Fishing, Life, Love & The Great Outdoors
Written For Outdoor Gazette
November 19, 2007

Deer Week Walleyes In Wolf River Country
By Joel “Doc” Kunz

One of my favorite things to do is fish for walleye during the week of deer hunting. Usually the river traffic is quite slow due to the abundance of outdoorsmen in the woods. But don’t forget your blaze orange. Letting hunters know where you are and being visible in the boat, are as important as being visible in the woods. Here in Wolf River Country there are lots of deer and deer hunters in the woods. Many of those wooded areas are along the river. In fact, from the Northport bridge to Fremont, 95% of the shoreline is wooded. And, except for a few areas of homes and businesses, a vast majority of the area is uninhabited. Add that good deer population and you’ve got potential danger. That is, unless you take steps to protect yourself.

Beside blaze orange clothing, I like to take a blaze orange cap and put it on top of my stern light. This puts a signal up high in the boat that stays there. I also like to play the radio at this time of year. I bring along a boom box, find a good station and keep it to a comfortable level. I also do not like to venture too far from the boat ramp unless I’m fishing just down stream from New London or in the Fremont area. These populated areas have less woods, but there is still enough huntable land around that wearing blaze orange is recommended. From the “Cable Crossing” down stream to Partridge Crop Lake the make up of the land is mostly woods. My personal advise is to stay away from that area for walleye fishing. There are really only a couple of good holes for the fish to hold in, and lots of hunters. In fact, there have been very few times in the fall that I have ever found the fish holding in this section of river. Even if they are, in my opinion, there is too much hunting going on here to be out fishing. During deer week I like to find an area of deep water and anchor up. I feel being stationary, visible and having the music going help make us safe. Still on one occasion even with all these precautions, we ended up in the line of fire. A buck jumped up that had been laying in the tall grass along the river just a few feet from our position. It doubled back on the group driving the section of woods after the hunter in the stand ahead missed. It was then shot while directly between us and the hunter closest. His apology and statement of it being the first buck he’d seen in ten years did little to calm us as we were just 30 or 40 yards from the him and in direct line. Had his slug not hit the deer it would have surely come very near if not hit the boat or someone in it. They grabbed their deer and ran, we checked our coveralls.

Low water has scattered the fish but in general I expect the walleye to show up in big numbers in the lower end of the river just prior to freeze up. Chico’s Landing could be a favorite starting point of mine this fall as the deep water between there are Lake Poygan usually hold good groups of walleye. There have been lots of small fish around from the 2005 or 2006 year class but there has also been quite a few nice size keepers mixed in. Of course catching a limit of keepers means finding the right group of fish. That could mean finding a small spot or locating the school of bigger fish on a particular bend. The bigger fish could be using the top of the hole or spread out on the flat below the big school of smaller fish. Some times you just have to be happy catching the smaller fish and the one in every 5 that is a keeper. No matter what you find as far as over all size, I expect most anglers who venture out to have success catching walleye. That is, enough success to take home a nice meal of tasty fish.

A jig and minnow is still the best combination I can think of for catching walleye here in Wolf River Country. One important note is to not over look the role color plays this time of year. Over the years I have learned that sometimes the walleye like very basic jig colors like yellow, black or blue in the fall. At other times, chartreuse, orange, pink or combinations like “fire tiger” or clown patterns seem to catch the most fish. I have also gone to a drop shot rig on more occasions then in the past. I believe the water clarity provides better opportunity for the fish to feed “up”. I like to place a wide gap, long shank red hook on the line about 12 inches above a jig. I do this by using a palomar knot with a long “tag end” for the hook, then tying the jig on the left over line. We were amazed on one occasion last year when nearly all the fish being caught were being taken on the top hook. Sometimes I hook the minnow in the lips to be lively. Other times I take the hook through the mouth and out the gills before putting it into the minnows back. The minnow will not swim as freely, but it puts the hook in better position for light biters.

Now that the water has cooled down in to the upper 30”s, look for the fish to start congregating in the deep holes. Some days they will move out to take advantage of a sunny sand flat or bait fish using left over weeds, but generally as the water cools, they go deep. Be prepared to “feed” them a bit or “let them chew”, before setting the hook. It can be a frustrating experience getting the hook in a walleye this time of year. Quite often I will switch to a rod with a much softer tip. This gives me some indication as to how well the fish has the bait and doesn’t give back as much tension as my stiffer jig sticks. I’ve even played with slip bobbers a bit this time of year. Set right, they work quite well. Other times if you want to catch fish you need to set the hook at first indication of a bite. If you don’t feel the “marshmallow” hit, you just coming up empty. All in all, experience has let me know that deer week signals the grand finale that leads to ice up. It’s usually provides me the best single day of walleye fishing for the year. In 35 years of walleye fishing, I’ve had more 100 fish days in November and December, then at any time of year. You can only keep five, but it’s great fun catching lots of fish. So if you’ve got your deer already, or the time, do a little walleye fishing in Wolf River Country.

For more information on topics such as this and the areas great 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 Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Motorguide & Lindy Little Joe.


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