The second significant heat wave of 2012, worked its way through the Badgerland, and allowed for many anglers to hit the water this past week. On the Winnebago chain, average water temperatures worked into the mid 60’s with an occasional tickle into the 70 degree range. Water clarity on the main lake has improved since last week, with three to ten feet of visibility common in most parts of the lake. Lake flies continue to hatch in reduced quantities.
Some of the best action in more than a year was occurring on the Winnebago system this week with every major species of fish active. By far, the headline goes to walleye fishing.
We decided to do a video segment on Thursday night. The goal was to catch 15 walleyes in 2 hours. At one hour and 5 minutes, we reached our goal, without every getting all the rods in the water. At the two hour mark, we had netted 32 walleyes. Unfortunately, a sound quality hiccup prevented us from putting the video together. This really tells the story of the week with the large number of feeding walleyes.
Over the week we caught walleyes trolling (harnesses, slow death, cranks), jigging, pitching cranks, slip bobbering, and dragging jigs. Early in the week the walleyes were most commonly found in 3-9 feet of water. As the week progress, many of those fish moved into deeper water. The huge food source of lake flies has been declining, and in many areas the walleyes have gorged themselves. Now that the cycle of the flies is not as active, the fish are moving to deeper water seeking alternative food sources. By Saturday and Sunday the action was still hot, but was reduced from mid week.
In addition, the water temps have started to push the sheepheads up on to the shallow areas to spawn. Sheephead normally spawn at 65-70 degrees, which are the current conditions. It would not surprise me to see most of the reefs overrun with sheephead for the next 10 days or so. This will also push the walleyes and bass to deeper water.
The final installment of the white bass run was in full gear, especially in the Oshkosh, New London and Fremont areas. By the hundreds, if you wanted them.
If you are a bass guy, you’ll be excited to know that Kevin VanDam was on the system this weekend. No word as to how he did, or where he was fishing. Smallies and largemouth continue to hang just outside their normal spawning beds.
Crappies: The south end of the lake has been holding good numbers of crappies along the rocky shore lines, and in a little deeper water (10-13 feet). Minnows were best to attract these fish. The Old Chaparral in North Fond du Lac is holding crappies, and these are accessible by shore fishermen only.
Walleyes: If I said everywhere, I would not be incorrect. In 3-9 feet of water, look for emerging weedbeds and run salmo #4 hornets at 10-40 feet behind your Off Shore Planner Board. If you get on a school of fish, it may not be a bad idea to cast cranks on the location. Once out to deeper water, my suggestion is to run crawler harnesses. Those produced well this week, but the active sheephead can be a nuisance (4” white bass if you are on the east shore).
Bluegills: It is still a little early for the spawning activities for these fish. Another couple of weeks should kick these fish into high gear, or when water temps reach 75 degrees. With that said, they are still quite a few being caught currently in some of the shallows.
On Lake Butte des Mortes, we netted a few walleyes by pitching jigs and slip bobbering on Oakwood Point and Sunset point. Lake Poygan sounded like it had a solid bite up there also, with much of the action coming in the shallow water grasses. The Mouth of the Fox River at Oshkosh was producing good numbers of walleyes near the old Pioneer Inn. Many of these were 15-18” walleyes.
Carp are actively spawning. Some of the bow fishermen were reporting schools of walleyes so large in the shallows at night, they could not shoot the carp.
Pike are starting to show up in larger numbers along the shallow flats and emerging weed beds. I hooked my first Winnebago Musky this week, on all things, a Salmo hornet #4. I did not boat it, but it was a blast on 8 pound test and a spinning reel.
Tournament Results: Terry’s Bar Tournament out of Oshkosh was won with about 17 pounds of walleyes on Saturday (limit of 4 fish). A local bar tournament on the east shore had a reported 29 pound winning basket on 5 fish. Sundays Midwest Walleye Series was won by Jason Miller and Matt Miller with about 20 pounds. Outside of a few boats, the entire field had 5 fish limits. Bigger weights came in the mud.
Next weekend is Memorial Day. The recreational boat traffic will kick into full gear. It is time to share our waterways with a whole new set of users.
Upcoming Tournaments This Week:
Beer Run Walleye Tourney (I am fishing this one…in Pipe) Saturday
Oshkosh Bassmasters Saturday
Pete’s Fisherman’s (Brothertown) Inn Saturday
Houges Walleye Warm Up (Oshkosh) Saturday
I want to thank all of the reports again this week. firstname.lastname@example.org is my email for questions or reports. Sorry for the long report, there is just a lot to talk about right now. Happy Memorial Day Weekend!