Snags are no problem for Wisconsin guide
By: SCOTT RICHARDSON
Oh, boy, another snag!" Only the "snagmaster," Greg Bohn, would say something like that.Most fishermen hate snags. But Bohn, a guide in Minocqua, Wis., for nearly 30 years, is responsible for the breakthrough that has changed the way walleye fishermen think about snags forever.
Years ago, Bohn discovered that walleyes, like other species, hold near and in heavy cover, including both wood and weeds. Problem was there was no good way to reach them. His clients would constantly hang up with regular jigs. The disturbance that trying to free one snag caused would spook fish way.
As a result, Bohn experimented with wire hook guards, finally perfecting one with seven-strand wire that avoids snags while providing reliable hook sets.
I got the chance to learn how to use the snagless jigs when I fished with Bohn last week on a flowage outside Minocqua in the famous Vilas County. Bohn explained how flowage walleyes move into shallower water in fall to feed and work deeper as the water cools and the reservoir is drawn down to make room for snow melt and spring rains. We intercepted fish at 12 to 13
feet. Water temperature was 47 degrees.
We were on a 5,000-acre wide-spot in the Wisconsin River. Walleyes and big perch were staging on sand flats littered with wood in the form of brush, submerged trees and root systems. No way would normal jigs make their way through the hang-ups. So we
tied in jigs with Bohn's seven-strand wire hook guards. They are
available on the Timb'r Rock Jig and the Veg-E-Jig by Lindy Little Joe.
We used a one-eighth Veg-E and had our two-man limit of six walleyes by noon after launching at 7:30 a.m. Another hour later, we had a total of eight walleyes from 16 to 21 inches for the day. We also caught 17 big, bonus yellow perch. We lost only three jigs in a spot where we would have lost regular roundball jigs on every cast. If the wind was calm, Bohn would have used the electric trolling motor to move slowly over the flat while we cast jigs and let the slip-float rig dangle next to the boat. As it was, the wind gusted to 30 mph. He was forced to anchor while we made fan casts to cover an area before moving on.
Bohn uses a Leech Stick, a spinning rod he makes himself. It's 7-foot, 2-inches long, medium action with a fast tip. Six-pound line and a jig completes the presentation. We each had a second rod rigged with a slip float, a red hook and bead and enough weight to balance it to signal the lightest tap. Those were hung over the side. The depth was set so the minnow was swimming one foot off the bottom. Every so often, the floats next to the boat would dart below the surface and we would have another perch. Bohn pointed out the presence of perch was
the main reason the walleyes were on the flat, too. Walleyes wanted small perch. The ones we caught were up to 12 inches long.
"We may have some of the best overlooked perch fishing in the Midwest," said Bohn, inviting me back to try for perch through the ice this winter. Everyone comes for the muskies and the walleyes."
Bohn guides for muskies about 40 percent of the time. The rest of his days he is after walleyes both on the flowages and on the bigger lakes surrounding Minocqua. There are about 3,000 bodies of water in Vilas and neighboring Oneida counties to choose from. When wind cooperates, Bohn searches for trophy walleyes on the bigger systems. The day before I arrived he had one bite all day using heavy jigs of three-quarters of an ounce to vertical jig over deep structure. That one bite resulted in a walleye that weighed about 8 pounds.
The pattern we fished and the big-fish tactics will be good through mid-November when ice forms. Wisconsin anglers in that area will be cutting holes to reach walleyes and perch by Thanksgiving.
Call (715) 356-4633 to reach Bohn to guide for ice fishing or for open-water fishing next year.
There are no stop lights between Bloomington, IL-Normal and the parking lot of the Aqua Aire Motel 400 miles to the north. Call Dick and Joanne at (715) 356-3433.