Fishing, Life, Love & The Great Outdoors
Late Ice And Open Water Walleye

Ice anglers that fish the lake Winnebago system for bluegill, perch and walleye are hoping that access remains good for long enough that the friday night dates start to feed actively. From what I’ve heard the panfish action has been hit or miss as has the walleye bite. At times keeping mobile has been the key to finding the right group of fish. Other times being patient and staying put on slower action has been what has provided dinner. Walleye are starting to stage out in front of the mouth of the Fox River in Oshkosh but once again, access and safe ice will be the key to whether those fish are being targeted by boat or on a bucket. Lake Poygan has also been seeing some ice action but areas of open water or thin ice should make for some dangerous conditions in some areas.

Same goes for the Wolf River in New London right now. While there is plenty of good ice, access is becoming an issue. There are some areas of open water along some shorelines but for the most part, the river is still frozen. Although boat traffic may be possible soon in Fremont, it’s not right around the corner in New London. The back waters have fishable ice but getting to some of them may be difficult as the high water is affecting the shore ice. What the high water is doing is picking up the ice layer and allowing the water underneath to interact with the warming shoreline. This helps to quickly degrade the ice conditions near the shore. Usually a long plank can fix the access problem but conditions this year are making it a more difficult task. I’ve already seen anglers using Jon boats and canoes to access fishable ice. That goes on right up to ice out. Box tip ups seem to be the most popular tool but some anglers do go out and long line jig for migrating walleye. Long line jigging uses a dacron line to carry a light jig downstream from the hole. This way an angler can work a sand bar by finding bottom then letting out another loop of line to help carry the jig farther downstream a few feet. The jigging motion helps keep the bait moving and if done correctly, an angler can cover a great deal of water. It’s a method pioneered in the area by bait shop owner Don Cashmore of New London, that numerous anglers are using to catch walleye this time of year.

There is a good possibility that the Wolf River will be fishable by boat from Gills Landing to the mouth at Lake Poygan by the time this issue hits the news stands. A channel is already open along the docks in Fremont and Gills Landing has opened due to the warm flow from the Waupaca River. As of Easter weekend, boat traffic was not recommended due to the amount of ice around. Great caution and minimizing wake to limit affect on shore ice would be my suggestion right now. Because of potential for ice jams, an angler going away from the boat ramp may not be able to return if large sheets of ice break loose. Once everything starts flowing a bit more, the ice will begin to break up in to smaller pieces and ice jams will become less of an issue. A wider channel will also allow more ice to flow but until it has a place to go, ice jams are a problem. But that won’t be the case for the next week or so due to the thickness of some of the ice in the upper regions of the river and backwaters. Some more warm temperatures and a bit more rain will do their part to melt the ice and get the 2008 spring walleye run going in full swing.

Need to scratch the itch sooner and not deal with as much ice? Well then head west to the Wisconsin River. From Nekoosa south to the Dells, the areas below the dams are open and people are producing fish. Walleye and sauger are fair game here but make sure to abide by the current regulations as there is a “slot size”. That rule requires all fish between 20 and 28 inches be returned to the river. There is still a 5 fish bag limit with a minimum of 15 inches with only one fish allowed over to be over 28 inches. Which in essence allows you to keep a trophy and requires all your “keeper” fish to be bigger the 15 inches and less then 20. The fish are good eating here too. It’s definitely not the Wisconsin River of decades ago. If you don’t care about the eating quality and want to catch a bunch of fish, then head to DePere. It’s a trophy only fishery at this time but that doesn’t limit you to catching and releasing dozens of walleye on any given day. Drifting and jigging the deep hole, river channel or bridge pilings can net you a bunch of fish as can casting crank baits near rocky structure, old docks and warm water discharges. It’s a great fishery, albeit a bit crowded during the daylight hours, especially on weekends. Still, there is ample room to fish and plenty of walleye to cooperate on most days. With fish over 12 and up to 14 pounds caught each spring, It’s always worth the effort to try.

For more information on topics such as this and the areas great fall fishing, make sure to check out Doc’s Wolf River Country.Com Joel “Doc” Kunz is a freelance outdoor writer / photographer published weekly by Outdoor Gazette. His work is also seen in many other Wisconsin and Midwest publications. He is a recent READERS CHOICE award winner and a member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers. His is a Pro Team member of Yar Craft Boats, Mercury Marine, Motorguide & Lindy Little Joe.


© Copyright 2009 - 2011 ~ Joel "Doc" Kunz - All Rights Reserved
No Use Or Copy Of The Material In This Website Allowed Without Written Consent By The Owner
Web Site Hosted By The Big Palm