Thursday, May 14, 2009

Walleye Opener 2009, Leech Lake

2009 turned out to be the year Leech Lake came back to life. The speculation that the fabulous winter fishing would carry into the open water season was answered with a resounding YES! Picking up our minnows at Lundeens, finally arrived at Brindley's around 5:00 that afternoon. A quick acknowledgment to our hosts Tim and Greg, we unloaded the boat and took our place in the assigned slip. Years ago we stored our bait in a homemade screened cage next to the dock however suspecting our minnows were escaping, Team Walleye bought a 30 and a 10 gallon portable Bait Tamer bags from Lindy. They were a great investment keeping our bait fresh through the weekend. After getting settled in every one finally arrived, a total of 18 guys, 15 regulars and 3 rookies. Having dealt with a few Leines, midnight showed itself and I headed to the harbor to cast a Shad Rap off the point. This is a fairly shallow area dropping to 5 feet. Here walleyes, especially smaller males hang in the harbor entrance. This can be a hit or miss situation but for me it gives and indication of the walleye activity. Buy 12:30 I had landed over 20 walleyes, not big but walleyes never the less. Time for bed and get some rest and save my energy for the start of the tourney.

Saturday brought a brisk northwest wind, overcast and rainy morning. Perfect! The walleyes were hitting immediately with reports of 25" fish already vying for the Big Fish trophy. Although it was cold, we ended the day with 40 walleyes over 12 inches caught and 8 in the box. Leech has a protective slot limit where all fish 18 inches or longer and 26 inches or shorter must be released. The limit is 4 and it became obvious that it would not take too long to fill up. We only count walleyes 12 inches or longer and generally keep them between 14 - 18 inches. At this rate we could fill up in a few hours so all in my boat agreed to tighten our keepers to 16 - 18 inches. A total of 57 walleyes for cabin 14 for the first day forced a decision to fry fish for breakfast on Sunday. Not being scheduled for breakfast duty, never the less I arose at 6:00 and fired up my new Fish Fryer. I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked, cooking up about 30 fillets in just a few minutes. As the old beer commercial once exclaimed "It doesn't get any better than this!" Sunday saw the same northwesterly winds that died down to nothing around 11:00 AM. Adapting to the newly found calmness, we were forced to start back trolling. The strategy did not change the bite, which continued in earnest. At 8:30PM we motored to a popular island and continued catching fish by trolling #5 shad raps until 10:00. We stayed out long enough to enjoy a spectacular moon rise. Sunday supper was Team Anderson's official KP duty and the menu included bone on rib eye's, onions and mushrooms, home made french fries, and salad. Mark Mayerich handles all the food planning and Sunday's meal was exceptional (Of course, the cooks have a lot to do with this). Monday brought calm winds again forcing us to back troll with the electric motor. As before, the fish still had the feedbag on. About noon we headed to Ottertail Point looking for a possible big fish winner over 26 inches. Although the action was not fast, we did get 3 very nice walleyes jigging the 12 foot rocks. There must have been an outdoor show taping a segment as we saw 2 boats with camera men sitting back filming a few fish being caught. Rumor had suggested it was Kent Herbek's Outdoors but there were no big guys in the boat so I'm skeptical. Arriving back at the resort by 3:30 we decided to run into Walker and check out Reeds and look for a cooking oil pump. Finding the pump as well as a suggestion on Gulp we headed back just in time for supper. Back out by 6:00 my goal was to catch a fish on the Gulp which looked promising. After 6 fish were netted and none were mine, I had no choice to switch back to shiners. It was the right move as I quickly evened the score. Around 8:15 the urge to run over to Stoney Point and troll shad raps was to difficult to ignore. Having suggested to my fishing partners they reel in, we headed for what I hoped would be the big fish honey hole. In the next hour trolling #5's again the fish were committing suicide. Often having 3 on at once, we ended the night with 12 more fish for the scorecard and at least 20 too small to count, not bad for and hour of trolling. Heading back we proceeded to make room in the coolers for our fish and sung karaoke till 2:30. There is nothing that sounds better than finishing off the night with 6 guys doing a rendition of The Righteous Brothers You've Got That Loving Feeling at 2:30. Team Walleye is definitely a talented bunch!

As stated our Team Walleye totals were 389 fish over 12 inches. Tom Paulson, a Team Anderson member scored the highest points total (I still caught more fish) of 200, which is likely to stand for a long time. Both Tom and my brother Steve fished with me again this year. Together in 2008 we also won the Team Award with a score of 54 fish boated. The total this year was over double at 118 fish. I attribute this to my insistence that both needed to significantly upgrade their gear if they wanted to continue fishing in my boat. Obediently they arrived with new sensitive graphite rods and light high performance open face spinning reels by Pfueger which paid handsome dividends. Mark Mayerich took the Big Fish honors with a 26 incher, with Ron Edberg nailing both 2nd and third place with 25+ inch fish. The DCS (Didn't Catch $hit) award went to Ronnie D with 56 points. Ron Edberg actually had less points but his 2nd and 3rd place fish disqualified him from this honor. Fishing was insane for sure.

As always Brindley's Harbor is the best. Our hosts Jean, Paris, Tim and Greg Campbell put out the red carpet. Aside from being a wonderful place to stay the resort is clean, has a great harbor for the boats, and will clean and freeze your fish like professionals. They will even clean your northerns removing all the Y bones creating the perfect table fare. I recommend heading to Leech and Brindley's Harbor if your looking for incredible walleye fishing.

1 comment:

NeenahPete said...

Excellent report. Very descriptive.... almost felt like I was there. If you have video of the karaoke, please post it! I laughed out loud when I read that part.