Report from the Dock
Walleye reports have become more consistent over the past week as water temperatures continue to warm. Most really good bites in the northern half of the state are still coming from shallow water, less than 12 feet, while slightly deeper depths have been productive across much of the central and southern part of Wisconsin. Minnows continue to dominate the action (spot-tailed shiners were running early last week in northern Wisconsin, while leeches, crankbaits, and even crawlers were turning fish in other areas). Crappies are spawning, done spawning, or just starting to move into their spawning locations – it just depends where you are fishing. Several reports of post-spawn crappies were reported from the Rice Lake area and areas south, while bulrushes and reeds are holding fish across the north. There should be some excellent opportunities to catch walleyes, crappies, and bluegills this weekend statewide. Bass are now shallow in most areas, while northern pike have started relating to emerging weedlines.
The shops are fully open and Chequamegon Bay and Lake Superior have considerable activity. Smallmouth bass are in their usual haunts of Sand Cut, Brush Point, and Oak Point where they are hitting jigs and Twister Tails, hair grubs, and crankbaits. Use a slow presentation. In the same areas, anglers are making good catches of northern pike, walleyes, and perch. Walleye anglers are fishing the head of the bay, the slough, and channel drops. Some are jigging, while many are trolling crawler harnesses and crankbaits. Trout and salmon anglers report very good success trolling from Houghton Point to the islands. They are trolling shallow-running crankbaits, with some switching to spoons on leadcore line or behind Dipsey Divers. All landings are open and remember to use social distancing at the docks. Word is that face coverings are required at the Washburn landing.
Angler’s All, (715) 682-5754.
River Rock, (715) 682-3232.
Crappies and panfish are being found in 3 to 7 feet of water on Big Round Lake, Beaver Dam Lake, Balsam Lake, and Upper Turtle Lake. Walleye action remains slow, but northern pike are an easy catch on most lakes in 6 to 12 feet of water. Trout remain active, hitting small spinners on the Yellow River, Clam River, Crescent Lake, and Little Granite Lake. The shorelines on Staples Lake, Big Round, and Beaver Dam continue to produce largemouth bass.
Indianhead Sport Shop, (715) 822-2164
DOOR PENINSULA AND ALGOMA/KEWAUNEE AREA
Bass fishing has been fantastic and will only continue to get better as the water warms and the weather finally takes a turn for the better. There have been good reports coming in pretty much from up and down the whole peninsula, it really all depends on the winds. Waters less than 15 feet has been the best depths and Howie’s shorty tubes, paddle tails, hair and marabou jigs, Ned rigs along with jerkbaits have been the best baits. Walleye fishing is still going pretty good throughout the county during the day and at night depending on the wind. During the day, the best bite has been from Henderson’s Point south past Chaudoir’s Dock trolling in the 14- to 25-foot range with Flicker Shads and Flicker Minnows. And at night, which may be a bit better than day fishing right now, boat and shore fishermen are really getting into a bunch of fish by trolling and casting.
Pike fishing is still going fantastic throughout the county as those fish are really putting on their post-spawn feed bag right now. Sturgeon Bay, Little Sturgeon, Riley’s Bay, and Sawyer Harbor are just a few of the better areas to concentrate efforts.
A few lake reports are starting to trickle in from the small handful of fishermen who have ventured out there – mainly lake trout right now, but there has been a few kings getting caught. That fishing will start to kick in as soon as the water warms a bit
Howie’s Tackle, (920) 746-9916.
Algoma Chamber of Commerce, (920) 487-3090.
EAGLE RIVER AREA
We’ve had some cooler weather again, but summer is on the way. We will dearly enjoy this warmer weather. It has been a cool spring, with unrelenting winds – tough conditions for fishermen. Water levels are still high, but getting a little better. There is weed growth on most lakes despite the cold water temps. Walleye fishing has been good, especially on the Eagle River Chain. These fish have now completely dropped off the shorelines and are in deeper water. If you know of any brush piles or cover in 12 to 15 feet, you will find walleyes, including some nicer fish over the slot limits. Jigs and minnows are working best.
On the larger lakes, things are roughly a week behind the chain, but walleyes are done spawning and starting to move deeper. On the clear lakes you can find some emerging weeds and there will be fish in these weeds.
Northern fishing has been good also. These fish are feeding in the weeds and near the edges on many lakes. Walleye anglers catch many northerns by accident – probably more than anglers who target northerns. As the deeper weeds grow we’ll get some nice fish on lakes like Anvil, and many of the smaller more fertile lakes with good weed growth to concentrate the fish.
Good news – the bass are in. As this water is warming, the smallies and largemouths are moving to shore. This will last for several weeks. Some good fish over 20 inches have been caught over the last several days. Jigs and leeches are good for smallies, and plastics and even surface baits work well for the largemouth in that shallow water.
Muskie action will kick in soon. there haven’t been many reports of sightings yet, but that will change.
Panfish action also contains some good news – the crappies are coming in to spawn. These fish will provide great action for all anglers for the next few weeks. Light tackle with small plastics or minnows will catch fish.
Eagle Sports Center, (715) 479-8804.
FLORENCE COUNTY AREA
The water levels have subsided in the rivers and streams, allowing trout fishermen to enjoy some nice catches of browns and brookies. Minnows, worms, and artificial baits were being used. The walleye bite is producing good numbers, but not a lot of size. Minnows and crankbaits were performing well. Pike action was picking up over the last week or two. Suckers were the bait of choice. Panfish action has been slow. Fishermen are reporting water temperatures in the mid to upper 50s so this should begin to bring crappies shallow into spawning areas.
Whisler Outdoors, (715) 528-4411.
GREEN BAY/APPLETON AREA
Walleye fishing on lower Green Bay has slowed down due to the high winds and rain. The water was like chocolate milk as of May 19. The weekend looks promising. University Bay and Frying Pan Shoal have been a good spot for trolling for walleyes. The lure of choice is No. 7 Flicker Minnow. Although the water temps are in the 50s, there have been reports of nice fish being caught off Geano’s Reef on crawler harnesses. Smallies are being caught in Door County; Ned rigs and hair jigs are preforming the best. Muskie fishermen north of Hwy. 10 are targeting muskies with smaller lures at this time of year.
Smokey’s on the Bay Bait, Tackle and Guide Service, (920) 436-0600.
Water temperatures are creeping upward and most species are still shallow. Walleye anglers are doing well with jigs and fatheads, swimbaits, and soft plastics fished on weed edges, river channel mouths, and below dams. Northern pike anglers can tie on just about anything and get some action. Pike are taking jigs and minnows and Mr. Crappie Slab Daddy and Lindy Fuzz-E-Grub jigs. Largemouth action is best on north side shorelines in afternoons. On cooler days, work 5 to 8 feet. Wacky worms and jigs work well, and topwaters could soon start to produce. Smallmouth bass anglers report an improved bite, with jerkbaits and crankbaits popular choices. Creature baits are enticing smallmouths and largemouths. Crappies are stacked and anglers do well once they find fish. Most anglers are jigging small minnows and Tattle-Tail jigs on cribs, humps, and vegetation in 8 to 10 feet. Bluegills have yet to move in to spawn, but with some consistently warm weather, anglers can catch them from shore. Worms are hard to beat, but popper flies also produce.
Hayward Bait, (715) 634-2921.
Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau, (800) 724-2992.
IRON COUNTY AREA
The walleye bite has been steady but slow for most people. The consistent report is jigs and minnows are working the best; however, a few folks are having luck with plastics and crankbaits. There doesn’t seem to be a pattern though as some folks are getting walleyes in the river channel at 12 to 16 feet, others are doing better shallower on muddy flats with wood humps or green weeds, with depths varying from 4 to 12 feet. A few customers reported small leeches in the walleyes. Keep moving and cover multiple structures. The crappie bite was the most consistent this week, with most folks catching them in 12 to 14 feet of water. Some are suspended over wood; others are closer to bottom. They should be moving up shallow for pre-spawn into bulrush weed beds and/or brush along shorelines. A few random smallmouth bass being caught but haven’t had any reports on numbers. Many folks are seeing muskies spawning in the shallows on various lakes and the flowage over the past two weeks, so they should be interested in feeding soon. The first report of goslings on the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage came in May 18, as has one report of a loon nesting, so spring has sprung.
Flambeau Flowage Sports, (715) 476-2526.
LAKE WINNEBAGO AREA
Before the ton of rain, wind, and cold, guys were doing really well on walleyes, white bass, and panfish. The panfish have been hanging out in the channels and a little bit on Miller’s Bay. Prior to the weather, guys were catching walleyes and white bass on the river, as well as a few walleyes being found out on Lake Winnebago rock bars. Things should kick back in now that some warmer weather has returned. Walleyes will continue moving back into Lake Winnebago from the river, as well, so that rock bar action should continue building.
Critter’s, (920) 582-0471.
Fox River Bait, (920) 233-7409.
Dutch’s, (920) 922-0311.
Guys are walleye fishing mostly at night on Lake Mendota and they’re catching a few by casting and trolling. They’re also bass fishing with good success, but the catfish action has been sporadic, although some nice fish have been caught at Cherokee Marsh and Naughty Gal. The panfish bite has been a little quiet, but that should change once the water warms up. The best panfish news may be some crappie action toward dusk on Monona Bay. Lake Waubesa walleyes have been offering some action near inlets, outlets, and rocky points. There has been some panfish action reported on Mud Lake. Some guys are still heading up to the Prairie du Sac dam where they’re catching walleyes up to 27 inches. There has also been some walleye and sauger action on Lake Wisconsin in the usual spots.
D&S Bait and Tackle, (608) 244-3474.
Dorn Hardware, (608) 244-5403.
MARATHON COUNTY AREA
The surface temperature of the Eau Claire River at the store was 54 degrees May 18. Local anglers have reported slower than normal catches and they’re blaming water temperature. We need about a week of warm weather. Local hotspots on Lake Wausau near the shallows of the golf course just aren’t producing yet. Bright jigs of pink, chartreuse, and white tipped with a crappie minnow are still the weapon of choice. Anglers are reporting crappies suspended in 10 to 15 feet of water. Reports from opening weekend were mainly good. Anglers throughout the county shared success on local lakes and streams. Nightcrawlers and spinners were working for trout fisherman; a jig and minnow for most else. The fishing calendar shows good to excellent fishing now through Memorial Day weekend. The weather forecast looks good for the majority of the holiday weekend. Anglers are advised to use caution on area waterways as crowds are expected to be larger then normal.
Riverside Rentals & Bait Shop, Schofield, (715) 574-1771.
MINOCQUA/WOODRUFF/LAKE TOMAHAWK AREA
The promised (forecasted) warm-up is coming at a crawl. Cool, clouds, and lots of wind are raising water temps ever so slightly. What should have been “a crappie weekend” was decent, but not fantastic, maybe this coming one?
Crappies: Very good to good. It’s been hard to get a fix on the bite. As always, different sized lakes warm at different rates. There have been reports of crappies in 2 feet of water and pencil reeds, crappies staging in 5 to 8 feet of cabbage and also along 14-foot breaks. Minnows are the best bet when crappies are reluctant. With water temps slowly making their way into the upper 50s by this weekend (we hope) tiny tubes, Mini-Mites and small Twister tails will start working better.
Walleyes: Good, with post-spawn action in weeds of 6 to 10 feet. Use jig and minnow/leech combos, as well as shallow-running crankbaits and jig and Twisters or snap jig 3-inch swimbaits.
Northern pike: Good. The artificial bite a little slower at times. If you can’t get hit on spinnerbaits or No. 3 Mepps, switch to a weedless jig and chub to coax light biters. Use a light wire leader to prevent bite-offs and have a jaw spreader and pliers handy to prevent bite-offs of fingers!
Smallmouth bass: Good. They’re staging outside spawning areas and are hitting lipless cranks banged on rocks in 6 to 12 feet of water. Some dandy fish of over 5 pounds have been reported. It’s catch-and-release only until June 20.
Largemouth bass: Good. They’re cruising shallows on warming days. Pitch 3-inch wacky worms unweighted or twitch No. 5 or No. 7 Floating Rapalas.
Perch and bluegills: Good. Perch are in 4 to 8 feet. Try thunder bugs, small leeches, and minnows under small floats. Bluegills are extremely shallow seeking out the warmest water.
A good number of incidental muskie catches came in before the opener. With surface temps probably moving to upper 50s, low 60s watch for more of this.
It looks to be a good weekend, maybe some evening clouds/rain, but temps should be good and the crappie spawn should stretch out on most of the large lakes to give anglers plenty of opportunity.
Island Sport Shop, (715) 356-4797.
J and J Sports, (715) 277-2616.
You’ll find panfish on Island Lake and crappies on Big McKenzie Lake, Lipsey Lake, Potato Lake, and Middle McKenzie Lake in 3 to 5 feet of water . Minnows and leeches are turning a few walleyes on the 8- to 12-foot rocks at Shell Lake, while bass are shallow and aggressive on most lakes.
AAA Sports Shop, (715) 635-3011.