on those shorelines the longest.
Eagle Sports Center, (715) 479-8804.
Walleye action is fair to good. Depending on the lake and time of day, depths vary from 5 to 20 feet and locations include bars, flats, points, gravel, wood, rock, and river channels. Best success is in early morning and late evening. Use fatheads on jigs, Lindy Rigs, and spinner rigs, or troll crank and stickbaits over shallow flats and bars. Work baits slowly!
Northern pike fishing is very good in shallower water (to 10 feet) around new green weeds and panfish with spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, jerkbaits, crankbaits, and live bait.
Largemouth action is fair to good in warm, shallow bays. Fish near wood, structure, and crappies with jigs, wacky worms, and live bait.
Smallmouth bass fishing in the northern bass zone is catch and release only until June 20. Smallmouths are in various locations, from shallow bays to river channels and depths to 20 feet. Fish wood and rock areas with crayfish imitations, jigs and minnows, X-Raps, and Shadow Raps.
Crappies are very shallow around weeds, wood, and other cover in dark, mud-bottom bays. Best baits include crappie minnows and various jig tipped with Tattle-Tails, Mini-Mites, plastics, and Gulp! baits suspended under slip bobbers.
Bluegill anglers are catching good numbers of fish from very shallow out to 10 feet. Try small hooks and assorted jigs tipped with waxies, worms, and Gulp! baits, with or without bobbers.
Hayward Bait, (715) 634-2921.
Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau, (800) 724-2992.
MARINETTE / OCONTO AREA
With the best weather for the opener in the last two years, there were a lot of people out on the water last weekend. Water temperatures are still cool, but with warmer weather this week we expect water temperatures to rise quickly. Reports were of fish suspended in deeper water, although they were slow to bite. Bass Bay and West Bay on High Falls was producing good numbers, although on the small size, of bluegills. With higher temperatures this and next week, we expect bluegill spawning to start by the third week in May.
Hook, Line and Sinker, (715) 854-2073.
MINOCQUA/WOODRUFF/ LAKE TOMAHAWK AREA
Despite beautiful weather, the opener of the 2015 game fish season was not as wonderful as we hoped.
Walleyes: Fair. Some anglers found good success, but as a whole not a lot of fish were caught for an opening weekend. Walleyes were very scattered, with some lakes finding walleyes shallow. Casting No. 8 X-Raps on windward shorelines produced good catches where the combination of wave action and new weeds helped walleyes take advantage of small perch. First breaks, in depths of 10 to 13 feet, were also good places to find walleyes recovering from the spawn.
Crappies: Good to very good. Though most anglers were targeting walleyes, those in the pursuit of panfish did well. Crappies were being found either very shallow in warm, protected bays or out in 10- to 12-foot depths staging – waiting for waters to warm enough to consider spawning. Small minnows below slip floats were catching their fair share. Anglers opting for no live bait have found success on VMC Nymphs and Wingdings as well as Cubby’s Mini-mites. The more subtle action of these jigs seems to be preferred with the cooler water over more active plastics such as twister tails. Nice fish are being caught.
Bluegills: Good to fair. Most action is taking place in the shallows as bluegills are taking advantage of warm water. Use waxies on small jigs below tiny floats and cast long. With thunderbugs and small leeches available, try these bluegill favorites, too.
Perch: Fair. We’re seeing some nice, but thin, spawned-out fish in weeds taking jigs and minnows meant for walleyes.
Pike: Fair. Surprisingly slow. There have been mostly reports of small fish on jigs and minnows.
Largemouth: Fair. Same as pike, but they are not being targeted much.
Water temps vary from lows of 44 degrees on big, deep lakes to highs near 60 degrees on small, shallow lakes. High skies and lots of sun have not helped walleye anglers. Lots of walleyes still seem to be in the transition of recovery from spawn. The expected hot bite either hasn’t happened yet or we may have missed it on some lakes.
Island Sport Shop, (715) 356-4797.
J & J Sports, (715) 277-2616.
PRICE COUNTY AREA
Sunny skies and warm weather made for a great opening weekend and fishing pressure was rather heavy on many waters across the northwoods. The highest angling activity was on the larger walleye waters, as well as the managed trout lakes and spring ponds. On the trout lakes, anglers found some success and most fishermen were catching some fish. Most of the trout were brookies in the 8- to 10-inch size, but some nice browns up to 18 inches long also were caught. While stream and river water levels were near normal, fishing pressure on the trout streams was rather light, and reports of success were hard to come by.
Walleye anglers found action to be generally good, though success was best in the evening hours as the sun started to go down. Live bait combinations such as jig and minnow and slip-bobber rigs seemed to work the best, and some decent catches of walleyes in the 12- to 18-inch size were reported. The crankbait anglers did find some good action, as well, especially when casting the shallows and mid-depth flats in the low-light periods. Northern pike action was only fair, with the fish seeming to prefer the live baits rigs and slower-moving spinnerbaits. And somewhat surprisingly, bass action was pretty good, with smallmouth bass being a bit more active than the largemouths. Quite a few anglers reported catching some good-sized smallies during the middle of the day when the walleye bite was slow. Panfish action was just starting to pick up, as crappies have started to move up into the shallow bays in pretty good numbers. A few crappies have already started spawning, and some fair catches have been made along emergent weedlines with small minnows fished a foot or 2 below a bobber. Some nice perch have been found on the mud flats where the green weeds are just starting to grow, and bluegills have been moving up to the shallows in greater numbers.
Bridge Bait & Tackle, Park Falls, (715) 762-4108.
Ross’s Sport Shop, Phillips, (715) 339-3625.