It is the annual Free Fishing Weekend, around the state. Here's an update on the last week.Fishing has been slow but steady. Catching lots of smaller gamefish, but starting to see some quality fish come in.
Water temps are still in the mid to high 60's on most area lakes, and water levels are pretty low. Bluegills are on nests, especially in sandy or pea gravel areas, baitfish are still hard to come by consistently. Most gamefish are coming shallow to feed.
Panfish: Suprisingly, Crappie were the real story of the last week as second stage spawners moved into the wood and reeds and did there business. Typically when bluegills are on the beds, people abandon crappie fishing for about two weeks, but anglers were really on some nice bags of keepers the last ten days. For crappie, look for them in wood that hangs over, or reaches into deeper water, and fish in the branches with slip bobbers and small jigs tipped with live bait. For bluegills, there's plenty of action fish that can be caught in the shallows right now, but if you're looking for better fish, split shot or lindy rigs with panfish leeches in 12-15 FOW will produce.
Largemouth: Spawn is mostly over, but you may still find some males protecting fry. The bite has been slow, but steady during all periods of the day. You're likely to see lots of active smaller fish, but if you're catching fish consistently, stick with it and the bigger fish will come. Weeds (if you can find them) and docks are holding fish, but the bulk of the fish are in the areas where bluegills are spawning. There isn't much slop out there yet, but if you can find some it'll likely have some fish Wacky or Ned rigs, texas rigged worms, skirted grubs, jig and craw, lipless crankbaits and topwater are all producing right now. Flapper grubs around scattered weed clumps is a solid pattern right now.
Smallmouth: You can catch them, but patterning fish has been difficult. Look for them to be foraging on rock bars and in sand/gravel or sand/rock transitions in 4-8 and 12-15 FOW. Grubs, Skirted Grubs, Spinnerbaits, tubes and jerkbaits are solid bets, but until conditions stabilize a bit, expect some hit or miss fishing. If you can find some fish deep, jog and leech or lindy rigs with small suckers or chubs might be the answer to what has been a relatively a tough bite.
Walleye fishing has been absolutely hit or miss the last ten days. Fish have been caught as shallow as 3 FOW, but the bulk of the fish seem to be holding in the transitions or drop offs in 12-15 FOW. I have caught fish as deep as 32 FOW in the past week. Live bait rigs or jigs during the day, casting with jig/grub or jig/ringworm combos has been working early and late.
Pike fishing has been an interesting mix. They have been reasonably difficult to catch when targeted, but anglers chasing bass, walleye or musky have been catching lots of them. Most of the fish have been running small, but a few mid 30's fish were caught this week. Look for weeds that have baitfish in them and then cast with lipless crankbaits, spinners or buzzbaits. Live bait, suckers or large shiners on a slip sinker rig with a floro leader is your best bet. Action: 4-8 FOW, Size 12-18 FOW..Find the best looking weeds you can find and go to town.
Musky has been very slow. Anglers are seeing lots of fish, but lazy follows have been the consistent report from most of the people I have talked to. Stay with it, and Consider downsizing your bait some as well.
Good luck out there.
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