Anglers are heading toward midsummer conditions, with the water temperatures warming and high boat traffic. Water levels also continue to be high.

It has been a strange year so far, with temperature extremes throughout the spring. It seemed to be either too hot or too cold all spring. Right now on the Eagle River Chain, the mayfly hatch is in full bloom and it is having a big effect on the fishing. 

All spawning activity is finished for the year except maybe a few bluegills on some of the colder lakes. It was a year that some fish of all species did not spawn because of repeated cold fronts, which cause the spawners to retreat to deeper water.

Walleye fishing is OK. The pattern on the Chain is for good numbers of fish, but not great size. That mayfly hatch has really had an effect on the fishing, so look for the soft muddy areas and try leeches to match the hatch. Walleyes on the Chain are both in weeds and deeper water, especially in daytime. Evening fishing will be the best during the hatch, but try deep water during the day. On the deeper lakes, fish will be located in weeds. Usually, these weeds are in 6 to 13 feet,growing to the surface.

Bass action has been very good for the last several weeks, as these fish assume their summer habitat. The smallies are in the vicinity of hard bottom daily, so look for rock structure and boulders. At this point they are feeding mainly on crayfish on all lakes, so use imitation crayfish for best results. Tube jigs in brown or orange work well, along with red crankbaits. Hot ’N Tots, with their metal lips can be bounced along these rocks for good effect. Largemouth bass have been hitting very well in the weeds and lily pads. They stay much nearer to the shorelines and prefer the shade in cover. For great fun, try surface baits for them.

Northerns are, as always, in the weeds hitting anything that moves. It seems that most northerns are caught by anglers targeting other fish such as muskie or walleye. Try some larger minnows as live bait, and any larger spinner or flash bait in those weeds. If you find some deep grass weeds, you’ll find some northerns there also. For bigger fish, try Franklin and Butternut lakes in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

Muskie fishing has been below par this year. The up-and-down weather patterns this spring have had a very adverse effect on the start of this fishing year for them. While the water temps are now at or near the 70s, these fish just haven’t gotten going yet. Small baits are still working best over the weeds. We anticipate the action will return to its normal state as the water warms further.

Panfish action is good, with crappies again leading the way. A good part of the crappie population has stayed in the weeds and can be caught in weeds of 8 feet or less all summer. Try some Mini-Mites in 6 feet or so in the weeds for them. Bluegills are in the shallower weeds and larger perch are in the deeper weeds. The weather has been spectacular.  

Good luck and good fishin’.