Northern Wisconsin Fishing Report – August 21st, 2015
Smallmouth fishing is still steady with some days better than others, but that’s typical for this time of year. The fish are following their summertime patterns, utilizing deep weeds, current areas, rock piles, and structure around Ashland. Sometimes it pays to move around and try different spots if you’re not getting any action. This past week we’ve seen some pretty good winds out of the west, and it’s been just a little rough to get out on the bay some days, but we’re still fishing. A fun alternative to fishing the bay is to take a drift boat down one of the area’s great smallmouth rivers south of Ashland.
Trolling for lake trout and the occasional salmon has been excellent offshore and out deep around the Apostle Islands and beyond. Trollers are doing well right now out among the islands in a wide range of depths – from 30 foot of water all the way up to 200 feet. The fish are all over, you just have to find them. There has been a good late bite in the afternoons for smallies and walleyes.
Angler’s All, (715) 682-5754
River Rock, (715) 682-3232
Work the 10-foot weed edges for bluegills on Beaver Dam Lake, Staples Lake, and Big Round Lake. Surface lures are turning bass on most lakes, and muskie action has slowed. Look to Shell Lake for suspended walleyes and smallmouth bass over deep water. Most are hitting crankbaits.
Indianhead Sport Shop, (715) 822-2164
EAGLE RIVER AREA
We have unusual conditions in that the water temps have gone down already and range from 70 to 76 degrees. This is quite cool for this time of year. My guess is that we will have that warm weather that has eluded us for most of the summer in late August or early September, but we do not want it then, as it messes up the fishing.
Water levels are lower, too, as we’ve had only a little rain up here. This means the weeds are right on the surface and have become more difficult to fish through. We’ll also experience a drop in daylight water activity as the summer winds down. Right now, the low-light periods are still the best bet, especially for walleyes and muskies.
Walleye fishing has been OK, with most fish locating in the deeper weed areas and on the edges of soft/hard bottom. This means fish in the 8-foot range on the Eagle River chain, and in the 12-foot range on the clear lakes. The fish will soon move to the holes on the chain, but we’ve got a while to wait for that move. While minnows are still working throughout the area, we also have seen a big switch to leeches or crawlers everywhere. The night fishing is better on these clear lakes, so reserve your evenings for walleyes.
Bass are the stars right now. Largemouths have been in the cover, so you should fish piers, trees, and other cover. Weeds are holding fish everywhere on all types of lakes, so start at the shore and work out to deeper weeds in your search for these guys. Surface baits have been working well, along with plastics. Smallies are in deeper water over hard bottom. These guys are feeding heavily on crayfish, so any crayfish imitation will work well.
Muskie action is good, but it’s better in the evening or at night at this time of year. All types of bait works well now, but many prefer bucktails or surface baits over weeds for action. The large plastics work well now out in deeper water, as many fish are suspending. Night fishing for the trophies is recommended.
Eagle Sports Center, (715) 479-8804
Muskie fishing is best in early morning, evenings, and after dark. Concentrate on weedy areas – beds, bars, edges, shorelines, and gravel bars – in 2 to 18 feet. Bucktails, Bull Dawgs, gliders, crankbaits, jerkbaits, and topwaters are all catching fish.
Walleye action is best in low light and after dark. Fish are scattered in 6 to 25 feet around weed edges, brush, stumps, cribs, river channels, rock/gravel bars, and rocky shorelines. Use leeches, crawlers, suckers, and fatheads on jigs, Lindy rigs, and slip bobbers, or cast/troll crankbaits.
Largemouth fishing is very good around thick weeds, bogs, logs, brush, stumps, and slop in 2 to 12 feet. The most productive baits include weedless plastics, rigged/scented worms, spinnerbaits, Mepps spinners, swim baits, twitch baits, buzz baits, and topwaters.
Smallmouth action is fair to excellent, with fish scattered on wood, stumps, humps, hard bottoms, cribs, and bars in 6 to 20 feet. Baits in crayfish colors work well, such as soft plastics, swim jigs, tubes, and crankbaits, as well as rigged worms, frogs, poppers, drop-shot rigs, leeches, and crawlers.
Crappie action is best during morning and evening hours. Look for fish in or suspending over depths from 6 to 30 feet around weeds, brush, bogs, and cribs.
Hayward Bait, (715) 634-2921
Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau, (800) 724-2992
IRON COUNTY AREA
Smallmouth bass and northern pike are leading the way on the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage, the Gile Flowage, and the smaller natural lakes. Muskie action is improving, with some of the best stuff happening early and late on surface baits. Walleyes can still be caught by anglers willing to spend a little time sifting through cover for the willing biters.
Turtle River Trading Co., Mercer, (715) 476-0123
Trout and salmon fishing in Lake Michigan’s Green Bay has been good. Fish have been caught in 40 to 80 feet of water. Bass fishing has been good below the Hattie Street Bridge and the mouth of the Menominee River. A few walleyes have been caught in the river, too.
Bluegill fishing on Lake Noquebay was sporadic last week, but slip bobber fishing in 12 to 16 feet of water 2 feet off of the bottom has been productive. Bass are still hitting spinnerbaits and all types of plastics. Fish the weedlines in 8 to 12 feet of water. Wacky-worming for smallmouth bass has been working great up and down the river system. Cooler weather is in the forecast, and that could improve fishing on all the area lakes.
Hook, Line and Sinker, (715) 854-2073
MINOCQUA/WOODRUFF/ LAKE TOMAHAWK AREA
Last week was not a noteworthy week in many respects. The wind finally laid down enough for better boat control, but some storms (and the threat of storms) changed plans and patterns.
Muskie baits and topwater tail baits (Whopper Ploppers and Pace Makers) have worked well over thick weed mats, especially during pre–frontal conditions. Big-bladed bucktails that move water also are good choices.
Largemouth bass: Good. Wind was not a friend early in week. Once things calmed down, plastics in the form of Sweet Beavers, creatures, and Carolina rigs produced well. Use buzz baits and other topwater offerings on warmer evenings.
Walleyes: Good. The bite is picking back up some. Redtails are a good choice on weed edges on windy days. Or try crawlers or leeches along sand grass edges in 14 to 22 feet of water.
Smallmouth bass: Good. Some evening topwater action for big smallies. Daytime? Try drop-shotting with plastic craws. Big leeches are hard to resist.
Crappies: Good. Deep wood has been the best, though some big slabs are being caught along deep weeds on chubs meant for walleyes.
Bluegills: Good. Action would be better if it were less windy early. Evenings are still good for topwater poppers and dry flies. Small leeches along deep coontail edges also are working.
Island Sport Shop, (715) 356-4797
J and J Sports, (715) 277-2616
PRICE COUNTY AREA
With quite a bit of wind and some thunderstorms in the past week, fishing and recreational activity has been at just a moderate level on area waters. And with the constantly changing weather, fishing success has continued to be rather erratic. Muskies and panfish have been getting most of the attention for the past few weeks, with the muskie fishing continuing to be rather tough. Nearly all of the muskies that anglers have been seeing are follows, and most of the catching has been of smaller fish in the 28- to 38-inch size. Jerkbaits, bucktails, and surface baits have been the more popular lures, with the deep weed edges and the less-dense weedbeds producing the best action. The panfish action has been fair. Most people have had no trouble catching bluegills and rock bass, but fish have generally been small. Look for the bigger panfish to be suspended near cover in the mid-depth ranges in 8 to 14 feet of water.
Walleye fishing has been variable, though some decent fish in the 16- to 22-inch range have been reported. Some success has been reported on the deep weed edges and deep rock/gravel bars, with leeches and nightcrawler halves being the best baits. A few walleyes have been caught on crankbaits fished along weeds edges after dark. Bass fishing was generally erratic with the variable weather; some days provided some great action, while bites were hard to come by on others. The largemouths continue to be found near heavy cover such as logs, stumps, and bog edges, with soft plastics and crayfish-imitation lures being the best baits of late. The lily pad and reed beds have become hard to fish as the stems seem to have “hardened” and made it hard to get a lure through, and even tougher to pull a fish out of. Smallmouth bass fishing continued to be fair on local flowages and rivers. The smallies are still settling into their midsummer pattern and have been relating more to wood, especially near deep water and hard-bottom areas. Small crankbaits and finesse plastics have been getting most of the action.
Bridge Bait and Tackle, Park Falls, (715) 762-4108
Ross’s Sport Shop, Phillips, (715) 339-3625