By: Steve Suman
The current forecast, which is always subject to change (for which we are certainly hoping in this case!), predicts mild but wet conditions most of the week – but with some sunshine by the weekend.
Speaking of the weekend, it will be a very busy one for many Wisconsin hunters. Saturday September 14 is the season opener for archery and crossbow deer, fall turkey, ruffed grouse in the Northern Zone, squirrel, and crow, as well as the Youth Waterfowl Hunt Saturday and Sunday September 14-15.
“Musky action is improving and anglers are seeing more big fish. A few anglers are dragging suckers, though mid-size bucktails remain the go-to bait, and topwaters in early mornings are also producing some action. Musky fishing will only get better as the water temperature drops.
“Largemouth bass are hitting weedless jigs and topwater plastics such as frogs cast into shallow weeds and lily pads. Smallmouth bass are around rock and gravel areas – and walleye anglers are catching quite a few.
“Depending on the weather, fishing action remains constant for walleye, crappie, bluegill, and perch, especially on wind-blown edges, mid-lake humps, and deeper weeds. Use jigs with plastics and live bait under bobbers, or troll mid-lake basins and contour edges with stickbaits. Baitfish are starting to show, so watch for feeding marine birds.”
Trent at Hayward Bait says water temperatures are starting to drop into the mid 60s.
“Musky action is picking up and anglers are boating more fish. Try using lighter tackle in 3-6 feet. Topwaters and bucktails are good choices this time of year.
“Walleyes are in 30-40 feet on deeper lakes and about 20 feet in shallower waterbodies. Spinners tipped with leeches, minnows, and worms work well, or try crankbaits under planer boards.
“Largemouth bass are moving deeper – look for channels and river mouths. Smallmouth bass are on structure in 5-15 feet near drop-offs to deeper water. Flukes, swimbaits, and topwaters are good options.
“Crappies are in 20 feet and jigging crappie minnows can offer great results. Crappies could be in 10-15 feet on smaller, shallower waterbodies. Crappie minnows, Chicken Jigs, Tattle-Tails, and soft plastics are great for both bluegill and crappies. Bluegills are in 4-10 feet and hitting 1/64-oz. to 1/32-oz. jigs.”
Jim and Cathy at Minnow Jim’s say Nelson Lake fishing conditions are tough due to winds and fronts moving through like crazy.
“For walleye and northern pike, float sucker minnows under bobbers while casting other baits in and near the weeds.
“Catch panfish by drift fishing bait on or near the bottom, or vertical jigging around stumps, cribs, and tree sticks.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is down about 2.5 feet and the water temperature low to mid 60s.
“Musky action picked up, with fish hitting a variety of baits, but mostly bucktails. Shallow weed beds, particularly those adjacent to deeper water, are very productive.
“Walleye action is spotty, with fish transitioning to fall patterns. Work sucker minnows on humps adjacent to weeds in 10-13 feet. If it is not working, try other tactics.
“Northern pike fishing is slow, with a few incidental catches by musky anglers.
“Crappie fishing picked up, particularly on cribs and deeper weed humps, with crappie minnows and Gulp! baits.”
Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says fall is arriving on Chequamegon Bay.
“Water temperatures recently dropped 20 degrees in one week, which is quite strange. Trout and salmon are making their way to the streams and there are already reports of brown trout in Fish Creek and the Sioux River. Anglers are having success on smaller stickbaits and spinners, but will soon use spawn, yarn, and flies. Fly anglers are swinging large streamer patterns resembling minnows.
“Trollers report success in shallower water as coho, brown trout, and steelhead are now staging at river mouths. Scatter Raps and Psycho Minnows are very popular for flatline trolling, though some anglers are taking baits down with Dipsey Divers and lead core line. Lake trout anglers report success fishing Flutter Spoons and Spin-N-Glos in the deeper waters of the Apostle Islands and flats.
“Walleye anglers are on the Bay in force, trolling crawler harnesses and stickbaits, and ripping Jigging Raps and other jigging minnows in 10-30 feet. Smallmouth bass anglers are doing great catching fish on the breakwall, rock pile, and tip of Long Island. If you do not have a boat, try inside the marina breakwall in Ashland and the coal dock in Washburn.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses “true” and “relative” abundance.
“One of the primary goals of a DNR fishery survey on a lake or river is to figure the abundance of different fish species. The seemingly simple concept of abundance is actually somewhat complicated, however, and perhaps not easily understood by anglers. The confusion can come from the fact that there are actually two measures of abundance: true abundance and relative abundance.
“True abundance is an estimate of the total number of fish in a population, an intensive piece of information to obtain because it involves considerably more survey effort and funding. Biologists typically do true abundance estimates only on high profile species such as sturgeon, walleye, and muskellunge.
“Relative abundance is much easier information to generate, but it can be difficult to know exactly what it means.
“Catching 100 bluegills per mile during an electrofishing survey is an example of relative abundance. The figure does not tell you exactly how many bluegills are in the lake, as you cannot just multiply the number by the total shoreline miles. However, it is a number used to compare that lake’s abundance of bluegills to other lakes or to other years in that lake. This is where the ‘relative’ part comes into the name – the figures are typically relevant only in comparison to relative abundance elsewhere.”
Join DNR elk biologist Laine Stowell at Flambeau River State Forest headquarters at 6 a.m. Friday, September 13, to learn about elk management in Wisconsin and listen for bugling elk on the forest. For more information and to RSVP, please call (715) 332-5271.
Musky fishing is finally improving with the cooling water and bigger fish are on the move. Concentrate on shallower weed beds near deep water, though this will change with weather fronts and temperature changes. Bucktails remain the first choice at this time, though jerkbaits and topwaters also work well. Some anglers are now using suckers and some are trolling large stickbaits.
Walleye fishing is inconsistent, but anglers continue to have success. Fish are around assorted structure types such as weeds, breakline edges, humps, and points in various depths from 8-35 feet. Top producing baits include walleye suckers, leeches, minnows, crawlers, and plastics, as well as trolled crankbaits and stickbaits.
Northern pike fishing is poor to good, depending on the water. Look for fish in and around shallow to mid-depth weeds and panfish concentrations. Spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swim jigs, and live bait (minnows, suckers) under bobbers are all good offerings for pike.
Largemouth bass fishing is good to very good around weeds, wood, brush, drop-offs, and slop from shallow to mid-depths. The most productive baits include plastics, swimbaits, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, weedless jigs, and topwaters.
Smallmouth bass angler continue to do well fishing mid-depth rock, wood, gravel, and cribs with crawlers, plastics in various configurations, and topwaters.
Crappie fishing is good and getting better. Look for fish on weeds, humps, stumps, cribs, brush, and bogs in 8-22 feet. Baits of choice include crappie minnows, worms, Tattle-Tails, plastics, and Gulp! baits fished on jigs and plain hooks, with or without bobbers.
Bluegill fishing is good in and around weeds, wood, cribs, stumps, brush, and bogs out to about 12 feet. Jigging and drifting with waxies, worms, leaf worms, plastics, and Gulp! baits, with or without bobbers, will catch fish.
Sept. 14: Early September Canada goose season closes.
Sept. 21: Woodcock season opens.
Sept. 21: 35th Annual Hayward Fall Festival (715-634-8662).
Sept. 22: Hayward Area High School Bass Team Benefit Bass Tournament on Tiger Cat Flowage (715-699-6356).
Sept. 27-28: Cable Area Fall Fest (715-798-3833).
Sept. 29: Trout season closes on rivers flowing into Lake Superior (see regs).