In 2003, I took another huge step towards advancing my walleye fishing skills by spending the year as a co-angler on the FLW national walleye fishing circuit. The time I spent prefishing and tournament fishing in the same boat and along side some of the best walleye fishermen in the world was definitely time well spent.
2003 was also when I figured out where my future was in the world of walleye fishing. Tournament fishing was fun but it's not for everyone and at this point, I knew it wasn't for me.
Guiding seemed like the logical next step so Nancy and I purchased our first 18' boat. After 10 years in the business, that Lund Pro V was replaced with a 20' Skeeter MX-2025 fiberglass boat. This new rig has been fantastic for fishing on Lake Wisconsin and many of the deeper stretches of the river. Unfortunately, it doesn't do well in the numerous shallower stretches of the Wisconsin River that Nancy and I love to fish. So, we bought a new 17' Crestliner Jon boat just for this purpose and we're both looking forward to spending more time fishing from this boat.
This boat will also be used for some guide trips when targeting walleyes & saugers on stretches of the river that would be hard to get to with our 20' Skeeter. It's just one more tool that I will be using to increase our odds of putting you, the client on fish when booking a trip with Ballweg's Guide Service.
About Lake Wisconsin
Here is some back ground information on this beautiful body of water and diverse fishery.
The Dam in Prairie du Sac which forms Lake Wisconsin was built in 1909 and flooded in 1919. Lake Wisconsin is considered to be a eutrophic impoundment and covers approximately 9000 surface acres. It is the furthest down stream reservoir on the Wisconsin River system.
This stretch of the river, which runs from Wisconsin Dells dam on the upper end, down to Prairie du Sac on the lower end, is the last reservoir on the river before it's confluence into the Mississippi River. The lake itself is approximately 10 miles long and it's roughly another 20 miles from the upper end of Lake Wisconsin to the dam in Wisconsin Dells.
It has highly stained waters and a maximum depth of 47'.
Generally, it is believed that water flows thru this entire system in four days.
Although the river is the main source of water for Lake Wisconsin, there are several streams and creeks that feed it as well. Rowan Creek feeds into Whalens Grade, Prentice Creek feeds into Stoners Bay and Manley Creek flows into the north end of Gallus Slough.
Main lake bottom composition consist mostly of sand, rock and gravel but back bays may have a considerable amount of muck. Stumps are abundant in the wider expanse above the RR Bridge near Merrimac and near the mouths of both Weigands Bay and Moon Valley. And though less abundant, they also exist near the mouths of other bays as well.
Vegetation is limited throughout most of the main lake but coontail, pondweed, rushes, and water lilies can be found in most of the back bays.
Lake Wisconsin offers excellent fishing for walleye, sauger, crappie, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bluegills and white bass.
Excellent growth rates indicate a superior forage base which consists of a large population of gizzard shad. Blunt nose minnows and shiners are also common.
Because of this, a walleye can grow 17-18" long in just three years. Saugers can grow 13-15" and crappies can grow to a length of 10" during that same three year time span.
Both walleye and sauger had excellent spawning success in the mid 1990's. That spawning success, combined with the new bag limits that went into effect on April 1, 2002 and the abundance of forage species for these fish to feed on, has turned Lake Wisconsin into one of the State's premier walleye and sauger fisheries. Currently fisherman are allowed to keep a total of five walleyes and saugers combined between 15-20" long. All fish between 20-28" long must be returned to the lake. One fish over 28" long may be kept but must be included in your daily total of five per person.
Walleyes in the 10-13lb range are caught every year and saugers over 20 inches long are common.
Many fisherman come to chase the abundant crappie which can easily reach 15" or larger.
All walleye, sauger, crappie, bluegill, muskie, pike, largemouth and smallmouth bass reproduce naturally in Lake Wisconsin.
Muskie and hybrid muskie have both been stocked in this lake numerous times and though not abundant, it is not uncommon to catch one either.
Northern pike are also present and though not abundant, they will show up on the end of your line from time to time.
Above are a few of the biggest saugers & saugeyes my wife, Nancy & I have caught over the years. All over 21" long.
Above are a few of the biggest walleyes my wife, Nancy & I have caught over the years.
Above are a few of the big Lake Wisconsin crappies my wife, Nancy & I have caught over the years.
A few of the other fish we've caught over the years.
Hello! My name is Joel "Boog" Ballweg and I'm a professional walleye, sauger and crappie fishing guide on the Wisconsin River and Lake Wisconsin.
The waters I guide most on are Lake Wisconsin, which is the last reservoir on the Wisconsin River system and the river itself from below the dam located in Wisconsin Dells all the way down to it's confluence with Lake Wisconsin. l have been fishing these waters my entire life and successfully guiding on them for the past 10 years.
I'm 56 years old and grew up and went to school in Sauk Prairie, Wisconsin area which is located along the banks of the Wisconsin River. My family has been fishing these waters for as long as I can remember.
As a young boy, I remember our Dad taking my brothers and I fishing. Our gear consisted of cane poles, hooks, bobbers, split shot sinkers and a freshly dug can of redworms for bait.
That was a pretty basic beginning for sure but it was enough to fuel a life long love for fishing.
My real education on walleye & sauger fishing began when two older brothers, Chuck and Dennis, graduated from college and began doing some guiding for walleyes on the river and Lake Wisconsin back in the late 1970's and early 1980's. Pretty much every chance they had, would be spent in the boat chasing walleyes and whenever possible, they would allow me to tag along.
Their two favorite places to fish as the ice went out each spring were the tail waters below the dams at Prairie du Sac and the Wisconsin Dells. Fishing for walleyes and saugers was very good back then but clothing and gear left a lot to be desired. In between catching fish and baiting jigs with fathead minnows, cotton gloved hands were frequently roasted over a coffee can filled with white hot charcoal briquettes to keep our fingers warm. Allowing the monofilament from your fishing rod to get to close to that can of hot coals was a big mistake and was something to be avoided if you didn't want to spend several cold moments restringing your rod and tying on another jig.
We wore cotton long underwear as well back then as there was a total absence of any clothing containing Gore-Tex and Thinsulate.
In those days, you wore wool over pants and coats or you froze your gahuna's off. Trust me when I say those were definitely not "The Good Old Days".
My first boat was a flat stearned canoe. It didn't matter to me that it didn't have a motor, oars worked just fine. I would frequently drag that boat down the shore on the river so we could fish for walleyes or saugers below the dam or by the rail road bridge in early spring or late fall. No sonar at first either. Just an anchor to keep the boat in place. Soon after though, I did mount a "Super Sixty" flasher unit on that boat, which was basically Hummingbirds answer to the Lowrance "Green Box". Many of you may not recognize the names of those early sonar units, but for old timers like me, they may very well revive a few memories from days gone by.
My second boat was a 1990, 16' Alumacraft Lunker LTD with a 30hp Johnson tiller motor for power. This was quite a step up and my younger brother, Pete and I took full advantage. We towed that boat to the Mississippi River on the west side of the state, Lake Michigan on the east side, Door County on the northeast side and Ontario, Canada to the far north. The Wisconsin River was our base but we also frequently fished Lake's Mendota and Monona along with numerous other small local lakes like Crystal lake in Dane county and Devils lake in Sauk county.
That 16' alumacraft played a huge role in our ability to catch fish in a variety of different water bodies using a variety of different techniques. That first real boat, is instrumental in advancing the skills necessary for anyone who wants to consider themselves a skilled fisherman.