Memorial Day Weekend is, in most years, the kick-off to summer. From now on, people’s thoughts turn to warm weather, longer days, mild nights and, often, warm lake water. That may not be the case this year as the season is still playing catch-up after a lingering winter and a too-short spring.
As it stands, going into this weekend most lakes are still too cold for swimming or water skiing. That will change as temperatures seem certain to rise under the longer days and higher sun ahead. But any visions of a lot of in-the-water activity for the weekend have faded for most people.
If in-water activity is not likely, on-water boating and fishing should be options. Musky season opens in the northern zone Saturday and that is welcome news for a lot of anglers. Word is that muskies have spawned on most lakes and should be ready to look for food. Water temperature is the key and lakes that have warmed up sooner will be the best bet.
Most springtime musky fishing is a matter of working patiently along emerging weed beds, using medium size lures. Slow and steady retrieves are, as with all early season fishing, the key. Given the fluctuations in water temperatures on area lakes, it’s going to be somewhat of a hit-or-miss proposition for the opener. We’d look for shallower areas near cover and work those areas with some slow-moving lures.
Walleyes have been very much a hit-or-miss fish this season. We have simply not found any consistent pattern after the opening weekend (when some anglers did very well on the Wisconsin River). The best bet for walleyes is to fish in mid-depths near emerging weed beds. Medium-sized jigs using lighter tackle should be the best bet.
We heard of some crappie anglers doing very well last week and through this week. Overall, we’re still seeing mostly smaller males but that should change. Larger females will be following the males as the water warms up. The larger fish that are being taken seem few and far between and the major push has not happened yet.
Memorial Day this year should bring some decent fishing, but things are still slower than we’d expect. The late arriving warm weather simply has not brought most lakes up to seasonal temperatures and because of that, we are running a week or two behind schedule.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.