Early morning to midday hours will be the cooler and most comfortable time of the day to get out on the Chetek Chain of Lakes as we go through another heat wave this week. Also, anglers are reminded to stay hydrated while you are out there fishing.
Bluegill anglers are finding some nice bluegills in water depths ranging from 5–9 feet in places where there is some wood structure at the bottom of the lake. The bluegills seem to be hanging tight to the bottom; set your bobber rigs so your hook is no more than a foot off the bottom. Vertical fishing over the side of the boat with a simple hook and sinker tipped with an earthworm, night crawler or a waxie just off the bottom a few inches can work real well for catching them. Basically it’s just like ice fishing for them.
Crappie anglers are finding active feeding schools of fish as they drift the main lakes of the Chetek Chain. You will find them suspending halfway down in the water column—from surface to bottom—of the main lakes. Vertical jigging your favorite crappie jig tipped with a crappie minnow, waxie or artificial baits, such as Gulp! minnows and other Gulp! products.
Northern pike anglers are finding some good action with the hot days of summer here. Anglers are finding active fish when fishing in the bays where there is good weed growth and wood structure to hold the bait fish. Fishermen are also finding pike off the sand and weed flats located around the Chetek Chain. Casting for them with baits, such as spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, chatterbaits, floating Rapalas, Daredevils and Mepps spinners, all work well to entice their thrashing strikes when retrieving these baits back to the boat.
Those targeting walleyes are finding a walleye or two when fishing the main lake points and the steeper bank shorelines with shade on them, usually in the mornings. Try fishing overhanging trees on the shoreline water surface, which creates bigger shade areas for them to hang out under. Jigs, or a plain hook with a 1/4-ounce sinker rig, tipped with a fathead minnow, night crawler or a leech can work well for bait to trigger them to strike as you drag it past them.
Anglers are also having success when trolling the edges of the weed flat and sand flat areas adjacent to the main lake; these areas have deeper, cooler water that fish are seeking out during these warm days. Trolling crankbaits, such as Berkley Flicker Shads, Shad Raps, Rapala CountDowns and many of the other Rapala baits out there on the market can all work well for trolling with artificial baits in their specified depths.
Bass anglers are finding some nice bass hanging tight in the weeds and lily pad areas of the lakes and bays. Plastic, floating scum frogs, buzzbaits and many of the other imitation surface and weedless baits can work well to entice their strike from under the thick weed cover, which also has cooler, muddy bottoms they are hanging in. Bass anglers are also finding some big bass biting when they are fishing the deeper, wood structures they find with their locators when scouting for deep water structure that may hold fish. Carolina rigs, drop-shot rigs, Texas-rigged worms or jig and craw rigs can all work well when fishing the deeper structure slowly.
Here is a cool thought for all the hot anglers fishing this week: negative 20-degree ice fishing weather is just six months away!
Good luck, safe travels and be sure to stay hydrated and healthy in this heat and COVID-19 times.