Craziest thing I saw while pre-fishing the Wolf River (for the Winnebago NWT) was for sure the fishing rafts…. Sort of like an ice-fishing village except set-up along the river. Some are just “shacks,” but others have $30K wrapped into ’em with solar, propane, full kitchens, you name it:
> They get permission from the land owner to tie up to their tree and leave the rafts out for the spring walleye run. Placement is a pecking order thing — it’s a tight-knit community so the guys that have been doing it the longest get the best spots.
> Shacks set-up on the shallow side of the river while fish are running upstream to spawn…fish take the shallows upriver since there’s less current.
> Move the shacks to deep holes in river bends for the post-spawn run (now). Big females will ride the current back down to the main lake…and they CRUISE.
> Troy Peterson caught a fish in Lake Winnebago that had been tagged in Shiocton 24 hours earlier — approx 84-ish miles upriver!
He compared it to:
It gets crazier….
> Fishing-rafters use old-school bamboo cane poles [!] with Rapala Original Floaters on 3-way rigs with a 3- to 5-oz bell sinker. Cane poles ‘cuz of the forgiveness — fish clobber the baits.
> Usually a night bite so they rig bells, reflective tape or a wiffle golf ball on the rod tip for a strike indicator.
> Can run multiple lines in WI, so they’ll set one 2-3′ off bottom, another 4-5’ off, and the 3rd just a few feet under the surface. Don’t fall asleep ‘cuz a log or sturgeon will roll through and wipe everything out.
> Some even run Off Shore Tackle Planer Boards on their cane poles (if they have the room) to take the 3-way rigs out to the middle of the river. Imagine seeing that?!
> Lot of guys keep a catch-tally on the wall: word is the average raft lands 200 walleyes on the season and 20+ fish nights are possible when the bite is on.
I was actually able to sneak out on one of these “floating fish houses” — something I’ll never forget:
Can’t thank all the guys enough for letting me in on such a unique experience, and my buddy Troy Peterson for lining it all up. Mike, Luke, Pete, Jacob, Tom – hope to see you all again sooner than later.