The weather is finally stabilizing, and things are starting to happen. Should be a great week to 10 days on the water, but as things settle in, be ready to adapt on the fly. Fishing will be consistent day to day, but you may need to adapt to changing conditions by altering your presentations.
Water temperatures vary greatly between main lake areas (in the mid 50's) and protected bays (in the low to mid 60's) on most area lakes.Weed growth is way behind normal again this year, which means if you find some good weeds, fish them, especially if they are near a rock or sand transition...or on the end of mainlake points.Musky activity has picked up on our local lakes since the opener, especially on the windy days. A solid shallow pattern has been working for anglers who put in the time. Look for fish on the shallow weed flats in 6-10 feet of water. Scattered weedclumps with visible baitfish or panfish are high percentage areas right now. A few fish are also using the first deep break in 12-18 feet of water where new green weeds have started. Gliders, swimbaits, bucktails and jerkbaits have all been consistent producers. When in doubt--go shallower.
Northern Pike have been using the areas where there is new weed growth, especially on shallow flats or around the ends of points where panfish are staging. People targeting bass have been catching a number of pike ranging from smaller snakes to quality 30+" fish. Spinnerbaits,small bucktails, lipless crankbaits, floating or suspending 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. When in doubt- silver is better than gold.
Walleye have been active in cycles that match our current weather patterns. Some fish are patrolling the shallows in the morning and evening hours, but the bulk of the fish are 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 has been the best approach. Slow and steady have been the operative words...keep that drift under control and under .8 mph when possible. A nightcrawler, leech or small sucker on a lindy rig or long lined split shot setup have been the most consistent producers. A few fish are being caught around weeds using jig and plastic or jig and minnow combinations. When in doubt, slow down.
Largemouth Bass Fishing for bass has been spotty with the inconsistent weather and some days are much better than others. A few fish are up shallow to spawn, but the bulk of the fish haven't moved in yet...although as we get some warmer afternoons the next week, that will change quickly. Flats adajacent to spawning areas still have lots of (smaller) schooling fish. Look for bass around shallow weeds, wood laydowns or docks. Rocky areas, especially points adjacent to deep water have been holding the big 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 fish. When in doubt: slow down and fish the edges of any shallow green weeds.
Smallmouth Bass Fish are patrolling the shallow bars in small schoola a few times a day, especially on the warmer sunny afternoons. Lots of fish are suspending in deeper water just off of shallow structure or along the sharper breaklines. Rocky/sand transition areas have been holding some fish who are foraging for craws, especially in the morning. Suspending jerkbaits, tubes, wacky worms, swimbaits and lipless crankbaits in a crawfish pattern have all caught fish. When in doubt...throw a grub.
Crappie 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 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. When in doubt-Pink head/white body.
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) or look for them on the end of sandy/gravel points in 12-15 feet of water. Small plastics tipped with waxworms or spikes, panfish leeches or redworms are your best live bait options.
Catfish are being caught on the Rock River. Cutbait, stinkbait and nightcrawlers fished around the heads of the deeper holes has been producing some keepers. The area between Watertown and the Jefferson Dam has been red hot the last few weeks.
Trout stocking was a sucess this year on out local waters, with plenty of catch and keep trout still available. Look for these fish in the deeper water basin or deeper pools on the creeks. In the area lakes, they can be anywhere from just below the surface to 25 feet down over deeper water. Tightlining or slip bobbering with small minnows or redworms will catch fish when you find them.
Good Luck Out There.