Mixed Bag on the Bay
On Not Catching Walleyes
The next time I go fishing on the Bay, I think I am going to target gobies. That way I am sure not to catch one. True to my word from the past post, I went out of Chaudoirs Dock and the Quarry (aka George K, Pinney County Park) this week in search for walleyes. When I got to Chaudoirs, things looked great. There were lots of guys out trolling and casting for walleyes. They must know what they are doing, right? Or maybe not. I have learned a long time ago that lots of fishermen does not necessarily mean fish are being caught. The winds were calm and the water temperatures were a bit cool (50F) for this time of year on the Bay. I started trolling in about 20FOW and varied from 12 to 30FOW with boards and crank baits. Often I had to dodge oncoming trollers with wide sets of boards or "get in line" with the pack. I was keeping my eye on my inside board since my astute knowledge of fish behavior told me that was where the action would be. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a fish jumping out of the water about 150 feet behind the boat. I thought "that's odd" until I realized it was at the end of the line on the outer board. After a bit of a tussle, I boated a nice fat 27", 8.5# brown. I ended the day with no walleyes.
The following day I went off Sherwood Point. This time the water was even colder (47F), but the winds calm and it was a bit overcast. I was after walleyes, but just to cover my bases, I put out a #13 orange Rapala (my favorite brown trout lure) having demonstrated the day before that the browns are still hitting. I only had a couple of hours to fish, so I got right at it. Oh, BTW, the Bay looked like the water equivalent of NASCAR Thursday morning. There were boats flying around at what seemed 100MPH with pre-fishing anglers preparing for the Sturgeon Bay Bass Tournament this weekend.
I was making my way at a more pedestrian 1.7MPH dragging the boards. Suddenly the inner board (the one with the brown trout lure) took a dive. I either had the bottom or a nice fish. It turned out the latter, not the brown I expected but a 33" Great Northern Pike! Nice fish, but again I went home without a walleye.
I have already stated that I do not consider myself a very skillful angler, particularly compared to those who are making a living at fishing. One area that I am particularly unskillful at is catch walleyes on the Bay. It has been a long, slow learning curve. I fished Lake Winnebago for about 30 years and after a while (about a decade) I was eventually able to consistently catch walleyes most of the year. For those of you not familiar with Lake Winnebago, it is an extremely shallow, stained and warm body of water. Its deepest part is about 20 feet and usually you are catching walleyes in less then 10FOW. I typically jigged or casted for 'eyes, and hardly ever trolled. The water became so dark with algae bloom by the middle of the summer and the light penetration so slight that you could catch walleyes all day. In fact, some of my best catches were in the middle of a bright, sunny summer days.
Well, it turns out that all of that experience catching walleyes in the dark, warm shallow waters of Lake Winnebago was worth about doodley-squat when chasing the same species in the gin-clear, deep cold waters of Green Bay. I had to start from scratch.
I have learned some things. I have learned how to set up my rods for trolling and to deploy trolling boards without losing too much tackle. Much of what I learned I credit to Paul Delaney, a popular local fishing guide (See Late Eyes Guide Service). I went out with Paul and he gave me a lesson in Trolling with Boards 101. We also caught a few nice fish. It really helped and I have had some success. Each of the last three years I have boated at least one 30"+ hog.
However, the goal of consistently harvesting "eater" walleyes has still eluded me. I'll figure it out eventually and I will thoroughly enjoy my time on the water until I do.
Tight Lines, Bruce
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