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Monday, June 17th, 2024

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Monday, June 17th, 2024

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

White bass bring walleye anglers back to Wisconsin’s Wolf River

Catching white bass like this is easy during the annual run each spring on Wisconsin’s Wolf River. (Photo by Greg Seubert)

Fremont, Wis. — Wisconsin towns along the Wolf River recently saw a second surge of anglers chasing a spawning run, but this one was for white bass, not the better known walleye run.

Although walleyes draw anglers to small towns all along the Wolf River every spring, the white bass run that follows could bring in just as many visiting anglers to those towns – maybe even more.

Brothers Patrick and Kevin Gannon headed to Fremont from their homes in Fond du Lac and Green Bay, respectively, for a day on the water. Instead of heading out in a boat, however, they fished for white bass from shore next to a public landing filled with trucks and boat trailers.

Patrick Gannon often fishes for crappies and bluegills in Lake Winnebago each spring.

Patrick Gannon, of Fond du Lac, baits his hook while fishing white bass in May on the Wolf River in Fremont. (Photo by Greg Seubert)

“There are white bass there, but not like this,” he said. “I’m using a jig and a minnow on a Wolf River rig and a bare hook with a bobber. If something doesn’t work, I switch. Once you get them on, they’re a pretty good size. We got some that are 12, 13 inches.  They put up a pretty good fight and you know you’re going to catch some.”

The Gannons were two of more than 100 anglers who lined the river’s west bank in Fremont.

White bass don’t have the same appeal as largemouth and smallmouth bass, but that doesn’t matter to Gannon.

“They’re fun to catch, but you have to clean them right and get the red out and keep them cold,” he said. “They’re as good eating as perch.”

While the Gannons tried their luck on the Wolf, Dan Dake and his wife, Marci, were busy at Ma’s Bait & Tackle, the sporting goods store in Fremont they have operated for the past decade.

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The white bass and walleye runs are a big deal for local businesses, according to Dan Dake.

“It’s been huge for our economy year after year and that goes way back,” he said. “You have campgrounds, bars, restaurants, and bait shops. Everyone depends on white bass.”

Dake expected the white bass push to run through May before the fish return for another run each fall.

“Their numbers, their schooling, their willingness to bite,” he said. “You can catch them on just about anything with a little finesse. The Wolf River rig is probably the No. 1 go-to and you can’t go wrong with a minnow. Minnows are a must, but not so much with crawlers. Crawlers have been working for walleyes, but for white bass, it’s the exception, not the rule.”

The white bass started showing up in mid-April, Dake said.

“It depends on the weather. The hotter it gets, the quicker it’s over. It will run through May and a lot of times, a week or two into June,” Dake said.

Anglers line the Wolf River in Fremont in search of white bass and walleyes. (Photo by Greg Seubert)

That adds up to almost two months of great fishing.

“There is plenty of time before and after those peak weeks that you can go out there, do a little bit of fishing and have a lot of fun,” Dake said.

Weekends tend to bring more anglers to town, he said.

“People are coming from a lot of different places: Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan,” he said. “A lot of them have their vacation just for this. I think they’re here for the white bass, but when they’re tired of that, people can go after the walleyes. There are a lot of walleyes in the river.”

The Wolf River’s channel and flathead catfish are often overlooked, Dake said.

“They’re an awesome fight and good eating, too,” he said. “You can catch them all year long and they’ve been getting some pretty nice ones.”

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