This week (says the forecast) should be warm and sunny, with a few chances of showers. Foliage colors are turning quickly following frosts last week. This is a beautiful time to recreate and sightsee in the North Woods!
“Changing weather and falling water temperatures on the Quiet Lakes means more fish activity,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “The best bite is in late afternoon for anglers casting weed edges near vegetation, drop-offs, and over rock/gravel areas in 10-13 feet.
“Muskies are showing some life, with various baits and suckers producing fish, as are topwaters in the shallows during early morning and late evening hours. Sucker users should call ahead, as suppliers say availability could be ‘iffy.’
“Walleyes are finally coming around, with the best baits 3-inch grub tails, diving crankbaits, and minnows and worms on 1/8-oz. jigs. If you find fish, stick to the location, as fish are schooling again.
“Northern pike and largemouth bass are hitting spinnerbaits and topwaters in and around weeds and under structure.
“Crappies are schooling and moving around the lakes. Electronics help locate fish faster and enable angers to stay on them. Crappies minnows, small plastics under slip bobbers and small grub tail plastics are working well. Small panfish are active in weeds, with bigger ones in weed drop-off areas in 5-12 feet.”
Trent at Hayward Bait says fish are moving into fall patterns with the dropping water temperatures.
“Muskies are active out to 10 feet, holding near and over vegetation, drop-offs, and points.
“Walleyes are on rock and gravel bottoms in 20-30 feet. The bite is tough, but blade baits, Hyper Glides, and lipless crankbaits are working. The best times are before sunrise and after sunset.
“Northern pike are near or over vegetation, drop offs, and points out to 10 feet.
“Largemouth bass are staging near points, drop offs, and vegetation in 8-12 feet, with spoons, jigs, soft plastics, and spinnerbaits all working well.
“Smallmouth bass are on rock and gravel bottoms in 15-20 feet. Walleye suckers, bass jigs, Texas rigs, and topwaters are all producing success.
“Crappies are not far off bottom in 15-25 feet. Work structure on main basins, bowls, points, and cribs. Jigs and soft plastics work well. Waxies and crappie minnows are good additions to any jig.
“Bluegills are in 10-20 feet, also near bottom. Waxies, worms, jigs, and lipless crankbaits such as Kender K-Rips are good choices.”
Jim and Cathy at Minnow Jim’s say cooling water is encouraging the bite on Nelson Lake.
“Walleye anglers should fish the river channel and other deeper water. Troll stickbaits and harnesses with crawlers and minnows, cast Beetle Spins, or still-fish dressed jigs with live bait.
“Northern pike and largemouth bass are starting to beef-up with the fall-like weather. Use large minnows if you can find them, or try tossing large stickbaits, bucktails, and spinnerbaits.
“Crappies are again active. Jig and bobber-fish with minnows and worms on small dressed jigs, and consider adding a spinner blade.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage water level is down 2-3 feet, with the water temperature in the low 60s.
“Musky fishing is solid on a variety of tactics, with most action on bigger baits. Big bucktails and rubber baits, topwaters on calm water, and trolling deeper edges are all effective, and the sucker bite is improving. Muskies are sitting just outside weed edges and along deeper breaklines.
“Walleye action is slow and with no rhyme or reason to fish locations. Anglers are catching fish, primarily on bigger fatheads and suckers, but have to work for them. Use your electronics and look for walleye food sources.
“Northern pike are active in the weeds on spinnerbaits and sucker minnows. Concentrate fishing on the west side.
“Smallmouth bass action is consistent on Ned Rigs and crawlers on and near stumps, rock piles, and cribs. As we move into fall, sucker minnows can be very effective.
“Crappies are active, but scattered, and not yet schooled up or roaming in schools. You can find them on cribs, deep weed humps, and brush piles.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the species anglers prefer in Wisconsin.
“In 2014-15, social and fisheries scientists used an angler diary study to better understand Wisconsin anglers. By sampling anglers to learn what they fish for, where they go, and what they catch and keep, we can get statewide estimates.
“This study revealed interesting patterns in the fish that Wisconsin anglers target. The most popular species is – ‘any.’ That is, many anglers do not go out for a specific species, but are instead happy to catch whatever bites. This non-specific angling makes up 23.9 percent of all fishing hours in Wisconsin.
“The most targeted species is walleye, consisting of 16 percent of all angling hours – an estimated 1.8 million hours.
“Bluegill is the number two species at 11.8 percent of all angling hours, followed by crappie at 8.8 percent, bass at 7.6 percent, northern pike at 6.2 percent, and musky with 4 percent of all angling hours.
“Species such as carp, sheepshead, and sucker show up as target species, too, though all at less than 1 percent of the total angling effort.
“Results such as these are interesting to both anglers and biologists, and can help management agencies understand where to better focus their time and resources.”
The DNR 2020 fall hunting and trapping seasons forecasts are available online at the following links: Deer; Bear; Upland Game Bird; Migratory Birds; and Furbearer Hunting and Trapping. For more information on the regulations and season dates, visit the DNR website.
Sales continue for bonus antlerless deer tags and fall turkey authorizations. Deer tags cost $12 for residents, $20 for nonresidents, and $5 for youth under age 12. Turkey authorizations cost $10 for residents and $15 for nonresidents.
This is the final year of the DNR’s three-year study of West Nile virus (WNV) in ruffed grouse. Hunters have submitted less than half of 1,000 kits distributed in 2018 and 2019 and biologists ask hunters to use leftover sampling kits to submit samples from ruffed grouse they harvest. Hunters who do not plan to fill leftover kits should provide the kits to friends who will fill them this fall. For instructions, check the “disease sampling” tab on the ruffed grouse webpage.
Flambeau River State Forest, spanning 90,000 acres of public lands, is making its ADA-accessible Elk Ridge yurt available exclusively to hunters from September 8 through May 29 for fall hunting seasons and spring turkey seasons.
The yurt is reservable year-round and requires advance reservations. It is available from May 30 through Labor Day for both hunting and non-hunting purposes, with access to hunter walking trails and a carry-in canoe/kayak launch. It accommodates up to six people and includes bunk beds, one ADA-accessible bunk, wood-burning stove, fire pit, game pole for processing, and more.
Funds for the yurt come from the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act (PR Act), derived from an excise tax on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment.
The Wisconsin deer hunter wildlife survey is helping the DNR develop a long-term database of deer hunter observation data for a better understanding of the abundance and distribution of deer and other wildlife species. The survey period is September 12 through January 3. Hunters record the hunting date; hours hunted; county; zone; land type; weather conditions; and type/number of animals observed, entering reports by smartphone, desktop, or mail. Please submit trail camera photos of cougar, lynx, moose, wolf, and wolverine to wildlife management. The DNR uses the data for wildlife abundance and distribution information. Annual results are in the Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey report.
Musky action is fair to decent and improving with the fall weather. Target weeds and weed edges, breaklines, drop-offs, and points in about 10 feet. Fish shallower cover in early mornings and late evenings. Bucktails, Bull Dawgs and other rubber baits, topwaters, and suckers are working best, with trolling stickbaits on weed edges also productive.
Walleye action is slow, but improving, for most anglers, with very early morning and after dark the most productive times. Concentrate on weeds edges, drop-offs, rock, and gravel in 8-30 feet. Hit shallower depths in low light hours. Baits of choice include walleye suckers, fatheads, crawlers, leeches, crankbaits, Beetle Spins, and trolled stickbaits.
Northern pike fishing is very good, with late afternoon hours offering best success. Fish are near weeds, weed edges, drop-offs, points, and concentrations of baitfish and panfish. Bucktails, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, stickbaits, northern suckers, and topwaters are all effective. Fish bigger baits deeper for trophy pike.
Largemouth bass fishing is good, with fish moving between shallow and deeper cover. Late afternoon offers the best bite. Look for them around weeds and weed edges, drop-offs, rock, gravel, and points in 6-15 feet. Best baits remain minnows, jigs, soft plastics, spinners, spinnerbaits, and topwaters.
Smallmouth bass action is going strong and late afternoon offers the best success. Fish are holding on weeds, rock, gravel, stumps, and cribs in 8-22 feet. Ned rigs, Texas rigs, plastics, topwaters, crawlers, and sucker minnows are all working well.
Crappie fishing is good when you find the scattered schools and move with them. Look for fish on weeds, cribs, humps, bowls, brush, basins, and points in mid-depths out to 28 feet. Top baits include crappie minnows, waxies, worms, plastics, and Gulp! baits fished on small jigs and plain hooks, with or without a bobber.
Bluegill fishing is good to very good. Find numerous small fish around weeds and other structure in shallower water; larger ‘gills are in 8-20 feet. Most are at the lower end of the water column, but check both ends – and the middle! Waxies, worms, crawler chunks, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs work well, fished with/without bobbers.
Sept. 16: Northern Zone goose season opened.
Sept. 19: Woodcock season opened.
Sept. 26: Northern Zone duck season opens.
Oct. 3-11: Hunters with disabilities gun deer hunt.
Oct. 8-10: Treeland’s 5th Annual Musky Fly Fishing Championship. Limited to first 100 entries (715-462-3874).
Oct. 10-11: Youth deer hunt.
Oct. 31: Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame closes for the season; reopens April 15 (715-634-4440).