It’s like Christmas for most outdoor enthusiasts, the opening day of the inland fishing season. After a long winter, it’s time to catch some game fish. Opening day for game fish on most inland waters is the first Saturday in May.
Walworth County in Southeastern Wisconsin is blessed with many great fishing waters. The county has one of the deepest lakes in the state in Lake Geneva along with a bunch of shallow fast warming bodies of water such as Lake Como and Whitewater Lake.
In early May, Lake Geneva has some disadvantages being so deep and big. The water tends to be really cold and the fish aren’t usually that active. Most of the smallmouth bass are being caught suspended, not associating with any structure. They can also be very active chasing baitfish pods near their spawning flats. I work 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 focus on are the near the South Shore Club (formerly the Military Academy), Elgin Club or near Knollwood.
Largemouth bass will be the most active in the shallows, in such places as 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 be in the warmer shallow waters around the emerging weeds and shallow structure. The best presentation is Thill slip bobbers with Lindy’s Toad ice jigs. I prefer using wax worms or leaf worms. My favorite bluegill spots are Abbey Harbor, Geneva Bay near the library or by the South shore club.
Statewide, Delavan Lake is known as one of the best fishing lakes. Since it is so well known as an awesome fishery, it will also be one of the busiest lakes on opening day. The crappie fishing has already been pretty good for the first few weeks of April. 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 also produces 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 Lodge.
While Delavan and Geneva are both great for fishing, personally I prefer some of Walworth Counties 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 the opening day throughout the county. Turtle Creek has a decent smallmouth and panfish 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 the opening day!