The big 4th of July weekend is here. Expect lots and lots of boats to be on the water.Your best bet during weekends like this is to get an early start as you can get some serious fishing in before most of the ski boats and pleasure craft hit the water.
A few of the smaller area lakes have been slow no wake due to high water. Make sure to check the signs at the launches for the latest restriction notices.
Panfish have moved to their summer patterns. If you want to entertain the kids, plenty of 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, where they are suspending about 10-12 feet down over 18-25 feet of water.
Largemouth bass are relating to the weed edges in both 4-6 (inside edge) and 8-15 feet (outside edge). Morning and evening fishing has been much better than daytime, and with the hot temperatures this weekend, that will be doubly true. Fish can be caught on a variety of tackle, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, texas rigged wacky Worms, Shakey heads, skirted grubs and tubes. Topwater poppers, spooks and buzzbaits are catching fish over the weedflats in 5-12 feet right now, but only consistently before and at first light, and the topwater bite drops off substantially by 7:30am.
Smallmouth bass fishing has stayed slow this past week, but there are lots of fish using rocky points and bars especially early and later in the day. Most 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, shakey heads, lipless crankbaits, jerkbaits or floating rapalas are your best tackle options, but live bait like leeches and small suckers might be the ticket this weekend.
Walleye fishing has been slow during the daytime this past week, but anglers putting in time in the very early mornings or late evenings are catching a few fish. 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 the larger fish.Fishing over the tops of weed clumps near breaklines with floating rapala minnows is grabbing a few as well.
Pike fishing has been average. Smaller pike are using the shallow weedflats to feed on small minnows and fry. Fish with spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits, small bucktails or buzzbaits tight to scattered weedclumps in 4-10 FOW. Looking for something bigger? Move out to the weedline in 12-18 feet of water and fish with suckers or large shiners on a slip sinker rig or troll with deep diving crankbaits as close to the weedline as you can without getting hung up.
Musky fishing is still slow overall, but there have been some positive reports of some very large fish, including two 50+ inchers (One on Okauchee and one on La Belle) in the last ten days. On the bright sunny days, target suspended fish out over deeper on smaller lipless crankbaits and bucktails. A few fish have been caught off the weedline on larger swimbaits. Anglers continue to report lots of lazy follows.
Lake By Lake:
Okauchee: Weed growth has finally caught up. Bass are working regular summer patterns. A few larger fish are still feeding on juvenile bluegills in 2-6 and 8-12 feet of water. Pike fishing has been good, with most fish still being caught on spinners in 6-10 FOW. Musky fishing has been slow, but anglers are starting to see more agressive fish, especially along the breaks in 12-18 feet, and a handful using shallow weed/rock transition areas.
Garvin: Great spot to get away from the Okauchee boats this weekend. Lots of panfish are holding on the shelves with sunken wood in 10-15 feet. Musky are using the treeline break and suspending off the south drop. Bass are using the shallow flats on the double c's and the south flat. Pike are on the deep weedlines on the northwest and north east corners.
Forest: Panfish and pike have been biting. Live bait over the deep holes on slip bobbers for panfish, inline spinners for the pike.
Oconomowoc: Fishing has been above average overall. Bass are holding on the obvious structural breaks. Northern pike and walleye fishing has been best for anglers using small suckers catching the majority of the fish. Musky fishing was slow, but lots of fish are being seen doing lazy follows.
Lac Labelle: Walleye fishing is moving toward its typical summer pace. Weed edges along the 8-12 foot breaks are holding fish as are drop-offs in 10-18 FOW. Musky have moved out to suspend over deep water in the main basin. Topwaters have been the hot lure, with a 52 inch fish caught on the edge of the flagpole flat. Panfish and whitebass remain active but very slow for keepers.
Moose: Bass and pike continue to bite, and action has been way above average. Target the breaks and weed clumps in shallow water with crankbaits or spinners. Backtrolling with small suckers on a slip sinker rigs around the first major drop to deep water has been a hot tactic, especially in low light conditions.
Ashipunn: Bass and pike have been biting, and the action is close to or just below average. Best bet on Ashipunn is to concentrate on the visible weed patches, and work them from a variety of angles with spinners or plastics.
Golden: Bluegills are done spawning, you may see a few stragglers, but the fish are moving out to deeper water. Bass have been biting best in the morning but are still running on the small side. Topwaters, plastics and spinners are all producing. Pike have been biting, especially on small suckers fished along the deep weedlines and on spinnerbaits fished through the weedy areas.
Silver: Bass can be caught using plastics around the weed clumps in 4-15 feet or around piers and boat lifts. Crappies have been suspending over the east cribs, and keeper bluegills are holding in the deep sandgrass in 12-18 FOW.
Nagawicka: Largemouths are average, and in summer patterns so look to catch them off boat docks, in the slop and along the shallow weed edges. Pike have been average, especially on crankbaits or buzzbaits fished over weed edges at either end of the lake. Panfish are suspending 12-18 over 30+ feet of water.
Pewaukee: Musky fishing continues to be inconsistent. Trolling the edges of the deep basin is producing a few fish in the high 30 to low 40 inch class. Bass has been the hot bite, try flipping or large texas rigged worms where the weed line breaks or is irregular in 8-12 FOW.
Lower and Middle Genessee: Panfish have moved to the deeper water with sandgrass, and largemouths are being caught around shallow to mid depth weeds. Lindy rigging with live bait, especially dillys or leafworms has been very good for both bass and panfish.
Rock River: the Catfish bite has been average at night, and a handful of whitebass are still being caught near the S turn and downstream of Fort Atkinson. Trollers on Lake Koshkonong are catching walleyes pulling harnesses or shad raps around 1.6-2.2 mph.
If you've got specific questions: Feel free to email me.
Last but not least, I'll be speaking about fishing a spot on spot technique, focusing on Okauchee and Oconomowoc Lakes, at the Okauchee Lake Fish Club, Tuesday July 5th. 7pm at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 1800 S. 92nd Street. Guest fee is $5
Good Luck, and stay safe this weekend.