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Wisconsin State Fishing Opener Forecast

Joel DeBoer
May 4, 2013
Milwaukee - Freshwater Fishing Report

What a difference a year makes! The cold and snowy spring at present lies in stark contrast to the record temperatures of last March and April, and will certainly have a drastic impact on the impending Wisconsin fishing opener. While open water can finally be found around the Wausau area, the same cannot be said for most of the lakes to our north.

"If you want to fish the Northwoods (for opener), bring your auger or borrow the U. S. Coast Guard ice-cutter," says Captain Brett Jolly, a full-time fishing guide from the Rhinelander area. Jolly continues, "We still have a ton of ice on most of the lakes. Although it is starting to melt quickly with the warm weather, I still doubt most Vilas and Oneida county lakes will be open." St. Germain guide Rob Manthei concurs, "Besides the Wisconsin River and the upper stretch of the Rainbow, we will be all iced up here."

The outlook is similar in the North-Western corner of the state. Legendary Chippewa Flowage guide Dave Dorazio adds, "The question in the Hayward area is not ‘Will the fish bite?' but ‘Will the ice go out on the lakes?' According to Dorazio, the deep, clear lakes of the Hayward area such as Round, Grindstone, and Lac Courte Oreilles will probably still be iced up come Saturday.

All is not lost for anglers in their quest of celebrating opening day, although getting on open water may require a few changes to Saturday's itinerary. For starters, there is a wealth of options ranging from Central Wisconsin through the Southern portion of the state in terms of lakes and rivers that are currently ice-free and offering solid opportunities for a veritable smorgasbord of species; for anglers traveling South of Hwy 10, the option to fish muskies will also be open. Wisconsin is home to many top-notch trout streams as well, each offering a unique and exciting opening weekend opportunity for both novice and expert alike.

Even in the Northwoods open water opportunities, although slim, should be present. As Dorazio points out, "The local (Hayward) flowages, such as the Chippewa Flowage and Moose Lake will probably be partially open. If you can find open water, the fishing should be great! The walleyes will be shallow to spawn, with the males in 2 to 6 feet of water and aggressive. Try a jig tipped with a minnow or cast a Rapala along shorelines." "Due to the limited amount of open water, there may be some crowding," Dave continues, "Hopefully, everyone will have some patience and consideration, and we'll have a great opener!"

Locally, Lakes DuBay and Wausau along with the river herself are all producing action from northern pike, crappies, smallmouth bass, and channel catfish. The high flow rates have meant good numbers of fish have been concentrated along edges and current breaks, often in shallow water, thus making them readily accessible to boat and shore anglers alike.

For anglers looking to experience the big-water, Captain Jolly recommends the bay of Green Bay right now. "You can still find good numbers of eating sized males in the rivers, but if you want a big one, look to trolling out in the bay itself," states Jolly. Captain Brett is quick to add, "The big fish will be very vulnerable due to this late spring – let the big girls go and only keep the fish under 20"; besides, they taste better and have less pcb's, mercury, and other toxins. Catch-and-release on the big fish is the only way to sustain this great fishery."
While some remnants of winter remain, make no doubt about it – the statewide fishing season is upon us! Remember, the fishing is always good, it's merely the catching that varies from day to day. I'll see you on the water…

***Note: Recent rain and run-off have left many rivers and reservoirs with high water and dangerous currents; coupled with cold water temperatures, these conditions present potential dangers to shore and boat anglers alike. When fishing from shore or wading, avoid steep banks, areas of thick brush or loose rocks, and be sure and establish solid footing when searching out a likely fishing spot. Boat anglers need to ensure there equipment is in good working order prior to leaving the launch. Wearing life preservers is recommended, and when using an anchor, carry a sharp knife in case of emergency to cut the rope. Regardless of where you fish from, a cell phone or other form of direct communication can be invaluable when the unexpected arises; remember it's always better to live to fish another day – don't take unnecessary chances.

Milwaukee Fishing Forecast:

What a difference a year makes! The cold and snowy spring at present lies in stark contrast to the record temperatures of last March and April, and will certainly have a drastic impact on the impending Wisconsin fishing opener...

Target Species:

Walleye, Northern Pike, Crappie, Yellow Perch, Smallmouth Bass

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Joel is one of the musky pioneers of the Wisconsin River system in North-Central Wisconsin where he continues to guide and call home. He has been featured in Musky Hunter and Muskie magazines, on internet radio, and in his weekly column for the Everest Herald entitled the “Guide’s Corner;” in addition, Joel has given various seminars throughout Wisconsin on topics ranging from smallmouth and walleyes to trophy muskies. Joel has spent his life perfecting the tactics and techniques necessary for l

Contact Info:

Wisconsin Angling Adventures
Phone: 715-297-7573
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