Outdoor Report: Fishing heating up as summer moves in
We are solidly into a summer pattern; long hours of daylight, temperatures that bump 80 with some consistency, mild evenings. This weekend brings the Summer Solstice and with it the longest hours of daylight of the entire year. We are, no other way to look at it, into summer in the Northwoods and with that, the best time of the year for many people.
The gradual warming, coming after a bitter winter and a tardy spring, is good news. Lake temperatures have been on the rise and are now close to seasonal norms. Fish activity has increased, lakes are warm enough for swimming and boating without mid-summer crowds; it hardly can get any better.
We have seen fishing move toward some consistency and, in that, some predictability. The May opener found most lakes locked in ice and even when the ice melted lake temperatures were well below average. Fishing in the first weeks of the season was difficult at best. There was simply no real way to pattern fish as fluctuating water temperatures and delayed growth of vegetation threw things totally out of sync.
Now, after some weeks of steady weather, things are far closer to where we’d expect them to be and fishing has improved as a result. Muskies in particular have been coming on very strong in the past 10 days. Last weekend’s tourney on Boom Lake did not produce high numbers of fish (though time on water was cut short due to weather) but, significantly, saw good sized fish landed. A number of fish topped 40” with the winner just under 48” long. Those are good fish no matter what the time of year.
Muskies and northern pike have located in 10 to 15 feet of water on most lakes, finding shelter in the weeds that have now emerged. From those areas they’ve moved into shallow water to take spawning panfish. The panfish spawn is mostly over but big fish still linger in that zone. The old-faithful bucktail continues to be a good choice.
Bass action has been generally good. Smallmouth season for catch-and-keep opens the 21st; largemouth harvest opened in early May. Both bass species are active now. Panfish have mostly moved out to 10 feet of water or so; walleyes are in the same general area and often preferring crawlers or leeches to minnows now.
The great infestation of mosquitoes has waned some but repellents are still a good bet for any outside activity.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.