Jan 10, 2015

Green Lake Clam

By: Barb Carey

One of my favorite places to ice fish every winter is Big Green Lake, in Green Lake, Wisconsin. I try to make it there several times a season. I was unaware of what a quality lake trout fishery it is, until my friend showed me some pictures of her holding a massive fish. Once the secret was out, I was on my way.

Big Green Lake is an 8000 acre lake that gets to over 200 feet deep. It usually gets safe ice well after many other lakes have been ready to fish. Some years, the ice can be tricky and you have to really know what you are doing. The first year I fished it, I contacted Dennis Walker of Dennis Walker’s Guide Services. Dennis has several permanent shacks he places over deep water where lake trout hang out. For a small fee, you get a spot in the shack and a ride out and back. He drives a small Suzuki Jeep that doesn’t weigh much more than an ATV. His large shacks are also fun for a group outing.  Groups can be hauled out onto the lake with a large sled that holds multiple people and their gear. Dennis does a good job of trying to keep the shacks on fish, but the large houses are not moved during the course of the day.

The first time I went, I found out I did not have enough line on my tip ups or jig rods. But, Dennis had gear for me to use. His tip ups are home fashioned and have a turkey feather in a cork that keeps the bait moving if it’s windy. The first time out I went home skunked, but not long after, I came back for another try.

The second time out on Big Green, I came prepared. I had several rods and tip ups all with as much line as they could hold. This time I was in one of Dennis’s two person shacks. I was fishing with my jig pole, an emerald shiner minnow and an ice bobber. An hour or so into the day, that yellow sponge bobber started to move. It slowly started on its way down and after it went about 18 inches, with a hard snap, I set the hook.  I hooked the fish and my rod was nearly bent in half. I realized maybe I should have chosen a stiffer rod but the fight was on. Bringing up a fish from that deep is quite a battle. My heart was pounding and it seemed to take forever to get the fish to the surface. When it neared the hole, it ran again, and the drag on my small ice reel got a work out. I finally got it to the surface

and onto the ice. Wow! It was HUGE! I can’t remember how big it actually was, but I knew I would like more of that experience. One fish for the whole day but I wanted to go back.

Not long after that day, along with two friends, Holly Hansen and Robin Miller, we headed out on our own. We brought a 5 person hub style shack. The Clam Bigfoot XL2000 holds 4 to 5 anglers and weighs only 35 pounds. We picked a spot the non-scientific way by saying, “This looks good.” We got a late start that day and did not bother to set tip ups. We drilled three holes and sat in a row jigging. We were not having any luck. We kept changing baits hoping for a fish before the day ended. Right at dark, Robin was sitting on the end and had a fish on. The fight was on and she landed a dandy lake trout.  She showed us what she was using. It was a vertical slender spoon with a chain dropper and a small hook, like the Clam Speed Spoon. The spoon was glow rainbow tiger color, with a dropper chain and a tiny hook. It was hard to imagine that big fish being caught on such a tiny hook. As we were changing our baits over to match hers, she had another fish on as soon as she dropped her line back down. That meant she had her limit, so she was done.

The other gal then sat in the hot seat and used the same rod and within a few minutes had a fish on. Sure enough, a second fish. Now it was my turn and within minutes I had one too. As you can imagine, the glee was emitting from that shack. There were five nice lake trout on the ice behind our seats.

Before long we heard a guy outside the shack. He was one of Dennis Walker’s helpers and he came to check on us because people don’t usually fish for lake trout after dark. He peeked in the shack and saw the fish on the ice. He smiled big like he was surprised at our success. We showed him the secret bait and I am guessing he now has Speed Spoons in his tackle box.

I have made several trips back to Big Green with mixed results. There was never another day like the one when we caught five fish. I got to know several people who fish out there and one in particular, always finds the fish. His name is Justin Kohn and he owns All Seasons Adventures Guide Service. When we run into each other, I always try to pick his brain. He is always very helpful and shares quite a bit of information.

One of the secrets to his success is mobility. His shacks are easy to move and he will move his clients several times a day if needed. Justin explains that lake trout feed on moving schools of cisco.

Snow cover and fishing pressure can really affect the fish. Instead of a usual flasher unit like a Vexilar, he uses a Lowrance similar to what you would have in your boat in the summer.  His favorite sonar is the discontinued model the Lowrance LCX line, such as the LCX-25C units and the LCX-25CHD.  He adds the Ice-Ducer transducer and builds a carrying box for each unit. The sonar is crisp and the noise rejection works better than the latest models for seeing the fish and your lure without a bunch of clutter.  Using this type of electronics, he can target one specific fish out of a school of cisco. 

Matching the forage by size and shape is also important. In addition to catching lake trout, he catches cisco, and a variety of species like big pike. He can spot a fish on the sonar and can instruct his client exactly where and how to work the bait.  Once they have the system down, he is off on his ATV, looking for the next spot in case the bite slows down. He has it down to a science and the pictures of his daily catches are quite impressive. Watch his All Seasons Adventures facebook page and see for yourself.

If you go out, the Wisconsin lake trout season opens the first Saturday in January, but safe Ice usually comes three weeks later. Prime fishing is in February. Common baits that are used are a Jigging Rapala’s, Buckshot Rattle Spoon’s, Northland Puppet Minnow, or the Clam Speed Spoons. A jig and plastic tail or Gulp minnows have also been effective. Dead sticking live bait rigs with Emerald shiners or cut bait is also successful. You want a fairly stout rod like the Clam Mackinaw Big Fish Series. The bait has to get so deep, non-stretch line is a must.  The water is extremely clear so long leaders are recommended. If you are fishing with multiple holes, keep them far apart or you will have a big mess if you get a fish on. Remember 200 feet is a long way down, so safety is critical. You can find Dennis Walker’s shack info at  http://www.greenlakefishing.com and Justin Kahn can be contacted a https://www.facebook.com/AllSeasonsAdventures or 920-229-3494.  WI Women Fish also has an annual outing to Big Green Lake. The event will be posted at www.wiwomenfish.com.