This spring’s fishing has been inconsistent to say the least! Last winter was far from being a typical Wisconsin winter with little snow and temperatures way above normal making for an ice fishing season that was average at best. The warm weather continued into the early spring and brought record warm temperatures for February and into March. A few days ago, the temperature was 80 degrees with water temperature already in the 60’s which is way above the norm for this time of year. Here are a few more examples of “spring happenings” that are weeks early in Wisconsin this spring; there are buds (lilacs) and leaves (maples) on many of the trees, flowers are popping up all over, migrating birds that are showing up weeks earlier than normal, insects and moths are hatching, grass is growing, and left-over sunflower seeds are starting to grow under my bird feeders.
The temperature from January 1st to the middle of March was the warmest period on record. Lakes and rivers where I fish are anywhere from 10 to 15 degrees above the normal spring water temperatures. What this record warm weather has done is to make most fishing very inconsistent and difficult to pattern. The record warm water has made fishing difficult because fish are not where they should be this time of year and the spawning “timetable” is not where it normally should be. One day fishing may be good, but the next day it may change and where you caught fish the day before is now fishless. There are many things that affect fish activity and movement, like the different moon phases, the number of hours of daylight, and of course the weather.
Anglers have been fishing the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers for much of the winter and early spring because the weather has allowed the boat landings to remain open and the warmer weather has kept the water from freezing up in slack water locations. Walleyes and saugers have a fishing season that is open year-round on the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers and if you slow down your fishing presentation and jigging cadence, you can catch fish all winter long. I have friends that fished below the dam at Red Wing, Minnesota all winter long with success on both walleyes and saugers.
I have many friends that have been fishing local waters for over a month for walleyes with fishing being hot and cold. Below the Prairie Du Sac Dam, anglers have been catching numbers of small male walleyes on jigs/minnows and jigs/plastics with some success. But, as I said earlier, one day the walleyes are active and the next day they are hard to find. The fishing below the dam at Wisconsin Dells has been much better with good numbers of walleyes and decent size fish. There is more room to fish below the Dells Dam and I’ve seen anglers catching fish on the standard jig and minnow combination and some fishermen are catching fish trolling leadcore line, with a couple of feet of fluorocarbon line for a leader, and a # 5 or # 7 Shad Rap in firetiger or natural colors. If I was fishing in the immediate area, I would fish the first mile or two below the Dells Dam with jigs and minnows or plastics or troll the main channel with crankbaits. Experiment with colors, speed, different crankbaits, and varying your jigging cadence till you find what the fish want the day that you’re fishing. Keep trying different tactics and techniques till you find one that works for you.
I get regular emails from Mark Clements at Clements Fishing Barge on the Mississippi River at Genoa, Wisconsin with weekly fishing reports. The fishing reports that I’ve gotten the last two weeks have been fantastic to say the least! Mark gives you an honest report without exaggerating. I have always found Mark’s reports to be “right on” and not just info made up to get you to their Barge. My last report from Clements was a couple of days ago and Mark said that the fishing was ABSOLUTLY FANTASTIC! The Barge opened a week ago and Mark said that it was the best opening weekend in their history.
The perch fishing has been the best ever with many jumbo perch in the 12-15 inch size, huge northern pike up to 44 inches, and some walleye limits.
Clements Fishing Barge has been open since the fall of 1937. The Barge which is the largest on the Mississippi River is in a great location with many fish species like; walleye, sauger, catfish, northern pike, white bass, large and smallmouth bass, sturgeon, and panfish. They pick you up on the Wisconsin side of the river, just below the lock, in a 20 passenger Coast Guard inspected vessel. Once you cross over to the Minnesota side, you have your choice of fishing on 8 floating piers with guides to help you. There are chairs, benches, and tables for your convenience. Even if you lack fishing equipment, there are rods and reels to rent. There also is a snack bar with food and goodies. The only thing that isn’t on board is bait and that can be bought right in town at Captain Hook’s Bait and Tackle. The cost of fishing is $17.00 a day, children under 12 are $5.00, and kids under 5 years are free. This is a great way to spend a day, catch some fish, have fun with your family, and all this is only 125 miles from Madison. You don’t need a boat or equipment to go to Clements, just a fishing license, and this time of the year the fishing is well worth it. I highly recommend spending a day or two at Clements Barge and now they even have cabins to rent at a reasonable prize too. They may be contacted at (608)-689-2800 or email them at email@example.com to get a fresh fishing report.