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June 7 thru 13, 2008

One of my good friends and I made our annual once-a-year fishing adventure up to my place in WI. Compared to our previous trips in previous years, this one probably ranks high somewhere up there.

The fishing was great considering that the weather was crap and given the circumstances we were facing for much of the week: 1) No boat for 4 days; 2) Rain, rain and more T-storms which would either chase us off the rivers or off the lake when we had the boat later on during the week - it ended some of our days of fishing too early.

Okay, so I say that we did not have a boat for 4 full days. Yes, this was true. On my previous trip during memorial day weekend, we took the boat in to get serviced - new water pump, impeller, and carb cleaner. The boat was supposed to be ready for pick-up during our arrival day on June 7th but thanks to Evinrude, the parts on order were being held up, and the boat repairs were well behind the anticipated schedule.

So while we did not have the boat, we fished the hell out of the area's rivers. We mainly worked the nearby Wisconsin River where it is pretty much like a shallow creek. We worked several stretches of water with some being old standby areas while others were new and probably untouched waters..... Literally.



The Smallmouth Bass fishing was crazy and probably the best I have ever experienced on the river. It was all C&R fishing for them because it's mandatory by state rules and regs once spawn season ends.

The Smallies were hitting almost anything thrown at them: Topwaters, Spinnerbaits, tubes, jig & plastic, jerkbaits, flukes, etc. On some occasions with a few particular baits, namely zoom flukes and fluke jr's, it was fish on every cast for me, no joke with all of them between 14-18 inches in length.







My friend was in it for the numbers game while I was in it for the big fish. We fished the river for 3 full days and my goal for each day was to catch at least one very sizeable fish each time out - 18" or larger being the standard. I was able to make it happen for 2 of the 3 days which isn't bad at all. Each day fishing, I caught many between 14-17 inches but they just don't compare to something a little bigger that is 18" or better.


Day-1 on the river. A 20-something inch fish. A new WI river personal best. Didn't get a measure but compared to the 18-inch fish caught the next day, this one was an obvious 20".


Day-2 on the river. My friend was racking up the fish by the numbers while I was struggling to catch at least a few. I told him I will get the big fish of the day once darkness comes and I will leave home happy. So it happened at sunset while working topwaters with the caster. This measured at 18" and hit a large Rapala topwater prop bait.

On one cast, I had this same fish hit the prop three separate times but miss. I couldn't believe it and was pissin'. A few casts later, the battle was on and the prize was successfully landed.



I wasn't able to get anything going on day-3 of the river but I did happen to catch the same exact Musky on two consecutive outings. Caught just 50 yards apart from each day. A 25-27" male that was beaten up from the recent spawn - had the same exact markings and battle wounds.


The first time, while Smallmouth fishing.


The second time, while Smallmouth fishing.

We did in fact fish for Muskies for parts of a few days but given the weather and the monster cold-fronts that pushed through the area as well as the lack of activity and sightings, the fishing for them proved to be not worth it - on the river, and on the area lakes.

By the time 3 days of river fishing were complete, my friend and I were dead tired and overall "fished-out" with the river. We had finished exploring between 10-20 miles worth of river in 3 days, fished almost everywhere we could find access, and we had nothing left to prove. Also, it was perfect timing considering that the Smallmouths finally began spawning and were on their beds once we decided to throw in the towel with the river.... Since we don't fish for bedders, we made our plans drastically change for the better.

My friend's biggest were a pair of 17's while mine were an 18 and a 20-something and you can throw in lots of 16 and 17 inch fish in there too. It was great fishing!

Oh, I forgot. Besides Smallies galore from the river, numerous Walleyes and Pike were caught as well. Not much size but still respectable and good eater size.

Once day 4 of the trip came by, I got a call telling me that the boat was ready for pick-up. YESSSSSSSSSS! My pride and joy was ready for fish massacres. The boat motor was basically rebuilt and brand new.

With the boat, and being all "smallied out", we dedicated the remainder of the trip to only Muskies and Pike.

With two full days of fishing left, we made the perfect choice to target just these two fish only.

On the Musky front, the fishing for them sucked. We worked them for good portions of two days and each day the environment did not call for ideal fishing: water temps 10 degrees below normal on most lakes; zero weed-growth in areas that usually have them by this time; lack of any activity from the locals. It was not cool.

But we had the Pike and fishing for them was awesome. Our one afternoon of fishing for them made up for the 4-day loss of the boat, for the poor weather, and the lack of any Muskellunge activity.

Can you believe that we happened to catch 68 Northern Pike from one lake in a period of just four hours?

Yep. By the time the 4 hours had passed, our white #5 Mepps lures were shredded and had to be placed on permanent retirement into our angling shrines.

Granted, the weather on this day worked with us a lot. While some incoming fronts (apparent T-storms) were headed straight towards us and the lake was white-capping all around, we, being the only morons left out on the lake, decided to stay and tough out the conditions which would last for a good portion of 2-hours. Being on the dead-on opposite side of the lake the landing was on, there was absolutely no way in hell I was going to come back to the landing fighting 3 footers out on the main lake. But miraculously, the fronts and dark clouds headed straight towards us somehow vanished into the sky...... Keep in mind this lake was about 1 mile long.

Cloudy, windy, white-capping out on the main-lake, being the only two morons out on the lake with 68 pike in just 4 hours of fishing, what more could you ask for?

While we didn't catch any monsters but came very close to it on several occasions as they got spooked each time at boatside, this was some of the best fishing I have ever had in my life!

About 50% were snakes that hit with reckless abandon while the other 50% were fish 20" or better. The largest were many around 25-26" with a few misses on monster gators at boatside. We're talking 3 footers here. 40"ers too. Canadian size fish!

I think the good thing about this water is the lack of angling pressure it receives. It is surrounded by many lakes that are larger and have better diversified fisheries - this lake only has perch and pike because it is sometimes prone to winterkill by being only 11ft deep max.

Bucktails, bucktails, and more bucktails! We had the snakes hitting anything from larger Musky Killers to #4 and #5 Mepps. Blue Fox bucks and larger minnowbaits worked as well, especially for the larger fish as they weeded out all the little guys.











When we called it a day after the Pike fishing, the trip was basically over with and we had enough.

The next day, we had to go back home and a 5 and a half hour trip took 11 hours to complete thanks to the massive WI River floods near the Dells and in Portage. I had to drive through the sticks and was forced to head halfway across the state to Fon du Lac and then head home through Milwaukee. It was not fun. A car ride from hell. Saw flooded farms, lost homes and the works.

If all works out, I will be heading back up again this coming weekend to take my dad fishing, and then will be up for a few extended trips after the July 4th holiday and then again for a few weeks in August.

I got more photos (about 100 more) and a ton of stories up on my site. Feel free to check them out if interested: http://www.fishing-headquarters.com/fishcast/?p=234

Thanks. Hope you enjoyed.
 

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Looks like a helluva good time, Andrew. Getting away from the city to a place as beautiful as that is a true joy. Great report and thanks for sharing it.

Seeing reports like this one, and JD's from the TFF, I gotta take some vacation time from the new job this year and go on a fishing sabbatical.
 
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