Headed out for the Holiday weekend?
Casual fisherman? Here's a tip to put a couple gamefish in the boat this weekend: A lipless crankbait. Go to your local bait and tackle shop and ask for a lipless crankbait. In the old days, this was a Bill Lewis Rattletrap but they come in a rainbow of shapes and colors today. But one or two, and just cast and retrieve it over shallow flat areas. Rule 1 of the lipless crank: as fast as you can reel.
Keep the net handy as you'll have a shot at a mixed bag of bass, walleye and pike depending on where you're fishing.
Conditions around the area: Right now most lakes are in the high 50's to low 60's. Weed growth is way behind. Water remains high on most lakes and local rivers after the heavy rains, so make sure to check at the launches about possible slow-no-wake conditions.
Bluegills Current areas and sandy or gravel areas will hold the most fish. Smaller gills are 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.
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.
Largemouth Bass are in the pre-spawn period. Buzzbaits and Lipless Crankbaits 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 downsize your plastics presentations. I caught a bunch of fish on an old school floating worm this week, but covering water with a grub or small ringworm filled in some gaps. The fish are active, but 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.
Smallmouth Bass fishing was getting good before the rain. 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. You can't go wrong with a lipless crankbait to find fish right now.
Walleye fishing has been off and on ith the weather. 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.
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.
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.