Great fall weather this past week made irresistable a short trip to Madison, Wis., to fish with an old friend on Lake Mendota. Lake Mendota is a really beautiful 10,000-acre lake whose shoreline is home to both the University of Wisconsin and the State Capitol complex.
The nice weather provided some some great fall fishing for smallmouth and muskie on this lake. The day began with fishing the southeast shore, where the weed line comes out to about 12 feet of water and the area has a hard bottom outside the weeds. We started fishing for muskie, hoping to find them up shallow-feeding on bait fish in the morning. After tying on black/red bucktails and 9-inch jointed baits to start out, we worked the entire shoreline without getting a boil or a follow.
There was still little action after a switch to 1-oz. spinnerbaits and 7-inch swimbaits. Several other boats, who were fishing the same general area, said no one was getting any action. We decided to switch tactics and locations and ran up the lake to the University campus shoreline to try and pick up a few smallmouth bass.
The shoreline here has a deep weed line and a rock-strewn bottom just ideal for smallies. We chose a tube bait (goby colored), and a dropshot rig with a “Gulp 3” leech. It wasn’t a long wait before there was some action – after about the 10th cast of the tube bait the line went tight. I set the hook into a smallmouth bass and the fight was on. He made three hard runs and did one really dramatic jump trying to toss the lure, but I got him to the boat. After a brief weigh-in (3 lb., 12 oz.) and a photo, it was back into the lake.
While I was releasing my fish, my partner hooked into another nice smallie on the dropshot rig. Over the next hour and a half we caught 12 nice smallmouths, three bluegills and two small largemouth bass all within sight of the University of Wisconsin campus dorms and student housing. Al in all, it was a pretty nice ending to the day on Lake Mendota. Lake Mendota is a good place to try for someone looking for someplace new. It has a lot of great fishing available for smallmouth and muskie, but it also produces some good catches of walleye, northern pike, panfish, catfish – and it’s only about two and a half hours away.
Until next edition, keep a tight line.
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