Kenosha County, Wisconsin
By Ken Poor
Powers Lake, in my opinion, is one of the better bass lakes in Southeast Wisconsin. It also has a healthy population of northern pike, some walleye, and abundant panfish. The bad news for fishermen is that, typical of the lakes similar in size, in Southeast Wisconsin or Northeastern Illinois, access to this lake can be tough at times. This is especially true on weekends or holidays, because of crowded launch ramps and during the summer months pleasure boat traffic can be very heavy.
Don’t let lake access problems intimidate you. There are a number of simple steps that you can take when fishing Powers Lake or any other lake where crowded conditions are common. Plan your fishing trips to these lakes for early in the morning, at night, weekdays, and early or late in the season. During the summer rainy days can provide another overlooked opportunity to fish lakes that normally have heavy pleasure boat traffic.
Powers Lake is located in Southwest Kenosha County Wisconsin, approximately 10 minutes south of Highway 50 and about 15 minutes north of the Illinois/Wisconsin border. Highway P parallels the east side of the lake and County Road F and FF run along the north and west shores.
A unique combination of fish holding elements, cover and structure, plus abundant spawning habitat, has created a virtual “fish factory” within 460-acre Powers Lake. The key to fishing this lake successfully is to learn the location of the structural elements and how fish relate to them and the cover on them.
Three large under water humps are located in the northeast end of the lake. The deepest water in the lake, 33-feet, is also in this area. South of the humps there is a main lake point with shallow bays on the south and east sides of it. Fish will frequently move from the humps to the point and into the bays to feed or spawn depending on the season. Winds out of the north or west can really turn this area on.
On the south shore there is a large main lake point and the best cabbage beds in the lake are located on the deep-water side (north) of it. Deep water swings in close to all the main lake points and it’s a good strategy to pick the one receiving wind as a starting point when fishing this lake.
A shallow bar extends northwest from the south point to a point on the west shore of the lake. Some of the sharpest drop-offs in the lake are located on the northeast side of this
bar. Both ends of the bar, specifically where they create inside turns, and the deep-water sides of the bar are important fish holding areas. West of the bar is a large, relatively deep 29-foot hole.
Work the deep weed-lines around this hole for largemouth bass, northern pike and panfish. The rest of the south section of the lake is a large, shallow, weedy flat that warms up early in the season and is a good bass and panfish area. Later in the year dense plant growth makes this a tough but productive area to fish.
The water is relatively clear throughout most of the lake. It is not uncommon for some areas, such as the south bay, to become a little murky when pleasure boat traffic is at its peak. This is a temporary condition that normally passes within a couple of days.
Bottom composition varies considerably in different parts of the lake. The bays and the south end of the lake are primarily a muck bottom with numerous patches of sand or gravel. There is a narrow band of gravel or a combination of sand/gravel around most of the lakeshore. Generally, this band ends in two to four feet of water. The humps and sections of the mid-lake bar are also gravel, which makes them good spawning habitat for several species of fish.
Cabbage, coon-tail, lily pads, milfoil plus other types of deeper growing vegetation are plentiful, but not overwhelming, which is a good indication of the healthy conditions within Powers Lake. The deep weed-line generally ends in 12 to 14-feet of water. Well defined inside weed edges are common and a good choice for early season bass. Plant growth on the structural elements is the primary source of cover for fish in the lake.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources public launch ramp is located on the north end of the lake, off County Road F, about a ½ mile west of County Highway P. Parking is available for about 18 vehicles with trailers at this site and there is a fee for using the launch site.
Bass and walleye are the most heavily fished species on Powers Lake, closely followed by crappie and northern pike. In general, the shallow areas of the lake will produce excellent numbers of smaller fish. Bigger fish normally hold in the deeper water close to structure or along deep weed edges.
Largemouth Bass – Good Numbers – Good Size
Smallmouth Bass – Fair Numbers – Good Size
Walleye – Fair Numbers – Fair Size
Northern Pike – Good Numbers – Good Size
Crappie – Good Numbers – Good Size
Bluegill – Excellent Numbers – Fair Size
Wind conditions are an important consideration when deciding which lure to use on Powers Lake. On calm days, early in the morning or late evening, a floating minnow imitator twitched over shallow weed beds or along inside weed-lines can be very productive. Silver/black or fire tiger are a good color choice. Remove the split ring and tie your line directly to the eye of the lure.
Use a 6-foot medium light action spinning rod and spool your reels with a high quality, low visibility, 6 or eight-pound test line. Any time you have calm days and clear water it is very important to approach the target area quietly and make long cast to avoid alerting fish.
In a light wind try a wide body crankbait a medium-light action bait casting or spinning rod with a soft tip and spool your reels with line that matches your rod and reel. Use a slow, pull-pause retrieve and when you feel your lure ticking the weeds you are at the right depth.
A good alternative on Powers Lake, especially for areas with heavier weeds is a Texas rigged plastic worm or plastic creature. When fishing most lakes in Northeast Illinois or Southeast Wisconsin my two go to colors are watermelon with red flakes or chartreuse.
Typically, I will set-up a medium-heavy baitcasting rod with a 1/0 wire worm hook. and spool the reel with at least 17-pound test monofilament test line or comparable braided line. The line you use depends on the type of cover you are fishing. Heavy line will allow you to muscle fish out of thick weeds, brush or fallen trees. When using a 1/0 hook use a smaller profile plastic worm or creature that does not over-fill the hook gap.
Drift the outside edge of weed-lines close to the main lake points or along the bar. Start in the area that has been receiving wind the longest. Work the area thoroughly with a small crankbait and don’t hesitate to change colors. Use a slow but steady retrieve and adjust the speed so that your crank bait occasionally “tics” the tops of weeds. When you feel your lure tic the weeds, stop your retrieve and let it float up and clear of the weeds.
The techniques I have covered in this article are only intended to get you started. They are some of the methods that I use and I am confident they will produce fish for you. Some other techniques to consider include slip-floats for panfish, night fishing for bass or walleye, and jigging deep-water structure. Whichever technique you choose, and if you are looking for a lake with variety or the capacity to produce a wall hanger — Powers Lake is worth checking out.