Delavan Lake is a large 1900+-acre body of water that runs as deep as 52 feet. The lake is home to Muskie, Northern Pike, Walleye, Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass and Panfish. The lake is prolific with fish and some in the trophy range, but you do have to know where and when to find them.
Access to the Lake
Delavan Lake has three boat launch areas:
- At Highway 50 and S. Shore Drive — Great area for bait and tackle.
- At the end of Blue Gill Court — No services except for boat launch.
- Off N. Shore Road — Not suitable for a trailer boat launch, but access for rafts, kayaks, canoes, and small skiffs. No structured Parking.
- Delavan Township Park — Small craft launch, no drive-in boat launch. Access to the lake for shore fishing.
During the summer and peak fishing seasons, the lake is heavily used. Expect a wait time to launch a boat in the boat ramps anytime between 9am – 2pm. The best times to launch a boat are early in the morning and evenings.
Why Fish At Delavan Lake?
The lake is recovered from treatment, which took place in 1992 to control non-native fish populations and to adjust the lakes high phosphorous levels. Phosphorous is a key ingredient in algae blooms that can cause bacterial outbreaks and dead zones. Phosphorous is a run-off element from overspecialization from lawns and golf course care.
The result of the treatment is a well-stocked lake that has had time to prosper. In conjunctions with lower take limits and fishing regulations that help protect the bigger fish, anglers who fish here today have excellent chances of battling a trophy fish.
Where to Find Fish
The lake’s food chain is such that the panfish are a major link in the food chain of the predatory fish such as muskie, walleye and bass.
Northern Pike and Muskie
If you want to target the bigger fish — muskie and northern pike — in summer, the best place to find them is in sheltered covers where the aquatic vegetation has formed a nice mat on the surface. These fish are lurkers and must be tempted to strike either with live bait or with a lure or fly. They are very sensitive to the swimming patterns of other fish and use signals to locate prey. For that reason, cast your lure or fly out and let it sink. Try to mimic a struggling fish or minnow by mixing the reel-in speed with fast, sink, slow, slow, fast, sink type of patterns. Tip: Delavan Lake is murky so think bright spoons, bright lures and minnow patterns.
If you plan to fish for muskie or northern pike, be sure to rig for these fish. The northern pike has well over 700 razor sharp teeth in its mouth and will snip monofilament line without a care. To deal with those teeth, use steel leaders rated for northern pike or muskie.
Walleye are generally best fished early in the morning and then again in the evening, especially if you happen into areas of the lake that are clear or tea-stained in color. Because the lake here has low viability you can target walleye throughout the day. To do so, think brightly colored lures, spoons and jigs. Since trolling for walleye is legal on Delavan Lake, don’t forget to pack crankbaits. You can find the best lures for the time of year your visiting at the local bait and tackle store off highway 50 and S Shore Road.
The best place to find big walleye is around the weedy patches or off rocky points where there are plenty of submerged structures. Walleye like to lurk when they get large, but as juveniles, they swim in packs. If you are in the depths around an island or somewhere there might be rocky structures, use a jig.
Bigmouth and Smallmouth Bass
One has to admire the vision of bass. They are keen to take a fly or a lure that mimics naiads, nymphs or that has action. The bigger smallmouth bass is a temperamental fish and very territorial. You can often find them 30 or so yards off a rocky point and along rock shelves. If you manage to tempt one to strike, move at least 100 yards away and you will likely find its rival.
Bass are sensitive to water temperature. If the water is warm, try mid-level areas of the lake, especially around a drop-off from shallow into deeper water. In the early mornings and during the cooler times of the day, the bass will be in the shallows hunting for panfish. Mid-depth is anywhere from 20-35 feet in depth. On really hot days, you may need to fish deeper still. Use the lake’s contour map to find the ideal spots to fish for bass.