by: Steve Suman
The forecast predicts another mild, comfortable week ahead, at least Tuesday through Thursday when chances for showers make a return. The weekend could be nice, too, if rain forecasts do not reach fruition. Enjoy the North Woods!
“Ample rain led to many hatches of mosquitoes, blackflies, horseflies, and deer flies,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “so we cheer on the dragonflies, hoping they eat all the other bugs!
“Musky anglers throwing bigger bucktails, spinnerbaits, swim baits, crankbaits, and topwaters near vegetation report fair success for small fish, with late afternoon and evening best.
“Walleye anglers are trolling deep lake humps and holes with crawler rigs and deeper diving crankbaits, and vertical jigging crawlers and minnows during the day. Best times are early morning or late afternoon into dark.
“Northern pike are in mid-depth weeds and on weed edges, taking spinnerbaits, plastics, and topwaters.
“Largemouth are hitting weedless worms, topwaters, and frogs around shallow vegetation and structure. Best time is as the sun is going down. Smallmouth anglers are catching some nice fish on deeper, rocky areas.
“For crappies, use small minnows and plain hooks in 10-18 feet. Small panfish are easy to catch with crawler chunks and leaf worms under floats. Larger fish are around deeper vegetation.”
“Work jerkbaits, spinners, and topwaters on the edges of bars and points close to deep water. Lowlight periods will offer the highest percentage.
“Walleye reports are slowing, but anglers are still catching fish. Troll crankbaits and crawler harnesses over deeper water, or try Jigging Raps around deep humps and mudflats.
“Bass fishing is good. Largemouth are around cover from shallow to deep, with wacky- and Texas-rigged worms working well. Smallmouth are relating to rocks, and tube jigs and topwaters should get some bites.
“Panfish action is solid, with decent reports on crappie and bluegill. Fish deeper weed and crib edges with waxies and plastics.”
Jim at Minnow Jim’s says warm weather made Nelson Lake fishing a bit tougher and water clarity makes sound, scent, flash, and splash even more important.
“Walleye anglers are catching fish in weed beds and deeper water, the river channel, and dam area on Lindy Rigs, artificials, and deep running stickbaits.
“For bass and northern pike, fish shaded areas, tree over hangs, docks, swim platforms, and weed beds and weedlines into deeper water with rattling swim baits, buzz baits, and spinnerbaits.
“Crappie and bluegill action is good around bogs, stumps, and downed trees, and adding a spinner or thumper to small dressed jigs might make the difference.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses color changes of spawning fish.
“Males displaying bright, colorful plumage and hoping to find a mate fill the bird world, but did you know some fish species also have very brightly colored males?
“One of the most extreme examples is the rainbow darter. A female rainbow darter is mostly brown and black, a drab looking little fish, but the male has brilliant orange and blue splashed across its fins and body. The northern redbelly dace is another interesting example. While ‘redbelly’ is in the species name, only the male gets a bright red stripe down its side during spawning season.
“There are less extreme examples as well. Male black crappies will develop especially dark pigmentation, largely on their head, during spawning season. Bluegills can often have sex specific coloration, with males having a darker orange breast and large black ear tabs. Male white suckers will develop a dark black lateral stripe during spawning season.
“As with birds, it is almost always the male that develops a brighter coloration. While a few examples of this phenomenon exist in Wisconsin fishes, most fish do not develop any coloration differences between the two sexes.”
On Saturday August 25, the DNR’s Bat Program will bring its free Wisconsin Bat Festival to the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland. The festival runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and includes an opportunity to see live bats up close, educational displays and exhibits, presentations, bat houses, bat-themed crafts and games for kids, and a 70-foot inflatable crawl-through cave. The festival helps raise awareness of the threats from the deadly bat disease white-nose syndrome. The disease causes hibernating bats to wake frequently, depleting energy, and causing them to die from starvation, dehydration, or exposure. First detected in Wisconsin in 2014, it has spread rapidly and ravaged Wisconsin bat cave populations. For more information, search “bats” on the DNR website.
Bonus fall turkey harvest authorizations are now on sale. Starting this year, rather than using a drawing, the DNR is issuing one fall authorization to each person purchasing a fall turkey license or conservation patron license. At purchase, hunters choose the zone for which their authorization is valid. Hunters can purchase bonus authorizations in addition to the harvest authorization included with a license. There are no bonus authorizations available in zone 5, 6, or 7. Authorizations are on a first-come, first-served basis, one per person per day, until the zone sells out or the season ends. The cost is $10/residents, $15/nonresidents, and $5/hunters younger than 12 years old. Hunters can purchase fall turkey licenses and bonus authorizations in person at any license agent or online at GoWild.wi.gov anytime throughout the fall season. For more information, search “turkey” on the DNR website or check the 2018 small game regulations.
Sawyer County Outdoor Projects and Education (SCOPE) is hosting its annual Family Fun Day Saturday Aug. 25, from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at Summit Lake Game Farm. Activities include .22 rifle target shooting, archery, sporting clays, birdhouse building, outdoor cooking, fly-fishing, laser shot hunting simulation, mountain bike demonstrations, raptor demonstrations, K-9 demonstrations, and more. Featured exhibition archer Frank Addington, Jr. (aka “The Aspirin Buster”) brings a family friendly message with his demonstrations that include up to six arrows at once and multiple tiny targets as small as baby aspirin and mustard seeds ‑ with the bow behind his back! Rain or shine, registration opens at 8 a.m. and interactive stations start at 8:30 a.m. Stations close at 2 p.m. for free raffle giveaways for all youth in attendance (must be present to win). For more information, visit www.sawyercountyoutdoors.com or call (715) 558-5371.
Musky fishing is fair, which “could” indicate an extremely good fall season. For now, most action is late in the day and evening hours, with fish holding on weeds on deeper bar and point edges adjacent to deep water. Jerkbaits, spinners, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, bucktails, swim baits, and topwaters will all gather some interest.
Walleye action dropped off a bit, but anglers continue to catch fish, primarily in early morning and evening into dark. During the day, troll and jig fish deeper weed beds, holes, humps, mudflats, and river channels. During low light, concentrate on shallower cover holding forage. Best baits, in the proper application, include crawlers and minnows on jigs, harnesses, Lindy rigs, spinner rigs, crankbaits, stickbaits, and Jigging Raps.
Northern pike continue to provide action to pike anglers ‑ and for anglers targeting other species in and around mid-depth to deeper weeds, weed edges, and other cover. Spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swim baits, buzz baits, topwaters, and northern suckers are all excellent producers. As per usual, fish deeper water with bigger baits for trophy pike.
Largemouth bass fishing remains good to very good, with bass holding in a wide range of depths and near a wide variety of cover, from weeds and wood to slop and docks to brush to bogs. Late afternoon hours are producing the best action. Soft plastics (tubes, worms in various riggings, etc.), spinnerbaits, swim baits, and topwaters are all catching largemouth.
Smallmouth anglers are doing well fishing mid-depth to deeper rock, gravel, and other hard bottom areas with soft plastics, tubes, drop-shot rigs, and topwaters.
Crappie fishing is fair to good on weed edges, bogs, brush, stumps, and cribs in depths out to about 20 feet. The best baits include crappie minnows, plastics, and Gulp! baits on jigs and plain hooks under slip bobbers, and small spinners.
Bluegill fishing is good to very good. Find fast action for small fish in shallower water and for larger ‘gills work deeper weeds, weed edges, woods, brush, bogs, cribs, and stumps. Use waxies, plastics, and small minnows on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks fished under bobbers.
Aug. 23-26: Sawyer County Fair (715-934-2721).
Through Aug. 31: Application period for sharp-tailed grouse permits.
Sept. 14: Elk bugling at Flambeau River State Forest 6 a.m., with DNR elk biologist Laine Stowell (715-332-5271).
Sept. 15: Early Canada goose season closes.
Sept. 15: Seasons open: Archery and crossbow deer; Fall turkey; Ruffed grouse in Zone A; Cottontail rabbit in Northern Zone; Gray and fox squirrel; Crow.
Sept. 16: Canada goose season opens in North and South exterior zones.
Sept. 29: Seasons open: Duck in Southern and Mississippi zones; Canada goose in Mississippi River Subzone.