Monday and Tuesday started this week in fine fashion, possible rain showers through Friday, with a sunny Thursday, lows in the 40s, and highs in the 60s. Keep rainwear handy, though with some luck you will not have to use it!
“May is surely the best fishing month,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “despite cool temperatures and rains.
“Anglers are catching fish using various tactics, but downsizing and slow presentations are the key until temperatures warm. Trolling will take some fish, but this is a great time to cast, jig, and drift for active fish.
“For bigger walleyes, slow retrieve crankbaits in shallower areas, especially early and late in the day. Jigs and minnows in deeper water also work well. Look for stream inlets and rock and gravel areas.
“Northern pike are cruising shallow and mid-depths looking for panfish. Jigs/minnows, spinnerbaits, and crankbaits will take some fish.
“Largemouth bass are quiet, but walleye anglers report catching smallmouth bass – and smallmouth season is catch and release until June 15.
“This is a great time for big crappies. Seek out the warmest water areas you can find. Panfish are congregating near shallow, decaying vegetation. A bobber, split-shot, and small hook with live bait will do well.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage full and the water temperature is 58-60 degrees.
“Walleye fishing is decent, though size is a challenge, with anglers catching many 13- to 14.5-inch fish. Larger, legal walleyes are near brushy and rocky/gravel bottom areas in 18-20 feet. Minnows and leeches remain the live baits of choice, with the best artificials Flicker Shads, Husky Jerks, and plastic minnows with rattle or darter jigs.
“Northern pike hit live bait more consistently than artificials, but live bait for pike is a bit scarce. If you use live bait, take some back-up spinnerbaits and spoons. Tinsel Tails and Silver Minnows are good alternatives, and working Whopper Ploppers and Choppos surface baits over shallow weeds might do well. Fish on the west side for good pike action.
“Crappies are moving shallower, but are finicky and not yet spawning. They will probably be on the beds this week. Crappie minnows, Crappie Scrubs, Gulp! baits, and Mini-Mites are producing the most success.”
Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says if Chequamegon Bay anglers can work in a dry day this week they should be pleasantly surprised, as fishing was very productive last week.
“Smallmouth bass are moving into the shallows in good numbers and starting to pick out their bedding sites. Northern pike and walleye are also feeding in the shallows.
“Anglers flatline trolling stickbaits from Long Island out toward the Islands are still catching coho, brown trout, splake, and an occasional lake trout.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses ‘the fish of 10,000 casts.’
“Every serious angler in Wisconsin has heard muskies referred to as ‘The fish of 10,000 casts.’ That phrase sounds nice, and conveys the rarity of catching a musky and all the hard work an angler must put into the experience, but is 10,000 casts an accurate number?
“To explore that question, I researched how much time it takes a musky angler for an ‘average’ cast. This included watching videos of amateur and professional musky anglers using various lures and taking notes on how many seconds it took for a complete cast, including a figure 8.
“After obtaining a decent sample size, the average time for a musky cast was 26.5 seconds. Using that number, we can estimate it would take the average angler about 74 hours of fishing to make 10,000 casts! According to creel survey data primarily from the northern part of the state, 74 hours is considerably longer than the average amount of fishing time it takes anglers in Wisconsin to catch a musky.
“For A2 (high-quality action) lakes, it takes an average of 22 fishing hours, which is ‘only’ 2,989 casts. For A1 (high-quality trophy) lakes, it takes an average of 40 fishing hours, which is 5,434 casts. In both scenarios, the expected number of casts before catching a musky is far less than 10,000.
“Now in no way do I advocate changing the nickname to ‘The fish of just over 5,000 casts’ – ‘The fish of 10,000 casts’ has a nice ring to it and symbolically matches the difficulty of catching these legendary fish.
“Perhaps these statistics will give the average angler some hope that the big bite they are waiting for is not as far away as previously thought. Just keep casting!”
Hunters interested in applying for an elk harvest tag for the 2019 fall hunting season have until May 31 to submit an application. Only Wisconsin residents may apply, the application fee is $10, and the license for drawing winners costs $49. For more information, search “elk” on the DNR website and visit www.rmef.org/wisconsin.
Hunters with disabilities sponsors and landowners interested in hosting an Oct. 5-13 gun hunt for deer have until June 1 to submit their applications. Landowners should own at least 60 acres of land and must allow at least three disabled hunters to use their land during the hunt. For more information, search “disabled deer hunt” on the DNR website.
Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum in Spooner will host its 11th annual free Canoe and Wooden Boat Show this Saturday, May 25, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., to celebrate Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Day. The event includes museum tours, exhibit hall open house, canoe workshop, silent auction, canoe raffle, and live music, food, and beverages available in the beer garden. There is a wide array of antique canoes, boats, and canoe related materials on display, with collectors, builders, and canoeing enthusiasts bringing their gems to display, discuss, sell, or trade. The silent auction includes a CLC Jimmy Skiff with a sail rigging kit; 1942 Old Town Guide restoration project; aluminum Grumman canoe complete with original sailing rig; antique wood frame canvas duck boat; 16-foot Trailblazer Explorer Canoe built in the 1960s from a plan published in Boy’s Life Magazine; and a 14-foot cedar canvas solo canoe. The top raffle prize is the winner’s choice of two 15-foot cedar/canvas tandem canoes built in the WCHM canoe shop. For more information, call (715) 635-2479 or visit www.WisconsinCanoeHeritageMuseum.org.
Flambeau River State Forest will host an Open House Friday, May 24, and invites the public to come visit with staff, ask questions, drink some coffee, and enjoy a cookie! Lake of the Pines Campground is open and Connors Lake Campground opens Thursday May 23. To reserve campsites, visit www.dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/camping/index.html or call (888) 947-2757. The ATV/UTV trails opened May 15. For more information, call (715) 332-5271.
Fishing is good for most species, though the weather is not cooperating. This week will present some challenges, but also a few windows of opportunity. Take advantage of them! Muskie season in the Northern Zone opens this Saturday, May 25. Smallmouth bass fishing in the Northern Bass Zone is catch and release until June 15.
Walleye action is fair to good, with anglers doing well on some waters. Depending on the lake and time of day, look for fish on hard bottoms with rock and gravel, and brush, out to 22 feet. Concentrate on shallower areas during low light hours in early morning and late afternoon into dark. Minnows and leeches on jigs and split shot rigs work well, but anglers are also catching fish on crankbaits, jerkbaits, and minnow baits.
Northern pike are active – much to the chagrin of some walleye and crappie anglers! Look for pike in shallow to mid-depth weeds and around any panfish concentrations. Larger live bait such as northern and walleye suckers and big shiners work best, but availability is low at this time. Jigs and minnows work, as walleye and crappie anglers will attest, but spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, crankbaits, and topwaters are all effective pike baits.
Largemouth & Smallmouth Bass:
Bass action is getting off to a slow start with the cold water so far this spring, but the water is warming. Remember that smallmouth bass season in the Northern Bass Zone is catch and release only until June 15.
Crappies are slowly moving shallow for spawning, but the weekend weather did nothing to encourage them. Continue to check around shallow warmer bays and weed cover. Baits of choice include crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs (plain, dressed) fished under slip bobbers.
Bluegill fishing is fair to good, but will turn great any day now when the ‘gills hit their spawning beds in warm, shallow water. They will hit nearly anything, but try waxies, worms, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks, with/without bobbers.
May 22-23: Fishing Has No Boundaries Kid’s Event at Nelson Lake (715-634-3185).
May 24: Flambeau River State Forest Open House at Forest Headquarters (715-332-5271).
May 25: Callahan Lake Resort Northern Pike Challenge (715-462-3244).
June 1-2: Free Fun Weekend – free admission to all state parks, forests, and trails.
Through June 14: Smallmouth bass season catch and release only.
June 15: Northern zone smallmouth bass season goes to daily bag limits. (See regs).
Through July 31: Illegal to allow unleashed dogs to run on DNR lands and FWPAs (see regs).
May 15-21: Period E.
May 22-28: Period F.