Tuesday, January 31st, 2023
Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

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A Wisconsin fishing season opener to remember

Lake Winnebago is a treasure chest for a variety of fish even if the lake is most famous for its walleyes. I don’t fish it enough, so I was thrilled when friends Kelly and Chad Weber offered to have my family up there for some fun and walleye fishing. I couldn’t resist.

The plan was to troll during the day and fish from his pier at night.

“The trolling bite is just getting going,” Weber said. “We’ll do that during the day and as long as the wind is blowing from the south, my shoreline will have walleyes feeding around it at night.”

We started around the Garlic Island area and set up six planer board rods and headed north.

“You can put a limit in the boat in a hurry in spring,” he said. “It gets much tougher out here in the summer. I like keeping the 15-inchers and put the larger fish back.”

The action was not furious, but it was pretty good, and I learned some trolling strategies, which were pretty foreign to me since I mainly fish bass.

Chad Weber helps his son, Charlie, hoist up a huge carp.After dinner, it was time to grab a beverage and head down to the Weber’s pier. Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved fishing from the bank. It’s just so relaxing and you never are worrying about your boat hitting a rock, or hooking someone’s dock.

“We’ll toss out some lighted slip bobbers with minnows and then cast crankbaits while we wait,” he said.

Before long a white bass grabbed one of the rigs with the lighted bobber. There’s something really cool about watching a lighted bobber get sucked under and slowly creep away.

“Got one, got one,” yelled Hunter.

Then Chad’s son Charlie got into the game, landing a huge carp. Next, a catfish. Then a walleye. Then a sheepshead.

“The catfish bite all year on these sand flats at night,” he said. “The walleyes can be tough. If you don’t have wind, forget it.”

The action was fast paced.  Bait a rig. Throw it out and within a few minutes the rod would double over. We took turns setting the hook, but eventually let the kids get the rest of the action.

A full moon completed the night, it’s eerie glow turning Winnebago into a glistening pool. Every once in a while we were reminded that we weren’t the only ones enjoying the view by a boat running in the distance. The conversation was great, to, many times drifting back to when the Webers lived in Sussex and Chad I used to fish bass tournaments.

As anyone knows, fishermen have a lot of stories so it didn’t surprise me when the clock read 12:30 a.m. and it was time to call it a night. It was a great opening day (and night) to be sure.


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