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Friday, September 19, 2014

Fishing Report 9-19-14

Well gang the Musky are biting and the days are getting short. It is fall.

Water temps are in the mid 60's. The weeds are still very green, and thick on most lakes. Fishing  is picking up as the water cools.

Bass and pike continue to relate to shallow weeds. Weeds on shallow flats are being used by active fish a couple times a day to feed and as ambush points. There's lots of baitfish  swimming in the 3-8 foot depths, and the bass are feeding heavily. Floating minnow baits, grubs, jigworms or lipless crankbaits are catching these fish. On cooler, cloudy days, fishing tight to the weed clumps with shallow crankbaits, spinnerbaits and buzzbaits can be very good. Bigger fish can be caught flipping and pitching jigs to weed edges, around docks with deep water or near wood laydowns.

Musky are moving from the deeper water and are holding on the weedlines, an a great place to connect with a fish is an area where you find the combination of weeds and rock, near where deep and shallow water converge (ie points and bars that stretch out to deep water) Some nice fish are being moved off very shallow along rocks, especially later in the afternoons. As the daytime temps continue to cool down, expect the action to pick up dramatically. Gliders, swimbaits, bucktails and suckers on a quick strike rig have all been producing.

Bluegills are starting to pile up in weedy areas in 6-12 feet of water. Plastics tipped with wax worms are your best bets. Be ready to move in or out depending on conditions, but keepers will be a couple feet above the edges of deep structure. Expect the crappie to move in as the water temperature continues to drop, if the weather gets cool this week, areas with current will see some schools of nice crappies move in.

Walleye  are moving shallow in the morning and the evenings. Minnowbaits, shiners or suckers, or spinner harnesses have been producing. Look for the most active fish to be in 6-12 FOW early in the mornings and in 10-15 FOW during the day.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Back at it-Fishing Report 9-13-14

Sorry about last week gang...school starting up kept me very busy (for those who don't check in regularly, I teach journalism at UWM) and I didn't double check to make sure the report went up (I tried to send it in via my mobile)

Anyway...it very quickly became Fall. And as things go...so far, so good and remember some of the best fishing of the year is between now and the end of the season.

The cooler nights during the last week or so have really changed the conditions on local lakes. Water temps have dropped significantly, and you'll find some in the 60's on most lakes. The late algae blooms we had this season are clearing up quick as a result, and the baitfish numbers, which were thinner this year, are really starting to thin out as fish turn on for fall.

Bass fishing will remain really good for a couple weeks, then it will be time to put away the plastics and start fishing live bait for a trophy. Smallmouth (usually) go on a tear on our area lakes in the fall, and we're getting real close to that kickoff. For now... expect the fish to make a couple foraging runs a day, but if you're having trouble connecting with active fish, look for the in the deep water, adjacent to the shallow structure. Plastics, cranks and jigs will work, but as the days get shorter, live bait becomes a better option, especially for bigger fish. Leeches will still be good for a bit, but it is time to start using the biggest shiners you can find, or small suckers if you have to.

Walleye fishing is hasn't really started pick up on the area rivers, and fishing the area lakes has been slower than average for this time of year. I'd expect that to change real soon. On the area lakes, the fish will be anywhere there's baitfish around weeds or rock/weed transition areas in 8-12 or 15-22 feet of water. Fishing cranks and stickbaits around weeds works well for active fish, and if you get one out of a patch of isolated weeds, fish through the area very methodically.

Pike have been active in 10-22 feet of water along weed edges, points or sand/gravel transition areas. Spinners are always a solid option for pike, but as the water cools I usually switch back to crankbaits, especially wide wobbling deep divers in natural or red/white patterns. Jerkbaits can really shine right now, especially suspenders worked around weed clumps where there are visible baitfish hovering.

Musky fishing has been picking up, but is sure to get really good. Ditch the tree stand and/or your  goose blind nowis the time to start working for this years trophy. Gliders, bucktails and jerkbaits are all solid options for casting, and remember to keep a sucker out on a quick strike rig for lazy followers. Right now, look for the them to be using weeds in 12-15 feet of water or rocks in 8-12 feet of water. As the water cools, they'll follow the ciscos in, and that's when things start to get really interesting. Pewaukee has been giving a fair number of smaller fish (30-36"), and lots of guys are starting to see some bigger fish on Lac Labelle and Oconomowoc. I know Okauchee and North have guys fishing them, but I don't have a current report as of this morning...and I have heard nothing on Fowler.


Good Luck,
CT

Friday, August 29, 2014

Labor Day Weekend 2014- Fishing Report

Well gang, it looks to be a nice weekend to wrap up summer. The unstable conditions mean it is time to break out some live bait. Lindy, split shot and slip sinker rigs really shine under these conditions. Larger sized shiners, nightcrawlers and small suckers are your best options for gamefish.  Unless you're going for panfish, leave the fatheads at home this weekend.

On area lakes, bass fishing has been hot and cold depending on the conditions. Windy days are dramatically better than still days. Fish are using the weedlines in 10-15 feet of water, points and off shore structure in 6-10 feet of water, as well as the piers and the slop. Shallow fish can be taken on jigworms, skirted grubs, tubes or jig/chunk combos. Deeper fish are being taken on crankbaits, live bait rigs, slow rolling big spinnerbaits or by flipping the weededges with a heavy jig. The morning and evening is producing a topwater bite, especially over shallow flats with scattered weeds. Okauchee, School Section, Ashippun, Golden, Pine, Silver, Moose and Kessus have been the most consistent, but the bite has been pretty much the same from all of the area lakes. Key tip...fish are just about done with the rocks, so look for them to make a move out to deeper water for a week to 10 days.

Walleye fishing has been fair overall, but much, much better in the low light hours. Small jigs with live bait, or lindy rigs have been the best producers. A few fish are still being caught on spinner harness/bottom bouncer combos while trolling with electrics. Evening is the time to be fishing minnow baits around weeds for bigger fish. Pine, Oconomowoc, North, Lac Labelle and Lake Koshkonong have all been giving up walleyes.

Northern Pike continue to bite in the shallows. Buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, shallow diving square billed or lipless crankbaits are the best ways of catching these fish. Larger fish are still using the weedlines and are moving onto some deeper rocks and can be targeted with inline spinners, or using live bait like larger chubs, shiners or small suckers on a slip sinker rig. Vertically jigging structure in 22-28 feet with a jig/repear tail combo has caught a handful of nice fish, but the pattern has been inconsistent overall. Try Okauchee, Golden, Pine, Fowler,, Kessus, Pretty and Moose Lakes for pike.

Musky fishing has been slow, but steady. Lot's of people are starting to see some mid to high 30" fish, especially early and late in the day. Look for fish on or adjacent to mainlake structure that has easy access to deep water. Topwaters have still been catching a few fish, especiallyin the morning. Okauchee, Oconomowoc, Pewaukee, Lac Labelle, and Fowler are all producing to one degree or another right now, but the boat traffic is pushing the active fish into low-light/low activity periods.

Panfish are still using deeper water, suspending 12-16 feet down over deeper water, and drifters have been picking up some nice keepers. Some anglers are reporting some decent gills in weedy areas as shallow as eight feet, but most people out have reported the most consistent action along the weedlines in 12-18 feet of water. Tightlining with panfish leeches, leaf worms, or plastic/wax worm combos all have been productive.

Good Luck and Cheers,
CT

Friday, August 22, 2014

Fishing Report 8-22-14

Greetings,

Water levels vary from system to system, but weed growth is still very heavy, Water temps are in the low to mid 70's.

Panfish have slowed down over the last two weeks. Crappie and bluegill continue to bite along weedlines or suspended out over deep water, as well as in mid-depth weeds, but keepers have been hard to come by unless you're working deeper fish. Plastics tipped with live bait, tail hooked minnows and leafworms fished vertically or with slip bobbers will produce. Evenings have been better, as is typical for this time of year. (School Section, Lower Geneessee, Lower Nashotah, Forest and Golden)

Largemouth continue to run late summer patterns. Fish are feeding in short spurts throughout the day. On the hot sunny days, look for them around docks or slop, or out deep in 12-15 FOW. On the cooler cloudy days, look for active fish in sand/rock or rock/weed transitions in 4-8 feet. Topwater bite will be good, especially early in the morning. (Silver, Moose, Ashippun, Okauchee, Nagawicka, Garvin)

Smallmouth fishing has been spotty. If you can find some active fish, you can do well, but making that connection can be a tough nut to crack, especially on the hot days with little or no wind (like today). Look for fish around the edges of the shallow structure like rock bars or sand/rock transition areas. The fish will be deeper than you think they should be in most cases. Jigworms, grubs, minnowbaits and small white crankbaits can be dynamite, but don't skip the tubes and lipless crankbaits. On tough days, live bait rigging, especially with large shiners can save a day on the water.(Oconomowoc, Lac Labelle, Nagawicka, Pine and North)

Pike fishing has been slow, but steady. Lots of undersized fish are being caught in the shallow and mid-depth areas. I'd consider moving out deeper and using live bait on a slip sinker rig, trying to connect with active fish in 18-22 or 22-25 feet of water. (Okauchee, Nagawicka, North, School Section, Pretty and Kessus)

Walleye fishing has been entirely inconsistent lately. People still fishing at night are reporting some success off the deeper sand flat areas, but a few decent fish are being caught out of the shallow weeds very early in the morning using rapalas or similar minnow baits.  (North, Nagawicka, Pine and Oconomowoc.)

Musky are getting more active, but anglers are still reporting lots of lazy follows. Gliders, bulldogs and cow-girls have all produced limited action in the past week, but most of the fish are mid-30's to low 40 inch fish. Topwater is working just before the sun gets up and just after it goes down. As the water begins to cool, the action will pick up considerably. (Pewaukee, North, Okauchee, Lac Labelle Oconomowoc)

Good Luck,
CT

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Paul Smith's Column (8-17-14)

Paul Smith has a column in today's Journal-Sentinel on the DNR's new panfish research and proposal. There's some significant changes within the plan, especially if you are someone who has been targeting keeper sized panfish for a fair amount of time.

Panfish limits were fairly open when I was a kid. 50 Fish per guy-per day with just about any panfish or perch species counting towards the 50. I can remember going out with groups of guys and filling coolers of fish at night when I was a kid...(I especially remember having to clean those fish in the middle of the night)

The DNR has resources relevant to this discussion here and with research data here. It's probably worth your time to take a look if you regularly target panfish for the table.

The local informational meeting will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m on Thursday, September 4, at the Waukesha DNR Service Center, Room 151, 141 NW Barstow Road.

Update from the water 8-17-14

Ended up being a good week for my first week back in action.

Fished Okauchee on Wednesday.

Hit the water about 9am. Tried to fish some isolated rock piles looking for bass foraging for craws...caught one decent fish and a pair of snakes for the trouble.
Switched gears a bit, started fishing tight and deep in cover and went on a couple hour shooting spree...had a dozen+ mixed LM and SM..some on both sides of legal, but with three real quality fish mixed in. Also broke off a small musky.
Caught a couple more closer to the launch on the way back. Not rock-em/sock-em robots or anything, but a decent midday run.





Fished Oconomowoc Thursday for Musky.

Struck out, but had five follows between 1-8pm. Fish were using transition areas with bait fish nearby. Pulled a nice one up to the boat mid-afternoon on a mini-dawg, but just couldn't get the fish to commit on the figure eight. Looked to be a mid-40's in about 8 FOW.

Saw a couple of smaller fish after that, but about 4:45 we saw some gar feeding near where we were fishing. A big fish followed in a glider we worked through the area where the gar were busting minnows on the surface. Fish was high 40's, had it right up to the boat, but again a fairly lazy follow.

Fished Oconomowoc Friday for Bass.

Worked hard using one of my proven patterns. Started with a topwater approach and caught a couple of nice fish right away, but then made an adjustment and stayed on a quality bite for the rest of the morning. Slow and steady wins the race. Ended with a nice batch of LM + SM with multiple fish over 20."

Fished Lake X Saturday.

Lake X is my secret project lake right now. As usual, Lake X is a special underfished place, with just solid fishing for numbers and size of multiple gamefish. Yesterday was no different...30+ bass (14-19") and six pike (24-34") in just over three hours of fishing.

Good Luck Out There.

Cheers,
CT

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Fishing Report 8-13-14

Sorry for missing a week...I was out of town being a professor and out of commission after melting my back two weeks ago which had me on bed rest (and off the water) for a couple of days.

I was back at it today...and conditions are a bit hard to lock down. I fully expected to start pounding some fish up on the rocks, but really didn't get on any with consistency, so switched gears and fished tight (and I mean tight to cover) and pulled out a decent day. I think the cold front and unstable weather has the fish in a bit of a funk right now. You can still catch them, but you're going to have to slow down, get precise with your presentations, and recognize that it is the middle of August.

Panfish are still schooled up in deeper water. Crappies are tight to the weedlines in 12-15 and 18-20 FOW, but are suspending off the edge. Bluegills are still in tight schools in the deep part of the basins. Look for them 18-22 feet down over 30-50 FOW. If you're out with the kids, and want action (and smaller fish) docks and swim platforms near current are holding tons of potato chip sized fish right now.

Bass fishing seems to have slowed down a bit. This is a fairly typical thing for this run in August, especially on the down size of the full moon. The fish will make a transition to shallow water rock-weed transition areas to forage for craws over the next 10-12 days. I expected this to be working today, but I saw no evidence that it was happening yet while on the water today (8-13). Fishing tight to cover, punching slop or skipping tight to docks/pontoons will produce if you're having trouble finding fish deep. Expect the fish to have small strike zones...and be ready to make multiple casts to targets. Drop-shotting the deeper edges in 12-18 FOW seems to be producing a few fish, and the morning top-water bite has been good, but only until about 8:30. I caught fish today on a jig and craw, a skirted grub, a jig worm and a wacky rig. Nothing on a tube or texas rig. I didn't try it today, but shallow running-wide wobbling and lipless crankbaits can save tough days this time of year.

I don't have any new news on walleyes this week. I haven't been fishing for them (see above) and my other regular information source has struck out his last three times out. I'd assume the fish have been biting at night with the full moon cycle, and that if you're out very early or late in the day, that weed edges and sand flats with sandgrass in 12-18 or 25-28 FOW will hold some fish. As we get on towards fall, look for walleyes on shallow areas along deep water/mainlake points. Jigging and rigging with live bait works the best on our local lakes, but if you're out at night....don't forget the number 11 floating rapalas in natural/ silver-black patterns. Fish that over weed patches, trying to make slight contact with the weeds. Keep the net handy.

Pike bite has been slow and steady all season. Spinners, cranks and buzzbaits will take fish, as will wide wobbling crankbaits. Small pike are still on the shallow weed flats...bigger pike are in 15-22FOW on the weed edge. Chase these fish with a small sucker or big shiner on a slip sinker rig.

Musky fishing was slow the last 15 days, but people are starting to see some quality fish on a regular basis. Some people are trolling the deeper basin areas looking for fish relating to ciscos, but it seems like the people catching fish are hitting shallow pockets (6-10 FOW) with topwaters or weed edges in 12-15 FOW with large spinners or gliders. Heard a report of a high 40's fish on Oconomowoc and a couple of low 40's from Okauchee...meanwhile the word from Pewaukee is slow and steady, but with most action coming from mid to high 30 inch class fish.

I'll be out a bunch over the next two weeks...so watch for some mini-updates with condition reports.

Cheers,
CT

PS....Thanks for reading this blog.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Fishing Report 7-31-14

The end run of summer begins this weekend. Time to get on the water.

In General Terms :The cooler mornings/cold nights complicated fishing some this week. Fish were still biting, but activity levels and strike zone size was limited. Afternoons and evenings have been better than early in the day. As we move into August look for fish in the usual summer places, but watch for them to have periods of time where they feed actively. The changes in the photocycle and the length of day will be evident to the fish, and you can expect to see activity levels peak and ebb during each day.

Panfish are still holding in deeper water, and will continue to do so for a couple of weeks. Look for them to suspend along weedlines in 12-22 feet of water, or to suspend over deeper sandgrass about 14-18 feet down over 40-50 feet of water. Pine,  Ashippun, Golden, School Section, Okauchee, Garvin, and Lower Nashotah (RED HOT!) .

Largemouth will continue to come in using two primary patterns in the short term. On sunny days, you can find them around shallow docks, wood laydowns, slop and scattered weed clumps.  As the sun gets up, look for them to move tighter to overhead cover, but here will be periods of time during the day where their activity level will increase for a short spell. Be ready to switch tactics as they switch on and off, especially around transition areas and over flats where the topwater bite can really be fantastic. Deeper fish will continue to use weededges and points in 12-18 feet of water, or be suspended over deep water about 6-12 feet below the surface. Some fish are relating to rockbars in 5-12 feet of water. Tube baits and skirted grubs are a great way to target these fish. Okauchee, Oconomowoc, Pine, Lac Labelle and Moose have all had active bites around rock/gravel areas. Some fish are still being taken off the weedlines and off the weed flats by anglers flipping around heavy cover on Okauchee, Kessus, and Golden.

Smallmouth are starting the early fall pattern of making 3-5 foraging moves each day. When you are contacting active fish in shallow water, the bite can be incredible. Topwaters, including size 9 or 11 rapalas or poppers in natural patterns can get you started, but be ready to switch to tubes, wacky, skirted grubs or twister tails as the day progresses. When things are slower, look for them to be just off the first major break in deeper water. Crankbaits in white or chartreuse, spinners or live bait are better for the deeper fish.  Okauchee, Pine, Oconomowoc, and Lac Labelle have been producing.

Walleyes will continue to hold in their summer patterns for another couple of weeks, but they will quickly make a move to shallower weedy areas as the baitfish move in for their fall spawning run. For now jigging or backtrolling with live bait around weededges or drop-offs in 12-18 feet of water is a good place to start, and be ready to adjust to deeper water on sunny days or shallower on cloudy or windy days.  A few fish are appearing on mid-lake structure but many are staging off main-lake points, especially where there is bottom transitions from rock to sand or from sand to muck. Trolling with bottom bouncers and spinner harnesses or drifting with live bait rigs are great ways to target these fish. North, Oconomowoc, Pike, Fox, Lake Koshkonong, Lac Labelle, and Pine lake have all been productive.

Northern pike activity has beenslow and steady all summer, and I wouldn't expect that to change. Smaller pike can almost always be found in shallow water around weed clumps and inside weededges adjacent to rock bars/shorelines. Larger pike can be taken trolling cranbkaits or backtrolling live bait along deeper weed edges, especially in 12-20 feet of water. Try Moose, Fox, Pretty, Kessus, Okauchee, Golden, Fowler Garvin, School Section and Ashippun Lakes for pike.

Musky reports have slowed down over the past couple of weeks, but I suspect that has as much to do with the weather as anything. For the next run, look for them to over weedy flats in 8-12 feet of water making for some great topwater or large bucktail action, or in deeper water suspended around baitfish which is perfect for a trolling bite. Action will pick up considerably in the weeks ahead. The usual lakes have been been producing, Pewaukee and Okauchee have been slower than average, but are still producing for anglers putting in the time.

Good Luck and Cheers.
CT