Fishing, Life, Love & The Great Outdoors
Written For Outdoor Gazette
August 20, 2007

Do Your Spring HOTSPOT Homework Now
By Joel “Doc” Kunz

There is one thing that learned many years ago that has helped me time and time again. A late night dose of wisdom from an early mentor told me that the better relationship I have with the river, the more fish I will catch each spring. I used to think that meant spending as much time on the river as humanly possible during the spring run. I’d take myself to the limits of my endurance in an attempt to try and “know” what the fish were doing. Although those hours did help me catch fish and learn a great deal of the river, the “time spent” lesson was a parable of sorts. What I soon learned was that his lesson was directed at my lack of time on the river during the rest of the year. Sure, I had a relationship with the river, but one based only on the spring bounty. I did not have an understanding of her pulse of rising and falling water levels and temperatures. I knew little of how feeder creeks, spring beds and shoreline make up affect the fishing. What I also learned was that spring isn’t the time to look for these areas.

On my web site I have a link to the water level gauge located on the Wolf River in New London. I watch it closely year round. What I have found is that August is routinely the lowest water level of the year. Ok, I know, it doesn’t take a genius to figure that one out, but the smart angler will use it to have a better relationship with the river. August is usually pretty dry and anyone can see how brown the grass has been. In fact, the Wolf River is actually near RECORD low levels. What that does is expose things in the river that seldom see the light of day. It also gives plants a chance to grow on certain shorelines and river sleuths a chance to find a few new potential fishing spots. The kind of spot where a rock pile, log or subtle change in a shoreline holds fish during the spring run.

August homework also pays off in dividends for those who like fall fishing. The recent rains are typical of fall weather as can be seen in the historical data of water levels. Each fall water levels rise a bit in general. Water levels can rise and fall throughout the late summer and early fall but again are generally about a foot or two higher then at summer lows. What that means on a year like this is that if we get a normal amount of rain, water levels will rise abruptly compared to current levels. What that will do is flood great deals of shoreline vegetation grown during the low water period. Anglers can bet that all types of game fish will use those weeds as feeding areas. With water levels at near record lows, the backwaters have been very low. That has limited the places where game fish can access and actually made northern pike fishing very good in the river this summer. Falling water temps will move the bait fish from their shallow water summer homes and in to the main river where these flooded shorelines should provide cover. A spinner bait is my presentation of choice for casting these weed beds and recently re-flooded timber. Small mouth bass, northern pike and walleye are typical catches. Yes, walleye on a spinner bait.

At my age I’m not getting out of the boat anymore but as a young man I would even wade shallow flats looking for features that will hold fish in the spring run. Many of the washboard flats I like to fish in the spring have as little as two or three feet of water on them right now. I’ve found spring beds and clam beds by walking the river during the low water period of the year. As a young man I’d be in and out of the Jon boat constantly on a hot summer day. Dangling from the floating boat I could feel the temperature changes in the river as we drifted over some of the flats that were too deep to walk. I learned a lot about fishing during the summer on the Wolf River. That is once I learned the importance of having a better relationship with the river.

So, do your homework now and you should catch more fish in the future. Be careful, water levels are extremely low. Be aware of obstructions even in the middle of the channel and make notes on a map of any that you may see. There are plenty of great places to swim or stop for a lunch break, you’ll see groups of boats and the associated bikini’s marking the best ones. Small mouth bass, catfish and a few walleyes are biting right now. This fishing should only get better as water levels rise and temperatures drop. For more information on the fishing visit my web site

Joel “Doc” Kunz
For Outdoor Gazette


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