Friday, February 3rd, 2023
Friday, February 3rd, 2023

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Fishing a little slow in southeast Wisconsin early on, but warmer weather will make up for it in coming weeks

Pastor Dean Stelow of Northbrook Church in Richfield holds up a nice Okauchee Lake largemouth. (Photo by Dan Durbin)

Right now, bass should be biting really well and bluegills should be starting to make their saucer-like beds in shallow water that puts these fun fish within easy reach of anglers. But on Friday, May 26, a full day on Okauchee Lake made for a fun although rather disappointing day in terms of catching fish.

I was fishing with my friend, Pastor Dean Stelow, of Northbrook Church in Richfield. The plan was to fish traditional spawning and post-spawning spots like Stumpy Bay, Ice House Bay, Bay Five, and the Crane’s Nest. All of these spots should be good calls for this time of year because they feature sand, some rock, scattered weeds and usually bait fish — all key pieces to the spring-fishing puzzle.

Because of the full moon a few weeks ago, I knew that a lot of fish had probably already come in and spawned, but I also knew that there would be a new wave of fish coming in to set up on beds.

The spots mentioned above are good because you can fish shallow water for the biters and then slip off the first break to go after pre-spawn fish that haven’t moved in – or post-spawn fish that already left the spawning areas and are preparing to recover and start feeding in the deeper water just off the first break. Anglers win either way — on most days.

We weren’t going to be using live bait, only artificials. We also knew the bite would be tough because of the weather and high sun so we had some “reaction” baits tied on, too.  The nice thing about a reaction bite is that the fish don’t have to be hungry to bite. They are reacting in anger, defense, or surprise and biting your bait almost by accident.

Lipless crankbaits, jerk baits, and chatter baits were all at the ready.

The first spot we tried was in Bay Five and we had a bite within about three casts on a wacky rig. Minutes later I swung on one and missed. We didn’t stay long because the area didn’t have much for bait fish activity and we didn’t see bass cruising the shallows.

We then moved off to Stumpy Bay and areas nearby and picked up a couple of rock bass and a few more smaller male largemouths. A couple of interloping northern pike followed baits, but never fully committed to our presentations – as enticing as they had to be.

Finally, Stelow managed to get a pretty good fish, which he released following a quick photo. After that I caught one bass on a topwater lure, which is always fun.

It won’t be long now and fishing patterns will stabilize. We need some warmer weather and sunny days to bump the water temperatures and to get the weed growth going, which will help establish weedlines and make the fish more predictable.

I’d say the next three weeks ought to be pretty good and most of the fish around these parts will be found in shallow water near any cover they can find. When you do find them, they will likely be in schools and easy to catch.

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