Northern Wisconsin Fishing Report – Jeff Evans

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Jeff Evans

We’ve got lots of good stuff going on in this report. Walleyes, smallmouth, muskies, and crappies are all settling in to traditional mid summer patterns, and the fishing has been really good over the last week. Here’s the latest news from northern Wisconsin.
 

Monday was originally scheduled to get some footage for AnglingBuzz TV on Chequamegon Bay. Muddy water still hadn’t settled down there yet, and I had to pull the pin on that plan. We’ll get back on the bay eventually, but it’s sure hard to be patient. That smallmouth bite was really coming together nicely before the storm, and I’ll be curious to see if there will still be a bunch of fish shallow or if they’ve been pushed off shore. I took advantage of the opening to do a little walleye scouting in the Hayward area with my friend Tony Brown from Bait Rigs Tackle Company. Even though I’ve still been catching fish in relatively shallow weed growth, warming water temperatures have probably started to move fish to deeper structure. Tony and I spent a lot of time checking out points and reefs in 15′ – 25′ of water, but the best concentrations of fish we found were just off of the deep weed edges in 20′. There are tons of suspended bait fish off of those edges, with walleyes scattered below them. It actually makes perfect sense. We used slip bobbers with leeches along with jigs and minnows with our best eye being a solid 20″ fish landed by Tony. The bite was slow, and I’m thinking we may have connected with more fish if we were trolling crawler harnesses or crank baits. Hey, that’s why we scout every chance we get. Water temperatures were in the low 70’s with high skies and light winds. With a warm forecast over the next week, mid summer patterns should be setting up quickly for most fish. Lots of shorts and t-shirt weather on the way! It was a day well spent with a good friend. Thanks for joining me Tony!
 

Our old friend Tom Huckaba from Joliet, IL was back on Wednesday for an early summer trip. It’s always and honor to have Tom in the boat, and he brought along a new friend. Fellow Vietnam veteran Greg Munich from Crest Hill, IL joined us, and I’m sure glad he did. We started our day in the Hayward Area looking for walleyes, but the sledding was tough. The weed bite I was on wasn’t producing, and we weren’t able to locate any fish on off shore structure. No worries! After landing a few nice smallies along weed edges in 18′ of water with slip bobbers and leeches, we switched gears. There’s a ton of bait fish relating to weed edges right now, and the walleye bite might be a day to day thing for a while. We went looking for shallow rocks and found smallmouth bass up to 20″ in 5′ – 10′ using plastics and top waters. The bite wasn’t fast, but we put some really good fish in the net before lunch including some bonus largemouth. Good way to end the morning! My crew was all about smallmouth in the afternoon but ran into a stubborn bite for awhile before finding some cooperative fish to end the day. We moved around a bunch to get bit, and it paid off. Mid lake rock piles in 5′ – 10′ were definitely the key to locating fish, and the Tom/Greg team did one heck of a job taking advantage of every opportunity. They put some good smallies in the net before quitting time, and we ended up with respectable numbers. Water temps were in the low 70’s, and we did extremely well despite the slow bite. Sometimes you have to work for it, and that’s OK… Tom and Greg will take that kind day any time, and I sure enjoyed having them in the boat. Way to work it out fellas, and thanks for your service!
 

It’s been well documented over the past several years that David and Nick Russo from Winfield, IL know how to put some good muskies in the net. Their June trip is usually the first dedicated “musky trip” of our season, and they were back fishing out of Angler’s Haven on Thursday. We’ve got a heat wave moving into northern Wisconsin for the weekend and water temperatures are starting to warm up again. Climbing water temps along with a full moon phase seemed like the perfect recipe for musky catching. It was… We threw bucktails and topwater baits to weed edges in 7′ of water, and Nick started us off right when he stuck a tank of a tiger musky within the first hour of the morning. It was a really awesome 45″ fish with a beautiful paint job and a belly to go along with it. Super cool fish and encounter. It was Nick’s first tiger musky, and that’s going to be a tough one to beat. Love those tigers!… We only had until noon to fish, and we chopped water through the rest of the morning until David announced the “last cast”. Bingo! I’m not exactly sure how many times this has happened, but it’s more than you’d think. David battled a 42″ fish into the net at the buzzer to wrap up another memorable trip. It was high fives and knuckles all around, and you couldn’t have written a better script. There’s always a good vibe when the Russo men arrive, and we’re going to keep this karma rolling… Water temperatures hit 75 by noon, and they’re only going to get warmer over the next couple of days. If you’re going to musky fish in these conditions, you have to be very careful when handling every fish. Have a big net and keep them in the water while getting hooks out. Take a quick picture and put them right back in. Jaw spreaders, wire cutters, and large pliers are must have tools. They’re too special not to take care of. Awesome job fellas, and I’ll see you in the fall David. It’s gotta be the red long sleeve shirt Nick!
 

The heat wave kept coming on Friday, and we spent the day with a fun new crew. Bill and Peggy McDowell from Woodbury, MN joined us for a catching fish kind of day in the Hayward area. We had overcast skies with SW winds in the morning, and it seemed like the right conditions for what we wanted to do. Our start was promising with a decent pike and walleye bite on jigs and minnows in 7′ weeds, but that fizzled out when the sun and wind showed up. The forecast was for temperatures climbing into the 90’s, and it held true. Of course they got it right… Holy hot! We decided to switch lakes in the afternoon to see what we could find for a crappie bite, and it was the right move. Southwest winds picked up, but we were able to anchor up on a good bunch of slabs in 7′ weeds. Bill and Peggy got the job done and landed a pile of fish up to 13″ before quitting time. Slip bobbers with plastics were exactly the right thing to use, and we battled through the wind and waves to put a nice fish fry together. The guy in the back of the boat got a bit wet, but it was worth it. Water temperatures hit 80 degrees in the afternoon. What a crazy season it’s been. Winter to summer to winter to summer… Welcome to Wisconsin! Sure was great to have an awesome new gang in the boat, and it won’t be their last trip with us. Lots of laughing and catching. Perfect! Can’t wait to do it again Bill and Peggy. Nice job!
 

A great crew was back in the boat with us on Saturday. Joe and Sally Lloyd from Downers Grove, IL have been fishing with us for several years, and our annual trip has expanded to include kids, cousins, uncles, etc… We absolutely love it! Sally and her son Will had the first shift for day one of a two day trip, and our instructions from Joe were to catch some big walleyes and smallies. Mission accomplished! The oven continues to crank in the Hayward area, but overcast skies and a stiff west wind helped keep things reasonable. It took us some time to find fish, but when we dialed it in all was good. We parked on a wind blown weed edge in 15′ of water, and found a fun mix of walleyes up to 19″ and smallies up to 20″ using slip bobbers with minnows and leeches. Will landed his personal best smallmouth and his first walleye. We also had a pretty cool and crazy walleye double that made things interesting. That’s going to be a hard morning to beat! After lunch we switched lakes, and weather conditions got tough. The wind laid down and the sun came out. Water temperatures hit 80 degrees again, and the bite slowed considerably. No worries though. We were able to put a few more solid fish in the boat including a 19″ tank largemouth landed by Will and a beautiful 25″ walleye landed by Sally. We continued to stay with a basic approach using slip bobbers with minnows/leeches along weed edges and moved around a bunch to stay on the bite. Nothing came easy, but it was a quality fish kind of day for some quality people. Always a good time with these guys! Day #2 with this gang will be here in a few days. Excellent job Will and Sally! Your one heck of a mom & son combination!
 

A cool down was needed, and it came on Sunday. Bill Peterson from Marshfield, WI was back and he brought along his father Lon (Phillips, WI) and brother in law Scott Kundinger (Verona, WI). Lots of rain was in the forecast in the Hayward area, but we were going to make the best of it. Water temperatures had calmed down a bit into the mid 70’s, and we were able to put together a pretty good pattern along 15′ weed edges targeting walleyes and smallmouth. Slip bobbers and leeches were the only way we could get bit, and we weren’t going to argue with the fish. You’ll never win that one! Unfortunately for Scott, it was the “Bill Show” for much of the morning. We caught good fish up to 20″, and Bill was getting his picture taken a lot. Hey… I wasn’t in on this bet! Lon (The Silent Assasin) chipped in with a few fish as well, and Scott was also able to get rolling before lunch. Lots of tight lines, but why wouldn’t Lon talk to me?… Crappies were on the agenda for the afternoon, and we switched lakes to see if we could get on a good bite. It took some time, but man did we get into them. Seriously! After searching around for awhile, we landed on a stack of fish in a 9′ weed bed that couldn’t stop eating. The next couple of hours was crazy with heavy rain and wind coming in, and the fish went nuts. We used slip bobbers and plastics to catch a ton of slabs up to 13″, and it was one of the most insane bites I’ve ever seen. My crew was wet but happy, and so was I! Heck of a job today fellas., I’m willing to negotiate on who caught the most fish… See you next year!
 

Some days are just really cool, and Monday was one of them. Chris Diesing from WWIA booked a trip with us and invited along another old friend. Greg Miller from The Hunt With Greg And Jake joined us for a day of fish catching in the Hayward area, and it was good to have these two in the boat at the same time. Chris began the WWIA Bayfield County Cast & Blast several years ago, and Greg is a decorated Vietnam veteran. Couldn’t think of a better combination to have along! We began the day looking for walleyes, and mid summer patterns are definitely starting to take shape. Rock reefs and humps in 20′ – 25′ of water are starting to hold fish, and we were able to stretch the line on some good eyeballs along with some bonus smallmouth. I always like it when the walleyes and smallmouth are bunched up together. You never know what it’s going to be?!!! Chris and Greg put some fantastic fish in the net including a dandy 23″ walleye and a tank of a 20″ smallmouth using slip bobbers with leeches and minnows. We had some awesome doubles, and I think the pictures speak for themselves. What’s next?… Chris and Greg were all about the crazy crappie bite we had yesterday, and the fish cooperated again. We parked on the same school of fish that were on a 9′ weed bed the day before, and they hadn’t moved. Perfect! It was another fish catching session and fun to watch a couple of good dudes wear them out. That bite has been ridiculously good, and we can only hope it continues. Water temps ranged from the low to high 70’s for us with more heat coming our way. Hard to beat a day like this, and I won’t even try. Thanks a ton fellas. That was awesome!
 

The forecast for Wednesday called for 10 mph winds in the Hayward area. Perfect, if that’s what really happened… Jim Murtagh and his son Gannon (Bartlett, IL) joined me, and we had excellent conditions to start the day with overcast skies and a good south wind. That’s a guides dream… We started out hot on our first spot when we found some aggressive smallmouth on rocks in 20′ – 22′ of water using slip bobbers and leeches. Lines were tight, and my father/son team didn’t waste any time putting some solid fish in the net. Fish are definitely gorging on crawfish right now with everyone of them caughing up their last meal on the way to the net, and they all have fat bellies. Good to see, but what a mess when they’re in the boat! Late in the morning winds picked up, and we had a heck of a time sticking on the spots we wanted to fish. That was the strongest 10 mph wind I’ve ever seen… After a wet and bumpy ride into the landing for lunch, I was wondering if we’d even be able to get the afternoon shift in. Luck was on our side though, and the winds calmed down for a solid afternoon. We targeted a weed edge in 12′ – 15′ of water and found plenty of fish to keep us busy including Jim’s first walleye. It was a thick 21″ fish, and a perfect way for him to join the club. Our best move of the day however was when we switched locations back to some deep rocks in 24′ of water. Gannon stuck a 19″ walleye, and a 20″ smallie to wrap up our day. Couldn’t have scripted a better ending. Water temps held pretty steady around 74 degrees throughout the day, and I sure enjoyed having these guys in the boat. Good luck with your football season Gannon. Can’t wait to hear all about it!
 

I’ve talked with some guys who’ve been on Chequamegon Bay over the last week. The water is still extremely dirty, but they are catching a few smallmouth that are moving toward off shore structures. I’ll be checking out the St. Louis River situation very soon, so we should have some first hand information from their in our next report. Happy 4th of July everyone! Be safe, catch lots of fish, and love America!
 

Jeff Evans
jeffevansfishing.com

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