The sun was shining on Chequamegon Bay May 4 – which did a lot for peoples’ attitudes – and until the wind picked up, fishing was excellent. Trolling remains outstanding for cohos, brown trout, and splake from Long Island out toward the islands. Most trollers are flat-lining crankbaits in shallower water (40 feet) or following the mudlines. Anglers on the Ashland side of the bay are catching some trout and salmon in shallow as the fish follow the smelt, but smelting is winding down. Smallmouth bass are in their usual haunts of Sand Cut, Brush Point, and Oak Point. Water temperatures have reached the low 50s, but anglers should fish their baits very slowly. There are some good reports from anglers fishing steelhead on the Sioux River.
Angler’s All, (715) 682-5754.
River Rock, (715) 682-3232.
Walleye action has been limited but inconsistent weather patterns are mostly to blame. Panfish are biting a bit more consistently in shallow water on many lakes, but look to Staples Lake and Beaver Dam Lake for better numbers.
Indianhead Sport Shop, (715) 822-2164
DOOR PENINSULA AND ALGOMA/KEWAUNEE AREA
Tons of fishermen around chasing giant smallies around Door County. When the water is cold early in the season like this, fishermen tend to gravitate to the southern part of the county looking for warmer water – Sturgeon Bay Flats, Sawyer Harbor, Sand Bay, Riley’s Bay and Little Sturgeon. Look for bottom transitions in water less than 15 feet and fish extremely slow. Walleye fishing has been excellent for the past couple of weeks by day or night and by trolling or casting. At night, fish the first shoreline drop-offs in 5 to 15 feet. During the day slide out a bit to the 15- to 30-foot range. Pike fishing has been heating up right in downtown Sturgeon Bay, Sawyer Harbor, Riley’s Bay and Little Sturgeon. Large jerkbaits, large plastics, spoons and suckers all will work well at this time of year
Howie’s Tackle, (920) 746-9916.
Algoma Chamber of Commerce, (920) 487-3090.
EAGLE RIVER AREA
Walleye action was better than decent over opening weekend. Anglers fished mud flats, shoreline breaks and new weeds with a jig/crawler. Largemouths hit wacky-rigs around docks. Smallmouths are still hanging around rock humps, so a jig and half of a crawler or crayfish imitators will get them to bite. Perch are using the deep weed edge and hard soft transitions lately. Keep using jigs tipped with red worms or plastic. Crappies can be caught by using a slip bobber tipped with a piece of plastic. Bluegills are in the shallow weeds. When the muskie season opens, try tossing bucktails and glide baits over the weed tops.
Eagle Sports Center, (715) 479-8804.
FLORENCE COUNTY AREA
Opening weekend was a busy one. Anglers were restless after the long winter and the weather was perfect with sunshine and temps near 70 degrees on opening day. Trout fishermen were catching good numbers of trout. The rivers are high, so anglers were sticking to the streams. Worms have been the preferred bait but spinners and small minnows were also performing well. The walleye action has been slow and their bite light. Vertical jigging with minnows using subtle movement or none at all will usually catch more fish when they are finicky.
Whisler Outdoors, (715) 528-4411.
GREEN BAY/APPLETON AREA
The metro boat launch at the mouth of the Fox River was busy with all docks now installed. Despite the warm weekend shore anglers were out in just moderate numbers and saw low success. One party caught 12 white bass near the river mouth. At Bayshore Park the week leading up to the opener, nobody fished off the pier or from shore on opening weekend. The boaters were had luck, though, averaging one or two walleyes per boat. The water temperature was between 48 to 51. Interest increased on opening weekend. On May 4 153 boats launched at Bayshore. Anglers averaged two to three walleyes, with sizes running 16 to 22 inches. Trolling with crawler harnesses and Flicker Shads worked the best.
Smokey’s on the Bay Bait, Tackle and Guide Service, (920) 436-0600.
Jigs tipped with minnows or plastics are producing a few walleyes in 6 to 8 feet on the Chippewa Flowage, Grindstone Lake, Lake Lac Courte Oreilles, and Round Lake. Smallmouth bass also can be had on these lakes in 8 to 10 feet, and the majority of crappies being caught are still coming from deeper water just outside the shallow bays and shorelines. Fishermen enjoyed a perfect day on the opener with warm sunshine, calm winds, and temperatures up to 72 degrees. However, the water is still cold at 44 degrees on the main basins of most lakes.
Hayward Bait, (715) 634-2921.
Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau, (800) 724-2992.
IRON COUNTY AREA
After a warm opening day temperatures in the north dropped considerably for most of the following week, but action remained decent despite the north wind and cooler temps. Anglers used jigs and mud minnows on gravel bottoms and around large shoreline boulders or shallow wood. No walleyes were found in the weeds on the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage through the first four days of the season. A few big smallies (released) were mixed in with the walleyes. Male walleyes were still dripping milt on May 6. Later in the week a few boats found success in 20 feet of water along the river channel.
Mercer Chamber of Commerce, (715) 476-2389.
LA CROSSE AREA
The Mississippi River was still high, but it’s close to getting within its banks as of May 8. Northern pike fishing has been good while bass and crappie action has been OK. The northern pike action has been very good and is carrying the day until the other species kick in a little bit more.
Schafer’s Boats, (608) 781-3100.
Bob’s Bait and Tackle, (608) 782-5552.
LAKE MICHIGAN/METRO AREA LAKES
Bluegill fishing was best in the warmest water locations (shallow bays, channels and marsh areas). The northern ends of lakes generally warm fastest, so concentrate on these areas first. Weeds, piers or wood will hold bluegills. Crappies have been very active in pre-spawn mode. Most crappies were found suspended above green weeds in 10 feet of water or less in 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 starting to show up on the Rock, Wolf and Fox rivers. Anglers did best using a three-way rig with a streamer fly and pencil sinker baited with a large fathead. Catfish were caught on the Rock and Crawfish rivers, along with Lake Koshkonong, Beaver Dam and Lake Mendota. Walleyes are in a post-spawn mode. Look for them around weed beds or rock bars in 5 to 10 feet of water. Smaller lures worked best on muskies. Target drop-offs or weed beds for best results. The DNR stocked trout into Lower Genesee Lake, Ottawa Lake and local ponds.
DNR hotline, (414) 382-7920.
Smokey’s Bait Shop, (262) 691-0360.
Dick Smith’s Bait, (262) 646 2218.
LAKE WINNEBAGO AREA
Anglers have been catching a lot of white bass and small walleyes in the river for the last two weeks. The bigger walleyes should be coming through soon. Fishermen are also fishing the lakes and they’re catching a few bigger walleyes on Poygan and Butte des Morts, but nothing crazy is happening just yet on Lake Winnebago.
Critter’s, (920) 582-0471.
Fox River Bait, (920) 233-7409.
Dutch’s, (920) 922-0311.
Walleye fishermen trolled off all of the Lake Mendota points like Maple Bluff, Fox Point and around the university campus. Anglers are also fishing the whole Yahara River system at night for walleyes. Bluegills and crappies were hitting at all of the usual spots on Lake Monona, and at Lake Farm Park on Waubesa. Try Viking Park below Lake Kegonsa for bluegills. Lake Wingra has the warmest water on chain right now and muskie fishermen are heading there in the afternoons.
D&S Bait and Tackle, (608) 244-3474.
Dorn Hardware, (608) 244-5403.
MARATHON COUNTY AREA
Opening weekend was a huge success. Anglers enjoyed a rare two days in a row of outstanding weather. Crawlers, crappie minnows and fatheads were the baits of choice that fishermen took to their favorite spots. Anglers are reminded of the DNR temporary fishing closure, May 1 until potentially December for the Wisconsin River from the Wausau hydro dam north to the Hwy. WW bridge in Brokaw. This includes all connected sloughs, flowages and tributaries upstream to the first dam or highway bridge. This does not include Lake Wausau. Also the city of Schofield will be draining the Eau Claire River 5.5 feet from June 10 to Oct 1 for public utilities work.
Riverside Rentals & Bait Shop, (715) 574-1771.
In Marinette County, Peshtigo River fishing pressure was steady during the opener with boats being seen at all three launches fairly equally. Walleyes were caught out of all three areas, but in low numbers. Suckers, northern pike, perch, and muskies were also reported. Sturgeon have made it upstream now and can be seen below the dam in Peshtigo. The Menominee River saw a fair numbers of anglers, with most effort upstream of the Hwy. 41 bridge. Most boat anglers were trying their luck on the bay. Overall walleye fishing was slow, with best results below Hattie Street dam. Boat anglers also jigged from Marinette Marine down to the turn basin off the Sixth Street launch.
In Oconto County, overall fishing pressure slowed from previous weeks. Anglers were still fishing for walleyes in the Oconto River and in the bay, but it was slow. Wind and rain hurt efforts early in the week. Anglers reported a few walleyes on the bay, along with northern pike and a couple small muskies. Fishing in the Oconto River yielded suckers and a few pike.
Oconto Area Chamber of Commerce, (920) 846-8306.
MINOCQUA/WOODRUFF/LAKE TOMAHAWK AREA
The opener has come and gone. It was not an overly memorable one, but it was better than last year and offered anglers a chance to get the boats and lines wet. The focus is on walleyes for the opener; northern pike and largemouth bass are barely noticed. Conditions were good as far as timing – the ice was just out and walleyes were spawning or just finishing up – but opening day was a little too beautiful for most walleye anglers. While some anglers reported hitting their spots just right, for many, opening day was a hot start, but spotty day once mid-morning arrived. Jig-and-minnows ruled the weekend, as most anglers plied the gravel/rock areas searching for spawning and post-spawn walleyes. Some success from anglers casting shallow-running crankbaits and swim baits. A lot of the spawn took place quickly due to the late ice-out. The northern pike action got better by May 5 and into May 6. Largemouth bass just started showing up in the shallow bays. Panfish action was fair across the board.
Looking ahead, don’t discount deeper mud – the stomachs of walleyes caught in 14 to 17 feet over mud held wigglers (mayfly larvae) and small leeches. The shallower walleyes and small perch in their bellies.
Island Sport Shop, (715) 356-4797.
J and J Sports, (715) 277-2616.
VERNON COUNTY AREA
Creeks were clear and flowing well with only one or two having some stain or color. On cloudy days, the olives have still been hatching well and anglers were also seeing crane flies throughout the day. Sub-surface fishing is best on Frenchies, Spanish bullets, and hot belly pheasant tails. Anglers are also still having quite a bit of success with a small training wheel (attractor terrestrial) with a bead head tied below. It’s not too early for dry/dropper.
Driftless Angler Fly Shop, (608) 637-8779.