Provided by Mitch Mode of Mel’s Trading Post in Rhinelander
A typical mid August day may well find temperatures hovering in the 80s, pushing 90 on many days. Not so this time around as 70s seem the norm over the past two weeks. That pattern of repeated cold fronts (northerly winds are often a tip-off) has slowed fishing of late. But we head into the weekend and next week with the forecast showing a warm weather pattern returning and that should bode well for area fishermen.
Fish like steady weather so the forecast is good news. Lake temperatures have drifted lower in the cooler weather and we think a return to more normal August temperatures should spur some better fish action.
Walleyes are still in a normal summer pattern, which means they will usually be in 12-15 feet of water on most lakes and most certainly seeking weedy areas adjacent to either sand or gravel. If you can find such an area on a good walleye lake you should be into some fish. Jigs tipped with leeches or crawlers still work well. There are some very good artificial leeches on the market now that serve well if naturals are either tough to find. Jig size and color varies; there is no universal choice there. But anglers have been picking up walleyes all along and that should continue.
Musky fishing is typically slower in August and this year has been no exception. But the big fish still need to eat and you can still get some good action. Weeds are the key; fish along the edges of them with medium size lures or, if conditions are right, use top water lures. It is entirely possible that the most productive lure in this area has been, for decades, a black bucktail with a gold spinner blade. They still work.
If there is one fish that seems more active in late summer it is the largemouth bass. And as a bonus they are fairly predictable in that they prefer shallower water (10’ or less) and heavy cover (lily pads, weeds, woody cover). Find that combination and you may well find yourself in some hot bass action. Bass are aggressive, taking minnow imitations as well as top-water lures. Use some heavier tackle as you’ll have to move fish away from cover when you hook them.
Smallmouth bass will be in deeper water and prefer habitats similar to walleyes. You’ll need to find a sandy lakebed in 15 feet or so of water, and work deep-running minnow or crayfish imitations. An option for smallies is some area rivers that hold good populations of smallmouth. Rivers are shallower and easier to fish than many lakes and an hour or two in a canoe floating areas of the Wisconsin River can be very productive.
Overall fishing remains steady as we move into the last weeks of August.