An Outdoorsman’s Journal
By Mark Walters
Though it is not impossible, March is traditionally the most difficult month for an outdoor columnist to put out four interesting stories. The reasons for that can be flooding, closed fishing and hunting seasons, unsafe ice and cold spells or as in this week’s case 30 mph winds with gusts to 50 that literally knocked semis over as they went down Wisconsin’s highways.
Monday, March 6
High 56, low 40
I dreamt up this trip yesterday and that is because the adventure that I was going to go on, ice fishing and winter camping on Little Bay de Noc was delayed until the upcoming weekend.
I called a full time fishing guide that I know and he told me that on the previous night, a friend of his had caught several walleye including a couple over 28-inches at DePere on the Fox River.
I have fished on the Fox at DePere, both from shore and in a boat, there is a window of time where thousands of walleye swim up from Green Bay to spawn and are stopped by the dam. On March 6th (today) a one fish, 28-inch minimum goes into affect and fishermen from all over the Midwest head to DePere to try and catch really big walleye and sometimes if they are lucky catch dozens that can range from 17-inches to as much as, 32-inches.
So my plan is simple, drive to DePere, fish from shore at a very unique spot called Government Island. I wear chest waders, wade into the Fox and cast crankbaits my favorite is the number 7 chrome Husky Jerk.
My old buddy, Jeff Moll, who was the reason that I delayed the Little Bay de Noc trip would fish with me Monday night and I would fish alone on Tuesday.
So here is where kind of bad luck starts appearing and did not end until the end of this adventure. The Fox had risen significantly in the last 24-hours and while Jeff and I fished by the light of a propane lantern, two big changes came to our world. Thunderstorms with very heavy rain arrived and what may be the biggest wind of the year started and it would last about 40-hours.
My chest waders had a slight leak and I put trash bags to keep my feet dry, which kind of worked. Possibly the highlight of two nights on the river, was in the first hour when I watched a fishermen from Suamico land a beautiful brown trout in the 12-pound range that he was going to have mounted.
There were maybe a dozen shore fishermen on Government Island and I did not see a walleye caught tonight.
Tuesday, March 7
High 45, low 34
In 1991, I self syndicated this column and my first trip was to canoe the entire Fox River from a marsh near Cambria in Columbia County to Green Bay. That journey took place in April and much of the weather was cold and wet.
Today it was so windy when I did my hike to Government Island, I was the only person fishing and there was not a boat on the river. My plan was to set up my lantern on shore and hopefully catch some big walleye.
The leak in my chest waders was much worse today and the wind was simply incredible and yeah the river looked like hot cocoa due to heavy rain that obviously washed a lot of soil downstream.
I had two young men show up ad fish next to me that were from Suamico and it was very cool to brave the conditions together, even when one of the kids, tripped in the river and became quite wet, but toughed it out and kept fishing.
A couple of hours after dark and not having seen a sign of walleye well into my second day, I had a brainstorm and that flash of reality was that the bite was not happening and my next trip was only a couple of days away.
The old Chevy bought me home just like she always does and I was well aware that there are better days ahead. Sunset