By: Steve Suman
The forecast for most of this week includes warm (to warmer) temperatures and clear skies – except for chances of showers Wednesday, July 4… Well, of course. That is only one day out of the week, however, and “sometimes” the forecasts are wrong. It is summer – get out and enjoy all the North Woods has to offer!
“Fishing is generally consistent,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “with bug hatches, fish hatches, and weather changes the major variables.
“Musky anglers report seeing fish and many follows, but few hook-ups. Use small to mid-size bucktails and plastics with slow retrieves.
“Walleye action is hit and miss, with anglers using jigs and minnows, leeches, and crawlers on spinner rigs. The best time is very early morning and late afternoon into dark when fish come shallow to feed. During the day, fish deeper weeds, humps, and rocks.
“Largemouth bass and northern pike are in shallow to mid-depths. Try spinnerbaits, plastic worms, jigging wacky style baits, and casting topwaters over weeds and lily pads. Smallmouth are on rocky points and gravel areas feeding on crayfish. Crayfish color plastics and crankbaits will take some fish.
“Larger panfish are in weeds in 7-12 feet. Smaller fish in the shallows are fun for younger anglers. Crappie minnows under slip bobbers work best bait, but try small tube jigs vertically jigged or under slip bobbers.”
“Musky action is improving, with most action on bucktails and topwaters, but try jerkbaits as well. Focus on shallow weed edges and bars. The trolling bite should start as the water warms.
“Walleye action is good, with better action on the deep, clear lakes. Leeches on slip bobbers or weedless jigs in deeper weeds are getting some bites, as is trolling crawler harnesses and crankbaits.
“Bass probably provide the best bite. Largemouth are in and near weeds and hard cover, with wacky worms and topwaters your best choices. Smallmouth action is getting better for anglers fishing rocky flats and bars with drop-shot rigs and topwaters.
“There is a good panfish bite as fish school along weed edges and bogs. Use leaf worms, waxies, and small plastics.”
Jim at Minnow Jim’s says Nelson Lake walleye anglers are catching fish with leeches and minnows on jigs or under slip bobbers.
“Fish near sand bars, drop-offs, and rocky shorelines, or troll the river channel with stickbaits.
“For largemouth and northern pike, cast in or near weed beds and lily pads with wacky type set-ups, leggy plastics, floating frogs, and spinnerbaits. Float sucker minnows while casting for northerns.
“Crappies are in and around stumps, cribs, and bogs. Use Beetle Spins or tip dressed jigs with live bait or Gulp! Alive. For bluegills, use waxies and dressed jigs tipped with worms or crawler chunks.”
Mike at Jenk’s says musky fishing is good on the Chippewa Flowage.
“Anglers report seeing more high 20s and low 30s fish than in previous years. During early morning and evening hours, cast bucktails, spinnerbaits, and topwaters into shallower areas. Troll deep cover during midday hours.
“Walleyes are in deeper brush during the day; at night, fish weed edges and breaklines in 6-12 feet. Leeches are the bait of choice and Northland Weed-Weasel jigs are popular.
“Northern pike action is solid, mostly for smaller fish. For larger pike, the west end is your best bet.
“Smallmouth bass are active on shallow stumps and rocks on the east side, hitting wacky worms, imitation craws, and spinnerbaits. As surface temperatures increase, try crawlers on cribs.
“Crappies are quiet, but anglers are catching some fish, though not in large numbers. Most are using crappie minnows, Crappie Scrubs, Gulp!, and Mini-Mites. During the day, work deep weeds and brush. Start bog fishing about 8 p.m. and try various depths under the bog.”
Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says that despite the rust colored water, the bite is still on for most Chequamegon Bay fish species.
“The cold front slowed the smallmouth bite, but action picked right up again and anglers are catching fish on flies, plastics, and live bait. There is still some clean water on the west side of Long Island, but be aware that can change with the very strong currents. Walleye anglers are trolling stickbaits and crankbaits over shallow weed beds with some success.
“Trout and salmon trollers are doing well from Long Island to Outer Island. Much of that water cleared up, but if there are mudlines that is always a good starting place. Most trollers are running spoons off Dipsey Divers, lead core, and downriggers, and try the new rattling salmon spoon for the dirty water conditions.
“Anglers fishing the Sioux River with dry flies are doing well on both brook and rainbow trout.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter describes chub nesting sites and methods.
“Observant anglers wading in small streams might have noticed a chub nest, even if they did not know what it was.
“Both creek chubs and hornyhead chubs (that is their actual name) build spawning nests out of gravel. The male does the building and both the method he uses and the size of the nest are remarkable.
“The male chub carries small pebbles in his mouth to the nest site, piling them up to create a ‘little’ mound that can be up to 3 feet long and 6 inches tall. That may not seem too impressive, but remember that these are minnows with an average length of about 6-7 inches. This construction is similar to a human making a rock pile 6 feet tall and 36 feet long by placing the stones by hand – or by mouth!
“If the female chub is impressed with the nest, she will come and mate with the male, at which time the male actually wraps himself around the female to fertilize the eggs. The eggs then sink into the spaces between the pebbles where they are protected from predators until they hatch.”
Muskies remain somewhat passive – at least a good portion of them – but the bite is improving. Concentrate your efforts on shallower weeds, weed edges, bars, and points, or troll over deep cover. Baits producing the most fish interest include bucktails, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, gliders, plastics, topwaters, and trolled stickbaits.
Walleye fishing is fair to very good, with the best success on large, clear lakes. The best fishing times are very early morning and late afternoon/evening hours into dark, primarily in 12 feet and shallower. During the day, concentrate on deep weeds, weed edges, rocks, humps, brush, bars, breaklines, and river channels, and troll over deeper cover. Leeches on jigs and under slip bobbers, crawlers on spinner harnesses, jigs and minnows, and stickbaits will all catch walleyes.
Northern pike action is strong around shallow to mid-depth weeds, weed beds, lily pads, and wherever there are concentrations of panfish. Most baits are working, with the top producers spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, topwaters, minnows, and northern suckers. Work bigger baits in deeper water for trophy pike.
Largemouth bass are very active and can be a trip saver. Look for largemouth around shallow to mid-depth weeds, wood, rock, and lily pads. Best baits include plastic worms in various riggings, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, weedless swim baits, and topwaters.
Smallmouth bass action is good and getting better. Target rocky flats, points, bars, and gravel, as well as cribs and stumps. The most productive baits include plastics – particularly worms, wacky worms, crankbaits, and crayfish in crayfish colors – crawlers, spinnerbaits, drop-shot rigs, and topwaters.
Crappie fishing is fair to good. Look for fish from 8 feet and out on weeds, weed edges, brush, bogs, stumps, and cribs. Top baits include crappie minnows, waxies, Mini-Mites, Gulp! baits, tubes, and plastics on jigs and/or under slip bobbers, and Beetle Spins.
Bluegill fishing is good to very good in weeds and around bogs out to 14 feet for larger fish and in the shallows for plentiful numbers of small ‘gills. Waxies, worms/crawler pieces, leaf worms, leeches, small minnows, tubes, and plastics work well on jigs, teardrops, and plain/dressed hooks fished with or without bobbers.
July 1: Training dogs by pursuing bear allowed through August 31 (see regs).
July 5-7: Heart of the North Rodeo, Spooner (800-367-3306).
July 19-21: 59th Annual Lumberjack World Championships (715-634-2484).
July 19-22: 45th Annual LCO Honor the Earth Pow Wow (715-634-8934).
July 20-22: Birchwood Lions Club Bluegill Festival (800-236-2252).
July 28: Campfire Cookout, Flambeau River State Forest, Connors Lake picnic area, noon (715-332-5271).
Through July 31: Illegal to run unleashed dogs on DNR lands and FWPAs (see regs for exceptions).
August 1: Application deadline: Fall turkey; bobcat, fisher, and otter; Upriver Winnebago sturgeon spearing; Sharp-tailed grouse (season under review).
August 11: Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday party celebration, Flambeau River State Forest, Connors Lake picnic area, noon (715-332-5271).
August 13-16: Antlerless deer tags (where available) for regular DMUs go on sale.
August 18: Fall turkey permits remaining after drawing go on sale. Check availability.
August 21: Deadline to transfer Class A bear license.
August 31: Bear dog training by pursuing bear closes.