By Jon Giacalone
Lakes Poygan, Winneconne, and Butte des Morts are the "upriver lakes" of the vast Winnebago system, covering a vast 27,466 acres. The spring runs of walleye and white bass draw thousands of anglers to Wisconsin from across the nation each year. This fishery boasts nearly 20 species of gamefish and panfish with featured species including walleye, white bass, channel catfish, perch and crappie.
A word of caution: These large, shallow lakes can become quite rough in windy conditions. Constant monitoring of weather conditions is advisable for anglers, especially those with small boats.
The prevailing winds on Poygan, Winneconne and Butte des Morts are out of the west. This tends to churn the waters along the eastern shorelines, while the west sides remain relatively calm and free of debris.
Look for active fish to primarily be shallow in the murky water along the east side of the lakes. Decreased light penetration and an abundant forage base are the principal attractions for both panfish and gamefish. These conditions often lead to better results than in deeper waters.
Interactive Lake Map
For a more detailed lake map and up-to-the-minute fishing reports, follow the Lake Poygan, Winneconne & Butte des Morts waterway page on Fishidy.
Here are some tips for locating and catching fish in Lakes Poygan, Winneconne & Butte des Morts:
- During summer, walleye situate themselves in the midlake mud flats to follow schools of forage. Trolling and drifting are the most common methods for covering these large areas of water. Successful presentations for trolling include nightcrawler harnesses, bottom bouncers with purple and blue blades, and a variety of crankbaits.
- During the spawn, largemouth bass remain in the cuts and behind breakwalls. They move into the main lake near the cane beds after spawning. Seven-foot rods with 14- to 17-pound line are recommended for flipping the edges of cane beds. Summer bass respond to Texas-rigged worms or jigs and worms.
- The cane beds, scattered along the shallow bar that divides Winneconne from Poygan are locally referred to as the "Hindenburg Line." Respectable northern and walleye catches plus panfish are taken from the reed grass edges.
- On Lake Butte des Morts, west of Oakwood Point is a rock bottom, for about 200 feet, with water depths of seven to eight feet. Jig and live bait combos take walleye and smallmouth bass. Try shallow-diving crankbaits in hot colors for pike and muskie. Bucktails, topwater baits, and twitch baits in carp and walleye colors are effective.
- On Lake Poygan, directly south of Old Indian Point is a large three- to four-foot-deep reef that extends over a quarter-mile offshore. Shallow rushes, along the west side of the point that drops off rapidly to six-plus feet, attract largemouth bass. Use jigs n' pigs and plastic worms. In late summer fish perch, crappie and white bass along the east side of the point. During June, July, September and October, work the reef edges and steep-dropping zones for walleye.