Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Walleyes with Weber

Last weeks fishing report from Mille Lacs was nothing short of phenomenal.  My good friend Jon Bathke conveniently takes off Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of each week during June to take advantage of the potential post spawn bite.  Reports from Jon included over 50 walleyes caught each day last Wednesday and Thursday.  Of course that talk gets my repaired heart a going and I knew that Sunday would be the day.  As luck would have it my old neighbor and friend, Roger Weber was working in the area last Friday and called to meet for lunch.  Never passing and opportunity to spend some time with Rog, we headed over to the new restaurant next to work, the Mango Tango.  They say that nothing will ever replace your experience with the first neighborhood you live in.  This was certainly true with my first house.  Being young and inexperienced, we counted on each other for help and support.  As neighbors, we each had our talents, me an electrical guy, our neighbor Troy, an excellent bricklayer, and Roger, enthusiastic laborer, we counted on each other for help and support.  As most things go time changes things and we all move apart.  Roger, Troy, and I continue to maintain contact with each other as there were too many good experiences to throw the friendships away.

Roger Weber and I had a lot in common as we both grew up working our way through the teenage years in a full service gas station.  Although Roger wasn't the most proficient fisherman I knew, he sure had connections.  Growing up in Aberdeen South Dakota, he was good friends with Tim Kessler and his family.  Bob Kessler owned the largest independent Super Valu store in the Midwest and had made a comfortable business for him and his family.  In 1989 and 1990 I had the great opportunity to be invited to fish Lake Oahe, a large reservoir on the Missouri River, west of Aberdeen.  Our 1990 trip was the most memorable as we were to fish with then South Dakota Governor Mickelson for the unofficial Governors fishing opener.  This was a private affair with the Governor, the Kessler family, Roger, a good friend Nels Johnson, and myself.  Staying in what I describe as the Kessler Compound, a house and 3 cabins moved to Akaska, South Dakota, it was a fascinating experience.  Akaska was a small town south of Mobridge, about 10 miles east of Lake Oahe.  Basically a one bar, one gas station town, at one time a cattle drive destination town,  it served well as a fishing camp.  At that time the Missouri was still experiencing the effects of the 1988 drought and the levels were down over 36 feet.  I found interesting was the boat landing was originally made to be usable as the lake first filled up, it became critical serving us as the levels went down.  Fishing was good however the lake had a 15 inch minimum size limit for walleyes.  One of the governor's staff came by my boat asking "Any Luck".  Responding that we were catching many walleyes however they were below the 15 inch minimum size.  I will never forget his next remark.............."Well you had better start keeping some of them, the Governor wants a shore lunch!"  I was more than happy to oblige and a shore lunch we had.  Being pretty proficient at cleaning the fish, that was my duty while the rest of the guys got the fire going and started cooking the potatoes, beans, with all the fixins.  I could not ever remember a better time eating fresh caught walleye, sitting on the banks of the Missouri River, and listening to the incredible stories Governor Mickelson shared about the history of the region.  Being a respected historian, we sat around the fire mesmerized by the tales of the days when cattle drives were the norm as the railroads forever changed the life in the west.  Unfortunately Governor Mickelson was killed in a tragic plane crash 3 years later, I feel lucky to have met such and interesting individual.

Meeting me at the house at noon on Sunday, Roger and I along with my good friends Tom McAtee and Mike Schuenke headed up to the pond.  After a stop at Lundeen's to get the latest info, we landed just north of the casino and fished the west side.  What ever the conditions causing the walleyes to go crazy earlier in the week had all but disappeared.  Maybe the cold front affected them as well the lake was like glass.   Fishing Rolands Flat, Sherman's Flat, the 20 Footer, excellent June spots prove fruitless.  I did get this nice smallmouth on Sherman's Reef, 20 feet of water in the rocks.  That's a lot deeper than I would have expected.  Heading to 4 Mile Gravel, we tried bobber fishing as one didn't even need an anchor to stay put.  There I nailed a nice 17.5 inch walleye, one for the box.  Deciding to finish the night back on Roland's, we anchored as Roger hooked this nice 20 inch walleye.  To big to keep it went back in the water.  The hit coincided with the wind picking up and after an hour we decided to leave with our single keeper.   Tom's boat had one as well, not the best day of catching, but a great day of fishing.  Spending the day with Roger reminded me why we have stayed friends for all these years.  Hopefully we can do it again.


Dewey said...

I had the opportunity to talk to Governor Mickelson once on the phone. South Dakota had tried to get us to move the company over there and one day, the phone rang, and it was the governor. Our owner was afraid to take the call so I did. The governor thanked me for our visit and told me if I needed anything to call him personally. He said his phone number was "in the book." He seemed like quite a man and I wish I could have met him. He was so proud of his state. A lot of South Dakota's finest went down in that plane crash.

pkellin said...

Congrats on the tourney. Pretty cool how you can go out and do that with not much tournament experience! Looks like yet anopther great trip to the big pond! Take care, hope you are feeling well.