It’s never too late to head out on the water for a day of fishing.
Just ask 98-year-old Grant Sorensen of Waupaca.
He recently fished for white bass on the Wolf River near Weyauwega with his son-in-law, Art Richardson, and friends Glenn Scholz and Jim Petersen. They launched a pontoon boat at 6 a.m. May 14 at Gill’s Landing, hoping to take advantage of the river’s annual white bass run, which is now in full swing. They ended up with 30 fish after nearly six hours on the water.
“I fished for a few years when I was a kid and then I didn’t fish for a long time,” Sorensen said. “I decided I better fish. The Wolf River is right here.”
He recalled going white bass fishing on the Wolf with his father as a kid.
“My dad would come once a year,” he said. “We’d go to Fremont. I was probably 5 or 6 (years old). There was a boat landing there and he’d rent a boat. I fished with a cane pole. We’d come at night with kerosene lanterns. They didn’t start biting until 9 o’clock.
“Across the river was a sawmill with a bunch of logs,” he added. “They’d hook on to one of these logs and take it up the elevator into the sawmill. That amazed me because I had never seen a sawmill.”
Sorensen eventually gave up on fishing until he hooked up with the late Barrie Lutze and the Reel Faith Fishing Group about 10 years ago.
“Barrie took me fishing two or three times every year,” he said. “He’d bait the hook, take the fish off and clean the fish. I went perch fishing on Lake Winnebago about three years ago and I caught one a foot long. I never caught very big ones.”
Sorensen often fished with his late wife, Verdell, who taught first grade in Weyauwega for 25 years.
“She’d beat me once in awhile,” he said. “She was in the right end of the boat.”
Although he put fishing on the back burner, Sorensen hunted well into his 90s.
“I started with rabbits and squirrels and I deer hunted until about three years ago,” he said. “I think I got one deer about every three years. They fixed a wagon and bales of hay for me to sit on, but it was kind of lonely. No deer.”
The Wolf’s white bass run is just as popular as its annual walleye run.
Petersen said the river actually has two white bass runs. The first, in April, includes fish from Lake Poygan, just downstream from Fremont. A second run of fish from Lake Winnebago kicks off in early May and can last into June.
White bass don’t have the reputation as a tasty fish like the walleye, but Petersen said that’s not the case.
“The secret with white bass is to keep them on ice and when you fillet them out, take the mudline out of them,” he said. “It’s a red line. I take the fillet knife and just skim the mudline right off. They’re just as good eating as a walleye or anything else if they’re taken care of properly.
“As the water gets warmer, the fish get a little mushy and they’re not as good,” he said. “A lot of people catch them through the ice on Poygan in the winter and that’s when they’re the best, when they’re nice and cold.”
Wolf River rigs work best in deep water, while spinnerbaits will catch fish in the shallows.
“They’re usually in schools and they seem to move,” Petersen said. “You can hit a spot and catch them good for a couple hours, but all of a sudden, it’ll go dead. Keep moving and watch the other boats to see what’s going on.”