Target Walleye/Ice email

Special Issue: Behind the scenes at the Winnebago NWT

Heads up: I’m in Oshkosh, WI for the NWT on Lake Winnebago. Still sending out Target Walleye emails (duh, you’re reading one right now lol) but they might be comin’ your way on non-normal days/times for a bit…bear with me!

Got my mobile office setup and will be cranking things out when I “need” a break from setting the hook…or lack of setting the hook #prefishingprobs

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Today’s Top 5

Pro’s rigs give a guy some serious truck/boat envy.

Feel like a little kid while gawking at the NWT pro’s rigs…sorry if I got any drool on ’em guys…. There’s an overwhelming amount of fishy gadgets floating around here — will have more on that soon-ish, but here’s a sneak peek:

Yup, Robert Cardenas’s fishin’-tank (right) has a topper lift system that converts the back into a bed-n-breakfast. It’s not just about the looks…everything has a purpose.

Doesn’t sacrifice any room with the mobile hotel in the back thanks to his TruckVault Storage System, AKA on-the-road tackle shop:

And that’s “packing light” lol! Even with all that, these guys still stop at every single tackle shop they drive by to stock up on local stuff. Talkin’ stuff you’d never think to try — or even see — back home. Example 1A – the Winneconne Fly Rig:

Hoping to jump in the boat with a guy (time permitting) to see this in action, ‘cuz I can’t even imagine…especially in this dirty water?

Speaking of dirty water…

There’s MAJOR flooding going on at the Wolf River (part of the Lake Winnebago system). We’re talking the highest-recorded water levels since 1922. Here’s what the access looked like at one of the stretches we were pre-fishing:

Mike Olson (host of Fish Addictions TV) had to take one for the team and wade back-and-forth to the truck to launch/load [crying-laughing emoji]. For sure the strangest conditions I’ve ever attempted to catch a walleye in, but we did catch fish….

Local walleye-nut Troy Peterson had me tie on crazy light 1/16-oz Northland Thumper Jig in the heavy current (no joke) where I’d normally rig up a 3/8- or 1/2-oz.

Would ride the current downstream at up to 1.9 mph — those light jigs would float along with the boat. Guess it looks more natural than something moving slower.

I usually use Thumper Jigs with plastics, but the bait-keeper worked awesome for keeping the half-crawlers pinned — even in the current:

When Troy’s not whackin’ walters — and sometimes while he is — he’s jammin’ to Spotify playlists on his Raymarine Axiom. Got the classic rock going here, but don’t count out the Johnny Cash or gangster rap #ItHappened

Thing is like a MacBook Pro with GPS and sonar. Can even control your drones with ’em, hook up an Aqua-Vu to the big screen or watch Netflix — seriously.

Seriously?! Cane-pole walleyes on the Wolf River is a thing?

Craziest thing I saw while floating the Wolf 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 able to sneak out on one of these “floating fish houses” last night — something I’ll never forget! Video to come, but here’s a little something to hold you off:

Ever heard of counter-rotating props?

Mike Olson’s 350hp [!] Suzuki with “contra-rotating props” is a serious neck-breaker — even when rolling at 40mph she’ll kick you back in your seat on the #hammerdown. First I’d ever seen a prop set-up like this — talk about some get-up-n-go:

Few reasons why it’s more better-er…per Suzuki’s website, Mike’s experience and comments under the post from guys that also run ’em:

> Incredible grip and lift….thrust sucks the windshields off the rest out of the hole.

> Spreads the propeller load for better efficiency at low speeds…especially when docking or trolling.

> Crazy stability…better handling and turning at high speeds. Runs straighter and tracks truer than a single prop.

> High reverse thrust allows the boat to reduce its speed and stop quicker.

Was surprised to hear from a couple guys that the props didn’t affect their top-end.

Famous Winneconne fishin’ bridge.

Don’t need a boat to catch walleyes outta the Winnebago system — have probably seen as many fish “boated” from land the last couple days as guys on the water. Reminds me of Devils Lake this time of year, with people limiting out from the bank before most could even get their boat launched.

One of the most famous spots in the world is the Winneconne bridge and they’ve got it dialed: clamp-on rod holders, 20′ nets, you name it:

Word is you’ll see guys standing in line 2-deep when the bite’s on…waiting for their turn after the guy in front of ’em catches their limit of 5 walleyes:

> On good nights, they aren’t waiting long — on slow nights, they aren’t 2-deep.

> …like to fish “the shadow” on the upriver side. That’s where walleyes often congregate, using the bridge for shade to avoid sunlight…and streetlights by night.

> …use the Wolf’s current to work good spots beneath the bridge — some structure is cement chunks that fell from the bridge during its rehabilitation in 1989.

Will have lots more coming, including specific bait/technique info on what’s catching ’em at Winnebago…just can’t give up all the goods before game day….

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Who is Target Walleye/Ice
Target Walleye/Ice — walleye during open water and all species during hardwater — is brought to you by Al and Ron Lindner, Jim Kalkofen, Brett McComas and other diehard fish-nuts like you! #fishheads
Brett McComas is the main man for Target Walleye/Ice. He was discovered in Brainerd, MN after years of wondering how in the heck people break into the fishing biz. He’s in it now, but still can’t answer that question…. Brett is one of those guys who majored in marketing, only because there was no such thing as a “fishing degree” at the time…. Get him at

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