By: Steve Suman
This week’s forecast looks a bit cooler, except Wednesday, but with chances for storms nearly every day until Friday and into the weekend. Chances for rain aside, these hot and sunny summer days encourage considerable outdoor activity.
“Anglers report success with diverse fishing methods, including trolling, jigging, and casting, but specific techniques will take over soon. Water temperatures, currently about 70-78 degrees, continue to rise, which will bring more bug hatches and aquatic vegetation.
“Musky action remains slow. Anglers see follows, but get few takers, while throwing various baits and sizes.
“Walleye fishing is hit or miss. Drifting live bait rigs in and around 10-foot breaklines works best. Bigger fish are deeper, so concentrate on 10-20 feet. Leeches are the prime live bait. Time of day is important. Most anglers report good action starting about 4:30 p.m. and running into nighttime, with crawlers and leeches the go-to baits
“For northern pike and largemouth bass, cast spinnerbaits and soft plastics in and around shallow weedlines and on the edges of drop-offs. Target thicker vegetation with plastic topwaters and rigged weedless crawler and leech baits. Smallmouth bass are on and along rock and gravel areas.
“Panfish are along weeds in 12-16 feet. Jig soft plastics on small jigs. Cast and snap or fish them under bobbers.”
Trent at Hayward Bait says hot weather makes tough fishing, but morning and evening are good times to be on the water.
“Musky anglers are getting follows in about 10 feet, but fewer hits. Try bucktails, rubber baits, and topwaters to find active fish.
“Walleyes are moving deeper, out to about 25 feet. Leeches are most popular, though deep diving crankbaits also work. If you catch smallmouth, push slightly deeper for walleyes.
“Northern pike fishing is so good anglers not targeting pike are catching them with little effort, finding them out to 10 feet. Bigger fish are deeper, close to the bottom. Cast crankbaits, swimbaits, and topwaters.
“Largemouth bass are hugging shorelines and structure. On the hot days, look for shade along shorelines. Wacky worms, Texas rigs, and topwaters work well.
“Smallmouth bass are staging on sand and gravel humps and points in about 10 feet. Ned rigs, swimbaits, flukes, and leeches are producing.
“Crappies pushed deeper and most success is in and around weed beds in 15-20 feet. Drag a jig across the weed tops. Anglers also find crappies cruising deeper basins. Use jigs and minnows, Crappie Nibbles, and Kalin’s Crappie Scrubs.
“Bluegills are still in about 8 feet and small jigs, poppers, and worms are all working well.”
Jim and Cathy at Minnow Jim’s say Nelson Lake walleye anglers should fish minnows and leeches on jigs, troll deep divers in the river channel, and troll shallow divers along the shorelines.
“Northern pike and largemouth bass are very active in this hot weather. Fish weed beds with weedless worms, dressed spoons, and rattling swim jigs. Work along weed edges with spinners, buzzbaits, frogs, and popping plugs.
“Panfish anglers should bobber fish and jig for crappies and bluegills near bogs and cribs with waxies, worms, and leeches. Cast small spinnerbaits and dressed jigs near fallen trees.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is at full pool and the water temperature 83-86 degrees.
“Muskies are deep and your best bets are trolling and vertical jigging, with Mattlocks, Jakes, Grandmas, and Crane 1010s solid choices. The water with mid-80s temperatures is very low on oxygen and lethal to muskies. Make a very quick net and release within 30 seconds.
“Walleye anglers are catching fish in decent numbers in deep areas. With these warm and rising water temperatures, most fish will not rise to the surface or even move to the shallows to feed. Use Lindy Rigs with jumbo leeches or crawlers, or troll deep running crankbaits such as Flicker Shads, Shad Raps, and Flicker Minnows.
“Northern pike action is slow and these fish are probably deep as well. Try trolling spoons or fishing large live bait down to 20 feet or so where there is some nice cover.
“Smallmouth bass are still around shallower areas, despite the warm water. If shallow action decreases, try crawlers on deeper cribs.
“Crappie action on the bogs at night is really good. Many anglers report success with minnows on the bog at the bridge, and with tube jigs and waxies on the bog by Dun Rovin in 12 feet and deeper.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses forests and fish.
“Most conservationists would likely argue that a forest has value, even if difficult to determine a dollar amount. However, in resource management, sometimes it is useful to assign a dollar value to a resource, especially when decisions become political or other economic considerations are in play.
“The Alaskan salmon fisheries offer an interesting example. The fisheries contain tremendous value, but consider, also, the landscape that supports the salmon production that fuels the lucrative sport and commercial fisheries.
“There is a well-established linkage between salmon and trees.
“The salmon support the trees by running the streams to spawn, dying, and leaving behind carcasses rich with nutrients from the sea. The forests support the salmon by creating and protecting the critical habitats they need to spawn successfully, including clean streams fed by groundwater.
“Researchers in Alaska estimated that two large National Forests, the Tongass and Chugach, support 48 million salmon that go on to be harvested commercially, with an estimated value of $88 million. Salmon originating from those two forests account for 25 percent of all those caught commercially.
“Figures such as these are relatable to the public and to lawmakers (everyone understands money) and used to argue for protection of critical habitat, even with those who might not understand the complex ecological linkages. This is what makes studies like these valuable.”
According to the Future Angler Foundation (FAF), young people are discovering fishing in record numbers! Some speculate it a result of COVID-19, distance learning about angling education, or even Saturday morning television shows about teens catching fish. The trend is spreading nationally, and in Wisconsin, license sales have increased 29 percent. Even more amazing is that these numbers do not include kids younger than 16 who do not need a license in most states. In Wisconsin, the Getting Families Fishing television shows blanket the state on a dozen stations, and nationally, its distribution network can reach into more than 150 million homes. The entire “Getting Families Fishing” series of videos and educational curriculum is available on the “Into the Outdoors” Education Network website at www.intotheoutdoors.org/aquatic-angling-science-1. For more information about FAF, visit www.futureangler.org.
Sunny, clear, and hot days are affecting both anglers and fish. If you use live bait, keep it cool and aerated. If you are catch and release fishing, get the fish back in the water as quickly as possible. Fishing is good, but it can be a bit uncomfortable in the heat and sun for long periods. Keep it fun!
Musky action slowed, with anglers still seeing fish following, but not anxious to hit. Try working around weeds and weedlines in 8-12 feet, as well as much deeper water. Anglers are throwing a variety of baits including bucktails, rubber baits, and topwaters, as well as trolling large baits such as Mattlocks, Jakes, Grandmas, and Cranes over deeper water. With the very warm water, release the fish as quickly as possible.
Walleye fishing is fair to good, with best fishing in late afternoon into dark. During the day, concentrate on cover, structure, and breaklines as deep as 30 feet. In early morning, late evening, and after dark, work depths to 20 feet. Productive baits include leeches, crawlers, and minnows on jigs, Lindy Rigs, and live bait rigs, and trolled crankbaits.
Northern pike fishing is very good to excellent on most waters where you find them – or they find you. Focus on shallow weeds and weedlines, drop-off edges, and panfish concentrations out to about 12 feet. Go deeper with bigger baits for trophy pike. Top baits include spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, crankbaits, swimbaits, buzzbaits, and live bait.
Largemouth action is very good to excellent during this hot weather. Target shallower weeds and weedlines, drop-off edges, shoreline structure, lily pads, and thick slop. The bass are taking a wide variety of baits, including spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, plastic worms in various riggings (weedless, wacky, Texas, etc.), buzzbaits, swim jigs, crawlers, leeches, and assorted topwater baits.
Smallmouth fishing is good around weeds, rock, sand, gravel, points, humps, and cribs in 10 feet and deeper. Some anglers are catching fish shallower, even with the increasing water temperatures, but expect fish to move deeper as the hot days continue. Ned rigs, swimbaits, tubes, and plastics in crayfish colors, crawlers, leeches, and minnows all work well.
Crappie fishing is good to very good around weeds, wood, bogs, cribs, and lake basins in 10-22 feet. Best fishing in is late afternoon/evening hours into dark. Baits of choice include jigs and minnows, waxies, worms, leeches, tube jigs, plastics, Crappie Nibbles, Crappie Scrubs, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, and small spinners.
Bluegill fishing is good to very good around weeds, wood, bogs, and cribs in 4-18 feet. The standard bluegill offerings of waxies, worms, leeches, and plastics on small jigs and under slip bobbers are all catching fish, as are small spinners and poppers.
Through July 31: Illegal to allow unleashed dogs to run on DNR lands and FWPAs (see regs).
Aug. 7-8: Jack Pine Savage Days in Spooner (canceled) (715-635-2168).
Aug. 8: Northwoods Bass Anglers Big Chip Open Tournament, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (715-762-1833).
Sept. 4-6: 28th Annual Exeland Trout Fest (715-943-2242).
Sept. 9-12: Lake Chippewa Flowage Musky Hunt (filled).