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Friday, May 26, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend (2017) Fishing Report

Thank a vet this weekend. (Hell, thank one every weekend).

The story of the weekend will be unstable weather:'s local forecast for the holiday weekend:

That's some nicer weather mixed in with some unstable conditions. That could make fish hard to pattern, and you should be ready to adapt on the fly while out for the next couple of days. Overall, water temps are in the high 50's to low 60's in mainlake areas and to low to mid 60's in the shallower protected areas. Current areas are still flowing very fast and strong, weedgrowth is far behind normal for this time of the season. A few Mayfly hatches have started.

Bluegills are starting to congregate in shallower water, but there's still plenty of keepers schooled up along the first deep break.. A few nests are starting to appear in the traditional sandy and gravel areas. Look for fish around woods or docks in 4-10 feet of water, and be ready to move shallower as the temperatures warm up this weekend. Current areas and spawning areas (like sandy or gravel areas) will have fish, as will isolated patches of weeds in 8-12 FOW. Waxworms,  redworms and plastics are taking fish, but bigger gills have been hard to come by in any significant number. (Try Okauchee, Garvin ( red hot!), Golden, Nag, Upper and Middle Genessee, School Section, Ashipunn, Pretty, Phantom and Lower Nashotah)

Crappie fishing has been slow. Most crappies are in shallow bays near weeds, wood laydowns or reeds. Some fish have spawned, but a few are still hanging around shallow wood and reeds in the usual areas. Minnows, hooked through the tail on a small hook (#8 or #10), waxworms and plastics have all been taking fish. Lots of fish are in small areas, so move until you find fish, and then set-up on them. (Try: Okauchee (especially the North Flat, Bay Five and the Crane's Nest), Garvin (North End), Kessus, Nagawicka (Channels), Golden, Silver, and Pine.

Largemouth bass are post spawn (for the most part) and fishing was inconsistent this past week. The weather kept lots of people off the water. Depending on who you talk with, people are catching fish targeting them in shallow water, but a few fish are still being caught off the open areas on flats with scattered weeds. It might be hard to consistently find bigger fish, but on warm afternoons, especially just ahead of the fronts that are set to come through this weekend, the action could be good in short spurts. Rocks will hold fish throughout the day, but you might need to move around and let fish reset on them. Drifiting/casting shallow flats will produce a mixed bag of fish that are done spawning and areas that having spawning gills in the shallows will also have LM nearby. What to throw: Shallow water presentations like jig and chunk or craw, wacky, texas rigged lizards, spinnerbaits or lipless crankbaits will all catch fish right now, but don't overlook smaller topwater presentations. Live bait, nightcrawlers, leeches, large shiners or small suckers are your best bet. (Try: Okauchee, Pewaukee, Lake Five, Oconomowoc, Pine, Lac Labelle, Kessus Nagawicka, Silver, Golden, Fox or Emily)

Smallmouth bass have been active, but are in the process of finishing the spawn. Rock structure, scattered weeds on sand and major points are all holding fish. Expect them to be a little spooky, especially in the shallow water on sunny days. Skirted grubs, jigworms, jig and craws, tubes, and soft jerkbaits are all catching fish. Go natural with your color choices this weekend. (Try: Oconomwoc, Pine, Lac Labelle, Nags, Pewaukee, North!, Lower Nashotah and the Nemahbin Lakes.)

Walleye have been active, with some keepers being caught in 8-12 feet of water. Slip bobbers, Jig and minnow, jig and leech, and split shot rigs with nightcrawlers or small suckers have been the best way to target eyes. In the evening, a few anglers are catching fish by working minnow baits (floating rapalas or rouges) over isolated weed clumps. This weekend should be red hot for walleyes, especially in the evenings, assuming the weather cooperates. (Try: Oconomowoc, Nags, North, Pine, (For Keepers), Lac Labelle, Pewaukee and Fox (for action))

Northern Pike fishing has picked up some and pike might be your best option for some steady action this holiday weekend with the unstable weather. Spinnerbaits, spoons, buzzbaits, lipless crankbaits, or suspending jerkbaits (like size 11 Husky Jerks or Rouges) are catching fish around shallow weed clumps, or at the edges of coves and marshy areas. If chasing pike with live bait, look for them in 6-12 feet, using small suckers or large shiners on a slip sinker rig or the largest shiner's you can find on a balloon rig around the deeper reeds in a marshy area. (Try: Okauchee, Kessus, Garvin, Nagawicka, Pine, Fowler (On Fire), Golden, School Section, Emily)

Musky Fishing has been slow, but steady. There are lots of fish in the shallow water chasing, and a few are even being caught on topwaters, but the most consistent action has been coming in 8-15 FOW around the transition areas of mainlake structure. Gliders, jerkbaits, swimbaits and bucktails have been productive, but many anglers continue to describe lots of lazy follows, so figure eights are required on every cast. Gold blade or orange blades with black skirt seems to be the color of the season, but chartruese/copper combos have also been catching some. (Try: Okauchee, Pewaukee, Fowler and Lac Labelle)

Around the area: Fishing on the Rock River has picked up again, and anglers are still catching a few whitebass south of Ft Atkinson, and catfish between the Jefferson Dam and the mouth. The action has been good when its on, awful when its not. Note that the water below Jefferson Dam is very high and very fast.

If you're in town for the holiday and want to talk some more specific tips, email or call me.

Have a great (and safe) holiday weekend.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Fishing Report 5-18-17

Hey gang,

I was on the water Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week (writing this Thursday evening.) Spent some time on 6 lakes (Okauchee, Lower Gen, Oconomowoc, Moose, Ashippun and Lac Labelle) during this week.

I'd say conditions are mixed. Water temps have creeped into the mid 60's, but the cold snap that's about to set in might have something to say about that. Weeds are WAY behind this season. Baitfish concentrations are smaller than average for this time of year.

For was a challenging, but not impossible, week on the water. I put plenty of fish in the boat, but there was some scratching and junk fishing to make it happen. Had my Dad with me for part of a couple of days, and so I was able to do some out of the box things to get on some fish. Bottom line...I worked for fish I caught this week. I heard similar reports from some of the other folks I talked to this week.

Here's what's happening:

Panfish-   Bluegills are staging to come in to spawn. This means you can find them scattered at multiple depths. You'll certainly find some starting to move shallow, but the better fish will be a few feet down over deeper water off the first break. Saw some solid bars of them on my graph while on Moose and Ashippun right where the drop off into 15 FOW was. Smaller is better for fishing jigs, DS panfish Grubs or #10 or #12 red hooks tipped with live bait.

Crappies have moved off the shallow wood and reeds and are starting to school up over deeper brushpiles or cribs. You may find some stragglers around the shallow wood, but the bulk of the fish have moved out. Look for fish to suspend 5-8' down over deeper water, or near the bottom in areas with current and green weeds. Tail-hooked minnows under slip bobbers is a solid presentation option, but if you can get over a school tight-lining with a small skirted or tube jig can really produce.

Bass-  You'll find fish in all stages of the spawn this weekend. There's lots of smaller males on nests along the banks, but if you're looking for bigger fish, you're probably going to be fishing for post-spawners. Look for them in the deeper water around shallow points, or in areas with rock or current. Bonus points for an area with all three. Mainlake rock bars or roadbeds will hold some active fish, but you'll also be able to connect with some schooled up fish on the flats. Start in the open with smaller topwaters (Pop-R's or #11 Floating Rapalas) or squarebilled or lipless crankbaits, then as the sun gets up, switch to skirted grubs, jig and chunks, wacky, sliders or ned rigs and polish those rocks. You'll have to fish slow and deliberately until the warmer weather returns. Fish will shrink tight to cover over the weekend, then get active. Should be good by Monday and stay great for a week to 10 days.

Pike- I struggled for consistency this week, with patterns hard to come by, but one thing that was working was pike. Pike (including bigger ones) are shallow, and actively feeding. The lack of weed growth has pushed them into marshy areas, and you can target them with the usual lipless crankbait, inline spinnerbait and buzzbait trio. If you find some larger fish up shallow, a larger Husky Jerk or floating minnowbait can really draw some solid strikes. Live bait options: Smaller suckers or large shiners on a ballon rig pitched into areas where reeds are growing will produce.

Walleye- I didn't hear much from other people this week, but what I did hear reflected what we saw on the water earlier today. The eyes are up shallow and feeding aggressively. We caught the bulk of our fish in 6-10 FOW. Jigging shallow rocks or rock weed transitions can really produce, but drifting with live bait/slip sinker rigs is a solid approach. If you hit a fish, slow down and work the immediate area through as there's likely more fish in the same spot.

Musky- I've got nothing specific for you this week. Heading out: My advice is to pay attention to the moon phases, and don't be afraid to work those first deep breaks. Topwater bite should be turning on, and as the days get longer....don't overlook that evening bucktail bite.

Trout- The stocked trout bite continued to be good this week. Lakes that got trout are still giving up solid bags of them, and this is a great option for 1.)Kids and 2.)The dinner table. Look for them in deeper water, but just a few feet under the surface. Slipbobbers with small minnows, corn or waxworms will catch them. I saw one guy fly-fishing in waders this week...he looked like he was having a grand time.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Okauchee WABTA

Update: I posted the 2016 Results: Here's the link to the results from Sunday

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Fishing Report 5-11-17

Hey gang,

I was out multiple times this week. Water temperatures vary greatly between main lake areas (in the 50's to low 60's) and protected bays (in the mid 60's) on area lakes. Water is high pretty much everywhere in the local area, so there's lots of current in areas with moving water. The big news is that weed growth is way behind average, which means if you find can some good weeds, fish them!

Musky fishing has been slow by most reports. Lots of anglers are working a shallow pattern. Look for fish on the shallow weed flats in 6-10 feet of water. Scattered weedclumps with visible baitfish or panfish are high percentage areas right now. A few fish may be using the first deep break in 12-18 feet of water in areas where some new green weeds have started. Most positive reports I heard back this week were with people using downsized baits, but heard reports of plenty of lazy follows--so watch those figure eights closely.

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

Northern Pike have been using the shallow flats where there is new weeds. 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. 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. Crankbaits like rapala shad raps are catching fish, but controlled drifting with live bait has been the best approach. Slow and steady have been the operative words. A nightcrawler, leech or small sucker on a lindy rig or long lined split shot setup have been the most consistent producers. A few fish are being caught around weeds using jig and plastic or jig and minnow combinations. Should be a great weekend for fishing in the evenings with floating minnow bait around any mid-depth structure or weeds.

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

Largemouth Bass  First wave spawning areas have fish on nests but patterning the larger females was inconsistent. Shallow flats outside of the spawning coves still have lots of smaller but schooling fish and remember in areas with consistent depth, not all of the nests will be on the bank. Saw lots of people beating banks when there were active fish on the flats nearby. 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. Nightcralwers or large leeches on a lindy or split shot rig or large shiners under floats fished around piers or along rockbars have been catching a few nice fish. Pro-Tip: Downsizing put some quality fish in the boat for me this week.

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

Smallmouth Bass  Fish are patrolling the shallow bars in small schoola 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 who 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 are beginning to move into the shallow water on many area lakes, but 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), look for schools on the end of sandy/gravel points in 12-15 feet of water on in shallow areas with current. 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 better sized keepers. The area between Watertown and the Jefferson Dam has been giving up fish the last few weeks, but if you're heading out, note that the water is still pretty high and fast on the river.

Trout:  The local lakes stocked with trout were solid producers during the first week. Opening weekend was busy, but pressure dropped way off during the weekedays. There's lots of small schools of trout swimming around, but the fish that were biting (for me) were running the drop offs. Gold ice fishing jigs tipped with live bait was the best option when I was on the water, but the fish were still a little spooky, and we did better tightlining than with bobbers.

Good Luck Out There.
Chris Terry

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

2017 Gamefish Season Preview

Here's what to expect when you hit the water for the opener.

1.) Water temps in the low to mid 50's. Nighttime temperatures will dictate most of what happens next weekend.

2.) Limited new growth of weeds, and very few piers are in. Water is high in many areas.

3.) 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.

Shallow dark bottom bays will be where most of the action is on Saturday. Live bait will be a key presentation option. Targeting Musky, Pike and Walleye will be more productive than chasing bass in the morning. Sunday's weather looks a little better, and if the sun comes out, the later afternoon bite could really pick up.

My post on local highlights of the 2017 DNR fishing preview is here. There's information on several local lakes and includes picks for panfish, bass, walleye and musky fishing opportunities this year.

Panfish: Crappies and Bluegills have transitioned into shallow water, and the bite has been steady on the sunny or warmer afternoons. Primary pattern working for keepers is to find the schools that are relating to weed clumps in shallow water.

Newer, green weeds, reeds or small wood laydowns are attracting the most fish right now. For crappies try small fuzzy jigs tipped with waxworms, small fatheads or rosie reds. Bluegills have been biting on plastics tipped with waxworms or spikes, as well as redworms, leafworms or pieces of nightcrawler. If the bite is tough, downsize your presentation to an ice fishing jig or #10 or #12 red hook, and keep the bait above the fish (this is key for a tough bite!)

Hot tip: Sunken trees and cribs in deeper water that is close to a shallow drop will holder better size fish right now.

Best Lakes For Panfish: Ashippun, Silver, Kessus Buelah, Golden, the Genessee lakes, Lake Five, Okauchee (Bay Five, the Channel, Icehouse and Stumpy Bay), Garvin and the Nehmabins.

Trout: Stocked trout fishing is always very popular for opening weekend. Here's a an earlier post on the stocking of our local lakes and the complete DNR list is available here.

Stocked trout are easy to catch before too much pressure gets put on them. Watch for them swimming in groups just below the surface and cast ahead of them. They'll hit a variety of tackle/bait options but the use of gold really will help. I typically use a gold ice fishing jig with live bait under a small balsa bobber.

Bass: Largemouth are in an early prespawn pattern. Small schools of them are chasing baitfish in the shallow water.  For the best action look for LM to be along the first drop offs or at the edges of shallow bays. Later in the day they may move to the backs of spawning coves. Lindy or split shot rigs with nightcrawlers or suspending large shiners under slip bobbers are your best live bait options. Texas rigged plastic lizards, wacky worms and jigs with a chunk trailer will be good options if fished very slowly. Slow rolling spinnerbaits or ripping rattletraps around weedy cover could produce some reaction strikes.

Best lakes for largemouth: Okauchee, Silver, Nagawicka, Golden, Pine, Pewaukee, Moose, Kessus, Pretty and School Section.

Smallmouth remain in deeper water for the most part, although a few have been seen making foraging runs into rocky areas during the middle part of the day. Look for them to be suspended in the water column in deep water near points and other rocky structure. Suspending Jerkbaits, swimbaits, slow rolled spinnerbaits or twister tail grubs in natural pattern are good options for chasing suspended smallmouths. If you can find some fish on the rocks, lindy rigging with leeches or nightcrawlers should do the trick.

Best lakes for smallmouth: North, Lower Nehmabin, Oconomowoc, Nagawicka. Pine, Lac La Belle.

Walleyes are  roaming shallow flats chasing baitfish. This indicates typical post-spawn behavior patterns, which matches the water temperatures on our local lakes. Bottom bouncers with spinner harnesses, lindy rigs and jigs will all catch these fish. I'd consider using a mix of live bait in the form of nightcrawlers, leeches and small suckers. Look for walleyes to relate the edges of shallow water, but especially at the junctions of rock/sand transitions. I'd run live bait rigs to find fish, then fish an active area hard with crankbaits like a Shad Raps or Frenzies, husky jerks or floating rapalas.

Best lakes for walleye: Lac La Belle, Pewaukee, Pine and Oconomowoc. A few fish are still being caught on the Rock and Crawfish Rivers. Note: Each lake in our area has different regulations for walleye size/bag limits...make sure you know what's what for where you are fishing.

Northern: Pike are past their post spawn blues and are feeding aggressively. Typically with these conditions small pike will be all over shallow water and you can expect the big pike to be relating to the first break. This is prime time to chase pike with live bait. Use slip bobbers and suspend large shiners and suckers around weed edges or near areas with visible panfish. Casting with lipless crankbaits, buzzbaits, spooms or spinner baits, especially around shallow weeds on he edge of the sandy flat areas can be dynamite. Remember the best color for pike is red/white.

Best lakes for pike: Forest, Emily, Kessus, Moose, Golden, Nagawicka, Fowler, Lower Gennessee, Okauchee.

Musky: The fish that seem to be chasing active baitfish are relating to green weed growth in mid-depth water. You never lose out by floating a sucker or the largest shiners you can buy. I'd downsize my presentation, stick to jerkbaits, gliders or smaller bucktails for the opener this year, and concentrate your efforts on any scattered weed clumps you can find. Advice from me: Slow down, be methodical when working an area and be ready to make lots of casts to get neutral fish to bite.

Best lakes for musky: Pewaukee, Lac La Belle, Fowler, Okauchee, Garvin and Oconomowoc.

Don't forget about the new DNR Catch and Release Record Program

I have openings for guide trips or fishing lessons during May. Email me for more information.

Be safe out there. I'll see you on the water.


Sunday, April 30, 2017

2017 Tournament Schedule

Here's a running list of tournaments on our local area lakes for this season. I'll update this as I get more information but it is current as of 4-30-17.

Local Weeklies:

Okauchee: Tuesdays (Musky Mikes Big Bass League) and
Thursdays (Foolery's Big Bass)

Tuesday Nights: TNT Trail (Pewaukee or Nagawicka)
Info/Dates: Here.

Thursday Night Opens: Rotate between Pewaukee, Nagawicka and Okauchee
Info at Dick Smith's Shop Page

Thursdays: MCW Musky League (Must be a club member)

High Five (Looks like a kid's tournament)
May 6th Pewaukee (DNR Info here)

Angler's Choice (SE Wisconsin Division)

May 21 -Pewaukee
June 11 -Okauchee
July 30 -Rock Lake
August 20 -Nagawicka
September 17 Okauchee
October 8 Pewaukee

Kayak Bass League Green Event

July 9 - Oconomowoc

Great Lakes Kayak Series Bass
August 5 - Pewaukee

Lunker's Unlimited
August 5 - Pewaukee

South East Wisconsin Open

June 17 -Pewaukee

West Suburban Bass Anglers

August 12 - Oconomowoc


May 13 - Okauchee Lake

June 3 - Okauchee Lake (Note: Also a Quad-graphics tournament the same day.)

June 10 - Pewaukee Lake 

July 8 - Nagawicka Lake

August 6 - Pewaukee Lake

Friday, April 28, 2017

Fishing Report 4-28-17

Water temps are in the low to mid 50's. Rain, rain and rain with a side of rain has been on the menu special this past run. The days, especially the afternoons, have stayed cool and cloudy, and as a result, the water is not warming up quickly.

To rate it: fishing is at least average for this time of year, but not a drop more.

Crappies are active in the usual early spots. Look for them in shallow, protected areas with a north bank. Dark bottom areas with green weeds are especially good right now, but sandy areas near reeds will also produce. 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.

Bluegills are starting to move in. 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 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, but spinners and small rattletraps are really working in some of the flooded creek inlets. White bass are in their spring run. Look for them 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. The fish should be getting ready to make the transition out to the lake soon, so this is likely your last chance to head down there for some river action. Note: the water in the river is high, fast and dirty...keep that in mind.

Gamefish opener is right around the corner, but the cooler weather has slowed the fishing down. Check back later this week for my annual gamefish opener post. 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 have some openings in May, if you're interested in getting out...just email me