Game Fish Opener Is Finally Here!
Game Fish Opener Fishing Report 05/07/12
After a long wait for the game fish season to start the weekend finally arrived. The pan fish action has been good on smaller lakes which have been much warmer.
I have been experiencing consistent success spending time in the Kettle Moraine area fishing on the Lauderdale Lakes Chain and in the Whitewater area catching limits of perch, crappie, pumpkinseed and blue gill.
Fishing has been excellent both in deep water as well as shallow with a median depth of 8-12 feet of water.
Water has been warming slowly with the surface temperatures being in the high 50’s reaching the mid-60’s by late afternoon.
On sunny days the temperatures rise back to the mid to upper 60’s. The afternoon bite has been more consistent, although my morning trips have produced equally as well warmer days.
Over the weekend my clients desired to chase Largemouth Bass and Northern Pike. The Bass action was fast and furious with many fish moving up on shallow flats bedding up with many pre-spawn females hanging out in deeper water.
I started my opening day by trolling Delavan Lake just after midnight. We fished a couple hours reeling in around 20 Northern Pike ranging between 24-33”, 1 19 ½” Largemouth Bass and a 16 ½” Walleye. The bite was starting to pick-up when we decided to head in around 2:30 a.m.
After a couple hours sleep I headed to the Lauderdale Lakes Chain to fish with Paul Smith, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Outdoor Editor and Mike Wargaski, Fishing Coach with Woodstock, IL High School to put together an opening day “Live” article.
We had a great morning reeling in a mixed bag of Bass and Pan Fish. The Article can be seen here:
Mid-day Mike and I ventured to Whitewater Lake to do strictly jig fishing for Largemouth Bass. We were one of few on the lake which made for a nice quiet excursion reeling in trophy fish. A few of the Bass pushed 6 pounds with a median weight of 3 ½ pounds.
We attacked the water fishing jigs from Bass Stalker, Booyah and All-Terrain Tackle. All of the jigs performed exceptionally well reeling in Bass. The Bass Stalker Jigs, being based out of Fort Atkinson, had a special place on opening day being a jig close to home.
We concentrated on fishing the shoreline casting Football Head Jigs, casting the weed flats with Swim Jigs and working Pitchin’ and Flippin’ Jigs through the weeds for bottom holding fish.
For a short time we fished finesse plastics, returning to the more productive jig bite shortly thereafter.
All in all it was a great day to start off the season!
Delavan Lake surface temps are hovering in the high 50's at the surface most days by the end of the day in the mid 60’s. Large mouth and northern pike are shallow being a consistent bite right now.
Largemouth have been caught in as shallow as 2 feet of water with larger females in a pre-spawn pattern holding in deeper water.
On the shallow side casting plastics such as YUM Dingers wacky or Texas rigged has been consistent.
Creature baits such as Berkley’s Chigger Craws, Power Hawgs, Havoc Pit Boss or Devil Spears, Yum Wooly Bugs, Mighty Bugs or Wooly Hawg Craw also work well catching bass in the shallows.
On the deeper side, say 10-12 feet of water, the crank-bait bite has taken off with Flicker Shads, lipless baits and suspending baits in natural to bright chartreuse colors for bass, pike and walleyes.
Drop-shotting 3-4” Finesse worms and weightless stick baits have taken fish. I have been also catching bass on swim-jigs casting on deep weed edges just ticking the tops of the weeds.
Fishing near the main points on the lake along with deep weed beds has paid off for smallmouth bass and walleyes.
Fish areas where deep rock and emerging weeds meet such as Browns Channel, Willow Point, the Island, Lake Lawn and the Oriental Boathouse.
Fishing deep water ranging from 17-22 feet of water expect to catch a few walleyes and during the day.
Vertical jigging and drifting bottom bouncers or Lindy rigs tipped with crawlers, fathead minnows or small suckers is a great rig this time of year.
Windy days the bite should be very consistent with most fish will remaining relatively shallow, although the extreme shallow bite has been very good on cloudy overcast days.
Fishing slow and covering large areas of water has been a consistent pattern to stick with.
The walleye bite will be consistent at night with the gin clear water. Many fish will reside in deeper water in 17-25 feet feeding moving into 6-12 feet of water at night.
Northern pike are holding in water 10-12 feet to shallow water and in between. We have caught many large pike in shallow water feeding on schooling pan-fish.
We have also found active feeding pike in 6-8 feet of water casting buck tails, chatter baits, cranks and fishing suckers on floats
Big Bluegill are holding in 10-12 feet of water with many showing up in water 10 feet or less. Fish the large flat basin areas near Browns Channel, Willow Point, Yacht Club and Del Mar and Assembly Park.
Fishing vertically jigging Hali spoons or small jigs tipped with crawler pieces or leaf worms has produced.
Crappies are still suspended 2-4 feet down in 15-20 feet of water. Fishing small spoons or swimming jigs tipped with grubs, leaf worms or small fathead minnows have produced.
We have also caught crappies drifting with small jigs in 10-12 feet over weeds on windy days. Plastics have been working in pink, purple and bubble gum.
Expect the crappie bite to pick up significantly in the next week with our warm run-off and warmer days.
Geneva Lake being extremely cold needs a major warm spell day and night. Hovering at just over 50 degrees, the best bite has been perch and pumpkinseed.
Geneva Bay and Trinkes Estates has had the best bite fishing in 4-6 feet of water for perch ranging from 7-12” with a few tanks mixed in exceeding 12 “.
The pumpkinseeds have been caught in slightly deeper water with sandy bottoms in 12-15 feet drop-shotting crawlers or drifting on breezy days.
I will be fishing warmer lakes giving time for Geneva to warm a bit.
Expect a report on Geneva in the coming weeks.
Whitewater Lake warming nicely averaged 62-65 degrees at the surface over the weekend.
The water clarity was good allowing us to fish natural colors. Expect to find Bass in shallow water in the coming weeks. The Bass we had caught were still pre-spawn, but many are ready to go.
Fish the shoreline out to 6-8 feet of water to find active Bass. Use similar baits as I had mentioned on Delavan Lake.
Expect to catch Northern Pike in 10-12 feet of water fishing cranks, spinner baits or shiners.
Pan fish action has been good, but size quality is hard to compare to Delavan or Lauderdale.
Lauderdale Lakes Chain
The Lauderdale Chain has been awesome for panfish in the last few weeks. The crappie bite has produced hundreds of fish catching fish every cast most of the time.
The crappie are spawning with many still pre-spawn residing in the deeper weeds in 10-14 feet of water. Fishing small jigs tipped with plastics, crawler pieces or minnows has produced.
Blue Gill and Pumpkinseed have been caught in deeper water just of weed edges on drop-shot crawlers and minnows or slow rolling jigs tipped with live-bait or plastics.
The Bass bite has been excellent fishing finesse plastics drop-shotting or wacky rigged YUM Dingers in natural patterns. Drop-shotting Berkley Power Minnows or 3” YUM Dingers have been go-to rigs.
Fishing the shoreline out to 15 feet of water has held Bass willing to bite.
Rock River/Lake Koshkonong
Fishing in the river has been producing more fish fishing near Blackhawk Island and up river from the 106 bridge.
Slipping the current with as light of jig as possible (1/16-3/8 oz.) tipped with plastic, fatheads, leeches or crawlers has produced best.
Walleyes have been caught along with a few sauger and white bass.
The trolling bite has really taken off with post-spawn fish moving down river into the lake.
Pulling cranks on colder days has produced running my Church Walleye Boards pulling Berkley Flicker Shads in bright colors.
Warmer days pulling crawler harnesses has produced fish trolling over sand and rock bars trolling in a zigzag pattern over bottom composition changes.
Take care as I have seen many new obstacles out in the lake. Many of them have been marked with milk jugs, but take your time and watch it travelling across the lake.
Lake Michigan-Harbors of Kenosha, Milwaukee and Racine
Rivers have been very low and need substantial rain events to get the levels up, with our recent heavy rainfall the bite will substantially improve drawing fish in with all of the freshwater run-off.
Many Coho Salmon are close to shore out from the harbors in Kenosha, the Root River in Racine and in Milwaukee near the river in 15-40 feet of water. A Brown Trout and King Salmon have been mixed in.
We will have an influx of fish moving in the next week.
Trolling and casting cranks covering water has produced very well.
The classic Orange Dodger and Aqua Fly combo has been working exceptionally well. I have also had success trolling cranks on certain days.
The perch bite has been lukewarm at best with all of our strong East Blows we have had this spring.
Waukegan has seen some fish, but has been tough.
Best of Luck Fishing!
A Nice Whitewater Largemouth Bass caught on a Bass Stalker Swim Jig with a Kalin's Grub Trailer.
Paul Smith and Mike Wargaski on Pleasant Lake Opening Day.
A Whitewater Largemouth Bass Caught on an All-Terrain Football Jig with a Berkley Chigger Chunk Trailer.
Connor with a Delavan "Football" Largemouth Bass.
John Reddy a local fishing guide operates Reddy Guide Service in the Delavan area. He is a professional fishing guide and educator licensed by the Department of Natural Resources and a United States Coast Guard licensed Great Lakes Charter Captain. John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. His opinion is not necessarily that of the The Gazette staff or management.