November 21, 2012

Giving Thanks...

The wonderful place that is Wisconsin.

November 18, 2012

Sauger Hunting

 I took this photo as we left the lake.  There was one boat left on it.  The serenity of the day was deafening. 

Most people think of deer hunting in the middle to late November, but not my family.  I was one of those deer hunters until I got married.  I hunted a couple more years.  My wife refused to eat venison no matter how I fixed it.  I tried to hide it under vegetables and sauce with no luck.  I quit hunting entirely when my daughter Anna was born.  Shortly thereafter I got rid of all my guns. 

There was a serious void with no deer hunting.  Through the years I have been looking for a replacement for deer hunting.  A couple years ago I took up Big Lakes fishing again.  This year I was invited to fish for sauger.  My friend Joel Ballweg told me he would supply all the rods and reels and bait.  All I had to do was show up in Sauk Prairie and he would take me fishing.  For this, I agreed to take him and his wife trout fishing in 2013.

  It was seriously foggy.  As I drove there I saw scads of cars and trucks parked and blaze orange was the color of the day.  The old tug for deer hunting hit me.  Old memories came back.  I still love deer hunting but to shoot a deer for the sport is just not my bag.  I donated my deer to the food pantry for a couple years but it just wasn't the same. We met up at 9AM in Sauk Prairie.

We were on the water on Lake Wisconsin 10 minutes later.  The fog was terrible and we motored out really slowly to the first area.  Joel has all his favorite areas mapped out on his finder.  It wasn't long and Joel had a keeper in the boat.

We used plastics exclusively the entire day.  I was amazed at the variety of plastics styles and colors.  There was this kind of tail and that.  There were subtle differences in the bodies.  Some had pepper in them and others had some seriously odd names.  I had no idea that fishing for sauger was that technical.

Joel used his trolling motor and he motored over a numerous humps or points as he called them.  The depth was usually 18-24 feet deep.  I kept my plastic about 5 inches off the bottom and gave it an occasional lift and controlled drop.  The drop offs seemed to hold the most fish.  Every rig we threw out was tipped with a fat head minnow.  We fished with 6'6" St. Croix rods with shimano reels.  The lines varied.  Most were super line with mono leaders for the last 16 inches.

As the day progressed Joel kept changing colors.  He looked in his log book to see what was good to use for this time of year and temperature and light conditions. The jig heads were H2O jig heads. Using plastics is an art form and not guess work.  Each sauger we caught, he wrote down all the data in his log.  The tails had weird names like paddle tail and moxi.  The jargon was totally different than my trout speak.  Joel has been at the sauger/walleye hunting for 40 years and he even guides on Lake Wisconsin these days for multiple species.

Sauger are in the same family as walleye.  Sauger are typically smaller than walleye.  You can tell the difference from a walleye from a sauger from the rows of dots on a sauger's dorsal spines.  Walleye have no rows of spots. Both are excellent table fare.
Joel is the master of Lake Wisconsin and his knowledge of plastics and sauger is second to none.

We fished the majority of the day and landed 15 total sauger.  Of the 15 sauger boated 9 were keepers.  Lake Wisconsin is a big lake and you will not feel crowded.  The scenery is amazing.  We saw loons and sea gulls and only a few other boats.  It was 52 degrees by midday and there was a light wind.  We heard shots in the distance.  The tug of deer hunting was lessened by the feel of sauger hitting my plastic.
This decent sauger was fooled by a Green Core Pulse R Paddle Tail on a Green Tiger Jig Head tipped with a minnow.

Joel uses strictly B N Fishing Plastics and jig heads.  You can buy them at online If you are looking for an alternative to deer hunting in November you should consider Sauger Hunting with Joel Ballweg Joel guides Lake Wisconsin and he can be contacted at