by: Steve Suman
This week is starting with some rough weather (severe storms, heavy rain), but looks to improve Wednesday and Thursday – and then more rain possible. However, forecasts and reality are not always synonymous, so make and follow your recreational plans, but keep an eye on the sky.
“Fishing is rather slow,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “with the best times early mornings and evenings into night.
“Musky anglers report success trolling swim baits and casting spinnerbaits and bucktails toward shallow weedlines, but bigger fish are only following baits.
“Walleyes are on mid lake humps and drop-offs. Lindy and crawlers rigs are taking a few fish, as is trolling crankbaits, with later evenings the best time.
“Largemouth bass are providing the best action, with anglers casting weedless baits and spinnerbaits into vegetation and around structure. Smallmouth are active on rock and timber, with wacky worms, double-jointed stickbaits, and slow drifting crawlers all good tactics.
“Panfish anglers should work deeper vegetation with crappie minnows or worms under floats.
“Brule River anglers are catching a few nice brook trout fishing smaller spinnerbaits in the fast current and over vegetation.”
“Musky action is sporadic, though anglers are catching some fish with a variety of tactics. Expect a good shallow bite with the settling in of cooler temperatures. Spinners and topwaters should be effective.
“Walleye reports are decent, but not great, with most fish caught on trolled bottom bouncers and crawlers. Target points and bars in 15-30 feet.
“Largemouth bass are active, depending on the day, with weed edges and docks near deep water the best bet. Use swim jigs, Texas-rigged, and wacky worms. Smallmouth are holding on deeper points and rock bars and hitting jigs and tubes, drop-shotting, and jerkbaits.
“The panfish bite is decent, with nice catches of crappies on deeper cribs, bogs, and weedlines for anglers using crappie minnows and plastics.”
Jim at Minnow Jim’s says Nelson Lake’s water clarity is currently poor so anglers for all species should appeal to more than just sight and add rattle, vibration, flash, and splash.
“Walleye anglers should fish the river channel with deep divers during the day and cast along shorelines with shallow divers early and late.
“For largemouth bass and northern pike, work in and along weed beds with swim baits, bucktails, poppers, Torpedoes, and frogs.
“Panfish anglers should find some structure such as bogs, cribs, stumps, and shoreline tree sticks. Use scented artificials, minnows, waxies, and worms, and if casting, add a spinner to your jig heads. Some anglers are using spray-on scents.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is down two feet, with the water temperature 74-76 degrees.
“Musky fishing is good on toppers and tail baits on weedlines and edges in early mornings and evening. During the day, troll Mattlocks and Jakes over deep cover.
“Walleyes are in weeds in 6-7 feet. Leeches are again in stock – for a limited time and still the best bet – and weedless jigs are a good idea. For artificials, use plastic minnows with darter jigs or Beetle Spins, or troll Flicker Shads.
“Northern pike are in weeds, with spinners, spoons, and suckers all good choices.
“Smallmouth bass action is strong on the east side. Work crawlers, plastics, spinners, and frogs along shoreline structure and cribs.
“Crappie fishing is good on cribs and brush piles in 15-20 feet with crappie minnows, Mini-Mites, Crappie Scrubs, and Gulp! baits.”
Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says Chequamegon Bay fishing is exceptionally good despite the weather.
“You might have to do a lot of moving as we have a ton of smelt and shiners and gamefish are following the baitfish.
“Walleye anglers are catching fish on crawler harnesses and stickbaits over weed beds and drop-offs in 15-18 feet. Many anglers are running deeper diving stickbaits such as Flicker Shads and Flicker Minnows.
“Smallmouth action is good in the shallows and on deeper drop-offs, with larger sucker minnows and plastic swim baits. Walleye and smallmouth anglers are also catching some northern pike.
“Trout trolling is good from Long Island to Outer Island, depending on wind direction and conditions. Most trollers use downriggers, but some report success using Dipsy Divers and lead core line with flutter spoons and Spin-n-Glos.
“The lake trout closure is coming soon east of Bark Point, so check the DNR website for information.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses Namekagon River brown trout populations.
“During the harsh winter of 2013-14, the brown trout population in the Namekagon River in Sawyer and southern Bayfield counties declined dramatically and 2014 surveys found the lowest catch rate at any point in recent history. However, the population has been steadily improving and results of a 2018 shocking survey saw that trend continuing.
“Working together, DNR crews, National Park Service staff, and volunteers from Wild Rivers Trout Unlimited and Wisconsin Conservation Congress electro-fished a one-mile transect that is part of an annual trend survey.
“The shocking data reveal the numbers of adult trout present at that time and an indication of the strength of that year’s production of young trout. Adult trout numbers in 2018 were the highest observed since 2010 and showed improvement for the fourth straight year (since 2014). Numbers of young trout were strong as well, with the 2018 year class the third strongest observed since 2008.
“With another strong year class entering the system, it seems likely that adult abundance will continue to improve – that is, if no major climatic events again set back the population.
“Fall is an excellent time to fish the Namekagon for trout and with the season extended to October 15, there are more opportunities to do so.”
Musky fishing is fair to decent, but inconsistent. During the day, troll deeper cover and structure with large swim baits and stickbaits. In morning and evening, work weeds and weed edges with bucktails, spinnerbaits, stickbaits, jerkbaits, and various topwaters.
Walleye action is fair to very good, with best success in very early morning and late evening into dark. Fish are scattered in various location and depths from 6-30 feet. During the day, work deeper weeds, points, bars, mid-lake humps, drop-offs, and river channels. In low light conditions, concentrate on shallower weeds, shorelines, humps, and points that hold forage. Baits producing the most results include crawlers, leeches, and minnows on jigs, Lindy Rigs, bottom bouncers, spinner rigs, and split shot rigs; plastics, Beetle Spins, and trolled crankbaits such as Flicker Shads.
Northern pike fishing is good to very good for anglers fishing in, on, and around weeds and weed beds with spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swim baits, bucktails, and northern suckers.
Largemouth are currently very cooperative and providing some of the best catching opportunities. Find them around weeds and weed edges, wood, brush, cribs, docks, and other structure. Best bait choices include swim jigs, weedless baits, wacky worms, Texas-rigged worms, spinnerbaits, and topwaters.
Smallmouth bass fishing is very good on deeper rocks, points, bars, wood, cribs, and other hard bottom areas. Tubes, wacky worms, frogs, drop-shot rigs, jerkbaits, stickbaits, crawlers, and spinners all work well.
Crappie action is good to very good when you find the fish. Look for them around weeds and weedlines, brush, bogs, cribs, stumps, and flats out to 20 feet. Use crappie minnows, waxies, worms, plastics, Mini-Mites, Crappie Scrubs, and Gulp! baits under slip bobbers.
Bluegill fishing is good around shallower to deeper weeds, wood, brush, bogs, cribs, and stumps, with bigger ‘gills in the deeper water. Top producing baits include waxies, worms, and plastics on jigs and under slip bobbers. Small minnows can work well for larger bluegills and help avoid bait robbers.
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. 22: 34th Annual Hayward Fall Festival (715-634-8662).
Sept. 29: Seasons open: Duck in Southern and Mississippi zones; Canada goose in Mississippi River Subzone.
Oct. 20: Seasons open: Pheasant; Ruffed grouse in zone B; Sharp-tailed grouse (by permit); Bobwhite quail; Hungarian partridge; Cottontail rabbit; Raccoon gun and trapping (resident); Red and gray fox hunting and trapping; Bobcat hunting and trapping Period 1 north of Hwy. 64 (see regs).