Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Fishing the Walleye Capital of Wisconsin

First Walleye, 13.5 incher
Last weekend was spent with my wife's uncle Andrew and his son Jason fishing the area near Birchwood, Wisconsin, just northeast of Rice Lake.  Our plan was to fish Long Lake first on Saturday then hit the lake the cabin was on Sunday.  Long Lake claims to be the Walleye Capital of Wisconsin, near Birchwood and a dubious honor so we were excited to try it out.  I decided to pull my boat over there, I figured it would be more comfortable for 3 of us as well, I have the electronics which would enable us to search the underwater haunts better, as well if there were crappies around, maybe we could reenact our success from last Wednesday, looking for suspended crappies over the deeper basins.  Admittedly I am used to lakes like Mille Lacs or Leech that have specific structures and known walleye haunts where it isn't too difficult to locate them however Long Lake is a large 3000 acre lake and the reports are that the walleyes can be found along the steep deep dropoffs.  Sure, the whole frickin lake is one steep dropoff! Well we looked for underwater points next to a steep dropoff, there were plenty of them.  We decided it would be easier to simply vertical jig them with rainbows as we could stay connected with the bottom better with less tangles.  After about 2 hours of nothing we headed towards and sunken island that had a 25 foot point/flat area that went into deep water.  We were marking fish on the depthfinder however it was a different story to get them to hit.  Using the trolling motor and the anchor function we would simply find and area then I would move the boat in 10 to 15 foot increments, working the point very slowly.  I had just put my line down when I felt a faint thump on the jig.  I feed it line and waited to feel for the telltale tap tap, then set the hook.  After a few hours of nothing, it felt pretty good and I just had the feeling it was a walleye.  Sure enough it was, 13.5 inches long.  Long Lake has a 15 inch minimum so back it went, it was nice to catch something however it took a long time to connect to a fish.  We worked that area pretty good as walleyes tend to be schooling fish, especially of this size yet nothing was hitting.  Time to move again.

Jason's 19 inch keeper Walleye
We headed up the east arm of the lake by the Boy Scout Camp.   Basically we simply fished along the drop off along the shoreline but all we did was waste more time.  Our next stop was a point off the southeast side, it was a nice flat area and we were marking quite a few fish so we slowly meandered around the area.  There was a guy fishing just south of us who was getting fish, it appeared to be crappies. We drove around him and it looked like he was anchored just on the weed edge where it started to drop to the 25 foot level. There wasn't much so we left him alone and continued to fish the area.  All of a sudden Jason was reeling in a nice fish.  I grabbed the net and voila, we landed our first keeper walleye, a 19 inch beauty.  It hit his jig pretty hard which is a good indication that maybe the bite was on.  Also the area was perfect for fall walleyes (In my mind), 25 foot deep, some scattered weeds, I figured we would maybe get a few. Unfortunately we only managed to drowned a few minnows as the bite certainly did not materialize as we had planned as the only other fish we caught was a 20 inch northern pike that I reeled in. After saturating the area for another hour we decided it was time to move again and went back up between an island were we had marked a lot of suspended fish, maybe this late in the day we could hit some crappies.  Unfortunately that didn't happen either as I caught another 13.5 inch walleye and Jason nailed a real nice 3.5 pound smallmouth bass, definitely and nice fish but not what we were looking for.  So much for the Walleye Capital of Wisconsin.   One of my goals was to use the winterizing function on my outboard as I wasn't sure I'd be getting the boat out again this season.  While on the trailer and still in the lake at the landing the control screen has a winterizing function, you just push the touch screen and it is programed to speed up the idle then inject extra oil in the cylinders to fog them, pretty slick and only takes about 2 minutes.  We ended the day with 1 keeper walleye which according to my friends who have fished this lake, was pretty good.  We headed back to Jason's in law's cabin before driving to Makini for supper.  I was surprised, they had a pretty good wine list at a reasonable price so we had a bottle of Rombauer Zinfandel along with Prime Rib.  To be honest the Prime Rib wasn't very good as I suspect it was Friday's Prime Rib reheated as it was quite dry and tough.  Oh well, we were hungry and decided it was good enough to eat so we finished up and headed back to the cabin to watch the Cubs win their game to go to the World Series.  It was a long day and we decided to hit the sack early, which seems like my MO these days.

Andy finally got a Walleye
While Saturday was about as picture perfect as one can get with temperatures in the low 70's and no wind, we woke up to a different story on Sunday with cool temps and the wind coming in from the northwest.  The plan was to winterize Jason's brother-in-law's boat, take the cover off the boat lift, take their boat out and do some fishing, then load it up on the trailer and put it away in the garage for the winter.  The first task was to head into Birchwood and have breakfast.  I love these small town restaurants as the breakfasts are usually very good and cheap.  This was no exception for I had coffee and a Mexican omelet for less than $8.00 and it was delicious.  After breakfast we headed to the hardware store to buy a outboard flushing muffs and picked up a battery tender.  The next task was challenging at best as the garage door was 9 feet and the boat must have been 8 feet 11 inches wide. We eventually got it out, added the gas conditioner, shook the boat somewhat to mix it in and did the usual stuff to winterize it.  Getting it back in the garage was the worst challenge but with a little ingenuity we managed.  Next we went out on Big Chetac Lake, supposed to be a great crappie lake with the occasional walleye to be had.  We tried our strategy from last week looking for suspended fish however the depth finder was not very good and the wind really put a damper on things as none of us were dressed for the conditions on the lake.  We decided it would be easier and warmer to tuck behind an island and fish the deep weedline, which we did with limited success.  Andy finally got a walleye, another 13.5 inches, to small to keep but at least he did catch something!  On Big Chetac the minimum size is 18 inches so we threw it back.  Another 45 minutes and we decided it was too cold to fish comfortably so we headed back to the cabin, just in time to watch the Minnesota Vikings lose to the Eagles, I guess our day was complete!!!  Loading the boat up and putting it away for the winter we cleaned up everything, locked it up, said goodbye to Andy and headed toward Cumberland.  About 10 miles from the cabin Jason figured out we forgot his walleye in the fridge.  It was worth driving back and according to the website, Louies Meats in Cumberland was open till 6:00 so we had plenty of time to stop as our goal was to pick up their world famous Packer Brats, bratwurst with cheese and sauerkraut mixed in, they are fabulous.  Unfortunately their website was wrong and were closed at 4:00, we would have never made it anyway.  Oh well, seems like a good excuse for another road trip. We got my boat in the pole shed about 7:00, 2 1/2 hours, not a bad drive.  It was fun being with Jason and his dad Andy and I promised them an ice fishing trip to Red this year, stating that the walleye fishing will be much better!

I have just finished the final arrangements for our annual TTA meeting which is going to be held in Naples Florida this fall.  It's always the first Thursday/Friday after Thanksgiving and this year a bunch of us guys are planning on staying over the weekend and going grouper fishing, something I have never done.  Last time it was in Florida they went out without me, caught a lot of fish, brought them to a restaurant which cooked them and had a great time.  I am really looking forward to this as I am staying with a friend who has a beach house in Naples, it should be fun.  Deer Hunting time is in a 1 1/2 weeks so this week I will go put my stand up with my friend Jack and his son Ben on Saturday then on Sunday we will drive home for my niece's daughters confirmation and check on Mom.  It's getting colder as last Saturday it was in the 70's which is probably the last we'll see of that temperature till April.  Oh well, hopefully making ice soon!

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