Lake Wisconsin’s Fall Bonanza
Late fall is one of the best times of the year to fish sprawling Lake Wisconsin for fat walleyes and saugers (the walleyes cousin) which are filling their stomachs for winter. Though, fishing for most species is good throughout the year here, late fall really shines for those who are still trying to get a few more days of open-water fishing in before freeze-up.
The reason that Lake Wisconsin is so good this time of year is because the lake’s main forage base is gizzard shad which are now concentrated just off the main river channel and beginning their annual fall die-off. Walleyes and saugers are gorging themselves on these huge schools of shad that inhabit the lake and help make it the productive lake that it is. The baitfish schools are so large now that at times modern electronics cannot read through the shad schools. An angler’s can “mark” or see these baitfish schools on their locators and think they are in 15 feet of water while they really are in water that may be 25 feet deep. The locators cannot penetrate the schools of shad. This is how large and concentrated the schools of forage are on Lake Wisconsin in the late fall.
The best locations to fish are near the ferry and bridge crossing at both the Merrimac side to the north and the Lodi side to the south. Anglers should look for the baitfish or forage schools just off the old river channel in water 20 to 25 feet deep. Once you locate the forage (the walleyes will be close by), vertical jig those areas with a ¼ to 1/8th ounce jig tipped with a large fathead or chub about 4 inches long and or plastic (Gulp or Powerbait) if desired. Use a heavy enough jig, so that you can keep tapping the bottom with your jig/minnow combo. It is of utmost importance to be within a foot of the bottom for regular action. The jig color doesn’t seem to be that important, but chartreuse, orange, glow, and black are always good colors for this lake. Hair jigs work well too in the lake’s current because the flow gives the hair a pulsating action which can often be deadly.
Vertical jigging a blade bait (Sonar’s or Zips) is another proven technique for the cold water season of the fall. Lower the blade bait to the bottom and then rip them upward a foot or two and then allow the bait to fall naturally. This action triggers strikes which usually come on the lure’s fall.
Work the areas where you marked fish with your bow-mount trolling motor while keeping your line as vertical as possible. Being vertical and just off the bottom are the keys to catching late season walleyes and saugers on Lake Wisconsin.
This action will continue till the water freezes sometime in December. Weekdays are best to fish because boat numbers are limited and you can have the lake to yourself. The best boat launches are at Sunset Bay and Okee where the piers are still in the water late in the season.
Contacts; Guides Wally Banfi, (608)-644-9823, Terry Frey (608)-220-6366, and Tony Puccio (608)-845-5410.
Wilderness Fish and Game, Sauk City, (608)-643-2433.