by: Steve Suman
This week’s weather forecast shows lows in the 40s, highs in the low 70s, and various “slight” chances for rain and thunderstorms. As always, those predictions can change at any moment, so keep your plans – and an eye on the sky.
“Last week we had warm days and sunny skies,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and things should only improve.
“Musky anglers report big fish follows, but no hook-ups. Try slowly retrieving small bucktails, swimbaits, and crankbaits along drop-offs around shallow weeds. Keep your lure in the water and make figure eights.
“Walleye fishing is good for anglers jigging minnows and plastics. If that bite slows, tip an ice-fishing lure with a minnow head. Late afternoon into night is most productive.
“Northern pike fishing is good on a variety of spinnerbaits, spoons, and smaller swimbaits cast along shorelines.
“Largemouth bass will soon spawn. Anglers are catching some big smallmouth fish off rock and other structure. Remember smallmouth fishing is catch and release until June 15.
“Crappies are haunting their typical spawning grounds. The dark black male crappies are hanging with the bigger, colorful females. These fish are vulnerable during this time, so please practice conservation. Crappie minnows and small plastics under bobbers work well. Target shallower, warmer water. Bluegills will soon start their spawning ritual.”
Jim at Minnow Jim’s says a Nelson Lake angler caught and released a 26-inch walleye this past Sunday.
“Anglers are finding both walleye and northern pike along shorelines, around weed beds, and in the shallows going after panfish. Top baits are fatheads, leeches, crawlers, plugs, and surface frogs.
“Largemouth bass action is still somewhat spotty, as weed beds are just starting to develop now that we are experiencing this late warm weather.
“Crappie anglers report some fish are shallow, while others are away from shore and still loaded with eggs. The best offerings include crappie minnows, crawlers, leeches, and Gulp! baits on plain hooks and jigs, and small spinners.
“The bluegills have finally decided to spawn. Look for them in shallow, warm bays, and use waxies, earth worms, crawler chunks, panfish leeches, and small poppers.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is full, with water temperatures nearing 70 degrees.
“Musky anglers report a decent amount of fish on a variety of baits, though mostly Crane baits. A few anglers are already trolling. Check the shallows for panfish, a major food source. As temperatures increase, muskies will go deeper during midday.
“Walleye remain active, with minnows and leeches the baits of choice. In evening and early morning, target the edges of weeds and bars in 6-12 feet. During the day, try deeper brush or trolling Flicker Shads.
“Northern pike are active on anything from live bait to spinners to spoons, with best fishing on the west side. Keep your limit and register them in the Pike Improvement Project to receive your raffle tickets.
“Crappie fishing is difficult. Anglers are finding some fish with eggs in the shallows, some on deeper brush piles and cribs, and some in and around deadfalls 8-12 feet. Try different approaches – do not let yourself to get stuck on one type of structure or technique.”
“The Pike Improvement Project on the Chippewa Flowage aims to increase the size of northern pike by reducing the abundance of smaller pike, a goal that follows up on a recommendation from the 2006 Flowage fishery management plan.
“During the Pike Improvement Project, anglers who harvest a pike can register their fish at one of nearly two-dozen participating resorts and bait shops to receive a raffle ticket for each pike they keep. The project will hold the raffle drawing in early October.
“The Lake Chippewa Flowage Resort Owners Association is managing the project in partnership with the Chippewa Flowage Area Property Owners Association, DNR, Lac Courte Oreilles Conservation Dept., and Hayward Chapter-Muskies Inc.
“Harvesting many of the very abundant smaller pike in the Flowage is the key to the success of this initiative and the goal is to harvest 10,000 pike in 2019. Data from tickets anglers have turned in so far show some promising early results.
“As of early June, anglers had harvested and registered 3,844 pike, with the average size 20.3 inches and 84 percent of all harvested pike less than 24 inches. So far, 805 anglers from 16 different states have registered at least one pike. Pike fishing on the Flowage should stay hot through early July.
“We encourage anglers who harvest northern pike to enter their fish at a participating business. Registering their fish not only offers anglers a chance to win prizes, it allows for data collection that will help track progress of this initiative.”
This year is the 70th Annual Musky Festival June 20-23! The annual event includes sidewalk/street sales, craft shows, various food venues, carnival, watermelon eating contest, live entertainment, dairy breakfast at the Fairgrounds, a Saturday Learn to Fish event at Shue’s Pond, Musky Fest Run, and much, much more. For more information, visit www.muskyfest.com or call (715) 634-8662). Coinciding with Musky Festival is the June 21-23 Hayward Lions Catch and Release Fishing Contest that includes a photo contest and raffle drawing for entrants. For more information, rules, and regulations, visit www.haywardlions.com or call (715) 558-6251.
Hayward Bass Club will host its Round Lakes Open Tournament June 23, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., headquartering out of Prop’s Landing on North Grand Pines Lane on Round Lake. The entry fee is $100/per boat (one or two anglers), with entry limited to 50 boats. There is a 90 percent payback, with 10 percent reserved to fund the HBC free youth bass tournament in August, and payout to the top five places. For more information, visit the HBC Facebook page, stop at Hayward Bait, or call (715) 699-1015.
Musky action is improving, with anglers catching good numbers of small fish, but big fish are quiet. Concentrate on drop-offs near shallow weeds and shallower areas holding panfish. During the day, fish deeper water. For now, work small crankbaits, swimbaits, bucktails, and minnow baits with slow retrieves. If this does not produce, consider trolling.
Walleye fishing remains good, with early morning and late afternoon into dark hours producing the best success. Locations vary, including shorelines, weeds, weed beds, weed edges, bars, and brush from very shallow out to 20 feet and deeper. Jigs with fatheads or plastics, leeches, and crawlers work, as will trolling minnow and crank baits during the day.
Northern pike action is good around spawning panfish and mid-depth to shallow weeds. Live bait, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swim baits, crankbaits, and topwaters will all entice pike. Chippewa Flowage anglers should check the Chippewa Flowage Pike Improvement Project. No matter what species you target, there is a good chance you will catch a pike or two.
Largemouth bass are starting to show some activity and preparing to spawn any time now. They are on or just off shallow, weedy areas. Start in mid-depths and move toward the shallows, casting near just about any type of cover. Good bait choices include soft plastics, jerkbaits, wacky worms, spinnerbaits, topwaters, crawlers, and leeches.
Smallmouth bass fishing is decent – and catch and release only until June 15 in the Northern Bass Zone. Look for fish from mid-depths to deep water on rock, gravel, and other hard bottom areas. Jigs, plastics, tubes, crankbaits, and live bait all work for smallmouth.
Crappies continue to exhibit inconsistent activity that is challenging, irritating, and (in some cases) depressing anglers. This is definitely the time to try various presentations and locations. Fish are moving on/off shallow spawning areas, with some holding mid-depth and deeper near weeds, brush, and cribs. The most productive baits include crappie minnows and plastics on jigs, leeches, crawlers, and Gulp! baits on small jigs or plain hooks, and spinners.
Bluegill action is improving and should soon become excellent as the fish move shallow to spawn. Check the bottom of warmer, shallower areas and look for “elephant tracks.” Use restraint and do not get greedy. It takes years for a big bluegill to become a big bluegill! Best baits include waxies, worms, crawler pieces, leeches, plastics, Gulp! baits, and tiny poppers/topwaters.
June 20-23: 70th Annual Musky Festival (715-634-8662).
June 21-23: Hayward Lions Fishing Contest (715-558-6251).
June 22: Hayward Outfitters Demo Day on Lake Hayward (877-220-1041).
July 11-13: Heart of the North Rodeo - Washburn County Fairgrounds in Spooner (800-367-3306).
July 19-21: Birchwood Lions Club Bluegill Festival (800-236-2252).
Through July 31: Illegal to allow unleashed dogs to run on DNR lands and FWPAs (see regs).
Aug. 1-3: 60th Annual Lumberjack World Championships (715-634-2484).
Aug. 1-4: Jack Pine Savage Days – Spooner (800-367-3306).