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Anglers geared up for Whopper Weekend

Lee Ann Herschberger of Waupaca caught and released this healthy spawned-out female walleye while fishing the Wolf River between Weyauwega and New London Thursday, April 11. John Faucher Photo

Walleye fishing on Wolf River

By John Faucher

A record early ice out, low water levels and a mild spring have created a perfect scenario for anglers on the Wolf River this spring.

Water levels rose several feet after an early April snowstorm.

The influx of cooler water drew even more fish up the system and prolonged the spawn.

For more than two weeks, anglers from Fremont to above Shiocton caught a mix of up-run pre-spawn fish along with spawned out fish.

Some would argue it has been the best walleye fishing on the Wolf for decades.

Last week a return to warm weather caused many walleye to spawn in shallower bayous, pockets and flooded woods, causing a massive back run of post spawn females.

Lake Sturgeon also arrived in large numbers at their spawning sites and began their reproductive ritual on the banks of the Wolf.

Anglers out on the water this past week reported catching an abundance of walleye, catfish and some early season white bass.

Lee Ann Herschberger of Waupaca and her 12-year-old grandson Elliott, were on the water fishing with friends between Weyauwega and New London, Thursday, April 11.

It was their first time fishing the Wolf River walleye run.

Both caught their limit, and each had their personal best walleye measuring in at around 24-inches respectively.

“We caught so many we were letting them go so we could stay fishing,” said Herschberger, who released her biggest fish to let it spawn again another season.

This is the fifth year since the daily bag limit for walleye on the Winnebago system went to three fish per day from the previous five.

“Most people around here prefer to eat the smaller males,” said Les Simon, a volunteer with the New London Fish and Game Club.

“Since the bag limit was reduced to three, I think a few more people who come from a long ways away to fish are tempted to keep those bigger ones to make it worth their while,” said Simon. That’s one thing that worries me about the three fish bag limit,” he said.

Simon has volunteered at the fish registration table for Whopper Weekend for the past decade.
He said the club awards a trophy for the longest walleye, longest one-day stringer and longest three-day stringer of walleye and longest bass.

Chad Hungerford of Manawa caught his personal best walleye on the Wolf River Monday, April 15. The fish measured 26-inches. Hungerford and many anglers are planning to fish the 48th Annual Whopper Weekend event in New London April 19-20. John Faucher Photo

Keep or release

Anglers have a choice to keep or release their fish after registering them in the Whopper tent at Riverside Park in New London.

Anglers purchase one raffle ticket for the $15,000 grand prize giveaway to enter the fishing contest. After that, they are given a door prize ticket with each fish they register and have a chance to win a daily door prize.

The three-day fishing event is open 24 hours a day, with fish registrations ongoing from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. Sunday.

“In 48 years of record we have never registered a 30-inch walleye,” said Simon. “We’ve had some come close, but never a 30-incher.”

“The most fish we ever registered in the three day event was 1,700, but that was when the daily bag limit was five fish,” he explained.

There were also a couple years where the event was largely modified due to Covid restrictions.
When asked about his predictions for this year’s event, Simon said, “I think it will be a good year. Some of those fish got all the way up to Shawano, so there’s still a lot of fish to come back yet,” he said.

Chad Hungerford of Manawa agrees.

Hungerford was in New London pre-fishing for Whopper Weekend Monday, April 15, when he caught his first limit of Wolf River Walleye and his personal best, a 26-inch female.

“I saw that thing’s head come up and started hollering for the net,” he said. “That one’s going on the wall.”

“I’ll definitely be back this weekend,” said Hungerford.

The event takes place at Riverside Park in New London April 19-21.

The shelter opens at 6 a.m. Friday and closes after the raffle drawing at noon on Sunday.

The event’s famous Buffalo burgers, and other food and refreshments will be served around the clock. Live entertainment is offered from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday.

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