Thursday, May 19, 2011

38th Annual Leech Lake Report

Another year of fishing has passed and the start of a new season has begun.  My open water season gets inaugurated with our annual Fishing Opener at Brindley’s Harbor Resort on beautiful Leech Lake, Minnesota.   This was my 22nd year with the group and as always it proved to have all of the elements of a great time.  Our trip started on Friday morning with Ron, My brother Steve and Jon meeting at the pole shed, loading up the gear.   Heading out at 9:00 we stopped to pick up another friend, Gary Ullom then proceeded to Lundeen’s, meeting my friends from Wisconsin, Kevin and John.  Loading up on bait we headed north.    Arriving at the resort 2 hours later, the first order of business was to get our boats unloaded and the minnows in our holding containers.   Unfortunately one of my live well pumps failed and I lost quite a few shiner minnows however luckily we split them up so the impact was not too severe.  I had bought an oxygenator as a backup and quite frankly was very disappointed in how it didn’t work.  After a few celebratory traditions a couple of us headed to the harbor point at midnight to cast a few crankbaits.  Success usually means the morning will be pretty good.  Within 30 minutes we already had 5 nice keeper fish caught on Shad Raps and Rattlin’ Rouges.   The Omen proved correct as we woke up to a 20mph NE wind, rain, and a hot bite.   Leech Lake walleyes were in a tight post spawn pattern as the ice had just left 2 weeks earlier.  Wind blowing into Pine Point concentrated the fish, which were scattered throughout the 10 foot depth range.  Everyone caught walleyes on Saturday morning.  By noon you could see a clearing line coming in from the northeast and by time we ate supper the rain was gone but not the wind.  The bite continued to be OK however by the Sunday morning the sky was clear, the barometer was rising and the fish didn’t seem to like that very much.    The group records all of the fish caught, individual points as well as team points (by boat) are awarded.  If I have 2 guys in my boat and they do really good, I benefit as the total fish caught in your boat adds to your individual score.  Sunday morning wasn’t very good for Team Anderson!  Usually a good session can catapult you into the top scores as Sunday nights session would prove. 

Having tried the Goose Island area the day before with some success, I decided to open the evening session there.  Leech is a funny lake.  One year they can be killing on Goose and the next year there is nary a boat in site.  Sunday night was no exception, no boats on Goose and no fish.  After about an hour my brother (bless his soul) called to inform me they were getting some nice fish on Ottertail Point.   Heeding his advice we cranked in and fired up the Suzuki.  Arriving at Ottertail, there were about 10 boats working the area and a few nets showing themselves.  15 minutes into it I landed a nice 25.75 inch walleye….great start!  Well the next hour saw a number of fish caught in the other boats while we hit another dry spell.  As the sun went down my strategy shifted telling Mark and his son Adam, we were going to troll shad raps.  Earlier that day they had asked if both could accompany me that evening which was fine with me.  The rules are it’s my game.  Thinking they were simply going to use their spinning reels I informed them to put the lightweight gear away, I am not spending half the night getting baits unstuck.    Being the gentleman I am Mark got my top trolling rig and Adam got the next best.   Selecting baits for them, I suggested that color is less important than size and depth.   Sometimes you can have 3 identical baits but one has that special nuance which really turns the fish.  That night Mark’s white with a red bill was the clear ticket.    Trolling shads is one of my strategies on Leech however these guys had never tried it.  Sunday night I put on a Shad Rap clinic and by midnight we had boated 18 walleyes, the largest at 25.75 and put 8 in the live well.  Mark had the hot rod with 12 fish caught, Adam added his 4 and I only ended up with 2, which were twins at 25.75”.  This is why Mark and Adam wanted to fish with me that evening and I am glad they were not disappointed.    Of course I attributed Marks success to the fine trolling rod he was given to use, yet when you’re hot you’re hot!  The first picture is my 25.75” that fell victim to a #7 silver Shad Rap and the next one is Mark’s largest fish of the night.  Although I didn’t do so well personally, Marks performance put Team Anderson in the lead for top boat.
I believe Sunday night’s success was based upon a common situation that sets up on Leech.  As the wind pounds into a point it concentrates the walleyes.  The wind had been blowing into Ottertail point for 4 days and finally died Sunday afternoon.  That evening the fish were still there however by Monday morning they had scattered with the rising barometer.   Monday morning the lake was glass calm being much more reluctant to give up her walleyes.  By noon we had managed 2 walleyes so it was time to pull out the entertainment portion of the session and head to Submarine Island for a little sucker fishing.   With water temps in the mid 50’s the lake suckers were stacked in the 3 foot tops of the reefs spawning.  There were thousands of them full of eggs and milt, ready to hit a Hot’n’Tot that got too close.  It was a nice break to the rather monotonous state of the walleye bite and my boat companions enjoyed something they have never seen.  Back trolling Sunday night with Mark, we tried Stony Point with little fanfare so back to Ottertail and 5 more fish, again Mark had the hot rod.  This year was an interesting one as I scored a quintfecta  catching 5 species including walleye, perch, northern pike, eelpout and sucker.   An interesting mix for sure.  Here is a picture of me with a trophy lake sucker.   Unfortunately I had to leave for Denver within hours of returning home so again I am writing this on the plane.  The flight attendant just told me to turn it off so stay tuned as I will post more pictures and results from another fantastic  Minnesota Fishing Opener.   In addition, the representative from MN Bound showed up on Saturday afternoon and I will report on what proved to be an interesting filming session.

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