Rain forced cancellation of this past Sunday’s Musky Fest Parade, but the weather was pleasant for event activities Thursday through Saturday. This week will be warm, with highs in the mid to upper 80s, and a good number of days with “chances” of rain. It is difficult to tell what that means, as forecasts seem to change almost hourly! The best option is make your plans – include a “Plan B” – and go forward with your scheduled recreation!
“Fishing remains productive for most species,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “but that makes it puzzling to decide which species to target!
“Musky anglers, throwing a variety of lures, all report follows, but few hook-ups, with most catches smaller fish.
“Walleye anglers continue to find success in 8-12 feet on transitions between weeds and drop-offs fishing live bait under slip bobbers and slow-trolling smaller spinner harnesses. Late evening into dark is the most productive time.
“Northern pike continue to roam the shallows and weedline transitions, taking spinnerbaits, swimbaits, and live bait.
“Largemouth bass are shallow, on or around spawning beds and on weedline transitions. Spinnerbaits, swimbaits, wacky worms, and live bait are producing some success. Smallmouth bass are in rock and gravel areas, with crankbaits and creature baits productive.
“Most anglers are finding a great panfish bite in and around spawning grounds.
“Post-spawn crappies are still relatively shallow, in 4-6 feet, and crappie minnows and plastics under bobbers are the best tactics.
“Bluegills have started spawning in shallow weed and sand areas. Please remember the importance of these fish when keeping a few for the table.”
Erik at Hayward Bait says fishing is heating up as summer settles in, with lake temperatures 66-71 degrees.
“Musky anglers should look for good new weed growth in the warmest water. Bucktails are producing, but glide baits, rubber baits, and slow topwaters have the magic touch.
“Walleye fishing is fantastic for anglers fishing plastics and leeches under slip bobber rigs around deep weeds. For walleyes on rocks, jig plastics and minnows or use leeches with slip bobbers.
“Northern pike are on cabbage weeds and anglers report success with spinnerbaits, spoons, and paddle-tail swimbaits.
“Largemouth bass are in and around shallow weed beds. Various plastics such as Senkos, Ned rigs, and jigs and pigs are the best choice.
“Smallmouth bass anglers should look for shallow mixed rock with transition lines. Smallmouth will feed in various depths, so start deep and work shallower with plastics such as swimbaits and wacky rigs. Cover the water effectively to find active fish.
“Crappies are in and around the new establishing weed beds, as well as in and around bluegills that are shallow and in and around those new weed beds.”
Jim at Minnow Jim’s says Nelson Lake walleye fishing is good early in the morning and as late as you can stand the mosquitoes!
“Work shorelines and weedlines with leeches and fatheads under bobbers/lighted bobbers or cast shallow running stickbaits and Beetle Spins.
“Northern pike fishing is good on surface baits, with the more noise and splash the better.
“Largemouth bass fishing is good on soft plastics, frogs, swim jigs, and spoons.
“Panfish have scattered. Work areas with structure such as bogs, cribs, stumps, and fish sticks with minnows, panfish leeches, and scented baits under slip bobbers or by vertical jigging.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is full and water temperatures in the low to mid 70s.
“There was a report of a bug hatch Friday, so fishing might seem unusually slow!
“Musky action is constant, with Cranes and other shallow crankbaits outperforming other baits. Fish will go deeper if water temperatures climb, and trolling will be effective – try Mattlock, Jake, and Grandma baits.
“Walleye fishing slowed on the Flowage, but picked up on Round Lake, particularly midday, which is odd. Flowage anglers caught fewer walleyes last week, with most in the slot rather than less than 15 inches. Minnows, leeches, and crawlers all remain popular, and trolling Flicker Shads during the day can be very effective.
“Northern pike are active on the west side, hitting Tinsel Tail spinnerbaits worked over weed beds and other good cover.
“Smallmouth bass action is solid on spinnerbaits, plastics, frogs, and crawlers worked in shallow wood and stumps.
“Crappie anglers report crappies are hitting by the bogs, with several saying they caught many keepers. Crappie Minnows, Gulp! baits, and Mini-Mites are all strong choices.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses fish stocking by rail.
“Seeing a fish stocking truck back up to a landing to deliver walleye, musky, trout, or some other species to a lake is a happy sight for anglers, but fish stocking was not always done by truck.
“In early fish stocking efforts, which started in earnest during the second half of the 19th century, trains played a big role, with fish transported in milk cans. An attendant would often ride along in the train car to tend the fish and aerate the water with a ladle.
“Stocking evolved with the invention of ‘fish cars,’ railroad cars specially outfitted to transport fish, allowing for transportation of more fish over greater distances. The U.S. Fisheries Commission transported fish by rail from coast to coast!
“In 1893, Wisconsin decided it needed its own fish car, in part to help transport fish to the Chicago World’s Fair that year, and purchased and commissioned ‘Badger No. 1’ for $5,000. In 1912, the state purchased a second fish car, ‘Badger No. 2,’ which is still on display at the Mid-Continent Railway Museum in North Freedom, Wisconsin. Not long after, the state started experimenting with stocking fish out of automobiles. They hauled fewer fish, but took them directly to the lakes.
“Stocking by rail phased out in the 1930s, but left behind a fascinating period of fisheries innovation that came and went with the rise and fall of rail travel.”
Musky action continues to be somewhat slow for big fish, but with smaller muskies maintaining angler interest. Target warm water and new weeds. Good bait choices for casting include bucktails, gliders, stickbaits, rubber baits, and topwaters, while trolling could be very good with the hot temperatures forecast for this week.
Walleye fishing is good to very good, with early morning and late evening into dark the best times. Due to the cool weather, fish have yet to move deep and are around weeds, weedlines, rock, gravel, and drop-offs out to 20 feet. Best success is on minnows, fatheads, leeches, crawlers, and plastics fished on jigs, under slip bobbers, and on split shot, spinner, and Lindy rigs. Shallow stickbaits, crankbaits, Flicker Shads, and Beetle Spins also work well.
Northern pike action is good to very good in shallow weeds, weed beds, transition areas, and around concentrations of spawning panfish. Various baits will get a pike’s attention, but the favorites include spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swimbaits, and noisy topwaters.
Largemouth bass fishing is good to very good. Bass are in/on/around shallow weeds, weed edges, spawning beds, brush, transition areas, and stumps. Top producing baits include spinnerbaits, spoons, swimbaits, soft plastics, wacky worms, jigs with Twister Tails, and live bait.
Smallmouth anglers continue to do well fishing deeper rock, gravel, wood, and other structure on transition lines. Baits producing the most success include crankbaits, plastics in various configurations (tubes, creatures, grubs, frogs, worms in assorted riggings, etc.), spinnerbaits, swimbaits, crawlers, and topwaters.
Crappie action is good, with fish still holding in somewhat shallow water around weeds, wood, bogs, cribs, stumps, and brush, and often mixed with the bluegills. The most productive baits include crappie minnows, leeches, scented baits, plastics, Mini-Mites, and Gulp! baits on small jigs and hooks, fished with/without slip bobbers.
Bluegill fishing is excellent for spawning fish, though rain fronts can sometimes push them off the beds. Find them in shallow – look for “elephant tracks” on sand bottoms – and in and around weeds and other structure. Best offerings include waxies, worms, leeches, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs with/without slip bobbers.
July 11-13: Heart of the North Rodeo – Washburn County Fairgrounds in Spooner (800-367-3306).
July 19-21: Birchwood Lions Club Bluegill Festival (800-236-2252).
Through July 31: Illegal to allow unleashed dogs to run on DNR lands and FWPAs (see regs).
Aug. 1-3: 60th Annual Lumberjack World Championships (715-634-2484).
Aug. 1-4: Jack Pine Savage Days – Spooner (800-367-3306).
Aug. 3: Flambeau River State Forest – cast iron cooking, Connors Lake picnic area (715-332-5271).
Aug. 10: Flambeau River State Forest – Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday party, Connors Lake picnic area (715-332-5271).