A consistent, but windy, weather pattern engulfed the Lake Winnebago region the past week, providing little precipitation and summerlike temperatures. Directional wind shifts were common daily along with various wind speeds.
On Lake Winnebago, veins of clear and cloudy water were normal on the lake. Visibility ranged from 3-8 feet of clarity based on location. In general, the northwest shore has the cleanest water with the dirtiest water associated with the Fox River near Oshkosh.
Water temperatures are relatively uniform on Lake Winnebago with water temperatures near 70 degrees; however, extremes were as low as 64 degrees and a high of 73 degrees in the past week. Lake Poygan has water temperatures ranging from 69-74 degrees during the same period.
The annual Cottonwood (tree) “snows of June” are occurring in the region. The cottonwood seed droppings glide from the trees and float onto the water’s surface. The droppings commonly attach to fishing lines, clogging rod eyelets and reels, creating frustration for many anglers.
The annual walleye peak-season is upon us. Healthy numbers of walleyes have moved into the mud (deepest part of the lake) and have active feeding periods over the course of the day. Baitfish have been minimal, so many of these fish are feeding on bug larva, worms, and other food sources.
The Fox River in Oshkosh continues to hold some walleyes, but the east winds has backed up the river creating poor fishing conditions for walleyes. However, white bass, catfish, and sheephead are providing plenty of entertainment for those anglers in the river.
Lake Winnebago has many regions which are firing right now. The highest concentration of walleyes which we found was in the Northeast corner of the lake. Several large schools are near Stockbridge, WI just off the break lines into the deeper water. Crankbaits run deep were working very well, with Berkley Flicker Shads, Rapala Shad Raps, and Thundersticks working best at deep depths. On calm days, the fish have risen to mid-column depths.
Several schools have been active on the north shore near the golf course. Both crankbaits and crawler harnesses were working well here.
The central basin has more activity on the eastern shore than on the western shore. The area near Quinney and Brothertown, WI have groups of walleyes in the 18-foot plus ranges. This bite was strictly a crawler harness bite with purple or gold harnesses working best. In some areas, perch, crappies, and smallmouth bass were caught. Walleye have been running from 9-25 inches here.
Do not overlook shallow areas. Fish are residing in 2-6 feet of water, especially on cloudy days. Walleyes staged in these areas are actively feeding, so they tend to be more aggressive. Common size fish are between 14-17 inches. Weed growth has been minimal in 2018, and patches of green weeds should be critical target zones.
South of Fisherman’s road, there has been a substantial activity for “eater” walleyes in the 13-15-inch ranges. Look to 12-14-foot ranges for the best results with smaller sized crankbaits such as Salmo Hornets. Transitional zones can also be productive, especially on windy days.
Overall the reefs have been slow, especially on the north shore. The Outer Bar and Lighthouse Reef had visibilities to the bottom of the reefs, discouraging fish from coming up to the reef tops to feed due to water clarity.
The Mercury National Walleye tournament occurred this weekend with approximately 32 pounds as the winning weight for the two-day event. Nearly all anglers remained on Lake Winnebago, with a heavy concentration of tournament boats near Stockbridge and Quinney. Very few teams put together two consecutive outstanding days, but overall, most teams produced eight tournament fish or more. Summer Battle on ‘Bago (a.k.a. Otter Street) occurs this weekend with 300 plus teams launching from Menomonie Park in Oshkosh on Both Saturday and Sunday.
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