Delavan Opener XV

Two of the best lakes in southern Wisconsin. Only a short cast away from Chicago.

Delavan Opener XV

Postby FishinMatt » May Tue 05, 2020 11:07 am

For the 15th consecutive year, I headed to the Big D for the annual WI gamefish Opener trip. With everything going on, this year was unique. Lake Lawn Lodge is shut down until about mid month, so alternate lodging was obtained. In respect to social distancing, I did not stay with anyone and no stops were made other them my room to the boat launch. It was a lonely existence, but I did have company most days.

Friday I started out solo in the late afternoon and was not encouraged with initial findings. About 4 inches of rain had fallen a few days prior and the water was cold, and clarity was bad in certain favorable areas I prefer to fish. I struck out for a couple hours trying to figure something out. I finally found some clear water and hooked 3 pike on 3 casts on a jerkbait. Not my intended target due to it only being catch and release bass season until Saturday, but it helped me score some easy fish later in the weekend. I checked some more bass spots out, but only 3 males for the rest of the evening. Ended up with 4 bass and 4 pike and hit the sack a little worried about the prospects for the weekend


Saturday I fished with WCF member AdamB and it was a slow start again. Luckily we got out of the public launch before the madness started. It appeared multiple tournaments were going on. Additionally I think people are so stir crazy they just want to get out of the house and do something. Add the fact of a 70 degree day and it was as busy as I have seen it in all my years. The scene of all the boats leaving the inlet reminded us of the scene from JAWS with all the yahoos trying there hand at catching the shark. We again struck out at familiar places we ALWAYS catch early fish. Finally we went to the jerkbait pattern and boated over 10 pike to 30 inches very quickly. When we found clean water on the deepest weed flats it was lights out. I saw a friend on the lake who gave us a tip for the bass which was basically fast baits in main lake shallow dirty water. We followed the advice and finally got on board with a few. With the water warming up we started checking our prespawn/spawning areas and picked away at them finesse fishing. Lots of quality 16-18 inch females were found staging just off the spawning grounds. The bad news was the wind was brutal and after running the trolling motor at practically full speed to hold in the wind all day, the batteries gave it up. We made the decision we would take a 2 hour break and I would charge up at the hotel while Adam went home and spent some time with the family. After all, it was his birthday! This happened to coincide with a weather prediction of an hour of rain. The outramps were at least 15 boats deep in each lane which meant well over an hour wait to get off the lake. It was a a shit show. Adam came up with an out of the box idea to charge the batteries on the lake which worked out well. I'll leave the details of that adventure for another time. After charging for a couple hours and enjoying our lunch on the boat, we returned to a rather empty lake. The bass bite was much more consistent as more fish had pushed up to the 2-3 foot depths that are so easily caught in. We beat on them until just about dark and decided to try for some walleye. I instantly hook into a large fish on a rattle bait that becomes unbuttoned at the boat just before being visable. I told Adam the only fish that pulls like that is a large pike (cue the foreshadowing). We fish for a half hour with no results before I finally hook up with a nice walleye that shakes off at the boat. I then look over at Adam and see his pole in the water. He reaches down to grab it and slides of the boat like a seal. I somehow manage to help him back in the boat and ask him what happened. He replies he had a fish hit so hard at the boat it ripped the rod out of his hands. He then proceeds to reel in a 34 inch pike. End of day 1. Final total 52 gamefish



Day 2 I am met by WCF Billy O. We again blank early for the 3rd day in a row at a traditionally prime spring spot. We switch to pike and once again the same jerkbait is on. Eventually we transition to bass and I figure out the jerkbait bite is on for the bass, only much shallower then the pike. As the day heats up we find lots of bass shallow on finesse baits, but today is mostly 15 inch males. We take a long lunch break and the bite is even better in the evening. We see lots of females moving up and chasing gills, but they are not committing to anything. We once again try for late walleye with only a 19 inch bass and nice pike to show for it. It went from 60 degrees and light winds to 45 degrees 20+mph winds like a light switch so we had to call it a little shorter then we wanted to. Final total 55 gamefish.

Monday I fished with my cousin Chris. I called him beforehand and told him not to bother coming before 9AM with the crappy weather forecast. Indeed, it would never get out of the 40's with heavy NE winds. We again struck out (this is 3 days in a row) at one of my favorite spots. We made a drift and junk fished the main lake and Chris surprisingly pulled in some real nice chatterbait fish while I got a few more nice bass on the jerkbait. Almost out of necessity due to the cold wind we looked super shallow for bass and found an area with 61 degree water temps. That did not make much sense, but the bass were there, and it was mostly nice females. We worked the area over and over and occasionally new fish would move in. By early afternoon we had about had it, but decided to try scout one more spot which was at least somewhat out of the wind. I had also fished this spot the previous 3 days with no success. We looked around for about 20 minutes without making a cast. The water was crystal clear, but no signs of life. Before heading out of the area I fired a long cast and hooked up with a decent bass. Next cast, same result. I hit spot lock while my cousin was hooking up. I fire a cast out while he is fighting the fish, and my plastic gets ripped on a tight line while just holding the rod. Holy shit, what is going on. 36 bass in 2 hours and we ended on a double. Big fish of the trip was had with a 20.5 inch prespawn female. I was perplexed by the whole thing until I later talked to WCF Legend Coyote. He was fishing a completely different area of the lake, which happened to be the aforementioned spot I had not had 1 fish at for three days in a row. During the same bite window he absolutely wrecked the bass in that spot. One of those rare times we are lucky enough to be on the water to experience something special like that I guess. Final total of 62 gamefish.

Weekend total 175 gamefish.

Overall a weird but very fun weekend. I much prefer staying at at Lakelawn, using a private launch, eating good food, and hanging out with friends off the water as well. The last few years have seen hundred and even two hundred fish days, but there is a certain satisfaction to grinding things out discovering different things in tough conditions. No surprise, the stud bait was once again wacky rigged plastics fished on light tackle. If there is one tip I can give, it is to go as light and with as little hardware as possible when using this technique in shallow water. The slower the fall the more fish will see and contact the bait. Next in line were Clacking Minnows, Xraps, Ripping Raps, and various chatterbaits.

Enjoy the fish porn. Most of the fish pictures are of me, but my partners caught plenty of fish which are on their own phones.
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Re: Delavan Opener XV

Postby RonG » May Tue 05, 2020 11:13 am

I don't know where to start. I guess I'll start with this: Congrats!!!
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Re: Delavan Opener XV

Postby SmalliesNEyes » May Tue 05, 2020 11:18 am

Your Delevan Opener post every year is always one to look forward to. Nice job out there!
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Re: Delavan Opener XV

Postby catchafew » May Tue 05, 2020 11:32 am

FishinMatt wrote:Weekend total 175 gamefish.
That kinda said it all and it doesn't. You're the man.
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Re: Delavan Opener XV

Postby joetrain » May Tue 05, 2020 11:38 am

Some fat mommas there.
~JOE~
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Re: Delavan Opener XV

Postby Rambler » May Tue 05, 2020 12:58 pm

HOLY CRAAAAAAAP!
Keep calm and fish on...

There's a fine line between fishing and just sitting there looking stupid
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Re: Delavan Opener XV

Postby Aux Pleins » May Tue 05, 2020 2:35 pm

Well hello Delly! Hey I noticed Wisconsin had c&r bass open year round for the first time ever. Was Delly included in that or is that new rule a site specific?
Nature and shit.
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Re: Delavan Opener XV

Postby FishinMatt » May Tue 05, 2020 2:47 pm

Aux Pleins wrote:Well hello Delly! Hey I noticed Wisconsin had c&r bass open year round for the first time ever. Was Delly included in that or is that new rule a site specific?
I believe catch and release bass start April 1st now. I think it is strange wide.
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Re: Delavan Opener XV

Postby RonG » May Tue 05, 2020 2:49 pm

FishinMatt wrote: I think it is strange wide.


Only in Wisconsin! :lol:
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Re: Delavan Opener XV

Postby FloridaRigger » May Tue 05, 2020 4:07 pm

Nice work! You should take Gillespie out this week, he's getting desperate for guides and is pretty terrible on his own :lol:

Moonrise was around 4:30PM Monday, could have had something to do with the crazy feeding window.
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Re: Delavan Opener XV

Postby urbanHog312 » May Tue 05, 2020 4:16 pm

awesome fish. go WWS Tigers!
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Re: Delavan Opener XV

Postby jmdog2003 » May Tue 05, 2020 4:33 pm

Holy cannoli. That's a lot of bruisers. Makes me miss the waters north of the border.
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Re: Delavan Opener XV

Postby coyote » May Tue 05, 2020 5:14 pm

Matt is the King of the Openers ......ne Has never failed to find the Fish even in the toughest conditions . He WILL always find a way. . Got to say it is pretty cool to have the Network we do working these Lakes and even cooler i have got all you Guys together...., Matt has been kind enough to take many of My friends on His Boat over the Years and always a great Host
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Re: Delavan Opener XV

Postby FishinMatt » May Tue 05, 2020 7:57 pm

urbanHog312 wrote:awesome fish. go WWS Tigers!


I started helping out with the Bass Fishing team this year at WWS but of course the season was canceled. Great group of people.
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Re: Delavan Opener XV

Postby FishinMatt » May Tue 05, 2020 8:04 pm

coyote wrote:Matt is the King of the Openers ......ne Has never failed to find the Fish even in the toughest conditions . He WILL always find a way. . Got to say it is pretty cool to have the Network we do working these Lakes and even cooler i have got all you Guys together...., Matt has been kind enough to take many of My friends on His Boat over the Years and always a great Host


So many good peeps past and present over the years. Always great to be able to rely on others for good advice. A coworker who I hooked up last year with a few baits/locations was the guy this year who keyed us into a little spot/pattern that produced a bunch of nice fish. It was only his second time on the lake, but he taught me something new.
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Re: Delavan Opener XV

Postby minstrel » May Tue 05, 2020 11:55 pm

SmalliesNEyes wrote:Your Delevan Opener post every year is always one to look forward to. Nice job out there!

Agreed, I always know your Delly thread will deliver with some real Grade A fish porn, even on a "tough//slow//weird" year. Bravo.
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Re: Delavan Opener XV

Postby ohoffm » May Wed 06, 2020 9:28 am

I am always amazed at your ability to find and catch fish no matter what is going on. Thanx for getting me out. Always a pleasure to be your coangler and learn new things.
The easiest way is rarely the best way
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Re: Delavan Opener XV

Postby FishinMatt » May Wed 06, 2020 9:50 am

ohoffm wrote:I am always amazed at your ability to find and catch fish no matter what is going on. Thanx for getting me out. Always a pleasure to be your coangler and learn new things.


The pleasure is mine Bill. Thanks for sticking through a long day and helping pattern the fish.
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Re: Delavan Opener XV

Postby coyote » May Wed 06, 2020 2:33 pm

It is amazing when we see a certain Guide out there who charges astronomical prices to catch less than half the Bass Matt catches and only Bass ,,,,,,,and gets pissed off if he gets near us .....like where supposed to move . Matt would outfish him 4 to 1 i know that for a fact
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