Land O' Lakes Wisconsin Fishing Report

Fishing Report

October 28

Musky's. Sprint to the finish with slow moving baits,,,

FROM: Bruce Becker

The Wisconsin musky season ends on November 30th. This is usually the best time of the year to catch a trophy musky. The muskies traditionally put on a feed bag until ice up. Mother Nature has ingrained the need to put on enough fat to make it through a long winter then into the spring musky spawning period. After ice up the musky metabolism will slow down, allowing the fish to make it through the winter season without losing a lot of the fat stored in this time of the year.
Bait of choice is usually suckers on quick set rigs. This year suckers are REALLY hard to find. There are some great alternatives. You cannot beat a Suick worked slowly over any remnant green weeds or rock bars. Another good choice is a BullDawg. There are big ones and small ones and Dawgs that run shallow. You can find them in subtle colors or fluorescent colors. There is not a bad way to work a Bull Dawg. Slow pumping action, slow straight line retrieve, thump it on top of clumps of sand grass will all produce fish.
Remember this time of year is not when you will even see much less catch big numbers of musky. You will have a chance to catch the biggest fish of your life. Keep the faith, your patience may pay off with a picture of a big one!
Catches of giant bluegills are coming off of deep weed beds. Again, if you can find some green weeds in 12' of water or deeper you may find a basket full of big gills. Small ice fishing jigs with wax worms or wigglers under a slip bobber are great bait choices.
Walleyes are almost easy at this time of year. Again, patches of green weeds may be your best bet, possibly as shallow as 2' of water! Jig and a minnow is a great option. Some of the twitch baits, like Husky Jerks, worked slowly will also produce quality fish. For a shot at a trophy walleye look to tips of rock bars with deep water access. These may be in 35 - 50' deep! Giant chubs 4" - 6" on the smallest jig you need to get the bait to the bottom. In this deep water, if you feel a fish pick up the bait, keep light pressure on the fish until you feel it is time to set the hook. If you let the pressure off the bait the big walleyes will usually drop the bait.
Provided by Bruce's Guide Service. Bruce Becker can be reached at 715 360 6001.

October 19, 2010

FROM: Tom Schwanke

Cisco Chain Fishing Report

All of October has been very good weather wise with water temps holding in the low to mid 50's, and daytime air temps about the same. With the exception of a couple of days, fishing has been very good.
Walleye fishing has been good, with jigs and minnows used on rocks being the best. If you can find green weeds in deeper water, you will also find active fish there. Crank baits on shallow rock bars have been a very good night approach.
Musky fishing is getting better every day as the water is cooling. Fishing with Quick Strike Rigs and musky suckers are producing some nice fish. Casting with Bull Dawgs or swim baits on rock bars is also working.
Smallmouth bass are holding off of rocky points in deeper water, but are moving up shallow to feed. Minnow imitation crank baits or perch colored jig & grubs are working well.
Laregmouth bass are in deeper green weeds, and have been very active. 3/8 oz. spinner baits or Texas Rigged worms have been good when worked with a slow retrieve.
Weeds & grass have been the best place to find big perch. Slip bobber rigs with minnows or a jigs & minnow combo is best.
This will be the last report for the season, but check back in spring for updated reports.
Tom Schwanke
Wilderness Guide Service

August 23, 2010

FROM: Tom Schwanke

Cisco Chain Fishing Report

Early fall patterns are starting to show up as water and air temps are finally going down. Water temps are back in the 70's and many of the weed are starting to die off. Good fall fishing is still a ways off, but it's nice to see things heading towards a more consistent bite.
Walleye fishing has been slow all summer, but cooler weather and shorter days will make for a better bite. Leeches and crawlers are still working along the deep weed edges, but walleyes are also being caught on small minnows around mid lake rock bars. Use crank baits at night over large weed flats or shallow rock bars to catch bigger fish as there is still a strong nocturnal bite going on.
Smallies are still being caught on rocky points or mid lake rock humps. Craw colored tube jigs, Hula Grubs, and deep diving crank baits are all producing some nice fish in about 15' of water. However, during low light conditions, smallies are coming up in shallow water to feed on crayfish.
Largemouth bass have been very consistent all summer. Top water baits are still producing some big fish under low light conditions in shallow stumps and lily pads. Deeper weeds are holding most of the active fish during daytime with spinner baits and Texas Rigged plastics working best.
Crappies are being caught in large weed flats but have been scattered, drifting across these flats using small Beetle Spins or Road Runners works well. Slip bobber rigs with crappie minnows have also been good while fishing at 15" to 24" below the surface.
Musky fishing has been very inconsistent, but will improve as water temps cool down and days get shorter. Most of the musky being caught are still hitting on smaller baits with a slow retrieve. Deep green weeds and mid lake rocks are getting the most attention.
Check back next week for info.
Tom Schwanke
Wilderness Guide Service

August 11

Try new tricks or old tricks when fishing is difficult...

FROM: Bruce Becker

Funky weather and many bug hatches are making fishing success difficult. Not impossible, but difficult. It seems there are bug hatches every other week. The smorgasbord of emergent bait gives fish a steady food supply. The thermometer has been like a yo-yo, going up one day and down the next. The barometer is doing the same. Thankfully we are receiving significant rain that is helping the seepage lakes work their way out of 8 years of drought, but throws another curve into successful fishing.
So what do we do to be successful on the water? First, fish fast to find active fish. Do not spend the day on a single spot, move fast and wide in your search. Look at you graph to watch for pods of fish. There are small pods, but will usually produce a few fish. Catch what you get, and when the action slows, move to another spot. Live bait seems to be the best alternative to overcome the odds; Wax worms, thunder bugs, leeches, crawlers and maybe minnows sized to your quarry.
Bluegills are staging on deep water weed lines. On the outside edges of cabbage and coontail (8-12' of water) there are active fish. In deeper water (14 - 24') look for patches of sand grass for active fish.
Walleyes are predominantly on rock bars. Leeches on a slip bobber presentation are working great. Again, remember to be mobile and fish a lot of rock bars to find active fish. Another great tactic that is largely overlooked happens on overcast days. Try fishing the inside edges of weeds. This is the water between the weeds and shore. Small minnows or leeches worked slowly can produce monster fish in low light conditions. Do not be afraid to fish in as little as 18 inches of water!
Muskies. Man, this is a tough subject. The only patter is that there does not seem to be a pattern. Some fish are being caught, but everywhere. Rocks, weeds, timber and transitions are all producing some fish.
While it is tough, it is not impossible to catch either numbers of good fish or the trophy of a lifetime. Try new things or new spots and you will increase your chances of tight lines.
Fishing report by Bruce Becker. Bruce still has a couple half days, and a couple select full days available in August. You can reach Bruce on his cell phone at 715 360 6001.

August 8, 2010

FROM: Tom Schwanke

Cisco Chain Fishing Report

Inconsistent weather made for interesting fishing conditions this last week as multiple fronts rolled through the area. Water temps are still holding in the mid to upper 70's, and most fish are in a nocturnal pattern especially on the sunny, blue sky days.
Walleyes have been especially difficult to catch at times. During low pressure conditions, (right before a storm), the walleyes have been much more responsive with leeches or crawlers working well. Deep weed edges, rock bars, and the mud just outside the weeds and rocks have been the better locations.
Crappies have been good both days and night. Daytime crappies have been scattered throughout main lake weed beds and can be caught using small jig and grub combos, Beetles Spins, or Road Runner Jigs. Keeping the lures just above the weed tops is imperative while fan casting. Slip bobber rigs with crappie minnows have been good at night along shoreline brush piles and downed tree tops.
Largemouth bass have very active in low light conditions and are being caught on surface lures in stumps and lily pads. Most bass are holding slightly deeper in adjacent weed beds during the daytime, with spinner baits working well.
Smallmouth bass are still actively feeding on crayfish in rocks. Deep diving crank baits, plastic craws on brush jigs, and craw colored tube jigs have all worked. Most fish are holding in deeper water but are still moving shallow to feed.
Northerns have been active in most weed beds but the deeper the weeds the better. Slow rolling spinner baits have been very effective as well as swim minnows using a stop and go retrieve along deep weed edges.
Bluegills are being caught using wax worms with slip bobber rigs. Lily pad areas with a sandy bottom have been the best locations for larger fan.
Check back next week for info.
Tom Schwanke
Wilderness Guide Service

August 1, 2010

FROM: Tom Schwanke

Cisco Chain Fishing Report

Water temps are still holding in the mid to upper 70's as summer patterns continue across the area. A strong nocturnal bite has been in place for a long time for most species and there has been no shortage of natural food for the fish (insects, crayfish and minnows).
Daytime walleye fishing has been OK on the overcast or rainy days, but the night bite has still been the best for bigger fish. Trolling with deep diving crank baits over the mid lake rock humps has been a good method for night fishing. Most active daytime fish have moved deep along rock bars or deep weed edges. Jigs tipped with leeches or crawlers have been working best.
Smallmouth bass have also moved deeper but are still feeding in shallow rocks on crayfish during low light conditions. Brush jigs with plastic craws or craw colored tube jigs have been working well.
Laremouth bass have been active in the weeds with spinner baits or Texas Rigged worms getting a lot of attention. Early morning or evening is still a good time for throwing surface lures in lily pads or stumps.
Musky fishing has been spotty with most fish being caught in deep weeds or on rock humps. Buck Tails, swim baits and Bull Dawgs are all working OK.
Smaller notherns have been very active in shallow weed beds, but for bigger fish, look for the deepest weed edges and use weighted swim minnows or weedless spoons.
During the daytime, crappies have been scattered across large weed flats. Beetle Spins, Road Runners, or jig & grub combos have all been good while fan casting across the weed tops. Most crappies are still moving up into shallow brush piles or submerged tree tops at sun down. Slip bobber rigs with crappie minnows have been the best method in the evening for catching large fish.
Check back next week for info.
Tom Schwanke
Wilderness Guide Service

July 24, 2010

FROM: Tom Schwanke

Cisco Chain Fishing Report

Summer patterns continue across the area with water temps holding in the mid 70's. The night bite has remained good for most species while the daytime bite has been inconsistent. Weed growth on most lakes has maxed out and some of the insect hatches are done.
Walleye fishing has been very inconsistent, but overcast days are the best. Deep green weeds and deeper rock piles have been holding the most active fish. Jigs tipped with leeches or crawlers have been working, as well as slip bobber rigs set about 12" off the bottom. Night fishing with crank baits has also been very productive.
Smallies are holding in deeper rocky areas (about 12 to 15 foot deep) and are still feeding on crayfish. Deep diving crank baits or weighted plastic craw imitations are producing fish.
Largemouth bass are still being caught on surface lures (frogs, mice, poppers, ect.) under low light conditions in shallow stumpy areas. Daytime fishing has been best in the deeper weeds using 3/8 oz. spinner baits or Texas rigged plastics.
Northerns have remained active in most weed beds, but the bigger fish have all been in the deepest greenest weeds you can find. Weedless spoons, spinner baits, and swim minnows have all been producing fish.
Crappies are still active but mostly at night in brush piles and submerged tree tops. During the daytime, most of the fish are scattered across large weed beds. Drifting or trolling these areas using small floating crank baits or Beetle Spins have been best. Slip bobber rigs with crappies minnows held 12 to 15" below the surface has also been good.
Perch have still been feeding in cabbage weeds with leeches or small minnows being a good choice for bait.
Blue gill fishing has remained the most consistent of all the species. Shallow sandy areas with lily pads are the best places with wax worms being the best bait.
Check back next week for info.
Tom Schwanke
Wilderness Guide Service

July 18

Summer walleye bite is still providing excitement and BIG fish

FROM: Bruce Becker

Area guide Bruce Becker reports the walleyes continue to provide both predictable action and opportunities for trophy fish. Leeches are still the ticket for trophy ‘eyes. Deep water bars are the best spots. The best advice Bruce gives is do not linger on spots waiting for a bite and do not be tied to the conventional low light periods. Move around and find active fish. Some of the best bites are happening at the mid day periods. Here are pictures of some recent catches,,, One of the photo celebrities is musky legend Chad Cain from Carbondale IL. Chad was visiting family in the area and caught a 29" walleye with Bruce on July 18th. Fishing reports provided by Bruce Becker's Guide Service. You can reach Bruce at home 906 358 0995 or on his cell at 715 360 6001.

July 17, 2010

FROM: Tom Schwanke

Cisco Chain Fishing Report

Water temps have soared into the mid to upper 70's causing many fish to inhabit deeper, cooler water during most of the daytime hours. As a result of the warm temps, a strong nocturnal bite has been common; however, rainy overcast days have been pretty good.
Walleye fishing during daytime hours has been good, but the majority of the fish are small, leeches and crawlers are working well with deep weed edges and deeper rock bars holding active fish. Trolling or casting crank baits over mid lake rock humps at night has also been producing some larger fish.
Smallmouth bass are still feeding primarily on crayfish. Rocky points and rock humps are holding most fish, but deeper water (12' to 15') seems to be the key. Tube jigs, Hula Grubs, plastic craws, and deep diving crank baits have all been good.
Largemouth bass have been very active, but mostly under low light conditions. Surface lures (frogs, mice, poppers, ect.) cast into shallow lily pads have been good during this time. Mid day presentations should be focused on deeper weeds using Texas Rigged plastics or weedless spoons.
Musky fishing has been spotty, but the fish that have been showing up are in deep weeds or on mid lake rocks. Slower presentations still seem to be working best. Swim Minnows, Bulldawgs, or weighted buck tails have had some success.
Crappies are still scattered across large weed flats during the day. Drifting across these weeds while fan casting small Beetle Spins, Road Runners, or floating crank baits has been productive. Crappies are moving shallow at night along submerged tree tops hold about 12 to 15 inches below the surface have been the best presentation.
Check back next week for info.
Tom Schwanke
Wilderness Guide Service

July 16

Musky action is HOT in Land O' Lakes

Forest Lake Country Store

6256 County Road B Land O' Lakes WI

Jake Johnson was fishing with his father Eric and boated his first musky. The 11 year old angler had a boatside strike from this 44" Vilas County trophy. He expertly handled his first musky on the short line and it was netted by his father. They took a picture and released the musky to fight again! The action happened on July 14th in the late morning hours. He ate some breakfast with Dad and is headed back to the lake to catch a bigger musky today!

July 15

Mid-Summer Means Fantastic Fishing

FROM: Bruce Becker

The summer season is in full swing throughout the Northwoods. For most people, this is a favorite time to fish. The deep blue skies are peppered with cotton candy clouds and the southwest winds are steady, the lakes are stratified and more than at any other time of the year, the fishing predictable. It is a beautiful, wonderful time to enjoy the outdoors- and, some of the best fishing of the year!
I look for walleyes on the 15 to 25 foot humps, the rock bars where you should find a lot of them on the top on most sunny days. At the same time, towards the middle of the month, they began migrating to the deep water mud flats. On very deep lakes, that could be as much as 35-40 feet deep. On shallower lakes, deep might mean twenty feet, even less. It might only be a shelf, close to the deepest water nearby, but it will have a soft bottom covered by what we call mud. The fish move to the mud because that is where they find an endless supply of insects which they gorge on. In fact, the entire food chain moves to these flats because where you have smaller fish, panfish and baitfish, you will also find the predator species. It is common to catch walleyes, bass, northern pike and muskies from the same mud flats.
You should be able to catch walleyes on the edge of rocks bars. By the edge, I mean where the rock meets the mud. If you are used to using your sounder, you can tell when you are over hard bottom, over boulders, or over a soft, mud bottom. I don't always look for fish when I am checking out a mud flat. Look for where the bottom is stirred up. I can tell because I see tiny pixels, like a small cloud or debris or just flecks which tell me that something's stirred the bottom up there. Even with a good sounder, these "mud fish" are often difficult to see. If the bottom seems to be stirred up and you think you're seeing fish, you probably are. These fish can be caught on jig-and-a-minnow or a jig, or with a slip-bobber set a foot off bottom.
If it's not too windy, you can drift for them and cover the flats more effectively because they, too, will be on the move, crossing back and forth. If you know the lake, you can probably find narrows between rock bars where fish move back and forth. These will probably be rock bars that are on the sides of the deeper mud flat. The fish will move between these rock bars, over the mud. You can anchor in the mud between them because the fish will move through these narrows and are easier to fish because the terrain funnels them in.
At this time of the year, I almost always fish leeches but as the summer wears on, the walleyes seem to prefer three-and-a-half to four-inch red-tailed chubs. If you can still get them, you can fish medium leeches fished below a slip-bobber right to the end of the season.
As for those of you who enjoy hunting muskies, bear in mind that the predators are out in full force, too. It is not unusual to have a big muskie follow a walleye or bass as you bring it up from the deep water. Make a mental note of the areas where you see muskies following and work that area when you want to fish for muskies. I have seen more large muskies active this year than we have in some time. Work the deep mud with Bulldawgs or deep-diving crankbaits. They seem to work the best. Over open water where they will cruise from structure to structure just above the thermocline and hunt for their meals on the rock humps. Of course, some summer muskies will always relate to the weeds, especially those on points reaching out into deep water.
The entire food chain seems most active at this time of the year. The fish must know instinctively to feed on the most nutritious, most available food they can find as they move toward the late summer and into the fall.
It is a beautiful time to be on the water, to enjoy the warm sunny days, the specatular scenery and to experience some of the best fishing of the year. Enjoy your water sports but don¹t forget that the fish feed more often during mid-summer than at any other time of the year. Their metabolism is cranking full bore and that means that they are eager to bite!

July 7, 2010

FROM: Tom Schwanke

Cisco Chain Fishing Report

High humidity and a heat wave have brought the threat of thunderstorms almost daily, making daytime fishing a little tough at times. Water temps have moved up into the mid 70's causing most fish to move deeper. There is still an abundance of forage for the fish to eat, although the mayfly hatch has stopped or slowed on most lakes.
Walleyes have been feeding more frequently, but the bite is still light and the majority of the fish have been smaller. Deep weed edges and drowned timbered shorelines are producing the most fish, but mid lake rock humps are holding some bigger walleyes. Weedless 1/16oz. jigs tipped with leeches or crawlers have been working well with a very slow retrieve. Trolling crank baits at night has also been very effective for some bigger fish.
Smallmouth bass are still feeding on crayfish on rock humps and points. Shallow presentations are still working during early morning and late evening, but most fish are being caught on the deeper rock ledges in about 15' of water. Deep diving crank baits have been ideal for these deeper fish. Expect perch fishing to pick up once the weather patterns stabilize. 6' to 8' cabbage weeds are still the best location, with wigglers or small leeches being the best bait.
Crappies have been scattered across large weed beds during the day and are being caught on small Road Runner jigs or Beetle Spins worked just on top of the weeds. The night bite has still been good along downed tree tops and brush piles.
Most largemouth bass are holding in deeper weeds, but are still feeding in shallow stumpy areas during low light conditions. Spinner baits, Texas rigged plastics, and lipless crank baits have all worked well.
Check back next week for info.

July 4

Independence Day; Fireworks on the Water!!!!

FROM: Bruce Becker

July Fourth week usually means a big walleye bite and this year is no different. The fish have moved on the rocks and are very cooperative on leech presentations. Look for them on rock structure in 12 feet to 28 feet of water.
On July 4th, an 11 year old boy caught a 28 inches and a whopping 30½ inch walleye with an 18 inch girth! This is three years in a row that the same boy caught at least one walleye over 28 inches.
The days preceding July 4th caught fish included a 28 inch (July 3rd ) and a 28 inch and 30 inch on the second of July. Numerous other fish from 17 to 25 inches were also caught this week. All fish are catch and release. These monsters are still swimming around waiting to be caught again.
This report is furnished by local fishing legend Bruce Becker. To contact Bruce Becker call his cell at 715 360 6001 or his home phone at 906 358 0995.

June 23, 2010

FROM: Tom Schwanke

Cisco Chain Fishing Report

Warmer weather has settled in bringing water temps up into the low to mid 70's. Fish are starting to get more aggressive despite the over abundance of insects and baitfish. However, a nocturnal pattern is still in place.
Daytime walleye fishing on blue sky days has been slow, but the activity has been picking up on cloudy, rainy days. Deep weed lines and deep drop off shores with drowned timber have been the best locations while using leeches or crawlers. Using crank baits at night over large weed flats has also been good.
Smallmouth bass have been very active on mid lake rock humps in the 10' to 15' range. Deep diving crank baits in a crayfish color have been working good as well as plastic craws, tube jigs, and Hula Grubs.
Largemouth bass are mostly in a summer pattern, with weed beds adjacent to stumps being the main locations, spinnerbaits, buzz baits, and swim minnows are all good weed presentations. Low light conditions are still a good time for using top water lures in stumps and lily pads.
Cabbage weeds and coontail have been where most musky are being seen. The warmer weather has increased activity levels on most lakes; however, smaller bucktails, spinner baits, and swim minnows have still been producing the most fish.
Crappie fishing has been very good, with evening fishing in brush piles and submerged tree tops being the best. Use Road Runner jigs, Beetle Spins, or small floating crank baits across large weed beds during the day. Slip bobber rigs with crappie minnows are the best approach for evening fishing.
Check back next week for info.
Tom Schwanke
Wilderness Guide Service

June 21, 2010

FROM: Dan Pudlo

It sure is nice to see some rain come. Every little bit helps in getting the lake levels back up. Lets start with Muskies. Fishing the Headwaters Chaper of Muskies Inc. tournament in Eagle River along with other musky fishing has shown up different action. Some of the guys are going deep for deeper water muskies throwing bulldogs and rubber baits or deep diving cranks. The best action has been in the 6 to 12 foot range adjacent to heavy weed cover or along the edge of the heavy weed cover. Best results have been on crank baits and bucktails getting down in the 4 to 6 foot range. For color the most action has been on the bright baits.
The walleye action slowed a bit during the may fly hatch as many of the walleyes were eating the emerging mayflies. The action has been in the deep weeds with the 12 + foot range being the best. Fat head minnows are working well with leeches and crawlers starting to take some good walleye. Evening slip bobbers over the weeds are doing well. Northern action in the weeds has been good. Small muskies spinners doing the best.
Panfish are done spawning with the larger perch heading for deeper weeds 8 to 12 feet. The crappies are in the deep weeds and woods or you will find them suspended in deep water near by. Crappies minows and small leeches are still working along with tub jigs. Bluegills are moving in to weeds with the larger ones being deeper. Lots of smaller bluegill as you do have to sort.
Trout fishing has been consistent on the trout streams with a good evening bite with the mayfly hatch. With summer coming on strong and the weed growth in the streams getting taller it is more of a challenge fishing a spinner and floating a crawler. As the warm days of summer come the early am bite for trout picks up

Remember to practice catch and release, and limit your take - don't take your limit. This will makes sure we have a good fishery in the future.

June 20


FROM: Bruce Becker

We had a very early spring this year. Ice off was early, fish started into a spring pattern early. Since then the weather was kind of funky and the lakes stayed in a continual spring pattern. Hatch after hatch made fishing tough with a lot of competition for the attention of game fish.

The fish are FINALLY starting to move into more traditional summer patterns. The big fish can be found in more predictable places.

The bluegills have completed spawning, and are found in shallow weeds. Fish the edges of the weed bars or pockets in the center of the weeds. Perch will be mixed in with the bluegills and can also be found in shallow timber. Small minnows are the best choice for bait, but the gills will still eat garden worms and wax worms. (The wiggler supply has dried up until late August.)

Musky's are also found in traditional spring haunts. Weed edges with deep water access, doper timber and on rock points. Medium size baits and a slow retrieve are important for success. Of course buck-tails are always a great option.

Trophy walleyes can be found on deep weed bars and rock bars. Both types of cover are producing quality walleyes. A recent one day guide trip (June 19, 2010) produced 28", 29" 30" and a 31" trophy walleyes. The 31" fish had an incredible 18" girth. The clients were ecstatic and I was happy to find trophy walleyes. Leeches are the bait of choice for big walleyes. Summer is here and the fish are co-operating,,, finally.

Submitted by Bruce Becker. To reach Bruce Becker call him at Cell 715 360 6001 or Home 906 358 0995.

June 15th

FROM: Tom Schwanke

Cisco Chain Fishing Report

Unstable weather patterns have been in place all last week with cooler air temperatures and rain keeping ater temps in the mid 60's. Ideal conditions (for the fish) in place for continued insect hatches, which have made fishing a little slow, especially for walleyes. The mayfly hatch has most walleyes feeding heavily at night and suspending all day. Once the hatch slows down, the fish will be more willing to feed during the day and more frequently.
Night fishing for walleyes has still been the best way to catch bigger fish. Trolling across large weed beds with shallow running crank baits or fan casting with floating, shallow running stick baits have been good presentations. During the daytime, deep weeds have been holding most active walleyes, with leeches being the best bait.
Smallmouth bass are being caught on rock humps in 8' to 12' of water. Crank baits, tube jigs, or craw imitations have all been good baits. Shallower presentations (twitch baits, poppers, and floating crank baits) are working well once it gets dark.
Large mouth bass are still being caught on surface baits (frogs, poppers, buzz baits, ect.) during low light and calm conditions, in stumps and lily pads. Adjacent weed beds have been the better locations during the daytime, using Texas Rigged rubber worms or spinner baits.

Crappies have been scattered across large weed beds during the day, but are still bunching up in brush piles and tree tops at night. Slip bobber rigs with crappie minnows set at 12" to 15" below the surface works well. Fan casting with Road Runners or Beetle Spins across the weed tops also works well during the daytime.
Muskies have been getting more active with many sightings from perch fisherman. Cabbage weeds and deeper green weed edges have seen the most activity. Small Buck Tails, twitch baits, and perch colored jerk baits have all been good.
Blue gills have been very active with sandy bottom lily pad areas being the best locations. Slip bobber rigs with small ice fishing jigs tipped with a wax worm is the best presentation.
Check back next week for info.
Tom Schwanke
Wilderness Guide Service

June 10, 2010

It's Almost Like Summer Already!

FROM: Bruce Becker

It has been an unusual early season with unpredictable weather, a very early spring and many of our lakes were already free of ice by late March.

I don't know what the water temps will be as you read this, but typically they should be in the 60's, with fairly stable weather settling in as June unfolds. Under those conditions, I will fish for walleyes either in deep water or I may fish the weeds, either right in the weeds or on their edges.

Keep in mind when I'm guiding, I'm fishing from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm. I'm fishing fish that could be in totally different locations mornings and evenings when they will usually be in shallower water, relating to shallow reefs, shallow weeds or shorelines.

Given that I'm fishing the daylight hours, I'll mostly fish the deep green cabbage. I do fish the green weeds that are found among the red cabbage, too. Basically, the green weeds put out more oxygen so chances are they will hold fish. This time of year, the cabbage should not be sticking out on the surface but in some areas it is easy very high and easy to find so I'll fish the pockets and the edges. That could be on either sunny or overcast days.

I use slip-bobbers and jigs tipped with medium to large red-tailed or blue-nosed minnows or leeches. Leeches can be medium to large. As the summer wears on, leeches become more difficult to find which is why many anglers switch to minnows. For now, and whenever I can find them, I prefer leeches. In the deeper lakes which usually have clearer water, use larger leeches because they are easier to see. The fish can sight them at greater distances.

If the sun is out, I'll revert to rock bars and mid-lake humps. Rock humps are off-shore. They just rise up and drop. But, I'll also fish rock bars extending out from shore. If it is a deep water lake, I'll fish in 12 to 24 foot depths, although I'll catch most of the fish in 15 to 20 feet. I set my slip-bobbers a foot off the bottom, adjusting them as I move.

As we move into summer, the fish could be feeding at any time from morning on. There could be two or three bites during the day. So, if the fish stop biting or slow down, instead of waiting for them to start feeding again, I look for new spots and keep hitting other structure, fishing at the same depth that I was catching them. It is fairly easy to pattern walleyes at this time of the year. If conditions are stable, and by that I mean weather, they feed in fairly predictable patterns. If you catch them at one depth, fish that depth. If you have three days of sunshine, you should be able to catch them in similar areas at approximately the same time, give or take a half hour.

Now, as far as muskies are concerned-and the Cisco Chain has been exceptional for big fish lately, as well as for numbers of fish being seen. Mornings, I may fish shorelines. It's just where I start. I tend to use smaller baits at this time of the year than later. Later in the summer, you can use some of the bigger baits depending if the water is warm. I'll work the weed beds, the cabbage, just like I'm fishing for walleyes but with different baits. Your best bet is still a bucktail. It's easy to track, easy to keep above the weeds and the fish can time it. It's a high-percentage, good-hooking bait.

While you can experiment with colors, the black bucktail silhouettes really well against the sky and it seems to be the color they pick out most easily. I use shallow-running crankbaits, too, along with smaller jerk baits and gliders, again fishing in the weeds. When I'm fishing deep water for muskies, I actually fish with baits that don't go that deep. Deep-diving crankbaits probably only go down 12 feet but they are made well these days and you can fish bars and bounce them off rocks and that will usually trigger a reluctant musky. As the summer wears on, the Bulldawgs and other rubber baits should be in their prime. They are just so life-like that the fish inhale them. It takes some time to get a “feel" for these free-running rubber baits because most of them have little resistance and it can be difficult to feel them, to know what they are doing. I also use bucktails, gliders and jerk baits over deep water. Muskies can pick out a target even in deeper water and if they want it, they'll come up and hit it.

If you have been fishing for a while, you have probably released a gut-hooked or injured small perch, a bluegill or a bass and seen it float to the surface after a while and struggle on top. Suddenly, there is a huge swirl and the little fish disappears. Big fish won't pass up an easy meal. They will come surprising distances to take a cripple.

June 1st

FROM: Tom Schwanke

Cisco Chain Fishing Report

Hot weather was still the story last week, with water temps holding in the mid 70's. Insect hatches are still providing lots of food for most species and weed growth is still progressing. This week's forecast is calling for cooler temps and some much needed rain.
Daytime fishing for walleyes has been slow with most fish being on the small side. Cabbage weeds have been holding good populations of walleye as well as deep timber along step shorelines. Weedless jigs tipped with leeches or fathead minnows have been best. Night fishing has still been the best way to get bigger walleyes. Casting shallow running crank baits over weed tops has worked.
Smallmouth bass fishing has been good, with most fish holding on shallow rocky points. Crayfish imitation crank baits, plastic craws, and craw colored tube jigs have all been working.
Largemouth bass have been active along stump & lily pad shorelines. Top water baits (frogs, mice, poppers, buzz baits, ect.) have been very good during low light conditions. Weed pockets fished with brush jigs or rubber worms are good presentations during the daytime.
Crappies can be caught in the weeds using slip bobber rigs with small jigs and crappie minnows. Fan casting with Beetle Spins or Road Runners across weed tops has also been good as well as fishing in brush piles or tree tops in the evening time.
Warmer water temps have increased the musky activity. Mid lake weed beds and weed edges are the best locations with perch colored plastic swim baits or small buck tails still working well.
Check back next week for info.
Tom Schwanke
Wilderness Guide Service

May 18th

FROM: Tom Schwanke

Cisco Chain Fishing Report

Drastic weather changes have had a big influence on the fishing this last weekend. Last week we had rain, cold, and wind. Now we have above normal temperatures, lots of sun, and no wind. At the time of writing this, the water temps were still in the low to mid 50's, but should rise rather quickly during the week.

Daytime fishing for walleyes has been slow because of bright sunny skies and no wind. Most of the daytime walleyes are being caught with jigs & minnows along deep timbered shorelines or new weeds. Larger fish are being caught at night using shallow running crank baits over the tops of large weed beds.

Perch fishing has been excellent with most fish being caught in 4 - 6 foot weed beds. Slip bobber rigs with wigglers have been the best, but small leeches have also worked well.

Crappies are still being caught in brush piles or tree tops along shorelines. Fishing late in the day has produced the most fish.

Northern remain active in most weed beds with the deepest weed edges producing the largest fish. Weedless spoons, small spinner baits, and plastic swim minnows have all worked well.

This weeks above normal temps will have a good effect on all fish as water temps will climb into the 60's. Spawning cycles will be able to continue, insects will be hatching, and the fish metabolism will increase in all species making them more aggressive.

Check back next week for more info - Tom Schwanke, Wilderness Guide Service, 715-547-6202

May 3, 2010

FROM: Dan Pudlo

What a windy opening weekend. I sure had my times on the water with the wind and it made fishing tough at times. The walleyes showed up two in patterns which I found. Found the walleyes in deeper water in 15 to 22 feet of water and also found walleyes in the weeds in 6 to 8 feet of water. Found the larger walleyes in the weeds — mainly the new green weed. With the walleyes in the weeds there was northern action and yes — did have some bite offs. Met some people that had a great time with the crappies as they are now on the beds in 2 to 4 feet of water in weedy areas. Fishing was best during early am and late pm. Went out for lunch during the day cause if you got out in the main part of the lake it was like the deadliest catch and the big rollers. The boat landings are the hardest part of fishing as it is harder to get into if you have a larger boat. Let everyone pray for rain to get the lakes back up. Remember if it is too windy to fish come visit one of the many fine eating places in Land O Lakes area for lunch.

April 27, 2010

Fishing the Opener

FROM: Bruce Becker

The Spring Opener of the fishing season is one of the great traditions in the northwoods. Anglers from throughout Midwest converge on our area, filling motels and resorts and breathing new life into our economy after the late winter.

This year, the traditional Wisconsin Opener will be at 5:00 am on May 1st, followed by Michigan's opener May 15th, although trout fishermen have already been on the streams for weeks, enjoying the Early Inland Trout season.

Of course, panfish are open year 'round, including yellow perch, the various sunfish and other select species which may be governed by site-specific regulations.

To be certain of the regulations governing the waters you fish, consult the booklets which are available wherever you purchase your 2010-11 fishing license.

For most of us working guides, the question we're most concerned with most years is whether our preferred waters will be free of ice when the season opens. This year, it's not even close since we lost ice on some lakes weeks ago. There was still ice on some of the large, deep lakes in late March but the rains had washed the snow out of the woods and most of the smaller lakes were open and warming.

It seems like we will enjoy a typical walleye Opener this year, despite that. Oh, we might get some sleet or even snow, but nothing a good rain suit won't handle and I'll probably wear boots just in case. It is important to be comfortable when fishing the early season and you never know when the winds will shift and bring weather off of Lake Superior. During the early part of the season, and I'm talking about the Cisco Chain mostly, most people will be fishing for walleyes along the shorelines, the drop-off shorelines and the rocky shorelines where the fish will be spawning.

Most of the fishing is with either minnows or Rapalas. I prefer to fish slip-bobbers even during this early season.

While many of the people will fish the shallows right in shore, I usually like to stay off the shorelines a bit. I'll fish the drop right at the break as it comes into the shallows. That is where the females will be waiting until they are ready to spawn. There usually won't be as many of them as there are males, so you have to pick through them.

I'm also going to look for fresh, green weeds. That is more of a mid-morning or mid-day bite but I prefer that over the rocky areas where the small males are cruising back and forth waiting for the females.

The weeds are not necessarily in deeper water. There are a lot of bays that have a lot of weeds in them and they're just going to be starting to grow. The Chain's got a lot of weed edges coming out from shore that drop off in about 7 feet of water. The weeds might only be three or four feet high since they are just beginning to grow. Look for the green weeds and you can anchor in them and fish for panfish. If you see panfish or perch, then you can probably see the entire food chain.

If the sun is out, you can see walleyes and northerns cruising by, even muskies swimming past your boat. They are all there because that's where the bait fish and the beginning of the food chain is.

The green weeds won't be like the vast, expansive weed beds like you see during the summer. They'll be coming up, growing through the dead vegetation laying on the bottom. It could be the start of those big weed beds but it's just sparse right now.

You really won't know unless you try it and that's the key to this early spring season. If you are fishing areas and don't see any fish, any activity and aren't catching any, then move. Move until you find the perch or panfish, for example, then try it there.

As for bait, I start out with leeches and I stay with them because I seem to do very well with them, even during this earliest part of the season. I fish them below a slip-bobber. If I'm fishing in five to seven feet, I can set the bobber at three feet deep and it will keep the leech in that warmer layer of water at the top.

I'm convinced that most of the fish are in that upper layer because it is warmer than the water along the bottom and even if they are moving from one area to another, they'll probably stay in that upper level so my leech is always there, in front of them.

Casting a lure like a Rapala or even a smaller spinner, like a number five, is a good way to fish a this time of the year because you will pick up anything that's in the lake because everything will hit them.

Once it begins to warm, the fish will spawn. I like to see warmer weather linger so the fish have a chance to spawn and get out of the shallows. There is a long-time debate whether fish feed after spawning. Of course they do. They have to feed.

I feel that these older fish are really pretty beat up after spawning. But, they have to feed. So, I think that they move off the areas to some place they don't have to compete for food. So, when the spawn is over, I'll switch and, the first time the water temps begin to warm on a day when the sun is out, I'll move out on the shallow bars. It's a lot more fun out there. There are not a lot of fish out there but you get quality fish. That's where you pickup a lot of the big singles.

I don't expect to find many fish. I'll just look for that one big fish and I'll cover the area very well then move on to the next one. The warmer the day, the warmer the water gets the more active these big fish are.

The Spring Opener can be a brutal time to be on the water. The weather is unpredictable, there is certain to be wind and maybe rain, sleet and even a snow squall. One thing is certain, however. The long winter is over. The ice is off the lakes and the water is warming. If you dress for it and be patient, you can enjoy a wonderful day of fishing again- and, what better way to kick off the new season than with a mess of fresh walleyes or panfish frying on the stove as the day comes to an end?

(Bruce Becker can be reached at 906-358-0995 or on his cell phone at 715-360-6001. For more information, log on to Bruce's web site at

April 19, 2010

FROM: Dan Pudlo

What an early spring. Most of the walleyes are all done spawning. This means opening with be alort different for fishing patterns. Many are saying the walleyes will be in the new weed growth and a jig and a minnow will be the key. The females should be recovered from the spawn and and biting. On the deep clear lake with little weeds look for the rock bars for the early moprning and evening bites.

The time is right to get out on the lakes right now and find the new weed growth and get some good crappie fishing in. The crappies are in the pre spawn and staging in 5 to 8 feet of water in the tall old weed growth from last year. Lakes with last year's millfoil are showing good numbers of crappies. Fishing with smaller bobbers 18 to 30 inches down with crappie minnows seems to working the best.

The perch have mostly completed spawning, yet you do find a few not spawned out yet. Good size perch are finially showing up on Twin and Lac Vieux Desert. Find the weeds and shallow warmer water and have some fun. Small fat heads and crappie minnows are the best. This would be a great weekend to get out and do some crappie and perch fishing and find some good areas for the opener.

Water levels are low all over and getting into the landings is more of a challenge this year so give yourself some extra time and be kind to others at the landings. You can always find out the lastest conditions from the great bait shops in Land O' Lakes. Even better give them a call and stop by to get your minnows and last minute tackle plus and licenses.

April 3, 2010

FROM: Dan Pudlo

The lakes are free of ice and there has been alot of action on the lakes. Went to the Eagle River chain perch fishing and had to wait to put the boat in. Yes the perch are in full spawn on all the lakes. Some of the boat landings in the area will be a little more difficult to get into with the lower water levels and not yet fixed up from the spring thaw. It is well worth the extra effort in getting the boat in.

Crappie minnows and smaller fatheads are doing the best right now for those tasty perch. Find the shoreline with some weeds and wood and you should have some fun. It will not be long and the crappies will be staging for the spawn. You can find them just off the spawning areas in deeper water. If you find them stay on them as right now they will move and may not be there the next day.

March 18, 2010

FROM: Dan Pudlo

Ice conditions have deteriorated very fast since the weekend. The north shorelines are pulled away from the shoreline and there is open water. The ice is becoming honeycombed right now with dark areas appearing on the lakes. I did not see one angler on the ice yesterday from Land O' Lakes to Mercer to Minoqua and back to Eagle River. We have one more day of very warm weather that will really effect the lakes and the ice then some colder temps and weather coming in for the later part of the weekend. It is that time of the year to go through all the fishing gear for the up coming open water season and get the boat ready to go.

March 15, 2010

FROM: Dan Pudlo

Game fishing is over and everyone is now after the tasty panfish. The panfish are getting more and more active with some good catches being reported. The crappies have most of the action in the evenings with most people fishing them in the weeds next to deeper water, fishing in 6 to 10 feet of water. Most are being caught on crappie minnows and wax worms on smaller tear drop jigs.

Blue gill action has been good during the days in the weeds. If you find some good green weed generally you will find some good bluegill actions. Smaller ice fishing jigs and wax worms or spikes are working well. Many of the fishermen have to sort out and alot of smaller ones are being caught.

Perch have two patterns right now in the weeds 4 to 8 feet of water off spawning area and over the deeper mud flats. Many of the perch are in the mud flats stirring up wigglers on the bottom and generally have been producing some of the larger perch over the perch in the weeds.

The ice is holding up but with the warmer weather ice conditions are changing day to day. Much of the water is off the lake and draining through the holes. Lakes vary from 12 to 17 inches of ice but the ice is alot of gray ice frozen slush which can break up fast. Some of the northern shores are showing signs of wanting to start to open. Weather this week should be great for getting out fishing and then some snow and colder weather is supposed to come in. I guess we will have to wait and see.

Remember - limit your take - don't take your limit and we will always have a strong fishery.

March 13, 2010

Late Ice Panfishing? As Good as It Gets!

FROM: Bruce Becker

Most anglers throughout the upper midwest can't wait for spring. They are playing with their toys, tuning their reels and hoping that there will be an early thaw. What they should be doing is enjoying some of the finest panfishing of the year here in the northwoods of Wisconsin. There is still quite a bit of good ice during this late winter season and, like every year, there are some good days when we're catching a lot of fish along with some when it's slower. The conditions are excellent. Some lakes still have 22 inches of ice and there are some people still driving on it, although I wouldn't. It's not worth the risk. Most of the best places to fish are often close to good, easy and safe access.

When it's overcast, we seem to get many more bluegills. When it's sunny, we seem to have a good early and late bite, maybe until the sun gets well above the trees then again at sunset and for that hour or so after dark. The bluegills will feed all day and they're probably the most popular with ice fishermen. The perch have been better. We're catching them but not in the numbers we're used to. The crappies are coming on strong, too. Late in the day, we'll pick up some crappies and even walleyes.

I just use small ice jigs of different kinds and sizes. Obviously, the bigger jigs will keep the smaller bluegills from taking them but even big fish eat small baits. I tip them with waxworms but they'll take mousies pretty well, too. The last couple of days, for example, I've been targeting bluegills because they're the easiest to catch and we enjoy eating them but there've been crappies mixed in throughout the day, along with some very nice perch.

Right now, they're running up to ten inches but we're getting a lot of males eight to nine inches and those are the ones I like to keep. It lets the bigger females spawn and there is enough meat on an eight incher that a handful of them make a nice meal. On deeper lakes, and where I'm fishing those would be up to forty feet but most of them will be 30 to 35 feet deep, I'm fishing the lake basin‹ the deepest part of the lake, fishing the mud where it comes up into the shallower water. It's a timed bite. If it remains overcast, the bluegill will continue to bite throughout the day. That's just the way bluegill are.

On the other hand, if it's sunny out, it seems to shut them down on and off during the day. You can put an underwater camera down and you can see them come up to look at the jig all day long. Then, when they decide to eat, they begin to eat and you can catch them again. They'll be there all day long in 30 to 35 feet of water, where it's just about to come up. However, they can also be anywhere in the water column, too. It's just that I've been finding them deep lately.

Some times, when you are dropping your jig down, they'll follow it all the way down without taking it. Other times, they'll snap at it as soon as it begins to drop. You just have to try various techniques until one works. Lately, I've been concentrating on the fish right on the bottom or just above it.

The perch will be on the bottom, too. I've caught some really nice ones. They seem to move in schools and when a school comes through you can get into them and catch a bunch and then they'll move and you don't get any more unless you move, too. When you pick some up again you can develop a pattern and one some days just follow them. Other days, they'll be mixed right in with the bluegills.

You will also find the same fish wherever you have green weeds, even in the shallowest water. They can be right up agains the shorelines, in among the wood that has green weeds. Bluegills, crappies, perch, along with northern pike‹they'll all be there if there is something to eat. Of course, now you can only keep the panfish. I like to set up tip-ups rigged with very small trebles and minnows and set them up along the deep edge of the shallow weeds. You'll pick up some nice northern pike, even walleyes earlier in the season. You'll also get some nice crappies and jumbo perch because they entire food chain uses the same places. You also want to look for feeder streams that are bringing in nutrients under the ice. This time of year, with the meltdown, there is ³stuff² coming in under the ice, too, and it can bring the fish up right under the ice, right up tight against shore.

We also have so many small lakes, potholes that have bluegills in them and most of them will also have perch. I'll start right along the shore. Say it's a couple of hundred yards or even feet across, I'll start at the shore and drill holes right across to the other side. Then, I fish every hole and mark where I'm catching perch or bluegills. Wherever you get a few, you can usually come back and get some more and I just keep moving back and forth and they'll add up on the ice. Pretty soon, I know the hot holes and I know that I can just go over there and catch fish.

If it doesn't work out, you just punch another bunch of holes and do it all over again. Usually, it won't take long before you find the fish. It is a time-worn cliché, but that's why it's called 'Fishing' and not 'catching.' You just have to put in some time and pretty soon you'll notice a pattern and that will make it easier the next time out to find the fish, to give them the bait they want and to enjoy your time on the ice.

With a little luck and with some patience, you'll probably be able to bring home a nice meal or two and, there are few things that are better than a steaming platter of panfish that you just brought in off the lake. C'mon up! There is still plenty of late season ice, the late winter is a beautiful season throughout the northwoods and the fishing's fine.

February 24, 2010

FROM: Dan Pudlo

What a beautiful weekend we just had. The weather has been good to us as we are enjoying the lakes. I was out on Lac Vieux Desert this past weekend and had good catches of northerns and some walleyes mixed in.

We concentrated on fishing the weed humps and along the deep weed edges. Fishing with tip ups just above the weeds and picking up both northern and mixed in walleyes.

North and South Twin are giving up some walleyes mainly as it is getting dark for a magical hour of flags. I fished in 8 to 12 feet of water over weeds yet noticed alot of people fishing the rocks bars. I did take the time to talk to people chasing panfish. Most of the panfishing is being caught in the weeds with anglers telling me the panfish action is picking up with the longer days. Game fishing season is coming to a quick end ending March 7.

Lake access has improved - noticing many people driving out on the lakes. There are still some areas of deeper snow on the lakes but if you stay where people have traveled there seems to be no problem in getting around the lakes.

Once again this Sunday Feb 28 is the 14th annual kids fisheree on the west shore of Lac Vieux Desert. This is a free event for the kids up to 17 years of age. Free food, bait and gifts for the kids. This is a great event but it takes alot of work and donations from the businesses of Land O Lakes and volunteers from the area. Donations are always welcome for bait and gifts for the kids. Contact Karen at the Tackle Box downtown Land O Lakes for donation or other information about the event 715-547-3434. Good luck kids and thank you to all who volunteers and donations to this great event.