Northern Wisconsin Fishing Report – Jeff Evans

Smooth Moves
Jeff Evans

I’m starting this report with a disclaimer… If I mention that it’s hot, I’m not complaining! After the winter we had, I’ll take all of the heat we can get!!!
 

My good friends Matt and Chelsea Tande from Mondovi, WI returned for for an anniversary trip on Memorial Day. Two years ago they got hitched and spend a day in my boat to celebrate the occasion. Great to have them back! We spent our day in the Hayward area, and the weather forecast held true. Hot and flat. Really hot and flat… Temperatures hit the 90’s over the weekend, and water temperatures have soared into the mid 70’s on most of our lakes. I’m pretty sure some fishing patterns are tough to nail down right now. Weren’t we in long underwear a week ago?… Our first stop was to investigate the weed walleye bite that had been so good last week. I can only speculate that the weather conditions had shut it down, and we only managed a couple of keeper fish along with a handful of small pike and largemouth bass using jigs ans minnows in 4′ – 6′ weeds. Time to go! We switched lakes and had similar conditions with hot weather, water temperatures in the mid 70’s, and flat water. Matt and Chelsea did a phenomenal job if sticking with the program until we got into fish. It took a lot of bouncing from spot to spot, but the last hour of our trip made it worth it. Shallow weeds are huge this time of year, and sometimes you need to just need to nail down the right location. Well, we found it. The Tande’s ended our day with a big time rally that included a walleye double, a fat 18″ smallmouth, and Chelsea’s first musky all on jigs and minnows. Even better, the musky she landed had a PIT tag in it that we were able to record for our area biologist Max Wolter. Pretty cool stuff! It was a hard earned limit of fish, but well deserved. Happy Anniversary my friends. What a great day!!!
 

Things kept cooking on Tuesday with temperatures hitting the 90’s again. I have a feeling we’re going to be wishing for this weather in July… Fishing nut and smallmouth junkie Merle Erickson from Hinsdale, IL was back for his annual 2 day trip in hopes of tangling with some brown bass in the Hayward area. His timing couldn’t have been more perfect. He’s no stranger to this game, and it’s always a treat to have him in the boat. This heat wave we’ve had has pushed everything shallow in a hurry, and the spawn is in full effect. As Merle put it, “The lakes have just exploded…” Winter to summer just like that! We had no problem finding a pile of fish shallow on 2′ – 5′ gravel flats, and the site fishing was amazing. Find them, cast to them, and catch them. A simply perfect plan that never gets old. Jigs and plastics were our best producer, and we wore out a bunch of big fish up to 20″. They were angry, aggressive, and ready to fight. Perfect! Water temperatures hit the mid 70’s in some spots by the end of the day. It’s extremely important to take care these fish in the conditions we have right now. Please use rubber nets, and get them back in the water quickly. Sometimes things align, and the right people get the right day. Merle nailed it again, and it couldn’t have happened to a better guy! One more day left to his trip, and I can’t wait to see what kind of trouble we get into!!!
 

Merle is always up to an adventure, and I decided to introduce him to a new lake on Wednesday. A weather system was moving in to the Hayward area, and wind was going to be an issue. He was up to it, and it turned out to be a really good choice. I might have to try my hand at this weather man thing… Despite overcast conditions and periodic rain, site fishing conditions were surprisingly good. Simply put, Merle hammered them! Lots of big fish were up on gravel flats in 3′ – 6′ of water, and it didn’t take much to get them to eat. Visibility was tough at times, but Merle did an outstanding job of spotting fish and executing at every opportunity. Like the day before, the fish seemed to be exceptionally angry. Every hook up included lots of head shakes and acrobatic jumps. We put really good numbers of fish up to 19 1/5″ in the net and wrapped up Merle’s trip in stellar fashion. Tons of action, and lots of fish. Pretty hard to beat that! Water temperatures had dropped into the high 60’s and some cool nights in the forecast should correct these high water temps over the next few days. I’m all about the warm weather, but things were getting a bit out of hand over the past week. By the way… The mosquito hatch is on, and some of our boat landings are insane right now. Don’t know that I’ve ever seen it this bad. Be prepared when you pull in to launch and land. It’s definitely been a fish catching couple of days, and Merle headed home with a roughed up thumb. Don’t think he minded though… See you next year my friend!
 

Around 2″ of rain fell on northern Wisconsin overnight. With significantly dropping temperatures as well, Thursday morning was cool and foggy in the Hayward area. Tal and Darlene Janowitz from Franksville, WI were back for their first of two annual trips, but this time they didn’t have to worry about storms… Both of their trips in 2017 had to either be shortened or canceled due to weather, but we were going to get it done this time! Our half day trip started slow with walleyes being hard to come by. I suppose all of the weather from the day before had a bit to do with that, and we had a tough time finding cooperative biters. After stopping on several different spots in 5′ – 7′ weeds, we only had a few small pike, some perch, and a small walleye to show for our efforts. With only 4 hours to work with I was getting ready to pull the pin and head to another lake but wanted to try one more spot… Immediately after dropping anchor, Tal was hooked up on a big pike that grabbed a minnow under a slip bobber. He executed perfectly and landed his personal best northern pike. It was a good looking 35″ fish and put up quite a battle on light gear. Nice job Tal! Then things got interesting. The walleye switch flipped, and the Janowitz crew put fish after fish up to 20″ in the net for the rest of the morning. It was non stop action until quitting time with 1/16 oz. jig and minnow presentations producing the best, and water temperatures held around 70 degrees throughout the morning. These guys are always a blast to have in the boat, and our trips go by way too fast. Excellent work by two excellent people. Enjoy that fish fry Darlene, and I’ll see you in the fall Tal!
 

Chris Skibba (Charlotte, NC) was back for an annual three trip with a fantastic crew of guys, and he brought a big weather change with him… Jeff Holler (Salem, SC), Ken Knipfer and Randy Nandory (Eau Claire, WI) showed up just in time for a good old fashioned Northern Wisconsin June cold front. When I left my house on Friday morning it was 43 degrees. That’s a 45 degree weather change over the past week! Northeast winds were blowing off of Lake Superior and fishing conditions were tough. I teamed up with my old friend Dave Brown to take care of this crew, and we made lemonade out of lemons. We fished the Hayward area looking for smallmouth bass and hugged tight to shorelines to find spawning fish. Conditions weren’t even close to ideal, but we made it work. Jeff and Ken spent the day in my boat, and they did an excellent job of capitalizing on every opportunity they had. We landed a bunch of fish on jigs and plastics up to 19″ in 2′ – 8′ of water. There’s a rumor that Dave’s boat put a 20″ fish in the boat, but there’s no pictures to confirm the catch…? I’ll let you be the judge… The bite wasn’t easy in any respect, and my gang worked for every one they put in the net. Water temperatures dropped into the high 60’s, and I think they will continue to drop with the forecast over the next few days. Winter to Summer, and back to Winter… Welcome to Wisconsin!!! Regardless of the conditions, we had a great time and caught some awesome fish. Can’t wait for tomorrow fellas!
 

More rain, more wind, and more cold weather was in the forecast for Sunday, and it was dead on. My compliments to the weather man! Didn’t I put a disclaimer at the beginning of this report that I would not complain about the 90 degree heat we had? Mother Nature is very angry… We were able to scratch out a half day however, and I had Jeff and Chris in my boat for the morning shift. Site fishing smallmouth bass in the Hayward area was on the agenda again, but the conditions continued to be about as tough as it gets. Dark overcast skies with an east wind definitely challenged us, but Chris and Jeff were able to land some good fish up to 20″ in 2′ – 4′ of water on jigs and plastics before thunderstorms put an end to our day. Water temps had cooled to 64 degrees overnight, and I’d expect that to be the trend over the next couple of days. I also noticed that a lot of fish seem to have vacated the shallow water due to cold front, and I’d suspect another big push once we get some stable weather back. Conditions are as tough as it gets, but its been a good time with a great crew so far. We’ve only laughed a little bit… One more day left before they go home, and our fingers are crossed for a break in the weather. Please help us out weather man!
 

If you like cloudy skies, rain, and north winds this has been the weekend for you! The madness didn’t stop, and the weather man certainly didn’t help us out on Sunday. All you can do is play the hand you’re dealt, and we stuck with the smallmouth bite in the Hayward area. Big winds were expected to blow through in the afternoon, so we decided to take advantage of the conditions we had for the morning shift. It wasn’t perfect in any respect with lots of clouds and rain, but we were able to tuck into some protected shorelines and find spawning smallies in 2′ – 6′ of water. Visibility was about as tough as it gets, and it was a team effort to spot fish. I had the right crew with me! Randy joined Jeff in my boat, and they did a fantastic job catching fish up to 19″ on jigs and plastics before noon. Water temperatures had dropped another tick overnight and were down to 63 degrees. It’s been one heck of a ride up here over the past week! After lunch, we decided to switch things up a bit and went to a different lake to see what the walleyes were doing. Well, they weren’t doing much… Shallow weeds in 4′ – 6′ of water have been the ticket lately, but it wasn’t happening today. We boated a bunch of small pike on jigs and minnows, but the eyeballs were tight lipped. One thing is for sure. Jeff knows how to catch pike! I think it’s going to take a few days to get everything settled down and back to “Normal” patterns after all of this. Heck… I don’t know weather to put on swim trunks or long johns each morning! Safe travels home fellas, and please bring a little sunshine with you next year!
 

There’s no other way to say it… It’s been a crazy start to our season, but we love every minute of it! We haven’t been able to make it to Chequamegon Bay or the St. Louis River lately, but we’ll be there as soon as possible. Stay tuned, and we’ll keep you posted!!!
 

Jeff Evans
jeffevansfishing.com

Species:
315x315ganglerbanner

Become a better fisherman

Get stories and tutorials on fishing delivered to your inbox weekly

Lindner Media Productions ©