River under the radar...

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Gary's picture
River under the radar...


Yesterday Josh and I decided to go out on an adventure. The Wolf River system is one of the most beautiful and senic places in the whole state, and we decided to go to some new spots and see what we could see. 

What ended up occuring was one of the strangest and most exciting things that has happened in a very long time... Long story short, we found a few really excellent and exciting new places to try out in the upcoming weeks and months. At the first one we stopped at, we set up a few poles with bottom-rigged crawlers on circle hooks and tossed them out into the current. While set up to wait on those, we used our ultralights to play around with jigs to see what else might me hanging around in the top to mid water levels.  After a while with no action, Josh said "Hey, I'm going to go over here and see if anything is around..." while I hung back to monitor the set poles. 

Of course, no sooner was Josh out of range to come back that one of the poles went off with a series of frenzied jerks. I dropped my ultralight and grabbed the pole, and sure enough something was there! As i brought it in, Josh made his way back. I suddenly saw a big bright golden flash at the surface of a fish with a big crimson tail, and based on that and the size of the fish I said "Hey! A NICE shorthead!!" 

Josh immediately paused and said, "Ummm... There's Rivers here, dude..." 

Possible, yes - probable... NO WAY. They are SUPER rare in these parts and I didn't get too excited because I thought there was no way it could be, I still thought I had a really nice shorthead.

Then I worked the fish over near shore and both Josh and I noticed there was something strange about this shorthead... 

"GET THE NET!!!!!!" 

While Josh ran back to the truck and back to the water I continued to play the rather ticked off and still-unidentified Redhorse, but when he got back it was a rather easy landing. After much analyzing and double checking and triple checking because of the sheer difficulty believing it could actually be what it appeared to be, indeed it was...

























UNBELIEVABLE! Yet here it was... it's identifying features flying in the face of our attempts to disbelieve what just came out of this part of the river. Neither Josh nor I had ever encountered a River Redhorse this close to home - a mere 45 minute drive to encounter what we thought we would eventually have to drive 4 to 6 hours for a chance at... The DNR does not even list any information about this fish in these waters - whether for lack of substantial data on the fish or due to its status as a threatened species remains unknown, but we intend to let them know this fish was encountered where we came across it to help provide them with information they may be very interested to know. 

More photos positively identifying the fish as a River... the 6th and last species of Redhorse I can find in our state :)



























































After our photo session together, off he went on his merry way to grow to adult size and hopefully produce many, many more Rivers to add to the system. 

The rest of the day was a hell of a good time. The fishing was not fast by any means, with each of us catching a few drum and Josh with a pretty Shorthead Redhorse. The River Red was the only Redhorse I caught all day. Clearly, an amazing gift from the River Gods who took mercy on me for the tackle-breaking debacle I engaged in last weekend that I was too embarrassed to even post about.

Although the fishing was not fast, the fun was by no means over. We decided to drive north to a dam neither of us had yet been to where we suspected there may be great numbers of fish. Although fishing near the dam is off limits until May 15th, we were able to get a birds eye view of the entire river below us from atop a high bridge that runs over it. In the beautifully clear, amber-stained water below we beheld a great number of HUGE sliver redhorse, and to our amazement and joy we could watch dozens of adult sturgeon swimming upstream in their journey to the dam where they were spawining. All of the sturgeon were between 4 to 7 or more feet long, and it was incredible to watch them power upstream. After determining that they were not biting on this day, we packed up and went to visit the dam, where we saw an amazing sight in that there were countless behemoth Lake Sturgeon spawining on the rocks just feet from where we were standing!!!

All in all it was a great trip, and we are planning another trip up there again next week after a few days of 70 degree weather - and we will take our kayaks and waders as well on an all day excursion that we hope will become and epic warmup to the week after and the coming of ROOT RIVER MADNESS 2012!!!!



















Til next time! 


Dr Flathead
Dr Flathead's picture
Sweet and congrats!  I wonder

Sweet and congrats!  I wonder if all the high water we had last year allowed fish like your River to make their way upstream into areas where they are uncommon and un-documented for the most part?  Kinda like the numbers of Eel we got last year.  What a cool catch man! 

D.T.'s picture
Nice job!

Nice job!

Jknuth's picture
It was awesome!

It was awesome!
I am positive this is part of a resident population in this system. I just dont think its mentioned much. 
the Wolf river is fairly large and has 125 miles from the mouth of the river in the winnebago system to the first dam at shawano. The river is full of mussel beds and rocks. And serves as the nursery waters to all of the Winnebgao system sturgeon.  The river isnt connected to any other known river redhorse locations. the only connection the the wisconsin river is a man made canal that was made back in the fur trading days. It is truely one of the great rivers in our state. 
I had a strong hunch they would be found here, years ago I remember seeing Large redtailed redhorse in a riffle. For years I thought them to be greaters, but I remeber seeing their large light colored lips. Something I have since seen on large rivers. 
I am SO HAPPY Gary confirmed this. What this means is within an hour from my house I can catch every species of redhorse minus the black and every species of sucker minus the blue and longnose all from the same river. 

Reekfish's picture
So exciting! =)

Great report, Gary! Always fun to try new waters. Congrats on the River! I love the spawning sturgeon pic... very cool!


BTW... Bless your heart for bringing the pink fishing rod to the 2010 Roundup! I've caught many fish on it since and think of you often! Thanks!

Gary's picture

Joy, that really makes my day :) I am so glad that the rod has been good to you and that you are getting a lot of adventures and enjoyment out of it... I SO wanted you to have it, and it turned out perfectly that day!

Now let's cross our fingers and hope that the spawning sturgeon pic I posted can be followed up with another pic next Friday, further downstream from where they are actively spawning, of a sturgeon taking a photo with me for the first time ever!!!  

Do not meddle in the affairs of BAGMAN, for thou art crunchy and good with Old Bay seasoning...


Hengelaar's picture

Sweet report!

Congrats Gary. That's a Radiant Redhorse. And those Sturgeon are fkin awesome.


I always love the stories of the adventures you guys have. Can't wait for the next one!

Fishn sure is neat

roughfish29's picture
congrats again mister! a nice

congrats again mister! a nice catch indeed

Moose439's picture
Awesome report, and life list

Awesome report, and life list specimen. Congrats dude.