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An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 3-19-2014

by Mark Walters

An Attempt at a Trophy Walleye

Hello friends, 

This week’s column is one that you could say I just happened upon while on a marketing run. Please read for further details.

Friday, March 7th
High 37, low 25

Here is the deal! I am in the Wrightstown, Kaukauna area doing my best to make sure that this column continues to be printed in those papers. The following day I had to give a talk in Green Bay. Being rather frugal I decide that I will sleep in the bed of my truck and have to figure out a place to park it.

The last few springs I have fished the walleye run on the Fox River at DePere and decide to park at the public boat landing (Fox Point) that is located in DePere.

I was pleasantly surprised when I pulled into the landing and saw several trucks on the ice on the Fox River.

For those of you that do not understand why I was surprised, this landing is generally loaded with trucks that are pulling boats in March and the drivers of those trucks are fishing for trophy walleye out of a boat.

I had three hours of daylight today and a couple the next morning to talk with fishermen, who were having a great time catching walleye that ranged from 15-30 inches. This observation gave me no choice but to come back to DePere two days later and live on the ice.

Monday, March 10th
High 55, low 29

Here is the deal, I am driving north on Interstate 41 near Oshkosh, my trucks mirror has an electronic on it that tell me it is 55 degrees out. I am praying that the Fox River is still frozen at DePere.

I arrive at DePere and there are trucks on the ice, I decide that I will play it safe and pull my gear, which will be packed in sleds.

I talk with several fishermen; every one of them tells me that they have not caught a fish all day, much less had one on. I asked several of them, as far where they would set up, if they were going to live out here for 24-hours. I unload my sleds over 13-feet of water that is close to five feet one way and 22 the other way.

Before I start to build camp, I set out two, tip ups baited with shiners and a dead stick with a fat head on it. I put up my Igloo “Fat Shack” and make my cabin on ice very comfortable, with two propane lights, a cook stove, heater, table, and a cot with two sleeping bags.

My golden retriever “Fire” takes over the sleeping bags.

Next, I pull the dead stick and begin a marathon run of jigging for walleye and watching a Vexilar.

At 5:40, I receive a call on my cell phone and am talking while jigging and a big fish hits the Northland “Buckshot Jigging Spoon” that I am using. I cannot budge this fish from the bottom of the Fox and am thinking I might just catch a walleye over 28-inches, which is the legal minimum to keep a walleye in these waters ( I would not have kept it).

My line goes slack, bummer!

It is now 10:20 p.m. I have not taken the time to cook, as I cannot quit jigging, I have not had a hit since I lost the fish 5 hours earlier. I have a hit, I win the fight. My walleye is by no means a trophy but it is a fat 18-incher that is released and takes the skunk off the trip.

I notice that the ice underneath of me has gone from 24-inches to 18 in a matter of hours.

It is now 7:30 the next day, only one fish so far but I have high hopes. I get a solid smack on my jigging spoon and have a blast fighting a good fish. A 23-inch Beauty Queen is landed and released, she is not 28, but I am very happy.

I talk to a fisherman that was with a group of 25-guys the day before and had a camera down all day. He only saw one fish underwater and did not see one landed all day, as sad as it is to say, this makes me feel better. There is now 12-inches of ice under foot and the current is strong

I break camp, partake in the big job of hauling it to my cabin on wheels, and am pleased with the marketing run, the KAMO speech and my attempt at catching a trophy walleye.

Work hard! Play Hard! Sunset.