Friday, July 17, 2020
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.
Posted by Chris at 6:18 PM