By Mark Schram,

The Fox River in the Green Bay area opened from the winter ice about ten days ago and has been a busy place the past week with local anglers.

The river is nearly ice-free as of Saturday, 3/13/21, with some minor shoreline ice remaining in the back bays.  Ice flows have reduced the last week, and an occasional sheet of floating ice cannot be ruled out daily.

Water clarity was gin clear through Tuesday when a noticeable change in clarity occurred.  On Saturday, the water visibility was about 12-18” of clarity.

Currently, there is one gate open at the dam, along with an active spillway.  Water temperatures have risen quickly.  One week ago, the water temperature was stagnant at 35 degrees.  The warm front has pushed water temperatures toward 42 degrees during the day and around 40 degrees in the overnights.

This has been a rapid spike for this time of year.

Early in the past week, the walleye activity was lights out.  Many boats were reporting catches of 60-100 fish, almost exclusively males between 15-18”.  As the week moved forward, the catch rates dropped, with a typical boat catch of about 20 fish.  The decline in numbers can be attributed to water clarity and angler traffic.

Several tactics were vital this week.  A jig and a minnow pitched and retrieved back to the boat was by far the best tactic.

The walleyes wanted the jig dragged backed to the boat with pauses.  Jigs that were “popped” were much less effective.  Blade baits were my second-best tactic (Blue).  Plastics were slow for me.  The aggressive tactics of hair jigs and Ripping Raps were starting to produce as of Saturday but were largely ineffective during the week.

The center channel vertical jig bite was primarily ignored by the anglers during the week but showed much more activity as the weekend neared.  Again, jig and a minnow were dominant.  I have been surprised by the number of anchored boats in 2021 versus the previous year’s vertical jigging norms.  With a light current river flow, many anglers are opting for anchored presentations.  Trolling has been largely ineffective to date but will pick up shortly.

Female walleyes have been uncommon to date.  A few have shown up in the overnight periods, and several legal fish have been reported late this week.  The DNR bag limit is currently only one walleye over 28” in the Fox River.  The DNR wardens are active in the area, looking for violators.

The perch are currently spawning near the dam and were common this weekend. Whitefish have been suspended in the deeper holes and located in some of the slack water areas near the structure.

The weekends and evenings continue to be crowded, with non-peak times being mid-week.  Bring your sense of humor, as crowding is quite common in community spots.

The Swamp Donkey Bait Shop has bait stations located at the “Dairy Queen” launch in DePere (Open 5 am-5 pm) and across the river at Replay Sports Bar near the County Fairgrounds launch (open 6 am-5 pm).

The lack of current in the river could lead to a soft walleye run this year, allowing some of the walleyes to spawn in the main lake/bay unless we get some precipitation to drive the system.

Have a great week.  We always welcome your reports at