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The 2014 Wisconsin northern zone musky season opens up this weekend and thousands of eager anglers are getting ready to take to the water with one thing on their mind, catching a big musky. We just came through one of the longest and coldest winters on record and anglers are going to have to change things up a bit if they are going to be successful.

Most lakes are way behind with fresh or new green weeds limiting the areas for muskies to hold. With that said targeting these predators leaves us with few options like rocks and wood. I would start by looking at the backwater areas in the lake and off the main river channel. I would target shallow muddy stump filled bays with less than 5 feet of water. Small bucktails, twitch baits, and small rubber baits are all going to work well under these conditions. As the day progresses and the water warms up I would then start targeting any rocky areas along the river or in the lake.

The walleye bite has been very good this past week with some very nice fish being caught. Most of the fish are in 10- to 16-feet of water holding tight to the bottom. Jigs tipped with fathead minnows or plastics have been taking the majority of the fish as well as running slip bobbers with baits set within a foot of the bottom.

The crappie bite has been the best I have seen in years. I cannot remember a year when the bite was this good. A lot of fish are holding in shallow water in and around traditional spawning grounds. We have been catching most of the crappies by running a small jig tipped with a tube or minnow (both work very well) below a tiny bobber. Set the bait about a foot under the surface and cast it in towards the structure or area the crappies are holding. The action can be fast and furious and these slabs take the bait.

In addition to the multiple game fish we are catching we have been seeing quite a few white bass and catfish as well. Most of these are incidental to walleye and crappie fishing but non-the-less these are some of the strongest, hardest, fighting fish in the area. Don't be fooled by their size either because pound of r pound they will hold their own against any other species.

With Memorial Day weekend here many of us are going to be travelling. Don't forget to stop in at your local Kwik Trip Store and gas up, and while your at Kwik Trip check out the Fishing Sweepstakes Give-away. Make sure that you sign up for a chance to win a full day guided fishing trip with Hooksetters.

More on fishing: Fishing news from around the state | Your fishing photos | Build a map | Read fishing reports

Have a great week.

Phil Schweik writes about his seasonal hunting and fishing patterns in Central Wisconsin along with tips and tactics on how to be successful while you are in the field or on the water.

Phil Schweik is a lifelong resident of Central Wisconsin who lives in Mosinee. Phil is a fishing and hunting guide for Hooksetters Guide Service and a professional musky tournament fisherman. He can be reached by checking out the Hooksetters’ website at www.hooksetters.biz.

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