Everything you need to know to plan your FISHING TRIP to Boulder Jct.
Crappies are off the beds and out into their summer schooling haunts.
Large and Smallmouth bass are up on the beds in the thick of the spawn and Musky have been cruising the evening shallows looking for easy prey.
Walleye bite has been consistently good on Tuffy Fathead minnows but water temps are getting warm enough that nightcrawlers and leeches are starting to be effective also.
SPRING PERCH FISHING
Ice out until the summer solstice.
Prespawn- Shortly after the walleyes have finished up their spawning perch will begin their annual procreation session. The key to this time of year is shallow water. Any shoreline or structure relatively close to shore with sand and gravel, along with the presence of bullrushes, scattered submerged timber, and/or new weed growth will hold these aggressive feeders leading up to the spawn. Medium to "Tuffy" fatheads are the preferred live bait of choice, as their appetite is voracious just after ice out. Slip bobbers are an efficient way to maximize your catching potential, as Wisconsin allows 3 lines per person. If you are having difficulty locating fish in shallow flats adjacent to their spawning structure, try fan casting with 1/32-1/16 oz. jigs. Two options here are either a plain jig head tipped with a fathead, or a jig head dressed with 1.5"-2" soft plastics. Other options include jigs with hair, marabou, or feather material.
Perch are a spooky species and stealth should be a priority. Gear-wise, 6.5'-7.5' ultra-lite to light rods paired with small spinning reels (1000 size for most brands) with 4#-6# monofilament (Trilene XL, clear or low-vis green), or Seaguar InvizX fluorocarbon (clear lakes) is optimal! If fishing around bullrushes or timber, bump up to 6# test line to avoid break-offs. Thin diameter braid can be more of a curse than a benefit. The lightest/thinnest diameter braid I ever recommend is Power Pro v2 SuperSlick in 10# test weight. In any substantial wind, the equivalent 10# Daiwa J-Braid, Berkley X9, or other equivalent braids while casting crosswind or into the wind will cause a mess that will ruin your day.
Once surface water Temps have reached 55F, perch should be finished spawning. Post spawn perch tend to be less aggressive in their feeding habits, but usually seek shallow weed growth as it provides protection from predators and ample food sources. Crappie minnows, wax worms, red/leaf worms are the "go to" live bait options during this phase of the spring bite. Again, slip bobbers rule, but I prefer gold Aberdeen hooks in size 6 or 8 compared to jigs tipped with live bait due to their less aggressive attitude post spawn. This period will last through Memorial Day Weekend, and possibly into June depending on water Temps and the impending bug hatches, mainly the annual mayfly hatch. At some point in early to mid-June, bug hatches will start to occur in every lake. Dragonflies have been spending time developing in the deep mud flats, and shortly after ice out begin their migration to the shallows to transition from their nymph stage (hellgramite) to full-fledged dragonflies. They need bullrushes or some type of structure, whether piers, brush, rocks, or trees along shore to shed their exoskeleton and dry their newly formed wings. At this time, perch, along with every other small to mid-sized species in the lake will be gorging themselves on hellgramites or dragonflies that accidentally contact the water surface while chasing mosquitoes, their preferred prey...making the dragonfly our best friend!
By June 10th or so, the main dragonfly hatch should be finished, and now the dreaded impending mayfly hatch is upon us. This is one of the most difficult times of the year to catch any species of fish, period! Not to worry, there are plenty of presentations to "match the hatch".
My personal favorite involves using slip bobbers with the smallest leeches you can find...panfish-sized preferred or medium leeches at most. Small Aberdeen hooks, vertical orientated jigs, or small olive and cream colored nymphs(check your local fly shop or online) with gold tungsten beads for a tiny bit of weight and "bling" are deadly. Other options include trolling small butterfly/smiley blades in natural colors(purple being my favorite) with a few beads leading to a size 4 "slow death" hook tipped with 1/3 of a nightcrawler, 1/2 of a beaver tail, or small leech. Occasionally, small crankbaits trolled over the mud flats will trigger bites, but this technique should be reserved for the most active feeding windows, whether low-light periods, approaching weather fronts, or solunar major and minor feeding windows. Again, deep mud flats are key, and using your electronics are key to locating actively feeding fish suspended throughout the water column! You will know the mayfly hatch is happening when the water surface is coated in exoskeletons of the mayfly. Good luck, summon your "inner perch" and always soak up the positive vibes nature provides us!
Until next time...this is Jigs Johnson,
NHS PRO STAFF
Tips & Tricks...
by Lee “jigs” Johnson
Come on into the store and we can help you get set up.
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Boulder Jct. Wisconsin