Mid- to late-summer fishing can be tougher and we are certainly at that point in this year. It has been a funny year, with those extreme cold fronts this spring and the really hot summer. 

We are starting to see evidence of the coming fall, with a few leaves dropping under the birch trees and the ferns along the roadsides turning brown in places.

Surprisingly, the lakes for the most part remain high, though the Wisconsin River is getting lower. Weeds have started to die off in the shallow water and the water temperatures are dropping a little. 

Walleye fishing has been OK at best in the last week or so, with reports of good numbers but no size on the Chain. The fish are in 12 to 15 feet of water in good numbers near the holes, but the bigger fish seem to be out over the mud flats holding near the bottom. One-half nightcrawlers seem by far to be the most effective bait for walleyes now. Just slowly drag the front half on a light jig. On the bigger lakes, the fish seem to be relating to deeper structure during the daytime. They move to the weeds during the evenings to feed. Minnows and crawlers are both working on these lakes.

Bass action for the largemouths remains pretty good, with the fish in cover and hitting surface baits and plastics very well. If you want to use crawlers for them they will work, but the bluegills will drive you nuts and take the crawlers first. White and silver spinnerbaits are working well. Smallies are mostly deeper, but a few large ones have been taken off piers lately. This indicates they are moving in at times to feed on minnows. As always, smallies prefer hard-bottom areas and can be as deep as 18 feet or so. Leeches work for live bait and plastics or crankbaits are also working.

Northerns are as always in the weeds, both shallow and deep. Many are being caught by muskie anglers working the weeds.

Muskie anglers are doing OK, but not great. Basically, it has been a tough summer for muskies following a tough spring. As always at this time of year, the night fishing has been best for bigger fish, with surface baits and bucktails working best. Basically, the feeding windows in shallower water have been short and inconsistent. The windows will lengthen as the water temperatures drop.

Panfish action has basically been pretty good, with crappies leading the way. If you can locate weeds you will usually find some crappies. Either minnows or small plastics work well for these fish under slip-bobbers in water as shallow as 3 feet. Bluegills are also in the weeds and hitting worms or waxies very well. Look for perch in the deeper weeds — with the bigger fish definitely in the deeper weeds.

Summer is getting away from us. Get out there before it is too late.

Good luck and good fishin’.