A stable and warm weather pattern has been the norm for the Lake Winnebago region for several weeks. The extended late summer is a welcome event, getting a few extra anglers out on the water.
Water temperatures on the system have dropped only five degrees over the last 14 days, with Fond du Lac registering 58 degrees, Menasha at 58, and Oshkosh at 55. The stability in the water temperatures has created predictable fishing patterns on the system. Generally, mid-October features temperature swings making fishing a bit more challenging. There is no turnover on Like Winnebago, due to its shallow DNA.
Algae breakouts are common in select regions of the lake.
Flows in the rivers have been dropping, with less current in all the rivers. There has been no significant rainfall (except Saturday last week in some areas). As a result, the river walleye and white bass bites have been on the decline. Catfish are numerous in the river.
The lake is a lonely place these days. Many sportspeople have taken up arms and headed to the woods to chase bear, ducks, and deer.
Walleyes have been on the shoreline points and shallow rocky humps associated with weeds on Lake Winnebago and Lake Buttes Des Mortes. The walleyes have been picky and are not easily caught. Shiver minnows, blade baits, jigs with 3-4” plastics have been the best tactics. The walleyes seem to be avoiding live bait. As long as I have fished this system, I don’t remember such an extended time where walleyes were rejecting live presentations. Using the artificial presentations will result in some smallmouth bass catches.
The annual white bass schooling has been invisible to date. I am sure this is occurring but have not found the main lake locations. There is white bass in the rivers, but traditional areas like Fremont and the Mouth of the River at Lake Poygan have been slow.
Perch fishing has been below average. Lake Butte des Mortes was holding solid perch on Oakwood Point and Sunset Point; while the Fond du Lac area is offering the best perch fishing on Lake Winnebago. The perch have been scattered in deep water and deeper transition areas (rock to mud).
The system is terribly slow currently. While this is not abnormal, it seems to be slightly more severe this season. Some speculation is related to a depleted walleye population due to overharvesting the last several years. The DNR fall census will be a crucial data point when completed.
Get on the water while you can. Ice is coming sooner than many people want to believe. We are likely about 45 days from the first ice.