By Mark Walters
Tough Bite on the Fox
Hello friends, Green Bay is arguably one of the best walleye fisheries in Wisconsin. The Fox River flows north from Columbia County, and enters Green Bay. The last dam on the Fox is at Depere, which is a very clean, pleasant and industrial city, which borders Green Bay.
Each winter, pre-spawn walleye that live in Green Bay, and walleye native to the river, migrate to the dam and wait for the water temperature to hit 45 degrees so they can drop their spawn, then swim back to the bay.
For the fifth winter in a row, I would camp on the ice at Depere, 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 four yards from me and that wind would create almost a constant ice wave underneath 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 fishermen you will find, at least ice fishermen, can be found here at Depere. 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, here is a common line, “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 required three hours of labor taking down camp, moving camp and rebuilding camp.
I was done at one 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 p.m. 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 three 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 who 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 just their buds. I think the high school ice fishing competitions that have well over 100 schools involved, is helping create some pretty tough kids and I just wish I could be part of that, but have no time.
About noon, I pulled the pin on this trip, well aware that it will not be long and I will be out here after dark, in a canoe on another fantastic adventure on the Fox. Play hard! Sunset