Fishing, Life, Love & The Great Outdoors
Midwest Outdoors February 2010

Valentine’s Day Walleye
By Joel “Doc” Kunz

Historically, January is our coldest month. With good luck, those freezing days should set the groundwork for what I have always felt is the best “access” of the year. That is, access points, ice roads, lake and river ice are all at their best. Although debatable, it’s reasoning enough to finally get out of the house and go catch some fish. Preferably, walleye. Remember, ice is NEVER considered as SAFE. So the thought of just deciding on a fishing spot, and driving my truck to it, are far from what you should be doing. Before you go, do some homework and make the most of your trip. Don’t rely on an old report and make sure your equipment is ready. There are plenty of resources such as Internet sites, fishing clubs, taverns and bait shops that have the most up to date information, use them. AND, if you don’t ice fish much, hire a guide.

This year my Valentine’s Day target is Lake Winnebago. Here, ice roads are marked and bridges are in place to traverse any cracks that develop. These roads are maintained by clubs such as the Payne’s Point Sportsmen’s Club and supported by memberships and donations. If you like ice fishing, joining such a club is a great investment. The meetings are full of great information and the friendships you form should be life long. I have a few friends who fish the big lake and I hope that they are on fish at that time. I’ll take perch if that’s what’s biting best, but I’d sure like to put a limit of Winnebago Walleyes on my ice resume. With lots of walleye in the system, I hoping we can find some hungry ones.

From discussions, we will be jigging and deploying tip ups. Locations could vary, depending on many conditions. A February warm spell could add some fresh current and start drawing fish to the river. In fact, lengthening days will be doing that all month long. Schools of fish may be using the reefs or still suspended out over the vast Lake Winnebago mud flats too. That’s the bonus of good information. The guys I’ll be fishing with will have been out all month long. With large schools of fish in the system, we should catch some fish. Oh, I’m pretty sure that I’m going to give Lake Poygan a little work too, but ice fishing “Bago” is on the list for this year.

Those lengthening days I previously mentioned are one of the factors that move fish in to the Wolf River system. Current also plays a factor but generally it’s the longer days that start some of the fish moving under the ice. Many are resident fish or fish from the lower lakes, but groups of fish from Winnebago will move towards the rivers too. Here anglers will be taking advantage of good ice access to target those moving fish. Deep water will always hold some walleye, but “prime time” fishing on shallow water breaks, transition and feeding areas produce the most fish. That “bite” usually happens just before dark and very early in the morning but I’ve heard of late night bites that were very good. That doesn’t surprise me as a late night bite is very typical of night fishing the up run after ice out.

Anglers will spread rows of tip ups along transition areas and also jig from their ice shack. Transition areas are areas of shallow water between deep water and food sources. Food sources would include tributaries, warm water discharges and the countless springs that influence the system. Changes in current can cause groups of fish to move between these areas as will the lengthening days. Fish on the move will rest in the deep water, then continue up stream toward eventual spawning sites. That’s why you’ll see rows of tip ups and people catching fish in many of the shallow water areas between these spots.


For the FIFTH straight year ICE BREAKER will be held to discuss the great fishing in Wolf River Country and Winnebago system. Speakers will include, resort owners, guides and some of the nations TOP Professional walleye anglers. This years event will be held at Channel Cat’s and the Fremont Event Center and should once again draw scores of anglers to the FREE SHOW. Organized by Midwest Outdoor Field Staff Member Joel “Doc” Kunz as a way to “give back” to the area he has grown to love, fish and write about for the last 20 years, the show features a seminar schedule that has always been considered as the best overall lineup around. Those are big words but when your speakers include, past and present, Daryl Christensen, “Axl” Ehricke, Mark Gofron, Dave Van Oss, Tom Keenan, Jason Przekurat, Tommy Kemos, Tom Gatzke, Pat Neu, John Kolinski and Keith Kavacjez, well then you can say you’ve got a great line up. 2010 will be no different and should include a great mix of local and national names in fishing. A special Friday night with Steve Worrall of Muskie First/ Outdoor First Media will be conducted to discuss the growing population of Muskie in the Wolf River and lakes of the Winnebago system. Information is available at and on Facebook.

Joel “Doc” Kunz is a field editor for Midwest Outdoors and 2005 Readers Choice Award Winner. He is also a member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers. To keep up with Doc’s fall fishing adventures please visit his new web site


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