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Thursday, May 26, 2016

2016 Memorial Day Weekend Fishing Preview

Take the time to thank a vet this weekend. Consider participating or supporting a great organization in Take a Vet Fishing who has their annual event scheduled for Madison June 12th. You can read about my time on the water with Airforce Vet Dan Juday from a couple years ago here.

Conditions: Right now most lakes are in the low to mid 70's. Weed growth is way behind. Water remains high on most lakes, but is crazy clear for this time of year.

Bluegills have started to move on their beds with the increasing temperatures over the past week. Shallow spawners were digging nests right in front of me today. Current areas and spawning areas (like sandy or gravel areas) will hold the most fish. Smaller gills spawn up shallow, but if you're looking for nice gills, try 8-12 feet of water. Regardless of depth, focus on sand/gravel areas for the best success. Leeches on a split shot rig are the best way to chase larger pannies, but Waxworms, redworms and plastics are taking fish. (Try Stumpy and Icehouse Bays on Okauchee, Small lake on Oconomowoc, sandy section of the Oconomowoc river above the Fowler inlet, Garvin, Golden, Forest, Middle Genessee, Ashipunn, Pretty and Lower Nashotah)

Crappie fishing has been hit or miss. People are catching some nice crappies, but consistent numbers of keepers have been hard to produce. A few crappies are being caught over deeper water near mainlake structure, and you may still find a few spawning crappies are in shallow bays near weeds, wood laydowns or reeds. Minnows, hooked through the tail on a small hook (#8 or #10), waxworms and plastics have all been taking fish. (Try: Okauchee, Garvin, Moose, Kessus, Upper Gen, Golden and Pine.)

Largemouth Bass  are in the full-on post spawn period. A few fish are still spawning, but not many. Topwaters (Pop R, Redfins and #11 Floating Rapalas) and crankbaits (Norman Baby N's, wiggle warts and rattletraps) are catching fish over open water areas, especially weed patches on the mid-depth flats in 6-12 feet of water. Fish have been hard to pattern though, and you should be ready to be flexible. Lots of fish are schooled up, but with weeds in limited supply, and baitfish schools hard to pin down this season, you might have to actually cover some water to find fish consistently. If the topwater/crankbait bite is off (and it came it went this week) downsize your plastics presentations. I caught a bunch of fish switching from a Senko style bait to a Centipede or French Fry this week. Ed rig (jig worm with a short senko) also produced, but covering water with a grub or small ringworm filled in some gaps. The fish are active, but in all stages of the spawn so it can be hard to pin them down, but one surefire pattern to work this weekend for LM is to fish for bass around spawning bluegills. Flapper grubs can provide you a knockout punch in these situations, and I caught fish on six casts in a row at one point today. Fish can be mighty spooky under these conditions, so be ready to make long casts. Plastics: Texas rigged lizards, tubes, skirted grubs, and wacky worms are all catching fish, but as always, if the bite is tough, try a jigworm. Browns and pumpkins have been outproducing greens and watermelons for me. Live bait on slip sinker rigs are catching a few fish for anglers making solid drifts over productive areas, but try to keep your leader a bit longer to keep you bait higher in the water column. (Try: Okauchee bays, Oconomowoc, Garvin Lower Nashotah, Pine, Kessus, Pewaukee, Moose, School Section, Pretty, Golden or Emily)

Smallmouth Bass fishing was still slow as fish finish their post-spawn pattern. Minnowbaits, like size 11 or 13 floating rapalas are actually a great way to catch these fish. Keep it simple, black and silver or chartruese and white are the best. Look for them early and late on sand/rock transition areas and  target them with tubes, skirted grubs or twister tail grubs. Did great with a 3" Chompers grub this week in a green pumpkin, (Try: Oconomowoc, North, Pine, Lac Labelle (On Fire), Pewaukee, Beaver or the Bark and Oconomowoc Rivers.)

Walleye fishing has been tough. With limited weeds, fish are hard to pin down. Slip Bobbers, jigging with live bait or drifting with lindy rigs have been productive, especially when using small suckers or leeches for bait. In the evening, a few anglers are still catching fish by working rapala minnow baits over any isolated weed clumps on mainlake points and humps they can find, but this bite also dropped off after the moon phase. (Try: Oconomowoc, Lac Labelle,, North, Pine and Fox)

Northern Pike fishing was slow, but steady. The best way to catch pike is a small sucker or medium to large shiner on a slip sinker rig with a flourocarbon leader. Drift along the deeper edges of the weeds you can find in 12-18 feet Up shallow- Lipless crankbaits, buzzbaits and spinner baits are still producing. (Try: Okauchee, Kessus, Garvin, Pine, Moose, Kessus, Fowler, Golden, School Section, Emily)

Musky fishing has been pretty slow with the sunny days. Anglers continue to report lots of lazy follows, so figure eights are an absolute necessity, and having a sucker out on a quick strike rig is always a good idea. Topwater and jerkbaits are still catching some fish, but with weeds hard to come by, plan on covering some water. (Try: Okauchee, North, Pewaukee, Fowler and Lac Labelle)

Trout fishing in the stocked lakes and ponds continues to be a great way to catch some keepers. The local ponds, Lower Genessee, Fowler Ottawa and Lower Nashotah continue to give up fish. Full list of stocked trout waters is here.
Good Luck Out There. Drop me a line if you need some help before you hit the water. Email me here