The Lake Winnebago area encountered a stable weather pattern heading through the start of the week, with a significant “cool” front moving in during the weekend.
On Lake Winnebago, the water clarity remains with a light stain, with veins of clearer and cloudier water in select areas of the lake. By the end of the weekend, water temperatures had plummeted to 69 degrees in Menasha, 71 degrees in Oshkosh and 71 degrees in Fond du Lac. By contrast, on August 1st water temps exceeded 78 degrees. Lake Poyagn remains a little warmer with readings around 72 degrees. Water levels remain high on the system, including the Fox and Wolf Rivers.
Normal algae remain common across the lake. This week, the toxic blue green algae were found on the lake. The blue green algae are harmful to humans and pets, and every attempt should be made to avoid these algae, if identified. Typically, the blue green algae form in stagnant water, especially in channels and bays. However, this outbreak looks to be larger and impacting Lake Winnebago in its entirety. Blue green algae have also been identified in the southern portions of the Bay of Green Bay.
Anglers have found mixed results this week, with walleye and perch action changing by the day. We are in the depth of the Dog Days of August, and a traditional slowdown in walleye activity is normal.
On Lake Winnebago, walleyes have been deep in the mud this past week, with many of the walleyes coming off the bottom while trolling. There has been solid action in the north-east corner of Lake Winnebago for some time now; however, pockets of active fish can be found systemwide.
Many of the mud walleyes have been in the 15-20 depth ranges with 16-17 feet producing the best catch rates. By far the best tactic has been targeting these walleyes with crawler harness with bottom bouncers or inline weights. Purple and blues have been outstanding colors, along with firetiger. This tactic will also produce heavy numbers of sheephead. Normally I run 1.0 mph when pulling Offshore boards behind the boat with harnesses, but faster speeds of 1.3 mph produced more walleyes early in the week. Many of the walleyes were 14-17 inches with some larger walleyes in the 20-inch range.
Crank bait trollers were also successful, especially when pulling Flicker Shads at faster speeds around 2.5 mphs. This time of year, larger baits are preferred (due to larger bait fish this time of year), so default out to size #7 or even size #9. When water temps are above 75 degrees, walleyes will tend to chase baits, often as a reaction. 80-100 feet behind the board was the most productive set up.
The reefs continue to produce ample fish via vertical or dragged jigs. Anglers will need to pick through numerous sheephead to get to the walleyes and perch. Abrahams Reef, Steven’s Reef and Third Reef were particularly active this week.
The Fond du Lac area continues to produce perch, commonly in the 7-inch range. Walleyes continue to reside in the weed beds. White bass are scattered between the Lakeside Park lighthouse and the Third Reef. Catfish can be found along the east shore, just outside or in the pockets of the weed beds.
My focus this week was on the Bay of Green Bay for larger walleyes. Walleyes have been active, and large numbers of anglers have been targeting the Shark Fin area and Geano’s Reef. Results have been variable.
Last Friday I had some excellent activity in the 3-5-foot swells coming out of the northeast on Shark Fin (What did you expect- It’s Sharknado week!). Every walleye came on the same crawler harness configuration – gold blade with yellow beads. The largest walleye was 27.5”. When fishing on the Bay, I always use a three-hook harness with the rear hook being a small treble hook. Nearly every fish caught had the treble as the only hook contacting the fish.
Unfortunately, the 7-mile ride home in the near small craft advisory waters, did a number on my equipment, so the boat was in the shop for the rest of the week. Also, perch fishing on the bay has been producing some large fish, especially in the Oconto region.
Ultimately this week, trends did not stay consistent on either the Bay of Green Bay or Lake Winnebago for any length of time. Right now, using the electronics is a must to find the roaming schools of walleyes. Believe in your technology, and target the fish which are being seen.
The next several weeks mark the end of the summer season. However, some of the best action of the year is in front of us! Get on the water.