by: Steve Suman
No matter your weather preference (barring 90 degrees, dry, and still), there should be at least one day this week that just about anyone should find favor. Probably just one day per person, per preference, but the forecast shows quite a mix!
“The first frost finally made its way into northern Wisconsin,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and fall turnover should happen soon. Turnover usually starts when the water temperature hits 55 degrees and lakes are currently 56-58 degrees.
“Muskies put on an aggressive feed as the water temperatures drop and live suckers are the bait of choice. Anglers using suckers boated some nice fish in the past week.
“Walleyes are on underwater points and structure and will sit on deep, hard bottom edges. Look for areas with mixed rock, rubble, and boulders. There is a considerable amount of ‘dead water’ out there, so if you do not find or catch fish, move on. Fish move deeper as we head into late fall. Look for transitions from hard to soft bottom and fish sit right on the transition line, on the hard bottom side. Jig and minnow is the presentation of choice. Pitch jigs onto the breaks and drag or bounce them off the breaks.
“Northern pike are in and around the weeds, but most catches are by musky anglers throwing spinner and swim baits.
“Some anglers using crappie minnow on slip bobbers are finding crappies in deeper weed areas.
“Hunters are grouse hunting and more deer bowhunters are heading to the woods now that the leaves are falling and temperatures are cooling.”
Erik at Hayward Bait says anglers enjoyed the exceptionally nice late October weather and fishing is strong.
“Even with water temperatures warmer than normal, many musky anglers report successful days on the water. Most anglers are fishing suckers on Shumway sucker rigs, either straight-lined off the back of the boat and/or under a bobber at the desired distance. Casting is still great, with many rubber baits such as Bull Dawgs, Medusas, and paddle-tails an ideal choice for the next 50-incher.
“Walleye anglers are finding active fish by trolling, ripping Jigging Raps, and with and jigs and minnows, but they would love to see somewhat colder temperatures.
“Bass fishing, especially for smallmouth, still has the interest of some anglers. Smallmouth are active across rock humps and breaklines, mostly in 10-14 feet. A number of anglers report success on jigs with walleye suckers.
“Crappie anglers are having luck with live bait on slip bobbers, as well as fishing somewhat more active presentations such as Tattle-Tails, Mini-Mites, Chicken Jigs, and plastics. Most action is off weed edges.”
Mike at Jenk’s says Chippewa Flowage musky fishing is solid.
“As we go later and later on in the year, the more suckers are the choice as muskies bulk up for winter. Target areas rich in baitfish. If you do not spot baitfish on the graph, try other spots, as muskies will congregate around food rich environments.
“Walleyes are starting to show signs of life on the Flowage, though the size remains smaller. A few anglers still use crawlers, but it is predominantly minnow fishing from here to the end of the season. With the cooler temperatures, expect walleyes to head to deep holes.
“While there are few reports of bass action on the Flowage, the smallmouth bite on Round and Grindstone lakes is very strong with minnows on the cribs. Several anglers report seeing smallmouth more than 20 inches every day.
“Crappies are biting, but it seems the only ones are those sitting on the bottom, not suspending fish. Crappie minnows are the best choice, but on slow days, try throwing some plastics.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies, Inc. fall tournament results.
“During the first weekend in October, the Hayward Lakes Chapter of Muskies Inc. hosts an annual musky tournament on lakes throughout the Hayward area. Results from this year compare favorably to past years.
“The 2017 event, the 40th annual tournament, drew 440 participants, which is relatively low compared to attendance over the past 30 years. Despite fewer participants, however, anglers caught near-record numbers of muskies.
“Anglers boated 80 muskies more than 34 inches, the third highest total of all time, bested only by 92 fish in 2009 and 104 fish in 2010. While anglers caught no true ‘monster’ fish – the biggest was 49.5 inches – they did enter 30 muskies more than 40 inches and the catch rate (fish/number of anglers) of 40-inchers was the second highest in the tournament’s history. Average size has also continued to climb steadily over the years, from around 37 inches in the 1980s to now slightly more than 39 inches.
“Money raised from this tournament goes to support a variety of projects in the Hayward area, including stocking, access improvements, hatchery improvements, tagging studies, and youth fishing opportunities. These investments will continue to improve musky fishing quality in Hayward.”
The 2017 Fall Musky Bash is November 3-5 at Treeland Resort and there is still time to participate. Join local guides Steve Genson, Pete Rich, and Tom Boley to learn techniques to help you consistently put trophy muskies in your boat. During the morning and evening discussions and seminars, the guides will detail trolling, casting, jigging, and live bait presentations. There are two packages available and both include two nights in a motel suite, Friday night fish fry, Saturday night lasagna feast, Saturday and Sunday morning breakfasts, Friday and Saturday night seminars, and Sunday morning discussions. The one-person package is $350, the two-person package is $450, and both include taxes and gratuities. For more information and/or to register for the Fall Musky Bash, call (715) 462-3874 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Flambeau River State Forest allows “traditional deer camps” in designated areas in the forest during the nine-day gun deer season. For more information, call (715) 332-5271 before the October 31 deadline. Lake of the Pines Campground is open through December 15.
According to Pat at Happy Hooker, turnover is on the way any time now and usually starts when water temperatures drop to 55 degrees – and many waterbodies are now about 56-58 degrees. He says lakes will be a little dirty the day of/for a few days following turnover, making for tough going, but fishing can be great afterwards. For the most current water conditions, best baits, and most productive presentations, check with your favorite bait shop before heading to the water.
Late fall is THE time for big muskies and the fish are starting to up their feeding game. Rubber baits such as Bull Dawgs work well, but this is when suckers really shine. Run them on quick-strike rigs off the back of the boat, with or without a bobber, while casting and retrieving rubber baits near the sucker for a double temptation!
Walleye fishing is good to very good, primarily deep, in holes, on point and bar edges, breaklines, and hard bottoms with rock and gravel. Jigs and minnows work well, some anglers still use crawlers, others trolling stick and crank baits, and still others work Jigging Raps and similar baits.
Northern pike fishing is good, though most catches are by anglers fishing for other species. Work the weeds with northern suckers, spinnerbaits, bucktails, and swim baits. As is usually the case, use bigger baits in deeper water for trophy pike.
Smallmouth action is very good in 10-18 feet on cribs, breaklines, and humps. Large minnows and walleye suckers on jigs, plastics, and drop-shot rigs are all very effective at this time.
Crappie fishing is good on and just off the edges of deeper weeds, at various depths in the water column. Use your locator. Crappie minnows work best, on jigs and/or under slip bobbers, but Gulp! baits, Tattle-Tails, Mini-Mites, and other plastics work well, too.
Oct. 28: Seasons open: Muskrat statewide; Mink in North, South, and Winnebago zones.
Nov. 11: LCO Veterans Powwow (715-634-8934).
Nov. 16: Crow season closes.
Nov. 17: Fall turkey season closes in zones 6 & 7.
Nov. 18-26: Traditional nine-day gun deer season.
Nov. 21: Duck season closes in North Zone.
Nov. 27-Dec. 6: Muzzleloader deer season.
Dec. 7-10: Four-day antlerless hunt.
Dec. 24-Jan. 1: Antlerless-only Holiday Hunt – farmland units only.
Dec. 25: Period 1 Bobcat season closes.
Dec. 26: Period 2 Bobcat season opens.