By: Steve Suman
This week should see a return to cooler (i.e., more seasonal) temperatures, but better keep rain gear handy through Thursday! While the forecast is less than encouraging, remember that forecasts are often wrong. Take advantage of the good days to get outdoor and fish, hike, bike, golf, or whatever – enjoy the fresh, clean North Woods’ air!
“Anglers fishing the Quiet Lakes are looking for areas with new vegetation,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “They are finding a good bite as shallow as 2-5 feet – and not just for walleyes, but also northern pike, crappies, and perch. Crawlers and minnows work, as do #5 Mepps and drifting fatheads over deep holes in shallow basins.
“Muskies are near the shallows, preying on spawning fish, and anglers are seeing fish follow to the boat, but no takers. This is still the time to cast smaller bucktails, crankbaits, and swimbaits.
“The walleye bite slowed somewhat. The fish are in transition to deeper water, though anglers still find a few smaller fish near spawning grounds. Best tactic is slip bobber fishing on drop-offs in 10-20 feet, with the best bite in late afternoon into evening.
“Northern pike and largemouth and smallmouth action is good on spinnerbaits and stickbaits cast along the shorelines. Look for transitions to new bait types with the rising water temperatures.
“Most lakes have a consistent panfish bite.”
Trent at Hayward Bait says water temperatures are rising and anglers are doing well.
“Musky action improved, with bucktails, twitch baits, and glide baits remaining the favorites. The topwater bite should increase any day now.
“Walleyes are in about 15 feet, but feed in 5 feet and shallower at first light and sunset. Try shallow diving crankbaits during low light conditions. Fatheads, worms, and leeches are effective during the day.
“Northern pike feed shallow in morning and evening – and are stealing lures from panfish anglers! Northern suckers, Mepps, Rapalas, and spinnerbaits work well.
“Largemouth bass are around shallow cover and docks. Wacky worms work and topwaters are worth a try.
“Smallmouth bass have moved out to about 10 feet. Work weedlines with Ned rigs, leeches, and crankbaits.
“Crappies also pushed to about 10 feet, though a few remain shallow with bluegills. Crappie minnows, tube jigs, and Bimbo Skunks all work well.
“Bluegills are on shallow beds and cover. Small jigs, waxies, and worms work well, with poppers also seeing action.”
Jim and Cathy at Minnow Jim’s says Nelson Lake walleye anglers are catching fish with minnows and leeches on jigs, as well as by casting and trolling stickbaits along shorelines early and late in the day.
“Northern pike anglers having difficulty finding large northern suckers and minnows should try Mepps spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, and buzzbaits.
“Largemouth bass action is picking up and anglers should plop plastic worms, frogs, scented critters, spinnerbaits, and swimbaits in and along weed beds.
“Look for crappies in 5-8 feet and there is still time to catch some spawning bluegills. Fish shorelines in 1-4 feet with small Beetle Spins, Gulp! Alive Waxies, Leeches, and one-inch Minnows, dressed jigs, and Mini-Mites. For live bait, try bobber and slip bobber fishing waxies, worms, crawler chunks, and panfish leeches.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is 1-2 feet below full, with mid- to high-60s water temperatures.
“Musky anglers are switching to slightly bigger baits with the warming water. Start around bluegills, which are still shallow. Crappies are on bogs at night, so around 8 p.m. cast a few baits on the edges.
“Walleye action improved this week and two tactics work well. Fish 8-10 feet with solid weed cover and/or stumps, or fish the bogs at night with slip bobbers and leeches. Some anglers are catching legal fish; others have trouble breaking 15 inches. Leeches are preferred, but minnows remain viable.
“Northern pike fishing success is mostly on Burde Bait Spins and Tinsel Tail spinnerbaits worked in the weeds.
“Crappies seem to be more elusive during the day, but trying fishing weed humps in 10-15 feet. Around 8 p.m., fish the bogs for success. A few anglers are still catching nice crappies in some shallow bays on the west side and minnows and various plastics are the ticket.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses fish spawning strategies.
“Now that spring is behind us, fish spawning is wrapping up in this area. How and when fish spawn has always been an interesting topic to me, and a better understanding of it might help anglers better understand fish behavior.
“In our part of the world, most fish spawn in spring, with the exception of some coldwater trout and salmon species. The prevalence of spring spawning is not coincidental. By spawning soon after ice-out, fish give their offspring the best possible start on growth before winter. It is a well-established fact that larger fish with larger fat reserves have better odds of surviving our long, harsh winters. Having as much time as possible to pack on the weight in warmer months is critical.
“Another interesting part of spawning is how much parents invest in the care of their offspring. Many species give zero care to their offspring – they drop the eggs and scram. This includes species such as musky, walleye, northern pike, and suckers. For these species, it is a numbers game, so the females tend to get larger than the males and produce as many eggs as possible, hoping just a few will survive.
“The alternate strategy is to provide care for the eggs and hatching fry. Bass and most panfish species fall into this category. The male digs a nest, attracts females to lay eggs, and then guards those eggs and even sticks around to protect the fry until they disperse. With this strategy, females typically produce fewer eggs, expecting that protection by males will increase egg survival. This can be very taxing on the males and makes them very vulnerable to angling.
“Whether it is a fish guarding a nest or producing tens of thousands of eggs annually, the risk is worth the reward of passing on their genes to another generation.”
The DNR seeks participants in County Deer Advisory Councils (CDAC) to help the DNR manage deer populations in each county. The application deadline for all seats in each county is July 1. All council seats are open to new applicants and those selected serve for three years. Applicants must have experience or involvement with at least one of these seven stakeholder categories: agriculture, forestry, tourism, transportation, hunting, local government, and the Wisconsin Deer Management Assistance Program. For more information, and to apply, search “CDAC” on the DNR website.
Hayward Bass Club will host its annual Round Lake Open Tournament Sunday, June 28, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., with Prop’s Landing on Big Round Lake serving as tournament headquarters. Participation is open to 50 two-angler teams, however, an individual may compete alone as a team. The entry fee is $100/team. There is a 90 percent payback guarantee to five places, with HBC retaining 10 percent to help fund the August 16 free Youth Tournament on the Chippewa Flowage. The club bases projected cash prize money on a full field of 50 boats. First prize is $2,000. For more information, text Wayne Balsavich at (405) 227-1789 or email email@example.com.
Fishing remains generally good for most species and anglers are still finding panfish and bass in the shallows. There is a transition in the works, however. As such, on your way to the lake, stop at your favorite bait and tackle shop and ask the experts for the most current information regarding locations, times, baits, and presentations. These people WANT you to catch fish and will do their best to assist you in that regard.
Musky action is slowly improving, with plenty of sightings and follows, but minimal hook-ups. Look for fish shallow, near spawning panfish, and along weedlines and bogs in the evening hours. Most anglers continue to cast smaller baits, including bucktails, crankbaits, swimbaits, twitch baits, gliders, and topwaters.
Walleye fishing remains good, with early morning and late afternoon into dark offering the best chances for success. Depths vary from very shallow out to 22 feet or so, with fish shallower during low light condition. Weeds, flats, holes, humps, stumps, drop-offs, and bogs can all hold fish. Top live baits include leeches, crawlers, and fatheads on jigs, slip bobbers, and harnesses. Stickbaits and crankbaits are the favored artificials.
Northern pike are on the feed and offering consistent action in and around shallow weeds, weedlines, and spawning panfish. This is a good time to “test” the baits in your box – throw spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, stickbaits, swimbaits, buzzbaits, and of course northern suckers and large minnows.
Largemouth action is good to very good on most lakes. Fish are around shallow weeds, weedlines, brush, docks, stumps, and slop. The most effective temptations include plastic worms in various configurations, frogs, and critter baits, spinners, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, Rapalas, and topwaters.
Smallmouth fishing is good to very good around weeds, weedlines, and hard bottoms out to about 12 feet. Minnows, leeches, crawlers, Ned rigs, spinners, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and Rapalas will all get attention.
Crappie fishing is good, though the fish finished spawning and are moving toward deeper water. However, depending on the time of day, look for fish in anywhere from 2-18 feet. Fish deep brush, weeds, and humps during the day, but in evening hours try shallower water and around bogs. Crappie minnows, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, dressed jigs, plastics, and Gulp! baits are all effective.
Bluegills are still spawning on some lakes, offering good action. Look for fish very shallow in bays and along shorelines. Bait options are plentiful and include waxies, worms, crawler chunks, leeches, plastics, dressed jigs, Mini-Mites, Tattle Tails, and Gulp! baits, all fished alone or under bobbers.
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).