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Wisconsin opening day: A take on prospects for opening weekend in the Northwoods

Kurt Justice gives us extended preview for opening weekend of Wisconsin’s general fishing season in the Northwoods.

A file photo of the Rainbow Flowage. Provided
A file photo of the Rainbow Flowage.
Provided

General fishing season in Wisconsin opens Saturday, as traditional on the first Saturday in May. Despite being the earliest possible opener, the weather is forecast to be nearly balmy.

Here is Kurt Justice at Kurt’s Island Sport Shop in Minocqua with his usual extended take on opening weekend for those headed north:

It’s the cusp of the 2021 Walleye opener here in the Northwoods! As usual, nothing ever seems the same from one opener to the next.

A very early ice out back in late March followed by temps in the 80’s in early April shot water temps up quickly. Walley spawning started early and is all finished this year, even with the cold snap we’ve experienced dragging things out. So…what to expect?

Lake temps that hit the high 50’s back in early April fell back in to the 40’s for most of the rest of this month. The cold mornings and warming afternoons could be helping opening day anglers by dragging out the slow warm up, keeping the post spawn bite active as minnows, insects and leeches start to fill the shallow, newly emergent weeds with food and warmth.

Working those newly greening weed beds with the customary jig/minnow, jig/leech or jig and plastic combinations should be all most angers need to do well this weekend. Finding those patches of green weeds and areas with slightly warmer water will be key. A temperature difference of just 2-3 degrees from one part of the lakes shallows to another can make all the difference.

Watch as water temps rise in the afternoons as Crappies, Pike, Largemouth Bass and Bluegills move to the shallows to warm and feed. Long cast with weighted floats (so as not to spook the fish) will be key for panfish anglers. Casting stick baits (Husky Jerks, X-Raps, Rattlin Rouges) has been effective as early season catch and release Bass anglers have been finding out.

Looks to be great weather for our opener, we’ve missed the pre-spawn and spawn bite, but that happens more often than not and gives those Walleyes less pressure as they work to repopulate our waters.

Bait supplies look good for this opener with only Redtails and Dace in short supply. With water temps looking to get into the 50’s by the weekend, don’t be shy about adding some leeches or crawlers to your arsenal.

Kurt Justice

Kurt’s Island Sport Shop
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