Every now and then I have a customer who knows both -a lot about the river, and has fished it for a long time. Last Fall I had the privilege to Guide a guy like that – Steve Frankosky. Steve and his brother had all these great stories from the Croix I asked Steve to put them down for all of us to enjoy! Thanks Steve!…
Turk asked me for a brief history of fishing the St Croix, I started fishing the Croix back in 1966 or so, I was 15, my dad bought a boat from the Afton Chris Craft marina, now the Afton marina next to Windmill Marina. We got a hand me down 12’ Alumacraft boat and used a 5HP green Johnson SeaHorse moter with a built in small gas tank, my brother Greg and my dad and myself would fish out of it, usually anchor fishing . In 1967 my dad bought a bigger boat, a 38’ used Chris Craft, and we actually started to troll the St Croix using that and with three way wolfe river rigs, that we still use a lot today. This is the era when Russ Lind, a mechanic at the marina, would fish out of his 15’ wooden boat , anchoring at his favorite spot and still fishing with minnows or crawlers. My brother and I would try to beat him out there but no matter what time and what conditions he would always be there, nod his head and give us a wave, many times in the fall he would appear to us out of the fog already anchored up. In the cold, he would have a insulated metal bucket with charcoal in it to keep him warm. He would use two poles, one always in his hand and one dead stick, reminded me of the old man and the sea…
In 1974 we bought a 15’ Alumacraft, I think a F-11 and a 9.9 Evenrude, going big time, it helped us cover a bit more river, up to Hudson and clear down to the Kinni! We usually trolled in the fall, but used lindy rigs with crawlers and some blade baits as well. In 1976 we bought a 25HP Evinrude and used the 9.9 as a kicker, our depthfinder was the old Lowrance green box, still have it! We used that set up, got a 6hp when the 9.9 wore out, till 2009 when I got a 1725 Lund Pro Guide with a 75HP tiller.
We usually launch out of Windmill Marina, it used to be called Windmill Bill’s, my dad moved his cruiser over to that marina in about 1990 from the Afton marina to be closer to friends. We have launched out of Beanies as well.
Beanie used to run a tourney that ran from opener to November in different catagories, walleye, sauger, catfish.., My brother Greg won the sauger and we placed in the walleye, but each year it was fun to watch the board leader weights go up.
Fishing has changed a bit on the Croix, in the 60-70’s the opener was busy with 20-30 boats at catfish, many anchored, silvers were thick and big…in the fall about the same as now but now more trollers and slipfishing with jigs. Best year ever was in the fall of 1968, the water was high, similar to most of this year, Wally McCarthy and his buds would troll near every day back then and starting in mid October walleye limits of 7LB average were happening, the DNR came down and said that schools of Mississippi walleyes, big ones had moved up the Croix and were stacked up on some of the points above the Kinni, not many boats were fishing as it was a cold fall but it was like in the old pictures of big stringers. We follow a lot more catch and release now, with all the big girls going back in to the water, in 2015 my 10 year old great nephew came down to fish the Croix for the first time and nailed a true 30” walleye, he was excited!, we were stunned it was our biggest walleye of the year! I thought that the fall of 2016 was one of the best and most consistent we have had for a few years, my brother nailed a 31”, key is time on the water but fish were active. The Croix is such a great fishery and environment with clean water and sand bottom, just a treasure so close to the cities yet not really overfished, hope it stays that way. From Steve Frankosky.
December, 2016 —
With water temps hovering around 40 degrees, I fished the first week of December from the boat before winter hit. Often the last bite before winter crashes into fall is some good fishing. This was the case again this year. We had a great time catching fish on soft plastics, minnows, and jigging Rapalas. Not all but some of the bites were thunderous.
When fishing artificial versus live bait the strongest strikes are on artificial. Its very common to have the jig and plastic bait struck and shallowed with the entire bait in the mouth. Then the live minnows are often a light and faint bump. Not sure why, but walleye crush artificial lures during this cold water bite.