WALTERS COLUMN: Tough walleye bite on the Fox River

WALTERS COLUMN: Tough walleye bite on the Fox River

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Mark Walters gear

It takes a lot of gear to live comfortably when camping on the ice.

Hello friends,

Green Bay is arguably one of the best walleye fisheries in Wisconsin. The Fox River flows north from Columbia County to Green Bay. The last dam on the Fox is at De Pere, which is a very clean and pleasant industrial city which borders Green Bay.

Each winter, pre-spawn walleye that live in Green Bay, and walleye that are native to the river, migrate to the dam and wait for the water temperature to hit 45 degrees so they can drop their spawn and then swim back to the bay.

For the fifth winter in a row, I would camp on the ice at De Pere with the plan of catching some walleye with both jig poles and tip ups.

Friday, Feb. 21

High 26, low 16

My plan was to park at Voyageur Park and make three trips with my sled, from the truck to where I would camp and fish. Each trek was about 500 yards, and as usual, I was short on daylight. I had no cares as I had almost 48 hours to spend on the ice, and figured somewhere along the line I would hit into some good fishing.

Long story short, my camp was fully built on top of 5 inches of ice over 15 feet of water. There was a solid 20 mph wind blowing and it was from the southwest, which also had some open water about 4 yards from me and that wind would create almost a constant ice wave underneath of me. When I laid in my cot tonight, my world was a wave and the ice was breaking. I have to admit, I was not comfortable with that.

Saturday, Feb. 22

Some of the best walleye ice fishermen that you will find can be found here at De Pere. You have to be smart, aggressive, technological and have a will written. The ice and river here can eat you for breakfast, and the current will take you way far away.

I spent my night fishing, resting and on occasion talking to other fishermen. As seems to be the case the vast majority of this winter, a common line from these fisherman is, “There are fish down there. They look at my jig and don’t bite.”

At 10 this morning I got a tip from a well-seasoned local who told me I should fish in 13 feet of water. That conversation led to three hours of labor taking down camp, moving camp and rebuilding camp.

I was done at 1 p.m. and really excited. I fried a steak with a pound of mushrooms, took a first-rate siesta and was hard at it two hours before dark. Prime time came and went and I did not catch a fish, nor did I see a fish caught.

At 11:30 tonight, one of the my tip ups had a light start blinking, which meant a potential fish. The skunk ended, as I caught a 13-inch walleye. The next morning I had one hit with a jigging Rapala, and for about 3 seconds, had a good fish on.

This morning there were hardcore walleye fishermen on the ice two hours before it became light out, and almost anybody that was going to fish was on the ice before sunrise.

I enjoy speaking with these tough guys and gals of the ice fishing world, and was really impressed to see how many high school kids were fishing out here with their friends. I think the high school ice fishing competitions that have well over 100 schools involved, are helping to create some pretty tough kids. I just wish I could be a part of that, but have no time.

At about noon, I pulled the pin on this trip, well aware that it will not be long before I will be out here after dark, in a canoe, on another fantastic adventure.

Play hard!


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