Kenosha County, Wisconsin
By Ken Poor
August and September are transitional months for the small lakes located in Southeast Wisconsin. As summer conditions give way to early fall patterns, anglers can enjoy some of the best top-water fishing of the year. Bass and northern pike action can be especially hot during this period.
The first lakes to show the effect of seasonal transitions are the small shallow lakes, typically under 300 acres and with a maximum depth of 30-feet. Some of the signs to watch for are, weed beds beginning to die off, water temperatures dropping slightly and abundant bait-fish in shallow areas.
Good fishing weather is generally a safe bet for the months of August and September on into October. Great fishing and the early fall transition make for a pleasurable time to be out on the water.
Typical of the smaller local lakes, Center Lake is located in Salem, Wisconsin, in south central Kenosha County, south of Highway 50, and west of Highway 83. To reach the lake from Highway 83, take County Road C, to County road B, AH east to 95th street and turn right on 95th street to the launch ramp.
Several, channels and large patches of lily pads are two of the most obvious features that fishermen will see when they visit 130-acre Center Lake. One main lake point on the east side of the lake defines the north and south ends of the lake.
Maximum depth in the north section of the lake is 28-feet and with 22-feet in the south end. Deep water swings in close to shore in some areas and for a small lake there are some fairly sharp drop-offs.
Water clarity is slightly murky in both the north and south ends of the lake, but the water clears up throughout the entire lake during early spring and late fall after the pleasure boats abandon the lake. Deep weed lines generally follow the 8 to 10-foot contour line in both the north and south end of the lake.
Northern pike are plentiful on Center Lake. I watched this young man catch this pike on a plastic worm close to the launch ramp.
There are two large weed flats, one in the northeast corner of the lake and a second one in the extreme south. Both flats have an interesting variety of plant growth including lily pads, cabbage, coon tail and the ever-pervasive milfoil. Weed control on Center Lake is accomplished with a weed harvester.
A beaver lodge, over hanging brush, and some downed trees can be found along the shorelines. Shallow water and dense weed growth make the channels tough to fish during the summer months. Bluegill and small bass are abundant in these channels. A better choice is to work the channel entrances early in the morning or late in the evenings for bass.
A small gravel launch ramp with parking for about ten vehicles is located on a channel, off the west side of the south bay, east of County Road AH, off 95th. Street. A small fee is charged for parking and use of the launch site. The ramp is open from 5 AM until 10 PM. Boat rentals are not available on the lake.
The best time to fish this lake during the summer and avoid the pleasure boats or water skiers is on weekdays and early in the morning on weekends. No wake hours are enforced on Center Lake from 7 PM until 10 AM.
The fish population on Center Lake is good even with an overabundance of carp and bluegill. Some stunting of bluegills is evident although it is easy to locate and catch good numbers of decent size fish. Bullhead are also plentiful and I have included them with catfish. These estimates are strictly my opinion.
Bass – Good numbers – Good size
Northern Pike – Good numbers – Fair size
Walleye – Incidental
Crappie – Fair numbers – Fair size
Catfish – Good numbers – Good size
Carp – Abundant
Bluegill – Abundant – Fair size
Small surface lures including, but not limited to, poppers and floating minnow imitators that can be worked over submerged weed beds and close to the lily pads or other types of cover are a good choice for bass on Center Lake. As a back-up or to work deep weed edges and weed pockets use a Texas rigged plastic worm or a plastic creature. Plastic frogs worked over lily pads is also a good technique for bass. Northern pike are plentiful on Center Lake. I watched this young man catch this pike on a plastic worm close to the launch ramp.
Slip floats and small ice-fishing jigs are a natural choice for the abundant bluegill on this lake. Use a bobber stop to set the depth of your float at about 18-inches to start and fish the open pockets in and around weed beds or lily pads. If the action is slow at 18-inches reset your float and fish deeper. Tip your jig with grubs, crickets, or leaf worms.
Fishermen visiting lakes located in residential neighborhoods, such as Center Lake, should be especially considerate of the people living in the area. Park only in designated places, don’t block driveways or the launch site, take your trash with you when you leave and keep the noise to a minimum. Common courtesy is an important part of protecting our fishing privileges.