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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Fishing Report 5-17-18


The last week has presented some challenges as weeks with unstable weather tend to do. The cold nights and on again-off again rain didn't make things any easier to contend with. It does look to be a bit cooler, but with stable conditions around the corner, fishing should be between great and incredible over the next 10 days to two weeks.

Warmer days, or days with sunshine at least...had very active fish moving in the shallow water. Days like yesterday (Thursdsay), where it was nice in the morning and lousy in the afternoon have the fish feeding actively in a limited window of time.

Water temps are all over the place. Protected bays are in the mid to high 60's while open water areas might be as low as the high 50's, but the larger issues I've seen on the water the last two weeks have been:

1.) Lack of weeds. Weed growth is way behind for this time of year.


2.) Lack of baitfish. Finding areas with baitfish consistently has been a challenge.

This means if you can find an area with good, green weeds AND visible baitfish, there will likely be lots of (quality) fish in that area.  That said, fishing has steady, but as with any cooler early season, day to day you might just have to put in a bit more work than you would expect. Patterning fish is key. There's rarely a situation where multiple fish can't be caught our of the same area, and that areas similar to the ones you are finding fish, well that's the place to look for more. I get it, guys are anxious, but turn the trolling motor down a couple of notches, put your head down and go with high percentage presentations. Once you find fish, you'll be able to duplicate the pattern in other areas.

Panfish are on the move, and starting to stack into shallow areas, especially on warmer or sunny afternoons. The bite can be really good, especially if you can find some fish in the mid afternoon to early evening. Start you search in shallow, dark bottom bays with scattered weeds, woods or reeds. The fish may be very tight to shore, but don't overlook the first break into deeper water or areas with current. Remember the largest panfish will always be in the bottom of the school, so if you're catching fish, but they are small, try presenting your bait a little deeper.

Bluegills will hit on a variety of live bait but plastics will outperform live bait, and will usually help keep some of the smaller fish off your line.

For crappies, the spawn is "mostly over", but fish are still relating to the shallow cover. Tail hooked minnows, tube jigs, road runners, or waxworms on an ice-fishing jig can really produce. (Try: Okauchee, Oconomowoc, North, Garvin, Lac Labelle, Silver, Golden, School Section, Middle Geneesee.

Largemouth are in various stages of the spawn, and there are lots of larger prespawn fish being caught right now. There are schools that are still cruising the flats, especially on the nice days, while some males are still up on the nests, especially in areas where the water is warmest.  Because weeds are hard to come by, look for LM in shallow areas with rock, sand or muck, and remember that rock will almost always have fish either on or adjacent to it this time of year. Protected bays with wood laydowns or weeds can concentrate fish. Squarebill cranks or smaller spinners are good for rapidly testing an area, but once you're on fish, slow down and make tighter presentations. Jig and chunks/ jig and craws/ jig and reapers will catch less fish, but are a great way to catch a bigger fish, especially when fished tight to cover. Slower presentations like wacky worms, texas rigged lizards or tubes are all great for probing areas, but a lead-head jig tipped with a small jig worm or swim-tail can really produce right now. Tip: if the bite is really tough....a buzzbait fished tight (and I mean tight) to cover will trigger strikes.

Using live bait? Leeches, nightcrawlers or largest shiners you can find are your best options. (Try Okauchee, Oconomowoc, Pewaukeem Moose, North, Nag Kessus, Golden, Silver, Fowler, Pine, and Lower Nashotah)

Smallmouth bass are in rocky or gravel areas, cruising and foraging. Look for them in the usual early season spots, but don't be afraid to look for them as deep as 22 feet, where they will be feeding on schools of yellow perch. Dropshot or tubes are a great way to look for fish around the dropoffs. Skirted grubs or wacky rigs on the shallow rockbars, and even topwater can really produce some amazing fish this time of year. (Try Lac Labelle, Pine, North and Oconomowoc)

Walleye:  Look for walleyes in shallow water, around rocks or sand, or at the end of longer points especially early in the morning, and later in the evening. In the daylight hours, schools of fish will be cruising the sand flats in 8-15 feet of water. Live bait rigging, (Lindy rigs with small suckers!) jig and minnow or jig and leech combos, or trolling with shad or minnow imitators are your best approaches. (Try Oconomowoc, Lac Labelle, Pewaukee, Fowler)

Northern pike were chasing bait fish around shallow weeds, especially near marshy areas, and will aggressively bite spinners, buzzbaits, lipless crankbaits or live bait suspended around shallow weeds.(Try: Moose, Kessus, Okauchee, Fowler, School Section, Pretty and Nagawicka)

Musky: Most fish are in 5-12 feet of water, and are biting on swimbaits, gliders, jerkbaits and bucktails. Remember to do your figure eights on every cast right now, as lots of anglers were reporting lazy follows this past weekend. Personally, I like to use smaller baits in a black and blue, or black and orange combination at this point in the year. (Try Okauchee, Garvin, Lac Labelle, Fowler and Pewaukee for Musky)
Trout fishing was consistent on the stocked lakes and ponds around the area, but the schools are starting to get a bit if you're hankering for trout, put a day on your calender for next week.

Good luck out there.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Fishing Report 5-10-18

Remember, its always fun to fish on a Sunday, but consider taking Mom with you this week.

There is a pair of Musky Tournaments on Pewaukee and both a Musky and WABTA Tournament on Okauchee this weekend. (Our Tournament Schedule Post is here)

And Okauchee fishing pressure has been very heavy the past week between opening weekend, Musky Mikes League and guys pre-fishing..I am hearing similar reports from Pewaukee. Fish are still biting, but you may need to downsize, or get away from the crowds and the usual spots.

Water temperatures vary greatly between main lake areas (in the low 60's) and protected bays (in the mid to high 60's) on most area lakes.Weed growth is way behind normal, which means if you find some good (ie green) weeds, it is worth the effort to fish them!

Musky fishing has been a bit below average for this time of year, but a solid shallow pattern has been working for anglers who put in the time and are making an effort to deliberately work structural elements. Look for fish on the shallow flats in 6-10 feet of water, or shallow areas with rock/sand transitions. A few fish are also using the first deep break in 12-18 feet of water. Gliders, swimbaits, bucktails and jerkbaits have all been consistent producers.

Best bets: Okauchee, Oconomowoc, Lac Labelle, Pewaukee, and Fowler.

Northern Pike have been using the areas where there is new weedgrowth. Anglers targeting bass have been catching a number of pike ranging from smaller snakes to quality 30+" fish. Some of the larger pike are using the deep weedlines in 12-18 feet. Spinnerbaits,small bucktails, lipless crankbaits, floating rapalas and buzzbaits will all catch fish in the shallow water when fished around submergent green weeds. Large shiners or small to medium sized suckers suspended underneath a float, longlined on a split shot rig, or fished deep on a slip-sinker setup are your best options for live bait.

Best Bets: Nagawicka, Golden, Okauchee, Fowler, Moose.

Walleye have been active in cycles that match our current weather patterns. On warmer, windy days they have been biting fairly well. Some fish are patrolling the shallows in the morning and evening hours, but the bulk of the fish are holding around rocky points and mid-depth weeds in 8-12 feet of water. With the cold front set to hit this weekend, the bite could be tough, and you'll need to go finessee to get bites consistently. Crankbaits like rapala shad raps are catching fish, but controlled drifting with live bait has been the best approach. Slow and steady will be the operative words.

Best Bets: Pine, Oconomowoc, Pewaukee, Lac Labelle, the Nehmabins and Fox Lake.

Largemouth Bass  First wave spawning areas have fish on nests, and post spawn females nearby. Other areas still have schooling fish. Look for bass around shallow weeds, wood laydowns or docks. Rocky areas, especially points adjacent to deep water have been holding the most fish. Wacky worms, texas rigged lizards or stickbaits, lipless crankbaits, and jigs with a chunk or craw trailer have all been producing.

Best Bets: Okauchee, Golden, Keesus, Pine, Nagawicka, Buelah, Moose, Eagle Springs.

Smallmouth Bass  Fish are patrolling the shallow bars in small schools a few times a day, especially on the warmer sunny days. Lots of fish are suspending in deeper water just off of shallow structure. Rocky/sand transition areas have been holding some fish that are foraging for craws. Suspending jerkbaits, tubes, wacky worms, swimbaits and lipless crankbaits in a crawfish pattern have all caught fish.

Best Bets: Oconomowoc, Lac Labelle, Pine, Nagawicka, Lower Nehmabin, Beaver.

Crappie Look for them around shallow cover in 2-8 feet of water. Tight-lining over deeper wood or weeds in 8-12 feet has also been effective on some lakes. Tail-hooked fatheads, plastics or hair jigs tipped with a waxworm and rosie reds are your best live bait options for crappies. Strike zones have been relatively small, so try to make accurate casts when setting up your presentations.

Best Bets: Pine, Okauchee, Kessus, Golden, Garvin, Ashippun, Lake Five.

Bluegills the better sized fish have still been coming from anglers targeting them in a little deeper water. Shallow fish will be near sandy bottom areas with scattered weed growth, but if you just want the kids to catch a few fish, try fishing around any piers that are in the water adjacent to deeper water (6-10 feet). If you want to target eating size gills, tightline vertically while drifting along weedlines in deeper water (as deep as 22 feet) or look for them on the end of sandy/gravel points in 12-15 feet of water. Plastics tipped with waxworms or spikes, panfish leeches or redworms are your best live bait options.

Best Bets: Golden, Silver, Garvin, Lower Nashotah, Forest, Upper and Lower Phantom, Ashippun, Upper Geneessee and Lake Five.

Catfish are being caught on the Rock River. Cutbait, stinkbait and nightcrawlers fished around the heads of the deeper holes has been producing some keepers. The area between Watertown and the Jefferson Dam has been red hot the last few weeks.

Trout  Lower Nashotah, Fowler, Lower Geneessee and Paradise Springs-Look for these fish in the deeper water basin or deeper pools on the creeks. In the area lakes, they can be anywhere from just below the surface to 25 feet down over deeper water. Tightlining with minnows or redworms  will catch fish when you find them.

Good Luck Out There.
Feel free to email me if you have questions.

Chris Terry

Monday, May 7, 2018

Fishing Report (5-7-18) (Quickie Update)

Hearing some mixed reports about success on the opener. Overall, sounded fairly average for opening weekend.

I was out for a bit today chasing trout and met with a functional, but still pretty tough bite, but the bass and pike were feeding actively. If I'd have stuck it out, I could have putting something more solid together, but had a few mechanical issues, so I called it a day.

Water temps range greatly, shallow bays and dark bottom areas are in the low to mid 60's, but open water, main lake areas can be in the low to mid 50's.Weeds are non existent.

Panfish are suspending/hanging off the breaks suspended, especially the larger crappies, but you can get onto some decent sized fish in the 4-8 FOW range.  Areas with green weeds will hold the most panfish, but there's not many of those around right now, so look for panfish around laydowns and docks that reach deeper water. Batches of nice gills are starting to school up around deeper docks right now.  Keep it simple, small bobbers and small bait. Minnows for the crappies, but otherwise plastics tipped with waxies or spikes. Remember the biggest panfish are on the bottom of the school, so get that bait down to them.

Bass fishing will be on fire through thus weekend, but expect it to come in flurries of action as you make contact with schooled up fish on the forage run. The fishing should be fantastic for at least the next 10 days/two weeks. Some fish are up on the beds, but most of the larger fish are still chasing bait and craws at the last major structural elements outside of the spawning areas. Jig and pig, wacky, floating worms, soft jerkbaits, grubs, drop shot minnows and lipless crankbaits will produce depending on the day. I caught a couple on my new shaky head rig today when I couldn't get the trout to cooperate.

I'll check back later this week. Get out there, there's fish to be caught.

Monday, April 30, 2018

2018 Fishing Opener Resources

Hey Gang,

We're just days away from the 2018 Gamefish Opener.

For now, here's what to expect when you hit the water for the opener.

1.) Water temps in the low to mid fifties. Some isolated bays may be approaching 60 degrees if the weather cooperates this week.

2.) Limited new growth of weeds, and you'll find that very few piers are in.

3.) I'd focus my efforts in the warmer parts of the day. You may need to make some adjustments throughout the weekend as conditions change.

4.) Live bait, fished slowly is going to be a great way to kick off the season. I'd fish for pike or walleye and wait until the weather stabilizes a bit if you want to target bass. Patterns are patterns for a reason.

Here's a preview from Fisheries at the DNR

The 2018 Fishing Report is here. Some Local Highlights:

The DNR maintains a database of printable lake maps online.

There's also a easy to use reference to find boat launches at the DNR Website.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Local Tournament Schedule 2018

Tournaments on Our Local Waters: (Updated -5-10-18)

May 12th Musky
May 12th Musky (Yes there's two different ones the same day)
June 2nd Bass (Anglers Choice)
June 3rd Bass (Anglers Choice)
June 9th Bass (WABTA)
August 4th Multi-species (Lunkers Unlimited)
August 18th Bass (West Suburban Bass Anglers)
August 19th Bass (Anglers Choice)
October 14th Bass (Blackhawk Masters)
October 20th Musky (3 Charlies)

May 12th Musky
June 23rd Bass (Anglers Unlimited)
June 24th Bas (Anglers Unlimited)
September 8th Bass (West Suburban Bass Anglers)
October 20th Multi-species (Lunkers Unlimited)

May 5th: Bass (Whiskey Waters)
May 12th Musky
May 12th Bass (WABTA)
May 19th Bass (Anglers Choice)
June 2nd Bass (WABTA)
June 8th Bass (Whiskey Waters)
July 21st  Bass (Whiskey Waters)
August 3rd  bass (Whiskey Waters)
September 8th Bass (West Suburban Bass Anglers)
September 9th Bass (Anglers Choice)
October 6th Multi-species (Lunkers Unlimited)

June 3rd Bass (Kayak Bass League)
June 16th (WABTA)

Little Muskego:
May 20th Bass (Anglers Choice)
September 8th Bass (West Suburban Bass Anglers)

Tuesdays: Musky Mikes Tuesday Big Bass League (Okauchee) Shop site
Thursdays: Dick Smith's (Rotates between Nagawicka, Pewaukee and Okauchee)

Friday, April 27, 2018

Fishing Report 4-27-18 (Back in Action)


This sudden burst of warm weather really had my email filled up with questions, so I guess its time to get our weekly reports back up. After all, I got the boat prepped yesterday.

Water temps are in the high 40's to low 50's. With the cooler nights, the water is not warming up quickly, but if we get some of the stable warm weather they are predicting, expect things to happen quicklu.

To rate it: fishing is a little below average for this time of year, but is set to get good very, very quickly.

Crappies are startting to get active in the usual early spots. Look for them in shallow, protected areas with a north bank, boat channels, near areas with reeds or wood laydowns or adjacent to current.  Small minnows, tail hooked, and suspended under a bobber is the best way to catch crappies, but if the bite is tough, don't overlook waxworms on an icefishing jig or a small #10 or #12 red hook or ice fishing jig. I've heard from folks having mixed success on Okauchee, Oconomowoc, North, Pine, Garvin, Moose, Nag and Golden.

Bluegills are starting to move in, but it is still very early. Look for shallow, dark bottom bays with scattered weeds, woods or reeds. The fish may be very tight to shore. In areas with current, look for schools of fish in deeper holes and outside turns, even if these areas are very small. Remember the largest panfish will always be in the bottom of the school, so if you're catching fish, but they are small, try getting your bait a little deeper. Bluegills will hit on a variety of live bait, including redworms, waxworms and spikes. For active bluegills, plastics will outperform live bait, and will usually help keep some of the smaller fish off your line.

Walleyes, a few whitebass and some cats continue to bite on the Rock River in Jefferson. Fish are still being taken from shellbeds, rockpiles and in the channel swings. Three way rigs with live bait on a fly or casting with heavy jigs and plastics have both been producing. Look for whit bass at the mouths of feeder creeks or up the Crawfish and Bark Rivers. If you're on the main river, you may find some schools holding over shelves in slack water.

Gamefish opener is next weekend, and we'll have our usual preview post.

Note that: you can sign up for my fishing reports and have them delivered via email, as well as follow this blog. The links are in the column to the right. I'm going to try to do some new kinds of content this season, including some how to videos and maybe even some maps.

Finally, I have some openings in May, if you're interested in getting out...just email me.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Checking in: April 22, 2018

Hey gang,

The semester's almost over, and its time to start thinking about fishing.

Around the area, fishing continues, but a little behind schedule for most years. It looks like the weather is about to stabilize, so expect things to get going pretty quickly.

Area lakes are starting to see panfish moving into the traditional spots. Most reports have them still a bit spooky, but especially on warm, sunny afternoons, you can expect to get on them. Look for dark bottom bays or protected areas with a north facing shoreline. Areas with current or boat channels can also be productive. Go small with your presentations until you find some active fish.

River fishing has dropped off a bit in recent weeks. Water is still fairly cold for late April, but flows have been inconsistent and that has limited fishing. Close to home the Rock River is still giving up mixed bags of Walleyes and Cats, but the whitebass run hasn't really gotten started yet.

We're just two weeks out from the opener, which looks to be a bit on the chilly side this year. If you're starting to prep, my suggestion....think about fishing for post-spawn pike or very early pre-spawn bass on the local lakes. This year will be a fair bit different condition wise than the last couple of opening weekends, and you should plan accordingly.

Can't wait to be back and to hit the water.