Here's what to expect when you hit the water for the opener, which is less exciting than normal thanks to the new C+R bass season.
1.) Water temps in the low to mid fifties. Some isolated bays and boat channels may be approaching 60 degreesk. Nighttime temperatures will dictate most of what happens for the next run. The mix of cold rain and cool nights is keeping things from really getting going.
2.) Limited new growth of weeds, and not too many piers are in but more than normal for this time of year. Social distancing has more people on the lakes in boats.
3.) I'd focus my efforts in the warmer parts of the day. You may need to make some adjustments throughout the weekend as conditions change.
4.) Live bait, fished slowly is going to be a great way to kick off the season. I'd fish for pike or bass. Muskie are just finishing their spawn, and may be a bit spooky,
5.) Local lakes are open, but the rivers will get active again with the rain we just had.
Panfish: Staging on weed flats and in marshy areas. Look for the warmest shallow water in the afternoons. Plastics tipped with waxworms, or small tail hooked minnows are catching fish, but they are running small. Strike zone is small, so make sure to make accurate casts if fishing for shallow, visible fish. (Best Local Options: Okauchee, Pine, Kessus, Nag, Lower Nashotah, Fowler, Middle Geneessee, Moose, Garvin and Golden)
Bass: Pre-Pre spawn. Look for small groups of fish to be cruising in the shallow water and look for bigger fish around the ends of points. Some of the early warming bays and channels may have some early bucks up in the shallow water, but I'd expect to see more schooling activity. Grubs, tubes and wacky are your best bets, but a jigworm or a swim jig might be the key approach. Don't overlook a lipless crankbait either. (Okauchee, Silver, Golden, Nag, Oconomowoc, Lac Labelle, Kessus, Pewaukee, Beaver)
Action will come in spurts, but look for warmer water and any green weeds you can find. If the sun is out, rocks can pull in fish later in the day as they absorb heat. Large fish can be caught on suspending jerkbaits or slow rolled spinnerbait on the deep edges of points near spawning coves. If you're seeing bigger fish in the shallows, jig and pig in a black/blue, black/red or rootbeer pattern will produce. If you can find some fish out deep, a texas rigged lizard can land you the biggest bass of the season right now.
Northern: Lots of fish on the flats. Live bait, buzzbaits or lipless crankbaits will produce the most fish. Probably your best option for early fishing this weekend if you're looking for steady action. Big fish will be one breakline deeper than where the active, smaller fish are. Chrome or reflective lipless crankbaits will get your line stretched for sure as will a slip sinker rig with a jumbo shiner or small sucker.(Moose, Kessus, Nag, Emily, Okauchee, Pretty, Golden)
Walleye: Lots of fish on the 6-12 foot deep flat areas. Especially around, but out of the current, and in any shallow standing weeds you can find. Jigging the channel edges or points, lindy rigging and drifting or slow death trolling are good options. #11 or #13 floating rapalas will pull up any bigger fish you come across. (Oconomowoc, Lac Labelle, Pine, Fox, Nag and North)
Musky: Live baiting with suckers, small bucktails and jerkbaits are your best options for the opener. As I said, some fish are still roaming the shallows finishing the spawn, and you may seem them paired up in shallow water (Lac Labelle, Pewaukee, Okauchee, Oconomowoc, Garvin, Fowler and North)
Reminder that there was no trout stockings this year, so the usual opening weekend rush on Lower Genessee, Ottawa and Fowler may not be as pronounced.
Good Luck, Stay Safe and I'll see you out there.