by: Steve Suman
According to current forecasts, the week ahead should be warm, sunny, and dry. The exception is possible thunderstorms Wednesday night through Thursday, but then right back to warm and sunny. This is summer prime time for all outdoor recreation – make good use of it!
“A savvy old angler once told me there are two best times to go fishing,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “when it is raining and when it is not raining.
“Muskies are active, but the larger fish are not taking baits – just a do lazy follows only to sink and disappear.
“The walleye bite is late afternoon into dark when fish move shallow to feed. Jigs with fatheads, leeches, and crawlers are all catching some fish. Daytime anglers trolling crankbaits or bait rigs with leeches or crawlers over deeper weeds and humps are taking a few fish.
“Northern pike are in shallower weeds, grabbing spinnerbaits tipped with plastics.
“Largemouth bass are in shallow weeds and lily pads, hitting spinnerbaits, plastics, and topwaters. Smallmouth are on deeper rock and gravel areas feeding on crayfish, so use crayfish colored baits.
“Numerous small panfish in the shallows are providing action for young anglers using leaf worms. Larger fish are in 10-15 feet over weeds and weed edges, with crappie minnows and small plastics under bobbers catching some fish.”
Erik at Hayward Bait says water temperatures are 72-77 degrees, varying from lake to lake, and most anglers are having some success.
“Musky fishing is up-and-down, but decent for anglers putting in the time. Work weed beds containing cabbage and/or coontail weeds with bucktails and topwaters. On calm, sunny days, fish rubber baits aggressively over weed beds.
“Walleye fishing is strong, with jumbo leeches under slip bobbers the primary presentation, though Jigging Raps and Acme Hyper Glides are another option.
“Bass fishing is solid for anglers using various plastics rigged Texas rig style, drop shotting in deeper water during mid-day, and Ned Rigs working great for both largemouth and smallmouth.
“Panfish are active and crappie anglers should fish deeper weed beds, points, and timber. It is not too difficult to find bluegills in the shallows. Use crawlers under bobbers or plastics for really active bluegills.”
Jim at Minnow Jim’s says Nelson Lake walleye action is steady, mostly for 12- to 16-inch fish.
“Fish leeches, fatheads, suckers, and stickbaits around the dam, the grass island, Lake 25, and the river channel. The best fishing is early and late in the day.
“The largemouth bass bite is great on buzz baits, spinnerbaits, and spoons tipped with double-tail frogs, plastic critters, and leeches.
“Catch panfish near cribs, stumps, and bogs by jigging and/or bobber fishing worms and minnows, or cast Beetle Spins and Mimic Minnows bare or tipped with minnows.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is full, with water temperature at 77 degrees.
“Musky action is solid. Trollers should use large trolling baits with trolling leaders and look for solid cover and brush in 18-25 feet. During the early morning and late evening hours, work breaklines with weed cover, casting crankbaits, spinners, and bucktails from deep to shallow water. The surface bite starts at twilight.
“Walleye fishing is decent. During daylight hours, fish deeper cover. In the evening, work breakline weeds in 6-12 feet with leeches, crawlers, Beetle Spins, and plastic minnows.
“Northern pike are active, particularly on spinnerbaits ripped through the weeds, with weedless spoons a good option. Larger pike are more common on the west side of the Flowage.
“Largemouth bass remain somewhat quiet, but smallmouth anglers on the east side continue to do well, fishing imitation craws, frogs, shallow crankbaits, and crawlers along rocky, stumpy shorelines.
“Crappie action is picking up, with bog fishing starting about 8 p.m. Use crappie minnows and/or plastics on small jigs and try different depths.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses water temperature and trophy muskies.
“Michigan researchers recently examined several potential threats to the world class Lake St. Clair muskellunge fishery. The factors they were interested in included high angling pressure, changes to size limits, the potential reopening of a winter spear fishery, and warming water.
“The researchers concluded that angling pressure or changes to length limits were unlikely to impact the quality of the fishery due to high rates of catch and release and predicted a winter spear fishery would have small effects unless there was a high level of spear harvest.
“The factor they predicted to have the most impact on the fishery was changing climate. Warmer water – even just 1C or 3C on average – would lead to slower overall growth.
“The researchers used growth models that predicted it would take longer for fish to reach a certain size if water temperatures warm, with the slower growth predicted to lead to reduced odds of fish making it to trophy size (50 inches). These results line up with other studies of trophy size that found larger records of coolwater fish (like muskellunge) further north indicated the importance of cool water in growing super-size muskies.
“Results like these indicate why temperature is such an important factor in fish management.”
Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area near Grantsburg is hosting two educational events on Friday, July 13. From 8-10:30 a.m., participants can learn how to identify different birds, get hints for bird watching, and share sightings. Participants will meet at the Visitor Center and carpool through the area. A wolf howling program begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Visitor Center with a brief presentation on wolf ecology and surveys. The group will then move to one or more locations on Crew Meadows, howl, and listen for responses. This event requires pre-registration, with space limited to 25 participants 8 years and older. For more information, call (715) 463-2739.
Musky action is good, though somewhat behind the normal activity schedule. Anglers are finding the best success over/around weeds and weed edges, breaklines and over deeper brush and other cover. Good bait choices include bucktails, Bull Dawgs/rubber baits, crankbaits, spinners, and topwaters. Trollers are using large stick and minnow baits.
Walleye fishing is good to very good, with the best fishing in early morning hours and late evening into dark. Look for fish around deeper weeds, humps, points, river channels, and brush during the day. In the evening, work shallower, weedy breaklines out to 12 feet. Bait choices include jigs/fatheads, walleye suckers, leeches and crawlers on live bait and spinner rigs, Jigging Raps, crankbaits, stickbaits, and Beetle Spins. Trolling is also an effective option.
Northern pike fishing is good to very good in/on shallow to mid-depth weeds and weedlines. Spinners, spinnerbaits, weedless spoons, northern suckers, and minnows will all get the attention of pike. For bigger fish and trophy pike, work larger baits in deeper water.
Largemouth bass are very active, as anglers expect during the summer months, particularly around shallow weeds, slop, and lily pads, brush, bogs, and cribs. Baits of choice include plastics in various riggings, buzz baits, spinnerbaits, weedless spoons, drop shot rigs, leeches, and topwaters.
Smallmouth bass fishing remains good to very good. Look for fish in deeper water on hard bottom areas with rock or gravel and around other cover. Assorted forms of plastics in various riggings, crankbaits, and other baits in crayfish colors, drop-shot rigs, topwaters, and crawlers can all tempt smallmouth.
Crappie action is good to very good, but fish are in deeper water and finding them can be a challenge. Concentrate on deeper weeds, wood, stumps, points, cribs, and bogs out to about 18 feet. Crappie minnows under slip bobbers still top the bait list, but plastics and Beetle Spins are also producing good catches.
Bluegill fishing is very good for smaller fish in shallow areas with cover. Fishing is fair to good for larger fish around weeds, wood, brush, bogs, points, and cribs in 8-15 feet. Best baits include waxies, worms, leaf worms, leeches, small minnows, and plastics on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks, fished with or without bobbers.
July 13: Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area bird watching Friday, 8-10:30 a.m. (715-463-2739).
July 13: Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area Wolf Howl Program, 7:30 p.m. (715-463-2739).
July 19-21: 59th Annual Lumberjack World Championships (715-634-2484).
July 19-22: 45th Annual LCO Honor the Earth Pow Wow (715-634-8934).
July 20-22: Birchwood Lions Club Bluegill Festival (800-236-2252).
July 28: Campfire Cookout, Flambeau River State Forest, Connors Lake picnic area, noon (715-332-5271).
Through July 31: Illegal to run unleashed dogs on DNR lands and FWPAs (see regs for exceptions).
August 1: Application deadline: Fall turkey; bobcat, fisher, and otter; Upriver Winnebago sturgeon spearing; Sharp-tailed grouse (season under review).
August 11: Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday party celebration, Flambeau River State Forest, Connors Lake picnic area, noon (715-332-5271).
August 13-16: Antlerless deer tags (where available) for regular DMUs go on sale.
August 18: Fall turkey permits remaining after drawing go on sale. Check availability.
August 21: Deadline to transfer Class A bear license.