Well gang, it is the annual Free Fishing Weekend, around the state. Here's an update on the last week.
I have been on Silver, Ashippun, Moose, Golden, Oconomowoc and Lac Labelle in the last week. Fishing has been slow and steady, but is showing signs of picking up. Catching lots of smaller gamefish, but starting to see some quality fish come in. Had a good split day yesterday between Golden (AM) and Moose (after Lunch) where action was steady, and where some better bass were coming in.
The Okauchee Public Launch area is now closed, and the parking area for Lower and Middle Gen is under construction.
Water temps are still in the mid to high 60's on most area lakes. Weed growth is still behind. Bluegills are on nests, especially in sandy or pea gravel areas, baitfish are still hard to come by consistently.
Panfish: Suprisingly, Crappie were the real story of the last week as second stage spawners moved into the wood and reeds and did there business. Typically when bluegills are on the beds, people abandon crappie fishing for about two weeks, but anglers were really on some nice bags of keepers the last ten days. For crappie, look for them in wood that hangs over, or reaches into deeper water, and fish in the branches with slip bobbers and small jigs tipped with live bait. For bluegills, there's plenty of action fish that can be caught in the shallows right now, but if you're looking for better fish, split shot or lindy rigs with panfish leeches in 12-15 FOW will produce. (Genessee Lakes, Forest, Okauchee, Oconomowoc, North, Nag, Kessus, Silver, School Section and Ashippun are all hot)
Largemouth: Spawn is over, but you may still find some males protecting fry. The bite has been slow, but steady during all periods of the day, but the 11am-1pm run has been tough some days. You're going to see lots of active smaller fish, but if you're catching fish consistently, stick with it and the bigger fish will come. Weeds (if you can find them) and docks are holding fish, but the bulk of the fish are in the areas where bluegills are spawning. There isn't much slop out there yet, but if youcan find some it'll likely have some fish Wacky rigs, texas rigged worms, skirted grubs, jig and craw, lipless crankbaits and topwater are all producing right now. Shoot for numbers to win. (Okauchee, Oconomowoc, North, Forest, Moose, Golden, School Section and Ashippun)
Smallmouth: The bite has been inconsistent, but with the weather changes, patterning fish has been difficult. Look for them to be foraging on rock bars and in sand/gravel or sand/rock transitions in 4-8 and 12-15 FOW. Grubs, Skirted Grubs, Spinnerbaits, tubes and jerkbaits are solid bets, but until conditions stabilize a bit, expect some hit or miss fishing. If you can find some fish deep, jog and leech or lindy rigs with small suckers or chubs might be the answer to a tough bite. (North, Nag, Lower Nashotah, Pewaukee, Lac Labelle and Oconomowoc)
Walleye fishing has been absolutely hit or miss the last ten days. Some days people are tearing them up, but other days you wouldn't know there were any in the lake. Fish have been caught as shallow as 3 FOW, but the bulk of the fish seem to be holding in the transitions or drop offs in 12-15 FOW. I have caught fish as deep as 32 FOW in the past week. Live bait rigs or jigs during the day, casting with jig/grub or jig/ringworm combos has been working early and late. (Pewaukee, North, Nag, Fowler and Lac Labelle.)
Pike fishing has been an interesting mix. They have been reasonably difficult to catch when targeted, but anglers chasing bass, walleye or musky have been catching lots of them. Most of the fish have been running small, but a few mid 30's fish were caught this week. Look for weeds that have baitfish in them and then cast with lipless crankbaits, spinners or buzzbaits. Live bait, suckers or large shiners on a slip sinker rig with a floro leader is your best bet. Action: 4-8 FOW, Size 12-18 FOW (Pretty, Nag, Moose, Golden, Okauchee, Oconomowoc and Ashippun)
Musky has been very slow. Anglers are seeing lots of fish, but lazy follows have been the consistent report. Stay with it, and watch your solar lunar tables for activity windows. Consider downsizing your bait some as well. Okauchee has been slow and steady, as has Garvin, I've heard nothing on Oconomowoc. Pewaukee has been average, while Lac Labelle, Fowler and North have been the most active in the last 10 days.
Good luck out there.