The bass factory works overtime in the Minocqua area, with both the largemouth and the smallmouth fisheries kicking out many stellar-sized fish in plentiful numbers.
The more abundant largemouth bass comes with a pedigree that boasts airborne leaps during the fight. Headshakes are commonplace and sore wrists are often the result of encounters with these brutes. Anglers will without a doubt pay their respects with the largemouth bass anywhere in the Minocqua chain of lakes, and pretty much any of the nearby lakes. They’re everywhere.
Look for largemouth bass anywhere there are weeds and lily pads. Jigs work well in the weed beds, fish spinners and crank baits high if the weeds are particularly thick; when it’s hot and sunny look for shade and structure.
But wait, there’s more.
The smallmouth fishery in the Minocqua area is second to none in Wisconsin. Typically found in cooler waters than their largemouth cousins, the smallmouth is a tough fighting fish – arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the country. You thought you had your hands full with the largemouth, wait until you’ve dealt with a few smallmouth beauties.
Smallmouth bass tend to reside further from shore than largemouth, look for largemouth in three to five feet of water during the summer, and smallmouth a few feet deeper than that. Fish the shaded side of the lake in the afternoon for either species.
Fishing for largemouth and smallmouth is usually the same; spinning rods with jigs and spinners and crank baits. Sometimes the habitat for these fish overlaps, especially where shallow waters meet up suddenly with deeper waters, and where weed beds level off to sandy bottoms. Essentially, when you’re fishing for either one you’re fishing for both.
In the Minocqua chain there are a lot of bass 14-inches or larger, with some topping out just short of 20-inches. Of course, there are a few giants lurking about. Be prepared.
Finding bass is easy; in fact, good-sized bass can be caught right alongside city limits, and for those anglers looking for ease of fish big bass are often caught right off the public fishing pier. If you’re coming into your resort after a day away, make sure to stop for a few minutes right before you pull in – you might be happy you did.
In recent years the Minocqua chain of lakes has seen an explosion of bass as waters have warmed somewhat over the past decade. While walleye prefer a slow warm-up in the spring, with ice gradually giving way as summer approaches, bass like a quick change of the calendar.
The 15-inch size limit on bass has been eliminated on the Minocqua chain and there is a five fish limit for bass. The Department of Natural Resources is actually encouraging anglers to keep more bass, both to improve conditions for larger individual fish growth, and to help the walleye fishery.
Typically the bass season begins in about mid June, to allow for the fish to spawn. Before that it’s catch-and-release. Truth is you’ll enjoy catching bass no matter the time of year.
While musky and walleye reign supreme for most anglers, it’s the bass fishery that separates the Minocqua and Woodruff area apart from other angling waters. Why? Well, walleye tend to feed and bite during the morning and late afternoons, when water traffic eases and light conditions darken. Muskies can be a bit finicky during the mid-day and depending on the season a challenge to locate – it’s the bass that fills in the gaps – they feed all the time and are aggressive around the clock. A day on the lake here can truly be a day on the lake.
So, you’re here, now what? Fish near the piers and docks and rafts that are scattered around the shoreline. Bass will tend to seek shelters and structure during the mid-day heat and light. Oh, they’re still looking for a fight, but they’ll lurk in the shadows until the time comes.