July 4th looms unexpectedly, for it simply seems to soon for the most festive of summer holidays. One wonders where June went, a month that seems to have flown by. Be that as it may, Independence Day and its associated revelries stands now only days away, and with it the age-old quandary of any backyard chef: When cooking brats on the grill, is it best to simmer the brats in beer before putting them to the heat? Or better to cook them first then simmer in a pot of beer and onions. We’ll defer here, although we do hold a definite opinion.
Brats and beer, long considered two of the major food groups in Badger state culture, will dominate dining this week as fireworks light of the skies and parades jam downtown streets. Add to all this some hot weather (and we had a taste of that this past week), and the stage is set for a fine holiday week.
Lake waters are perfect for swimming and boating, the warm weather will bring out the dynamic mix of kayaks and jet skis and Stand Up Paddleboards and power boats; water skiers will share the lakes with fishermen, hikers will hope that the number of mosquitoes stays low and bicyclists, road on off-road, will use the good weather to ply their sports. Sun screen will rank high on the list of necessities.
That all seems certain. Less certain, but still important to many, is the state of angling in the north. Things get a bit iffy on that subject.
We start the week soundly confident that if conditions are right, musky fishing can be very good. This is not based on the rah-rah-rah of boosterism, but on the hard facts that the last two weekends saw musky tournaments that each saw very good catches. Each tourney had good numbers caught; each event saw some big fish come to the net. So we know, based on that, that musky fishing should hold up into this week.
The key factor, to nobody’s surprise, is the weather. A cold front in July can be as big a bust to fishing as it can in January or May or October. But if we have good weather we expect to have some good musky fishing. During the daytime, particularly on weekends, heavy motor boat traffic will put any fish down, so early morning and late evening are often most productive. This is true with all species, not just muskies.
We have had reports of muskies ranging in a variety of water depths, most often in weedy areas or on the edges of drop-offs. And they do seem to be hitting a wide variety of lures; no one type is standing out. Most importantly, as evidenced by the recent tournaments, they are active.
Bass, largemouth in particular, like the hot weather. We like to find a small lake, off the beaten path of heavy traffic (and there are plenty in the area) and fish the edge of weedbeds and lily pads. Evening is often best on sunny days as is early mornings.
Walleyes started the season in May pretty slow, and have not picked up much. What action there is seems, as one would expect, to be located in deeper water near weedy areas that adjoin sandy, open areas. Jigs and crawlers or leeches are the normal ticket, but more and more anglers are finding that newer artificials will work as well as naturals.
All in all, this week looks to be a wonderful combination of good weather (but always watch for late afternoon storms in the heat), good water conditions, and decent fishing. Oh, and add to that the brats and beer, no matter how you cook the brats.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.