Fishing Report Week of 03/12/12
Boy oh boy what a winter we have had this year. A really tough one especially if you are an ice fisherman.
The recent warm up has really put the fish into feeding mode. I am curious of what time of year it is walking outside into 70-80 degree temperatures and I am sure the fish are feeling the same way with a rapid warm up.
Other than the northern part of the state, all bodies of water within our area are now open and fishable from shore or by boat.
The game fish season has closed on inland bodies of water. The Rock, Wisconsin, Winnebago, Wolf, Fox, Peshtigo, Menominee and Oconto River Systems are all open year-round and are excellent destinations for the spring “Walleye Run”.
Lake Michigan and its tributaries are also open year-round for anglers looking for stretching a line fishing trout along with other game fish.
Delavan has been producing nice crappies and gills fishing the shallow muddy areas such as the Inlet, Brown’s Channel and the west end of both west bays near the Island.
Fishing small ice jigs such as a Marmooska, Gill Pill or a Rat Finkie tipped with plastic tails, spikes or waxies under the float 6”-1 /2’ below.
Using other lines tipped with a size 10-12 Gold Aberdeen hook with a waxie or crappie minnow is a good rod to let the wind work for you.
Look for the gills in 2-5 feet of water while the crappies may be in as shallow or out as deep as 15-17 feet of water. Water temperature is the biggest factor this time of year. Muddy bottom areas that are shallow will warm quickest.
Fishing the northern shoreline will also be warmer with sun exposure being greatest.
Geneva remained open for the most part this winter. The lack of fishing pressure should reap great benefits chasing crappies, perch, pumpkinseed and blue gill.
The Abbey Harbor has been excellent this spring yielding slab crappies and nice gills. Being one of the most accessible areas with a muddy bottom, the water temps have been optimum holding quality fish.
The perch bite has been good near Trinkes Estates targeting 12-22 feet of water. Drop-shotting small to medium shiners or fishing under a float near the bottom has proved great results. Large Pumpkinseeds have been caught along with perch near shore from the Riviera to the west fishing 5-20 feet of water.
Fishing for crappie and gills, tie on a small size 16 Rat Finkie or Moon Jig tipped with waxies or plastic.
There are standing weeds in some areas, set your rig to drift just above them. Many are still up 3-4 feet off bottom.
Just as Delavan throwing out rigs tipped with minnows using the wind to work them is a great game plan.
The lake trout season is still open, which is a great opportunity to catch nice fish trolling or vertical jigging.
Trolling in the Narrows in 75-105 feet of water has produced a few fish. Using your electronics locating bait fish is key to where to set your lines.
Ciscoes will be anywhere in the water column, so making a quick few passes locating the bait balls will reap great rewards.
Use flasher/fly combos or run spoons in blue/nickel or green/nickel patterns to take these fish.
Most of the time I will find most fish within the bottom 20 feet of the water column.
This time of year, fishing lake trout can be an all day bite. Early or Late in the day, I will see fish suspended much higher in the water column.
Rock River System
Lake Koshkonong has been open for awhile now allowing the Rock River to warm rapidly. Currently at 50+ degrees fish have been moving up river.
Many small male walleyes are being caught with the larger females yet to show up in numbers. It will be a matter of days.
The bag limit for walleye/sauger is five fish 15” or better aggregate limit per day. With a ten fish possession limit per person.
The fishing has been a little tough with hundreds of boats motoring and drifting above them over and over again.
Finding fish in those “under fished” areas getting away from the crowd is golden this time of year. There are many over looked areas I like to fish when the fishing pressure becomes immense in the spring.
The crappie bite has been excellent fishing around timber and dead fall with small minnows under floats or fished on a small jig head.
Catfish action has been good along the shore line around dead fall fishing chicken livers on the bottom. Look for muddy areas holding warmer water.
White bass have also been showing up, which is really early. Many large fish too! I have been catching them right along with the walleyes and sauger fishing a jig/minnow combo.
Tipping Northland Gumball jigs tipped with fatheads, plastic grubs or Ring Worms, Gulp! and Power Bait Grubs in the 2-4” size have produced well taking eyes and saugers.
Lake Michigan Harbors
The brown trout bite has been absolutely phenomenal this winter into spring. I have been fishing out of Milwaukee for the most part holding a very healthy population of brown and lake trout.
Holding these fish is an exploding population of Gizzard Shad which come into the harbor areas being home to warm water discharges.
Many of the fish have been caught jigging and casting from the boat using light tackle, the same gear one would use fishing walleye or bass.
Lately the water has warmed considerably spreading the bait and trout out creating a better trolling bite some days.
Racine and Kenosha are starting to see Cohos showing up already. A buddy of mine in Indiana has been reeling them in for weeks now along with Kings close to shore! Unbelievable!
The Coho and trout trolling bite have been consistent using spoons behind mini-planers, keel weights or snap-weights.
I have held back using riggers fishing in shallow water (20-30 feet) with ultra-clear water.
A few guys have been using dodger/fly combos with success. For Coho I like using a size 00 or 0 Orange Dodger with a blue/aqua flies.
Casting and jigging cranks, spoons or plastics has produced with each day being different.
My last two trips out, Gulp! 4-5” Jerk Shads or Minnows tipped on a 3/8 oz. jig has fit the bill. On windy days going heavier has been necessary.
Cast cranks such as Smithwick Rogues, Rattle Traps, or Suspending Jerk Baits in blue/silver, black/silver or Fire Tiger patterns.
Spoons in silver, blue, aqua, purple or gold has produced well. Jigging vertically or casting working the spoon back using a jigging motion will take fish.
Wolf River, De Pere, Fox River
The Fox River has been producing nice walleyes in the mid-20” range but the large females are starting to trickle in. With the one fish limit of 28” or better, it may be a week yet for the influx of large walleyes showing up.
I will be planning to guide on the Fox and Wolf systems as we get a little further along this spring. The fish will be early this year, without a doubt.
The Wolf System at Fremont and New London is starting to pick up, but similar to the Rock smaller fish are being caught.
On the Wolf River there is no size limit just a bag limit of five walleye or sauger aggregate limit per day.
John Reddy a local fishing guide operates Reddy Guide Service in the Delavan area. He is a professional fishing guide and educator licensed by the Department of Natural Resources and a United States Coast Guard licensed Great Lakes Charter Captain. John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. His opinion is not necessarily that of the The Gazette staff or management.