Fishing, Life, Love & The Great Outdoors
Written For Outdoor Gazette
October 1, 2007

White Bass Take Center Stage In Fremont
By Joel “Doc” Kunz

There are a few places scattered around the country that lay claim to the title, White Bass Capitol of the World. In fact, even here in our own state, Winneconne and Fremont toss that moniker around at each other in playful jest. Sure, Fremont may have the inside track as far as notoriety but as Doug Nelson from Wolf River Resorts reminds, “They all have to go through here first, and we only let those we don’t want pass”. A wink and a smile sets the tone for the rebuttal and being one who primarily fishes the “F” pool, you can bet it let Doug know that only the weak and those too lazy to make the entire swim are caught in his area. Laughs precede the now more serious reply and the friendly gamesmanship is on. Truth is, Wolf River Country is the White Bass Capitol of the World. From the mouth just below Winneconne, to Fremont and even New London, the lower Wolf River has one of the most well known populations of white bass in the world. In my opinion, because of the usual dependability of the system to provide catchable year classes AND the fact that we have both a spring and fall run, I would give this area the inside track on claims to the title. Sure, there are some populations in the south that provide for bigger fish at times but there is no mirror to what we have here on the Winnebago system. Nowhere else on earth does a white bass population have the amount of area to roam unfettered by dams or fed by such quality flow as the waters of the Wolf and Fox Rivers. The shallow lakes and oxygenated flows provide for strong bait fish populations and give each and every year class a chance at adding to the over all biomass. What that means for anglers is that, if there is enough water flow to draw the fish to the spawning grounds, people are going to catch fish. Sure, some years are better then others as stable weather provides for the best fishing but generally there is a time period each spring and fall where anglers who know what they are doing catch literally coolers full of white bass. In fact, that is what is going on right now. According to my good friend Larry Martochko from Larry & Jan’s Resort in Fremont, some anglers are getting them in BIG numbers.

Yes, anglers who are finding the right schools of fish are catching all the white bass they care to clean. In fact, some are catching more then they bargained for and spending long hours at the cleaning table. Still, no one that I have met is complaining when they get done and look at the pile of BEAUTIFUL tasting delicate white filets. If you’ve never tasted them, you are missing a real treat. Again, proper care and filleting methods are the key to a great meal of fish. First, make sure to throw the fish you catch immediately in to a cooler full of ice. I like to make a little “slurry” and bring and extra, smaller cooler and a couple of extra bags of ice. As I catch and keep fish, I add more cubes to each “layer” of fish I add to the main cooler. That keeps the entire catch fresh and in the best shape for the cleaning table. That’s where making sure to cut out the red” mud line” off the back of the filet is important and the second key to a great tasting meal of white bass. Third is to soak the filets in milk for a bit in the refrigerator just prior to breading and deep frying. I like a light corn meal breading for white bass but I’ve done them cajun style, lemon pepper and with cracker crumbs. Babe Winkelman sent me some of his breading mix after I filmed a show with him where we caught a good number of nice white bass. It’s very light, had nice seasoning to it and was perfect with the while flakey filets. Hopefully a phone call will “net” me some more as a white bass fish fry is on the immediate horizon.

Crappie and walleye are playing supporting roles right now too. In fact, crappie action is very good throughout the entire river, not just in the New London area where most fall crappie anglers congregate. Walleye too are being caught throughout the system but anglers are having a tougher time finding large schools of fish. One trick is to fish with Lindy Timbr Rock jigs right in the trees. Not only will you catch crappie, but small mouth bass and walleye all in search of a good meal. The shallows are surprisingly full of fish too and those few anglers throwing small crank baits to shallow structure are catching a variety of fish, including cat fish. That is because the shallows are full of tiny minnows and young of the year fish right now. Recent rains have also brought the water level up slightly, which is a normal trend for this time of year. That in turn floods grass and other shoreline structure that have been out of the water all summer long and provides for fresh food and an area for the bait fish to hind, and feed. Obviously, food location equals fish location.

That brings up another point. Walleye this time of year are very opportunistic feeders. I have in the past done very well fishing on the first hump, hole or flat directly below a group of boats catching a lot of white bass. My guess is that they are picking up the injured minnows not eaten by the school of white bass and those pulled off the fisherman’s presentations. They always seem to be far enough down stream of the white bass so as not to have to compete directly with them for the food. This may be the same reason we catch quite a few walleye right in the trees when fishing for crappies. They are there to take advantage of an easy meal.
Look for walleye fishing to improve as the water cools down a bit and they start to stack up in smaller areas to feed. Right now the walleye are roaming and in a state of flux as daylight hours dwindle and the water cools. With so much food available, fishing can be difficult but expect that to change very quickly when it gets cold. THEN, it will be walleye time.

So come on out to Wolf River Country and enjoy the bounty that is the fall white bass run. It’s fun and fast fishing and they should continue to bite for most of this month, if not all of it. Of course, Mother Nature will determine how long this bounty lasts. Same with the crappie, walleye, small mouth bass and cat fish that ALL bite so well in the fall. For more information visit my web site including water level and temperature gauges, a fishing report and links to the fishing message boards I visit daily.

Joel “Doc” Kunz
For Outdoor Gazette


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