Summer is in full swing in Wisconsin with a seasonable weather pattern across the region. With the warming of the day, sporadic rain has been the exception across the region. While extremely dry conditions remain across the region for the last 10 days, some areas did see some significant rain in small pockets since July 4th. Daily air temps have been between 80-90 degrees.
On Lake Winnebago, the water temperatures have spiked to nearly 80 degrees in Fond du Lac, 76 degrees in Menasha and 72 degrees in Oshkosh. This is nearly a ten-degree spike from three weeks ago. The algae bloom is thick (and growing) systemwide, and some pockets of toxic blue-green algae have already been reported. The Black Wolf area has the least number of algae currently.
There also is significant weed debris at the surface in many areas of the lake, making trolling difficult. Much of the weed debris is a by-product of heavy boating traffic. The windblown shore will have the most weeds. Water clarity continues to be clear; 5 feet or more of visibility was common on the south shore. Wind can stir the water column, so some days have seen dirtier water.
Lake Winnebago continues to pump out strong numbers of juvenile walleyes on just about any method. Many of these walleyes range from 6-13 inches and represents a strong fishery for many years to come (assuming they are not all being harvested).
Larger walleyes have been scattered throughout the system. In the last 7 days, there has been a flushing out of mature walleyes out of the Wolf and Fox Rivers into Lake Winnebago. Temperatures, falling water levels, and reduced oxygen levels have driven some of the walleyes down the system. This is normally a late May movement, but with the cool Spring and the high water on the rivers, this transition is just occurring now. Last weekend the Wolf River in Winneconne was loaded full of walleye fishermen, reminiscent of April most years. Typical spring techniques have been working such as flies, jigs with crawlers, deep crankbaits and slow death.
Many days the larger walleyes have been higher the water column while trolling the mud on the main lake. I was very successful running small crankbaits 25-35 feet behind the Offshore trolling boards. Green, blue and purple were dominant colors trolled at 2.0 or faster. Storm Hot-n-Tots have been particularly good due to the aggressive movements while in the water.
Sheephead have been extremely active. Bass also have been active, especially largemouth along weed edges. Catfish are active. Crappies are sparse in deeper water, but still present.
Perch fishing has been fabulous for partial baskets of fish, especially on the northwest side of the lake and the southeast side of the lake. The Black Wolf area has also been doing well. The average perch has been running between 7-9 inches with some fish pushing into the 10+ inch ranges. While multiple tactics are working, the best presentation has been a dead stick, with a gold hook tipped with a nightcrawler chunk. I have also found adding small ice fishing plastics to be effective, especially in yellow.
The depth ranges changes daily for perch, but the 10-12-foot ranges tend to be the most consistent. If you are not getting bit, a slight change in depth on the same structure might be the ticket needed to increase activity. The first move should be to deeper water (12-15 feet). Red worms can also be a nice change of pace if fishing in large groups of fishermen. The most consistent bite is time sensitive – either early in the morning or after 6 pm on most days. Plan to move often until an active school of perch is found.
A couple of weeks ago, while perch fishing, I netted my first Winnebago Musky. While only roughly 24” long, it was a surprise to see at the end of the line. While Winnebago is not known for Musky, there are some massive fish in this system. I’ve had several muskies on while fishing on this system, but this is the first which I boated.
While my life has been extremely busy for the last several months, I hope to start carving out more fishing time once August arrives. That means…. more reports for you! Stay tuned!
firstname.lastname@example.org is my email for your reports. We welcome them! Most walleye tournaments have concluded for the year on Lake Winnebago, with just two major events left to occur in August and October.
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