Wolf river madness

For the last week Gary and I had been planning on fishing the Wolf river on Friday. The plan was to take the kayaks and fish the pools and runs of the river in hopes of finding large silver redhorse.

Wednesday night we got hit with a rainstorm. A very large rainstorm that dumped 10” in about 8 hours. Oshkosh was flooded again as was my studio. It seems those 10” went right into my basement studio.
It was looking like the plans for Friday were shot. I worked like mad night and all day Thursday to get the water out and throw out what was hit with the floods. Somehow I managed to get it done in time for Friday morning fishing.
The plans had changed however. After spending the last 24 hours standing in cold water the last thing I wanted to do was sit on a kayak in a cold river.
We talked it over and decided to try from shore… This turned out to be the best idea we have had in a while.

We got to our spot around 11:00. We quickly noticed our spot was open. As we rushed over we spotted them, two kids on the sidewalk of the bridge hanging over the edge with bows in their hands.
We saw several dead silver and shorthead redhorse in a pile by a pair of wet shoes.
We decided to fish anyway.

Almost instantly Gary pulled in a nice Golden redhorse.

Soon after I had a spazzy hit out on the flats. A moment later I had my personal best hogsucker in hand. He was about 16” long, but rather thin, had it been a fatter fish it would have been close to a record for Wisconsin.
After setting the big guy free I warned him to stay clear of the kids with the pointy things.

The good bite continued With a nice “tubed up” Silver from Gary and continued with a shorthead from me. We fished this spot for a few hours catching a fish nearly every 5 minutes.

A few kids came buy to ask us questions and we did our best to educate them about the different species and how they were native and actually good for the ecosystem. I explained how we only kill what we use.
One boy was very interested and he explained how he lets most of his fish go and enjoys catching them all. The other seemed more interested in the drama of the Bowfisherman.
It was interesting to see their paths laid out even at this young age.
Gary helped the one boy by rigging his pole and even giving him a few buck to get himself some bait at the gas station.

We decided the whole episode was a Zen like lesson of finding peace and beauty in a moment of conflict. These are the types of conversations many rough fishermen have.
Soon though the lesson became too much, and we clearly are not there yet. We had seen enough and decided to try a new location.
Again the best decision we have made in a while.

We set downstream to another access. After a walk across the bridge we spotted deep runs and sandbars loaded with fish.
It was a no brainer, fish and fish hard!

We set our lines out and nearly instantly I brought in another shorthead. Gary quickly followed with a shorthead of his own.

This continued and continued one after another. Suddenly we saw movement. Large splashes and clear signs of Sturgeon moving in our pool. Suddenly Gary’s line went nuts. A big fish was on, after a few minutes of a beastly fight we realized Gary didn’t have a sturgeon, but a beast of a carp. He fought this fish man on fish, no net no help. It had to be done this way. Soon the fish was brought to shore for a few pictures.
Then released.

The sturgeon were still moving around and we were starting to take our bites a bit more seriously, I picked up a few more nice shortheads and Gary pulled in a beautiful golden.

Suddenly at the end of my drift when by bait stopped moving in the current I brought it in to re drift, but there was a problem. My bait seemed stuck, then I felt the *Thump thump thump* and it started to move. “WAAAA OOOH!, Here we go!” I said. I made sure the hook was firm and got ready. The Fish stayed down and I was afraid of snags so I used a trick I learned years ago when fishing the lake. Often times sturgeon are hooked and they don’t seem to realized it and in order to tire them quicker they need to realize the situation. So I held the line tight and leaned back and quickly and repeatedly hit the butt of the rod with my fist. This will quickly cause them t change direction and many times get them to the surface. Right on que he surfaced and started splashing then started to really move. At first I was thinking he was about four feet. After his second jump I realized he was well over that and likely over five. Not the best situation in a small location like this.

After a few minutes he started to move beyond a rockpile. At that point I knew this wouldn’t last long. He stopped then made a heart stopping run and *POP* that was it.
As fast as it started it was done.
I sat down rested a minute and relived all the things I did wrong.
Gary said “the only thing that went wrong was hooking a behemoth in a little river” Well said. A few minutes later I was back at it, suddenly again at the end of the drift I felt the *Thump thump thump* again.
Soon another was on, but this time only briefly then it pulled loose.

As I was baiting up I hear Gary yell “Here we go!” I heard his drag scream as I watched the water boil. He fought the beast well for a few minutes before he suffered the same fate.

Ahhh…  That was his first, the first lake sturgeon he had ever been able to confirm on his line. You could see the look in his eyes. The realization of the amazing power of these animals.

As the sun set I hooked into yet another that I fought for a minute before the hook pulled loose, this fish was smaller and was just about four feet. The strong current clearly gave the advantage to the fish.

As the sun set we picked up a few more fish, we kept hoping, but it wasn’t meant to be today.

The day was amazing. I personally caught 35 shorthead redhorse, 5 golden, 4 silvers, 1 hogsucker, 2 drum and a smallmouth bass.
We went through about 6 dozen crawlers.

We will be back.

Species List: 
Bass, Smallmouth
Carp, Common
Drum, Freshwater
Redhorse, Golden
Redhorse, Shorthead
Redhorse, Silver
Sucker, Northern Hog


Deftik's picture

Nice! Nothing like catching loads of fish!

Your momma fishes for lifers with Eagle Claws.
Jason E.'s picture

Sweet trip!  Don't feel bad about the sturgeon.  Shore fishing is tough with them, esp. when you cannot "follow" them downstream due to trees and other obstacles.  I'd say I lose about 2/3 of my encounters with those creatures while shore fishing (at least I think it's them, could be big carp too I suppose).  The Wolf is particularly rough, since in spring it can have fast current that the sturgeon take full advantage of.  Nice carp and suckers though.  Cool to see the Wolf still producing.  I've got to get back there again someday.  My buddy and I found a campsite on the river that produced hogsuckers, channel cats, and other nice fish and I've always wanted to camp there again.

Eric Kol's picture

"Fish and fish hard"


very nice. 

Carpy Diem!

Where is the Wolf River that you went to? There must be a bunch of rivers with that name. Not as many as there are No-Name-Creeks, though. ~Paul

Carp Chaser's picture

Nice fish guys. That is one nice river. Hopefully next time you can bring in some sturgeon.

"There's always a bigger fish"