First, a reminder about Musky Mikes Northern Pike Tournament on Sunday on Okauchee. Information is available here.
Fishing is picking up as the cooler weather has set in. I have done a bunch of trips over the last 10 days and the gamefish activity is getting much better. The best bites are the early and late feeding periods, but with a little work, you can have steady action all day long. It's been a tough year in terms of bigger fish, but the last couple of trips we've really been catching some nice fish, in addition to solid numbers of smaller ones.
Panfish activity is still happening in the deep water. Look for them in 20+ FOW, and suspended about half way down. Areas where a deep weedline touches a deeper drop-off (like a deep point for example) are really holding some nice schools of fish. Tightlining with live bait, or slip bobbers is you best approach, and night fishing with lighted slip bobbers has really been a solid (but not to often talked about) way to get a limit of nice keepers. Plastics tipped with live bait, leeches or leafworms all seem to be the meat the bluegills are after. Crappies are suspending over deep structure, live cribs, and slip bobbers with tailed hooked minnows is producing.
Largemouth bass action has gotten red hot over the last two weeks, but there is hot and cold streaks throughout the day. Look for feeding periods from just before sun-up until about 9:30, and then again from about 4pm to just after dark. The fish are actively chasing bait during these periods, and can be caught on grubs, ringworms, flapper grubs, and jigworms. Topwater action can be had, but the bait they are chasing is on the small side, so go with a small pop-r, skitter pop or something similar. After the initial feeding, look for fish to get tight to shallow cover, docks or weed edges, and then chase them down with wacky, tubes, and jig/craw combos. On bright sunny days, the slop bite has been producing, but personally I'm only catching smaller fish out of the slop right now. Best bite has been on shallow weedflats with scattered cover, where you can visibly see baitfish schooled up and swimming around. Today I caught fish at essentially every depth between 18 inches and 22 feet.
Smallmouth action has been a little slower by most reports. They are still biting, but like the largemouths there's periods of time during the day f active feeding. The crayfish are not in full molt yet, and when that starts expect the smallie action to go gangbusters for 10 days-2weeks. Right now you can catch some smallies on the flats and mainlake structure, especially along the drop-off edges, or suspended off the breaks in deep water. Tubes, wacky, grubs and soft jerkbaits are all producing the shallow fish, while suspending jerkbaits and crankbaits are catching the deeper fish.
Northern action has been slow, but I haven't been actively targeting them, so take that with a grain of salt. Look for them on deep weedlines, or suspended in very deep water. If you're fishing the tournament, I'd go with a slip sinker rig, with a florocarbon leader, and drag sucker or big shiners (the biggest you can find) along the first break off the deep weedline.
Musky action has been slow and steady, and the best action has been on Oconomowoc and Fowler. Look for fish to be in 15-22 foot of water. A few fish are foraging and eating juvenile perch, especially in the morning, and shallow rockbars, points or shorelines with easy access to deep water have some fish making feeding runs.