by: Steve Suman
Forecasts state “chances for rain” nearly every day this week, which is great for waterfowlers, but not so much for those who enjoy other outdoor pursuits. Next week looks a bit better, however, with a slight warming trend. The weather this time of year requires great flexibility in choosing the appropriate attire for the day!
“Different weather systems certainly brought some challenging conditions,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and fishing is hit or miss depending on where you fish and the species you target.
“Musky action is picking up with the cooler weather and anglers are casting smaller baits while floating suckers – and most action is on suckers. Anglers are still seeing follows to the boat, but without hookups. Be sure to do figure eights.
“Walleyes are still biting crawlers on rigs and under slip bobbers fished on deeper mid-lake humps and drop-offs.
“Northern pike and largemouth bass are active in and around vegetation, while smallmouth bass anglers are reporting some success fishing deeper weeds. Spinnerbaits, swimbaits, small crankbaits, and live bait are all taking fish.
“Crappies are starting to show up in shallower waters and anglers are using crappie minnows under bobbers or casting tube jigs under bobbers followed by a slow retrieve. Start at the weed edges along drop-offs and vary bait depths in the water column. Electronics are a great help in locating these fish!”
Erik at Hayward Bait says that with the cooling weather, a few smaller lakes are experiencing turnover and anglers might find better fishing on some of the bigger lakes.
“Musky action is on artificials such as bucktails, gliders, jerkbaits, and topwaters, as well as musky suckers. A musky sucker 3-6 feet down on a down rod or a bobber rod with a sucker 15-25 feet back can seal the deal on passing fish.
“Target walleyes off breaklines with jigs and walleye suckers, and crankbaits are good for covering water effectively in search of active walleyes.
“Northern pike are active off weed beds for anglers fishing smaller bucktails, twitch baits, jerkbaits, and even topwaters during peak warming of the day.
“Bass anglers can still find big largemouth on weed beds and on weedline edges. Smallmouth fishing is good on deeper structure and mid-lake humps containing rocks with some weeds in 12-18 feet. Various plastics such as tubes get down to those deep smallies, and jigs and walleye suckers, highly overlooked, can help put some bronze backs in the boat.
“Panfish are starting to slide off weed beds and any deep weeds should hold active fish. Slip rigs with live bait and jigging plastics over deep weeds should produce some big slabs.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is at full level and the water temperature is in the mid-50s.
“Musky sucker fishing season is in full swing, though artificials are still working. Still, more and more anglers are choosing suckers as their bait of choice. During this time of year, muskies go into hyperactive mode before freeze-up and bigger subsurface baits, trolling, and suckers are all solid tactics. Work trolling baits off breaklines and be sure to focus on bays as well. Crappies should start schooling soon and that will attract muskies. The best way to approach musky fishing is to follow their food.
“Walleye fishing is hit or miss. Trolling tactics changed slightly, with trollers upgrading to #7 and #9 crankbaits and minnows and crawlers the live baits of choice. Crawlers should be good for another few weeks before the bite is exclusively on minnows. While surface temperatures are dropping, walleyes are probably not yet in deep holes – but most likely on their way.
“Crappies are not yet schooling in Moore’s Bay, but there are reports they are starting to come together and head there. Warmer weather may slow that pattern, but that depends on how cool the water gets.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses fish surveys and the effectiveness of electrofishing.
“Fisheries biologists tasked with surveying the fish populations in lakes have many tools available, including fyke nets, gill nets, seine nets, visual observations, and several kinds of electrofishing rigs. Each tool has its place, working better in some conditions than in others.
“Electrofishing, which might seem to outsiders like highly effective gear, has major limitations in that electrofishing for most species is possible only in relatively shallow water of about 5 feet deep or less. For example, electrofishing would not be the go-to method for capturing cisco that might be suspending 40 feet down in the water column.
“Water chemistry also dictates the effectiveness of electrofishing. Water with few dissolved minerals has low conductance, which creates a poor medium for transmitting electricity. Some lakes, particularly in northern Wisconsin, have such poor conductance that electrofishing is almost completely ineffective.
“Physical characteristics such as dark water, dense vegetation, and boating hazards can also make electrofishing less effective.
“A big part of being a field biologist is understanding which techniques to use in certain circumstances to perform successful surveys.”
The coming weekend will see the Youth Deer Hunt for hunters 11-15 years of age (Oct. 6-7) and the Hunters with Disabilities Deer Hunt (opening Oct. 6 and running through Oct.14). Wisconsin’s Black bear hunting season will then close the following Tuesday, Oct. 9.
Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. is hosting its 41st Annual Fall Muskie Tournament this weekend, Friday through Sunday, October 5-8. There is still time to enter and every entrant is eligible for the 2018 Lund 1725 Pro Guide tiller, ShoreLand’r trailer, and 60hp Mercury motor Grand Door Prize. You do not have to catch a fish – or even fish – but you must attend the Sunday drawing at Flat Creek Inn and Suites to win. The contest offers more than $30,000 in prizes, as well as prizes and trophies to the first 10 places. The angler releasing the largest musky receives a graphite replica and every angler releasing a 34-inch or larger fish receives a plaque. The entry fee is $90 for adults and $25 for youth 16 and younger. Enter in person at Jenk’s (715-462-3055) or in person and by phone at Hayward Bait (715-634-2921) until 11 p.m. October 4. For more information, visit www.muskiesinc-hayward.org, or call (715) 634-2921; 634-4543.
Musky action is improving with the cooling water and as they strap on the fall season feed bag. Concentrate on shallow to mid-depth weeds, points, bars, breaklines, flats, and concentrations of panfish. Suckers on quick-strike rigs are the most effective presentation, though anglers continue to catch fish on bigger bucktails, jerkbaits, gliders, and topwaters.
Walleye action is fair to good, but very inconsistent. Look for fish on mid-lake humps, drop-offs, and breaklines, starting in shallow to mid-depths and working deeper. Jigs and walleye suckers; crawlers on jigs, spinner rigs, harnesses, split shot rigs, and under slip bobbers; and trolling larger crankbaits are all, at times, bringing fish to the boat.
Northern pike fishing is good to very good in/on/over weeds and areas holding panfish. Baits of choice include small bucktails, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, twitch baits, jerkbaits, and topwaters during mid-day.
Largemouth bass fishing is still good around weeds, weed beds, weedline edges, brush, and other structure. Plastics in various riggings, spinners, swimbaits, and crankbaits will all get the attention of largemouth.
Smallmouth bass action is good to very good on rocky mid-lake humps and bottoms with weeds in 12-18 feet. Best baits include plastics (tubes, worms, grubs, etc.), spinnerbaits, swimbaits, crankbaits, and jigs/walleye suckers.
Crappie fishing is good in/on shallower weed edges to deep weeds and drop-offs. The most effective baits include crappie minnows, tube jigs, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs and plain hooks fished under slip bobbers.
Bluegill action is fair to good in/on deeper weeds and weed edges. Best baits include waxies, worms, crawler chunks, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks fished under slip bobbers.
Oct. 5: Seasons close: Duck in Mississippi River zone; Canada goose in Mississippi River subzone.
Oct. 7: Seasons close: Duck in Southern Zone; Canada goose in South Exterior Zone.
Oct. 13: Seasons open: Duck and Canada goose in Southern and Mississippi River zones.
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).