By Mark Schram, myfishingpartner.com
The Fox River and Bay of Green Bay have been a hectic place the last several weeks. Anglers have been out in huge numbers. As one person said, “bring a two by four, and you might be able to walk across the river going boat to boat.”
Water conditions have been stable, outside of a sizable water temperature drop starting on 3/23.
On 3/23, a very unusual temperature spike was entered at 44 degrees (typically seen in mid-April) by the USGS. We registered 49 degrees that day in a back bay. Since that time, the water temperatures have fallen sharply to the current reading of 37.5 degrees. The Bay of Green Bay has seen a high of 42 degrees but has been dropping steadily in the upper 30’s currently.
Water clarity has remained stained, at about 18 inches in the river. Water current is noticeably light to non-existent.
Last week the Eagles Nest (on the Bay) held many larger female walleyes and was showcased on several popular television shows, creating tremendous interest in the area. On Thursday, the fish were thick in University Bay, but on Friday-Sunday had thinned out significantly. Trolling was prevalent in this area, mainly targeting 6–10-foot contours. We found a little quicker speed of 1.4 mph to attract decent female walleyes. The mix of bait shapes ranged from small Salmo Hornets up to larger stick baits. Purple, green and pink were by far the best color schemes.
Additionally, ripping baits (Ripping Raps, Blade Baits) were highly effective. I would say there were an equal amount of casting boats to trolling boats. Musky, Northern Pike, and Carp are also common in this area.
On Friday, some of those walleyes headed into the river, seeking warmer water after the Bay cooled off.
As the walleyes migrated up the system, they could be found in the center channel since there was essentially little water current. Typically, these migrating fish would come up along the sides of the river to avoid the current.
As the week progressed, the aggressive vibration baits declined in effectiveness, and the bite turned over to a jig and minnow in the center channel. Traditionally, when the water is under 40 degrees, live bait rules. After exceeding 40 degrees, plastics, cranks, and vibration baits work better.
One unusual observation this week was the absence of mid-sized male walleyes in the river. The last several weeks have showcased male walleyes in the 17-20” class. This past week, those fish were absent, replaced with smaller males in the river.
Even the DNR shocking boat was not finding these mid-sized male walleyes. My assumption is that they returned to the Bay due to lack of water current or were stacked in the shallows/Dam. They were definitely absent from the flats and deep holes.
Overall, I have not seen any loose females spawning to date; however, I have heard a few reports of females dropping eggs.
We participated in the annual Swamp Donkey tournament held in DePere on Saturday and finished 11th out of 150 boats. Our fish came out of either 2 feet of water or in the center channel. We ended with just over 30 pounds, with the winner at about 39 pounds.
This next week should be outstanding once the weather improves. By Easter, some of the traffic seen in DePere will move to the Wolf River, Oconto, and Peshtigo. First reports of increased activity in Oconto are starting to emerge now. The Wolf has been extremely productive to date.
Mark@myfishingpartner.com is my email. Also, check out some of our other social media platforms.
My Fishing Partner