July 27 thru August 8, 2008
Just got back from a little 2-week trip to the north. The first week was spent exclusively with the family so not much fishing, exploring, and adventuring was done.... I did get some decent fishing time in though.
After the family trip, I wasn't home for more than 24-hours as I came back to switch cars and to grab my fishing partner for the week, my buddy who goes to ISU. This second trip was when the serious fishing was done as we managed to fish 12 lakes and 1 river throughout Vilas and Oneida co. in 5 days.
During the second week was really the first time all year where my "new" boat was put to the test. The boat easily got us out of 2-footers on the large lakes, allowed us to fish comfortably during evenings and nights, was easy to launch with even at the crappy landings where 4WD was required, and enabled us to cover some serious water... and when the storms came, we were able to haul ass and fly 'outta there!
Overall, the fishing wasn't all too great as not many big ones were caught. Personally, this time of year is always the worst for me up north due to many circumstances (high water temps, fish spreading out everywhere, etc), but fun times were still had and even though we didn't get much in size, we caught a lot of everything in numbers, some in good quality too!
First, I will begin with the first week of fishing:
Whenever I got the chance to take the boat out, I concentrated on Smallmouth Bass. Fished two days for them and the fishing was tough - windless days, clear skies, fighting the pleasure boaters, etc. I did manage a few of these below, with many smaller ones.
This time of year, crankbaits in craw patterns really shine, as do tubes, creature baits, and the 'ole reliable 4-inch jig and grub. The smallies were found all over the place: Shallow water with wood and rock, steep drop-offs, mid-lake bars, and even suspended in the middle of nowhere.
In addition to this first week of limited fishing, whenever I wasn't out in the boat or dropped off early morning at some nearby lake's boat landing, I casually fished the little sub-30 acre backyard lake, catching several specimens of each below:
Crappies were going really good the entire time I was at the house up north. About 90% of the crops we caught were between 11 and 13 inches with a few slabasauruses lost at the boat. It was an all suspended bite for them. The best was jig and plastic, either small grub or Berkley GULP minnow.
Lots of Bass like this above were caught. This one was 17" and nearly all were 14" to 18" in length.
30" bonus fish - don't get too many like this 'outta the backyard "pond". I don't know what possessed me to keep fishing in a ridiculous 30-minute downpour but I had a hunch that something "big" for my lake would be caught.
.... and that's all that went down during week-1. Decent, but could have been better!
Like I said somewhere above in this post, I came home for about 24-hours, grabbed the car, my fishing buddy, and headed back up north for a 5 day fishing trip.
This second week began on the Wisconsin River, wading a few stretches with our one good friend and his uncle who were in the area for a little trip of their own whom we met up with for a full day of fishing.
I hadn't been on the river in over two months (since the incredible SM. Bass fishing we had in June), but this time around, things were very tough. We had some rain come through the area which over night rose the water levels by as much as a foot on the river. The fish were hard to find as they were dispersed everywhere.
Our party of four caught fish such as Pike, Smallmouth and Largemouth. Not much in quality but they were in numbers.
I spent much of my time on the river casting for Muskies because it was evident that the other three who weren't fishing for Muskies were having a tough and slow time on the river. Anyways, I had a mid-30"er come to my feet numerous times only to miss the topwater by centimeters! Also saw a potential 4-footer swim in and around our feet in one particular area we waded. Probably spent a full hour on this fish alone but no chance for me - it was too smart.
My friend Tony fighting a 20" Pike from a mid-river weed-bed.
After the river outing, we came back to fish my little backyard lake, caught a giant mess of Crappies, Bluegills, and Bass.
The day finished up with some Johnsonville's on the grill, Leinies, and we split from each other to fish on our own and to continue on with our separate trips.
In approximately 5 days, my friend and I fished 12 lakes throughout Vilas and Oneida counties ranging in size from 100 to 1500 acres. Not only did we do a lot of lake-hopping, but we spent much of our time Bass fishing, catching several Bass like this below.
Biggest of the trip, an 18" caught by my friend.
Majority of our Bass were 14" to 18" in length and all of the fishing was action and numbers. No trophies but almost all of our fish were in then 14 to 18 inch lengths.
The best baits by far for the week were 4-inch jig and grubs, 5-inch swim senkos, similar-styled stickbaits such as Bearpaw Hippie Sticks, tubes, topwaters, spinnerbaits, and the surface frog like YUM Buzzfrogs and ZOOM horny toads.
The frog bite throughout the week was phenomenal and this was the first time in my life in which I used the frog. I love slop-fishing now! Beware, you have to use a heavy rod with braid, otherwise your success will plummet!
Yeah, I know... cool jersey.
The main pattern we found for the Bass (Largemouth mainly) this week were to find areas wit a lot of timber, weeds, and shoreline slop. We applied this to pretty much every lake we fished and the results were all the same. Unlike LMB, the SMB were mostly down deep and much harder to consistently find.
Besides the Bass, we spent time fishing for other species such as Walleye and Muskies. Quite a few walleyes were caught during the evenings and night-time fishing we did but they were all the usual 14 to 17" eaters.
Throughout this time, I saw a lot of Muskies down below on each lake we fished which was pretty cool.
We did spend a full day of Musky fishing since the friend had never done such fishing before in his life... Because of that, I think I owed him something.
During the final day of the trip, we fished three lakes for Muskies, two of them being larger than 1,000 acres and the other being a little 100-acre lake for when the winds got really bad.
It was a tough and depressing day of fishing as I missed two fish myself and the friend missed a 30-something incher at boatside which hit his crankbait on the figure-8 and came unbuttoned as the net job was ready. He was pissed but it was a good learning experience for him and he got a thrill out of it. As for me, a short time later, I missed one bonafide 40-incher at the surface while burning a large Northland spinnerbait over the weeds in 1-2ft waves. The fish hit, I set hook, I find that my drag isn't set tight, and fish was instantly gone.... The other occurrence was nearly the same thing with a similar sized fish but on a different lake; Casting a dbl. Showgirl, a fish hits at surface, a huge splash is made, and fish doesn't hold on! WTF...
We did find a good mid-day window of activity as the fish (several) energetically came out and hung out near the boat, constantly following or wreaking havoc on us by missing our lures. The strong winds really seemed to get them going.
Depressing..... The day was eventually finished up by drinking a few brews apiece. The following day, we had to come home.
Below are some of the waters we fished:
For those interested in knowing what the overall water levels are throughout the region, all you need to know is that they're much higher at this point than last year. It's the case almost everywhere but some of the lakes we visited were on the verge of getting pretty bad (seepage lakes mainly - Clear, Big Muskellunge, North Nokomis).
In addition, some of the weed-growth on certain lakes is either pathetic and non-existent, or simply overgrown. Some of the lakes had horrible algae blooms which made things tough such as Gilmore, Sweeney, Madeline, Big Arb, Booth and some sections of Squirrel. The lakes with the best water clarity had some of the best fishing we experienced all week.
Water temps running anywhere from 71-75degs, the smaller the lakes, the warmer it will be.
Should have one more summer trip left before school starts and hopefully it happens during the week of August 20th. If it happens, I'll be fishing my ass off for a Musky - don't care what size it will be.
I wish I could live up there right now....
Thanks. Hope you enjoyed.