Monday, September 29, 2008

Fishing With the Boss

The boss. It sort of makes one think of Bruce Springsteen when you first read it! Sorry, in this case I am referring to my weekend boss, Bill Lundeen of Lundeens Tackle Castle on Mille Lacs Lake. I help Bill out a number of times a year guiding his clients on weekends or evenings when he might have a larger corporate outing needing a extra boat. I meet Bill over 10 years ago when I moved to my current house. Previously my trips to Mille Lacs would bring me up to the east side of the lake, however when we moved closer to 169 I started going up on the west side. Being the person that supports the "little guy" I began to stop at his shop to buy my bait. I was impressed how Bill, his wife Kathy, and their daughter Amanda worked the shop with uncanny precision. Running a bait shop is a complicated business. Having the right amount of bait at the right time, counting on your water treatment system to keep it all alive, and tending to the leeches that toward the middle of September want to start dying at a rate quicker than sub prime mortgage default is a definite challenge. Bill has figured it out. He may very well be the only shop on the lake that has nice leeches coming into October. Bill's year starts out in January, at the peak of the ice fishing season lasting about 6 weeks. March brings Maple Syrup time with April about the only time they can take a vacation. May is fishing opener and through September is guide time. Fall brings the full moon crowd and deer hunting. The remaining time is spent getting ready for the lake to freeze over. Sort of like farming, the business falls on the whims of the weather and how well the fish are biting. This year has certainly been a challenge in that department. It is also a political job! Imagine 100 people coming to your shop and wanting to know where the fish are biting. If you told everyone to go to 7 mile flat, it would be pretty funny and crowded. One has to have the ability to help your customers yet be able to contribute to a pleasant experience. We have become very good friends as we share the same values, sense of humor, and the love of fishing. I remember asking Bill one time if he liked tea. "I love it" pointing to a couple of boxes of Lipton on the self. I laughed and gave him some real green tea from one of my China trips. Now half my cargo returning from China is various tea varieties for him. It's something I love to do as well.

This Sunday Bill got away and we went fishing together. This was going to be a special trip as we were going to fish out of his boat, a 25 foot Proline with a 250 hp Merc. Although not as versatile as my Ranger for on the spot fishing, it is considerably more comfortable. The boat is a walk around type and is perfect for the 4 man guide trips, whereas more than 3 in the Ranger poses problems. We started fishing a shallow bay for perch drifting the area and picking up a couple in the 8 - 9" range. I decided to cast a small plastic jig and just as I was about to lift it out of the water this nice northern came out of nowhere and slashed at the jig. I had my ultralight and the battle was on. Unknown to me the fish was actually hooked right behind the head. After 10 minutes we finally landed this beautiful fish. We snapped the picture and I let it go, hoping it would help put a dent in the bait fish problem. Bill got a nice 12 inch perch before the bite stopped. We headed to an east side reef and casted a bit before we went to a offshore reef for some bobber/leech fishing. 5 minutes later I caught the first keeper walleye in over 10 weeks and it felt pretty good. Wanting to try for some crappies after sunset we headed to the proverbial secret spot, and they were biting. Within an hour we had 9 beautiful 11 - 12" crappies, the first I had ever caught on purpose at Mille Lacs. Having caught a respectable mess of fish we headed to the dock and called it a night. A couple of bowls of Kathy's homemade chicken wild rice (real wild rice BTW) and I headed south. I am truly blessed to have friends like the Lundeens. Stop in next time you head to the lake.


Anonymous said...


Nice northern.Gk

Dewey said...

Remember where you caught those crappies. I know an "Old Norwegian" who likes to ultralight for them...