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

December, Bonus Walleye Fishing Time
By Joel “Doc” Kunz

For me, the week after Thanksgiving and first weeks of December are among my favorite times to fish for walleye and sauger. Fortunately for me and a few others, the Wolf River has remained fishable well in to December the last few years. Hopefully that is the case again this year as a record warm October was followed by an average November so far. That can change quite rapidly, with a few below freezing days and nights locking up the Wolf river to boat traffic. That may be good news to ice anglers but not to river rats like myself who are then forced to look for flowing water in places like the Wisconsin Dells. I sure don’t mind fishing the Wisconsin River or Mississippi River for walleye and sauger during the winter months. In fact, given the chance, I like to go down to the Illinois River and fish for sauger too. There, sauger can run over 3 pounds with many 2 pound fish caught. They are hard fighting and beautiful to admire, and always worth the trip. But still, there is nothing better then catching a limit of great eating walleye in December from my home river, the Wolf. I may have to break a little ice once in awhile, but if I’m on a pocket of fish, it’s not an all day affair. A jig, minnow and deep water is usually all you need.

Once again, if you are going to consider fishing this time of year, there are certain precautions you should take. First of all I remind everyone to make sure to lower their outboard to vertical position after you put the boat on the trailer. This past weekend I watched numerous anglers trailer their boat without taking this simple step. Although the motors are really self draining when lowered, boaters can also “pop off” their motor to help remove any left over water. My boat sponsor Josh at Boat Doc in Lomira recommends that those who wish to do this turn the key, let it start, count one, two, three and shut it off. Letting the motor run while dry for more then a few seconds can cause damage. Josh and I discussed a few other fall recommendations here they are.

Make sure to check the prop area on your main outboard, your electric trolling motor and your kicker motor, if you have one. If there is fishing line wrapped around the shaft, chances are you have damaged the seal on the shaft that keep water out of the lower unit. If you have not done so already this fall. change the lower unit fluid on your outboards now. If there is any water in your lower unit it will show up as a milky white coloring to the lower unit fluid. A small amount may not be need to worry, but if the entire fluid is light in color, you should have your motor checked by a professional. As far as your trolling motor, if you’ve got water in the lower unit, you’ve got trouble only a professional can take care of. Check your owners manual for any maintenance recommendations. One thing is certain, a good running electric motor still requires a strong source of power. Those with an onboard charger should keep a fresh charge on your batteries between outings. Those of you who do not have this piece of equipment should consider removing your batteries from the boat and storing them inside. Cold can drain a battery quickly and also does a good job of making a weak battery show up. Slow charge the battery prior to your next outing and make sure all cells are properly filled and you should be good to go. Remember, trolling motor batteries and starting batteries are different. Make sure you have the right equipment and don’t skimp.

Josh also recommends keeping your gas as low as possible if you are thinking about storing your boat after an early December outing. Don’t risk running out, but no need to fill the tank. An additive such as Stable is important too, especially if you are unsure of the timing of your last outing. Keeping your gas as low as possible also lets you start with some 93 octane in your first tank next spring. Large amounts of gas just require more additive and can actually absorb water while sitting. This is also a time of year when it is important to check your trailer tires and wheel bearings. Tires should be checked for any uneven wear and a bit of fresh grease might be what keeps you on the road. Make sure all your lights work and that the connection plug is cleaned and coated with a bit of dielectric grease.

Josh and I also discussed a couple of precautions some may take if planning on fishing right up to ice up. Because ice in a live well line, intake or pump itself can freeze, crack and literally cause a leak, some anglers choose to plug ALL lines and intakes once it starts to get real cold. RV antifreeze in live well lines and in the bilge can keep this potential dangerous situation from happening. This biodegradable liquid can be easily flushed next spring. Even when I’m fishing for a limit of keepers, I never use my live well if fishing in near freezing temperatures. A nice long stringer works well as does taking the chosen fish and putting them directly in a cooler full of ice. Point is, when it gets to the point of late November and December fishing, taking proper precautions can be a life saver.


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