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The Run is On!

By Dave Duwe - April 1, 2008
With the game fish season closed until the first weekend of May, some of the best walleye fishing of the year can be had in most of the major river systems. Walleyes are pulling out of the lakes and impoundments to the spawning flats in the rivers. It is called the "Walleye Run" and it is on!

April is one of the best months to catch the active fish. I like the Fox River in DePere, WI and Oshkosh, WI the Wisconsin River in the Wisconsin Dells, and the Rock River in Fort Atkinson, WI. The Fox River in DePere has by far the biggest fish potential. Every spring there are many 10 lb plus fish that are caught there. The Wisconsin River has a lot of good "eating" sized Walleyes and Saugers. Some days you can easily catch 100 fish.

My favorite presentation is the tried and true jig and minnow combination. I prefer to use Arkie Jigs 1/4 oz Red Sickle hook jig in pink or chartreuse or Bait-Rigs Odd Ball jig. The weight I use is dependent on the current conditions on the river, which will also dictate the size of the jig head to use. To prevent snags and sensitivity you want to use a jig weight that will keep your line vertical to the bottom. I like using a 6'medium action pole with baitcasting reels. I will always use 6lb. crystal Fireline. The shorter rod teamed with a baitcasting reel will help you adjust to changing depths much easier. I will raise the jig 3-4 inches off the bottom, be aware the fish will hit frequently as the jig falls.

My second favorite rig is the Lindy rig, which is a "walking sinker" from 1/4 oz to 3/4 oz and a hook or floating jig head. The leader length I will vary to see what the fish like best. As a rule, I prefer a 24 inch length. I will use a small split shot to hold the walking sinker into place. By not using a swivel, you can change the leader length without re-tying the whole rig.

In DePere, WI a jig and Lindy rig will work but the best presentation is a crankbait. I like the Shallow Walleye Bandit by Bandit Lures or Rapalas Husky Jerk Bait. My favorite colors are chrome/blue or chrome/black. My favorite location is close to the dam in 5-6 ft of water. Night fishing does produce the bigger fish on the Fox River in DePere.

"My favorite presentation is the tried and true jig and minnow combination. I prefer to use Arkie Jigs 1/4 oz Red Sickle hook jig in pink or chartreuse or Bait-Rigs Odd Ball jig."
On the Fox River in Oshkosh, I prefer to work the river channels. The channel is approximately 15-17 ft of water. My preferred method of fishing is drifting with the current while jig fishing. I will employ the use of the bow mount trolling motor to slow the drift, always pointing the bow into the current.

The Wisconsin Dells area has an abundant population of Walleyes and Saugers. I have had some of my largest catches of spawning fish in this area. I work the deep holes in 20-28 ft of water. Like the Fox River, I like to drift fish, while controlling the drift with the bow mount trolling motor. I like to use Lindy rigs and jigs tipped with a minnow.

Blackhawk Island on the Rock River near Fort Atkinson is my favorite location on the Rock. There are numerous boat launches near there. I will jig fish this river in 5-6 ft of water. At the time this article is being written, the river is out of its banks and flooding the surrounding area which makes it very difficult to fish with all the floating debris.

The "Walleye Run" bite is such a quality bite that the fish get a tremendous amount of fishing pressure. Try going during the week or when the weather isn't quite perfect to avoid the crowds. Most of the rivers have specific bag limits so make sure you know the rules before you hit the water. Enjoy one of the rites of spring and head to a river near you.

Author Dave Duwe
Dave Duwe
Full-time guide Dave Duwe owns and operates Dave Duwe's Guide Service, featuring the lakes of Walworth County, WI. Dave has been guiding for over 20 years and is one of Southeastern Wisconsin's best multi-species anglers. Dave is an accomplished outdoor writer and seminar speaker. He is a member of the Great Lakes Outdoor Writers Association and Walworth County Visitor Bureau. Sponsors include: Lund Boats(Jerry's Sport Service Inc.), Mercury Marine, Arkie Jigs, and Vexilar Marine Electronics, a pro-staff member of Minn-Kota trolling motors,Hummingbird graphs, Cannon downriggers, Lindy, Pure Fishing and All Terrain Tackle. For more information, please check out Dave's website .
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