In Memorial Day Weekend we find a gateway to summer. Gone April and May, the months of springtime. Here now June, and June is summertime, nothing more, nothing less. We may have chill days, frost is not unheard of, but June is summer and June, soon, is here.
At that turning point we are near a month into fishing season with two major openers to come: Musky season this weekend; and bass a few weeks out. The first weeks of the season have been a mixed bag. However, this weekend will find crappies over the peak by a week, with bluegills near their peak. The past week has seen bluegill success improve, and it seems more reports have come of large fish this year than is normal. Small jigs and minnow imitations are always a good bet, but many anglers live for the evening fishing when the wind drops and the sun sinks and bluegills rise to the surface. Fly fishers love those days and toss poppers and, especially, foam-bodied spiders for some great action.
But for many all fish play second fiddle to muskies and that season is at hand with May 26 marking the opening. Normally we’re still dealing with some cool water, but that will not be the case this year, and because of that we think the usual tactics of mid-size lures retrieved slowly may not be the best idea. Fish move better in warmer water, and temperatures this month are more typical of late June.
We think two factors may have the big fish in relatively shallow water: for one, the bluegill spawn is still on, and second, ducklings have been hatching in the past week. Muskies are the large predators in the food chain, and they want a good size meal. Bluegills provide that, and on lakes with good bluegill numbers, muskies often patrol the edges of the spawning beds looking for bluegills to feed on. The prime real estate for that is in the shallows, and the first choice lure should be a mid-size offering worked along the edges. Same story for ducklings. Big fish like small ducks, and those small birds keep in shallower water near weedy areas.
Walleyes have been mostly slow this month, and traditional presentations in what should be good water have come up short. We did have one report of a good catch on leeches, and in a way that makes sense. Leeches usually are the first choice late in June, and this year with things advanced as they are, they might be the ticket now.
As we head into the weekend we are riding another wave of warm weather that, if it holds, will make this weekend a very good one to be outside.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.