Wisconsin Outdoor News Fishing Report – May 18, 2018


There seemed to be a spawning hangover with walleyes, since the bite was extremely slow. A few sunfish and crappies are being caught in 3 to 6 feet on Balsam Lake, Big Round Lake, and Cedar Lake. Pike and bass are biting on the Apple River.

Country Store, (715) 268-7482.


There was still some ice all along the shoreline of Chequamegon Bay in Ashland. The hot pond was open, but there had been no smelt action there as of last week. The ice was starting to “chunk up” then in some areas but the bay was still semi-iced in. There were not a lot of areas where smelters could have put a net in on the Ashland shoreline. For those who use a drop-net to catch smelt, please note that the dock at Bayview Park is all closed off due to storm damage and reconstruction. Smelters should call ahead to find out if those fish have moved in.

Angler’s All, (715) 682-5754.

River Rock, (715) 682-3232.


Cold water leads to a late walleye spawn and that has resulted in a poor bite so far. Panfish reports have been much better with good action coming off most lakes in shallow water, highlighted by lakes such as Staples and Beaver Dam. Trout fishing also is going strong on most streams.

Indianhead Sport Shop, (715) 822-2164


Action has been very slow for boat anglers in search of brown trout, northern pike and walleyes. Anglers casting from shore have caught a few browns in the canal and from the piers as they open up around Door County. A few northern pike have been caught but even most pike anglers had no luck recently. There was a lot of ice on the west end of the Sturgeon Bay canal that blocked travel out to the bay, depending on wind direction. Stone Quarry, Fish Creek, Ellison Bay and Gills Rock ramps are now open, but floating ice was still a serious hazard. Egg Harbor and Ephraim were still locked with ice. Sister Bay should be open by now. Steelhead action had been very good, but the end of the steelhead run is at hand. The suckers are starting to move into the creeks now. Fishing action should improve as water temps increase and the ice clears.

Howie’s Tackle, (920) 746-9916.

Algoma Chamber of Commerce, (920) 487-3090.


Who would have guessed that so many lakes would have opened by opening day? The wind and warmer weather took quite a toll on the ice on May 3 and May 4. With a warm and sunny opening weekend, much of the ice was gone except for the bigger, deep lakes. Not only that, but the spawn for perch, walleyes and crappies was in mid stride. Things quickly went from winter to summer as far as water temps and conditions are concerned. The opener was actually pretty good, with walleye anglers who fished shorelines doing pretty well. The Eagle River Chain produced good fishing, especially in the evenings and after dark on the shorelines, with walleyes spawning before the ice was completely gone. The best bait was fathead minnows on light jigs. There were fewer anglers than usual because of the worry about ice, but those who came up did well. The Wisconsin River was productive also, as spawned-out walleyes moved back to the Rainbow Flowage. There were a lot of anglers on the river just above the Rainbow because of the ice on bigger lakes. Northern fishing was good, as these fish spawn very quickly as the ice goes out. They go on a pretty good feeding binge after the spawn and will be right in the new weeds with the crappies and walleyes. 

Eagle Sports Center, (715) 479-8804.


We had great weather to kick off Wisconsin’s season opener. The sun was shining and temps were in the mid 60s. By Saturday morning any ice that had been lingering on area lakes was mostly gone. Anglers reported good catches of walleyes. Tuffies and fathead minnows were producing the best bite. Some anglers reported that the spawn is almost over on the rivers but just starting on the lakes. Pike action is fair. Anglers were having some success using crankbaits. Trout action is good on spinners despite high water.

Whisler Outdoors, (715) 528-4411.


Due to the recent weather changes Fox River walleyes haven’t been active, with boat and shore anglers catching very few walleyes. However, those who have been fishing the early morning hours from midnight to 7 a.m. have been catching upwards of 30 walleyes per person while mostly using jigs with plastics. There has still been hundreds of shore anglers and boaters out to catch a trophy walleye. The Brown County Fairgrounds and Fox Point have seen high numbers of boaters on the warmest days, along with shore anglers at Voyager Park.

Smokey’s on the Bay Bait, Tackle and Guide Service, (920) 436-0600.


Following weeks of worry, most Hayward area lakes not only offered anglers open water for the game fish opener, they also provided good fishing. Although there is still some ice on a few of the deep, clear lakes, it should disappear in short order. Walleye fishing is fair to excellent, depending on the water … and the angler. Look for fish along breaklines and drop-off edges in depths out to 15 feet. Northern pike action is fair in shallower weedy areas. Larger minnows, crankbaits, and spinners can all get the interest of post-spawn pike. Bass fishing is fair to good along shallow shorelines and bays with warmer water. Anglers should note that the smallmouth bass season in the North Zone is release-only until June 16.

Hayward Bait, (715) 634-2921.

Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau, (800) 724-2992.


Fishing is really starting to pick up, with the water warming quickly due to multiple days above 80 degrees. The bass and the northern pike are very aggressive, and this is the time of the year to be throwing spoons and spinners. The bluegills are finally starting to bite, and guys are catching good-sized bluegills in numbers. The perch have finished spawning and the schools are starting to loosen up. If you can find where they are feeding it’s a lot of fun. The crappie bite has been frustrating so far, with some days being decent and other days they just shut down. They had not spawned yet, so they should go anytime now. Water clarity is excellent for the Mississippi River being at flood stage and it should remain that way as the river continues to draw down.

Schafer’s Boats, (608) 781-3100.


Bluegill fishing was best in warmest water locations – the northern ends of lakes, or shallow, dark-bottomed bays, channels, and marsh areas. Weeds, piers or wood will also hold bluegills. Afternoon hours are the best time to target gills when the water will be warmest of the day. Crappies were suspended above weeds in 15 feet of water or less near warm water areas. A small or large fathead or rosy red minnow baited on a gold Aberdeen hook suspended under a small pencil or Rocket bobber worked best. White bass have been caught from the Rock, Wisconsin, and Wolf rivers. Catfish were caught on the Rock and Crawfish rivers. Walleyes are now in post-spawn patterns. Look for them around weed beds or rock bars in 5 to 10 feet of water, especially areas near current. Muskie fishing should be good; just downsize your bait. Target drop-offs or weed beds.

The DNR has stocked trout in Lower Genesee, Lower Nashotah, Fowler and Ottawa lakes. Trout can be found anywhere from the surface down to 25 feet over deep water.

In Milwaukee, anglers targeting brown trout found success in mostly 30 feet of water or less. The occasional small coho and even a lake trout were caught in deeper water up to 40 feet. At McKinley Pier, there little to no action for anglers targeting salmon and trout on the lakeside or harbor side of the pier. Perch fishing at the Summerfest grounds has been very slow. 

In Racine, better weather brought an increase in activity at the Racine ramp. Coho action is just starting to pick up out over deeper water on the lake. A few anglers are still fishing on the Root River, but they are catching a lot more suckers now and an occasional steelhead here and there. Anglers report still spotting a few steelhead cruising the river.

In Kenosha, anglers have been taking their boats out for cohos, but action remains a little light. Near-shore coho fishing is starting to pick up just south of the Wisconsin/Illinois state line. Coho action for Kenosha shoreline anglers was also slow. The Pike River is running very clear and action has been on the slow side.

In Sheboygan, boat ramp action has increased significantly. One angler said that he and two other anglers caught their limit of brown trout fishing Rapalas in 10 feet of water. Others reported success catching lake trout on spoons in 40 to 50 feet of water. Pigeon River fishing remains slow, but some trout are still being caught by anglers, who were using egg patterns. Pressure was the highest near Mill Road and Hwy. Y. 

In Port Washington, lake fishing and pier pressure was light; however, the few anglers who were fishing the south pier had some success catching browns with Rapalas. Fishing pressure is increasing along the shoreline of Rotary Park and a few brown trout have been caught on spoons, one of which was a respectable 11-pound brown trout. Several anglers continue to target steelhead in the Sauk Creek Nature Preserve with little success. Many white suckers are being caught by anglers who are using egg patterns intended for trout.

DNR hotline, (414) 382-7920.

Smokey’s Bait Shop, (262) 691-0360.

Dick Smith’s Bait, (262) 646 2218.


There has been some very good walleye action going on along the Fox River. Some of those walleye anglers are anchoring up near the Hwy. 41 bridge where they are also catching a lot of white bass. Crappies are starting in the channels along Lake Winnebago. The walleye bite has been very good on Lake Winnebago rock piles and on Lake Butte des Morts on the point. Perch were in the Fox River, but are in transition back to Lake Winnebago.

Critter’s, (920) 582-0471.

Fox River Bait, (920) 233-7409.

Dutch’s, (920) 922-0311.


Anglers are finding a lot of good walleye action, whether they are shore fishing or fishing from boats. The Yahara River from the Tenney Locks to Lake Kegonsa has the potential for good walleye action. Panfish action has been fair on Lake Monona in the “triangle area” and in any of the bays. All of the channels connected to Monona have been producing panfish. Lake Mendota anglers have been finding some big crappies. Catfish action on fish up to 8 pounds has been very good. Lake Wingra is getting some big attention for muskies because of its smaller size – the water warms up faster there than on the other Madison-area lakes. The bass are in shallow on the Yahara above Lake Mendota. Also try Six-Mile Creek and Spring Harbor. The same holds true on Monona – the bass are in shallow with the panfish.

D&S Bait and Tackle, (608) 244-3474.

Dorn Hardware, (608) 244-5403.


Marathon County’s opening weekend is in the books. Reports have it that the walleyes were really snapping on the Wisconsin River. The majority of those fish, though, were less than 15 inches, but nice fish were caught between 15 and 20 inches, with one monster walleye at 30 inches caught on the southern portion of the river.

The lilacs may be blooming, but no one has told the crappies yet. Reports have it that the extended cold spring has delayed the normal season’s catch. The water temperature recorded on the Eau Claire River on May 7 at the shop was 55 degrees at the surface. Local anglers are optimistic, though, and report that shallow bays are starting to produce some fish.

Riverside Bait and Tackle, (715) 574-1771.


In Marinette County, Menominee River anglers had mixed luck fishing for walleyes. Stephenson Island and the Hattie Street bridge had good numbers of walleyes being caught. Anglers are also caught some suckers. Peshtigo River anglers reported lower numbers of walleyes last week. Anglers also have reported increased numbers of suckers. Some anglers were having success catching walleye near the mouth of the Peshtigo River.

In Oconto County, because of the warm weather, a lot of anglers got out on the water. More than 150 boats were put in at the Oconto Breakwater Harbor last Saturday, and many anglers were reporting mixed success. Some anglers were reporting good catches of walleyes and suckers, while others were reporting little activity.

Hook, Line and Sinker, (715) 854-2073


The 2018 Wisconsin fishing opener actually happened in northern Wisconsin. It sort of snuck up on anglers – locals and visitors. Open water wasn’t available everywhere, but where it was, walleye anglers had some great fishing. While some lakes were still ice covered (Trout, Fence, etc.), many favorite walleye lakes opened up enough to allow anglers to launch, thanks to the warm temps of last week. Surprisingly, on some smaller lakes that had been ice-free for a few days, anglers were finding spawned out walleyes where surface temps were in the low 50s already. Daytime fishing on those lakes produced best when anglers worked depths of 10 to 15 feet using jigs tipped with large fathead minnows. On flowages, where fish were being found in pre- and post-spawn condition, mud minnows and large fatheads on weedless jigs proved best in 3 to 7 feet. Casting crankbaits also produced nice catches on those lakes. Northern pike and smallmouth bass (release only right now) provided anglers with bonus action while pitching for walleyes. There were a few reports of crappies and muskies cruising the warm shallows of smaller lakes.

Island Sport Shop, (715) 356-4797.

J and J Sports, (715) 277-2616.


The white bass are running pretty good on the Wisconsin River above the Petenwell Flowage and the walleyes are biting very well on the lake proper. White bass are still up in the river. The crappies haven’t quite started yet, but they will get going soon. It’s a little early for catfish, but guys could find them if they wanted to.

Petenwell Sports, (608) 564 7707.

Castle Rock Dam Bait Shop, (608) 339-2967.


Walleye action has been slow with just a few fish were caught on jigs and minnows on the Namekagon River. Water temperatures remain cool, so panfish action in shallow water has been slow to develop on are lakes. The crappies and sunfish being found are still in deep water, outside the traditional spring spots.

AAA Sports Shop, (715) 635-3011.



Fishing on Lake Superior has been slow due to ice in the harbor. When the ice was gone for a couple of days, anglers did well catching cohos and brown trout when trolling or jigging on the bubblers. There is a dock in place in the Upper Harbor so when the ice leaves anglers will be able to launch. A few steelhead have been caught on the Carp and Chocolay rivers. 

Gander Mountain, (906) 226-8300.


Most of the ice is gone on Little Bay de Noc but water temperatures remain in the high 30s. There is still some floating ice out in the bay so boat anglers should use extreme caution. Pier anglers at the North Shore launch have caught a few smallies. All of the rivers in the area were high.

Bay View Bait, (906) 786-1488.

BayShore Resort, (906) 428-2950.


Lake Gogebic still had a lot of ice last week, but there had been no angler activity. Snow is off the surface and the few days of 70 degrees had darkened the surface of the ice and it had started to honeycomb. Shoreline areas had begun to open up. The lake is not safe for travel.

Bear’s Nine Pines Resort, (906) 842-3361.


There was still ice on most of the lakes in Iron County, but the shorelines are falling apart and nothing was safe for foot traffic. There was warm weather in the forecast. Most anglers are waiting for the opener on May 15. Turkey hunting has been pretty good. Toms are gobbling and hens are starting to go to their nests in the afternoons. 

Luckey’s Sport Shop, (906) 265-0151.

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