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Destination: Big Green Lake, Wisconsin

by Jay Angel

It's not the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but it is right next door, and the fishing is just as good. So    when professional guide and good friend Mike Norris invited me to come up for some fishing in June, I jumped at the chance. June through September is prime time on Wisconsin lakes and the camping is great too.

I stopped my old stomping grounds of central Illinois to do the obligatory friends and family visits, then pushed the rest of the way to Wisconsin. The lake was crystal clear, quite the change from the mysteriously murky waters of Louisiana.

At 6 AM it was time to fish. After a short trip across the lake, we stopped in a bay that had a sand bottom with scattered rocks. Mike pointed out that in lakes like Big Green crayfish can be found in 2 -12 feet of water along rocky bays and shorelines. These were the delicacies the fish would be chasing. It was time to get to work, and he handed me a 7’ ML Grandt Cuda spinning rod.

The Cuda rod had a 1/10-ounce Z-Man Shroomz Ned jig tied on with a 2.75-inch Z-Man TRD- one of the best, most often imitated Ned stick baits and still hands-down a favorite among tournament pros and weekend warriors. Z-man uses a floating, ElaZtech® material with 10X the durability of commonly used formulas. Mike commented that in the region we were fishing, the Ned Rig had almost magical fish-catching prowess and was one of his favorite techniques for catching smallmouth feeding on crayfish in 8 or less feet of water. For deeper water it is best to switch to a 1/5-ounce Shoomz jig to maintain contact with the bottom.


The Ned Rig is a versatile lure used to imitate crayfish darting around rocks. The unique design and buoyancy of the Z-Man TRD allow the worm to stand up and mimic a crayfish in a defensive posture when paused. The Ned Rig can be slowly dragged, hopped, or held in place. To prove his point on its effectiveness Mike caught a fish on his first cast. “You will want to make long casts because these fish are spooky in this clear water,” he said while unhooking and releasing the smallmouth.


I made another cast, causing this one to fly a lot further. I left the bale open so the Ned rig would fall straight down in a more natural manner. I began shaking the rod after my lure hit the bottom. I felt a hit almost immediately and attempted to set the hook missing the first hit of the day. “Leave your bait there and work it some more because they usually come back.” I took Norris’s advice and was hooked up a few seconds later.


We thoroughly worked the area using the Ned rigs, catching several other smallmouths as Mike maneuvered the boat around the bay. “Would you like to go looking for largemouth bass now?” he asked.  “Of course!” I replied.


By this time, the sun was high, and we were in the heat of the day. Mike commented that the largemouth would be hiding under docks and in the shadows near shore. He handed me a rod rigged with a wacky-rigged Yamamoto Senko. Mike and I have been fishing together for over 20 years, so when he handed me a rod with the wacky rig we both just grinned knowing that Mike was the man who introduced me to wacky rigged Senkos over two decades ago.

We cast under the docks a bit and then he moved in closer to shore. I made a mighty cast with the Senko toward a shadow close to the shore. As soon as that wacky worm hit the water, I felt the line twitch. Furiously, I reeled up the slack to set the hook. As I felt the line tighten, I set the hook and felt the weight of the fish. “This is a biggun, Mike!” I exclaimed.

“Well then, get that fish in here so we can take pictures!” he replied.


I had a lot of line out due to the length of the cast, so when I hooked it, it took me a while to fight it back to the boat. It was all worth it when I saw the big largemouth in the clear water. I pulled the bass out of the water, and we took a few photos and then we released it back into the water.


We caught a lot of bass that day. We rounded it out by casting docks and catching several more bass and a few northern pike. A perfect day in the upper Midwest.


Body of water: Big Green Lake, Wisconsin- a 7,346-acre lake located in Green Lake County. It is the deepest natural inland lake in Wisconsin- max 236 feet- and it is known for its crystal-clear waters and excellent fishing opportunities incl. lake trout, brown trout, walleye, northern pike, smallmouth and largemouth bass. It has several public boat launches and fishing piers, as well as several marinas and boat rental facilities. It is  popular for boating, water skiing, and other water sports, and has several camp grounds, resorts, and restaurants on or near its shores. Other recreational opportunities include hiking, biking, and golfing, and it is within easy driving distance of Wisconsin Dells and the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area.

Guide: Mike Norris, (630)842-8199

Rods: 7’0” ML Grandt Cuda spinning

Lures: Yamamoto Senko, 2.75-inch Z-Man TRD, 1/10-ounce Z-Man Shroomz jig



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