Fishing, Life, Love & The Great Outdoors
Midwest Outdoors October 2008

White Bass Time Again
By Joel “Doc” Kunz

By this time of the fall there have already been plenty of white bass caught in the Wolf River. Some started showing up in early September with the first cool nights and influx of fresh water, but the main part of the action should come at some point this month. With good numbers of fish in the system, evident by the great fishing for them this spring, fall fishing could again be spectacular. But conditions have to be right and the first thing we are going to need is some water. Water flow is the main factor in how many fish are drawn up in to the system Historically large groups of fish will use the first mile or so of river above the mouth at Lake Poygan each fall. Here the Rat River joins the system and there are some spots of deeper water to hold fish. But, if we are going to have a big fall run, we need water flow to draw more fish out of the lower lakes and bring some of those large schools of fish up to the Fremont area. Not because they bite better in Fremont, but because it creates room for more fish to come in to the bottom end of the system. Low water with no flow means more fish for fewer spots in the lower river and thusly, more fish choosing to roam open water on the lakes for fall feeding instead of being drawn to the river. Once in the system it’s all a matter of water temperature and they will usually continue to bite until the water cools down in to the upper 30’s.

Walleye are also on the move this time of year and should be providing good action by now. The river, lower lakes and even Lake Winnabago will be producing fish. Walleye will start showing up on the lines of white bass anglers fishing near the mouth of Lake Poygan and in the upper river between Fremont and New London as the days shorten and water cools. With plenty of strong year classes in the system and a large number of fish that spent the entire year in the river system, I expect this years fall walleye run to be a good one. Of course, water temperature playa a key role as does water levels. With 32 miles of river between New London and Lake Poygan, I’m usually on the move this time of year trying to keep tabs on the best schools of walleye. They will move with rising and falling water, often ending up far up river, wintering in the available deep water. Food is provided by the feeder creeks and backwaters whose biomass empty into the main river as oxygen levels fall and the water cools. Once a big schools sets up near deep water, you can usually stay with them and catch quite a few fish. A jig and minnow is the best bait for white bass or walleye this time of year with bright colors usually the key. For big fish I use Lindy No-Snagg jigs, tipped with a Berkley Alive leech fished right in the trees fallen in to deep water. Catfish and smallmouth bass will be there too, but so will the occasional big walleye.

Don’t forget the growing northern pike population. More anglers are releasing their catch to let them grow towards true trophy potential. Brandon’s big pike was released as are dozens of fish by a friend of mine who targets pike full time. Although good eating, there are PLENTY of other good eating fish for the frying pan that can be caught in bigger numbers. Pike fishing on the Wolf River should be pursued as an exercise in fun fishing with the chance at a trophy fish. My biggest is 42.5 inches. I’ve seen the 53 inch monster caught by Joel Heynan, whose picture still hangs in the bait shop at Larry & Jan’s Resort in Fremont. Many are caught by walleye anglers who are lucky enough not to get bit off by the toothy pike. In fact, quite often in the fall the walleye will suddenly quit biting for no known reason. That’s when the sharp whack startles you and the retrieval of nothing but a cut line signals the pikes presence in the hole. Beefed up jig and plastic presentations, spinner baits and other common pike methods should produce fish. You may even catch one of the many big Muskies roaming the river too where a fish OVER 50 inches wouldn’t surprise anyone who knows the river.

All and all, frost on the pumpkin patch means good fishing here in Wolf River Country. Hopefully it will be another memorable time for those of you lucky enough to experience our fine fishing.


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