It's that glorious time of year when summertime actually kicks off in Lake Country.
If you're heading to our neck of the woods for some recreation this weekend, here's what you can expect.
The spring has been very cool, and the water temperatures are just rising into the low to mid sixties on most area lakes. A few lakes have very high water and are either slow no wake (Lac Labelle) or are closed to launching. (Lower and Middle Genessee) Walleyes, Musky and Pike have all spawned, and the bass are in the early stages of doing so.
Musky have been fairly active on our local lakes the past few weeks, and quite a number of quality fish have been caught, especially on the warmer, windy days. A solid shallow pattern has been working for anglers who put in the time. Look for fish on the shallow weed flats in 6-10 feet of water. Scattered weedclumps with visible baitfish or panfish are high percentage areas right now. A few fish are also using the first deep break in 12-18 feet of water. Gliders, swimbaits, bucktails and jerkbaits have all been consistent producers.
Best bets: Okauchee, Oconomowoc, Pewaukee, Fowler.
Northern Pike have been using the areas where there is new weedgrowth. Anglers targeting bass have been catching a number of pike ranging from smaller snakes to quality 30+" fish. Some of the larger pike are using the deep weedlines in 12-18 feet. Spinnerbaits,small bucktails, lipless crankbaits, floating rapalas and buzzbaits will all catch fish in the shallow water when fished around submergent green weeds. Large shiners or small to medium sized suckers suspended underneath a float, longlined on a split shot rig, or fished deep on a slip-sinker setup are your best options for live bait.
Best Bets: Nagawicka, Golden, Okauchee, Fowler, Moose.
Walleye have been active in cycles that match our current weather patterns. On warmer, windy days they have been biting fairly well. On cooler days, especially those with a North or east wind, they have been failry lethargic. Some fish are patrolling the shallows in the morning and evening hours, but the bulk of the fish are holding around rocky points and mid-depth weeds in 8-12 feet of water. Crankbaits like rapala shad raps are catching fish as is controlled drifting with live bait. Slow and steady have been the operative words. A nightcrawler, leech or small sucker on a lindy rig or long lined split shot setup have been the most consistent producers. A few fish are being caught around weeds using jig and plastic or jig and minnow combinations.
Best Bets: Pine, Oconomowoc, Pewaukee, Lac Labelle, the Nehmabins and Fox Lake.
Largemouth Bass are moving up to spawn on most area lakes. Schools of feeding males will be patrolling the shallow water, while larger fish still appear to be using weedflats to fee up. Look for fish anywhere from 2-15 feet of water around weed patches, wood laydowns or reeds. Shallow, dark bottom areas will hold the most fish. Wacky worms, shakey heads, swimbaits, texas rigged lizards or stickbaits, lipless crankbaits, and jigs with a chunk or craw trailer have all been producing. Natural colors have been better than flash this season. Nightcralwers or large leeches on a lindy or split shot rig or large shiners under floats fished around piers or along rockbars have been catching some nice fish.
Best Bets: Okauchee, Golden, Keesus, Pine, Nagawicka, Buelah, Moose.
Smallmouth Bass are still largely in a pre-spawn mode. Fish are patrolling the shallow bars a few times a day, especially on the warmer sunny days. Lots of fish are suspending in deeper water just off of shallow structure. Rocky/sand transition areas have been holding some fish who are foraging for craws. Suspending jerkbaits, tubes, wacky worms, swimbaits and lipless crankbaits in a crawfish pattern have all caught fish within the last ten days.
Best Bets: Oconomowoc, Lac Labelle, Pine, Nagawicka, Lower Nehmabin, Beaver.
Crappie are fully staged for the spawn. Many fish have started changing color already and are moving into areas with reeds and wood laydowns. Look for them around shallow cover in 2-8 feet of water. Tighlining over deeper wood or weeds in 8-12 feet has also been effective on some lakes. Tailhooked fatheads, plastics or hair jigs tipped with a waxworm and rosie reds are your best live bait options for crappies.
Best Bets: Pine, Okauchee, Kessus, Golden, Garvin, Ashippun, Lake Five.
Bluegills are beginning to move into the shallow water on many area lakes, but the better sized fish have still been coming from anglers targeting them in a little deeper water. Shallow fish will be near sandy bottom areas with scattered weed growth, but if you just want the kids to catch a few fish, try fishing around any piers that are in the water adjacent to deeper water (6-10 feet). If you want to target eating size gills, tightline vertically while drifting along weedlines in deeper water (as deep as 22 feet) or look for them on the end of sandy/gravel points in 12-15 feet of water. Panfish plumpers, plastics tipped with waxworms or spikes, panfish leeches or redworms are your best live bait options.
Best Bets: Golden, Silver, Garvin, Lower Nashotah, Forest, Upper and Lower Phantom, Ashippun, Upper Geneessee and Lake Five.
Catfish are being caught on the Rock River. Cutbait, stinkbait and nightcrawlers fished around the heads of the deeper holes has been producing some keepers.
Trout stocking was a sucess this year on out local waters, with rainbows and brook trout still available. Lower Nashotah, Fowler, Lower Geneessee and Paradise Springs all recieved fish, as did several of the county park ponds. A complete list of stocked waters is available from the Wisconsin DNR website. Look for these fish in the deeper water basin or deeper pools on the creeks. In the area lakes, they can be anywhere from just below the surface to 25 feet down over deeper water. Tightlining with minnows, redworms or panfish plumpers will catch fish when you find them.
Stop by the shop while you're in town this weekend. We'll have up to date information on local lakes and conditions. We can provide solutions to all of your bait and tackle needs or arrange for a trip with a fishing guide.
Good Luck Out There.