Fishing, Life, Love & The Great Outdoors
Midwest Outdoors November 2007

A Walleye November To Remember
By Joel “Doc” Kunz

With fur and feather pursuits in high gear, I’m sure it is tough for some to try and steal a little time for walleye fishing. As a non-hunter, I don’t have those other “distractions” to keep me from catching my share of walleye and sauger in the fall. In fact, because so many other sportsmen are in the field, the number of anglers is down quite a bit. That means fishing pressure on any given system is at mostly tolerable levels compared to the spring run. Sure, there are still plenty of anglers out in search of a meal of fresh fish or plying trophy waters for that fish of a lifetime. But, there numbers are such that fishing can usually be done comfortably even if the fish are concentrated and you are forced to fish a group of boats.

The Wolf River is no stranger in recent years to fall fishing pressure. With numerous strong year classes of fish available in the system, most anglers do quite well. The lower end of the system sees the most pressure as large groups of male walleye use the area of the river above it’s mouth at Lake Poygan to look for food. These fish begin to stack up in the deeper water as water temperatures cool and bait fish leave the shallows for the main river. Small tributaries such as the Rat River and the numerous close by backwaters contribute to this influx of food and are the main reason the fish choose any location. If water levels continue to rise during the fall. many walleye will continue to move up stream, looking for prime feeding spots with less competition. That can mean any deep hole or outside band in the river can be full of hungry walleye. In fact, many of these fish are on the move, looking to winter in the upper parts of the system. Others are just visiting in search of food and will most likely spend their winter out on the lower lakes of the Wolf River system or out on Lake Winnebago itself. I am not sure what determines where they end up, but I believe it is all in relation to where they are once the water levels begin to drop again as winter approaches. Of course availability of food is the primary factor but proximity to deep water or a large expanse of water the next factor. With large groups of resident fish in the system, the New London area will see good groups of fish move in to that area no matter if the “Winnebago fish” show up or not. Fish from Lake Poygan and those that spent the summer in the lower part of the Wolf river seem to always move up to the deep water available in this area. There is a bit more current flow here then in many areas of the lower river and plenty of feeder creeks, backwaters and bait fish.

“Deer Week” is one of the best times for walleye fishing anywhere, including the Wolf River. My advise is to make sure to wear blaze orange if you are on the river during this time of year. I have had a couple of close calls even with this precaution AND a loudly playing radio. A group was making a drive on some adjacent land and when a small buck jumped up right along shore. The closest hunter didn’t take his general precautions of knowing what is above, below and BEYOND what he was shooting at, and, had his slug not hit the deer, our boat would have been in the line of fire. His excuse of not seeing a buck for 10 years did little to calm my reaction, but we didn’t have to deal with what might have happened. Another suggestion is to stay away of the area up stream of Weilands Landing and down stream of “The Cable Crossing (or Shaw’s Landing). This 15 mile plus stretch of the river has a great deal of both public and private hunting land, and quite a few hunters. The area above New London also has too many hunt-able woods to risk running around in a boat unless going there to hunt. Once the hunters are in their stands in these areas, leaving them to their business is my best advise. With 20 miles of fishable water from Lake Poygan to Wielands and another 10 relatively safe miles of fishing below the New London boat ramp, there is no need to run around in the other areas.

A jig and minnow is best although a crawler will catch fish too at times. I usually keep to a fairly slow presentation but have had days, even in ultra cold water, where they like a lot of “hop” to the jig action. I’ve had some good days on “drop shot” rigs too this time of year. Placing a small hook about 12 inches up the line from your jig can actually produce doubles on one line of you are in to an active group of fish. Usually though, either the jig or the upper presentation are taking the bulk of the fish. Even when fishing just a jig, I will “hover” it just off the bottom quite often. A couple of taps to the bottom and then back to almost steady a few inches above it is a great fall and winter jigging presentation. In fact, because I do it so often, it’s common in my boat for my fishing partners to ask me if I caught the fish “on the hover” or not. The late great Winnebago system and Professional angler Gary Gray taught me to do it a long time ago. It’s one of the lessons I thank him for along with a few of the other subtle differences that can make a difference in how many fish one catches.

Another thing I’ve found is that due to clearer water conditions in the fall the walleye can be a lot more color sensitive. Fish biting one color can seem to shut off and turn to any style or color. Of course they don’t tell you, so keeping a variety of colors in play until a preference is determined is best. When the bite slows, change to another color, add rattles or change action before heading to a new spot. The walleye this time of year seem to prefer bright colors too, but don’t overlook a black jig any day you are walleye fishing.

Boaters who throw too big a wake or blast over the fish can also slow the bite. It’s best to drive slowly back to the top of your drift line, going to the opposite side of the river if possible. Throwing a big wall of water or returning to the top of the drift on plane is bad manners unless there is ample room. Taking your time is not only good manners, but is better for the fishing and will be appreciated by those fishing around you.

So whether your just taking time out of the deer stand or a walleye river rat like myself, November is a great time to be fishing here in Wolf River Country. You should have few problems catching a good number of fish with some keepers mixed in. If you find the right bunch of fish, your limit is only to how much fun you will have catching your five for the frying pan.


© Copyright 2009 - 2011 ~ Joel "Doc" Kunz - All Rights Reserved
No Use Or Copy Of The Material In This Website Allowed Without Written Consent By The Owner
Web Site Hosted By The Big Palm