Despite the lousy weather, I was out multiple times this week. Water temperatures vary greatly between main lake areas (in the 50's to low 60's) and protected bays (in the low to mid 60's) on most area lakes.
Musky fishing has been pretty slow by most reports, but there's not been many people out either. Look for fish on the shallow weed flats in 6-10 feet of water. Scattered weed clumps with visible baitfish or panfish are high percentage areas right now. A few fish may be using the first deep break in 12-18 feet of water in areas where some new green weeds have started. Most positive reports I heard back this week were with people using downsized baits, but heard reports of plenty of lazy follows--so watch those figure eights closely...gliders, small bucktails and swimbaits all generated some action, but white with gold blades seemed to be the hot (est) ticket.
Northern Pike are still scattered on shallow flats where there is new weeds. Anglers targeting bass or musky have been catching a number of pike ranging from smaller snakes to quality 30+" fish. Some of the larger pike are using the deep weedlines in 12-18 feet, but the bite has been hit or miss. Keep it simple: spinnerbaits, small bucktails, lipless crankbaits, floating rapalas and buzzbaits will all catch fish in the shallow water when fished around submergent green weeds. Large shiners or small to medium sized suckers suspended underneath a float, longlined on a split shot rig, or fished deep on a slip-sinker setup are your best options for live bait.
Walleye have been biting, but I haven't been chasing them...so take this info with a grain of salt. The bulk of the fish seem to be holding around rocky points and mid-depth weeds in 8-12 feet of water. Crankbaits like Rapala shad raps are catching fish, but controlled drifting with live bait is usually a great approach, epecially on windy days. Slow and steady have been the operative words. A nightcrawler, leech or small sucker on a lindy rig or long lined split shot setup would be the first thing I'd throw right now. I heard of a few fish are being caught around weeds using jig and plastic or jig and minnow combinations. Could be a great weekend for fishing in the late afternoons and evenings with floating minnow bait around any mid-depth structure or weeds.
Largemouth Bass Lots of schooled up prespawners, but spawning activity is limited. Functionally still early. Shallow flats outside of the spawning coves still have lots of smaller but schooling fish and remember in areas with consistent depth, not all of the nests will be on the bank. This week I saw plenty of people beating banks with plastics and spinnerbaits when there were active fish on the flats nearby. Look for bass around shallow weeds, wood laydowns or docks. Rocky areas, especially points adjacent to deep water have been holding fish. Wacky worms, texas rigged lizards or stickbaits, lipless crankbaits, and jigs with a chunk or craw trailer have all been producing. Nightcrawlers or large leeches on a lindy or split shot rig or large shiners under floats fished around piers or along rockbars have been catching a few nice fish.
Pro-Tip: Some serious downsizing of my presentations put some quality fish in the boat for me this week.
Smallmouth Bass Fish are patrolling the shallow bars in small schoola a few times a day, especially on the warmer sunny days. Lots of fish are suspending in deeper water just off of shallow structure. Rocky/sand transition areas have been holding some fish who are foraging for craws. Suspending jerkbaits, tubes, grubs, wacky worms, swimbaits and lipless crankbaits in a crawfish pattern.
Crappie are still spawning. Look for them around shallow cover in 2-8 feet of water. Tight-lining over deeper wood or weeds in 8-12 feet has also been effective on some lakes. Tail-hooked fatheads, plastics or hair jigs tipped with a waxworm and rosie reds are your best live bait options for crappies. Strike zones have been relatively small, so try to make accurate casts when setting up your presentations. The bite got hot for a couple hours, but was pretty cold otherwise.
Bluegills are beginning to move into the shallow water on many area lakes, but the better sized fish have still been coming from anglers targeting them in a little deeper water. Shallow fish will be near sandy bottom areas with scattered weed growth, but if you just want the kids to catch a few fish, try fishing around any piers that are in the water adjacent to deeper water (6-10 feet). If you want to target eating size gills, tightline vertically while drifting along weedlines in deeper water (as deep as 22 feet), look for schools on the end of sandy/gravel points in 12-15 feet of water on in shallow areas with current. Plastics tipped with waxworms or spikes, panfish leeches or redworms are your best live bait options.
Catfish are being caught on the Rock River. Cut-bait, stink-bait and night-crawlers fished around the heads of the deeper holes has been producing some better sized keepers. T
Trout: Stocked lakes were solid producers during the first week. Opening weekend was busy, but pressure dropped way off during the weekdays with the piss-poor weather this week. Gold ice fishing jigs tipped with live bait was the best option when I was on the water, but the fish were still a little spooky, and we did better tightlining than with bobbers.
Good Luck Out There. Give Mom some love--->take her fishing on Sunday.