Its not looking much like fall with this nice Indian Summer run we have been enjoying, but the fish are still starting to realize that its time to get down to business. In the past couple of days a 46 inch musky and a 29.5 inch walleye were both caught on Okauchee. That's one of those old walleyes from way back when, and since both fish were caught and released, they are both still waiting for you to take a shot.
The water is in the mid to upper 60's on most lakes in our area. Weeds are still green and the algae blooms are clearing up. The baitfish population had a boom with the flooding this season, and there are schools of bait in both deep and shallow water.
Bass are using the weeds. I know that sounds like a simplification, but its not. LM are patrolling and ambushing along clumps of weeds on the shallow weed flats. Others are still hanging along the deeper weed edges. Smallmouth are relating to weed clumps near or adjacent to rocky and sandy areas with a drop off. The deeper fish will bite best when they make a move into the nearby shallow water. They tend to do this a couple times a day this time of year. When the water and air temperatures begin to cool down some more, fish will use rocky areas in the early afternoons. Your best lure options right now are wacky worms, large jigworms, skirted grubs, jig/chunk, texas rigged plastics or lipless crankbaits. Smaller, wide wobbling crankbaits can also produce. I know that's alot of options, but narrow it down. Wacky worms and skirted grubs are great around the rocks. Jigworms, texas rigs and ji/trailers are great around the scattered weeds. Lipless crankbaits are great in both areas. Browns, greens, orange or balcks are usally the best colors for plastics (pretty much as they are all year) but white or silver crankbaits can be very good this time of year.
Walleye: Live minnows or nightcrawlers are the key unless fishing at night when minnowbaits can outpace. Look for walleyes to be in the sandgrass or in breaks in the weeds in 10-15 feet. Some fish will be deeper or shallower on our local lakes, but the best approach is a slip-sinker or lindy rig with a big minnow. Nightcrawlers will still produce as well, especially when trolled very slowly on spinner harnesses along the first weedline breaks. Lac Labelle and Pine usually get hot when the water gets down to 60 degrees.
Northern: Most northern caught this time of year are caught while targeting other species, especially bass and musky. But they can still be caught and in good numbers. With the water still pretty warm (in relative terms) I'd consier trolling the best option. Deep diving crankbaits in bluegill, perch or white/shad color patterns can work wonders right now when trolled along the deep weedlines. Hot N Tots, wiggle warts and the rapala deep divers are my favorites for trolling, while Norman D-22, Bagleys or lipless crankbaits are better options for casting. Drifting with medium suckers on a lsip sinker rig, like you might consider for walleye fishing right now, will alos be productive.
Musky: What can I say? It is time, pure and simple. If you want to have your best shot at a musky or even a trophy musky ditch the tree stand and get back into your boat. The next six weeks will be prime-time. For now, focus your attention in 12-18 feet of water. Casting bucktails, gliders, swimbaits or especially jerkbaits can work, but don't forget to keep a sucker or two out on a quick-strike rig. Many fish that follow in lazily on a casting approach will turn on for the sucker hanging nearby.
One last thing, I know we are very bass orientated for a "musky shop", but consider making us your stop for musky fishing this season.
We have suckers in stock up to 16 inches long right now. We also have custom made quick strike rigs to hang them on and a great selection of bucktails, spinnerbaits and other musky tackle. We can point you in the right direction for Pewaukee and offer great advice for chasing musky on Okauchee, Oconomowoc, Fowler and Lac Labelle, all lakes which have incredibly healthy musky populations.
Good Luck and catch a big one!