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If you go to Chequamegon Bay

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Chequamegon Bay's trophy smallmouth bass move into Kakagon and Sand Cut sloughs to spawn in the spring and usually remain there through the end of June, fishing guide Chris Beeksma says. After that, they move out into the main part of Chequamegon Bay, where they spend time on submerged rocks, weeds or areas with current, Beeksma said. Typically, they'll be in water 14 to 20 feet deep all summer and fall, he said.

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* Kakagon and Sand Cut sloughs are shallow, rarely deeper than 7 feet. In the spring, Beeksma likes using suspending jerkbaits, swim jigs and crankbaits to catch bass there. Best jerkbait color patterns are perch and purple/chartreuse. Swim jigs in crayfish colors produce best.

* Special regulations protect bass in Chequamegon Bay. All bass fishing in Wisconsin's northern zone (see map in regulations) is catch-and-release only from the opener until the third Saturday in June (June 21) and must be done with artificial lures only and barbless hooks. On Lake Superior, minimum size for smallmouth bass is 22 inches and the limit is one from June 21 to March 1.

* Trophy fishing regulations imposed for bass fishing on Lake Superior have made a difference, said Steve Schram, Lake Superior fisheries supervisor for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources at Bayfield. When the regulation was imposed in 1994, average size of smallmouth bass in Chequamegon Bay was 12 to 14 inches, he said. Now the mean size is 17 inches. Abundance of bass has increased, too, and probably has leveled off, Schram said.

* Smallmouth in Chequamegon Bay feed on crayfish, minnows, a few perch, trout perch and sculpins, Schram said.

* For fishing Kakagon and Sand Cut sloughs, Beeksma usually puts his boat in at Second Landing, a public landing three miles east of Ashland on U.S. Highway 2.

* For a list of bait shops and other information about Ashland and Chequamegon Bay, go to www.visitashland.com.

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