A long awaited surge of warm weather this week set the stage for what many expect to be a good opening weekend for inland game fish. The heat of March is long-gone, and after it left, temperatures have been balky and uncooperative. As a result we’ve seen inconsistent action in the past month. But the weather this week should bring water temperatures up and that in turn should improve fishing.
Walleyes are the key target this weekend, and we expect them to be pretty hungry as they come back from the stress of spawning. It’s always difficult to predict where to find fish, but we think that walleyes will be in shallow to moderate depths, along the outer edge of a drop-off on most lakes. They’ll go for small to medium minnows and similar size artificials. As with any early season fishing, it’s important to use a slow retrieve for all species.
Panfish have been the only legal fish in the past month or so, and they’ve been spotty at best. Reports have had crappies mostly in 10 to 12 feet of water on most lakes and not that cooperative. Lately we’ve seen them move into the shallows on warmer, sunny afternoons, usually on darker water lakes as they respond to the warming water. Then, after sun down, they’re back out deeper. The warming trend of this week should encourage them to make a commitment to shallower water, where small jigs and small minnows should produce good action.
Perch have been very inconsistent, but as with crappies, warmer days have produced some fish. It’s late for a major feed by perch, but we’d try those shallow back bays and see what happens. We’d expect some perch action this week.
Overall we think this should be a strong opener, as the stable weather should help a lot. As recently as a week ago we had some very cold nights that set things back. Now we should be coming up on more normal conditions and that will mean some good fishing.
We’re past the halfway point in the turkey season, and things are not as good as a lot of people hoped for. Toms are not gobbling much this week, and have been inconsistent through most of the season. And that is not just in this area; hunters who travel to other areas of the state have reported the same.
Many hens are on nests, but toms will still be looking for other hens. They may not respond to calls by gobbling, but often will move toward a hen call regardless. Early morning may still produce birds, but now midday is often productive as toms roam more widely. Patience, always a virtue to hunters, is important in the final weeks. Birds are still out there, but they have been hunted and are even more wary than normal.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.