Fishing hotter than weather on Big Green Lake

By Ted Peck - August 1, 2011
Justin Kohn says Libby whips up a whale of a breakfast at the Diver's Inn in Marquette, just an easy stone's throw from Lake Puckaway. There was no time for waffles, eggs and fresh squeezed orange juice as we eased away from this comfy sportsman-oriented bed and breakfast place at oh-dark-30. We had fish to catch.

Kohn has angling savvy and ability far beyond his 29 years, with great knowledge of fish behavior on his "home lakes" and tools like sophisticated electronics which keep his big landing net perpetually wet.

We briefly considered pulling planer boards on Puckaway, which has been one of the most consistent walleye producers in southern Wisconsin this year. Puckaway is like Koshkonong-an essentially faceless basin where little tricks and nuances in presentation are necessary to consistently put fish in the livewell.

The three man limit of 'eyes up to 27 inches Kohn put clients on just the night before made this option tempting. But Kohn's growing reputation as a fishin' magician on the enigmatic waters of Big Green Lake just five minutes east required personal validation.

"Many anglers are intimidated by Big Green Lake" Kohn grins. "True, Wisconsin's deepest inland lake offers plenty of places for fish to hide. But if you understand the fish hooking up here is really pretty easy."

The key to success on this deep, clear water is targeting deep weed edges and writing off the main lake basin where the bottom falls away into more than 200 feet of water-unless you're chasing Big Green's legendary lake trout, of course.

We started this day pitching noisy topwater baits for smallmouth bass, hooking up several decent fish before dawn's arrival started simmering the wet, damp air.

At first light Kohn switched over to a Dip-Stick worm rigged wacky-style. Largemouth bass up to four pounds found this bait almost irresistible as it waffled down through the weeds. Waffles? Did somebody mention breakfast? Coffee sounded good, even though the air was rapidly warming beyond the temperature you might find in the hottest cup.

We switched over to pulling small suckers behind half-ounce sinkers looking for northern pike. Big Green holds some beauties, but we couldn't coax anything over 32 inches out of the deep water weed edges in 24 feet of water this day. Maybe the big dogs had already eaten. Probably crisp bacon and eggs with bright orange yolks, over easy but not sneezy.

"Walleyes are the biggest surprise on Big Green this summer," Kohn chuckled while pulling several long spinning rods out of his boat's spacious rod locker. "the lake is just full of 18-20 inch 'eaters' but walleyes up to 14 pounds are swimming here, too."

Kohn plugged a waypoint into his Lowrance graph while we set slip bobbers at 16 feet with leeches on Weed-Weasel jigs to tempt Wisconsin's favorite gamefish.

"Big Green's extreme depth keeps this water cool well into the summer," Kohn says. "This is one place where you can experience the easy fishin' of June in the dog days of August. The eplimnion layer and the weedline may extend a little deeper in late summer. All you need to do is slide the slip bobber knot up the line a few more feet and you're back in the game."

The mid-morning sun was now in flamethrower mode, heat thinly veiled by humidity. For some reason I thought it looked like a giant cantaloupe. Kohn's voice jarred me back to the task at hand.

"Are you having a senior moment, old man?" he snorted "your slip bobber is completely out of sight."

"Sonny, when I get this fish in you're gonna get a severe caning," I growled back. Age is a state of mind. I honestly believe I could pin this young turk's ears back-after fueling up on pancakes and sausage, of course.

Not that it would ever come to that. If Justin Kohn fights as good as he fishes it would be me that would be getting the whuppin'. Hmmmm. Bad attitude. Must be low blood sugar. Better go grab a couple of donuts.

Author Ted Peck
Ted Peck
Cap'n Ted Peck has over 30 yrs. guiding experience, specializing in multi-species fishing on Pool 9-10 of the Mississippi from Genoa, Wi. to Prairie du Chien. Cap'n Ted is a pro staffer for Lund, Northland Tackle, MinnKota, Bill Lewis Lures, Evinrude, Uncle Josh, HT Enterprises and Custom Jigs & Spins. When not guiding Cap'n Ted communicates the outdoors experience via newspapers, magazines, TV, radio and through seminars. This work has taken him all over the midwest, Canada and beyond... but he always returns to the upper Mississippi which he considers the most diverse fishery in North America. Click here for more info on Ted's guide service. Cap'n Ted's new book Mississippi Musings with the Old Guide is a personal account of his long career as a professional fishing guide on Old Man River.