Muskies, Walleyes, Smallmouth & Much More...By Eric Haataja - June 1, 2004
What to fish for?
Many of our lakes in S.E. Wisconsin have decent Walleye populations. I usually try to fish the larger lakes like Geneva, Delavan, the Madison Chain, and Koshkonong. Most of our lakes will be in the lower 60's for water temps and now is when I like to start to troll cranks, or spinners. There are numerous ways to troll spinners, such as with bottom bouncers, snap weights, or just a split shot. The same can be said about trolling crank baits, with lead core, snap weights or just on planner boards. A few of my favorite trolling baits are jointed shad raps, reef runners, rouges, walleye divers and Renosky's. What I like to look for is feeding flats or food shelves. Post spawn fish of all types can be the easiest and the most difficult fish to catch. Does the saying here today gone tomorrow mean anything? Or should have been here yesterday? With post spawn fish, at times they will move out as quickly as they move in. The biggest factor that usually changes fish patterns in spring are cold fronts and falling water temps, or drastic changes in barometric pressure. Which at times puts the fish in a neutral feeding pattern? That is when certain techniques such as jerk baits, and live bait will create reaction bites.
Muskies although these fish have the reputation of being the fish of 10,000 casts, that is rarely the case. The first place I like to look this time of year for muskies are area's adjacent to spawning flats along with rock piles and or shallow flats. The next place is I look for is pan fish or baitfish such as Cisco's or suckers. These fish are just starting to put the feed bag on so if you can locate where there prime forage is you can bet that muskies will be near by, along with many other hungry game fish such as pike or walleyes! I prefer to throw a handful of baits such as buck tails, jerk baits, and glide baits. However I will also fish a sucker or chub at times with a quick strike rig.
A few of the lakes I will fish are: Fowler, Lac La Belle, Ockachee, Silver, Oconomowoc, Pewaukee, and a few others.
Smallmouth & Largemouth Bass The bass fishing has been nothing shy of awesome! I've done 4 guided trips in the last week and each trips we average at least 25 bass. My clients have helped me boat 8 bass over 20 inches so far this year. Many of our lakes are just loaded with bass. Most Smallies and Largemouth will be spawning right now or in the next few weeks. These prespawn fish are usually cruising in search of bedding areas and bait fish. I love to throw cranks and spinner baits under the right conditions as search baits. When I locate some of these fish I will throw tubes, senkos, and a Carolina rig in clear water, and I like to pitch and flip jigs in the dirty water. North Lake, Geneva, Eagle, Pine, Big Cedar, Delavan, The Milwaukee River, and many more lakes in our area are loaded full of both largemouth and small mouth. It is also very common to go out and catch 30-50 bass in a single day, with several in the 18+ inch class.
Last but not least are Panfish of which many are spawning right now! These tasty fish are some of the best table fair and when fishing for bass, muskies, walleyes etc…. can lead you to all of the other game fish active in the area. I always try to search out bays, inlets, rivers, creeks, marshes, or any other area's that warm up the fastest. You can bet they will hold pan fish almost all year round, however usually in spring and fall is when you'll find the monster gills and slab crappies up shallow. Again this depends on the lake you fish as well, some lakes like Geneva shallow water is 10-15 feet of water and at times these fish will be in 30+ feet of water. Other lakes like Koshkonong will have pan fish holding in 1-3 feet of water.
If you take the time and fish for all of the species listed above you will see that many mature fish will utilize the same types of main lake structure that is why many of my clients fishing for bass will incidentally catch muskies or walleyes etc…