Lake Redstone a hidden gem
Why would anybody want to fish 605-acre Lake Redstone when Koshkonong, Delavan and the Madison chain are closer to home?
Plug in a “fishing to catching” ratio and the reason for a trek to this ice at the edge of day-trip range is clear.
With just 605 acres to hide in, it takes less time to find fish than on an almost 10,000-acre lake like Kosh or Mendota.
Those who own “Mad City Fish Locators”—commonly called binoculars-- to bird dog fish location might need more convincing.
The reason Redstone is a worthwhile road trip is the “fishing to catching” ratio. Fish-a-minute action is possible on this northern Sauk County lake when actually out there with a line in the water. Even if you only catch six per hour, it is better than sitting on a bucket watching your ice hole freeze.
Crappies aren't super big here like they are on Petenwell. Bluegills may not get as big here as they do on Delavan, and perch run smaller on Redstone than they do out in the middle of Lake Mendota.
But most pannies in this stained centerpiece of a vacation-home community are keeper-size for all but the most discriminating anglers. Redstone's panfish biomass has been quite active lately. A small “fishing to catching” ratio is a good thing.
Our return to sub-zero temperatures has certainly slowed the bite from the pre-arctic conditions of a few days ago. But fish are in mid-winter patterns now all over the map. On Redstone, the panfish tend to be a little less negative.
Another plus is ice thickness. A week ago, the ice was 5-7 inches thick all over the lake. We've made a lot of ice since, making vehicular travel worth considering.
Have you ever seen a Chevy Silverado out there on the Madison chain? Getting out to the fish in a heated vehicle beats hoofin' it every time.
Lately there have been essentially two hotspots on Redstone: down around the dam at the lake's south end and ice out from Section 11 on the lake's west side.
Bluegills and perch have been relating to woody structure, with a little Marmooska Tungsten Gem tipped with a waxie and the Icy Bimbo Skunk both very effective baits.
The way the waxie is impaled on the hook seems to make a difference. You may have better luck rigging the waxie “wacky” style—T-boned across the hook rather than in line with the hook shank.
Jesse Quale of GreenWaterWalleyes guide service has been tearing crappies up in 15 to 20 feet of water on the little “Chigger Fly” by Panfish Plastics. The crappies are behaving almost like white bass—flurries of crazy activity followed by periods with absolutely no action.
Quale thinks this is because crappies are chasing shad, which are quite abundant in Redstone now. This forage base has enabled crappies swimming here to put on some shoulders since I chased them with Quale last summer.
Crappies aren't the only critters chasing shad. Tangling with a bass or a walleye with substantial dimensions is likely. Redstone also has a good muskie population. Don't be surprised if a toother slurps in your plastic and doesn't look back.
Redstone is considerably different than most Wisconsin lakes. It is technically a reservoir, fed by Big Creek. Water leaves the lake at a scenic waterfall, with tailwaters eventually leading to the Baraboo River.
The lake started filling in 1964. It has changed considerably since I first fished it in the early 1970s. Waters which were once crystal clear are now considerably stained by runoff from lawns of houses which surround the lake.
To a great extent, Redstone's shoreline resembles private lake developments like Summerset, Candlewick and Apple Canyon, which are popular fishing destinations in northern Illinois. The major difference is Redstone is open to the public.
Pay-to-play is a way of life for our neighbors to the south. Illini anglers are forced into this scheme. Governors are in prison for it. The McCaskey family must have a Wisconsin heart: The Bears are probably the only pro athletes who work for minimum wage.
Like the old saying goes, you get what you pay for.
Ted Peck, a certified Merchant Marine captain, is an outdoors columnist for The Gazette. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.