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

White Bass, Walleye, Pike & Pumpkins
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. So far conditions are right because we have plenty of 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 and the Fremont area each fall. Starting near where the Rat River joins the system, there are numerous areas of deeper water to hold fish. With water levels higher then normal, so far, we have the water flow to draw those large schools of fish in to the Wolf River where 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 and Muskie population. Because of the trophy potential, I always suggest releasing any pike that you might catch unless it is a trophy. The 50 inch one fish size and bag limit on Muskie’s helps protect those fish although I still recommend the release of any fish in lieu of a graphite replica. In my opinion, 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 pike caught by Joel Heynan, whose picture still hangs in the bait shop at Larry & Jan’s Resort in Fremont. I’ve also seen a few Muskies over 50 inches caught including the 52” spotted Muskie caught by my friend Dale on Lake Poygan last fall. Many pike are actually caught by walleye anglers who are lucky enough not to get bit off by the toothy fish. 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. If you want to target northerns, a beefed up jig and plastic presentation, spinner baits and other common pike methods should produce fish.

Don’t forget the crappies! October can be prime time until water temperatures cool in to the upper 30’s. That’s when they usually quit biting. Fallen trees over deep water and eddie currents will hold fish. Small minnows fished below a slip bobber will work in both situations as will small jigs tipped with plastics. Check with your local bait shop, believe me, they will know if the crappie are continuing to bite.

All and all, frost on the pumpkin patch means good fishing here on the Wolf River. Hopefully it will be another memorable time for those of you lucky enough to experience our fine fishing. For more information on the area visit my local resources and or drop me an email at

Joel “Doc” Kunz is free lance Outdoor Writer & Photographer and Field Editor for Midwest Outdoors Magazine. He is a 2005 MWO “Readers Choice” award winner and a member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers.


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