Outdoor Report: A strong crappie bite
If you are an angler with an eye for crappies, this has been a good week. Crappies moved into shallows for good after some false starts in the past two weeks when a warm afternoon would turn them on, and a cool night would shut things down. In the past week the warm weather won out, and the crappies moved in to stay. All week we’ve gotten reports of good to very good fishing for crappies. That has been the highlight of early season fishing, as walleyes have remained finicky for the most part.
But if the walleyes have been acting standoffish, the crappies have made up for them. Crappie action has been hot and should remain good this weekend. The peak has probably come and gone on many lakes, but we expect solid fishing for a few days. Crappies have not been picky, taking jigs and spinners, Beetle Spins and small minnow imitations. They are mostly in the shallows for now, near woody cover they prefer.
If crappies are on, bluegills will not be far behind. This week some lakes, mostly dark water, shallow lakes, have been very good for the ‘gills. The upcoming week should bring very good action on most area lakes that have bluegills. Springtime bluegills will take anything from grubs and worms to spinners and small, flashy lures. And they can make the season for many warm water fly fishermen as they move aggressively for poppers and foam-body spiders.
While panfish have been active, walleyes have been less so. We’ve heard reports of smallish fish, and not much talk of anything very large. This is a surprise, as pre-season speculation was that walleye fishing would be very good. If it is, the successful anglers are not talking about it (and they normally do.) We’d still work out in some emerging weeds, and use jigs and minnows along the edges of the weeds.
Northern pike have been so-so of late, and the other big predatory fish, muskies, remain protected for another week or so by the closed season. Bass are moving in to beds in this weather, and as such can provide easy targets during this catch-and-release season. When bass are on their beds and aggressive, it is not a difficult task to catch them, and the major concern is with overexerting the fish, leaving them too worn out to protect the eggs. We always urge some restraint when fishing bass on their beds.
We are just more than a week from Memorial Day, and things are really looking like they usually do in late spring. Trees have greened up a lot in the past week, and lake vegetation is coming on fast. Lake temperatures are fairly high for May, and that bodes well for anglers, as well as canoe and kayak enthusiasts who are padding local waters in good numbers.
The only sour note is that this week brought the first reports of mosquitoes. They’ll be here for a while, joining the ticks as the major pests of late spring.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.