A gorgeous Monday to start this week, with highs touching 70 degrees following morning lows in the lower 40s. The current forecast indicates Tuesday through Wednesday morning “could” be the only inclement weather this week, with upper 70s highs and lower 50s lows. Summer weather was a long-time coming – get out and enjoy it!
“This is one of the latest starts to spring fishing we have had in the North Woods,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “Water temperatures were warming, but slipped back into the low 50s, which prolonged some patterns. New vegetation is starting to appear in the shallows and some people say that is when fishing gets good.
“Musky season is off to a good start, with anglers catching many smaller fish, mostly on smaller bucktails, swimbaits, and topwaters.
“Some walleyes continue to roam their shallow spring spawning grounds, but will soon slip into deeper waters. The bite is best for anglers drifting and/or jigging minnows in 5-15 feet – start shallow and work deeper.
“Northern pike are taking spinnerbaits and stickbaits, with Husky Jerks a fun way to tangle with pike.
“Bass and panfish are moving shallow to make beds, most around mid-depth pencil reeds and other dead vegetation. Slip bobbers with minnows or worm chunks are taking some nice fish. Crappies are schooling near the shallows and susceptible to live bait under floats.”
Jim at Minnow Jim’s says Mother Nature is taking her sweet time warming Nelson Lake, with warm sunny days but cool nights, and water temperatures now into the 60s.
“Walleye anglers should troll or cast on shorelines and weed edges, as well as try bottom bouncers with crawlers in and along weed beds.
“Largemouth bass are actively going after live bait, spinners, and dressed spoons.
“For crappies, drift with minnows and worms or cast small Beetle Spins, dressed jigs, and Gulp! Alive.
“There are a ‘few’ bluegills on beds. Try shallower, sunny bays with small jigs and hooks tipped with waxies, worms, small leeches, and crawler pieces, working your way out to surrounding waters.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is full, with water temperatures in the high 60s.
“Muskies are hitting, but by no means a feeding frenzy. We are on the borderline between small and big bait seasons. Throw smaller walk the dog baits, spinners, and topwaters, typical for this time of year.
“Walleyes are in weeds, but will soon head to summer patterns. Use minnows and leeches for live bait and Flicker Shads, Husky Jerks, and plastic minnows for artificials. If you do not see walleye around shallow weeds, try deeper brush.
“The northern pike bite is strong on suckers and chubs, but try spinners and spoons, with the west side always the better choice. Register your pike at the shop to get Pike Improvement Project raffle tickets.
“Crappie fishing is difficult, with minnows and Gulp! baits the best choice. Some anglers are catching bigger crappies in brush piles and cribs in 15-20 feet, while others are catching fish shallow and still with spawn. Try both locations and see what works best.”
Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says that depending on where you are looking, water temperatures range from the mid 50s to low 60s.
“Many smallmouth bass are still making their way into the shallows and combined with the fish that are already there, this will make for some great fishing over the next few weeks. A simple jig and grub has been. A 5-inch Yamamoto power grub on a small jig is the best presentation.
“Anglers pulling crawler harnesses are catching a few walleyes around Brush Point.
“Trollers working deeper water are catching some big lake trout, but there is still some action high in the water column so there are many options for near-shore and off-shore trolling.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the curious case of Lost Land Lake crappies.
“Recruitment is a fisheries term for the number of new fish coming into a population in a given year through natural reproduction and sometimes stocking. For many species, recruitment is relatively consistent from year to year. Crappies, however, have a ‘hard to manage’ reputation throughout their range in North America, primarily due to a unique natural tendency – crappie recruitment is often highly erratic.
“A crappie population in a lake might go several years with minimal recruitment of new fish, but then, when conditions are right, pull off a huge year class. The challenge is that in lakes where this happens – and it does not happen in all lakes – some year classes are large enough that the competition for food is fierce, leading to slow crappie growth. In Sawyer County, Lost Land Lake provides a very good example of this phenomenon.
“In 2014, the Hayward Fish Team collected some crappie from Lost Land and determined their ages. Surprisingly, 50 percent of the crappies were from the same 2010 year class, a class abundant enough that they were not growing very fast. In 2018, crews collected more crappie samples and that 2010 year class, now 8 years old, was even more dominant in the population, making up an estimated 76 percent of the lake’s crappie population and still growing very slowly.
“Effectively managing for bigger crappie actually means preventing these very large year classes from occurring so that crappie growth can be adequate to get them to bigger sizes. This means maintaining an abundant predator population that will thin out crappie year classes early in their life and one reason for the repeated walleye stocking of Lost Land Lake in recent years.
“Time will tell if this strategy is successful, or if another monster crappie year class will pop up soon.”
To gather public comment on its draft trout management plan, the DNR is hosting a meeting Wednesday, June 5, from 6-8 p.m., at the Spooner DNR Service Center. The plan is available for review on the DNR website and the DNR will accept comments at the meeting and on its website through July 5. For more information, search “draft trout management plan” on the DNR website or call (715) 635-2101.
Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies, Inc. welcomes the public to attend its meeting Tuesday, June 4, at Flat Creek Eatery. Admission is free. The general meeting begins at 7 p.m. This month’s featured guest is John Myhre, well-known long-time local guide and radio host of Wisconsin Northland Outdoors. Myhre’s presentation, “Demystifying Fishing Electronics,” will cover depth finders, GPS, down-scan, and side-scan imaging. Anglers who pursue any species will leave the meeting with a much better understanding of their boat’s electronics. People interested in becoming a new member of Muskies Inc. can purchase a half-price membership at the meeting. For more information, call Mike Persson (715) 634-4543.
Muskies are on the move for the early season, but currently it is mostly small fish. As such, go with a variety of small to mid-size bucktails, spinners, swimbaits, and topwaters.
Walleye anglers are catching fish still hanging around shallow spawning areas out to more than 20 feet, depending on the water and the time. Look for fish in various depths on shorelines, weeds, weed edges, weed beds, and brush. Jigs with minnows and leeches, crawlers on Lindy and split shot rigs, Flicker Shads, Husky Jerks, and plastic minnows can all produce action at certain times.
Northern pike continue to be very active in shallow to mid-depth weeds and around panfish concentrations. Anglers are catching fish on spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, and stickbaits, and suckers when available.
Bass action is still slow, with most anglers having success in the shallows with spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, and live bait. Smallmouth bass are apparently very quiet – or fishing is very, very good and no one is talking!
Crappie fishing is a challenge due to weather fronts moving them in and out of the shallows. Reports indicate some have spawned and some have not, with fish in depths from very shallow out to 20 feet. Look for weeds, brush, cribs, and similar habitat. Fish crappie minnows, worms, plastics, and Gulp! baits on jigs and plain hooks under slip bobbers, or cast Beetle Spins and hair jigs.
Bluegills are moving toward the shallows with the water warming, though it is warming slowly. Nighttime lows in the 30s the past two nights are not expediting that warming! Search shallow water and adjacent mid-depths until you find the fish. Best baits include waxies, worms, crawler chunks, and leeches on small jigs, teardrop, and plain hooks.
June 5: DNR trout management plan meeting – Spooner DNR Service Center; 6-8 p.m. (715-635-2101).
Through June 14: Smallmouth bass season catch and release only.
June 15: Northern zone smallmouth bass season goes to daily bag limits. (See regs).
June 20-23: 70th Annual Musky Festival (715-634-8662).
June 21-23: Hayward Lions Fishing Contest (715-558-6251).
June 22: Hayward Outfitters Demo Day on Lake Hayward (715-266-2990).
June 23: Hayward Bass Club Round Lake Open; 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (715-699-1015).
July 11-13: Heart of the North Rodeo – Washburn County Fairgrounds in Spooner (800-367-3306).
July 18-21: 46th Annual LCO Honor the Earth Pow Wow (715-634-8934).
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).