By: Steve Suman
On the heels of Sunday night’s 35-degree low (not a typo!), this week’s forecast predicts a mix of rain, thunderstorms, and sun, with highs in the 80s and lows not below 50 degrees. Take advantage of the Free Fun and Free Fishing weekend June 6-7, but keep an eye on the weather.
“Wind is a key to success in some instances – they do not call it a ‘walleye chop’ for nothing. Wind-blown shorelines and wind-swept points are producing a good mix of fish.
“For walleyes, the best tactic is live bait on jigs, using small jigs for shallower water and heavier jigs deeper. Look for fresh vegetation to hold some good fish. Favorite baits include a mix of Husky Jerks, crankbaits, stickbaits, swimbaits, and live bait.
“In addition to walleye, many other fish are biting, such as muskies, northern pike, bass, crappie, and perch.
“Crappie anglers are catching fish in 2-8 feet – trust your electronics.
“Panfish are in a feeding frenzy on some waters. Small hair jigs and soft plastics under floats work well. Do not spook the fish as you move up on them.”
Trent at Hayward Bait says water temperatures are in the 70s shallow, but in the 50s and 60s on bigger, deeper lakes.
“Musky anglers are relatively quiet. Small bucktails, glide baits, and Lake X topwaters are producing good action. A few fish are shallow on colder lakes, but fishing deeper on warmer lakes will save some frustration.
“Walleyes are in 15 feet during the day, moving shallow to feed in early morning and late evening. In the evening, work swimbaits and shallow diving crankbaits in 5 feet and shallower.
“Northern pike are deeper during the day and feeding shallow in morning and evening. Spinners and larger Rapalas are angler favorites.
“Largemouth bass are along shallow shorelines, with some on beds. Females are hard to find. Strike King bass jigs, wacky worms, and Texas rigs are all good options.
“Smallmouth are around weedlines in 10-15 feet. Ned rigs, creature baits, and leeches are the favorites.
“Inconsistent air and water temperatures and inconsistent spawn makes crappie fishing frustrating. Crappie minnows and chicken jigs tipped with waxies work well, but it is a light bite.
“Bluegills are on shallow beds in 1-3 feet. Waxies, worms, flies, jigs, and poppers all work well.”
Jim and Cathy at Minnow Jim’s says Nelson Lake walleye anglers are catching fish on suckers and fatheads, Rapalas, and Beetle Spins – and try trolling stickbaits along shorelines early and late in the day.
“Largemouth bass are active around weed beds. Use crawlers, scented worms, swim jigs, and weedless surface baits.
“Happy days – the panfish spawn is on! Fish in one to five feet along shorelines with small dressed jigs and hooks tipped with tails or live bait such as waxies, worms, leeches, and minnows.
“Anglers also report catches of nice size perch and bullheads.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is at full pool, with water temperature in the mid 60s.
“Musky action is generally quiet, mostly because few anglers are targeting them. Most predatory fish such as muskies are lingering in the shallows since bluegills are spawning. Smaller baits are typically more effective at this time of year and shallow runners and surface baits are solid choices.
“Walleyes are in summer patterns and fish size decreased over the past week. Anglers caught greater numbers of larger, legal fish in May than in previous years, but catches have returned to numerous 14.5-inch fish. Minnows remain a solid choice, but many anglers are using regular and jumbo leeches. During the day, target deeper areas with solid cover. During evening and low light hours, fish 6-12 feet off weed edges and breaklines.
“Northern pike anglers are catching many mid 20s fish. Live bait is strong, along with spinnerbaits, spoons, and larger Beetle Spins. Fish weeds in bays, particularly on the far west side.
“Crappies are post-spawn. Some small males are in shallow bays, but most are transitioning into summer patterns.”
Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland there is considerable activity on Chequamegon Bay.
“Walleyes started their post-spawn feeding with rising water temperatures. Most action is at the head of the Bay from Fish Creek Slough, Brush Point, and the hot pond. Some anglers report success trolling on the first breaks and humps on the west side of the Bay.
“Smallmouth bass are in all phases of spawn – pre spawn, spawn, and post spawn. The water is very clear in the Sand Cut, Oak Point, and Brush Point areas, though rain and wind could change that. It is still very fishable if you know the structure. Anglers are also making incidental catches of northern pike, walleye, rock bass, and perch in those areas.
“Trout and salmon trolling is very productive for most anglers, with good reports from Washburn all the way out to the Islands.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses surveying fish with video.
“The design of most fishery survey methods is to capture fish so workers can handle them. Handling fish allows for accurate length and weight measurements, while providing an opportunity to tag fish and take biological samples such as scales or fin rays to estimate age.
“Some surveys, however, focus on just estimating fish abundance in a waterbody and handling each individual fish might not be as important. As video technology has advanced, using cameras for estimating fish abundance has become more common.
“A recent study in Virginia found video camera use successful in estimating the abundance of adult brook trout in small stream pools. Researchers found that counting the number of fish ‘captured’ by video was as effective as multiple passes with an electrofishing unit.
“Video is also used in places such as the Brule River in northern Wisconsin, where biologists count upstream migrating salmon and trout on video recordings.
“One of the most sensational examples of using video to count fish comes from Illinois.
“Invasive silver carp, one of the notorious Asian carp species, often leap when they sense vibrations and when near an electrofishing boat. Illinois researchers mounted cameras on the front of electrofishing boats and use video to count how many fish launch themselves out of the water in different areas to estimate their abundance.
“As technology continues to advance and become more affordable, look for video to play a bigger role in future fisheries management.”
During Free Fishing Weekend, the DNR waives the requirement for licenses and stamps to fish inland waters and outlying Wisconsin waters of the Great Lakes and Mississippi and St. Croix rivers. All other regulations apply.
During Free Fun Weekend, the DNR offers free admission to all state parks, forests, and trails, waives state trail pass requirements for biking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and inline skating; and ATV/UTV owners can ride free. Non-resident ATV/UTV operators do not need a non-resident trail pass to ride state ATV trails. All other rules apply. Safety education certification is required for all ATV and UTV operators who were born on or after Jan. 1, 1988.
Panfish fishing is getting serious with fish in spawning mode, but other species are cooperating as well. Remember that smallmouth bass fishing in the Northern Bass Zone is catch and release only until June 20.
Musky fishing reports are scarce, which means few anglers are pursuing them – or are enjoying great success. Target shallow to mid-depth areas near spawning panfish and near deeper water escape areas. The current bait preferences include bucktails, spinners, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, gliders, and topwaters.
Walleye fishing continue to be good on most walleye waters. During the day, look for fish around weeds, other cover, and breaklines in depths out to 20 feet. In early morning and evening into dark, concentrate on shallow feeding areas on points, bars, humps, and shorelines. The most productive baits include walleye suckers, fatheads, leeches, and crawlers for live bait. For artificials, try swimbaits, stickbaits, crankbaits, Beetle Spins, Rapalas, and Husky Jerks, as well as trolling.
Northern pike action is good to very good during the day. Look for them in and around weeds and weedlines, as well as near spawning panfish. Catch numbers of smaller fish in shallower water, but go deeper with bigger baits for big fish. Pike are not selective eaters and live bait, Mepps spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, Rapalas, and Beetle Spins all work well.
Largemouth bass fishing is fair to very good, depending on the lake and weather. Some bass are spawning, but nearly all are around shallow weeds and brush in bays and along shorelines. Best baits include crawlers, swim jigs, plastics such as wacky- and Texas-rigged worms, scented worms, and topwaters.
Smallmouth bass fishing is fair to good on hard bottom areas and around weedlines in depths to about 20 feet. Top producing baits include minnows, creature baits, Ned rigs, and plastics. Remember that smallmouth fishing in the Northern Bass Zone is catch and release only until June 20.
Crappie action is fair to very good, with fish in various stages of spawn, depending on the lake, time, and weather patterns. Look for fish in depths from very shallow out to 10 feet in bays and along shorelines. Expect a light bite, with preferred baits crappie minnows, waxies, worms, and plastics on dressed jigs and plain hooks fished under bobbers.
Bluegill fishing good to excellent, with fish spawning in many lakes. Use restraint in harvest! Look for fish on beds in very shallow water in bays and along shorelines out to about six feet or so. Current baits of choice include waxies, worms, leeches, minnows, and plastics on jigs or plain hooks, with flies and poppers also catching fish.
June 6-7: Free Fun Weekend: Free admission to all state parks, forests and trails; ATV/UTV owners can ride free; DNR waives state trail pass requirement for biking, mountain biking, horseback riding, inline skating.
June 20: Summer solstice – the longest day (daylight) and shortest night of the year.
June 28: Hayward Bass Club’s Round Lake Open tournament 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (715-699-1015; 634-2921).
Through July 31: Illegal to allow unleashed dogs to run on DNR lands and FWPAs (see regs).