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

May Days
By Joel “Doc” Kunz

May is always one of the best months of the year to fish here in Wolf River Country. Walleye are post spawn and can be caught in the river and the lower lakes of the Wolf River system. But walleye fishing gets second billing in the month of May. That’s because May is white bass time in Wolf River Country. White bass fishing peaks in May and anglers from all over the Midwest, and world, travel to the area to fish for these tasty fish. From Winneconne to Fremont, the white bass is king as resorts, bait shops, gas stations, grocery stores, bars and restaurants cater to the visiting anglers. When at its best, fishing is easy and anglers can take large numbers of fish back for future fish fry’s. When fishing is tough, or Mother Nature creates situations where traditional peak times are skewed. Then catching enough to fill a cooler can be a tough task if your yearly cabin rental is around Mothers Day.

White bass fishing is important to many because of the sheer numbers of fish that can be caught, and kept. On the Winnebago system there is no limit on the number of white bass that you can keep or posses. Add that they can be very good eating and you’ve got the makings of a destination fishery. Kept on ice IMMEDIATELY after the catch, white bass can be cleaned and provide a hearty fillet. White bass kept on stringers, in fish baskets or live wells to die are not nearly as delectable, but still provide a good filet. Some prefer to soak filets in milk or in a water/baking soda mixture prior to cooking, which adds to the sweetness of the cooked product. I’ve always liked a corn meal breading when it comes to white bass, but there area a lot of recipes that can be used to make a memorable meal.

White bass fishing is usually simple, cast a spinner or “Spot Minnow” when they are active. Use a jig or minnow under a bobber when they are in a negative mood or very shallow. Wolf River rigs fished in the deep channel or ion drop offs adjacent to spawning areas will catch fish during cold front conditions and when the fish are staging prior to the spawn. If I had to pick one bait, it would be a “Red & White” jig from Larry & Jan’s Resort. The unique jig head and quality hand tied hair on the jig have been a proven producer of fish for me for 30 years. Another tip from white bass “guru” Larry Martochko is to use small minnows when the fish are negative and fish a two at a time rig when the are in a mood to bite. A second offering fished off a 3 way swivel and small “Atomic Guppy”, gives you the chance to catch two fish on one line. The key is to not real too fast once you have the first one hooked. It’s natural for white bass to chase a hooked fish as they are trying to steal the minnow. A second offering in the neighborhood will often hook one of those fish. For complete rigging instructions, visit for information and video.

Even though the walleye may get second billing, there are still plenty to be caught. The river can hold good pockets of fish way above New London in May, even June. The low water start to the year may set up that potential. Still, most anglers in search of walleye in May are fishing the lower lakes of the Wolf River system, Poygan and Winneconne. Trolling with small crank baits and crawler harnesses is common as is fishing the cane beds and casting rocky shorelines for feeding fish. Wind direction and availability of food is what drives the fish to move around the vast shallow lakes. Most anglers are unaware of just how shallow these fish can be caught at times. Most concentrate on the deepest area of the lake but sometimes the fish are stacked in less tha n 2 feet of water feeding on minnows. Rock piles and shallow weed beds in as little as a foot of water can hold fish. Bass anglers casting small baits or “French Fry” and other small plastics are usually the first to find walleye when feeding in this manner. Whether it’s minnows, frogs, leeches or some type of bug, it is the availability of food that puts them there.

May is also a good time of year for perch, bluegill, crappie and the chance to wrestle with some dandy smallmouth bass. Panfish numbers are up big time on the Winnebago system with near record numbers in multiple year classes of all species. Crappie numbers are good with some nice older year classes that could provide some nice size fish. The same can be said for perch numbers. There are some strong year classes and some jumbo’s around, 13 inches or better. Add the blossoming bluegill population which may see record numbers in the system and you’ve got a panfish population that can make just about any angler happy. Finding the fish on the vast Wolf River and Winnebago system is always the key, but that’s where the bait shops, resorts and web sites like Wolf River Country.Com come in to play. Believe me. If the warm weather and low water start to the spring makes the traditional white bass fishing in May tougher then normal, you are going to want to know about those panfish.

Keep up with my web site for more fishing and outdoor information on Wisconsin’s Wolf River Country area. 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.


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