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

A December To Remember?
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 should remain fishable well in to December this year. High water that has carried us through the fall should provide enough current to keep the river open if we don’t get ultra cold temperature. As we all know, a few below freezing days and nights can lock up the Wolf river to boat traffic quite quickly. 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 and Mississippi. Except for the travel, I sure don’t mind fishing the Wisconsin or Mississippi 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 there 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. Limits of fish can be caught quickly, which can make even a cold day worth the effort.

A jig and minnow is my #1 presentation of choice this time of year but I will often experiment with a “drop shot” type of rig. By that I mean I tie a small long shank hook on my line about six inches above my jig. I like to use a red hook and tip both the jig and it with a minnow. Sometimes I will use some GULP Alive on the jig if there are lots of small catfish or sheephead around. These fish tend to stay to the bottom while the walleye will feed above the bottom and hit the suspended hook. Other times I’ll use the GULP on the top hook, more as an attractor, and use the live bait on the jig. Point is to be versatile in your presentation as there are times when you may be catching mostly small fish. The drop shot, plastic / live bait combo gives you a chance to see if a simple change will make a difference. Quite often it will and you will find yourself catching more, and bigger, fish.

If you are using a boat, limiting the amount of water taken in to the boat is important. This time of year I usually plug “intakes” and put kept fish in a cooler or on a stringer instead of putting them in my live-well. RV antifreeze in the bilge is an excellent way to keep bilge pumps and other hoses from freezing or cracking. This is important as a cracked intake line can allow water to fill your bilge, a potential problem that is compounded during the cold weather period.

Once we get to late December it’s ice time. As always, anglers should use EXTREME caution when venturing out on the river. Even after a solid freeze, river ice is never considered safe. A log or dark object can get stuck under the ice and work with the current and sunshine to create a soft spot. Snow cover can hide these areas making the potential hazard even greater. A good spud bar is a must for early ice travel as is a good knowledge of the area you plan on fishing. Understanding where the deep water and off current areas are, and knowing where you can safely cross the river to get to them, is important. A jig and minnow is a standard presentation as are tip ups, even in the deep water. During the hard water period walleye will tend to come put of the deep water and probe the nearby flats for food. That is why you will see groups of shacks along some of these shallow water areas and activity among them increase as the sun goes down. Mornings can be good also but generally it’s an evening or even night bite for these walleye.

So get your Christmas shopping done early and take a little time to catch a few walleye this fall. The Wolf River is loaded with them and the fishing is usually the best just prior to and just after ice up. Also, please put March 11, 12 & 13, 2011 on your schedule as I present my 6th annual ICE BREAKER sports/fishing show. I will be held again this year at Channel Cats / Fremont Event Center in Fremont, Wisconsin. This FREE show is chocked full of expert speakers, guides and outdoor writers all talking about and educating people on fishing for walleye and the Wolf River, Fox River and Winnebago system. It is a part of the Wolf River Walleye Club, a FREE club which meets 6 times a year to help people catch walleye on the Wolf River. They meet at the Hahn-A-Lula 5 of those times and then at ICE BREAKER. If you want to learn more about catching walleye on Wisconsin’s Wolf River, it is the place to be.

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. Visit his video magazine site LifeOnThe Wolf.Com for a monthly video magazine, on line magazine and video share site and the best available information on Wisconsin’s Wolf River area.


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