by Mark Walters
Fox River Walleye Run
This week, I spent two days fishing for trophy walleye on the Fox River at DePere. My good buddy, Jeff Moll, and I fished alongside several shore fishermen one night at Voyageur Park in DePere and the following day I fished out of my canoe.
Monday, March 25th – High 33, low 16
Anyone that has fished for walleye on the Fox from DePere, to the mouth of the river where it enters Green Bay, during March or April knows about the complete feeling that your next hookup could be with a 32-inch sow, pig walleye.
Today I would discover that the island just below the DePere dam, that used to be a getaway for adventuresome fishermen, now has a bridge built to it. Generally when men and women fish this island they throw crankbaits, and some choose jigs. The best bite is from just before dark until just after sunrise.
I met Jeff Moll at Voyageur Park where we quickly got into our chest waders, geared up, and made the short trek to the island. We arrived a good two hours before dark, prepared for a night of fishing, and then did what we do best. That is, we sat down, watched the river, and drank a cold Leinenkugel’s while the sun headed over to the western horizon.
It was obvious, while watching the occupants of four boats, and several shore fishermen that at least in this point in the day, there was not a big bite going on.
We spoke with fishermen from Wausau, Buffalo County, Antigo, and lots of locals; all of us had one thing in common and that was to land a legal walleye, which in this stretch of river, at this time of the year has to be 28-inches.
Falling snow and heavily dressed fishermen reminded us that though the calendar says that it is spring, it is still winter.
When Jeff and I first started casting, we became snagged with about every third cast, as the current is constantly bringing your crankbait and line into rocks. We soon manned up and waded into the fast moving water so that we could cast down stream.
The lights from the local paper mill made it so that you could see who was or was not landing walleye. By 11:00, I had only seen one fish caught and it was time to wade out of the water and take a break.
I was speaking with Nathan Hahn, who is a teacher at DC Everest High School in Wausau/Schofield, when he hooked into a good fish while throwing a Rattle Trap. Nathan’s trophy was 28.5 inches in length and a true beauty.
Tuesday, March 26th – High 35, low 24
I was really looking forward to today’s adventure, which would have me fishing out of my canoe, both in the pack of boats, and for the most part away from the pack of boats.
Last year, I fished here with my 16-foot boat and had incredible luck while drifting north of the 172 bridge.
The thing about fishing in a canoe is that even if you do not catch a fish, you are still canoeing, and I love to paddle a canoe more then I like riding in a boat. Today, I would try drifting with a sliding sinker, small hook, and a fathead, casting jigs and paddle trolling with crankbaits. I would be lying if I wrote that I had a “hot stick” because I did not. I had the only canoe on this stretch of the river and throughout the day spoke with dozens of fishermen and women. I routinely heard two comments “are you nuts?” and “catching anything?”. I am nuts and the fish I did catch; I caught with a 3/8 ounce chartreuse jig a stringer hook and a fathead minnow. Earlier, I was using ¼ ounce jigs and it did not work for me, when I switched over to the heavier jig I caught a 22-inch walleye with my first cast.
At no time was I ever scared in my canoe, every boat that passed by me was courteous with their wake and I am thinking that I am going to use my canoe on my next adventure, which will be walleye fishing, and camping on the Wisconsin River by the Dells.
Enjoy life or you are wasting a precious gift! Sunset
THIS WEEK’S COLUMN IS SPONSORED BY: Hiawatha National Bank