Report from the Dock
With weather patterns changing almost daily, water temperatures have been jumping all over the place and that seems to have had a negative impact on what had been some excellent walleye fishing across the state. Walleyes are being caught, but there’s no doubt a stretch of consistent, cooler weather will really kick the fall bite into high gear. On the walleye front, look for some great opportunities for shallow water activity, especially at night. Crappies also don’t seem to know what to do. There are crappies still hanging in the weeds, while others have started suspending over deep basin areas, so look for both spots to be holding fish, at least through this weekend. Minnows or bucktails are the tickets for muskies and it seems like many small lakes have been more productive recently than the larger, more noted muskie lakes. The waterfowl season seems to be going well in most areas and hunter participation has been strong. Good numbers of teal, wood ducks, and geese, along with a few divers, are being shot. Bowhunters are seeing scrapes appearing in their hunting areas.
Muskie reports remain favorable with suckers turning the majority of fish in 12 to 15 feet on Lake Wapogasset, Bear Trap Lake and the Apple River. Minnows or Jiggin’ Raps are producing walleyes in 15 to 25 feet on Wapogasset and 14 feet on Big Round. Panfish reports have been limited, but there hasn’t been many people fishing them. Archery hunters are doing well, bear hunting activity has dipped a bit and waterfowl hunters are doing well shooting mainly geese and puddle ducks.
Country Store, (715) 268-7482.
Fishing pressure has been light, but weather conditions haven’t been the best. Muskie anglers are using bucktails and doing well on Sand Lake in less than 10 feet. Northern pike and bass remain shallow and active on most lakes; a few crappies are coming off Bear Lake in 12 to 15 feet. Waterfowl hunters are mainly shooting wood ducks, but there are mallards and geese being shot in cut fields as well.
Indianhead Sport Shop, (715) 822-2164.
DOOR PENINSULA AND ALGOMA/KEWAUNEE AREA
Perch fishing has been fantastic and that fishing will continue to stay good just as it has the past four years. With all of the high water, the recent spawns have been phenomenal and there are a lot of perch around. Try the Sturgeon Bay ship canal, Sawyer Harbor, Riley’s Bay, Little Sturgeon and some of the deeper water south of Little Sturgeon past Chaudoir’s Dock. A mix of crawlers, leaf worms and fatheads are still working well. Once the water really cools off it will change to all minnows. Pike fishing is also starting to get rolling. Sturgeon Bay, Sawyer Harbor, Little Sturgeon and Riley’s Bay are all very good areas to try for pike.
The fall king salmon run is starting to come to an end, but there are still some decent opportunities for small boat fishermen and shore fishermen to get in on the action. Casting and trolling spoons and crankbaits or soaking spawn sacs are all very good methods
Walleye fishing has been going pretty good at night. That fishing should continue to get better as the water cools and those fish put on the feed bag. Troll over the tops of the many reefs or casting the primary and secondary shoreline drop-offs. Crankbaits are generally the best baits in the fall.
Howie’s Tackle, (920) 746-9916.
EAGLE RIVER AREA
Fall is here and water temps are now mostly in the 50s. Water levels are high from recent rains. Turnover is done on many lakes. This is a great time for the muskie hunters and walleye anglers. There should be two Octobers. Walleye fishing is good, with a lot of fish moving on the Eagle River Chain. Minnows are the best bait on jigs, but half crawlers are still working. There has been some current on the chain, which means you can get some fish in the narrow areas in the river also.
On the larger lakes off the chain, the fish are moving deeper off weeds and to the drop-offs. Some anglers are in 30 feet of water if the drop-off is sharp enough. Minnows and small suckers work best on these lakes. The deep rock bars are also places to find walleyes. Smallies are deeper now and can be caught on minnows or plastics. On some clear lakes, they can be fished as deep as 30 feet.
This is the time of the year for muskie fishing. They go on a slow motion feeding “binge” right up to ice-up. The biggest problem with fall muskie fishing is that it conflicts with hunting and there are only so many hours in the day. The best time for muskies now is midday, when the water can warm a little and spur some action. Try larger slow-moving baits and suckers. The fish are spread all through the lakes, but will stay in deeper water to feed on ciscoes and suckers.
Eagle Sports Center, (715) 479-8804.
FLORENCE COUNTY AREA
Fishing pressure has been light. The cold front that came through last week really slowed things down. Muskie action has been quiet. A few fishermen landed some smaller catches. The walleye bite has been slow. Anglers are using large fatheads or suckers. Most catches have been undersized. Panfish action has been slow, as well.
A few grouse have been reported, along with some nice woodcock. Archers are having some luck on whitetails as the bucks begin moving a little more during the day.
Whisler Outdoors, (715)528-4411.
GREEN BAY/APPLETON AREA
Walleye action on Lower Green Bay is slowing down but the good news is the Fox River is on fire right now. From the mouth of the river to the dam walleyes are being caught while jigging and trolling. There is a three-fish limit on the river. Perch fishing has also been good on the east and west shores over 20 feet of water on the mud flats. Muskie fishing is going good; trolling the breaks and shoals with crankbaits.
Duck hunting groups have been launching at Suamico, along with a few perch and muskie fishermen. Catches have been light. The Duck Creek landing was busy with duck hunters and fishing pressure there has been light.
Smokey’s on the Bay Bait, Tackle and Guide Service, (920) 436-0600.
Muskie fishing is quite productive, with most anglers doing best by fishing points, ledges and vegetation in 10 to 15 feet – the areas holding the majority of fish. Swimbaits, bucktails and suckers are the angler favorites. Walleye fishing is still tough, but has been becoming increasingly better throughout the fall. Most walleyes are hanging at 25 to 35 feet and deeper. On shallower lakes, work deep drop-offs, humps and vegetation. Suckers are the most popular bait, but lipless crankbaits and spoons are also working. Northern pike are very active and can make a slow day of muskie fishing more exciting. Pike are staging in the same areas and depths as muskies and working those points, ledges and vegetation in 10 to 15 feet. Smallmouth bass are staging in 20 to 25 feet and hitting suckers, crawlers and jigs. Crappies are difficult to find, but bluegills are in 15 to 20 feet and jigs and minnows, waxies and crawlers are the go-to baits.”
Hayward Bait, (715) 634-2921.
Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau, (800) 724-2992.
IRON COUNTY AREA
The lakes are underway with turnover, which has changed the location of the bite. The walleye have been considerably deeper the last few days on the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage, with success on severe drop-offs of wood on the Turtle side or deep rock/wood on the big water. Anchor in 13 to 14 feet of water and fishing drop-offs into 18 feet with weedless jigs and fatheads. There have been a fair number of reports on muskie action along that same drop-offs where walleyes are holding in 10 to 15 feet over structure or deep cribs/wood. Try suckers, bucktails, jerkbaits and twitch baits. The crappie bite has slowed as they transition to deeper structure. The perch have been mixed in with the walleyes in the deeper wood structure. They’re also eating fatheads on weedless jigs or a vertically jigged presentation. There was a bull moose on a trail camera in central Iron County on Sept. 28. A 52-inch muskie was caught on an artificial lure, suspended over a 20-foot rock bar on a deep, clear lake over the weekend.
Flambeau Flowage Sports, Mercer, (715) 476-2526.
LAKE MICHIGAN/METRO AREA LAKES
In Sheboygan, boaters fished the mouth of the Sheboygan River to the 14th Street bridge for chinook salmon using spoons or spawn sacs under a float. Catches were light. Fishing pressure in the Sheboygan Harbor and shoreline continues to be low. IN the Sheboygan River, anglers drift fishing skein and spawn sacs with or without a float are reporting good catches of chinook salmon at the Kohler dam as well as at the town of Kohler public access. Another popular spot was Esslingen Park (the wayside) where one angler reported catching a brown trout on a spinner late in the week.
At the Port Washington, the north slip and harbor area were the most highly fished areas, with anglers reported good catches of chinook salmon in dark spawning colors on spawn sacs fished on the bottom or chunks of skein fished with a slip bobber 9 to 11 feet down. Fishing pressure remained high throughout the week at the coal dock park discharge. Anglers continue to report good catches of king and coho salmon on spawn sacs and skein fished on the bottom with a three-way swivel or Wolf River rigs. Rainbow and brown trout have entered the area and are also being caught using the same methods. Boaters reported little success in the harbor. Anglers fishing the mouth of Sauk Creek had moderate success swinging flies and float fishing spawn sacs or skein. Rainbow and brown trout are beginning to show up at the mouth of Sauk Creek.
In Milwaukee, it was hit or miss for those fishing from boats. Some had a lot of luck catching kings and a few scattered brown trout on skein. Most fish are well into their spawning colors. Anglers have had tremendous success lately catching non-spawning silver fish from Lake Michigan piers. Skein seems to be the bait of choice in that regard. Competition remains high among anglers for a space to fish at the Kletzsch Park and Estabrook Park dams. Oak Creek fishing pressure was extremely high below the Oak Creek dam recently. Many chinook and coho salmon were caught on flies, eggs, egg imitations, crankbaits and spoons.
In Racine County, the Root River saw angling activity above and below the steelhead facility. Most anglers are still using fly tackle in order to catch the salmon they are targeting. Even though more salmon are continuing to travel into the river, success was extremely limited. The Racine piers and shoreline: The piers and shorelines in Racine saw a decrease in fishing activity. Poor wind direction left the piers tough to fish last week. Anglers continue to target salmon as they are still running into the Root River. The few boats that have been going out are fishing in the safety of the harbors to target salmon. Catching fish continues to be a struggle from boats.
In Kenosha County, the Pike River saw steady angling activity throughout the week. Most anglers continue to fish the mouth of the river as salmon frequently jump there. Most anglers were seen bobber fishing while some were still throwing spoons or crankbaits. Unfortunately, success was low even with all the fish activity. The piers and shorelines in Kenosha saw a slight increase in activity as many anglers are still fishing in the harbor as salmon continue to run and water temps drop. Most anglers were fishing with spawn and a bobber.
DNR hotline, (414) 382-7920.
Smokey’s Bait Shop, (262) 691-0360.
Dick Smith’s Bait, (262) 646 2218.
Despite the poor weather, Lake Mendota anglers have caught some bass, walleyes and northern pike and in a number of different ways and places. They’ve been fishing weedlines and rock bars all around Mendota. Lake Monona shore fishermen are having pretty good luck on bluegills and even a few crappies in Monona Bay and along the convention center. Monona boat anglers didn’t have a lot of luck on bluegills last week. Lake Waubesa reports have been fairly quiet, except for some bluegill action in the usual spots. Lake Kegonsa anglers have caught a few bluegills and perch in about 12 feet, but not all over. Lake Wisconsin and Lake Koshkonong have been giving up some walleyes.
D&S Bait and Tackle, (608) 244-3474.
Dorn Hardware, (608) 244-5403.
The fishing pressure in the rivers was high during the middle of the week with more than 30 anglers fishing at Mishicot and another 15 fishing the dams in Shoto. The anglers in Mishicot were using yarn balls and a single hook. Red, pink or orange yarn balls were the most effective for chinook salmon. Some anglers also reported catching a few kings on spawn sacs. The anglers in Shoto reported pink or red yarn balls were the most effective. It appeared that the fish were more active in early morning hours and as the day progressed the bite slowed down.
— DNR Report
The Marinette area has been semi-quite recently. The perch haven’t quite started in Oconto Park 2 yet and the walleye bite hasn’t been spectacular in the river either. King salmon and brown trout are still being caught by the dam and in the creeks. They’ve been seen porpoising frequently in the Menominee Marina. It’s been really quiet and the water isn’t quite cold enough for fish to start coming up the rivers. Most boats were seen trolling the upper reaches of the river around the Hwy. 41 bridge up to the train bridge. A few undersized walleyes were reported. Shore anglers were seen mainly just below the dam on both sides of the river targeting trout, salmon and walleyes. No fish were reported later in the week, but some anglers caught a couple brown trout and walleyes earlier in the week. The Peshtigo River was pretty quiet, with only a few duck hunters seen over the weekend.
The ditches along Hwy. Y and Oconto Park II had some pressure but overall low catches reported. Most perch were 5 to 7 inches. Duck hunters were out for the opener in Oconto County, with lots of trailers at all launches. A few crappies were caught below the dam in Stiles on the Oconto River. At Geano Beach muskies were being marked in 12 to 14 feet of water.
A&K Bait and Tackle, Marinette, (715) 732-9595.
MINOCQUA/WOODRUFF/LAKE TOMAHAWK AREA
More late October-like weather with wind, rain and SNOW made for tougher conditions than most are used to for the first weekend of October. Water temps ranged from 52 to 57 degrees, putting many lakes right in the midst of turnover. Despite the chilling wind, some nice reports, especially from the esox anglers, came in.
Muskies and northern pike: Very good to fair. There were nice reports of fish on topwaters, gliders (Smity and Phantom) and twitch baits such as Cranes and Bucher Shallow Raiders. Large swim baits were also effective. There were good sucker reports, as well as muskies hitting trout. Call ahead for quantities as suckers still limited in supply. Anglers saw pike of 34 to 36 inches tops, but plenty of others in the 26- to 30-inch range.
Walleye: Good to fair. Turnover isn’t helping these already finicky fish. Flowages are the best choice during turnover. Use jigs and large fatheads or small chubs. Once turnover is complete (usually three days or so) head deep on lakes and vertically fish humps and transition areas of 18 to 30 feet. Be careful bringing fish up in water deeper than 30, or don’t fish for those guys.
Crappies: Fair to good. Action is picking up as fish move into somewhat tighter schools.
Island Sport Shop, (715) 356-4797.
J and J Sports, (715) 277-2616.