We began the morning driving on the lake at the Paynes Point Fishing Club ramp, only to run into some bad ice, which helped us to decide to turn around! This proved to be a very good decision, as a truck went in a Sturgeon hole soon after out there. Our next spot was Winnebago County Boat Landing which was just a couple miles to the south. Driving on the lake from here was much better, so I felt better about being out there!
We began fishing for Perch in Cowling Bay in 6 fow with only 4" Perch to show for our efforts. Next stop was an area of raised hard bottom out in the mud just north of Garlic Island. This spot produced a nice jumbo Perch right away, and then nothing.
Third stop was the mud off of Oshkosh. During late ice, the Walleyes in Lake Winnebago begin schooling up in preparation for their annual run up the Fox and Wolf Rivers to their spawning grounds. This makes the ice near the river the prime area to target Walleyes this time of the year.
Once we cut in and began jigging, there were lots of marks on the flasher and we even caught a few. I started with a nice Perch followed by a jumbo Whitebass. I also lost another fish that felt heavy just below the ice. A few minutes later I had a 14.5" Walleye on the ice! This was the first Walleye I have caught on Winnebago since August! The fish continued biting here but slowed down around 2:00. Steve, my Walleye Tournament partner, came over to our spot once I told him what kind of action we were having. Steve then filled me in on the hot Perch spot.
I had to check out this Perch spot once I found out Steve's buddies had their limit of 50 Perch and were on their way home! We packed up shop and headed for the Perch spot, leaving Steve on the mud spot. The Perch report wasn't a fluke! Before I had the third tip up in the water the first one was up! The fishing was fast and furious for the entire 2 hours we were there. One out of about every four were keepers, but catching so many fish that fast was a blast!
Meanwhile, Steve was also having the time of his life on the other spot, landing 8 Walleyes, a Sauger, several Whitebass, and eve 2 Crappies! Between 4-5:30 the Walleyes turned on and Steve capitalized!
It has been a tough winter for fishing on the Winnebago System, but if you keep at it, there are fish to be had!
On a side note, for everyone venturing out on the lake after this snowstorm, use extreme caution, and if at all possible follow someone or stay in someone elses tracks! The old roads that had open areas and the Sturgeon holes that may only have an inch of ice on them are now covered with fresh snow, making thousands of mines all over the lake. Remember, no fish is worth the loss of a life!