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Fishing Report


Well, the regular game fish opener has gotten off to a fantastic start. The ice went off most lakes days before the opener with the biggest, deep clear lakes not ice-free and fishable to Sunday, May 4th. I've been able to catch limits of walleye on 7 out of 8 trips so far with a few pike and smallmouth mixed in. Except for the deepest lakes, almost all the fish are post-spawn now and actively feeding. On the smaller lakes, 1/16-ounce jigs and fatheads are producing on the edges of rock and gravel spawning areas. But, emerging weeds will be more important on these lakes shortly. Long-tapering edges of bars in 10 to 20-feet of water are holding spawning and post-spawn walleyes on the deepest lakes. I've had most action on the deep, clear lakes with an 1/8-ounce jig tipped with big chub or dace minnows. But, I did catch one on a suspending crankbait last night. On the small and mid-sized lakes, 13 to 19-inch walleyes have been the norm. On the deeper lakes, we have been catching and releasing several mid 20-inch fish almost every time out. 

The water temperatures on the lakes varies from about 40 to the high 40's and is warming slowly. The walleye fishing should remain good for at least another month. But, the muskie season starting on May 24th north of Highway 10 will likely get off to a slow start with the cold water. Likewise, the best crappie and other pan fish bites will almost for sure be a week or two later than normal without some much warmer weather.

Remember that it's catch and release only up north for bass until June 16th. And, this year there's a new wrinkle - when targeting bass during the catch and release season, only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used. Because it is tough to find commercially produced barbless hooks, pinching the barb down with pliers will meet the regulations. I release all bass anyway so this rule makes sense to me. Will a few more jumping fish get away? Almost certainly, especially if you give the fish any slack line. But, since they were going to be released anyway, so what? Hopefully, this rule will reduce unintended bass mortality and ensure we have a great bass fishery for many years.

Hope you have a great open-water fishing season after what has been a long, hard winter. It's started out well with a lot of great fishing yet to come!

Jim Cheshire
PO Box 70
McNaughton, WI 54543

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