Lake Wisconsin Walleye 5.21.13So far the story for spring 2013 has been the seemingly never ending high volume of water coming down from the Dells.   In plain English, that means really fast current in the Wisconsin River making many traditional spring locations such as below the Prairie du Sac Dam, virtually unfishable for much of the spring.

The cold also hung around longer than usual and we had a “late spring”. The walleyes did not wait for the traditional 40-45 degree water temps and were actively spawning in 38 degree water. This is yet another confirmation that day length and not water temp, is the primary factor in determining when walleyes spawn.

May started off slow with cold fronts and high winds but the sun came out, the weather got hot and so did the fishing.  The recent (temporary) drop in the river level and subsequent slowing of the current brought another big wave of fish down out of the river where they’ve been greeted by many happy anglers. Numerous limits of legal size walleyes have been achieved this week already and lots of slot fish too big to keep have been released to live and spawn again next year.

The slot limit works like this:  The daily bag limit is 5 walleyes and saugers (any combination). Walleyes and saugers between 15” to just under 20” are legal to keep and eat.  Walleyes and saugers from 20” to 28” must be released as they are the prime spawners that allow this fishery to thrive. One fish over 28” may be kept as a “trophy” but counts towards the daily bag limit of 5.

As far as presentations go, pretty much everything has been working lately. Fish are scattered and walleyes are being caught in depths from 2’ to 18’. I believe that the high percentage play is to focus on the shallow bite. Most folks are simply drifting 1/8oz – 1/4oz jigs tipped with night crawlers downstream with the current in depths anywhere from 3’-11’. Many anglers are scoring in these same areas trolling shad raps (long lining) slowly upstream and back down. I personally have been having success dragging jigs & plastic such as B-Fish-N Tackle’s 3” Moxi Ringle downstream slightly faster than the current and pulling stick baits on bottom bouncers. Both crank baits and jig & plastics have the tendency to produce a better average size fish, so keep this in mind if you’re struggling to catch legal size fish on a plain jig & minnow or jig and crawler combo. If you are on fish shallow and they stop biting, move out a few feet deeper, slow down and Lindy-Rig them with a minnow or crawler. Many of these Lake Wisconsin walleyes will stay shallow for a while longer before transitioning into their summer patterns where they will move into the main lake channel and spread out on the flats (stump fields) where they will remain for the summer gorging themselves on mayfly larvae and shad.

If crappie fishing is your preference, fishing for them has been very good as well. Look for wood in calm, shallow bays and crappies are likely to be nearby. Usually finding water where the surface temp is just a couple of degrees warmer can help you narrow down likely locations. Simple presentations such as a slip bobber and minnow or small tube jigs are effective right now. I’ve heard that the average size being caught seems to be improving over the previous few years.

Gary Sanders

Lake Wisconsin Walleyes, LLC

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