Tagged in Smallmouth Bass

September 13, 2013

Where the Walleye Lurk: Great Fall Walleye Destinations

During the summer month, it seems that walleyes only bite when it’s cloudy, rainy or windy. In the fall, that changes. Some of the best fall walleye fishing days are bright, sunny and calm. For the walleye angler who has worked hard all summer long to put fish in the boat, fall can be a real treat.

Fall fishing

This fall, you can’t go wrong with any of these four walleye destinations.

Oshkosh on Lake Winnebago

Lake Winnebago is the king of all Wisconsin walleye fisheries. At 138,000 acres, a walleye angler could spend a lifetime fishing this lake. The two techniques that catch the most fish during the fall are jigging and trolling. Look for walleye near mid-lake humps and depressions. Fall can bring some tremendous catches.

Boulder Junction’s 194 Lakes

This resort town is best known as a musky hotspot. However, nearly all of the lakes that dot this quiet little corner of Wisconsin hold walleye. In fact, the clean, clear waters of Boulder Junction hold some hefty fish. Even some of the smaller, lesser-known lakes in the area offer good walleye fishing. Plus, the fall color is spectacular here.

Lake Onalaska and the Mississippi River

The community of Onalaska is set on the banks of 7,700-acre Lake Onalaska, one of the best fishing holes on the entire Mississippi River. Each fall, the walleye fishing heats up on this complex of channels, sloughs and sprawling backwaters. The best walleye fishing can be found near current.

Lake Du Bay in the Stevens Point Area

Just a short drive north of Stevens Point you’ll find the 6,800-acre Lake Du Bay, an enormous impoundment on the Wisconsin River. Look for walleye near old river channels. Jigging is the method of choice here. Don’t be surprised if you hook into a smallmouth bass or even one of the lake’s muskies.


August 22, 2012

Cast A Fly To Rhinelander

Fly fishing the Wisconsin River (Blake Hamilton)

Editor’s note: As part of Wisconsin Travel Best Bets’ Shift Your Gears campaign, we have asked bloggers, writers and photographers to write about destinations across the state and share their experiences. Today, Blake Hamilton of illinoiswisconsinfishing.blogspot.com talks about his recent fishing trip to Rhinelander.

The Rhinelander area is probably most famous for its world-class musky and its endless lakes. Rightly so: Oneida County is home to just over 1,100 lakes, and these waters contain an abundance of some of the most desirable game fish in the entire state of Wisconsin. Smallmouth and largemouth bass, pike, walleye and the world-famous musky are swimming in these waters in plentiful numbers. Throw in the sprawling forests of pine and ash, and tannin waters stained the full spectrum of brown and red, and you really have some of the most unique destination fishing in all of Wisconsin.

One shouldn’t overlook the city of Rhinelander or Oneida County in general as a fly angler’s paradise. Countywide, they boast a whopping 830 miles of river, of which 129 miles are classified as trout water. There are over 50 named streams and rivers, with the Wisconsin River being the largest watershed flowing right through the center of Rhinelander. For the fly angler that prefers wading or floating in flowing water, the opportunities for both warm- and cold-water species are endless.

Wisconsin River brook trout (Blake Hamilton)

The Oneida County warm-water rivers are known for their smallmouth bass fishing, but they contain all of the same species of fish that are found in the lakes. A lot of fish are residents in the rivers year-round, but numbers of fish will migrate from downriver and the connecting lakes upriver to spawn. These seasonal movements are heavily controlled by the weather, water temperature and flows and are very consistent with other spawning migrations found in other rivers all across the state. Fishing below natural barriers such as dams can be dynamite, and fish tend to congregate in these areas. Pools, pocket water, and incoming creeks are also good bets. Anglers fishing the warm-water rivers should be equipped with at least a 5-weight fly rod, unless specifically targeting larger pike and musky. In that case, consider upsizing to an 8- to 10-weight rod. A floating weight-forward line will serve you well for most situations, and streamers like deceivers, clousers, buggers and leeches will take almost every species of fish found in the rivers.

In the land of monster musky, slab smallmouth and mouthwatering walleye, the trout streams of northern Wisconsin are often overlooked. Tourism promotes the plethora of lakes and flowages so heavily that finding any information on the trout fishing is near impossible. Internet searches result in nothing concrete, and it just may be that the best source of information could be the local fly shop or tavern.

Wisconsin River smallmouth bass (Blake Hamilton)

The streams of the Northwoods are much more temperamental when it comes to weather. Harsh winters and summers impact the numbers of fish present tremendously, so look for best fishing after years with more mild seasons. Most streams here aren’t spring fed, so summer’s temperatures will impact the fishery, causing the water to warm enough to shut the bite down. Try fishing spring and fall for the best results. A 3-weight rod in the 6-foot range is appropriate for the smaller, brushy streams. Nymphs, dry flies and streamers are all effective, so don’t hesitate to fish in your comfort zone. Be sure to check out the Wisconsin DNR trout stream classification map for Oneida County; it will give anglers a good head start.


May 8, 2012

Fishing hotspots in the Dairy State

Fishing the Flambeau River, Rusk CountyWhat are the best places to fish in Wisconsin? It depends on what you’re going after. Here are some hotspots for catch smallmouth bass, panfish, musky and walleye.

Smallmouth Bass

Wisconsin has a number of excellent smallmouth bass fishing spots. Two of the best are the Flambeau River in Black River Falls.

The Flambeau is a classic northern Wisconsin river, running through forests of hardwoods and white pine. Flambeau River smallmouth can be found in deeper pools as well as in the large flowages. Wading can be especially effective, affording you stealth and maximum control for casting and fighting fish.

The Black River is another outstanding smallmouth spot. Some of the best fishing on the Black River can be found right in Black River Falls. Look for good numbers of fish, with some approaching trophy size. Both live and artificial bait can be effective. When you hook into a Black River smallmouth, you’ll know it.


The mother of all panfish destinations has to be Lake Onalaska in Onalaska, the “Sunfish Capital of the World.” The lake is actually a pool on the Mississippi River. The bluegills and pumpkinseeds are numerous in Lake Onalaska and can get big. The best bluegill fishing can be found in the backwaters – look for places with abundant insect life and plentiful weed cover. The standard live-bait-and-float rig works well, but for extra excitement, try fly fishing using insect-pattern flies.


The muskellunge is Wisconsin’s state fish, and for good reason – the musky fishing is unbelievable in the Badger State. The two top destinations for pursuing musky are Vilas County and Boulder Junction.

Vilas County is home to a whopping 1,300 lakes. These crystal-clear lakes harbor thousands of muskies, many of them massive. Anglers should choose the lakes they fish by the style of fishing they prefer. Fans of bucktail spinners should pick shallower lakes with darker-colored water. Anglers who like casting crankbaits should select one of Vilas County’s many deep, clear lakes. So, decide what kind of musky fishing experience you’re after, pick your lake and start casting.

Located in Vilas County, Boulder Junction is suitably named the “Musky Capital of the World™.” Many of the 194 lakes in Boulder Junction are thought to be the best musky fishing lakes on Earth. One of the best and most unique lakes is Trout Lake. This huge body of water is deep and cold, producing muskies of enormous size and beautiful coloring. The lake is also home to a population of lake trout.


Oshkosh is located on the western shore of Lake Winnebago, a 130,000-acre body of water that is arguably Wisconsin’s best and most important walleye fishery. The high-quality fishing is thanks to the abundant spawning habitat in the upriver portions of the sprawling lake system. Walleye anglers fishing Lake Winnebago can expect good numbers of fish as well as an opportunity to catch some true trophies. One of the most popular ways to fish for walleye on Lake Winnebago is using planer boards, but simpler methods, such as jigging and slip-bobber fishing, can be equally effective.


April 19, 2012

Smallmouth Bass Served Up Two Ways

The two best places to catch Wisconsin smallies

Pound for pound, smallmouth bass are among the hardest-fighting fish on the planet. Tie into a brawny bronze-back and you have a real fight on your hands.

Smallmouth bass are found throughout Wisconsin, inhabiting nearly every size and type of lake or waterway. They differ from their largemouth brethren in their choice of habitat, with smallies tending to feed in deeper water and largemouth preferring shallower areas. Largemouth love warm bays and weeds. Smallmouth bass tend to seek out cooler water and enjoy a slow current.

Although smallmouth bass can live anywhere, there two types of smallmouth bass habitat that produce the very best fishing.

The first is the mid-size river. Smallmouth bass are most at home in rivers, particularly medium-size, slow-moving rivers such as the Flambeau River in Rusk County. Smallmouth bass can be found throughout the Flambeau, with fish congregating in deep holes and on the downstream side of rocks and deadfalls.

The best way to fish for smallies in a river like the Flambeau is with a canoe or kayak. You can also fish from a boat, but a better bet is wading. Paddle to a promising stretch of water, hop out of the boat and start casting. With your feet on the riverbed, you have much greater control over your casts and you have all the leverage you need to set your hook and fight a fish. And you’ll need that leverage—Flambeau River smallies are brutes!

The second type of habitat that really shines for smallmouth bass fishing is the small, clear lake. The best examples of this habitat are the crystal-clear lakes of Vilas County. These beautiful bodies of water produce smallmouth bass with amazing coloration. On most lakes, smallmouth bass are found near deep weed beds and along break lines. On the largest, deepest lakes, the smallmouth bass action is concentrated closer to shore.

When fishing smallmouth bass in crystal-clear lakes, stealth is of the utmost importance. While you might not see the smallies, they can still see you. Long casts and clear line will help you catch more fish. The clear water also lends itself to natural-looking lures. Use perch-pattern crankbaits, not florescent orange.

This summer, try fishing for smallmouth bass. Wisconsin offers some of the Midwest’s finest smallmouth bass opportunities.  After experiencing the rod-bending power of these feisty fish, you’ll be convinced that the smallmouth bass is worthy of some serious respect.