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Monday, March 1, 2021

Open Water Approaches/Rock River Spring Resources

 Everyone,

Spring has (partially) sprung, and there's glimpses of open water on the horizon.

Images on the Jefferson Dam Lake-Link Thread show the channel opening up on the Rock River below the Jefferson Dam. While it is still very, very early (and not yet ready for boats or shore fishing) the signs are that the spring runs are just around the corner.

Here's some links to get you in the mood and to keep you in touch as things develop.

Water Resources Links:
 


Public Boat Launches:



Links to some older JSOnline Articles about Fishing the Rock River in Springtime:

St Patricks Day in 2009 (As the flood was setting in)


Link to the fish passage camera:

At the Jefferson Dam (Was offline when I just checked it)

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Fishing Report 9-22-2020

Around the area water is hovering around the mid to low 60's, but even with the stable warm weather on the way, expect the shorter nights to start dropping water temps. 

Weeds are still thick, and water levels are around average for this time of year. Baitfish are still very plentiful since many of them hatched late.

Panfish have begun to transition to fall patterns. Look for keepers at the ends of long weedy points, or suspended around shallow grass in current areas. Plastics tipped with small live bait are usually solid options this time of year, but don't overlook the use of larger live bait for keepers.

LM Bass fishing has settled into a traditional early fall pattern. Fish will bite periodically through out the day, but usually in short feeding spurts, and the afternoons and evenings are the best times of day. Topwater, especially buzzbaits and poppers will pull up active fish. Fish tight to cover early with slower, vertical presentations, but get more active with your presentations around 9-10am. Be ready to move around to find active fish, but concentrate on areas with rock/weed transitions, and when you find fish in an area, work it hard as many fish will be schooled up, chasing bait.

SM Bass fishing...it is time to break out the live bait. Fish will relate to break lines, moving up to shallow water to feed, but then out to deep water between feeding runs. Deeper breaks off of points or shallow rocky areas are the best place to start. Leeches work great if you can still find them, but "walleye sized suckers", the biggest shiners you can find or chubs are worth it if you're chasing the fish of the year. Don't be shy about the size live bait or floating minnow baits (like a #11 rapala) but a deep diving crankbait in white or crawfish patterns can save a day this time of year.

Walleye fishing has been on the slow side for the last stretch of days. I expect the fishing to get better as the weather stabilizes. A few anglers have been heading to the rivers to get a jump on the fall runs, and some anglers on the Rock are reporting some whitebass are mixed in with the walleyes and cats they are getting, although it seems a bit off and on. 

Musky fishing has been a little slower than I would have expected, but is definitely starting to pick up as the water cools and the boat traffic dies down. Still a bit early for the pounders, but gliders, dawgs, bucktails and  jerkbaits are solid options, but it is the start of sucker season, so make sure to keep one out while targeting muskies.

Good Luck Out There,
CT

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Fishing Report (Labor Day Weekend 2020)

Hey Gang,

 Water levels are a bit higher than they have been, and water temps are in the low to mid 70's. Weeds are a bit more sparse than usual for this time of year, the crayfish molt is wrapping up and the baitfish are on the move. The next three weeks are setting up for some great action.

Panfish continues to be the hot bite in the area, but the action can come in spurts rather than being a consistent all day bite. Crappie and bluegill continue to hold along weedlines or suspended out over deep water. You'll have to look around, but there's some decent bags of keepers in mid-depth weeds (8-12FOW). Plastics tipped with live bait, tail hooked minnows and leafworms fished vertically or with slip bobbers will produce. Evenings have been better, as is typical for this time of year, but look for the best bite to start to shift to early afternoon as the photocycle starts to rapidly shrink. 

Largemouth continue to run late summer patterns. On the hot sunny days, look for them around docks or slop, or schooled up chasing bait out deep in 12-15 FOW. On the cooler cloudy days, look for active fish in sand/rock or rock/weed transitions in 4-8 feet, but be ready to fish slow and tight, making ontact with cover to get a bite. Topwater bite will be good, especially early in the morning from sunrise until about 8am. After 8am, grubs, jigworms and small cranks or minnow baits can really produce. 

Smallmouth fishing has picked up as fish are starting to put on the early fall feedbag. Look for them around the edges of the shallow structure like rock bars or sand/rock transition areas. The fish will be deeper than you think they should be in most cases. Jigworms, grubs, minnowbaits and small white or crawfish colored crankbaits can be dynamite.

Pike fishing has been slow, but steady. Lots of undersized fish are being caught in the shallow and mid-depth areas. I'd consider moving out deeper and using live bait on a slip sinker rig, trying to connect with active fish in 18-22 or 22-25 feet of water. 

Walleye fishing: The best word is inconsistent. People still fishing at night are reporting some success off the deeper sand flat areas, but a few decent fish are being caught out of the shallow weeds very early in the morning using rapalas or similar minnow baits. Wind will help, but having a variety of live bait to try some different things can make a difference. If you find some active fish, hit that area hard from a couple of angles with at least two or three presentations. There's more fish there, but with the quantity of baitfish in the water right now, they can afford to be a little choosy.

Musky are getting more active, but anglers are still reporting lots of lazy follows. Gliders, smaller bulldogs and cow-girls have all produced limited action in the past week, but most of the fish are mid-30's to low 40 inch fish. As the water begins to cool, the action will pick up considerably. For now, it is probably best to leave the pounders at home and stick with a smaller presentation. When the water gets into the high 60's then you bust out the armbusting tackle. Don't forget to go slow and steady with those topwaters.

See ya out there.

Good Luck,
CT

Monday, August 24, 2020

Fishing Report 8-21-2020

 
Hey gang,

Lots going on, so let's get right to it. First off, the crayfish molt is winding up. Lots of people were on some fish, but then those fish got scarce. What happened of course is the late summer molt, where the soft shells get on the shallow rocks and the feeding frenzy breaks out. Typically when a deep bite cools off quickly like that, fish will continue to bite, but they'll have a much smaller strike zone and the shallow fish will be active. But with so much food around, it means you need to slow down and be more methodical with your presentations. Fish tight to cover, and take a deep breath to slow down. Remember my rule of slowing down: If you think you're fishing slow enough, you're still fishing twice as fast as you should be. 

Panfish bite has been consistent, and some quality bags are coming in. Generically the fish are moving to weed-edges and shallow weed clumps at the end of points. Classic late summer behavior, and a bit ahead of schedule. The best fishing is on the deeper weed edge along the main lake structure or secondary points. Slip bobbers will work, but vertically fishing for the deeper fish can really produce, especially if you can find some fish suspending. Don't be afraid to use big bait, including panfish leeches if you can find them. If they're not on the ends of structure, move out to the adjacent deep water and look for them suspended at the depth of the nearby structure. ( IE: if the point ends in 15 FOW, move out deeper, but look for the fish to be down 15')

Bass are starting to school up and chase bait. (Again, this is a bit ahead of schedule for the season) Look for active fish to be chasing late hatching baitfish on shallow flats. Topwaters, jigworms, grubs and wacky worms can really catch some quality bags right now, especially if you're close to active fish. Docks and slop have been pretty hot with the warmer weather, but  flipping or working a texas rig or jig worm through isolated points and weed edges produced some quality bites for me the last couple of days.

Walleye are patrolling the flats for bait. Jigging in the weeds can be dynamite, especially early and late, but don't be afraid to work edges/drops in 18-22 FOW, or to throw minnowbaits around visible subsurface patches of weeds. Controlled drifting or back trolling with lindy rigs has been working on the windy days where jigging has been tough. Don't fish an area without visible baitfish right now, and be ready for white/yellowbass to steal lots of bait.

Pike are making an early fall move, and I saw several quality pike patrolling the shallow water in search of food when I was out this past week. Buzzbaits, spinners and small lipless crankbaits will all produce right now, but the real ticket is a slip sinker rig with heavy floro and a small sucker dragged ever so slowly through weeds in 18-25 FOW.

Musky fishing was pretty slow this past week. My regular sources all reported a tough week, but things are starting to happen.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Fishing Report 8-3-2020

The end run of summer begins and it is time to get on the water. 

As we move into August you'll find fish in the traditional summer places, but watch for them to have periods of time where they feed actively around rock bars and transition areas. The changes in the photocycle and the length of day are signals to the fish to start charging up, and you can expect to see activity levels peak and ebb during each day. After 40 years on the water, one thing I know is true: the photocycle starts dominating fish activity this time of year.

Panfish are still holding in deeper water, and will likely continue to do so for a couple of weeks. Look for them to suspend along weedlines in 12-22 feet of water, or to suspend over deeper sandgrass about 14-18 feet down over 40-50 feet of water. 

Largemouth will come in using two primary patterns at least for the short term. On the (hot) sunny days, you can find them around shallow docks, wood laydowns, slop and scattered weed clumps.  As the sun gets up, look for them to move tighter to the overhead cover, paying close attention to the shadows, but here will be periods of time during the day where their activity level will increase for a short spell. You should prepare to switch tactics (and your presentation) as they switch on and off, especially around transition areas and over flats where the topwater bite can really be fantastic, early and late in the day. 

Deeper fish will continue to use weededges and points in 12-18 feet of water, or be suspended over deep water about 6-12 feet below the surface where there's baitfish or juvenile panfish schooled up. Some fish are relating to rockbars in 5-12 feet of water as the crayfish move up for a late summer molt. Tube baits and skirted grubs are a great way to target these fish.  The fish chasing molted and juvenile craws will bite all day around rock/gravel areas, but they tend to be in groups on a certain area on a larger piece of structure. Tip: If you see carp digging on the rocks (there's usually a cloud of dust when they forage) you're probably in the right area. Some deeper fish are still being taken off the weedlines and off the weed flats by anglers flipping around heavy cover.

Smallmouth are starting the (early) fall pattern of making 3 maybe 5 shallow foraging moves each day. When you are contacting active fish in shallow water, the bite can be incredible. Topwaters, including size 9 or 11 rapalas or poppers in natural patterns can get you started, but be ready to switch to tubes, wacky, skirted grubs or twister tails as the day progresses. Note, it is less about the clock, and more about baitfish this time of year. When things are slower, look for them to be just off the first major break in deeper water. Crankbaits in white or chartreuse, spinners or live bait are better for the deeper fish. Fish the edges where weedlines touch hard bottom.  

Walleyes will continue to hold in their summer patterns for another couple of weeks, but they will quickly make a move to shallower weedy areas as the baitfish move in for their fall spawning run. For now jigging or backtrolling with live bait around weededges or drop-offs in 12-18 feet of water is a good place to start, and be ready to adjust to deeper water on sunny days or shallower on cloudy or windy days.  A few fish are appearing on mid-lake structure but many are staging off main-lake points, especially where there is bottom transitions from rock to sand or from sand to muck. Trolling with bottom bouncers and spinner harnesses or drifting with live bait rigs are great ways to target these fish.  In the very early mornings and at last light, working a floating minnow bait through the tops of weeds can put a couple fish in the boat quick, especially if there is just a little wind.

Northern pike activity has been slow and steady all summer, and I wouldn't expect that to change. Smaller pike can almost always be found in shallow water around weed clumps and inside weededges adjacent to rock bars/shorelines. Larger pike can be taken trolling cranbkaits or backtrolling live bait along deeper weed edges, especially in 12-20 feet of water. 

I haven't heard much in the way of Musky for the last couple of weeks as most folks give them the mid-summer break, but with more rain and cooler nights on the horizon, things should start to pick back up.


Good Luck and Cheers.
CT

Friday, July 17, 2020

Fishing Report 7-17-2020


Hey gang,

I hope you are all well. I know I haven't been quite as regular with reports as in the past,  but thanks to those of you who reach out about the timeline for updates. It is nice to know I'm not talking to empty space here. This blog started when I was heavily involved with Musky Mike's and guiding full time...but life has moved on some from then. I'm still around though, and if you ever need any info on the fly, you can always just email me.

Before we get Started: Handy Tip: The Okauchee Launch at the Golden Mast is currently closed.

In general terms :The unstable weather complicated fishing some this week. Fish were still biting, but activity levels and strike zone size was limited.  As we move towards the end of July and into early August look for fish in the usual summer places, but watch for them to have periods of time where they feed actively. The changes in the daily photocycle and the length of day will start to be evident to the fish, and you can expect to see activity levels peak and ebb during each day.

Water temps are in the low to mid 80's. Weed growth is at summer peak..

For now, current is your friend.The rain over the last ten days has really started some water moving, and the fish are certainly relating to the changes.

Panfish are still holding in deeper water, and will continue to do so for a couple of weeks. Look for the crappies to suspend along weedlines in 12-22 feet of water and bluegills to suspend about 14-18 feet down over 40-50 feet of water. Deeper holes in areas with current may also hold some surprising sized pannies right now. Caught some decent panfish with my son and his friend one day this week fishing tight to emergent weed clumps on the end of a shallow point....not sure if it was a pattern, but FYI. Small plastics tipped with waxie or spikes or panfish leeches are all about all you need right now.

Largemouth will continue to come in using two primary patterns in the short term. On sunny days, you can find them around shallow docks, wood laydowns (especially ones that generate some shade), in the slop and scattered weed clumps.  As the sun gets up, look for them to move tighter to overhead cover, but here will be periods of time during the day where their activity level will increase for a short period of time...maybe 45 minutes or so. Be ready to switch tactics as they switch on and off, especially around transition areas and over flats where the topwater bite can really be fantastic.

Deeper fish will continue to use weed edges and points in 12-18 feet of water, or be suspended over deep water about 6-12 feet below the surface where there are baitfish or bluegills. Some fish are relating to rockbars in 5-12 feet of water during their feeding run, before pulling off to the first break. Tube baits and skirted grubs are a great way to target these fish. Some fish are still being taken off the weedlines and off the weed flats by anglers flipping around heavy cover.

Smallmouth are making 3-5 foraging moves each day. When you are contacting active fish in shallow water, the bite can be incredible. Topwaters, including size 9 or 11 rapalas or poppers in natural patterns can get you started, but be ready to switch to tubes, wacky, skirted grubs or twister tails as the day progresses. When things are slower, look for them to be just off the first major break in deeper water. Crankbaits in white or chartreuse, spinners or live bait are better options for the deeper fish.  If you can find a school holding close to the bottom around the end of a point on your electronics, drop shot them and follow up with a grub.

Walleyes will continue to hold in their summer patterns for another couple of weeks, but they will soon start to make a move to shallower weedy areas as the baitfish move in for their fall spawning run. For now jigging or backtrolling with live bait around weededges or drop-offs in 12-18 but also as deep as 27 feet of water is a good place to start, and be ready to adjust to shallower on cloudy or windy days.  A few fish are appearing on mid-lake structure but many are staging off main-lake points, especially where there is bottom transitions from rock to sand or from sand to muck. Trolling with bottom bouncers and spinner harnesses or drifting with live bait rigs are great ways to target these fish, especially at night.

Northern pike activity has been slow and steady all summer, and I wouldn't expect that to change. Smaller pike can almost always be found in shallow water around weed clumps and inside weededges adjacent to rock bars/shorelines. Larger pike can be taken trolling cranbkaits or backtrolling live bait along deeper weed edges, especially in 15-22 feet of water.

Musky reports have slowed down over the past couple of weeks, but I suspect that has as much to do with the weather as anything. Many anglers stop chasing musky when water temps get above 80, and most lakes are in excess of that figure right now. For the next run, look for the in deeper water suspended around baitfish. Action will pick up considerably in the weeks ahead. The usual lakes have been been producing, Pewaukee and Okauchee have been slower than average all season, but are still  producing.

Good Luck and Cheers.
CT

Monday, June 29, 2020

Local Fishing Report June 29, 2020

Well gang, we're almost half way through summer...and things really picked up in the last stretch. The bite has finally stabilized and it is time to fish Around the area most water temps are in the mid to high 70's. Weed growth and baitfish populations are at about average for this time of year.

If you're a newbie or casual fisherman....keep it simple. Get some leeches or small suckers and fish them on a slip sinker or lindy rig. Just keep the line tight and put your boat around the deep edges of some visible weeds. You will catch fish.

If you're looking to cast some lures...try a lipless crankbait.  Just cast it at any weeds you see, and reel it in as fast as you can.

Panfish Looking for action? Small panfish can be caught in shallow water using a small hook, bobber and live bait, especially around docks or swim platforms. The better sized fish are being caught out of the deeper water (12-18 or 20-32 FOW) by anglers drifting and fishing vertically. If you're on a deep school, but not catching keepers, get your bait down a little deeper. Electronics are your friend when targeting suspended panfish, but nothing helps more than a steady breeze for a natural drift. I've been consistently finding good panfish action about 12-15 foot down over deeper water or on weed edges/sand grass at its deepest on long mainlake points.

Largemouth bass have moved into more traditional summer patterns.  Look for them in inside weed edges in 4-6 FOW  and the outside edges in 8-15 FOW. These fish can be caught on a variety of tackle, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, texas rigged plastics, wacky worms, jigworms, jig and chunks, skirted grubs and tubes. Piers are holding fish and the slop has been pretty good, especially in the mid-day and late afternoons. If you just want to catch fish, keep it simple...leeches, chubs or small suckers on a lindy or slip sinker rig along a deep weed edge is an easy way to put some fish in the boat on just about any area lake.

Smallmouth bass fishing was fairly good this past week. Fish are using rocky points and bars especially early and later in the day. Watch for current, it pulls them in to feed, but most of the fish are holding on the deep side of breaks or suspending off mainlake structure, coming in briefly to forage. Skirted grubs, twister tails, tubes, wacky worms, lipless crankbaits, jerkbaits or floating rapalas are your best tackle options, but live bait like leeches and small suckers has been working for the people doing slow controlled trolling in the deep sandgrass in 18-25 feet.

Walleye fishing has been red hot the last week or so. Fish continue to be caught along outside weed edges or off deeper flats with sandgrass. Slip bobbers or split shot rigs with live bait or suckers, backtrolled on lindy or a slip-sinker rig has been producing, but the pre-dawn and post-dusk hour has been delivering the larger fish. Fishing over the tops of weed clumps near breaklines with floating rapala minnows or rip jigging has been producing as well, especially early and late in the day. Most fish are being caught along weededges in 12-18 FOW, but I've been catching them as shallow a 7' and as deep as 25'.

Pike fishing has been about average with lots of smaller pike being reported. Active fish are using the shallow weedflats to feed on th huge schools pf small baitfish, including the recent bloom of juvenile panfish. Fish with inline spinners, lipless crankbaits, small bucktails or buzzbaits tight to scattered weedclumps in 4-8 FOW. Larger pike were harder to come by according to most reports, but if you want to chase them, try the weedline in 12-18 feet of water and fish with suckers or large shiners on a slip sinker rig, or rip some deep grass with a jig and reaper, spoon or jerkbait.

Musky: target suspended fish out over deeper on smaller lipless crankbaits, gliders and bucktails. A few fish have been caught off the weedline on larger swimbaits. Anglers continue to report lots and lots of lazy follows this season. 12-15 FOW seems to be the magic depth and weeds on the end of points have been the hotspots for action over the past 8-10 days.


If you've got specific questions: Feel free to email me.

Good Luck, and stay safe and healthy.

Cheers,
CT