The forecast indicates cool and wet through Thursday and then mostly just cool, with some chilly nighttime lows through the weekend. Flannel shirt and jacket weather – get out and enjoy it while you can!
“In the Quiet Lakes area, it is time to break out the fall clothing,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “We are officially in fall season, with daytime and water temperatures dropping, and fishing success is usually a sure bet.
“Musky anglers report success fishing large profile live bait such as suckers 8-16 inches long. Try casting shorelines with artificials and slowly working the baits through vegetation.
“Walleye anglers using fathead minnows and crawler rigs continue to catch fish on mid-lake humps and off steeper drop-offs.
“For northern pike and bass, cast and troll shorelines or try pitching small jigs with plastics near weedlines.
“Crappie anglers are catching fish on crappie minnows under floats fished in 8-12 feet, as well as sometimes picking up a bonus walleye, pike, or bass. Trust your electronics!
“Stream anglers are showing up more frequently near deep holes on river bends. Cast flatfish baits and small spinners in fast current leading into those deep holes.”
Erik at Hayward Bait says many smaller lakes turned, some big lakes are beginning to turn, and tactics are changing – but keep at it!
“Musky angling is strong for anglers casting gliders and jerkbaits, trolling crankbaits and jerkbaits, and fishing musky suckers. Dragging a sucker behind the boat to turn an inactive fish into an eater can make or break a day on the water.
“Walleye fishing is solid and anglers are doing great with jigs and minnows and trolling deep crankbaits off steep breaks within flats. Use electronics to find fish, hit the active ones, and keep moving. If you do not locate fish on your graph, move on.
“Bass fishing is okay. Look for big bass in a mix of rocks and weeds on mid-lake structure in 12-17 feet.
“Panfish anglers are catching some crappies and bluegills on deeper weed edges with jigs and plastics and live bait under slip bobbers.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage remains at full pool, with the water temperature at 54 degrees.
“Musky fishing was great last week, especially with suckers, but Vexers were very productive in recent days and trolling along deeper breaklines is producing some decent fish as well.
“Walleye action is hit or miss and regardless of depths, you have to hit solid weeds to catch fish – and weedless jigs are the recommendation to avoid hang-ups. Target deeper holes with larger fatheads, suckers, and crawlers. Anglers are not currently using many artificials.
“Crappies are starting to move to about 17 feet of water and just beginning to move into Moore’s Bay. Your best bets are crappie minnows, Mini-Mites, Crappie Scrubs, and Gulp! baits.”
Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says with the dropping temperatures and leaves starting to turn, it is starting to feel like fall in the Chequamegon Bay area.
“Near-shore trout and salmon fishing is good, with water temperatures in the mid to upper 50s in most areas and most river mouths have good mudlines and color breaks holding fish. There are good numbers of coho and brown trout, with a fair number of steelhead, and trolling and casting near-shore areas is the best way to get after these fish. Some days fish are tight to shore and other days over deeper water, but still high in the water column.
“Big brown trout are starting to show up and casting spoons, X-Raps, and soft plastics are working on near-shore areas. Coho and big brown trout on light spinning and fly tackle are a blast!
“Smallmouth bass are starting to school and fishing is steady, with some days producing better than other days. We have had lots of different weather over the past few weeks, with front after front coming through, so look for consistency in the weather for the bite to get going strong. Tubes, drop shot rigs, and jigging spoons fished over rocks and mud flats in 15-30 feet work best.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the importance of Chippewa Flowage musky stocking at this time.
“In Wisconsin, many lakes require stocking to maintain fishable muskellunge populations, some lakes are entirely naturally reproducing, and still other lakes use a combination of natural recruitment and stocking to support the fisheries. The Chippewa Flowage is one of those combined stocking/natural muskellunge fisheries, stocked extensively with muskies for many decades, but with a presumption of some amount of natural recruitment.
“So which contributes more to the fishery – stocking or natural recruitment? Tagging stocked muskellunge provides us with a means to answer that question.
“Muskies stocked in 2013 and 2016 received tags at the time they left the hatchery, which allows DNR crews to later identify them as stocked fish. Natural reproducing fish, of course, do not get tags.
“Since 2014, when evaluations of stocked vs. natural fish began, DNR survey crews have captured 76 juvenile muskellunge. Of those, 53 had PIT tags, accounting for 70 percent of the total.
“With this data, we can surmise that about 70 percent of the new muskies coming into the Chip in recent years are the result of stocking. The actual figure may be somewhat higher than 70 percent, however. A small percentage of muskies stocked in 2016 went untagged due to logistical constraints, and tag loss (though not believed common) can occur. Both of these factors would lead to a lower than actual estimated contribution of stocked fish.
“Promoting natural reproduction through habitat improvements and other means will continue to be a goal of the DNR and partner groups, but stocking will remain an important tool to maintain muskellunge abundance.”
Deerfoot Lodge & Resort is hosting a Ladies’ Musky Fishing School Oct 19-21 for anglers of all skill levels. Instruction covers necessary gear, baitcasting basics, fishing handling, strike-triggering techniques, fly-fishing for muskies, and of course, on-water fishing time. The course fee is $60 per angler. For more information, visit www.deerfootlodgeresort.com or contact Amanda Wilson (608) 215-7397; email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Flambeau River State Forest allows “traditional deer camps” in designated areas throughout the forest during the nine-day gun deer season. For more information, call (715) 332-5271 (before the Oct. 31 deadline).
Attention grouse hunters:
The 2018 ruffed grouse season in Zone A now closes Dec. 31 and the printed regulations do not reflect this change. This does not impact season dates for Zone B (Oct. 20 through Dec. 8). Bag limits remain five birds in Zone A and three birds in Zone B.
Musky action is good and getting even better with the weather change. Target shallow to deeper weeds, weedlines, bars, breaklines, flats, and areas holding panfish. Suckers on quick-strike rigs continue to produce the best success, but cast bucktails, jerkbaits, and gliders are catching fish, as is trolling crankbaits, jerkbaits, and stickbaits.
Walleye fishing can be good to very good, but remains inconsistent. Look for fish around good cover, steep breaklines and drop-offs, deep holes, and mid-lake humps. Best success is on crawlers, minnows, fatheads, and walleye suckers on weedless jigs, spinner rigs, harnesses, split-shot rigs, and drop-shot rigs, and trolling deep-running crankbaits.
Northern pike action is good in, on, over, and along weeds and weedlines with northern suckers, minnows, bucktails, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, jigs/plastics, and topwaters.
Largemouth bass fishing is fair around weeds, weed edges, brush, and other cover out to about 15 feet, with plastics, swimbaits, crankbaits, and spinners the preferred baits.
Smallmouth fishing is fair to good on weeds, weedlines, and rock and weed cover on mid-lake structure and humps in depths to 20 feet. Top offerings include jigs with plastics such as tubes and worms, swimbaits, crankbaits, and walleye suckers on jigs.
Crappie fishing is good to very good on weeds and weed edges in 6-18 feet. Best baits and presentations include crappie minnows, Crappie Scrubs, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, plastics, and Gulp! baits under slip bobbers. Keep moving until you find fish – and then keep moving to stay with them.
Bluegill fishing is good around weeds and along deeper weed edges. Tip small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks with waxies, worms, plastics, and Gulp! baits and fish them under slip bobbers. Try small minnows for bigger ‘gills.
Oct. 7: Seasons closed: 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).