Fishing, Life, Love & The Great Outdoors
Dick Ellis' On Wisconsin Outdoors - Submitted September 2009

By Joel “Doc” Kunz

One thing is well known throughout the walleye world, that is, fall is big fish time. With developing eggs and strong instinctive impulses to feed due to the upcoming winter, the opportunity to find trophy class fish in the mood to bite increases. Young of the year fish create a strong forage base while dams, rivers and the bay of Green Bay provide places where big fish congregate. This is the time of year when fish can be quite predictable and there are places and people you should be aware of if you are looking for trophy class walleye.

The bay of Green Bay is a very productive target destination. From the lower end of the system below the DePere dam to Little Bay de noc, Green Bay produces large numbers of trophy class fish. Door County is a popular destination with the Sturgeon Bay area a good central location. Dale Stroschein’s Sand Bay Beach Resort is my Door County HQ because of the availability of first hand information and excellent facilities. I like to be mobil and have fished out of most ports on the entire west side of the county. In the Sturgeon Bay area fish are caught trolling Larsen’s Reef and other off shore structures. They are also caught along shoreline breaks from 7 to 12 feet of water. When winds keep boats off the big lake, trophy class fish are often caught right in town trolling the breaks in the ship canal. Large crank baits are usually the key to big fish with close attention to lure depth and boat speed important details. If you are a first timer, there are numerous guides in the area. A guide is a great source of information and provide a resource for learning the system. With night fishing a popular tactic for big walleye, learning from a pro can save time and limit potential problems. With Dale’s guidance, I’ve been able to get out on my own and have multiple 10 pound fish in one night.

The west shore of the bay provides numerous big fish opportunities from Oconto to Gladstone Michigan. Rivers such as the Oconto, Peshtigo, Menomonee, Cedar and Ford draw walleye as do the off shore structures in each area. Escanaba is a hot bed of activity as anglers come form all over the Midwest to ply the waters of Big & Little Bay de noc, Green Bay’s northern most waters. Trolling is popular but don’t over look drifting the structure with red tail chubs. Anglers catch fish during the day but night fishing is very popular here. Snap weights and lead core line are used to get baits down to fish using deep water.

The Fox River at DePere is another highly popular big fish spot. Here a big boat is not needed as fishing is concentrated in shallow water near the paper mill and dam. Some anglers will troll but the majority of big fish are caught casting crank baits over shallow rocks. Although big baits such as Rouges and Husky Jerks catch fish, don’t over look small shallow running baits. If the area near the dam is crowded you may find fish near one of the many warm water discharges and bridge pilings closer the the mouth of the river.

The Wisconsin River may not be prime ten pound walleye water, but there are numerous trophy class fish caught each year. I like the Dells area because of the potential for a state record sauger. Here a slot limit mandates the release of all walleye and sauger between 20 and 28 inches. Anglers can keep only one fish over 28 inches, which over time increases the trophy potential of the water. Castle Rock and Petenwell are also capable of producing an occasional trophy class fish, especially in the fall.

The Mississippi River is another big fish hot spot with plenty of opportunity. Genoa is a popular destination as is the Red Wing area, above Lake Pepin on pool 4. Both have a reputation for producing numbers of trophy class walleye in the fall. Anglers also catch good numbers of fish as they do on places mentioned on the Wisconsin. The Mississippi is to Wisconsin’s river anglers as Green Bay is to big water fans, a destination big fish fishery. Although your chances of catching a trophy class fish is probably best on Green Bay, there is nothing like catching one on a jig stick. The scenery and feel of the big river are also quite exceptional. Eagles soaring around you and the fight of the fish in the strong current make for a great deal of fun. If you are new to the area I would once again recommend a guide. I have been shown some areas off the main current where we caught a lot of fish. Knowledge of the “cut-off” and “wing” dams is as important to catching fish as it is to safe navigation and a great reason to hire an area guide. Beside learning the area, you will have a better chance of catching a trophy.

There are a couple of other highly noteworthy fall big fish destinations that draw numbers of Wisconsin anglers. Saginaw Bay, the Detroit River and iconic Lake Erie are all worth the trip. When I can, Huron Ohio is my fall Lake Erie destination. Although most anglers troll open water during the daylight hours I’ve also caught fish closer to shore between the Huron and Vermillion Rivers at night. We found fish on the drop in 10 to 12 feet of water and also on some humps in 20 to 25. The number of fish we caught over 10 pounds in one day was phenomenal. Guides and charter boats are available in abundance in the area as is quality information if you have proper boat, knowledge and equipment to be on your own. Wind is your biggest enemy and can limit the number of days you can hit the water on any length trip. Good game planning and the ability to go on short notice is to your advantage.

So get out and try your luck at catching a trophy class walleye. Whether you are looking for your first 10 pounder or scratching off the next number over 30 on the ruler, fall is the best time of year to do so. Following are some resources you may find helpful

Walleye Central - - Lots of information, a great place to start if going to Erie.
Wacky Walleye Guide - - Captain Dale Stroschein’s Guide Service Web Site
Little Bay de noc - - Information, guides, lodging and fishing reports.
River’s Edge Resort, Wisconsin Dells - - My Wisconsin River HQ
Evert’s Resort, Hagar City on pool 4 - - On my list of 2009 destinations.
Great River Resort, Genoa - Another on my list of “09 destinations.

Joel “Doc” Kunz is a 2005 “Readers Choice” Award winner and member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW). Visit his web site at


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