Sunday, May 29, 2011

Winnebago Walleyes 5/29/11

 Took the first trip of the year out on Lake Winnebago today and found some hungry Walleyes!  Spent the day fishing with my father and brother, and even ended up with our limit and then some!  The fish have put the feed bag on, as these are some of the fattest Walleyes I have ever seen on this system!

The Walleyes showed a preference for leeches early in the day, then by 10:00 it didn't seem to matter, they also decided to eat nightcrawlers on 1/16 ounce jigs.  Drifting the reefs proved to be more effective today than anchoring and using slip bobbers.  You would catch one here, one there, and then every now and again have a double!

The hot jig color today was green, followed closely by orange.  Cloudy skies and light winds made for a good reef bite, as well as a beautiful day to spend on the water catching a few fish!  Water temperatures on Lake Winnebago are still hovering in the upper 50's to around 60°, which is quite cool for the last week of May!

With tournaments coming up in the next few weeks, my reports will become more vague, but don't worry I intend on keeping my followers up to date on what the Walleyes are doing throughout the system!

I will be fishing a few more times this week and have a tournament this weekend, so expect more reports coming soon!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Lake Butte des Morts Report 5/17/11

Finally made it back out on the water Tuesday afternoon after a busy week at work as well as my wife's graduation from the Dental Hygiene program.

We launched the boat at Rainbow Park at around 4:30 and headed into Lake Butte des Morts in search of some Walleye action.  There were a few boats pulling flies at 41 bridge as well as about 15 boats anchored all over Sunset Point.  Time was limited, so we decided to join the crowd and try to put some fish in the livewell.

Things started slow for us, but there were a few fish being caught around us which kept us motivated.  After a long two hours of fishing we had caught around 10 Perch and 3 Walleyes.  Derek and I decided to make another move and that is when the action heated up!  In the last 90 minutes we caught 9 Walleyes and a few nice Perch!

The fish were just hammering slip bobbers tipped with half a crawler in 5-6 feet of water!  It certainly seemed like the fish began moving shallower as the sun slowly crept towards the horizon, because the boats close to shore hardly caught anything until just before sunset.  Maybe this is why they call is Sunset Point!  There were even people catching them off their docks every minute or two! 
Limit of Eaters

If you are looking for a place to catch a few fish and you don't mind having some company around you, then Sunset Point is the place to be right now!  All of the fish were between 13-18", with the exception of 1 that went about 7"! 

I will be up north at the cabin over the weekend working on my deer blind, drinking skills, and possibly doing a little fishing as well!  Thanks for reading and I hope to get out on Lake Winnebago early next week to check on the reef bite that should also be on fire over the weekend!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Reef Bite Heating Up

Despite a much cooler and wetter than normal spring, the Walleyes throughout the Winnebago System are returning to their normal late spring haunts on the reefs of Lake Winnebago.  Water temperatures are still several degrees behind for mid May, and the numerous windy days have kept many anglers off of the lake recently. 

When the weather has cooperated, so have the fish on the reefs and rocky shorelines!  Walleyes are being caught from Black Wolf all the way up the west shore to Menasha, and just about everywhere in between! 

To productively fish the many reefs of Lake Winnebago, having a GPS with a Lake Chip that displays the contours of the lake's bottom is priceless.  A lake this size can be overwhelming to try and conquer, but with the Lake Chip a person can break the lake down by fishing reefs and breaks that look good on the chip. 

When I head for the Lake this time of the year, I like to have a game plan before the boat even reaches the water.  Wind direction is the main factor for me when I consider where I want to start fishing.  Certain parts of the lake are good with certain winds.  An easterly wind tends to push feeding Walleyes onto the many west shore reefs of the lake, while a moderate westerly wind will do the same for the east shore.  Knowing what the wind has done for the two or three days prior can also help you decided where you should be fishing. 

For instance, if there has been a heavy west wind for three days and today is fairly calm, I know that the west shore reefs will have clean water, while the east shore rocks will still have nice dirty water that will allow the fish to be shallow even without lots of wave action.  My technique would be to troll the east shore in these conditions.

Another important factor to consider when fishing the rocks of Lake Winnebago is technique.  Calm, sunny conditions favor a trolling bite along the reef edges, while windy, overcast days favor either drifting or anchoring on the reef tops.  There are also times when trolling can be very productive in windy conditions on the reefs, primarily the larger reefs with lots of shallow water on them. 

When the wind is blowing waves over the reefs, Walleyes move shallow in search of an easy meal, which often times concentrates the Walleyes on a specific part of the reef.  Drifting can be a great way of locating the active Walleyes.  Taking different drifts over the reef and then hitting a waypoint when a fish is caught will help you better locate the active fish. 

There will be some days on the reefs where the fish are on a small spot, and other times where you will catch them scattered all over the reef.  Drifting the reefs will allow you to diagnose what is happening below the boat.  Boat control when drifting is also critical and can dictate whether you catch fish or not.  A drift sock in windy conditions will allow you to present your jigs to the fish slower, which gives them a better chance to find and eat it!

Slip bobbering the reefs can also be a very productive technique when the fish are stacked on a certain part of the reef, or also when the reef you are fishing is very small.  Setting your slip bobber so that the jig is only a couple inches off the bottom is usually the most productive method, but I have also set them so that the waves cause the jig to touch bottom and then pop up off the bottom and had some great days as well.

Another less common way to fish the reefs is to cast crankbaits.  This can be done while anchored and watching slip bobbers or while drifting, and can produce numbers of fish as well.  Perch colored baits have always been my personal favorite, since a hungry Walleye simply can't resist a small Perch that swims by!  Bright colors can also produce when fishing dirty water.

As soon as the weather allows anglers to get out, there will be Walleyes waiting on the many reefs and rocky shorelines of Lake Winnebago!  I hope some of these pointers will put a few fish in the boat for you!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

MWS Winneconnie Results

Sorry for the delay in updates, but its been a busy week on the water for me!  Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were spent on the Wolf River prefishing for Sunday's MWS.  Thursday we caught 22 Walleyes in 3.5 hours in the afternoon cold and rain.  Friday was a beautiful day which I enjoyed by myself, which resulted in around 30 Walleyes with a 21"er being the largest.  I actually lost count half way through the day after a couple doubles!

Saturday I took my father and best man until 1:00 and managed another 20 Walleyes in some new areas as well as our tournament spot.  For whatever reason, we had a certain stretch that consistently held larger fish than the many other areas I had fished.  Considering the forecast of high winds for the tournament day, we decided to spend our prefishing time in the Wolf River, since we figured it would be the most consistent bite in these tough conditions.

Tournament day started with a brisk run across Lake Poygan into the Wolf River up to Fremont.  It took nearly two hours from takeoff for us to reach our fishing spot!  When we arrived, there were already 4 tournament boats fishing this stretch, which was a huge shock to me considering I had only seen one of these boats there all week!  Within an hour the boats cleared out of this area, since only a couple Walleyes had been caught.

The spot started off slow for us as well, until we realized that the fish had relocated in a slightly different area than they had been all week.  Once we located the fish, it was game on!  In an hour we easily caught 15 Walleyes, with an 18 1/4" being the largest.  We knew that we needed something over 16 1/2" if we wanted to have a decent weight.  This fish helped, but we also knew that we needed another fish that big or bigger if we wanted a shot at winning!  Unfortunately for us we never did get that 20"er, but our 5 fish basket was good enough for 8th place out of the field of 88 boats!

The winners had a weight of 12.08lbs, and were trolling Baby Thundersticks in 5-8 feet of water in Winneconnie to catch their fish.  They also reported catching their 5 fish by 9am, which is when the West wind began blowing at 20+ mph!  Second place came from the Wolf River near the mouth of the Rat River, vertical jigging and dragging jigs with nightcrawlers was the technique here.
Click for Full Standings

 Our 8th place finish was taken vertical jigging 1/4 ounce and 3/8 once jigs with Shiners and Nightcrawlers in 12-18 feet of water in the Wolf River near Red Banks.  Because of the long run time to reach our spot, we were only able to fish for 4 hours out of the 8 hour tournament!  Had we had a little more time to fish, I really feel that we would've been able to catch another 18"+ fish!

Overall we are happy to place in the money in this tournament and look forward to the next MWS, which will be held on June 5th on Lake Winnebago out of Oshkosh. 
Fillets and Stomach Contents!