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

See You In September
By Joel “Doc” Kunz

If you’ve always thought about a fall fishing trip, this may just be the September you want to visit the Wolf River. Our record high water of mid summer has already started to create some excellent fishing for bluegills and smallmouth bass. Northern pike have been active as have the catfish. This action should last into the early fall unless Mother Nature turns off the “sprinkler”, which doesn’t look likely at this time. But the news isn’t the smallmouth and bluegills in September. What brings people to Fremont, Winneconne and New London in the fall are the crappie and white bass. With plenty of current to draw the fish in to the river, local pundits think that 2010 could be a fall to remember.

First lets talk crappie. Area sloughs, back waters and shorelines are filled with ample water, that’s good for crappie fishermen. Wolf River crappie like to use fallen trees located over deep water to stack up and feed. Eddie currents also hold suspended fish who use the dynamic of the river to gather food for them. Minnows can’t escape the circling current and become an easy meal for the hungry crappie. A slip bobber is the best way to catch these suspended fish. In the trees I like to use a no-snag jig or jig with a very light wire hook so it bends when stuck in a tree. I’ll use a slip bobber at times but prefer to “dip” the trees using a 10 or 12 foot telescopic rod, much like you see being used on the rafts, but smaller and lighter. A small fathead minnow is the best bait although some people do well on plastics. Make sure not to “horse” the crappies from out of the trees or you will lose most of them. Gentle upward pressure will keep the fish coming through the branches best. Crappie action starts in the lower river above Lake Poygan and spreads out all the way to New London as the river cools and days shorten. There are some good year classes of fish that should make fishing quite fun and rewarding this year. Again, if water levels hold.

Now on to the white bass who start showing up in September and usually keep biting until the water cools down into the lower 40’s. But the numbers of fish that show up in the fall is based on numerous factors. First, how many stayed in Lake Poygan and Winneconne all summer. The more that did, the more fish we will see in Fremont in the fall. But we need current to draw the bulk of the fish out of Lake Winnebago and in to the Wolf River in the fall. So far we have that. Other factors such as availability of food could also play a role. There’s plenty of it. Although a small shad die off was reported, the system is FULL of minnows. That may limit how many white bass move towards the river also. Usually the river is a fall food conveyor as minnows and young of the year fish leave the cooling back waters and tributaries for the main river. If there is plenty to eat where they are, they may not go far. But that could make the lower lakes the place to be but my money is still on them showing up in Fremont, arguably the White Bass Capitol of the World. And, if things go as hoped, 2010 could have the makings of a legendary year.

Don’t over look the great September fishing for northern pike on the Wolf River system. Quality fish are numerous in the system with pike over 36 inches and one or two over 40 common in a weekend of pike fishing. And don’t be surprised if you catch a Muskie. Most of the big fish have been coming from out on Lake Poygan but I’ve talked to a couple of guys who have had some on in different parts of the river. I had a good one hooked below New London and saw a nice size fish sunning itself on a float trip that started in Stephensville last year. Point is, a big Muskie could be anywhere, and I mean BIG. So far in the last year I know of 4 fish caught OVER 50 inches. One was not released but the others were, so grab your Bobbie Bait or favorite Pete Maina big Muskie lure and give the Wolf River or Lake Poygan a try.

Perch may also show up in good numbers starting in September. The mouth of the Rat River is a popular spot as is Boom Bay. Keeping in touch with the local bait shops is the best way to keep tabs on the panfish action. Dick Kiesow at Kiesow’s Landing on the Rat River is always a good source of information and also provides a great access point to the lower river. Bluegill can be found too. Walleye also start to bite better as the waters cool and pods of fish can be found throughout the river. The Wolf River has a good resident population but the best fall walleye fishing comes when large schools of fish move out of the lower lakes and in to the river. This is another situation where good current should be present and fall walleye fishing could be very good. The last two years low water in the fall has limited walleye action, hopefully this year will be different. So take some time to fish the Wolf River this fall. With better then average water levels going in to September, there is a good chance you will find some fishing to remember.

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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