There is plenty of great spring fishing in Wisconsin. From combat fishing for walleyes on The Dells and Fox River, to baitcasting for Lake Michigan salmon, these are the areas you definitely don't want to miss!
The lower Wisconsin River provides one of our first open-water options of the year, with walleyes and saugers the main attraction. A slot limit, which has been in place for a decade now, has resulted in resurgence in numbers of big fish, with a serious shot at boating a state-record sauger.
Unfortunately, Wisconsin DNR regulations still protect saugers with record weight, so the catch must be immediately released.
Most anglers find success with vertical jigging while drifting downstream. Others position fish, using their trolling motors to hold over water 10 to 16 feet deep. A very few who fish in the daytime quietly fill limits trolling crankbaits behind leadcore.
Guide Nick Olson and a few locals know the really big fish come at night, casting suspending stickbaits or on a steady retrieve with a 5-inch Kalin grub and 1/8-ounce jighead.
Fox River, DePere
April walleye action below the DePere dam is the worst-kept fishing secret in Wisconsin, but there is no other time or place where an angler can find a greater concentration of trophy walleyes.
This is the epitome of combat fishing. It is possible to warm your hands by putting them in the pocket of an angler in the boat next to you. The basic pink or orange 1/4-ounce jig with a 3-inch chartreuse Kalin grub is the only bait you'll need in order to find success, if you can fight your way through the crowd and keep a line in the water.
DePere is April's top pick because it offers your best shot at a trophy walleye. Personally, I prefer option No. 2, the Peshtigo River. Just north of the Peshtigo is the Menominee. Both hold the potential for the best walleye trip of your lifetime.
Lake Michigan, South Basin
Capt. Matt Solchenberger's best time for putting a six-person limit of coho in the box of the Trio is 1 hour, 27 minutes last May. Later in the year he works out of Algoma where a customer boated a whopping 20-pound coho last summer — a fish just shy of the state record.
Most of the time a charter boat is the most productive — and safest — way to experience Lake Michigan salmonids. But a deep-V 18 footer is enough boat to cash in on this bonanza if you keep a close eye on the weather and short-term forecast.
Although trolling gear works best, medium spinning or baitcasting gear will work. The key is getting lures away from the boat, as these fish are extremely wary when cruising from the surface to just 12 feet down in this exceptionally clear water.
Action is best during low-light periods. A sawed-off piece of a Luminock arrow attached to your planer boards is a great strike indicator. A long-handled Frabill crankbait net is another valuable tool. Don't forget a Great Lakes salmon stamp.
Don't leave the dock without at least two nets. Three nets are better. Action here gives new meaning to the term "fast and furious."
Don't forget to share your best fishing photos with us on Camera Corner for your chance to win free gear!
Suzuki's two new four-stroke, two-cylinder portable outboards have a compression reduction system for easier starting. The 20hp tiller model weighs 97 pounds the eletric-start model weighs 106 pounds. Single overhead cam, four-valve engine with Suzuki's Lean Burn Control and bat-tery-less electronic fuel injection. Built for running in skinny water, both motors come with five tilt pin positions and 15- or 20-inch shaft.
TACKLE TOTE VEST
If you wade when you fish, Fish-N-Hunt Pro Gear designed a Tackle Tote Vest that to keep gear accessible but dry when you're standing in deeper waters. It's adjustable, sturdy, has lots of pockets and a modest pricetag.
Honda Marine's BF250 outboard is a 24-valve 3.6-liter V6 that uses varia-ble valve timing and lift electronic control (VTEC). Programmed fuel injection delivers the precise amount of fuel and air to each cylinder for easy starts and instant throttle re-sponse. 20-, 25- and 30-inch shaft models.
FLEX '˜N GO TACKLE SATCHEL
On-the-go anglers will find a lot to like in Plano's new Flex '˜N Go Tack-le Satchel. It features adjustable built-in storage with a deep bin on one side and framework for the pair of swap-pable Plano 3600 StowAway boxes on the other, each Stowaway held with a flexible strap.
MSRP, Jacket $249.99-$269;
Cabela's Guidewear raingear now comes in four distinct series. Bass Angler (pictured) jackets and bibs are built with the tournament bass angler in mind. Xtreme parkas and bibs will help anglers fishing Northern lakes and rivers. Tidal jackets and pants offer lightweight, waterproof and breathable protection. River Runner jackets are perfect for wading anglers.
MSRP, $18.95 per pair.
The original Gear Grabbar is a unique way to hold lures and tools at the ready in boats. But the new Lure Hangar is a step beyond. This is a 12- by 16 1/2-inch plate,m ade to mount on your gunwhale, that holds 16 or more lures. There's enough room for a selection of jig, plugs, topwaters or whatever other baits you want to hang.
The new AV Micro is a complete underwater camera system that is the same size as a smart phone. On the boat or off the dock, use it to see where fish are hanging out. 3 1/2-inch diagonal display. Built-in rechargea-ble lithium ion batteries.
BERKLEY TRILENE XL
Berkley says they've improved a classic. New Trilene XL lines are now 10 percent stronger 20 percent more flexibility then they had been. Knot strength has also improved, said the company. Trilene XL has been around since 1972.
ABU GARCIA REVO SX
Abu Garcia's Revo SX baitcasting reel is now 25 percent lighter than before. The SX frame is crafted of a strong alloy while the handle sideplate are built with weight-reducing C6 carbon. Holds 145 yards of 12-pound mono.
SIMMS WEATHER GEAR
MSRP, jacket $349, bibs $299.
Simms designed its Contender Gore-Tex jacket and bibs for anglers who need reliability when they are motor-ing on the water at 70 mph in rain and wind. Waterproof and breathable. Cuffs are water tight and adjustable.
Anglers like their tools close by. And it's even better if it's connected to you so it doesn't go in the drink. T-Reign retractable gear tethers hold onto your pliers, hemostats or landing net. Several size options. Carabiner connects to D-ring, belt loop or strap, or use the stainless steel clip on belt or pack.