by Steve Suman
We have a great week ahead! Sunshine, upper 70 highs, low 50 lows, and chances are 80 percent against rain. If the hot, humid weather has limited your outdoor activities, this week is the time to let loose and have some summer fun!
August 1 application deadline reminder: The application deadline to apply for bobcat, fisher, and Upriver Winnebago system sturgeon spearing permits is August 1. The DNR changed otter to a bag limit/quota system to simplify regulations with safeguards ensuring abundant river otter population.
“Last week, anglers on the Quiet Lakes experienced the first hints of the dog days of summer,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “Cooler nights and daytime temperatures dropped water temperatures into the 70s and most anglers report somewhat better success. Bite windows are certainly a day-to-day thing and it is important to switch tactics to find what works. Food is plentiful and fish are picky. Most success is on live bait rigs in mid depths.
“Musky fishing remains slow due to the warm water temperatures. Most musky anglers choose to leave the fish alone until water temperatures drop into to the upper 70s or cooler. They are still seeing fish and getting follows, but few takers, though catching some smaller muskies.
“Walleyes are near deeper water adjacent to mid-lake humps, and drifting live bait in 15-20 feet produces some success. Do not be surprised if you hook some smallmouth as well. Late afternoon into dark are the best times.
“Largemouth bass are hiding in shallower vegetation near shorelines and this is topwater time. Best fishing is in early morning and late evening. During the day, fish shaded areas.
“Panfish are an easy target in deep weeds for anglers using soft plastics and worm chunks. Crappies are roaming weedlines looking for minnows. Try slow-trolling small Beetle Spins and Twister Tails. Do not be surprised to hook up with a northern pike.”
Trent at Hayward Bait says recent scattered storms and hot days threw a few curve balls, but the bite is still good.
“Fish moved deeper last week, but are moving back to more normal depths for this time of year, though this move can cause slow days. Lures and presentation are unique from lake to lake.
“Musky fishing is slow due to warm water and air temperatures and night fishing is best. Crankbaits and bucktails produce the most action and downsizing can be effective during these dog days of summer. During this heat, minimize fish handling and leave the fish in the water when removing hooks.
“Walleyes are in 20-25 feet. Trolling is popular, but many anglers report success with Lindy Rigs, deep diving crankbaits, and swimbaits.
“Northern pike are in shallow lily pads out to 20 feet, on the bottom, and taking crankbaits, swimbaits, and jigs.
“Largemouth bass moved back along shallow shorelines. Cast buzzbaits, poppers, and worms around docks, travel routes, and humps.
“Smallmouth bass are on humps, points, and drop-offs, with bass jigs, Ned rigs, and Whopper Ploppers working best.
“Crappies are scattered and most anglers do best in 15-20 feet, though some as shallow as 5-10 feet. Chicken jigs, Tattle-Tails, small swimbaits, and topwaters are all effective.
“Bluegills are also a bit scattered and anglers are catching fish in 4-10 feet on Tattle-Tails, worms, and flies.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage remains at full pool, with a water temperature of 73-75 degrees.
“Musky fishing success is a combination of casting and trolling. During daytime hours, trolling is more effective, with Jakes, Grandmas, Cranes, and Mattlocks, in particular, all solid choices. During low light hours, move from trolling to casting. At dawn and dusk, bucktails and surface baits are effective. When casting, stay over deeper water and cast in shallow, but do not limit yourself to only a portion of the musky habitat.
“The walleye bite is decent for mid-summer and water temperatures finally cooled so that deeper areas are not the only option. Some higher temperatures this week makes deeper cover still very viable in daytime. During dawn and dusk, fish weed edges and breaklines in 6-12 feet. Leeches are the go-to live bait, followed by crawlers. Crankbaits such as Shad Raps and Flicker Shads trolled over deeper cover during daylight hours are producing decent results.
“Northern pike are active in weed beds on the far west side, hitting Daredevles and Tinsel Tails.
“Smallmouth bass action remains strong on Ned Rigs and Whopper Ploppers fished on shallow rocks and stumps.
“Crappie action is still decent on the bogs at night, but check brush piles and cribs off deeper shorelines. Minnows and plastics such as Crappie Scrubs and Stinger Shads, and Crappie Nibbles are effective.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses environmental DNA and fisheries management.
“Genetic tools are becoming increasingly common in fisheries management. Anglers most often associate genetic work with understanding the strain or stock of fish present in a waterbody, but managers use genetics in some other exciting ways as well.
“Researchers are now measuring ‘eDNA’ – the ‘e’ stands for environmental – in waterbodies to learn more about what fish are present without ever having to actually see the fish. Basically, eDNA is small pieces of genetic material, sloughed off the fish, which is present in miniscule amounts in the water. Researchers can take water samples from a waterbody and use laboratory methods to measure eDNA.
“One of the most basic uses of eDNA is determining if a species is present in a waterbody. This is particularly useful for rare species or those that are hard to capture. Survey crews might spend considerable time and effort trying to determine the presence of a rare species by attempting to capture one with traditional methods such as nets and electrofishing. Now, we can obtain these same results by collecting a few jars of water.
“Managers have used this method to monitor potential invasion of Asian carp into the Great Lakes. Collecting water samples is much more efficient than searching massive waterbodies for a fish that may not even be present.
“As eDNA advances, it also has potential to tell us about the abundance of a given type of fish in a waterbody. Expect to hear more about this method in future fisheries management initiatives.”
Hayward Chapter-Muskies Inc. has canceled both its Kids Fishing Day scheduled for Aug. 2, and its 43rd annual fall tournament scheduled for Oct. 2-4, due to issues concerning the COVID virus.
Northwoods Bass Anglers will host its Big Chip Open Tournament for largemouth and smallmouth bass on the Chippewa Flowage Saturday, August 8, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. The Landing Resort on Hwy CC is tournament headquarters. The tournament is open to two-person teams and individuals competing as a team, and limited to 40 boats. The entry fee $100 per team. There is a 90-percent payback, five cash prize winners, and first place pays $1600. For more information and entry form, email Skip Sommerfeldt at email@example.com or call (715) 762-1833.
Fishing for most species has been good despite the warm weather, but this week should offer near-perfect fishing conditions. Water temperatures cooled and some species are returning to shallower areas. Look for them deep, shallow, and in transition.
Musky fishing remains slow due to the warm water. Anglers report sightings and follows, but few hook-ups. Night fishing shallower weed beds is most productive. Troll large stickbaits over deeper water during the day. In the evening, cast bucktails, crankbaits, and topwaters. Know how to make quick and safe releases during warm water conditions.
Walleye fishing is good for this time of year, with early morning and late evening into dark offering the best success. During daytime, fish deeper weeds, humps, and breaklines in 15-30 feet. In low light, work similar cover and shoreline weeds out to 12 feet. Leeches and crawlers on Lindy Rigs and under slip bobbers, as well as cast and trolled swimbaits, crankbaits, Shad Raps, and Flicker Shads, are all catching fish.
Northern pike fishing is good to very good, with fish holding on weeds, weedlines, and lily pads in depths from very shallow to more than 20 feet. Minnows, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, crankbaits, swimbaits, and Beetle Spins are all working. Try bigger baits in deeper water for trophy pike.
Largemouth action is very good, with best success in early morning and late evening hours. During the day, look for areas offering protective cover. Shallower weedlines, shorelines, humps, brush, travel routes, lily pads, and slop can all hold bass just waiting for a meal opportunity. Baits of choice include buzzbaits, spinners, plastics, poppers, and topwaters.
Smallmouth action is very good on hard bottoms and structure such as humps, points, rocks, drop-offs, and stumps in a variety of depths. Swim jigs, plastics in an assortment of forms and functions, Ned Rigs, Whopper Ploppers, and live bait are all getting the attention of smallmouth.
Crappie fishing is good to very good around weeds, weedlines, brush, bogs, and cribs in 5-22 feet. The most productive baits include crappie minnows, panfish leeches, plastics, chicken jigs, Tattle-Tails, Mini-Mites, Crappie Scrubs, Stinger Shads, Crappie Nibbles, Twister Tails, poppers, and Beetle Spins.
Bluegill fishing is good to very good, with fish dispersed in and along weedlines in 4-20 feet. Traditional bluegill baits such as waxies, worms, crawler chunks, plastics, Tattle-Tails, Mini-Mites, poppers, and flies are all working.
Through July 31: Illegal to allow unleashed dogs to run on DNR lands and FWPAs (see regs).
Aug. 2: Hayward Chapter-Muskies Inc. Kids Fishing Day – Canceled – (715-634-4543).
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).
Aug. 15: Fall bonus wild turkey harvest authorizations go on sale at 10 a.m.
Sept. 4-6: 28th Annual Exeland Trout Fest (715-943-2242).
Sept. 9-12: Lake Chippewa Flowage Musky Hunt (filled).
Oct. 2-4: Hayward Chapter-Muskies Inc. 43rd annual fall tournament – Canceled – (715-634-4543).
Oct. 8-10: Treeland’s 5th Annual Muskie Fly Fishing Championship. Limited to first 100 entries (715-462-3874).