Wisconsin’s inland fishing season opens in wake of late ice thaw

Outdoors report

IRON MOUNTAIN — Despite a slower spring thaw, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources predicts a successful start to the 2022 fishing season today.

“With the late ice thaw on northern lakes, the fish will be hungry and eager to bite,” said Justine Hasz, DNR bureau director of fisheries management.

Cooler weather has delayed walleye spawning in northern Wisconsin. As a result, they will likely be hanging around shoreline habitats.

Anglers searching for panfish will find them in warm, shallow water near trees and stumps, though with the late warm-up they may be sluggish, Hasz said.

Anglers should head to deeper waters to find those bass that haven’t moved into shallow, warmer waters. The harvest season for smallmouth bass in Wisconsin’s northern zone doesn’t start until June 18.

Northern pike will likely be in post-spawn mode and actively feeding, Hasz said.

With minimal precipitation and shorter vegetation along streams, anglers should be stealthy while fishing for trout, he added.

At Whisler Outdoors in Florence, Wis., Fay Whisler reported a few smaller walleye taken this week from the Brule River. Action is expected to pick up with a turn in the weather and this weekend’s opener, she said.

The Upper Peninsula’s walleye and northern pike possession seasons will open May 15.

The Michigan DNR reported this U.P. activity:

Little Bay de Noc: Anglers were having some success with smallmouth bass in the Ford River, as well as by the mouth. Steelhead fishing was poor in the Ford River. The Days River was producing some steelhead. Pressure from perch anglers had been somewhat reduced, although the bite had been slow.

Manistique: The river’s water level dropped some. Anglers reported some steelhead were caught, but overall success had been limited.

Keweenaw Bay/Huron Bay: With the change in weather seeming to be sticking around, anglers had more access to the water via boats and other watercraft. Anglers found success fishing for salmon and trout with natural and artificial bait. These anglers were in waters near river mouths as well as near shore waters in depths ranging from 100 feet and shallower. Some anglers found fish while trolling and others had luck casting and some jigging while sitting still.

Traverse Bays/ South Portage Canal Entry: Anglers were fishing mainly by boat. Most anglers were trolling but some were casting in near shore waters. Anglers found the most success around river mouths and south of the canal entry. All bait types were being used in the most recent week with success mainly coming to those using natural baits. Anglers should fish near the river mouths and in medium depth waters.

Munising Bay: Boat launches were all open. Boat anglers were reporting limits of coho with recent catches comprising a smaller size range around 12 to 13 inches. An occasional 16-to-17-inch coho was caught. Boat anglers were trolling mainly assorted stick baits. Smelt were moving in the past week. The splake action increased dramatically with some nice catches of up to 22 inches with limits. The rainbow trout action produced some incidental catches with most rainbow trout, brown trout and a few kings running around 3 to 6 pounds with some up to 5 pounds. Anglers were trolling or jigging/casting. Areas commonly fished were Five Mile Point, within Munising Bay to Trout Bay, Miner’s Fall and all the way to Chapel Beach. Shore and pier anglers reported fair to good action on splake and coho with some nice size menominee’s around 16 inches. Best producer had been spawn sacs for splake and worms for the menominee.

Grand Marais: Boat anglers continued to do well with limits. Most anglers were targeting coho and rainbow trout. Most of the coho were small in the 13-inch range with a few nice rainbow trout. Most of the rainbow trout were starting to get dark so the spawning run was on the downhill side. There was a nice 9-pound lake trout caught while trolling for coho. Most anglers were trolling east of the harbor to past Lonesome Point and east. Pier anglers continued to report fair to good catches of whitefish with a few menominee mixed in. Anglers targeting whitefish were using single eggs with a spare line with spawn sacs.

Marquette: Anglers reported catching coho salmon out of the mouth of the Carp River. Steelhead fishing slowed down in the river, but there were a few reports of steelhead. Anglers reported catching steelhead, brown trout, and occasional suckers from the Chocolay River. Boat anglers reported catching coho, king salmon, lake trout and brown trout. The best success for coho, and king salmon were caught trolling spoons and flickers. Drifting beads or spawn in the Carp and Chocolay rivers has had the most success.

Au Train: Boat fishing activity increased within the last week. Boat anglers reported catching mostly coho salmon and brown trout trolling near the Rock and Au Train River mouths. Shore anglers reported catching coho salmon from the Au Train and Rock River mouths. Fishing pressure in the Rock River decreased, but there had been some success catching steelhead from the Rock River. Anglers have had the most success trolling using flickers, spoons, and spinners. Anglers fishing in the river had the most success by drifting spawn and beads. Anglers using spawn bags and crawlers had the most success catching coho out of the mouth of the Au Train and Rock rivers.

Les Cheneaux/Detour: Anglers were fishing off the pier for perch and splake. There were reports of a few master angler splake caught.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today