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An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 4-8-2015

by Mark Walters

Mobile Fishing Guide

Hello friends,

This week’s column is about fishing for walleye with a guide and thinking outside of the box way for a fishing guide to keep the cash flowing.

I met Justin Kohn, who lives near Princeton and owns and operates All Seasons Adventures, last April while I was on a fishing trip on Lake Puckaway. Justin who is 33 years old pays his bill by taking people hunting and fishing.

Last week I saw a post that Justin had put on Lake Links, which is a popular fishing forum about a day trip that he had made to Nekoosa fishing for walleye on the Wisconsin River. I gave Justin a call and was invited to fish with him and a client Tom McHugh on the Fox River at DePere.

Tuesday, March 31st
High 60, low 26

How do you take people fishing when the ice is almost out on your local lakes or the fishing season is closed? In Wisconsin many of our lakes and rivers are open for fishing year round and if you are a guide and you have the same kind of bills as everyone else you drive to places like Nekoosa, LaCrosse, the Wolf, the Fox or many other choices.

This year it does not matter where or what you are fishing in the Badger state we have a water flow issue.

In other words due to minimal flow from snow melt and next to no spring rains, walleye and lets say Lake Michigan or Superior rainbow trout are not running up stream in the numbers like they usually do to spawn.

Current and water temperature triggers both of these species to spawn and low current and frequent cold spells are making most bites infrequent and short lived.

So, I drive over to Voyageur Park in DePere. I leave my house at 4:30 a.m. and I meet Justin and Tom McHugh at the landing. These guys had fished the day before with a collage buddy of Tom’s and then Justin and Tom got a room at a local motel so they could fish today and not have to do the 90-minute drive to the Princeton/Green Lake area.

So maybe you can start to see what I am getting at. The Fox River at DePere is known for incredible walleye fishing during the spring run. Only one walleye can be kept and it has to be 28-inches. Most of these fish are coming from Green Bay and the dam at DePere prevents them from swimming any further up river.

Tom McHugh is 30 went to collage in Minnesota owns an IT company in Chicago and has a lake home on Green Lake. Tom is a client of Justin’s and wanted to have a getaway where he could also fish with his past roommate and fellow member on his football team, Aaron Fanta.

Yesterday Tom caught a 26-inch walleye, these guys fishing until almost dark, there was another cold spell, which made for a very tough bite and the water flow is minimal.

Today the three of us are vertical jigging ¼ ounce jigs tipped with either plastic or minnows and Justin has caught five walleye before Tom or I had a bite.

The walleye are running between 10 and 18 inches and very few people are catching fish and when they do we only saw one all day that would make it past 25-inches.

Justin Kohn has a theory that makes sense, he feels that if there is not enough water flow at least in the Green Bay area that many of the big females that generally spawn near this dam, will just drop their eggs on reefs and rocky shorelines on Green Bay.

When it comes to guiding for a living, it really is a business and you have to invest and know what to buy and how to use it. Justin Kohns 20-foot Lund that is powered by a 200 horse, Mercury “Verado” is a $50.000 dollar package. The electronics in this boat sonar/imaging/mapping comes in at another $8000.00 and then there is the rods and tackle required to catch fish.

A guide really has to understand how to catch fish, market his business and perhaps most importantly hold a conversation with what is often a total stranger in a 20-foot boat.

When it comes to catching fish Justin Kohn won the 2012 Mercury Nationals (300 boat tournament on Winnebago) back in 2012 and he simply knows what the heck he is doing.

This kid grew up on Puckaway at his family farm and he has guiding figured out. Sunset