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  • Writer's pictureTodd Martinson

Northern Wisconsin River Fishing Report

Updated: Jun 8, 2018

Another solid weekend of Smallmouth action in Northern Wisconsin on the Wisconsin River.

Friday: I fly fished poppers all day with my dog Simms. She is annoying as she barks on each cast but I barely noticed as the action was red hot. Fish were just off the shallows in about 2 feet of water. I would cast to about a foot off the bank into 6" or so of water and then right when the water color changed where I couldn't see bottom anymore I would get a take. Most strikes were subtle but once hooked all fish battled strong in the current and made for an enjoyable afternoon. I told my students on Thursday that I was going for a 30 fish day on Friday and I no doubt reached that point before finishing fishing late afternoon Friday.

A good dozen of those fish were northern in the 16" to 26" range but the Smallmouth caught were all 17"-19". All on Topwater, it was awesome!

Saturday: I was amped up and ready to go again. I was super excited as I was taking my Mom and a family friend out. We fished a different section of river closer to the cabin. They gear fished with Joined Rapalas, Silver Spoons, Poppers, and a torpedo. Topwater ended up being the way to go. Fish were not as active as Friday. Both ladies put their lures in the correct locations but the fish just didn't cooperate like they did on Friday. We managed a few northern and Stephanie caught a few Smallmouth in the few hours we fished. It was great to be out with family and friends sharing what I love to do.

Sunday: I was determined to fish near the section I had so much luck on Friday. I headed out around 10:00a.m., fished for about 15mins, saw two Smallmouth following my fly but ended my trip early as my dog was being obnoxious barking at least 3 times on every cast. I headed home. It's about 40mins each way so I had already burned up much of my day with the trip.

But...I stopped by the cabin and my stepdad Jim was ready to fish. We hit a different section of the Wisconsin near the cabin and fished hard and only managed a few strikes and two small northern. Full disclosure, I did miss/lose a pretty nice fish. I never saw it, but the swirlsplash and bend of my rod was enough to let us know this was a big fish. I try not to give excuses when I miss fish but rather learn what to do differently next time. I'm thinking I had gotten so used to catching the little snake northern that when this fish ran I didn't give him the line he wanted to take but rather pulled hard on the line to set the hook again. In so doing,

he was going one way, my line/rod was going the other direction and the hook came out.

It was a tough pill to swallow but we kept fishing hard.

Still, not much action. We fished some cabbage weeds I knew would hold fish but really only had one or two solid strikes with one small northern to the boat. This was a section of river that fished really well the last few weeks but it had really warmed up to almost 66 degrees in the back bays.

We made a decision to move upriver and find cooler water with more of a current. Two things happened. 1. We found the cooler temps and current 2. The strong NW wind laid down. I am not sure which or both was the deciding factor but the fishing went from o.k. to Oh my goodness!

I went all topwater and Jim was throwing a silver minnow. I was starting to get a few fish but he wasn't seeing much action. Then I started catching fish like I was on Friday. Every location you think a fish would be there was a fish there. So much fun. I encouraged Jim to throw a popper on his baitcasting rod so he could join in the fun too. Sure enough, after he made the change the fishing was on for him too. We both ended up with a bunch of fish to the boat including the two nice smallmouths pictured above. The fishing was so hot that even though I had a 4-hour drive home I stayed fishing until 7 p.m. I just couldn't leave with the fishing so good!

One quick note on the poppers. When fishing poppers with a gear rod or a fly rod please remember the pause in between the pop is when most fish strike. In fact, when I had stepped on my line or was just reaching for something, I let my popper just float downstream and caught a few fish.

Also, when popping with spinning rods make sure to stop reeling after the pop. I have found you want to make a bubble pop, not a splash. Popping and then reeling right away sometimes does not give finicky fish the chance to come up and hit your popper.

Like any advice I give take what you want, I am only explaining what has worked best or is working currently for myself and/customers.

Now stop reading, call me, and let's get out on the water!

-Teacher Todd


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