Sunday, April 13, 2014

Walleyes in Spawn Mode Along the Wolf River

Since the ice started to break up and depart the Wolf River around April 3rd, the above average temperatures since then steadily warmed the waters of the Wolf River and the marshes adjacent to it up to prime spawning temperatures for Walleyes.  It is pretty hard to believe that in only a little over a weeks time the river went from ice covered to having Walleye spawning activity. 

Due to the quickly rising water temperatures, anglers only had a very short fishing window for the "Up Run" as it is referred to in the area.  This is the time period where Walleyes are heading upriver towards their spawning locations and usually lasts a couple weeks on a normal spring.  As water temperatures climb into the low 40's in the river, water temperatures begin climbing into that mid 40° range that Walleyes favor to spawn in.  The closer the water temperatures get to this, the tougher the fishing becomes as the fish become focused on getting to their spawning locations to carry out their annual duties.

The interesting part of the Winnebago System Walleyes is their tendency to spawn in marshes rather than in the actual river.  Each year that water levels allow it, male Walleyes enter the marshes right after the ice leaves them, where they will stay for several weeks waiting for the females to show up and carry out the spawn.  Females play a much different role, only entering the marshes when they are ready to spawn, which takes one night.  Once they finish spawning, the females return to the river and begin their journey downriver towards the lakes.

This year, I expect there to be a very strong "Down Run" of primarily females to begin by Tuesday of this upcoming week and last around a week.  Soon after this, the males will begin to exit the marshes and make for some great fishing in the following couple weeks as they also make their way back to the lakes.

Each year there seems to be a 3-5 day lull in the fishing action, as the main spawn is in progress and the majority of the fish are in the marshes rather than the river.  We are in the midst of this lull as we speak, which means by the middle of this upcoming week the fishing should greatly improve as long as the rains don't dirty the river to badly.

I hope to make it out on the Wolf River this upcoming week to partake in the action, check back often for future reports and updates!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Great Spring for Steelhead

This spring has been off to a great start for the annual spring Steelhead run along Wisconsin's Lake Michigan tributaries with fish being caught from Racine all the way up to Door County.  The gradual warmup allowed a nice gradual snow melt that was eventually coupled with rainfall which finally drew solid numbers of Steelhead into the tributaries and also took care of the remaining ice on most of the tributaries.

My friend Derek and I were fortunate enough to get out and enjoy some of the action recently.  The fishing started off great, as Derek landed a beautiful chrome Hen Steelhead within minutes of fishing!  Things were looking promising as we had the area to ourselves and the fish were certainly present and hungry!

Derek really put the heat on, landing a second Steelie before I could even get back to fishing after landing his fish and getting it on the stringer!  I now found myself playing catch up, which was a challenge I was excited to take on.  Before too long, my bobber quickly plunged under and I was yelling fish on to Derek!

Another nice fresh chrome Steelhead was eventually brought to the net after an intense 10 minute battle filled with line screaming runs downriver and even a couple aerial shows.  Derek landed this fish and was right back to fishing his little honey hole!

Both of us continued to land fish for the next several hours, eventually ending up landing 9 Steelhead and a bonus Brown Trout.  Derek landed a mammoth 34" Buck Steelhead, while I landed a 33" Hen that weighed around 14 pounds and took me nearly 100 yards downriver before I could slow her down, talk about a battle!

Our best setup was floating pink and peach spawn sacs with Steelhead Skein cured in Pautzke's Natural Bor X O Fire cure.  The fish really showed preference to these two colors, as we tried multiple other colors without any success.  We also landed a couple fish on uncured Steelhead eggs, but the cured eggs seemed to get a few more bites on this outing.  It is amazing how particular these fish can be on certain days, and then on other days they seem to bite just about anything.  This is what makes it challenging, and what keeps me going back for more!

Steelhead are honestly one of the hardest fighting fish pound for pound that we can catch in Wisconsin, although they are never easy to catch there are times when you can do quite well!  All the hard work and effort put in to learn how to consistently catch these fish will eventually pay off, as it did for Derek and I on this day!