An early start to the fall season fell upon the Lake Winnebago region the past several weeks. Football, hunting and brisk mornings will dominate the near future, with fishing on area lakes showing a substantial decline with cold front conditions.
Systemwide, water temperatures have dropped, and are consistently around 64 degrees in all areas of Lake Winnebago. Given the reduction of air temperatures, the water temperatures have only fallen 5-7 degrees in the last two weeks. Water clarity has been fairly clear, with visibilities in the 3-4-foot ranges. Algae blooms are reducing, along with less floating weed debris on the surface (likely due to less boat traffic).
Lake Winnebago is starting the seasonal change, and anglers need to be observant to daily changes moving forward. While fishing this time of year, water temperature changes can drive fish movements and appetites. While Lake Winnebago does not experience “turnover” due to it’s shallow nature, fishing tactics should be altered as if turnover occurs.
Perch fishing has been outstanding this year, and is at a 3-year peak in my estimation. The majority of the perch being caught are averaging 7”; however, there are many fish pushing over the 9” mark.
Personally, I found better activity on the reefs for perch this week, and struggled in the transitional zones. There was a definite preference toward nightcrawler pieces, rather than leaf worms or red worms. Dead sticking was out performing slip bobbers, but both methods were very effective.
Best areas for perch on Lake Winnebago have been 1.5 miles out of Fisherman’s Road (Pipe, WI area), the entire Fond du Lac area, Abrahams Reef, Black Wolf and areas near Garlic Island (north of Oshkosh).
Walleye fishing remains outstanding on Lake Winnebago. By far, this has been the best years in many years for late season walleyes. After a very slow start to the season, walleyes can be found on any method, and any location on the system. If you have a preferred fishing method, finding an active school which matches your method is key. The reefs have been producing eyes on slip bobbers, dragged crawlers, long lining, dead sticking and casting cranks.
The mud bite continues to be active, while trolling the transition zones has been even more productive. The eyes which I caught this week were deep in the water column in the 7-12-foot ranges. However, there were a lot of fish in the mid column, which may be schooling white bass. Black and yellow cranks were the most active this week.
White bass activity should really start to heat up with the cooler water temperatures. This bite just may be one of my favorite bites of the year. Typically, the Wolf River and the north and south shores of Lake Winnebago go crazy with white bass over the next several weeks. The Wolf River has already started, and it will only be days before the main lake has schooled up white bass on feeding frenzies. It can be a white bass nearly every cast when on the schools!
On Green Bay, walleye fishing has been outstanding, but with fewer trophy class fish in the southern bay. Many of these fish have moved north, well past Chamber Islands. Average walleyes still have nice size, with many in the low 20’s. Muskies are active near Sumacio.
We fished the Fox River this week also out of Depere,WI. The walleyes have been in the river in larger numbers this season due to decent water flow; but now the muskies are starting to become active in the river. On Monday, we picked up two muskies while walleye fishing – one 50+” which we raised three times but never got close enough to the RS net. Finally, my snap straightened out, and the fish was lost.
That is the second large fish in 2017 I have lost due to hardware failures. I “cheaped” out on my snaps, and have now lost two trophies because of it. Good tackle is critical, and I will have nightmares for weeks over that lost fish. Don’t make the same mistakes I have, and buy quality hardwaare. Both fish came on…..Salmo Hornets #4…..Maybe the Musky guys are fishing to big!
Anglers will have no waits at the launches in the coming weeks, and the true die-hard anglers remain as many sportsmen are now headed to the woods. The best bites of the year are ahead of us! Get on the water.
My Fishing Partner