Here's what to expect when you hit the water for the opener.
1.) Water temps in the mainlake areas in the mid to high 50's to low to mid 60's in protected areas.
2.) Limited new growth of weeds, and a few less than average piers are in.
Shallow dark bottom bays will be where most of the action is this weekend.
The DNR's Places to fish page is here: https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Fishing/anglereducation/wheretofish
and the shore fishing map is here: https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/sites/default/files/topic/Fishing/AnglerEd_AccessibleShoreFishingSites.pdf
Accessible fishing pier list for Waukesha County:
There's information on several local lakes and includes picks for panfish, bass, walleye and musky fishing opportunities this year.Panfish:
Crappies and Bluegills have transitioned into shallow water, and the bite has been steady on the sunny or warmer afternoons. Primary pattern working for keepers is to find the schools that are relating to weed clumps in shallow water, but talking to folks on the water, the bite has been inconsistent, and with fishing pressure very high these days, you might need to get away from the crowds.
Newer, green weeds, reeds or small wood laydowns are attracting the most fish right now. For crappies try small fuzzy jigs tipped with waxworms, small fatheads or rosie reds. Bluegills have been biting on plastics tipped with waxworms or spikes, as well as redworms, leafworms or pieces of nightcrawler. If the bite is tough, downsize your presentation to an ice fishing jig or #10 or #12 red hook, and keep the bait above the fish (this is key for a tough bite!)Hot tip:
Sunken trees and cribs in deeper water that is close to a shallow drop are holding better size fish right now.Trout:
Stocked trout fishing is always very popular for opening weekend. Here's a an earlier post
on the stocking of our local lakes and the complete DNR list is available here
Stocked trout are easy to catch before too much pressure gets put on them. Watch for them swimming in groups just below the surface and cast ahead of them. They'll hit a variety of tackle/bait options but the use of gold really will help. I typically use a gold ice fishing jig with live bait under a small balsa bobber.LM Bass:
Largemouth are in an early prespawn pattern. Small schools of them are chasing baitfish in the shallow water. For larger fish look for LM to be along the first drop offs, major points or at the edges of shallow bays. Later in the day they may move to the backs of spawning coves. Texas rigged plastics, wacky worms and jigs with a chunk trailer will be good options if fished very slowly. Slow rolling spinnerbaits, jerkbaits or ripping rattletraps around weedy cover could produce some reaction strikes.
I've been making good use of the new catch and release season, and although you have to grind for them, the fish are where they are supposed to be.
Hot tip: Flapper grubs on a 1/8ounce jig head cast and slow counted around weed clumps on shallow flats near spawning areas....I'll just say, you can thank me later.
SM Bass: Smallmouth remain in deeper water for the most part, although a few have been seen making foraging runs into rocky areas during the middle part of the day. Look for them to be suspended in the water column in deep water near points and other rocky structure. Suspending Jerkbaits, swimbaits, slow rolled spinnerbaits or twister tail grubs in natural pattern are good options for chasing suspended smallmouths. If you can find some fish on the rocks, Bitsy Bugs with a small plastic trailer, ned rigs or soft jerkbaits can get interesting pretty darn quick.
Walleyes are roaming shallow flats chasing baitfish. This indicates typical post-spawn behavior patterns, which matches the water temperatures on our local lakes. Bottom bouncers with spinner harnesses, lindy rigs and jigs will all catch these fish. Look for walleyes to relate the edges of shallow water, but especially at the junctions of rock/sand transitions. I'd run live bait rigs to find fish, then fish an active area hard with crankbaits like a Shad Raps or Frenzies, husky jerks or floating rapalas.
Best lakes for walleye: Lac La Belle, Pewaukee, Pine and Oconomowoc. A few fish are still being caught on the Rock and Crawfish Rivers. Note: Each lake in our area has different regulations for walleye size/bag limits...make sure you know what's what for where you are fishing.
Northern: Pike are past their post spawn blues and are feeding aggressively. Typically with these conditions small pike will be all over shallow water and you can expect the big pike to be relating to the first break. We've been picking up some incidental pike was bass fishing the last couple of weeks.
This is prime time to chase pike with live bait. Use slip bobbers and suspend large shiners and suckers around weed edges or near areas with visible panfish. Casting with lipless crankbaits, buzzbaits, spoons or spinner baits, especially around shallow weeds on the edge of the sandy flat areas can be dynamite.
Musky: The fish that seem to be chasing active baitfish are relating to green weed growth in mid-depth water. You never lose out by floating a sucker or the largest shiners you can buy. I'd downsize my presentation, stick to jerkbaits, gliders or smaller bucktails for the opener this year, and concentrate your efforts on any scattered weed clumps you can find.
Advice from me: Slow down, be methodical when working an area and be ready to make lots of casts to get neutral fish to bite.
Trout: The DNR did stock trout in the usual area lakes: Note that some lakes got different species of trout this year. (Like Lower Gen)
New to the area or just moved to an area lake? Want to learn some simple tactics to increase success when fishing? -> I have openings for guide trips or fishing lessons during May and June. Email me
for more information.
Good Luck. Be safe out there and I'll see you on the water.