Monday, September 29, 2008
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.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Growing up in the dairy country of Wisconsin, when someone said redtail it generally meant a type of common hawk found in the area. After moving to Minnesota the term became synonymous with Northwest Airlines who's planes were know as "Redtails" because of the red paint scheme on the tails of those planes. Today redtails mean only one thing, smallies! Saturday my good friend and neighbor Tom decided we should hit the Mississippi River north of Monticello. He as a nice 16 foot Lund Pro Angler with the old style 50 hp Mercury 4 cylinder 2 stroke and would be much more practical than my Ranger. Back in 1987 I bought a boat just like his. At the time is was state of the art in aluminum. The 5o hp Merc was a smooth running machine and it would idle for hours without as much as a hickup. It was also a gas hog, but in those days it didn't really matter. That boat really caught the fish, from the 8.5 pound walleye I have in my office to downrigger salmon fishing on Lake Michigan. Using Tom's boat brings back many good memories.
We headed to the bait shop in Anoka to see if they had any of the fabled Redtailed Chubs and as luck would have it they had a few left. At $9.95/dozen ( a bargain these days) we bought 18. The baitshop owner was kind enough to sort the largest ones for us ranging from 4 to 6 inches and gave us exactly 18. We headed northwest to a landing about 40 miles upriver which after arriving found the water level very low and extremely clear. One could see 4 feet down and sitting on the bow as we headed down river was amazed at all the fish I could see scattering in front of us. We managed to get the boat hung up only once on the way down, which of course did not bode well for our return trip. Once through the shallows we found our first run, a stretch of water near shore that rund 4 - 6 feet deep and extends for at least a quarter of a mile. Not wanting to use up all of our bait right away I started casting a tube. I immediately lost 3 fish. I was fishing with a ML spinning rod with 8# test and I soon felt I did not have enough umpf. Because I was in with Tom's boat, I did not have the luxury of rigging 4 or 5 poles for various presentation. I decided to rig my power rod with a short plain hook and bell sinker combo after Tom landed 2 with his bobber rig. One technique is to suspend a redtail about 3 feet under a bobber and let him do all the work. It was amazing to see the fish actually hit the bait as the water was that clear. Determined to make our bait last we tried a number of artificials and did catch a few fish but the clear ticket was the redtails. We ended the night at 7:00 PM knowing we had to get across the one large shallow area. The fish tally was well over 20 smallies for the 3 hours we spent fishing. The largest were around 18 inches and I would not even want to guess how many grabbed the big minnows but spit them out after a short but intense battle. It was a beautiful day on the river despite Tom having to get out and pull the boat and me through about 200 yards of shallow water. The cooperative fish, eagles soaring above us, and great company made for a wonderful evening on the river. Fall fishing with redtails can mean only one thing, ice fishing is not far behind!
Thanks again Tom.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Figuring the landing was super shallow I backed up to the point where the exhaust was gurgling under the water with no avail. Apparently someone forgot to take off the left boat tie down.................. namely me. I have had these situations before however with a lady present, I decided against stripping down and wading in. The boat would not go back on the trailer straight so we carefully pulled it up and with enough slack unhooked it, another 15 minutes! Finally getting to our first fishing spot, 3 casts and I nailed the biggest bluegill I have caught in 20 years, pushing 10 inches. Boy I thought we were in for a super day. How many times have you been in that situation? More than I would like to admit. We ended up with a northern, 3 more small sunnies, a number of small bass, a totally unexpected white bass, and a crappie. The big sunnies never materialized however the rain certainly did. It started about 3:00 and was still raining when we left. Although wet, the rain did not dampen the wonderful time with Jason, Abby and the most important, Andy.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
So what's wrong? Well the total post summer crank bait bite has been way off. I am always optimistic and just figured no one is using "my pattern" yet and I would be the first to be successful. So much for that theory! I have my own hypothesis dealing with the huge amount of bait fish in the lake (young of the year perch(YOY)) and the water level. The YOY perch are all over the place and the fish are simply not interested in chasing baits when dinner is so plentiful. I also believe that the water levels hurt the "typical" shallow fall bite as the lake is down over a foot from its historical average changing the entire environment of these reefs. Oh well. I am off to fish a lake near Amery Wisconsin on Sunday with my friend Jason and his dad Andy. Hopefully the events of a few hours ago will not be repeated on Sunday.