Report provided by Mitch Mode of Mel’s Trading Post in Downtown Rhinelander
Hot weather this week brought a look and feel of summer to the area and not a bit too soon; the Fourth of July weekend is coming up fast and it’s time that summer showed up. This week, with a mix of hot and humid weather broken up by some hard rains may well be typical of what we’ll see in July.
For the short term the hot days served to bring water temperatures up to near normal for this time of the year and that’s good news for all. Any water sport enthusiast, and that list includes swimmers and skiers as well as kayakers and anglers, will appreciate that. We’re finally seeing great conditions to be on the water!
Fishing has been good of late with some strong catches of bass and consistent walleye action. Smallmouth bass fishing has shown a consistent improvement over the past years and smallies now provide good action for a lot of anglers. We saw smallies in deeper water this week on some lakes, in that 30 to 40 foot depth where they had been feeding on mayfly nymphs but were willing to take deeper running lures as well. Fishing for smallies on those lakes has been exceptional this week and should contimue into the weekend.
Smallies are also a good bet on the Wisconsin River below town. Water levels there can vary depending on how much the dams open but fishing can be very good.
Walleyes are into their summer pattern, holding in deeper weed beds where the weeds provide cover and cool conditions. Find areas along the weed beds where sand or rock is exposed and fish with jigs tipped with crawlers or leeches. Crawlers and leeches will be the main lure (along with some of the better artificial plastic variations) for the rest of the summer. Walleyes often will move to fishing cribs in July so if you have those to fish over give them a shot.
Panfish have been all over the board with reports of some bluegills still on the beds weeks after you’d have expected them to move off into deeper water. Most ‘gills, along with crappies, are in deeper water but it pays to check out some weedy areas closer to shore as well.
The big fish, muskies, have had a slow month but things should get going now with the heat and humidity. This time of the season we expect to find some muskies in the weeds just off the drop-off on most lakes where they should be looking favorably at larger crankbaits and bucktails as well as some top water lures. On larger, deeper lakes you can probably expect to find them in deeper water now as surface water temperatures rise.
And one caution: we had some very strong storms blow up this week in late afternoons. That is typical in the heat of summer. It’s always tempting to wait too long on the water when a storm comes up. The better course is to head for shore earlier rather than later. Big weather can come up very fast and on open boat on open water is not a good place to be.