It’s really starting to look and feel like summertime in northern, Wisconsin. Although many historical fishing patterns and bites are behind “normal” right now, things are catching up in a hurry. Water temperatures on most lakes and Chequamegon Bay pushed into the 60’s and even low 70’s in some places over the last week. It’s meant lots of bug hatches, lots of pollen and fuzz on the lakes, but also lots of good fishing. We were finally able to trade in the long underwear for shorts, and it felt pretty darn good. Things can sure change in a hurry around here…
It’s always good to get back on Chequamegon Bay, especially this time of year. Chuck Reynolds from Seaguar along with his good buddies Chip Stringer and John Richter joined me for a day on the bay, and we found the smallies we were looking for. Water temps were still cool at the beginning of the week, and it was a struggle to find anything in the 60’s. The fish were there though, and we got into some big pre-spawners working flats and channel edges in 3′ – 6′ of water. The only pattern we could find however was that there was absolutely no pattern. We caught a fish or two on just about everything we threw at them, and by the end of the day I had one heck of a lure collection piled up in the back of the boat. A large variety of plastics, jerk baits, etc. all produced, and we just had to keep on switching things up. Action wasn’t fast, and we just kept covering water until we got bit. The average size was exceptional with lots of them in the 20″ range and some super cool doubles. Since that trip water temps have warmed up quite a bit, and the spawn is in full gear. Stable weather and water conditions should produce some big numbers days in the near future. Can’t wait for that top water bite to get going!
The walleye bite is picking up on the bay, and we even stumbled into them while bass fishing. Trolling crawler harnesses and small crank baits is the way to go this time of year covering as much water as possible until you locate active schools. Focus on wood covered shallow flats or shorelines in 4′ – 8′, and look for slightly stained water if you can find it. Bottom bouncers are a great way to keep from getting hung up and keeping baits in front of fish.
Things have been moving quickly in the Hayward area since our last report. It took awhile, but the smallmouth spawn is happening everywhere with fish nested up in shallow rock/gravel/sand flats and water temps in the mid 60’s on most lakes. It’s been a bass bonanza with big numbers days and big fish to go along with it. What’s not to like about that? Fish can be caught a bunch of different ways right now with jerk baits, grubs, tubes, and ned rigs are all working well depending on the day. Not every smallmouth actively spawns however, and you’ll also find aggressive males along with some big spawned out females hanging out around spawning flats and just off the first break. If you chose to fish on the beds, please be super careful with them. Use rubber nets and get them back in the water as soon as possible. There’s a reason why they are there, and they have a job to do. Let them do it so we can enjoy this incredible resource for a long time. As the spawn goes on, a top-water bite will start to happen, and it’s a good idea to have your favorite popper or spook rigged and ready. Tons of fun!
When the bass are spawning, the walleyes are usually biting as well. The weed bite is just starting to come together on some lakes right now. Look for new green cabbage in 4′ – 6′ of water on stained water lakes and 14′ – 18′ of water on clear water lakes. Weedless jigs and slip-bobbers tipped with leeches or minnows are an excellent approach. Pull up to the weed edge, park the boat, and start fishing. Active fish will school heavy this time of year, and it shouldn’t take you long to get bit. Don’t spend too much time at one spot if things are slow. Keep moving until you find the right fish.
The crappie situation is starting to work itself out with the last push of spawning fish moving ultra shallow and post spawn fish beginning to school up in weed beds. Work tight to shorelines casting to downed trees, stumps, etc. or move out into 4′ – 8′ weed beds to find active fish. It’s crazy to think that this whole process started a month ago, but I think they’re finally going to get it done. Better late than never. Once the spawn is complete, we should be able get on some predictable patterns for awhile. Let’s hope!
Lots of familiar faces return this time of year, and it’s always a blast to see everyone. We laugh a lot, tell stories, and catch a few fish. Not a bad way to spend a day… Big thanks to my good pal Jordan Gensmer at Angler’s Haven for bailing me out AGAIN when we had some equipment issues. Who needs 911 when you’ve got Jordan? I owe you big time buddy! School is out kiddos, and it’s finally summer. Time to go fishing! Stay tuned, and we’ll keep you posted!