On the Lakes: Opening day is finally here

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Dave Duwe | May 3, 2016

Mark your calendars for Saturday, May 7. The opening day of inland fishing season finally arrives after the long winter and cool spring. Opening day for game fish on most inland waters in Wisconsin is the first Saturday in May

For those of us in Walworth County, we are very fortunate to have some great fishing lakes. The county is home to one of the deepest lakes in the state, Geneva Lake, as well as many smaller, shallow lakes that warm up much faster, such as Lake Como, Whitewater Lake and Lauderdale Lake. Delavan Lake is one of the best lakes in Southeastern Wisconsin, if not the entire state. There is an abundance of both pan fish and game fish.  Most of the fish are shallow in early May, making for some great days on the lakes.

With the cold spring we've had, early May might be a little tough on Geneva Lake. Such a big and deep body of water will take some time to warm up. This will lead to some sluggish fishing with inactive fish.

Most of the smallmouth bass will be suspended, not associating with any structure. They also spend their time chasing bait fish pods near their spawning flats. Look for the suspended fish in 12-15 feet of water.  My preferred presentations are Kalin Grubs in avocado color fished on a darter head or Arkie Jigs Shinee Hinnee (a small crappie hair jig that resembles a shiner).  The spawning flats I like are near the South Shore Club (formerly the Northwestern Military Academy), Elgin Club or Knollwood.

Largemouth bass will likely be most active in the shallow bays like Trinkes, Abbey Harbor or in Geneva Bay. I like using baits such as a Yum Dingers or a Texas rigged plastic worm. Green pumpkin or watermelon are always my best colors. The larger bluegills will also be in these same shallow bays. The best presentation is Thill slip bobbers with Lindy's Toad ice jigs. I prefer using wax worms or leaf worms.

Since Delavan Lake is so well known as an awesome fishery, it will also be one of the busiest lakes on opening day. Typically the crappie bite is good long before opening day, but this year we've had some cool temperatures so it's taking longer than normal for the bite to be strong. The best depth is in the 8-12 foot depth range. I like mini-mites or small plastics in purple or yellow.  For live bait fishermen, Thill slip bobber rigs tipped with small fat head minnows can also produce a lot of fish. Look for the fish by Browns Channel or by the island on the west end of the lake.

Walleyes in early May are shallow. Delavan is very clear this time of year and that can make the walleyes a bit skittish. The fish are in the emerging weeds in 5 to 10 feet of water. Night or low light conditions produce the most fish. Trolling shallow diving crankbaits typically produces the most fish.

Largemouth bass will be cruising the shallows in pre-spawn. The best approach is Yum Dingers fished Texas rigged in 3-5 feet of water near the outlet and by Lake Lawn Resort.

While Delavan and Geneva are both great for fishing, personally I prefer some of Walworth County's shallower lakes for opening day. The lakes tend to have a much higher water temperature and that helps keep the fish more active. The smaller lakes also receive a lot less fishing pressure and can be very productive. My favorite lake choices are Whitewater, Como and Tripp lakes. Work the shallow emerging weeds in 3 to 5 ft of water for largemouth bass. My lure choices are a Booyah white spinnerbait in ¼-oz. or a Texas rigged Yum Dinger in green pumpkin. Being such shallow lakes, the weed growth can be tremendous so early May can be the best fishing of the year on these bodies of water.

Shore anglers in Walworth County can have good action as well on opening day throughout the county. Turtle Creek has a decent smallmouth and pan fish bite along with the requisite suckers and carp. Shore anglers are welcome to fish in the Town of Delavan's community park for a small fee. The Kettle Moraine State forest also has some great shore opportunities on and near Whitewater Lake.

The opportunities are abundant here in Walworth County. Come and enjoy opening day.  For guide parties contact Dave Duwe of Dave Duwe's Guide Service at 262-728-8063.

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