Fishing season opens this weekend, or at least it does for walleye and trout; bass and musky remain catch-and-release for now, but walleye is the big deal in early May-trout not so much up in this neck of the woods. A week ago, ice covered area lakes and doom and gloom prevailed: Would we have open water for the opener?
That question was answered this past week when warm weather and snappy breezes busted up ice on many small- to medium-sized lakes, making open water fishing at least an option. As of mid-week, larger, deeper lakes were locked up and iffy at best in the short term. But there should be enough open water to give most anglers a sporting chance.
Given the recent ice-out, fishing may be a challenge but in early season, with late ice-out, the key is always shallower, warmer water. We’re betting on good action in shallow bays over dark bottom lakes. There the water will warm up earliest and if fish are hungry, that’s where they’ll be.
If you plan on fishing walleyes, we’d think those shallow bays will be the key. Our guess is you’ll find fish active in 6 feet or less and a slow-moving jig or small minnow imitation lure will produce. If you retrieve too fast, you’ll not catch fish; slow it down and keep it slow. Match the lure to the water and in this case, that will mean a gold or other darker color lure.
We’ve seen this before, the late ice-out and cold water for the opening, and in those years the anglers that fished shallower water did well. We think that will be the case this time as well.
Panfish have been legal game all along and the same applies to them: find shallower water. Crappies are in the shallows and have been for a week. Again, fish slowly and patiently with small jigs or very small minnow imitations and you could do very well.
This week, the fish action will be on the shallow, dark water lakes and flowages. Fish those waters and you’ll have a chance to do very well.
Turkey season moves along and birds are becoming more active. They are moving away from wintering areas and you have to be on top of them. Birds may move several miles from their wintering grounds to spring/summer areas. Good hunters will be scouting before their hunt times to locate gobblers. If the weather cooperates, this will be the first week that turkeys should be in their spring territory.
The weather has finally broken after a very long transition from winter to spring. From here on out, we should be making a return to what we consider normal spring after a month of April that strained the patience of many Northwoods residents. Hopefully, we’ve turned the corner.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.