I was out multiple times this week. Water temperatures vary greatly between main lake areas (in the 50's to low 60's) and protected bays (in the mid 60's) on area lakes. Water is high pretty much everywhere in the local area, so there's lots of current in areas with moving water. The big news is that weed growth is way behind average, which means if you find can some good weeds, fish them!
Musky fishing has been slow by most reports. Lots of anglers are working a shallow pattern. Look for fish on the shallow weed flats in 6-10 feet of water. Scattered weedclumps with visible baitfish or panfish are high percentage areas right now. A few fish may be using the first deep break in 12-18 feet of water in areas where some new green weeds have started. Most positive reports I heard back this week were with people using downsized baits, but heard reports of plenty of lazy follows--so watch those figure eights closely.
Best bets: Okauchee, Oconomowoc, Lac Labelle, Pewaukee, and Fowler.
Northern Pike have been using the shallow flats where there is new weeds. Anglers targeting bass have been catching a number of pike ranging from smaller snakes to quality 30+" fish. Some of the larger pike are using the deep weedlines in 12-18 feet. Spinnerbaits,small bucktails, lipless crankbaits, floating rapalas and buzzbaits will all catch fish in the shallow water when fished around submergent green weeds. Large shiners or small to medium sized suckers suspended underneath a float, longlined on a split shot rig, or fished deep on a slip-sinker setup are your best options for live bait.
Best Bets: Nagawicka, Golden, Okauchee, Fowler, Moose.
Walleye have been active. Some fish are patrolling the shallows in the morning and evening hours, but the bulk of the fish are holding around rocky points and mid-depth weeds in 8-12 feet of water. Crankbaits like rapala shad raps are catching fish, but controlled drifting with live bait has been the best approach. Slow and steady have been the operative words. A nightcrawler, leech or small sucker on a lindy rig or long lined split shot setup have been the most consistent producers. A few fish are being caught around weeds using jig and plastic or jig and minnow combinations. Should be a great weekend for fishing in the evenings with floating minnow bait around any mid-depth structure or weeds.
Best Bets: Oconomowoc, Pewaukee, Lac Labelle, North, the Nehmabins and Fox Lake.
Largemouth Bass First wave spawning areas have fish on nests but patterning the larger females was inconsistent. Shallow flats outside of the spawning coves still have lots of smaller but schooling fish and remember in areas with consistent depth, not all of the nests will be on the bank. Saw lots of people beating banks when there were active fish on the flats nearby. Look for bass around shallow weeds, wood laydowns or docks. Rocky areas, especially points adjacent to deep water have been holding the most fish. Wacky worms, texas rigged lizards or stickbaits, lipless crankbaits, and jigs with a chunk or craw trailer have all been producing. Nightcralwers or large leeches on a lindy or split shot rig or large shiners under floats fished around piers or along rockbars have been catching a few nice fish. Pro-Tip: Downsizing put some quality fish in the boat for me this week.
Best Bets: Okauchee, Golden, Keesus, Pine, Nagawicka, Buelah, Moose, Eagle Springs.
Smallmouth Bass Fish are patrolling the shallow bars in small schoola a few times a day, especially on the warmer sunny days. Lots of fish are suspending in deeper water just off of shallow structure. Rocky/sand transition areas have been holding some fish who are foraging for craws. Suspending jerkbaits, tubes, wacky worms, swimbaits and lipless crankbaits in a crawfish pattern have all caught fish.
Best Bets: Oconomowoc, Lac Labelle, Pine, Nagawicka, Lower Nehmabin, Beaver.
Crappie Look for them around shallow cover in 2-8 feet of water. Tight-lining over deeper wood or weeds in 8-12 feet has also been effective on some lakes. Tail-hooked fatheads, plastics or hair jigs tipped with a waxworm and rosie reds are your best live bait options for crappies. Strike zones have been relatively small, so try to make accurate casts when setting up your presentations.
Best Bets: Pine, Okauchee, Kessus, Golden, Garvin, Ashippun, Lake Five.
Bluegills are beginning to move into the shallow water on many area lakes, but the better sized fish have still been coming from anglers targeting them in a little deeper water. Shallow fish will be near sandy bottom areas with scattered weed growth, but if you just want the kids to catch a few fish, try fishing around any piers that are in the water adjacent to deeper water (6-10 feet). If you want to target eating size gills, tightline vertically while drifting along weedlines in deeper water (as deep as 22 feet), look for schools on the end of sandy/gravel points in 12-15 feet of water on in shallow areas with current. Plastics tipped with waxworms or spikes, panfish leeches or redworms are your best live bait options.
Best Bets: Golden, Silver, Garvin, Lower Nashotah, Forest, Upper and Lower Phantom, Ashippun, Upper Geneessee and Lake Five.
Catfish are being caught on the Rock River. Cutbait, stinkbait and nightcrawlers fished around the heads of the deeper holes has been producing some better sized keepers. The area between Watertown and the Jefferson Dam has been giving up fish the last few weeks, but if you're heading out, note that the water is still pretty high and fast on the river.
Trout: The local lakes stocked with trout were solid producers during the first week. Opening weekend was busy, but pressure dropped way off during the weekedays. There's lots of small schools of trout swimming around, but the fish that were biting (for me) were running the drop offs. Gold ice fishing jigs tipped with live bait was the best option when I was on the water, but the fish were still a little spooky, and we did better tightlining than with bobbers.
Good Luck Out There.