As we come into another weekend, some of us are pretty excited to hit the water and relax… and hopefully catch some fish! We have probably opened up our weather apps a dozen or so times (if not more) to check on this lovely front that has moved into our area. I have probably opened up my app over 50 times to see the forecast, constantly on the change.
This year has started off a whole lot differently than last… at least in my boat when compared to last year’s logs. By this time last year, I was picking up nice limits of eyes on a normal basis and letting go various post-spawn females. As you all know, I mainly fish around Oshkosh and don’t really like to travel, usually because my spots can be prosperous. This has certainly not been the case so far and I have had to adapt.
If you look at the recent AIM tournament results on our system, you will see that roughly 10 pounds was what it took to win it. Unreal! The fishermen in that tournament sure deserve some awesome credit as they really battled to get those baskets. Why is this? Well, the forage in the system is just incredible right now. The various strains of food are in abundance and some of these fish just aren’t needing to chase our rigs. With the forage and water temps, some of the “running” fish aren’t traveling back just yet and they are hanging out way up north.
I was messaged the night before the tournament by a couple guys fishing it. I’m going to tell you the same things I told them and what I said is still holding true. In my opinion, the sheer numbers of fish are still up into the Fremont, New London and Shiocton areas. The larger numbers of fish still haven’t decided to come back down, based upon the forage and water temperatures. The fish that are coming back (or that have already returned) are really not too active for the most part.
As we have discussed in previous articles and reports, some fish will never leave a lake or a river in our system their entire life. There will always be walleyes in Lake Winnebago or the Upper Lakes. The bad thing is that the numbers are just not visible when we are fishing these locations and there is such an abundance of forage. I was casting a point on a lake in our system recently. I love my Flicker Shads so that was what I was throwing. Almost every cast, I had various forms of perch, following in the crank. I had at least one follow it every other cast, sometimes two or three!
The reefs, breaks, points and shorelines in Winnebago haven’t been hot. Has there been fish taken? Yea, some… but just not in the numbers or in a consistent basis as what we are used to. The usual crawler/leech on slips and jigs, are a couple tactics that has taken some fish.
Seeing I have been asked a [couple] times over the past week, I will say that if you are willing to travel away from Oshkosh (or wherever your home base is), go way Upriver. Again, I still feel as though your best odds at getting on some great eaters are in the troughs and trenches of the upper Wolf River.
Tactics are pretty simple and have changed a bit over the last month or so. Dragging crawlers with 1/16oz – 1/4oz jigs has been the most talked about tactic. A steady drift downriver, pulling the jig over bottom can produce, but when in these conditions, you will usually see me adding some action to the jigs. Maybe it’s just because I can’t sit still for too long…
If you are looking for some fun white bass fishing, pulling fly rigs in the Oshkosh area has been really fun. The white bass are filling up our rivers all through the system right now including huge schools being reported in the upper Wolf. They are fun to catch and great to eat. I could have easily filled up the live well on my last time out in Oshkosh, working red/gold and red/purple fly rigs around the Oshkosh through the Butte des Morts Bridge area. I was looking for some of the cruising eyes but couldn’t find anything acceptable over 12”. If you are new to fly rigs, click the picture above for a how-to video!
If you want panfish, the channels around our system have been hit or miss. With our front moving in, a big scenario comes into play. If you would have found an active area on a channel under optimal conditions, it certainly doesn’t mean those fish would be active when facing the front we are. Slips with red worms have been the go-to for these fish, but bouncing around to various areas of the channel (or different channels) have been needed to feel some good tugs.
How you plan on attacking the water this weekend could change very easily. It’s all about how much you want to work to put fish in the boat. Have various setups with you and plan for everything. Don’t throw out the ideas of using minnows on the slips, jigs or river rig setups. We must present something the fish want, and with our forage, you can bet they are getting their fill on prey with gills.
Make sure to follow the page this weekend as who knows what I will be up to or where I will find myself! Enjoy the time off, and until next time, “Tight Lines. Stay Dry.” - Kyle