By Mark Schram, Myfishingpartner.com
This is a trophy walleye water every spring. In early spring, many of Lake Michigan’s largest walleyes head into the Fox River to spawn. The key area is from the De Pere lock and dam to the Bay of Green Bay, which is about 7 miles of waterway. Most anglers will launch from an area known as De Pere Fox Point Launch near Voyager Park. This is located just north of the Hwy 32 Bridge on Highway 57 or Riverside Drive.
Expect heavy boat traffic here during the months of March and April. Launch fee was $5 in 2016. The annual Fox River walleye spawning runs starts as early as mid-March and runs to as late as the end of April each year. The fish migrate up to the De Pere dam seeking warmer water to spawn.
Do not fear, the river is open all season/year long for walleyes, so they are legal to fish. The fish gather in big schools near the dam, and at times snagging fish on retrieval is unavoidable due to their density. Purposely snagging these fish is not legal.
It is common to pick up walleye in the 22-27” range, and not unusual to see ‘eyes on a consistent basis of 28”+. There is a set of power lines that spans the river near the dam which acts as a reference point to prohibit any fishing beyond that point. Between these power lines and the Dam is a walleye spawning refuge.
The area near the Hwy 172 Bridge is also equally productive. If the dam area is overpopulated with boats, this may be a good secondary location. Looking further, there are water inlets along the banks of the river in some places, which are flowing warm water into the river.Walleyes will congregate around these areas because of the warmer water temperature.
Most conventional fishing methods will produce fish. Common presentations include drift jigging (when not crowded), casting cranks, or vertical jigging. Bulking up the jig with a 3-4” plastic tail can be very productive, especially when water temperatures exceed 40 degrees. Typically the brighter colors such as yellow, green, or white have worked best in past years. Purple can be an electric color in many years.
Snap jigging can be an effective post spawn technique, along with trolling shallow water flats with crank baits behind planer boards (after April 15th).
Remember this is not a place to fill your freezer up with fish for your next meal. These waters are highly polluted, and it is not recommended that these fish be consumed. Wisconsin DNR regulations only allows one Walleye over 28” in 2017 during the main spawning runs.
Keys to fishing this area:
– Seek clear water
– Seek warm water
– Add bulk to your jigs with plastics
-Use bright colors
– Be ready to have a lot of company on the water