This might be my favorite time of year. It's the eve of our 2017 Wisconsin fishing opener, and we're ready to dive in head first! Yard work is done, firewood is cut for next winter, and the boat is rigged and ready to go. It looks like we'll have decent weather accross northern Wisconsin with highs in the 50's, dry skies, and manageable north winds in the forecast. It'll be a little cool, but isn't that how the opener is supposed to be? I checked in with a few of the guys to see what's been going on in our area over the past week, and here's what they had to say.
Hayward area guide Pete Rich did a little crappie scouting this week and found some really good fish in 2' – 4' of water using slip bobber rigs. Those are definitely some "good fish"! Pete reported water temps around 51', and that's pretty consistent with what I've been seeing on most of our lakes. I'm assuming fish in that tight were probably getting ready to spawn as it usually happens in waves over the first few weeks in May depending on the weather. There should be fish staging at different depths on most lakes right now. If you can't dial into a shallow bight, try using your electronics to find fish in the 6' – 12' zone. Either way, there should be plenty of opportunities to put some slabs in the boat this weekend. Pete released all of the fish he caught, and we ask that you use good judgement when harvesting these valuable fish over the weekend. There's nothing wrong with keeping a few for a meal, and returning those big females will ensure a strong crappie fishery for the future. Nice work Pete!
Josh Teigen has been on top of a good trolling bite around the Apostle Islands and on Chequamegon Bay over the past few weeks, and he says the bite continues to be excellent. A good mix of browns, cohos, and splake have been active in 10' – 70' of water depending on the day. Josh suggests finding the warmest water possible and to fish the top 10' of the column. Pulling stickbaits around 2.3 – 2.7 mph has been the best presentation, and Josh says to use the brightest baits possible if you're in dirty water. I've been trying to get on this bite myself over the past week, but haven't been able to get things coordinated. Hope I don't miss out, because it sure looks like a ton of fun!
Speaking of fun, how does landing a prehistoric monster sound? Aron Kastern always puts some rediculously big fish in the boat on Chequamegon Bay this time of year, and this week was no different. Aron's customer Brian Schmid landed this 63" dinosaur while soaking dead bait in 10' – 25' of water. Amazing! Aron also reports a good whitefish, brown trout, and pig pike bite happening as well. This early big fish bite Aron is on usually has a limited window, but he always seems to have it dialed in. If you're looking to do something different, or possibly catch the fish of a lifetime, you might want to look into this. I know I'll be trying it out this week if I get a chance!
With this being our first opportunity to get after walleyes and smallies, I expect results to be all over the map. Smallies on Chequamegon Bay should be pushing into the shallows, but I'd suspect we're a week or two away from seeing that on our inland lakes. Walleyes could be everywhere and anywhere. If you can find them shallow, aggressivly fishing stick baits around sand / gravel points and flats can be very effective early in the seaon. Wherever you go and whatever you're after, have a fun and safe opening weekend. Away we go!!!