Your Best Spring Fishing in Wisconsin
March 19, 2014
There is plenty of great spring fishing in Wisconsin. From combat fishing for walleyes on The Dells and Fox River, to baitcasting for Lake Michigan salmon, these are the areas you definitely don't want to miss!
The lower Wisconsin River provides one of our first open-water options of the year, with walleyes and saugers the main attraction. A slot limit, which has been in place for a decade now, has resulted in resurgence in numbers of big fish, with a serious shot at boating a state-record sauger.
Unfortunately, Wisconsin DNR regulations still protect saugers with record weight, so the catch must be immediately released.
Most anglers find success with vertical jigging while drifting downstream. Others position fish, using their trolling motors to hold over water 10 to 16 feet deep. A very few who fish in the daytime quietly fill limits trolling crankbaits behind leadcore.
Guide Nick Olson and a few locals know the really big fish come at night, casting suspending stickbaits or on a steady retrieve with a 5-inch Kalin grub and 1/8-ounce jighead.
Fox River, DePere
April walleye action below the DePere dam is the worst-kept fishing secret in Wisconsin, but there is no other time or place where an angler can find a greater concentration of trophy walleyes.
This is the epitome of combat fishing. It is possible to warm your hands by putting them in the pocket of an angler in the boat next to you. The basic pink or orange 1/4-ounce jig with a 3-inch chartreuse Kalin grub is the only bait you'll need in order to find success, if you can fight your way through the crowd and keep a line in the water.
DePere is April's top pick because it offers your best shot at a trophy walleye. Personally, I prefer option No. 2, the Peshtigo River. Just north of the Peshtigo is the Menominee. Both hold the potential for the best walleye trip of your lifetime.
Lake Michigan, South Basin
Capt. Matt Solchenberger's best time for putting a six-person limit of coho in the box of the Trio is 1 hour, 27 minutes last May. Later in the year he works out of Algoma where a customer boated a whopping 20-pound coho last summer — a fish just shy of the state record.
Most of the time a charter boat is the most productive — and safest — way to experience Lake Michigan salmonids. But a deep-V 18 footer is enough boat to cash in on this bonanza if you keep a close eye on the weather and short-term forecast.
Although trolling gear works best, medium spinning or baitcasting gear will work. The key is getting lures away from the boat, as these fish are extremely wary when cruising from the surface to just 12 feet down in this exceptionally clear water.
Action is best during low-light periods. A sawed-off piece of a Luminock arrow attached to your planer boards is a great strike indicator. A long-handled Frabill crankbait net is another valuable tool. Don't forget a Great Lakes salmon stamp.
Don't leave the dock without at least two nets. Three nets are better. Action here gives new meaning to the term "fast and furious."
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