Mild weather triggers early fishing frenzy on the Fox River

Published: Mar. 9, 2021 at 2:49 PM CST
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DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - Anglers on the Fox River say they couldn’t be happier.

The weather is great and so is the walleye fishing.

The unseasonably mild temperatures have led to an early rush on the world-class fishery.

“Start out the spring in Wisconsin, on the river, sitting on about 20 fish right now and we need more bait, so we’re going to get some.” says Bill Dornaus from Green Bay.

“Couldn’t ask for much better weather, catching a lot of fish and just good to be out in the boat,” adds Casey Hoffman from New London.

Cabin fever and feeling cooped up due to Covid-19, hundreds of fisherman are enjoying the Fox River’s earlier-than-usual open water.

Some have traveled a long way to pursue a trophy walleye during the river’s world-class spring spawning run.

“They come from Ohio, southern Illinois, Tennessee, one of these years I’m going to mark down the license plates and just see how many different ones I get because they come from the Dakotas, Iowa,” says Neil Sweney, who helps run Swamp Donkey Bait & Tackle just up from the Fox Point Boat Landing in De Pere.

“Everyone comes just to see what they can catch, a lot of people catch their biggest fish of their lives here this time of year,” says Hoffman, who’s also come ashore to get more bait.

And while selling bait and tackle from a trailer is a lot more pleasant on days like today, there’s little concern business will drop if the temperatures do.

“Yes it is early coming in but it’s Wisconsin and the weather is going to change and we’re able to get our 20 inches of snow yet that we normally do so that’s why I think a lot of people are out right now, they’re enjoying this weather to get out, but you come back when it’s cold and 30-35 degrees out, they’ll be just as many people because if they’re biting, they’re in there, that makes my job tough because they I’ve got to sit here and freeze,” says Sweney with a smile.

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