Madison, WI Fishing Articles

Read about successful fishing methods and tactics so you can be ready to capitalize on every chance you get to hit the water. The next best thing to fishing is emersing yourself in fishing media!  Have fun, learn, and become a better angler.


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June 1, 2018

Get Dad fishing gear that is both useful and something he wants! Happy Father's Day to all of the dads out there who love fishing!!

Fishing Journal 

Dad can either use the fishing journal for himself to document catches and help find fish patterns or he can use it to create memoirs for his kids to pass down as a keep sake for his young fishing partners!

Huk Fishing Shirt

Huk fishing shirts are super comfortable and are available in multiple colors and patterns.  Even on days when Dad can’t hit the water, they make great yard work or sporting event shirts. 

Scissor Hemostats

Scissor hemostats are super useful for either conventional fisherman or fly fisherman.  They enable you to only carry one tool with you to satisfy all your line cutting and hook removing needs.

Boonie Hat

Dads that spend lots of time on the water probabl...

May 21, 2018

Anybody who fishes the Madison Chain knows that spring means giant Channel Catfish on Lake Mendota. They are big, fight like crazy, and typically easy to catch. You can catch them from a boat or from shore, day or night. That said these fish do at times get a little finiky, so here are the go-to's for baits and rigs for targeting these big old kitties.

 Hungry pre-spawn Madison Cat caught on a piece of Bluegill

The vast majority of the time we utilize cut bait presentations in the spring, especially in cooler water as they seem to produce more bites than stink baits. Bait of choice varies, however small panfish or muskie suckers cut into "steaks" are usually a safe bet. Not to mention catching your own bait then going out and catching a 15+ pound catfish on it is pretty fun! The fish "steaks" should be about an inch wide at th...

June 5, 2017

Although there seems to be a stigma against a chain's "brand name gear" the Cabela's Pro Guide spinning reel is actually a great product at a very competitive price. Built by Diawa and priced at a modest $50.00 (MSRP), this reel has a lot to offer both the avid and novice angler alike. Let's take a closer look at why this reel made it into the Madison Angling arsenal.

It seems nowadays that bearing count is important to most anglers. The common misconception with a high bearing count is that the reel will be more "smooth and efficient" while in reality it has everything to do with where the bearings are placed and what their function is. That said the Pro Guide features 9 bearings (8 in the 1000 size, 9 in the 4000 size) which is a LOT for a reel well under $100.00. Even after a full season of use these reels continue to func...

May 29, 2017

With summer finally upon us in the Madison area fishing is in full swing. Here's a quick breakdown of what is going on where, and how to get bit!


Walleyes have been primarily active towards dusk and after dark on both lakes Mendota and Waubesa (not much going on out on Monona). Trolling shallow running crankbaits over weeds at 2mph in 3 to 11 feet of water has been the best pattern. Stick style baits such as Rapala Husky Jerks (size 10-12) and Storm Thundersticks have been the hot baits with perch and clear/blue being the hottest colors. Speeding up and slowing down have been key to patterning the fish. Making "S" turns as you are trolling helps to speed up and slow down baits, therefore helping to narrow down the desired speed on that given day. Casting these same baits as well as small soft plastic paddle tails/grub...

May 3, 2017

With so many brands, sizes, and actions of rods on the market it can be difficult to know which one to choose. Vexan fishing (by Tackle Industries) offers a line of technique specific Crappie rods at a competitive price. From the high density EVA grips to the well balanced blanks these rods are pretty sweet. Lets take a closer look.

It seems that with Crappie fishing less is more and more is more: a tight, compact package can be key to getting in tight spots while longer rods can help cast small presentations far and help sneak up on spooky fish. These rods are available in 8 models from 6'6" up to 16' and ranging from $39.95-59.95.

The high visibility green tips make it easy to see exactly where your line is when dipping jigs/minnows tight to structure, while at the same time really making the rod "pop" with color. The high d...

April 30, 2017

Opening weekend to most anglers is almost like a holiday. Boats full of eager anglers flood every landing right at the crack of dawn, ready to knock the rust off and put the hurt on all varieties of gamefish. With so much angling and boating pressure the bite can be challenging at times. Here are a few of my go-to presentations for different gamefish species here in the Madison Chain for opening weekend and the weeks to follow.


Of course we have to talk walleyes. Walleye, next to Muskies are one of the most targeted species here in Madison. Spring offers the chance to catch these fish in shallow water using a variety of techniques. More important than the tactics used are the locations where one would find walleyes. Most fish this time of year are going to be found in shallow water (4 to 8 feet) both night and day. Th...

April 18, 2017

The panfish bite continues as we move closer to game fish opener here in the next few weeks. Shallow bays are holding the most fish, with the majority of fish being taken in 4 to 6 feet of water. Light spinning tackle rigged with Rocket Bobbers and small jigs tipped with Berkley Gulp Angleworms and 1" Fish Fry are killer, with actual fly fishing flies such as the Prince Nymph and Hair's Ear Nymph fished below a bobber are working great for big Bluegills.

 An Eagle Claw 1/32oz jig tipped with a Berkley Gulp Angleworm is hard to resist

If the bite slows considerably with live/soft plastic presentations, give the flies a shot! That said fly tackle is also a great alternative to spinning tackle for big Bluegills and Crappies this time of year.

 A GIANT 10 inch Bluegill caught on the fly off of Winnequah Road

Also, a friendly reminde...

April 14, 2017

Needless to say the warm spring weather is giving almost all of us anglers the itch to fish. The good news is the panfish bite is really starting to pick up all around the Madison area. Shallow bays are producing the most fish (Bluegills and Crappies), with some larger Crappies still being found on secondary deep weed edges. The most productive techniques have been small jigs (1/32oz) tipped with any multitude of offerings under a float. On days when the fish aren't super inclined to eat live bait has been the most productive (anything from spikes/waxies to crappie minnows), while small plastics have been crushing fish on sunny, warm days. 

Catfish should be moving into shallow bays on Lake Mendota and Cherrokee Marsh shortly. Cut bait rigged on 3/0 circle hooks is money this time of year. Either Bluegill (caught on the same...

March 26, 2017

Here in the Midwest we tend to associate trolling with game fish like walleye and muskies; seldom do we ever consider panfish. Sure, every once in a while you may hook a White Bass or Crappie with eyes seemingly bigger than its stomach, but that's about the extent of your contact with panfish. Well, what if you downsized your tackle to specifically target those panfish? Would it work?

 Madison Angling Experience Guide Dustin Murphy with a spring Crappie

Trolling for Crappies is an especially popular technique in the South. Using a combination of spider rigging and running flat lines/planer boards one can cover a LOT of water to help narrow down concentrations of scattered fish. Up here, the Crappies tend to follow secondary (deep) weed edges prior to moving into the shallows for the spawn, making them very predictable. By trol...

March 2, 2017

It seems like spring has always been synonymous with walleye fishing. Yes, now is the time to chase monster pre-spawn walleye on the rivers...but what's going on out on Lake Michigan? 

Jigging with light tackle for big brown trout has to be one of the most fun things to do this time of year. With drag peeling runs and potential to catch fish over 20lbs, you'd be crazy NOT to try it! These fish hang out near shore through about April (depending on water temperature) making them easy to target before they head out to deeper water for the summer.

No, you don't need oversized beefy equipment to catch these fish, in fact, I use the same tackle I jig walleyes with for these big browns. Medium power fast action rods like the Vexan 7' 4" meduim, extra fast walleye rod paired with a 30 sized spinning reel spooled with 20lb braid is per...

February 25, 2017

Springtime is by far my most favorite time of the year to fish. You get to go outside after being cooped up for months, use a normal sized fishing rod, and catch some of the biggest fish of the year. One species that is popularly targeted in the springtime, particularly on river systems where you can legally target them all year is the Northern Pike. Yeah, I’m a walleye and muskie guy by trade but I love all fish with teeth!

Pike generally spawn right away at first ice out and occasionally even under the melting ice. Just like most other fish, pike feed heavily post spawn. On top of this, they are one of the more active fish in colder water making them a great choice to chase when the water is still below 40 degrees. Generally these fish are found in shallow water (3-6 feet) with sandy or muddy bottoms and a small amount of...

January 30, 2017

Let's face it, there are some days that you just seem to miss almost every bite you get. Even the most savage of bites that nearly tear the rod out of your hand, the kind that are almost always an automatic catch just seem to never get hooked. Your hook is sharp, your spring bobber is set perfectly, the moon and stars are aligned...yet you just can't seem to stay hitched up to half the fish that bite. What's going on?

You tie on multiple different jigs in hopes that one will work better than the last. For me, there is nothing more frustrating than missing bites from fish that you know are keepers when you are struggling to round out a meals worth to take home. You already iced a few and are at commit level, but need a few more to make it worth your while. Here is a trick I learned a few years back that has dramatically reduce...

January 8, 2017

Although the temperatures have been nearly intolerable, the fishing in and around Madison has been pretty decent for those brave enough to venture out into the cold. Despite holes freezing up and horrible wind, the panfish bite has remained consistent with most fish being taken in 8 to 10 feet of water over both sand and weed bottoms. The larger fish (particularly bluegill) have been taken right at dark on black as well as chartreuse tungsten jigs tipped with wax worms and Berkley Gulp wax worms. 

With high skies and high pressure, they key to getting these fish to eat is by utilizing more subtle jigging cadences. Low and slow seems to be producing the most fish. If the action seems to slow down, drop down a small jigging spoon to generate more flash and water displacement to draw the fish back in, then drop your jig dow...

December 12, 2016

It's that time of year again! With the holidays upon us here are our top suggestions for the angler in your life.

Cabela's 8" Fisherman Pliers

A quality pair of pliers at a great price. These pliers serve several functions including split ring removal, line cutting, hook removal, and crimping. They have proven highly durrable and would make a funtional gift for any angler. 

MSRP $10.99 Subscription

Fishidy is the ultimate digital online fishing resource with which you can find local fishing reports, log your catches and spots with interactive lake maps, and connect with local anglers. Fishidy also makes a great tool for breaking down new and unfamliar water to find the most productive areas to fish. With a premium membership you gain access to thousands of bodies of water all across North America and...

November 8, 2016

The Shadow Rap by Rapala has been the hot new bait in the Jerkbait genera of the lure world this year. With all this hype we had to get our hands on a few to check them out, and they did not disappoint. From the awesome color schemes to the bright flash and subtle action, the Shadow Rap deserves a spot in any angler's arsenal.

 Shadow Rap Shad shown in "Moss Back Shiner"

The Shadow Rap is available in 4 models: Shadow Rap Shad, Shadow Rap, Shadow Rap Shad Deep, and Shadow Rap Deep. The Shadow Rap Shad (both regular and deep) feature a 3.5" body, while the Shadow Rap features a 4.4" body. Both lures come in ultra realistic color patterns, including both matte finishes and highly reflective, translucent finishes.

The real beauty of this lure is the action. Unlike most jerkbaits that continue moving forward after a jerk and pause,...

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