I took what has become a semi annual road trip up to Depere for the Fox River walleye run. The last time was great, with everything seeming to work. This time there was some head scratching and lots of grinding to put fish in the boat. I arrived late Thursday afternoon and hit the water for a few hours after checking into the hotel. Water temps were only 39, and word was it had been slow with the cold front. Seeing that it was currently 36 degrees, the water was not going to warm up that day at least. I jigged for awhile and got a big jumbo perch which was a first for me on that system. With only one other swing and miss I tried throwing around a Ripping Rap and on about the 5th cast hooked into a beautiful prespawn female. That would be it for the evening though.
The next morning was only 22 degrees and a real feel of 10. Everything was froze. During the morning I went to grab a Premiere Rod and it got caught under my boat cleat and snapped in half. This was closer to the base of the rod too. I somehow managed to catch a 23 inch spawned out female on my jig rod when I was fooling with something in the boat and slipped into shallow water. I just happened to look over and the rod tip was bouncing. By around 11 AM there were hundreds of boats out there and the only way to fish anywhere near the channel ledges was to anchor. I saw very few fish being caught and I did not want to anchor and join the frozen party. I decided to tie on a Shiver Minnow which I bought a few years ago but had not even taken out of the package. I went downstream where there were still some boats, but maybe 10% of the crowd. More room to slip jig, which is about the only thing I am decent at river fishing. The Shiver Minnow I had was I believe a half ounce, which made it easy to get down to 20+ feet and still feel in control of the bait. I ended up jigging up 6 eater size walleye and whitefish. I got off the water early due to the trolling motor batteries being out of juice. It was not a good day, but I at least felt like I learned something new.
I knew Saturday would be a zoo with the warmer temps and holiday weekend. I got to the launch by 545am and beat most of the crowd. There were still 100+ boats already out there, but I assume those guys had been out there all night. I foolishly started up toward the dam again throwing rattle baits on the channel edges and flats with no results. I also tried using the Shiver Minnow along the channel break before it got too crazy up there. I got over one pod of fish and had 2 good rips, but did not stick either of them. I headed back down river to try to salvage something for the day. Of course as soon as I drop down and jig up the first fish of the day is in the boat. I slipped down river and picked away at the eater size fish. Most the fish were just swiping at the bait, and the hookup percentage was 50% or so. As I got farther down river the size seemed to start going up. A 18 incher, and 20 incher, and then my best fish of the trip, a 26 incher. I caught a few more fish after that, but the late afternoon and evening bite was once again very slow. I ended the trip with an small walleye on a rattle trap right near the launch.
All in all it was weird trip. The only real good bite window was between 12-3pm on Saturday. The rest of the time I was mostly frozen and left wondering WTF I was doing out there freezing my ass off for some fish.
On a side note, I doubled up with a boat near me and we both ended up with flatheads. His was about 35-40 lbs, which was about 15 minute fight. Mine was about 3 lbs. I'm glad he got the big one, or I still might be fighting that thing on 6 lb braid and 8lb fluro leader.
If I learned anything it is a reaffirmation to only go up there on weekdays and to try to make the trip when the weather is either stable or warming. The hunt for the 30+ continues.
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