We've moved to a late fall situation on the water. If we get the heavy rain that's forecast for this weekend, things could get interesting.
On the local lakes, water temps are in the High 40's to Low 50's. Weeds are still very thick, but starting to die back. I was amazed how thick they were in places when I was on the water today. Plus, there is still massive quantities of visible baitfish, schooled up and swimming around. Simply unprecedented for this point in the season.
Turnover: Because it is the question on everyone's mind, I didn't see signs of a turnover, (ie lots of floating organics) but the water was very clear today, so maybe its has come and gone. Greg at Musky Mikes pointed out that the wind could have settled things this week, which seems like a reasonable explanation.
In terms of the fishing, I have a couple of things to report. The consensus opinion is that fishing has been slow, but it seems that it may have as much to do with the fact that, in relative terms, only a few people are fishing right now. Oconomowoc, Okauchee, Lac-Labelle and Fowler have been essentially empty for a couple of weeks. This is close to peak for Musky fishing season, but reports place very few people (again in relative terms) on the water.
Close to home, Bass, Pike and Musky are active, although fishing conditions vary day to day. It's live bait season for trophy fish. Typically the first deep break will hold fish, but I was seeing baitfish along shallow weed edges today, and I missed my hookset a good sized musky in an area with active baitfish running the weed-tops.
As thick as the weeds are, I'm sure you could flip, or jig and pork LM bass out of weed clumps, or use a buzzbait tight to shallow cover, especially on warm afternoons. If you want to chase smallmouth, large or jumbo shiners are a great late season live bait option. Either way, I'd concentrate on rocky structure with some scattered weeds that gets some direct sunlight, and I'd try and fish during the warm part of sunny days.
Pike are active and using the weed edges. Spinnerbaits, spoons and crankbaits will catch fish, but a smaller sucker on a slip sinker rig can really get the job done on the weed edges in 12-18FOW.
Musky fishing is slow, but I can't imagine that staying the case. I'm wondering if it seems slower because of the low number of people on the water, but I can say that some of my go-to spots for this time of year are so thick with weeds as to be difficult to fish. If you go out, make sure to have at least one sucker out, as many fish that come in on a bait, will grab a nearby sucker this time of year.
River fishing has been slow to non-existent, but if we get a couple inches of rain, there should be some activity on the Rock and Wisconsin Rivers. I haven't gotten any positive reports from the Fox in Oshkosh, or from Jefferson in the last two weeks. A few whitebass were being caught below Ft Atkinson, but stress on the few.
Good Luck and Cheers,