Back from catchin’

FREMONT, Wis.–I said I was gone fishin’. Make it gone catchin’.

That’s a typical double of black crappie Bruce Zolna and I pulled from old wood across from Nipple Beach on the Wolf River near New London, Wis. Friday afternoon. The doubles weren’t typical but crappie like that were, mostly 10 inches or longer, a few topped 12 inches.

Fishing started spotty in the morning when guide Bill Stoeger started us in old wood and brush south of town.

It took most of the day, but we limited out on a gorgeous fall day on one of my favorite bodies of water, the Wolf River and the associated lakes.

Come along.

Stoeger called early in the week. He had a cancellation for Friday. I didn’t think I could, but then my wife cleared it. By then Zolna, a downtown lawyer I know from Mayor Daley’s Fishing Committee was also planning on going.

My original plan was to drive up early Friday. Zolna suggested we drive up late and grab a place. Which we did at Hahn-A-Lula (I appreciate a pun enough to enjoy that) south of town on the west side of the Wolf. We made it a little after midnight, probably woke up the guys from Lisle staying in the other side of the duplex.

Stoeger met us at the dock at Hahn’s at 7. And he started us off with the first crappie on the first cast.

But it would take work. We moved downstream to Boom Island. Then upstream to more brush. Then to the trestles by Gill’s Landing well upstream of town.

At each stop we picked up some crappie, but it was work. By lunch–we took burgers and seasoned fries at Gill’s Landing–we had about 30 crappie between us, well under the daily limit of 25 each.

Then we went far upstream to the gnarly knot of old wood across from Nipple Beach. At first, it was hunt and peck there. Then Steger found a hole in the brush holding cookie-cutter crappie of 10 inches or longer. At one point, I pulled out 12 straight.

We were using basic stuff: 1/16th-ounce plain lead jigs tipped with crappie minnows. About a dozen came on plastic, but at least on Friday, minnows were better.

By mid-afternoon, Stoeger double-checked out count. We finished up our limits by 4 as the sun was dropping into the trees on the west side.

It was time.

We also kept a few of the biggest white bass (the white bass are going good), and released many rock bass, drum, smallmouth and small walleye.

On the way back, Zolna and I made it a complete trip with a stop at White House Inn in Butte Des Morts to see his old friend chef/owner Miles La Fever and to eat a Friday night walleye.

The best way to reach Stoeger is by cell at (920) 570-1187.

For Hahn-a-lula, go to http://www.hahnalula.com/ or call (920) 446-3245.

For White House Inn, go to http://whitehouseinnonline.com/ or call (920)582-7211.

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