Ted Peck's Articles

March 2017

'Perchanator' is New Panfish Weapon
by Ted Peck
Perch are a perennial source of torment for rabid anglers. Frustration is understandable in pursuit of walleyes or muskies. These piscators are gamefish. Perch are panfish. Conventional wisdom says panfish are easier to catch. Legions of fishers across the upper Midwest have discovered the enigmatic nature of these golden tiger-barred devils, sometimes going to extreme measures to figure them ... more

February 2017

Crappie Crusade on I-55
by Ted Peck
We are in the dead of winter. The only hunting opportunities are for rabbits, crows and coyotes. Fish are in a perpetual negative mood, with short flurries of feeding activity. Even a bucketful of St. John's Wort won't fend off depression. Crappies are a sure cure for cabin fever. By far the best way to catch 'em now is with a horizontal presentation-and I'm not talking a Northland Puppet Minn... more
Guntersville Outstanding Winter Bass Destination
by Ted Peck
When Bill Lewis Lures CEO Wes Higgins found out I was planning an extended fishing tour of the American southeast a couple of months ago he asked if I could participate in the Lake Guntersville Rat-L-Trap Classic bass tourney on Feb. 12. This meant I would have to extend the planned month long fishing adventure through southern Illinois, Mississippi and Florida from a month to 36 days. Since H... more

April 2016

April’s Sand-Bottom Saugers
by Ted Peck
A lifetime of fishing the Mississippi River has taught me that the concept of "pre-fishing" is usually a waste of time. It makes perfect sense to begin a day on the water with a presentation that caught fish the day before. But if the rod doesn't bend in less than five minutes a substantial change in strategy is often the best strategy. There are a couple of caveats to this rule of thumb: summe... more

January 2016

Change In Latitude Changes Attitude
by Ted Peck
Jimmy Buffet's classic song "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes" kept running through my mind as I watched a food plot from a vantage point in a tripod stand about 140 yards away. The sun had just set in the frigid upper Midwest.The only activity on this food plot was a lone doe, which was rapidly fading from view as another mid-winter night silently reclaimed the landscape. I was qu... more

December 2015

Shovel, Sand Essential December Fishing Gear
by Ted Peck
Back in December 2006 anglers across the upper Midwest were able to launch boats until shortly after Christmas. Weather so far this month indicates we still have at least a couple of weeks before swapping out long rods for short ones just like we did nine years ago. Our open water season can come sliding to a halt literally overnight. Until winter shows up in earnest fishers have a rare opportu... more

October 2015

Kamikaze Bronzebacks
by Ted Peck
Wisconsin provides a cornucopia of outdoor options in fall. These delightful distractions caused most folks to miss a silent kamikaze attack on Wisconsin's boundary waters with Michigan, Minnesota and Illinois which started around Columbus Day. It will continue for 10 days-maybe two weeks-- depending on the weather. The 'divine wind' which howled in from the northwest recently caused water temp... more

September 2015

Walleyes on the Wings
by Ted Peck
Mississippi River wingdams have a moth and candle fascination for those who would fish there. These rocky fingers just outside the channel markers have a well deserved reputation for holding walleyes. They are also known as the great destroyer of props, skegs and outboard motor lower units. Wingdams have been part of the big picture on Old Man River for over a century, placed to maintain a navi... more

July 2015

Summertime, And The Fishin' Is Easy
by Ted Peck
Channel cats are a wonderful fish for folks just realizing "endorphin" ends in "fin" in what can become a lifelong passion which knows no bounds. By following a few simple guidelines becoming proficient in catching the "whiskered walleye" can provide the confidence to graduate into catching more exotic species. My first paid guide trip was nearly 50 years ago, chasing cats on backwaters of Mi... more

June 2015

Thoughts On Fish Sandwiches
by Ted Peck
The older I get, the more Paul "Sprink" Hensal reminds me of King Solomon. Hensal was one of just four game wardens in wild and wooly northwest Illinois where I came of age in the 1960's. Hensal was tough, gruff-and fair. His only son and I were good buddies all through school. Before we were born Hensal used to run with my Dad and other salty young men who had just returned from World War II... more

February 2015

'Bama Bass Exciting Winter Option
by Ted Peck
Every man has limitations which can not be exceeded without suffering profound mental distress. My personal panic stage for not seeing bare ground and open water is about six weeks. January in November had most voices in my head screaming "drive south". These voices grew louder as the whispers to hunt deer faded with every doe hanging in the pole barn. A brief respite from winter's brutali... more

January 2015

"Bimbo Gifford" Is Livin' The Dream
by Ted Peck
Times were tight for Dan "Bimbo" Gifford back in the summer of 2012. This longtime union carpenter and laborer was looking forward to retirement after a 30 year career. He had just 72 hours to work before qualifying for a full pension. Dreams shattered in an instant when Gifford severed his Achilles tendon and was unable to get work. Gifford and his wife were able to survive with the smal... more

November 2014

Common Sense About Deer Scents
by Ted Peck
The woods will be doused with delusions of grandeur over the next few weeks as mature whitetail bucks all believe they are the King of the Forest and hunters fortunate enough to shoot a big buck with a bow think Fred Bear simply had a good publicist. Bucks have busy rubbing trees and scraping the forest floor now in an annual rite of autumn which has been going on for thousands of years. The a... more

October 2014

Wisconsin's Most Extreme Angling Experience
by Ted Peck
Serious muskie and fly fishers are generally considered extreme by the mainstream angling fraternity. The concept of chasing muskies with flyfishing gear takes the concept of extreme angling to an entirely different dimension. "West Fork" Jason Stewart caters to this unique segment of the angling fraternity, guiding clients out of a Clackacraft drift boat on waters like the St. Croix, Flambeau... more

September 2014

Troubleshooting Your Trolling Tool
by Ted Peck
When I was a kid all trolling motors were made from wood. They were about six feet long and came in pairs. We called them "oars". By the early 1970's electric trolling motors and rudimentary electric "fish finders" were gaining acceptance as important tools for serious anglers. Today trolling motors and fish finders can actually 'talk' to each other using GPS information downloaded from satell... more

August 2014

Niklasch Can't Resist Big Green Eyes
by Ted Peck
Veteran guide Lynn Niklasch takes precision trolling for huge walleyes to a level most casual anglers can't even comprehend. But meticulous attention to detail has rewards: 40 Wisconsin walleyes over 30 inches in just six weeks last year. Niklasch has worked the waters of Door County every August and early September for the past dozen years, probing every hump and bump on Green Bay from Hende... more

July 2014

Is 'Parrot' best all around lure color?
by Ted Peck
There are several critical factors in lure selection necessary to get a fish to bite the hook. These factors can be grouped under the general headings of presentation, bait profile and lure color. Presentation is the most complex. Topwater or subsurface? Trolling or casting? Steady or erratic retrieve? Casting with the current or against it? Choose the right option in each of these categories-... more

May 2014

Hints For High Water Cats
by Ted Peck
Catfish have at least one characteristic for the feline mammal which gave them the name-when threatened a catfish will often seek refuge in a tree. Boiling currents in upper Midwestern rivers push virtually all fish species to seek refuge from high and roily water. Native intelligence tells channel catfish that the downstream edge of shoreline timber will provide both refuge and easy food. ... more

April 2014

Tip-ups on Opening Weekend?
by Ted Peck
Tourism folks in Wisconsin's Indianhead Country are anxiously watching the weather this first weekend of spring. Last year they were able to put a positive spin on tip-up fishing at the Governor's Opener held on Lake Namekagon. If ice fishing in May were a once-in-a-lifetime event the experience would certainly be noteworthy. The winter of 2012-13 was semi-tough. The winter of 2013-14 was brut... more

March 2014

Sadly Watching the Tripoli Tango
by Ted Peck
The USMC hymn traces the Corps noble beginning in the very first line. Pirates operating out of the Libyan port Tripoli were vicious cutthroats. Our first Marines went over there and solved the problem. Sadly, there is nothing the USMC can do about the increasingly cutthroat nature of the fishing tackle industry. If all the jig and spinner makers adhered to a credo of Duty-Honor-Country, Ameri... more

February 2014

Gruenwald Hopes for Endless Winter
by Ted Peck
February just blew in the other day with all the popularity and perceived longevity as the U.S. war in Afghanistan. Even the most ardent outdoors enthusiasts find our winter to venture forth, searching for vicarious escape on the Travel channel to destinations like the Bahamas or Belize. Campbellsport's Tom Gruenwald is a stark exception to this rule. Gruenwald secretly wishes winter wil... more

January 2014

Plop and Hover to Catch More Gills
by Ted Peck
Locating a population of bluegills is seldom a problem on virtually any southern Wisconsin lake. Ice fishers are not shy about grinding holes dinner table close to another angler if they think this proximity will help them put some panfish on the ice. Ice fishers are like duck decoys. Two or three astride buckets on an acre of ice my not draw attention. But a dozen hunkered down on a tennis co... more

December 2013

Magic Wands
by Ted Peck
Most of the time I'm a bucket fisherman. Although there are several portable ice shanties ready to go in the pole barn, about 75% of the 45-75 trips out on the ice every winter are spent astride a six-gallon bucket. The reason is two-fold. When guiding, clients literally keep me hopping. There is usually little time to sit down, let alone get comfortable. When "fun fishing" the first essentia... more

November 2013

Ground Blind Great Option In Late Rut
by Ted Peck
"Don't the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time" kept running through my mind as I set up a PrimeTime ground blind at the edge of a food plot near several heavily used deer trails a couple of weeks ago. I wasn't hunting out of ground blinds much back in 1976 when Mickey Gilley penned this tune as part of the soundtrack for the movie Urban Cowboy. It would have worked for a movie called "Timb... more

October 2013

Perching on Lake Winnebago called "Best Ever"
by Ted Peck
Greg Karch and his buddy Tim Euting both grew up fishing the vast and mysterious waters of Lake Winnebago. Neither can remember perch fishing being as good as it is this year. These two guides and fishing educators both predict the best is yet to come in the first part of October. "Most folks come to Winnebago looking for walleyes," Euting said. "These fish are our bread-and-butter throughout ... more

August 2013

Smallmouth on the Fly
by Ted Peck
This has been the summer of the bug. On a good night you can swat enough mosquitos to make a meat loaf. Then there are the gnats that treat DEET like chocolate syrup, doing touch-and-go landings in your eyes and nostrils. Squadrons of big dragonflies dart across the water like tiny Apache gunships. These are good bugs. They eat mosquitos. Recent mayfly hatches are the biggest I've seen in... more

July 2013

Advice From The Old Guide
by Ted Peck
Late last month I got to fish a few days with a young guide named Josh Tiegen who works Wisconsin's northernmost waters. The first time we fished together he was still a teenager. Last winter he got his captain's license to enable working the St. Louis River and Chequamegon Bay. At just 21, Josh was the youngest student in the captain's class. Tiegen was mentored by legendary guide Jim Hudson, ... more

May 2013

Trappin Early Season Bass
by Ted Peck
Statistics indicate this is the coldest spring we've seen in the upper Midwest since 1951. Perspective on this factoid depends on how old you are. When I look in the mirror and see a face that's been around since '51 looking back at me there are more wrinkles than freckles from more than a half-century out in the wind, rain and sun doing what we love to do. Thousands of days on the water spent ... more

April 2013

Bomber Tactics From An Old River Rat
by Ted Peck
My first real nice Mississippi River walleye started out as about an eight pounder. She hit one of the original Bombers long-line trolled behind a little aluminum boat above a wingdam on Pool 13 back in 1967. The old red-and-white Bombers was one of about six or eight lures in a rusty Old Pal tackle box. She really made the rod tip of my fiberglass rod thump. Especially when chunking against t... more

March 2013

Fishing During The Flush
by Ted Peck
Flooded cornfields usually don't top the list of productive locations for chasing walleyes. But when a river is running belly-full from runoff and rain this refuge from raging current can provide your best odds for hooking up. Professional walleye angling legend Keith Kavajecz and I found fish holding in this bizarre location one spring about 20 years ago on the Illinois River. Keith was pre-f... more

December 2012

8 Tips To Make Ice Fishing More Fun
by Ted Peck
Fishing's fourth season has seen quantum changes over the past 20 years with sophisticated electronics, power augers, quickly deployed portable shanties, sensitive jigging rods and dozens of options in ice fishing lures light years beyond staggering out with a stick and a spud to sit on a six-gallon bucket like grandpa used to do. Every winter brings new gadgets and accessories to the hardwate... more

November 2012

Dogfish Have Jurassic Bark
by Ted Peck
Keep your line in the water long enough and you'll eventually tangle with a dogfish, perhaps the most maligned rough fish swimming in Midwestern rivers. Let's be honest here. If you're an angler who pretty much advocates catch and release a great deal of the angling experience is based upon the pull-the pugilistic ability of that critter on the other end of the line to rock your world. Those... more

October 2012

How Old Is That Goat?
by Ted Peck
With the catch-and-release ethic so much a part of sport fishing in the 21st century you would think the freshwater drum would be King instead of "The Goat". Drum, a.k.a. sheephead and many less glorious terms, is the Rodney Dangerfield of rough fish. This designation in itself is little more than piscatory racism. The drum is a hard fighter, willing biter and exceptional table fare. I be... more

September 2012

The Ultimate Fishing Camp
by Ted Peck
When I was a kid hours were spent thumbing through old copies of Field & Stream and Outdoor Life. The back of these venerated magazines had pages of intriguing ads for exotic hunting and fishing locations. One of these fantasy destinations was Andy Myers Lodge in Ontario where a guest could catch trophy musky, pike and walleye. These possibilities were surreal for a young angler who could on... more

August 2012

Bimbo Gifford Skunk is Nightmare for Bluegills
by Ted Peck
Until just over a month ago I had never heard of a Bimbo Gifford Skunk. When Dells guide Nick Olson mentioned this well-crafted #10 fly/jig in casual conversation I asked if he knew Rick Anderson, owner of the AAA Tackle Shop in Spooner. He did not. The week before Olson and I absolutely pounded smallmouth bass in the Wisconsin River at the Dells, Anderson had me out on a pontoon boat near Spoo... more

July 2012

Smallmouth on Feeding Binge at Dell
by Ted Peck
Smallmouth bass are on a full-blown feeding binge right now downstream from the Wisconsin Dells dam on our namesake river. Extremely low water levels have concentrated baitfish by the gazillions close to rocks in shallow water, close to much deeper water and near riffles several miles below the dam where a sign cautions "no rentals beyond this point." Thousands of smallmouth bass are working... more

June 2012

Minn-Kota I-Pilot is Invaluable River Tool
by Ted Peck
If rotary dial cell phones were available, I would have one. The next best technology for a simple river rat is one of those Trac Phones where you buy pre-paid minutes. Mine is held together with duct tape and the "3" button is broken, So if you want to reach me out on the water and you're calling from a number with a "3" it will be awhile before I get back to you. This phone has a voice ... more

May 2012

Crankin’ For Slip-Sliding Walleyes
by Ted Peck
The old saying 'what goes up must come down' can be applied to walleyes after their spring spawning run in a river. Legions of 'eye chasers will be out there jigging and rigging for their myopic Manitou when the fish head upstream. Few-if any-remain on the water when consensus amongst the most revered local river rats is that the big parade is over. Many head for other rivers where the walleye... more

March 2012

Jigs are Best Walleye Weapon
by Ted Peck
You seldom see a snowplow attached to the front end of a Corvette. Such a rig could probably do the job. But flying the 'Vette down the road to a shed where the plow truck waits is a more ergonomic use of both these "tools". Some anglers have a sports car with a snowplow attitude when it comes to selecting the most deadly walleye weapon yet created: the jig. The basic quarter ounce ballhead... more

February 2012

Oatmeal "Frosting" Can Trigger Mid-Winter Bite
by Ted Peck
Mother Nature has made little ice this past week but those waters which wear winter lids haven't lost ice since the Packer's season melted away. Days are getting longer. Come Superbowl Sunday we will be playing the back nine of winter-as least from a fish activity perspective. On those lakes with 'safe' ice fish are in mid-winter pattern. Essentially this means active biting at dawn, du... more

December 2011

Goodbye, Mississippi?
by Ted Peck
When I was a kid pancakes at Grandma's house was a Sunday tradition. I'll never forget the warm maple syrup curling out of the elephant's trunk from that antique ceramic decanter. Grandma said the elephant decanter used to belong to her grandmother, wife of a man named Shrake who served in the Union army as a civil engineer. When he mustered out of the service great, great grandpa Shrake had a ... more

November 2011

Cold Water Walleyes on the Big River
by Ted Peck
The Mississippi is getting sleepy, easing downstream in shades of gray which mirror skies overhead. By month's end backwaters will freeze hard enough to allow tentative steps by a vanguard of bucketeers whose number will soon be legion. Last year November 24th marked the first trip out on the ice for me. It was good to see the spring bobber dance again, a welcome change from almost daily forays... more

October 2011

The Minnow Man
by Ted Peck
A basket full of fish is icing on the cake for many folks trying to gain reprieve from life's stresses with a little time out on the water. There is much to be said for taking time to ponder obtuse concepts like cloud formations, migrating birds-or the inside of eyelids-on a crisp October afternoon. On countless occasions over the past half-century I have given serious consideration to bait. W... more

September 2011

Pike Chain is Outstanding Northwoods Option
by Ted Peck
Minocqua, Eagle River and Hayward (Wisconsin) are no longer the fishing destinations I knew as a kid or even as my kids fell in love with back in the 1980's. All of these tourist meccas have morphed into little more than the Wisconsin Dells with loons-- some zipping around in SUV's with out of state license tags. It is difficult to venture far from the beaten path when this travel route is con... more

August 2011

Fishing hotter than weather on Big Green Lake
by Ted Peck
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 knowledg... more

July 2011

Chetek May Be State's Best Panfish Water
by Ted Peck
Dick Urbonya works harder at not putting effort into catching fish than anybody I have ever known. The retired Beloit firefighter has always had a knack for finding subtle nuances which make his minnow, waxworm, redworm or cricket just a little bit more provocative than a similar bait swimming 10 feet away. "If you let the bait do the work its easier to focus on doing the catching," he winks ... more

June 2011

A Guide's Day Off
by Ted Peck
What does a fishing guide do on his birthday? Take the day off and go fishin', of course! Another day on the Mississippi would feel too much like just another day at the 'office'. Time for a road trip to my second most favorite water on the planet-The Wisconsin River between Merrill and Brokaw. Walleyes don't run as big here as on Pool 9, but muskies are almost pests and the smallmouth fi... more

May 2011

Angel With Yellow Fur
by Ted Peck
An angel was born on Aug. 11, 2001 just north of Cassville. She didn't look like an angel according to our perception of angels. This one has a tail instead of wings and soft yellow fur. I didn't realize Hanna Banana was an angel until last Wednesday. We went on a turkey scouting/shed antler hunting mission on a neighbor's 200 acre farm the day before. I was tired after working along a tall ri... more

April 2011

Cold Water Catfish
by Ted Peck
Upper Midwest anglers have walleyes on the brain this time of year. Their numbers are legion, perhaps because other piscatorial opportunities remain unseen. Catfish are a virtually untapped resource with equal reputation at the dinner table and greater 'street cred' in the realm of hand-to-fin combat. Why don't we chase this whiskered walleye on the early side of serious summer? Tradition? Soc... more
Maumee Madness
by Ted Peck
Twenty-three anglers stood waist deep in the chilly Maumee River waiting for the sun to peak over the horizon east of Toledo, signaling the start of another day of fishing. There probably would have been more eager walleye chasers along this hundred yard run of riffles, but it was a Tuesday morning and the ambient temperature was only 22 degrees. On weekends when the annual spring run out of La... more

March 2011

Use Your Power Wisely
by Ted Peck
Life is a circle, with time on this planet known only to the Creator. Most of us would like to lead a fulfilling life, seen as part of the solution instead of being part of the problem when our time on the planet is done. Humans are the alpha life form on the big, blue marble which is planet earth. We learn early on that life is a treasure. At least human life. There are severe consequences fo... more

February 2011

Arkansas' Spectacular Stripers
by Ted Peck
Jimmy Buffet is right-a change in latitude can make a world of difference in a person's attitude. A couple hundred miles on a southern vector might wipe the snarl off your face. Cross the Arkansas state line and it's hard to keep from laughing out loud. Arkansas is truly a sportsman's paradise. Right now this state offers at least three things you won't find much of close to home: open water, ... more

January 2011

The Mississippi Is A Good January Destination
by Ted Peck
The concept of finding a hot bite in early January is an oxymoron which only a moron could believe is possible. 'Hot' is a relative term when the topic is activity levels in cold blooded creatures. Now is the time when a day on the ice usually starts out with slow fishing then slacks right off from there. Fish in 33 degree water don't need to feed often or eat very much. They can somet... more

December 2010

Sonar, Shock And Awe
by Ted Peck
Those of us who have been around awhile remember where they were when JFK was assassinated. I heard the news over a loudspeaker in sixth grade music class. This tragedy changed the lives of all Americans. School was dismissed and I arrived home to find Dad hooking up his old green flatbottom boat to the back of our '63 Chevy BelAir. He was headed to The River in pursuit of walleyes and growled... more

November 2010

Fishing Towards Winter On The River
by Ted Peck
Old Man River continues to show fishermen his complete repertoire of curves, fast balls and sliders in 2010 as we move through the 11th inning of a 12 inning game. Lord only knows the changes we may see between now and Christmas in a year which started with less than stellar ice fishing into an early spring, gin clear June into a summer and fall which vacillated between flood stage and high d... more

October 2010

Fall Fishing On The Mississippi
by Ted Peck
The Mississippi River will change a hundred times-at least one hundred times-between the first of October and the end of the month. It's easy to write these words as the time has come to tear September off the calendar. The River has been running belly full, brown and angry for a solid week with more weeds coming down than I have ever seen in almost six decades on this water. That's okay. Wh... more

August 2010

Fishing Wisconsin's Best Muskie Water
by Ted Peck
"Kurt Schultz was one of those rare kids who learned how to cast before he could walk," veteran guide Bill Melanson said of his 30 year old protégé. "He was born to be a fishing guide and the Creator planted this young buck right in the middle of Wisconsin's best muskie water." Melanson believes the 13 mile run of Wisconsin River from Merrill down to Brokaw is the most productive muskie water i... more

July 2010

Gulf Oil Spill Worse Than We’re Told
by Ted Peck
Facing you own mortality is a tough bear to tussle with. If the Biblical allotment of three score and ten years holds water, I still have a good 10 years to fish. A lifetime of chasing fish all over North America has spawned several trips with annual adventure status. One of these is the February run to Louisiana's gulf coast to chase redfish and speckled trout with Capn. Daryl Dispensire. R... more

June 2010

Channel Cats on the Prowl
by Ted Peck
If you're one of those folks more at home in the great outdoors than a man-made environment, "cotton" raining down from cottonwood trees just before the Memorial Day weekend was a welcome sign. The parachuting seed signals catfish spawning is nigh, typically beginning within 4-5 days. Channel cats spawn when water temps reach 78 degrees. This benchmark arrived 4-5 days after the cottonwood rai... more

May 2010

Fishing Wing Dams
by Ted Peck
Wingdams are one of the biggest fish magnets on the Mississippi River. They are also profound hazards to recreational navigation-and a source of curiosity in those who want to discover more about this magnificent fishery without the painful expense of repairing props, skegs and lower units. Know this: if you try seriously to reap the bounty found on wingdams damage to equipment is a matter of w... more

April 2010

Fishing A Transverse Current
by Ted Peck
The slackwater/fast water interface frequently found in conjunction with a backeddy is a popular haunt of riverine walleyes in the spring. Locating one of these fish magnets is fairly easy. But orienting a boat or making a cast that puts your offering in the optimum strike window is a study in precision. Anchoring up is one angling skill that many casual anglers don't take seriously. Ri... more

March 2010

Time For A New Boat?
by Ted Peck
My tax guy tells me I need to buy a new boat every five years. This is the year. My 1860 VSD Lund was ever faithful. But it's time for her to go. With the Bush tax cuts set to expire the end of this year, I suspect many folks who fish for a living are pondering accelerated depreciation schedules on their "offices" too. Those of you who have shared my 1860 VSD know she was a great boat to fish ... more

February 2010

Open that Door!
by Ted Peck
Door County, Wisconsin has been one of my favorite fishing destinations for over 30 years. This is a place where you want to bring all the gear-from downrigger rods to perch jerkin' tackle-because the bite will always be good but finding the best action is a study in versatility. Packing for a roadie to Wisconsin's thumb is a little easier this time of year. All you need is the ice fishing stu... more

January 2010

Camera Or Flasher For Ice Fishing?
by Ted Peck
There is no doubt electronics will improve your ice fishing success by at least 75 percent. Both an underwater camera and sonar flasher unit will help you put more fish on the ice. Which is better? Ask two old bucketeers what they think about either electronics or choice of underwear and you'll eventually get the same response. Camera or flasher? Boxers or briefs? Depends. If you're an ... more

December 2009

Survival Fishing
by Ted Peck
The hardwater season is coming late to the upper Midwest this year. Will 2010 be a year where we're back in boats by mid-February or will we still view tip-ups as the gamefish weapon of choice when turkey season is part of the agenda? A bucket will be the primary boat seat for 6-14 weeks for most Lake-Linkers no matter how winter shakes out. Might as well make the best of it. Panfish get the l... more

November 2009

Targeting Fall Crappies
by Ted Peck
With so many hunting and fishing options crappies are all but ignored between now and first ice, even though some of the year's best opportunities for a nice sack of slabs occurs over the next 30 days. I would rather fish crappies on a river system than a lake. Chasing slabs in the fall is typically a boom or bust scenario. But wood is always part of the strategy. On a huge river like the Missi... more

October 2009

The Fabulous Flatcats of Vernon County
by Ted Peck
Every serious angler has a favorite fish which they pursue with some degree of passion. Many chase Wisconsin's state fish: the muskie. DNR surveys indicate the walleye is our most popular gamefish. Some find happiness in a nice stringer of panfish. Bass are a favorite target in this part of the state, but don't cause much of a stir in the northcountry. Smallmouth bass are generally considered ... more

September 2009

Wausau Is Guide's Favorite Getaway
by Ted Peck
When I close my eyes for a 15 minute catnap and see my beloved Mississippi it's time to get away for a few days. Old Man River meets almost every fishing need. There are just two exceptions-salmon and muskies. The salmon itch has been well scratched this summer with a half-dozen forays to Algoma, Sheboygan and Racine. But the need to see a substantial Esox masquinongy charging wildly at a Top Raid... more

August 2009

So You Wanna Be A Fishing Pro?
by Ted Peck
An hour long phone conversation with Lake-Link's Darin Novak prompted this month's article. You won't find information on fooling August smallmouth or late summer panfish in the words that follow-although this is really what I want to tell you about. If you're a Lake-Link member you're already somewhere between passion and obsession when it comes to fishing. At some point along the way you've ... more

July 2009

Predicting Summer Patterns On Ol Man River
by Ted Peck
One of the biggest mistakes in my college career was taking Greek Philosophy 481. This was an advanced course for philosophy students. Not a good choice for a journalism major who selected the class because the time fit his fishing plans. Besides a welcome "D" this class produced two epiphanies: philosophy students would rather talk about work than actually working-and a man can not step into the... more

June 2009

Top 10 Failures Of Boating Courtesy
by Ted Peck
Nothing puts the pin in a fishing party hog faster than being forced to contend with discourteous boaters. Natural Resource organizations in many states-Wisconsin included-require young boaters to successfully complete a boating safety course before piloting a watercraft. I think all boaters should be required to show proficiency in boat operation. Further, course content should include informati... more

May 2009

Milk Run Catfish
by Ted Peck
Not long ago a young man asked me which stretch of Rock River offered the best catfishing. The honest answer is 'that run of river you happen to be fishing at any given time'. The first couple miles above Lake Koshkonong is a great place to get your string stretched. So is that mile or so of the Rock from the Jefferson dam to the school. Fishing around Fort Atkinson is pretty good as well. O... more

April 2009

Making An End Run On The Spring Run
by Ted Peck
Recent posts on the Pool 9-Genoa link confirm our human tendencies to make predictions on fish behavior based on limited information. It's human nature to see somebody catch a fish and try to mimic their behavior or to honestly believe walleyes are about to spawn on the Mississippi River in mid-March simply because the surface water temperature has warmed to 45 degrees. Surface temperatures on... more

March 2009

Missouri: A Great March Option
by Ted Peck
My Dad was a wealth of homilies and old guy sayings which still whisper in my ear, even though he's been gone for almost 20 years now. One which comes to mind almost every day is "the best way to get two rods tangled is to get them within 10 feet of each other". Others don't come to mind so often but are equally profound. "In March you can gain a week on spring for every hundred miles travele... more

February 2009

Change Tactics For Panfish On Winter's "Back 9"
by Ted Peck
There is no doubt ice fishers are playing the 'back nine' of Winter in Wisconsin. But make no mistake, the hardwater season is far from over. Environmental changes below the ice are changing behavior in panfish, forcing successful anglers to adapt if they want to put some fish in the frying pan. Barring a truly bizarre change in weather we should still have "good" ice for another 3-4 weeks on s... more

January 2009

Midwinter Strategies
by Ted Peck
Thirty-one is a great number if you're talking walleye length. But when the home barometer needle hovers here you can bet the bite will be tough. The active feeding window for fish has been small lately….roughly the size of a peephole in the armored door of a crack house. Arctic high pressure has dominated the for over a week now, no surprise with January weather arriving a month later than usua... more

December 2008

Fishing's 4th Season Has Arrived
by Ted Peck
Fishing's 4th season howled into southern Wisconsin just after Thanksgiving, snap-freezing open water into walkable ice statewide virtually overnight. Most years the five-gallon bucket brigade migrates from sheltered areas like the "ditches" near Stoughton to Cherokee Marsh, Whalen's Grade, and sheltered bays of Madison lakes over a period of several weeks as the two inches of clear ice considere... more

November 2008

Check Mid-Depths For November Crappies
by Ted Peck
Our recent monster cold front last weekend brought most fishing activity to a screeching halt. Exceptions to this pre-winter wake up call are walleyes, muskies and crappies. Walleyes and muskies (and their respective kin saugers and northern pike) get most of the attention from the few who are still out there on the water. This suits retired Beloit firefighter Bobby Burnett just fine. Crapp... more

October 2008

River Fishing By The Numbers
by Ted Peck
October is a time of profound change in Midwestern rivers. On Mississippi River Pool 9 where I guide water temperatures were still hovering around 70 degrees at the end of September. A cold north wind blew that page off the calendar, causing water temperatures to tumble and fish to come alive. Some folks call September "Slump-tember. There is so much food in the water for fish to eat action ca... more

September 2008

Slammin' Sneaky September River Slabs
by Ted Peck
The Mississippi can be described as a dark mystery wrapped up in an enigma. Sometimes fish seem to be everywhere. Sometimes they just disappear. Crappies certainly fall into this category-easy as pie under late ice, May and October but tough to find as summer morphs into fall. Bear in mind these critters are never tied up. This is especially true in a river system where dynamics of their ecosystem... more

August 2008

Afraid to touch a fish!
by Ted Peck
My faith in the future of America was shaken to the very core not long ago when my sister-in-law and nephew "Arthur" came to visit for the weekend. My wife's sister works long hours as a nurse trying to provide for her son. His Dad bailed out when the kid was 10 years old. Raising a boy into a man is difficult when two parents aren't in a household. When Mom has to do it all alone, development ca... more
Summer Wingdams On The Miss
by Ted Peck
There are no 'sure things' on the Mississippi River in August. But rocky fingers called "wingdams" which help maintain a nine-foot navigation channel are pretty close-provided you can "read" them, of course. Be forewarned that learning to "read" wingdams will mean multiple trips to the prop shop for repairs. You'll ding or break off skegs on the motor. Maybe lose a lower unit or two. Wingdam fishi... more

July 2008

Hints For High Water Cats
by Ted Peck
Catfish have at least one characteristic for the feline mammal which gave them the name-when threatened a catfish will often seek refuge in a tree. Boiling currents in the Rock and other rivers push virtually all fish species to seek refuge from high and roily water. Native intelligence tells channel catfish that the downstream edge of shoreline timber will provide both refuge and easy food. R... more
The Pike Of Summer
by Ted Peck
"Esox lucius" is known by many names beyond its official Latin designation. Water wolf. Gator. Snake…and several other more colorful descriptions not suitable for this newspaper. For many, northern pike are the black sheep of gamefish. Muskie hunters revile them. Bass anglers curse their tendency to eat $6 crankbaits and swim away. Panfishermen don't even want to bring them in the boat. If you can... more

June 2008

Outsmarting Early-Season Eyes
by Ted Peck
Thirty-five years of marriage has made me a better fishing guide, although I must admit guiding and fishing were both more fun back before the marital knot was tied and cinched down tighter than a loop in boat launch line you were foolish enough to let a client hold when backing the "office" into the lake. Catching walleyes from May until the arrival of serious summer is pretty straightforward... more

May 2008

Chasing May Smallies On The Big River
by Ted Peck
"What's the big deal…you catch lots of bass?" my wife snorted as she witnessed a victory dance accompanied by multiple howls and war whoops. No point in explaining to someone torn from the deep metaphysical truths in the latest issue of Oprah that a 23 1/2 inch, pre-spawn smallmouth bass is a really nice fish… or angst upon discovering the camera was at home and not in the boat. What do you d... more

April 2008

Finding Success On April 'Eyes
by Ted Peck
Everybody is Irish on St. Patrick's Day. This month it seems like all who sported shamrocks, sipped green beer and danced a jig have tied a jig on a spinning rod and morphed into walleye anglers…an every one of them arrived at the boat launch down at the river 10 minutes before you did. A number of them have forgotten how to back boat trailers, check for drain plugs or ensure there is fresh ga... more

March 2008

Plastics And Hair For Pre-Spawn Walleyes
by Ted Peck
Walleyes are moving seriously into the spawning mode across Wisconsin and I haven't thrown a minnow at 'em yet. The reason stems from a convoluted mixture of logic and philosophy, which so far has revealed truly promising results. This self-imposed livebait ban is centered around theories and conventional wisdom in regard to walleyes which was thrown into cyberspace on the www.in-depthangling.co... more

February 2008

Cold Weather Boating Tips
by Ted Peck
The Bible lesson found in Matthew 14 is having great impact on my fishing efforts this winter. You may recall Peter saw Jesus walking on the water and headed his way, perhaps to find out where the fish were biting. Suddenly he realized that most fishermen can only get away with walking on the water by faith…or in February in the upper Midwest. At least most years…on most waters. This winter ha... more

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