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Nothing marks the start of spring like the thousands of walleyes that migrate up the Fox River each year...and the anglers that follow them. The walleye fishing on the Fox River is world class and offers a good chance at a walleye weighing more than 10 lbs. Understanding the dynamics of this river, such as how water clarity can change with precipitation and runoff, is critical to finding and locating big walleyes; and getting them into the boat.
The section of the Fox River below the De Pere dam is 7 miles in length. The majority of fishing is done in the first mile from the fish refuge located north of the De Pere dam to roughly the Highway 172 bridge. There are plenty of fishing opp... more
Over the years, I have read a kajillion articles on how to catch spring panfish. Some of them have been excellent and some have been a little farfetched in my opinion. I believe catching spring panfish is not that difficult if one sticks to the basics.
The first and most important concept in catching crappie and gills is finding them. I don't care what kind of angling skill a person might have, you can't catch fish if they are not there.
For me, the most important aspect of finding shallow panfish is understanding why they are shallow to begin with. These early season fish are not up shallow to spawn as was once promoted by many. This springtime, shallow water migration is all about fo... more
Knowing that spring is a long way off in Wisconsin this year, we decided to take a family vacation to Port Charlotte, Florida. Yes, we had sunshine and 80 degree temperatures for most of our trip. Anyone who knows me, knows that I never leave home without my fishing pole and this trip was no exception. I booked a couple of fishing trips and had my sights on some shoreline fishing as well. A local bait shop, suggested Captain Billy Barton of Scale and Tails charters. Billy, a life-long resident of Florida has had countless hours on the water and has spent many days 100 miles off shore catching anything from Black Tipped Shark to Grouper, on those types of trips, success could mean 10,000... more
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, America would be a better place.
The tackle industry used to do business that way. If you designed a new lure and you liked that lure you could patent it. Period.
Other manufacturers would respect your efforts. If it sold like hotcakes, they might change it 10 percent to avoid patent infringemen... more
With near-record days below zero and a winter that we have not seen since the 70s, ice fishing tactics this year will need to be adjusted during the month of March to put fish on the ice.
The winter is showing that we are nearly two weeks behind to normal. The recent Battle on Bago results should be testament enough as anglers put more burbots onto the ice and into the contest than ever before. Typically the freshwater cod is off of its spawning grounds by this time of year.
Fish in general will also feel the stress of this winter soon enough if they already have not. Thick ice, coupled with snow cover on top of the lakes, causes a lot of problems. Without sunlight hitting the wa... more
Another open water fishing season is closing in. It's still a ways off, but it's getting closer every day. Maybe the most important thing you can do to enhance your fishing is to use fresh line. Fresh line will help you enjoy your fishing and catch more fish. Here's why.
Line that has been on a reel for an extended period of time probably isn't in ideal fishing form. It may not cast well due to memory. Memory is when line remembers the shape it has been in. If line has been wrapped around the spool of a reel for a long time, it might not want to straighten out as much as necessary when you are casting. Casting distance and ease of casting is not as good with line that has memory. M... more
Application is name-of-the-game for determining best ice fishing line
Whenever you play on the fringes of extreme, the choices you make truly do impact success.
Ever see what -25 degrees does to motor oil? How about fishing line?
When I started ice fishing line choice was simple. You used mono on "jiggle sticks" and Dacron on tip-ups. Pound test was determined by size of fish targeted-2- or 4-pound test for panfish, 8-pound for walleye, and 20 or so for pike.
The biggest issue I struggled with back then was line memory. Cold, stiff mono went down the hole in coils so I'd load the line with enough split shot to get it straight, then select a float large enough to keep it al... more
It might not seem like it, but the late ice season is not that far off. With Polar Vortex's and such displaying their power, warmer weather seems like a long way off. However, as the days continue to get longer and the sun moves farther north, we can be assured that the fish under the ice will sense a change and start to bite. One of the things that will determine whether or not they will bite your bait is color. Following are some thoughts on the importance of color under the ice.
It's important to keep in mind that color is just one consideration whether you're ice-fishing or open water fishing. If the fish want to eat, they'll sometimes eat your bait regardless of color. Other ti... more
After first ice, the bluegills will migrate from the shallow water haunts of early season ice and suspend over the main lake basin. The best months to catch deepwater gills' are Late January through February.
I consider deepwater any water depth over 15 feet of water. Deep water bluegills are roaming and don't concentrate in any area for a long period of time. When they move they are usually in small schools of 5 or 6 fish. I will always catch the upper fish in the school first not to spook the fish that are lower in the water column. I find that the upper fish in the water column seem to bite better the fish that remain tight to the bottom. The greatest asset to the deepwater gill ... more
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 will never end. If the icy grip of the silent season ever recedes, Gruenwald will chase it.
Gruenwald is an ice fishing junkie. He has accepted this addiction, even penning a series of books on this sport-"Hooked on Ice Fishing".
Two years ago he made the logical progression in spreading the h... more
Have you ever heard the saying "ninety percent of the fish are in ten percent of the water?" I find this to be very true when ice fishing for panfish. Ice trolling is a technique that I use to locate elusive schools of panfish roaming deep water basins and even shallow areas devoid of weeds.
I start by drilling dozens of holes using a cordless drill attached to a 5" strike master hand auger via the Beaver Dam Drill Converter. This lightweight, quiet, but yet powerful combination, allows me to make Swiss cheese of the lake with ease and without fatigue. In the last few seasons I have even started drilling holes while remaining on my 4-wheeler because of the time it saves. I literally... more
Discovering Hidden Hotspots on Ice
Written in conjnction with Brian "Bro" Brosdahl
Right now, there's a hidden hot spot in your favorite lake, and most years it never gets touched. "There's this lake I've fished my whole life," says legendary ice angler and guide, Brian "Bro" Brosdahl. "Thought I knew it pretty well. Then several years ago, I ran the entire basin in a boat armed with Side Imaging. What an eye-opener. Discovered a sweet spot that had likely been untapped for decades, maybe longer. It was just filthy with crappies and big sunfish. Still is."
The truth, Bro says, is that every waterbody in the Ice Belt has secrets to share, if only anglers will "listen." Whether it's a r... more
Many years ago my father and I headed out to the Bay of Green Bay for some ice fishing perch action. We nearly lost the truck due to bad ice and the fishing failed. The fishing in the Bay since then has gone down the drain and so has part of the economy. The poor fishing has affected local guides and related services.
With the advent of invasive species most notably the goby game fish have learned to adapt and have made the invasive species part of the food web. A fish that has taken advantage of this is the whitefish. Their numbers are at an all time high right now and the interest in fishing for them has brought the guiding business, as well as the economy, back in the right direc... more
In a perfect world, we would always be able to fish for fish that make us look good. Fish that burn up to the presentation and rise to meet and greet you. Fish that are looking for a meal and want to eat. So often with fishing, we are dealt our hand of cards however and there are times when we have to react and make adjustments to what the fish are giving us.
Massive cold fronts and other factors can shut the activity of fish down. Lop sided forage bases that offer endless forage options can also create tough winter bites. There are many situations where the fish are the exact opposite of aggressive. There are times when moving the bait aggressively causes fish to flee the other... more
Schools of perch often seem to continually be on the move. When there are several mouths to feed, sitting in one location doesn't work. A school of perch can devour everything in its path. I would hate to be a minnow or crawfish when jumbo and all of his friends roll through. Because schools of perch are typically here today and gone tomorrow because of their nomadic lifestyle, finding and getting on top of fish can be always fleeting.
How do you land on a moving target? Sitting in a good location where fish are likely to roll through isn't a bad strategy. If the fish are moving through and you have good traffic underneath you
why move? The other strategy is a run and gun menta... more
The middle part of the ice-fishing season will soon be here. There are things we do in the middle of the season that we don't do earlier in the year. For more fishing success in the next few weeks, keep these ideas in mind.
I was fishing for perch through the ice last year in South Dakota with Blake and Taylor Anderson. These guys are as sharp as it gets when it comes to ice-fishing. The perch seemed to be kind of spooky at mid-day. We could see numbers of perch on the bottom with our sonar, and we were catching them regularly, but Blake and Taylor were catching them more regularly than I was. Here's why,,we think. We weren't keeping any perch that day, we were releasing them right... more
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 court sized parcel of ice will. Soon 12 become 20.
If those who arrived first had any kind of active bite going on before the troops arrived you can bet aggressive feeding will come to a screeching halt once the tap dancing overhead begins.
Winter bluegills often locate over flats. You can fi... more
When ice fishing, it's hard to beat the adrenaline rush that a triggered tip-up flag brings. The quick response that follows can be quite entertaining as well. Watching your buddies run to the hole, performing an uncoordinated ice skating routine the entire way. I don't know what's more amusing, watching someone fall on their rear or watching them pretend nothing happened after getting up. Regardless, tip-up fishing can be a blast. As long as the proper tactics are used, this style of fishing can be very productive, especially when targeting the notorious Northern Pike. Having the proper equipment, knowing where pike hang out, and understanding their feeding habits will significantly i... more
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