Outdoor Notebook: Going fishing on the Wisconsin River
Boat traffic has picked up substantially over the past few weeks. On most area lakes that we are fishing, boats, canoes, water skiers, kayaks and personal watercraft are abundant.
We have noticed that most of the people who are paddling kayaks are using brightly colored paddles. That is a big help to those who are using large fishing boats. The kayaks are so low in the water that they would be difficult to spot if they did not have those brightly colored paddles. I have always been concerned that a kayak might not be seen if it were in my path when putting the boat up on plane.
With the increased boat traffic on our lakes, the urge to fish some wilderness water is strong. On a recent day Steve Suick and I took a river float trip on the Wisconsin River. We fished with the River Float guide, Bill Melanson, who lives in Wausau.
Bill has been guiding anglers on the river for many years, and is very well equipped for river fishing. His boat is designed for fishing shallow water. It is an aluminum boat with a flat bottom and is 18 feet long. The motor is a 60-horse outboard with a jet lower unit. When Bill has the boat up on plane, he is able to go in water as shallow as six inches. This rig is very comfortable for three to fish from.
We slipped the boat off the trailer at 8 a.m. and floated until 3 p.m. Bill knows the river so well that he tells us where to cast and what lure should be the most productive in specific areas. During the entire time that we fished we only saw two other boats, and very few buildings along the shorelines. I would like to say that we caught numerous muskies, but the hot day that we fished the muskies were very inactive. In past years when we floated the river it was not unusual to catch three to five nice-sized muskies.
Most of the anglers who we have been talking with report that with the hot weather, the fishing has been extremely slow. One thing to remember is that the body temperature of fish is the same as the water temperature. As the water temperature warms, fish move at a much faster rate.
Several weeks ago we were fortunate to have our grandson, William Schroeder, spend a week with us. He lives in Somerset, and does not have a chance to fish walleyes very often. But he loves to fish! Fishing is always the major reason for a trip to our house, therefore we were kept very busy trying to keep up with this 12-year old!
When the local lakes warm up, the temptation to head north to Canada for a week of fishing for walleyes is strong. For quite a few years our son, Craig, was my frequent partner on these Canadian trips. However, work responsibilities, as well as a family with two young sons, has kept him in the area for 14 years. This year Craig and his 13-year old son, Jack, were able to join me for our Canadian trip.
Longtime Northwoods outdoors personality Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column appearing in the Star Journal.