Water Temps and Weeds: Fishing Report
Well, the inevitable is upon us. Parts of the Madison Chain are already loaded with slimy, disgusting slop surface weeds. Before you pack all your gear and head elsewhere, there is a silver lining: the weeds under the water are also booming and loaded with fish.
For those of you chasing panfish, crappies are still holding to shallow water structure in 3-5 feet. Channels and bays with wood, boat lifts, or docks will produce fish. Crappies can also be seen in 5-10 feet of water hanging on the edge of weed beds. Use a slip bobber and a crappie minnow for best results.
Bluegills have already started to move into shallow spawning areas. A few big ones have already been spotted on these same shallow areas that the crappie have been hanging out, and they are starting to nest. As water temps continue to rise, so will number of fish moving to these shallow spawning areas. Small panfish jigs tipped with worms (wax, red, or night crawlers) will work. These fish have small mouths, so avoid using too big of a hook.
Speaking of water temps, this week Lake Monona has hit 63 degrees in the main basin, and the bays are already 66-70 degrees depending on the time of day and sun. Lake Waubesa had sections of the North end of the lake reaching 73 degrees in 5-10 feet of water!
Water clarity has been generally good on Lake Monona, with fish being spotted with ease in water as deep as 15 feet. Lake Waubesa has already started to cloud a little bit with the Yaharra bringing in particulate and sediment from upstream.
Carp have started jumping all across the chain of lakes. Some have also started moving into the shallow areas prior to their spawn. If you haven't tried fly fishing for them, it is a ton of fun. If you want to learn, contact us and we will get you the information you need to get started.
Bass are actively bedding. Look for these lighter circle areas surrounded by darker weeds or bottom structure. Bass build nests by fanning their tails. They are extremely territorial and are constantly trying to keep other fish away that attempt to eat the young. If you are looking to catch bass, they are hitting just about everything now depending on where you are fishing. Topwater baits (worked slowly) at low light periods, soft plastics weightless and weighted in weeds, swim jigs and jerk baits over weeds, and crank baits on weed edges are all producing fish.
Walleye have also been caught in 5-8 feet of water on weed edges. Also look for shallow current areas with a sandy bottom. Try using a small jig tipped with a crappie minnow, or crawler to catch them. If the day bite is slow, try trolling crank baits in the main basin in 25-30 feet of water. Also try fishing at night.
Muskie and Northern Pike are hugging the weed edges in 5-8 feet of water preying on the multitude of bait fish and smaller game fish also hanging in this area. Sheephead (Freshwater Drum) are a local forage fish that are part of a muskie's diet. Try using variations on white colored baits to take advantage of this knowledge. Also with increasing water temps, you can start increasing your bait's action for Muskies. Spinnerbaits, Swim jigs, Spoons, Bulldawgs, and Crank Baits are all producing fish, however the action has been inconsistent. Try fishing stick baits for topwater strikes.
Get out there this weekend and have fun. It will be busy for the holiday, so be patient and respectful of other boaters on the water. Don't forget about safety for yourself and others!