Here is my annual pre-opening weekend post. Look for an final update Friday with weather and water conditions from around the area.
This spring has been especially wet and cool. With water temps hovering in the 50's on most area lakes, the operative words will be slow and methodical. Live bait rigging will be a great option for gamefish during the opener. Slow rolling spinnerbaits or bucktails or burning lipless crankbaits will be great options for exploring weedy areas and drop offs.
Need bait, equipment, or a fishing license? Do yourself a favor and buy from one of the locals.
Musky Mikes (Okauchee)
Dick Smith's (Delafield)
Taking a Kid Fishing this weekend? The DNR Suggests these spots:
Ashippun Lake Park
Location: In Oconomowoc, WI. Take Capitol Drive west to State Highway 16, go west on 16 to County Highway P, then take P north to County Highway K, go west on K to McMahon Road. Watch for "public access" sign.
Notes: Run by Waukesha County Parks. Park has picnic area, restrooms and shorefishing.
Location: Located on Crowbar Drive, south of Kelsey Drive. Go west from Highway Y.
Notes: Public park with ballfields, restrooms, picnic area and boat launch. Not much shorefishing, due to marshy area near shore.
Lac La Belle
Location: At the Fowler Lake Dam, on Highway 67, one-quarter mile north of State Highway 16 in the Oconomowoc, WI. Located just northeast of the beach and park on Lac La Belle. The beach and park are on Highway 16, just west of Highway 67.
Notes: Disabled accessible public fishing pier.
Little Muskego Lake
Location: Access from Idle Isle Park in Muskego, WI on the northeast side of Little Muskego Lake. Take Martin Drive to Hardtke Drive to the park.
Note: Idle Isle Park has a beach, picnic area, restrooms, accessible public fishing pier and boat launch.
Lower Phantom Lake
Location: In Phantom Glen Park in Mukwonago, WI. Take County Highway ES (Main Street) to Andrews Street, then go west into the park.
Notes: Public park with picnic area, restrooms, disabled accessible public fishing pier and boat ramp.
Location: Trout pond located on the west side of Highway 67, between Piper Road and Road X. About 3 miles north of Eagle, WI.
Notes: No facilities, but there is a picnic area with restrooms just a short distance to the south. DNR manages as a children's trout fishing pond. Although it is officially category 3 (3 bag and 9 inch length), there is a voluntary regulation for adults to catch and release, and kids are allowed to keep one trout of any size. Designed to encourage adults to take kids out and teach them to trout fish.
Location: In Nagawaukee County Park. Take County Highway C, three-quarters of a mile north of Interstate 94 in Delafield, WI.
Notes: Public beach, picnic area, restrooms and concessions, camping, shorefishing and boat launch.
Nemahbin Lakes, Upper and Lower
Location: Southeast of Oconomowoc, WI, off of County Highway DR.
Notes: County owned access on frontage road between the two lakes, Highway DR. shorefishing on Upper Nemahbin from the road right-of-way. DNR owned carry-in site on Lower Nemahbin off Sugar Island Road.
Location: Village park in downtown Pewaukee, WI.
Notes: Public park with beach and public fishing pier. Can also access Pewaukee River just below the dam. On Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Pewaukee. Boat launch and shorefishing from county park and boat ramp at the west end, on Highway E.
Local Shorefishing Locations
· Okauchee Lake: Shore fishing is available at the public boat landing. Take HWY 16 to the Sawyer Road exit. Turn left at the T-intersection, and drive through the town of Okauchee. At the clock tower, veer left and then go about a ¼ mile to Road T, which is a right hand turn. Free parking for cars is available.
· Moose Lake: Shore and pier fishing is available at the Moose Lake Public Launch area. This launch has been improved over the last few years and a nice park like area is available to shore fisherman. The Launch area is just off Highway C, across from Cedar Bay road.
· Lac La Belle: Public Fishing Pier Located in Memorial Park in downtown Oconomowoc.
· Nashotah Park: Just off of the corner of HWY C and HWY R in Nashotah there is a park and ride. Across HWY R, there is a low fence that marks access to the Forest Lake area of Nashotah Park. Anglers have to hike down the hill, but the entire shoreline of the small lake is available for shore-fishing.
· Fowler Lake: There is space for shore fishing by the Labelle/Fowler Dam, at the boat landing and in the Riverside Park. The lake is just off HWY 16 in Downtown Oconomowoc. The boat landing is behind city hall.
· Nagawicka Lake: Two areas allow public shore fishing access. There is some space at the public launch in the County Park off of HWY 83 near Delafield. A second option allows you to access St John's Bay and a section of the Bark River. Take HWY C to where the Military Academy is. There is a small park just south of downtown Delafield on the east side of the road.
· Pewaukee Lake: Located in Nagawaukee County Park on the west side of the lake. From I-94, north on State Highway 83 for 1/8 mile, east on County Highway DR 1 1/2 miles, north on County Highway E to park entrance. Park fee is charged. There is also a public fishing pier along the city strip near the beach on the east end.
·Ottawa Lake: Located in the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. From State Highway 67, west on County Highway ZZ for 1/3 mile to park entrance. State Park sticker required for entry.
· Paradise Springs: Located in the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. From downtown Eagle, west 1 mile on State Highway 59 to County Highway N, north on N for about 1/2 mile to site. State Park sticker required for entry. Artificial lures only.
·Lower Phantom Lake: Located in Phantom Glen Park. From County Highway ES, west on Andrews Street to park entrance.
Other Useful Links
Local Fishing Reports from Lake-Link.com
Becky Smith's handy list of shorefishing locations, boat ramps and boat rentals is online at at www.Dicksmithslivebait.com
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.
The DNR's 2011 Spring Fishing Forecast is here.
The DNR's online license purchases avoid the wait opening morning.
Whitebass are currently running in Jefferson on the Rock River. Around the state, whites are also in big runs on the Fox, Wolf and Wisconsin Rivers.
Check out this post on local trout stocking numbers.
The complete report is available from the DNR Website
Crappies and Bluegills remain in shallow water, and the bite has been steady in the afternoons. Primarily the schools 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.
Best Lakes For Panfish: Ashippun, Silver, Kessus Buelah, Golden, the Geneessee lakes, Lake Five, Okauchee (Bay Five, the Channel, Icehouse and Stumpy Bay), Garvin and the Nehmabins.
Largemouth are in a 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, 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 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:Nagawicka, Lower Nehmabin, Oconomowoc, Pine, Lac La Belle.
Walleye: Many walleyes have been seen roaming shallow flats chasing baitfish. This indicates typical post-spawn behavior patterns, which matches the water temperatures on 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. I'd run live bait rigs to find fish, then fish an active area hard with crankbaits like a shad rap 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.
Northern: Pike are past their post spawn blues and are starting to feed aggressively. Small pike are 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 big bobbers and suspend large shiners and suckers around weed edges or near areas with visible panfish. Casting with lipless crankbaits or spinner baits, especially around shallow weeds on the flat areas can be dynamite.
Best lakes for pike: Forest, Emily, Moose, Golden, Nagawicka, Fowler, Lower Gennessee, Okauchee.
Musky: Lots of fish have been seen recovering from the spawn, but 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 on a quick strike rig while casting. I'd stick to jerkbaits, gliders or small bucktails for the opener this year, and concentrate your efforts on any scattered weed clumps you can find. I'd plan on being methodical and be ready to make lots of casts to an area to get neutral fish to bite.
Best lakes for musky:Pewaukee, Lac La Belle, Fowler, Okauchee, Garvin and Oconomowoc.
Good Luck out there!