Fishing, Life, Love & The Great Outdoors
Midwest Outdoors August 2009

Hot August Nights
By Joel “Doc” Kunz

Although I prefer to chase walleye and smallmouth bass during the day, the “hot muggies” of August can make that an uncomfortable challenge. Stifling temperatures and bright sunshine usually keep me in my air conditioned office working. But the need for a tug on the line is ever present in the heart of this angler, so I look for ways to beat the heat and go fishing.

Sometimes I have to choose to change my target species and head to Lake Michigan for some trout and salmon action. Quite often it is cooler out on the big pond and normal starting time has us leaving the dock well prior to the sun coming up. Anglers with the big water walleye set ups can go out and catch fish if the have down riggers or know how to run “Jets” or Dipsy Divers”. Last times out I’ve gone with a group on a charter boat and really enjoyed it. The experience of the bigger boat is a plus as is the experience of a seasoned charter captain. There are plenty of charter boat options available in NE Wisconsin from places such as Algoma, Kewaunee and Sturgeon Bay. Fishing can be fast and furious with fish over 20 pounds being a work out worthy of any angler. Lake Michigan charter captains are masters of spreading and stacking lines via down riggers and Dipsy Divers. It’s not uncommon to be running 8 to 10 lines, or more, in the pursuit a bite. Personally, I’m not big on getting up too early in the morning but the sights and sounds of a trip out on Lake Michigan are worth the effort.

Night fishing is another option when it comes to beating the heat. Temperatures are obviously cooler and there are many species of fish that are active at night, especially in my home waters of the Wolf River. Catfish are an obvious target but walleye and bass can be caught on surface baits near shallow cover. Bright moonlit nights are best for casting crank baits just because of the ability to see better. Another important factor is a bit of a breeze, just to keep the bugs at bay. This is most important if you are going to anchor and fish for catfish on a dark night as any lantern glow will attract bugs. Catfish location is easy, find deep water and fish near it. A simple ball of night crawlers or cut bait will catch channel cats. If you are looking for flatheads, then live bait such as sucker minnows are what’s needed.

Another often overlooked night fishing opportunity is trolling for walleye. I’ve caught fish at night in Lake Poygan and Winnebago numerous times. Usually the day fishing is so good anglers don’t need to go out at night. But when the heat is on, night fishing can be an option that pays off in some excellent fishing. If you are going to be out during the daytime, use a misting device to keep cool. White shirts help to keep you cool and exchanging the typical fisherman’s baseball hat for something wide brimmed is best. A good place to find one is at your local “cowboy” store. I stopped at Coyote's Western Shop just west of the mall in Appleton and found plenty to choose from. Make sure to bring, AND USE, sun screen PRIOR to hitting the water and again during your trip. I also keep an extra shirt and wet towels in a cooler on really hot days and remember to bring plenty of water for drinking and cooling.

Lake Winnebago’s reefs can also produce fish at night as can wind blown rocky shorelines. A lighted slip bobber delivering a nice jumbo leech is a great way to catch fish. Again, some wind is the key to providing conditions that help the bite and keeping the bugs to a tolerable level. With acres upon acres of reefs and miles of shoreline, obviously, finding the fish is the key to catching fish. On the reefs, finding if the fish are using the tops of the reef or stacking up off tot he side and then positioning the boat to allow the wind to help you is what’s important. When fishing the shorelines, the Oshkosh area is always good with a east wind due to the many shallow reefs in the vicinity. A west wind would make the east shore areas around Stockbridge or Brothertown better. Point is, waves blowing in to rocky shorelines are a good place to look for walleye, day or night.

Don’t overlook the Wolf River Country areas small lakes and mill ponds when it comes to night fishing opportunities. Crappies can be caught along the deep weed edge and largemouth bass can be caught on surface baits. A good GPS unit is always a good tool for night fishing, especially on the bigger lakes. First, the lake maps can give you an idea of depth contours and it can also help you find your way back to the boat ramp. You can also place icons where you’ve caught fish which will help you stay focused on wherer the fish are biting.

So get out and beat the heat this August with some well timed fishing opportunities. There are plenty of them throughout the Wolf River Country area and the entire state of Wisconsin. I remember catching walleye at night in Golden Lake, west of Dousman with fishing friend at the time Mike Teeney. I still consider him as one of the best fishermen I’ve ever met. Slip bobbers and a walleyes love of a jointed Rapala worked above the weed tops were just a couple of the things I learned fishing with him. Weekend boat traffic was the main reason we night fished when I lived in SE Wisconsin and the same scenario plays out here in Wolf River Country. So remember your lantern, flashlight, hat light and bug spray, then take the road less traveled to a tug on the line this August.

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. For more from Joel “Doc” Kunz visit his new web site


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