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Friday, March 17, 2017

Looking ahead to this season


Glad to know a few of you are still hanging around.

As longtime readers know, I am a professor and this past August my teaching post moved from UW-Milwaukee to the University of Minnesota. It has kept me partially "out of the game" especially locally for a bit. Since I started posting again, I've had several inquiries about the future of these fishing reports and my availability for guiding.

So here's the score.

Regular weekly fishing reports, collated from my own on the water time as well as network of connections will return in April. Starting April 14th I will have limited weekend (Friday, Saturday Sunday) availability for guided trips or fishing lessons. After the gamefish opener on May 6th, I will have full time openings for multi-species guided trips or fishing lessons.

As I wasn't sure what my plans were likely to be, I haven't booked many trips for this upcoming season as of yet. (Essentially all I have on the calendar are charity trips) I'll pass this on to you.... Book a trip between now and May 1st for an open date and I'll knock 10% off the going rate.

Email me here for more information

Thursday, March 9, 2017

2017 Wisconsin DNR Fishing Report-Local Highlights

The 2017 DNR Fishing Preview is out.

You can read the entire report here.

I've pulled some images out for the local highlights:

 Largemouth Bass:

Fishing Report 3-9-17

Spring runs are in their early stages, but they are definitely gearing up.

River fishing is in a very early stage, but steady positive reports are starting to trickle in. Sounds like there's fish being caught in the usual spots up north, Oshkosh, at Fremont and at Depere. The reports from the Dells have been more consistent, but I'm hearing some scattered reports from the Rock River as well. The mouth of the river at Blackhawk has been very active, especially during prime feeding windows.

As always: Here's a list of great resources on Rock River conditions in a post from a couple weeks back. Always give it a once over before heading down.

A side note: When Musky Mike was alive, he and I would talk frequently about annual fishing patterns, and things to watch for. It is a conversation I have had many times with some of the best fisherman I have met through the years.

Texas bass fishing legend Jackie Walker taught me more about fishing in a single weekend than I could have learned in years of trial and error on the water. He too was a big proponent of the concept that in each year there are a couple of near perfect fishing opportunities that arise. My friend Dan Juday and I hit one of these last year on Golden Lake, catching a feeding window just ahead of a massive front and it was the best day of fishing I had during all of last season.

Friends, I believe we are approaching this year's first window of opportunity. The precipitation that will fall over the next week, combined with a slowly rising temperature and a Full Moon Phase in the cards for next week, you have a solid window opening for river walleye fishing between now and St Patrick's Day.

Small males are already staging for runs to the spawning grounds, the bigger fish usually follow them in 7-10 days later....which means this year, things are right on schedule. Nature takes care of itself with these things, and we're looking at a solid window of opportunity starting this weekend.

Closer to home: the water on area lakes is (mostly) open, but still cold. A few fish are roaming into the shallows, especially the dark bottom bays that open/warm earlier. Still a bit on the early side, but expect things to start picking up when the weather stabilizes a bit towards the end of next week.

Good luck out there and be safe.


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Fishing Report 2/28/17

Greetings friends,

Spring has sprung and the runs are getting started. There's fish being caught in the Dells, at Depere and along the stretches of the Rock River between the Jefferson Dam and Blackhawk Island.

In years past I've fished the Dells and Depere, but I know the Rock River (because of its geographic location) better. My last post was my annual one with information resources related to the Rock River. Conditions dictate success and strategy on the Rock every year. In years with high, fast and dirty'll have more success anchoring over current breaks/channel drops and fishing with heavy three way rigs. In years where you can control your drifting, vertical jigging is typically the key. If you can't get a bite doing either of these things, anchor at the very top of a deeper hole (upstream side). Then drag a lindy rig through the hole. Cast out the back of the boat, and inch the rig along the bottom with short twitches of the rod tip.

One pattern I like to use that doesn't get enough credit is bouncing a shad style crankbait off of rocks/wingdams. I've used the smallest Rapala shad raps in bright patterns to do this for years. The Rock is very snaggy, but if you keep contact with your bait during cast and retrieve you can use the lips on the bait to deflect off the rocks.

Last point: Every day will have an active feeding window where action will be better for a short time. Usually this is in the warmer part of the day, but I've seen it happen around 9:30am too. Just understand that success on the Rock can be tied to the time you put in.

Most of the area lakes are open. A few brave souls that ventured out during the run of nice weather have reported some limited success, but folks I talked with suggested they were looking for fish shallower than I would be right now.

If you're on the water looking for pannies look for them on the first drop into deeper water near the early warming areas. They won't make a big move shallow until the warmer temps stabilize just a bit, but it won't be long now. Best bet...small red hook #10 or #12 with a waxie or spike will produce more bites right now than anything else you can throw.

Talk to you soon.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Spring Runs Begin

Depere is open and fish are being caught. The Rock River declared Slow No Wake Story Here

It wouldn't be spring without some resources on spring fishing on the Rock River.

Water Resources Links:

Public Boat Launches:

Water Street

(Thanks to Lake-Link's Backwoods43 for the map image)

Links to JSOnline Articles about Fishing the Rock River in Springtime:

Link to the fish passage camera:

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year...2017!

Hello friends,

It has been awhile since I checked in.

There's certainly been some changes to the local fishing scene. The loss, this year, of local fishing institutions Dick Smith and John Laimon (of Smokey's) has certainly changed the dynamic some. In the same way it was when "Musky" Mike passed, I feel like pieces of my youth have been taken away. I hope they are all in a row-boat together somewhere, fishing.

On tap for this coming year:

Take a Vet fishing, some limited guiding, and lots of time in the boat fishing with my kids and my dad.

Look for reports to start up around April 1st.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Last Ride For a Bit.

Hey gang,

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I'm wrapping things up for the season. My new job in the real world starts next week, so while I'll still be on the water, it won't be like it normally is.

A couple of things. First off, I still have a couple of charity trips floating around out there. I'd like to get you in this year, but I can't guarantee that's going to happen.  If you have one, I will still honor it next year.

Second, I may have some late season availability (Especially in late September and Early October) but if there's a date you want, you need to call right away.

Third-The fish are making fall transitions already. Despite the heat, it is time to go fishing.

Finally, I'd like to leave you with a smile. I hope this one, of my daughter Maren from her first outing, will suffice.

I'll be in and out, so check in when you can. It has been fun doing these reports, and I hope to continue to do them as time allows.


Monday, August 8, 2016

Checking In...Fishing Report 8-8-16

Hey gang, sorry I'm been short with reports, but when I haven't been on the water, I've been making my transition to my new teaching digs at the University of Minnesota. Learn more about my transition from UWM to UMN here

The end run of summer begins this week. Time to get on the water. As we move into mid 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. The photocycle starts dominating fish activity this time of year.

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 the (hot) 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 as the crayfish move up for the late summer molt. 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 maybe 5 shallow 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, North, 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 and Lac Labelle lake have all been productive.

Northern pike activity has been slow 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.

Good Luck and Cheers.