Outdoor Report: Mixed reviews on fishing opener
Last weekend’s opener to the open water season drew mixed reviews, but admittedly more negative than positive. There were some fish taken, but the pattern was small walleyes, and not many of them, with crappies being more active but, again, not a lot of size. Part of that was due to the miserable weather, that, especially on Sunday, limited anglers.
But the best news is that it is a long season, and we’ve got a lot of time left. Monday afternoon saw a surge of warm weather, and with it some increased fishing success. That trend will continue this week. Last weekend was a good reminder, however, that even if conditions are looking good a cold front and easterly winds can shut it down.
What was consistent was overall water temperatures above the norm for early May. We had reports of that from most everyone who took the time to check thermometers. That should put fish into a pattern we’d usually expect in later May, with walleyes off shore a bit, crappies in tight and bluegills starting to come on. While most of the action is with walleyes on the opener, we did see good interest in crappies, and this week are seeing sales of bluegill poppers and ants, always a sign that the ‘gills are beginning to come on.
That elevated temperature will have bass moving to the beds in the next week or so. Bass are catch-and-release, but can provide some lively action on a warm May day.
For now we are back to what we’d expect for mid May with walleyes looking for mid-size minnows and crappies hitting on small jigs usually tipped with a small minnow. Bluegills will often hit a mix of lures now, and as the weeks progress often look for top-water offerings from fly fishermen.
We did not hear of any northern pike taken, but they are often put on the back burner in the rush for walleyes and panfish. We are starting to see broods of ducklings on the water, and that often spurs large predatory fish, northern included, to work the shallows looking for a mouthful. We’d use some larger lures, including top-water plugs, for pike this week.
A reminder that fish usually still prefer a slow to medium speed retrieve now, regardless of the warmer than average water. We most often keep things slow until Memorial Day.
Fishing is the main focus now, but a reminder that turkey season is winding down. Birds are quieter now, and toms are moving on their own and are less responsive to decoys. Reports are that it’s been a fairly slow season in the state. At last check there were some tags still available in certain units.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.