Northern Wisconsin Fishing
Seasoned anglers and novices alike enjoy testing their skills in the Minocqua area’s lakes, rivers and streams. Most support a variety of fish, such as Northern Pike, Muskellunge, Large and Smallmouth Bass, Trout and Walleye, and most have public access.
Minocqua Area Fishing Report 5/10/2022
Opening weekend happened! Beautiful weather on opening day allowed for lots of participation as anglers got to let their pent-up open water angling out. Those who got out were met with some surprisingly warm water (avg 48 – 50 degrees) considering ice just left many of our lakes just days (some lakes hours) before.
Burdened with carrying eggs somewhat longer (couple weeks) than usual, female Walleyes dumped their eggs quickly as water temps raced through the “preferred” spawning temps of 38 to 42 degrees leaving lots of males still working the shallows looking for love!
Walleye: Excellent-Good – Opening morning started out hot at day break (and even hotter for those starting at midnight). Lots of action from lingering males, with several “spent” female being caught and released as anglers reported personal bests (PB). While jig and minnow (Dace, fats, chubs) accounted for most, shallow stick baits (Rattlin Rouges, #7 Countdowns, #9 Floating Rapalas and Jr. Thundersticks) as well as jig and plastics produced on bodies with aggressive fish. In some cases, a slow, drag and light wiggle was needed to entice on jig and minnows.
Northern Pike: Good – Not as prominent as expected and rarely targeted at this time, some nice Pike were boated by anglers targeting Walleyes in the shallows (3-5’) using jigs with minnows. Largest this week a 40” caught by a Lucky Lady using 6# test!
Smallmouth Bass: Good – As with Pike, we received no reports from anglers targeting but some nice incidentals in the 16-18” range were C&R by Walleye anglers.
Crappie: Good-Fair – Leading up to the gamefish opener, anglers found Crappies “staging” in 8-12’ taking small minnows. On the flat, warm sunny afternoons Crappies were seen in less than a foot and a half of water sunning. They are not spawning at this time, just warming their bodies and helping egg production for the time to come. Those fish, when found, are very spooky yet with long cast can be caught.
Yellow Perch, Bluegill and Largemouth Bass were caught, but rarely targeted, not enough for a report.
With water temps shooting up into upper 40’s to low 50’s before settling down by Sunday/Monday (5/8-5/9) it’s taking a little searching from opening morning onward to stay on fish. The forecast of highs in upper 70’s to low 80’s by week’s end will play havoc on the fisher people as minnow and insect hatches will have to be competed with, and on some smaller lakes our favored post spawn preferred surface temps of the 50’s may just shoot into the 60’s by the weekend.
Also of note, lake levels are high and due to late ice out, many lakes don’t have piers in at launches as DNR crews are scrambling to get to the landings and get set up.
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Popular Fishing Lakes
Some of the more popular fishing lakes favored by visitors and locals include, Big Arbor Vitae, Clear Carrol, Madeline, Squirrel and Squaw. Bassmaster recently named the Minocqua chain one of the 25 best bass lakes in America’s central region and one of the top 100 in the nation. There are numerous wilderness sites for a quiet escape. Some good bets are the Willow Flowage Scenic Waters Area and the many lakes dimpling the Northern Highlands-American Legion State Forest.
Mid Lake, which has shallow water that warms quickly, is the place to be in spring, when Musky and Northern swim here to spawn.
Minocqua Chain Walleye Project
The Minocqua Chain is a 5,929-acre chain of lakes in Oneida County. The Chain includes Kawaguesaga, Minocqua, Jerome, Mid, Tomahawk, Little Tomahawk and Mud lakes, along with the Minocqua and Tomahawk thoroughfares. The Minocqua Chain forms the headwaters of the Tomahawk River and is part of the Upper Wisconsin River watershed. Tomahawk (3,462 acres), Minocqua (1,339 acres) and Kawaguesaga (700 acres) are the largest lakes of the Chain and provide the majority of the Walleye spawning habitat.
The adult walleye population and natural reproduction of the Minocqua Chain of Lakes in Oneida County has experienced a substantial decline since the early 1990s because of low recruitment of young fish into the population. The Minocqua chain currently has catch and release walleye regulations through the 2024-2025 fishing season.