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Marathon County, Wisconsin

Fishing in and around the Great Lakes region including all tributaries and adjoining states.

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Marathon County, Wisconsin

Postby JDeBoer » Wed Feb 27, 2008 10:21 pm

Yes, there’s plenty of ice on local lakes and reservoirs, and yes, it may be some time until winter finally releases its stranglehold on North-Central Wisconsin. That being said, late February finds me in the grip another stranglehold – cabin fever! Although the ailment is not limited to fishermen, anglers are arguably the most affected of all populations. There is but one cure – springtime; however, there are ways to help alleviate the symptoms of this notorious affliction, one of which is looking ahead to the endless possibilities that exist during the open water season. This week, that’s just what we’ll do…
While there are many “perks” to living in our area, one that pushes to the forefront during the waning weeks of winter is old marble-eye itself, the walleye. Unlike most bodies of water in the state of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin River system season remains open for us to take advantage of some fantastic walleye fishing beginning with the late ice period and moving steadily through spring. While many anglers are still waiting the statewide opening weekend in May, scores of walleyes are being caught from local waters, often beginning as early as late February.
Recent years have seen an increase in the average size of local walleyes, perhaps due in part to the slot limit enacted by the DNR a few years back. Yearly, we boat very good numbers of “slot” walleyes (walleyes 20”-28”), along with scores of “eaters” and the occasional giant as well. There are literally miles of river and reservoir in our region to explore in search of some fine spring walleye action.
Beginning with the late-ice period, another toothy adversary offers some exciting action, northern pike. While often overlooked in our region for the often more glorified musky, walleye, and smallmouth bass, pike can provide some true heart-stopping moments. For a pike angler, our area offers a legitimate shot at a trophy “slimer”. Looking at last year’s records alone, we caught and released an amazing number of fish in the mid to upper thirty inch range, and even managed to break the “magic” forty inch barrier once as well.
While many of these fish were “accidental”, caught while fishing for muskies or other species, it was not always the case. Perhaps one of the best times of the season to target these large aggressive pike is during the late-ice period and subsequent early open water period. Late ice pike often succumb to tip up presentations baited with large golden shiners or sucker minnows. Dead bait, such as smelt, also can be deadly when used properly on these late winter behemoths.
As the ice melts, look to dark-bottomed back bays and inlet areas, be they rivers or creeks, to hold the largest pike. Live bait presentations work exceptionally well, as do suspending style crankbaits and jerkbaits. The quality of the northern pike fishery here in Marathon County will surprise you, and offer a nice reprieve from a bad case of cabin fever.
The possibilities do not end with walleye and northern pike, but merely begin. A myriad of species and angling opportunities exist within the confines of our area – I encourage you to explore the possibilities. As for me, I’ll see you on the water…

Tight lines,
Joel DeBoer
Wisconsin Angling Adventures Guide Service
"Fishing's our business, and business is good!"
Cabin Boy
Cabin Boy
Posts: 30
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2007 9:37 pm
Location: North-Central WI

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