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

November’s Icy Blast
By Joel “Doc” Kunz

Although I fear that the low water conditions will once again allow the Wolf to freeze before month’s end, I expect walleye fishing to be quite good this year. A growing population of keeper size fish in the system should provide ample rewards to those who brave the cold temperatures. The lower end of the system between the Rat River and Lake Poygan is a well known area with numerous pockets of deep water. Traditionally these spots get the majority of the action but don’t over look some of the more subtle transitions to deep water above and below them. Anglers should also be aware of the presence of keeper size sauger in the system. We were surprised when we caught numerous good size fish last fall. Light in color when coming out of the river, they were hard to distinguish from the walleye we were catching. Because you can only keep one sauger over 15 inches as a part of your bag limit, anglers should be careful in identifying what they throw in their live well.

Don’t forget the New London area for November walleye. I’ve had some of my best fishing during deer week, although there is one piece of advise I’d like to pass along. That is, wear blaze orange. At least a hat. With numerous hunters in the woods, it’s an important safety tip and one that could save your life. I have been in a situation once where a hunter shot a deer in close proximity to where we were fishing. The excuse that it was the first buck he had seen in years did little to calm my response. On another occasion our blaze orange kept a hunter from firing when a buck jumped up between us.

Look for fish in deep water and outside bends. At times they can be found spread out on the descending flat above the deep water. Fishing pressure, large predators such as flatheads passing through and competition for food can push the walleye out of the comfort of the deep water. When they are negative, outside bends and eddie currents can be prime spots. Fish will often be tight to the bottom and can take some time to commit to the bait. Other times they will hit it fairly hard prompting an immediate hook set. Expect fish to be on the move with the rise and fall of water levels until water temps get in to the 30’s. At that point they usually stack up in deep water where they can be caught in big numbers. Remember, you can only keep 5 a day and have 10 total in your possession. If you see someone “double dipping” or keeping too many fish, please call the DNR tip line.

Another place I love to fish in November is at DePere. The area below the dam on the Fox River can provide some great action and has the potential for a BIG fish. I’ll drift and jig the deep hole out in front of Voyager Park during the daylight hours and work crank baits near shallow rocks and warm water discharges as night falls. I’ve even caught fish in a snow storm floating a night crawler on a slip bobber. Big stick baits such as Rouges and Husky Jerks are standard but don’t over look small, shallow diving shad raps. Cast to places of slack water behind rocks and near the edge of the fast current. Even the biggest fish can feel like a small perch hitting the bait, so be ready for anything.

If my two favorite fishing holes freeze up before months end, look for me at River’s Edge at Wisconsin Dells. This area stays open to boat traffic much longer then the Wolf and Fox due to the large amount of current. Fishing can be very good and you may catch a potential record sauger. Because of regulations, all walleye and sauger between 20 and 28 inches must be released on the Wisconsin River above Prairie du Sac. That means you might be releasing the next state record, eclipsing the 23 inch 6 pound 3 ounce sauger caught in 2008 on the Mississippi. Bring a camera, you may need it.

Anglers usually catch good numbers of fish with a mix of small ones and keepers. A jig and minnow is standard fare but I’ve caught good numbers of fish pulling small crank baits up stream. This is a great way to fish when the wind is making a controlled drift difficult. A bottom bouncer or in-line weight such as an Off Shore “Guppy” works great at getting the bait down to where the fish are.
So brave the cold temperatures with me and a host of other river rats this November for what is often the best fishing of the season. If you’re looking for a few for the frying pan, trips can be short and sweet. Dress warm and prepare properly and you are sure to have a blast, even if it is an icy one.

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. To keep up with Doc’s fall fishing adventures please visit his new web site


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