Musky Shop Northwoods Fishing Report: Early May

Musky Shop Northwoods Fishing Report: Early May

James Stewart May 05, 2023

Hi Everyone,

The fishing season is finally here. Whew, what a long winter. Here in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, our winter wasn't that bad, just a lot of snow and quite long. However, it looks and feels like spring is finally here. With the tough winter, we still have ice on some of the larger lakes in Oneida and Vilas counties, but many small to medium size lakes are open and ready for action. What a fun time of year. There is always a kind of butterfly feeling in the stomach as we head out on the lake for the very first time that never gets old. The start on the outboard motor, the smell of engine exhaust, and the purr as she warms up at the dock. Then heading to the year’s first spot, man, that is exciting. Whether you are a young fisherman or have been fishing for years, it's still thrilling to head out that very first time of the season.

As you think about your first spot on the first lake you choose, with ice out not long ago, the temperatures will be pretty cold. Al Frost, one of our fishing guides, did a little Crappie and Perch fishing and scouting. Frosty mentioned that the water temps on a small dark water lake were 43 degrees on the surface, but I'm sure much colder a couple of feet down from the surface. It will serve you best to find the lake’s warmest water. The northern ends of lakes and bays will warm faster, and many fish species, including Walleye, will be in that warmer water.

Any structure, such as downed trees, stumps, or fish cribs, will hold fish. Casting a Fathead minnow up to the shoreline around trees and branches that have fallen onto the lake’s edge is always a good bet for catching early ice out Walleye. One can use a colorful jig tipped with a Fathead Minnow; Walleye Suckers are also always good live bait all season. One can jig around fish cribs and any structure as fish will migrate to the warmer water and any type of structural element.

Crankbaits such as Rapala #3,#5, and #7's are always good, as well as Rattlin Rogues and Shad Raps. Cast up to the shoreline and work slowly back to the boat. Trolling those crankbaits is also a good early-season technique. Again, go slow; they will likely not be in chase mode yet. Another option is casting or trolling Live Black Tail chubs. In deeper clear lakes, Walleye seem to prefer a large minnow or Blacktail Chubs. They are quite hardy and quite lively. Redtail Chubs, as I'm sure you know, are a great live minnow presentation; however, they are really hard to trap from wild streams, and with winter not being far in the distance, most live bait trappers have not found any yet.

Nightcrawlers and Leeches will work to for marble eyes, but they often prefer a minnow or crankbait in the early season. Crappies and Perch will most likely be in the same areas as Walleye, and the same kind of techniques mentioned earlier will work well, just downsize a bit, and you should catch some good early ice-out Perch and Crappies as well as possible panfish. White Spikes, Red Spikes, and Wax Worms will work as well as a tip on a bait or as the primary presentation for Crappies, Perch and Panfish.

We have a great selection of fresh Live bait and a great selection of Walleye and Panfish rods, reels, tackle, and, of course, a ton of Musky gear.

Our Musky Season in Northern Wisconsin opens the last Saturday in May. Many fishermen stop by the Musky Shop to get their Live bait and Walleye supplies and then grab some Musky gear as they prepare for the upcoming Musky Season. Take note; however, there is a very good possibility that the Musky Season will start at the same time as the Walleye Season starts in 2024, which is the first Saturday in May. A resolution passed in the Conservation Congress this past April. It sounds very much like the Wisconsin DNR will make the first Saturday in May the start of the gamefish season, including both Walleye and Muskies. Please check your local regulations on that next year and your local fishing regulations for daily bag limits, size limits, etc., for the particular lake you may be fishing.

One last thing to consider is hiring a fishing guide. We have a very knowledgeable guide staff, and if one wants to leave the boat at home or slow down the learning curve, you might consider hiring one of our fishing guides. If you are considering that, please call Jodie as she manages our guide staff. She can be reached at 715-513-7700 

With that, I'll sign out for this report,  but all of us here at The Musky Shop wish you a great and safe fishing season.

Please let us know if we can serve you, as it will be our pleasure.

Good Fishing, and God Bless,

Jim Stewart