Thursday, July 7, 2011

Spinner Blade Madness

Monday was the 4th of July, a great day to celebrate our nation’s birthday and even a better day to spend it fishing on Mille Lacs. My traditional partners for the weekend were not available this time and as luck would have it my friend John Delestry was ready to fill the empty seat. John was staying at his dad’s cabin near McGregor, MN and he e-mailed me looking for a vacancy in my boat. I was able to accommodate and we met at the landing, not too early of course. I was somewhat surprised at the lack of rigs that were parked at the landing; apparently everyone must have got it out of their system on Saturday and Sunday. Normally arriving at 10:00 would assure parking in the ditch on the service road. The day was looking to be a dandy as the southerly wind was strong enough for the perfect drift speed yet comfortable enough to make the fishing enjoyable. After talking to a few guys that had just returned to the landing we made a beeline for my deep rock hump off Sherman’s Point. Having done very well in the past, this year it has produced only a fish or two. Still worth a stop it proved elusive again. The next stop was The Cut on Sherman’s Flat. We had pulled a few fish off this structure last week as they were stacked right off the end. Heading up the edge, the wind was perfect as we long lined a couple of plain hooked leeches. Marking a school, as we passed John and I hit a double. Netting mine first produced a nice 21 inch fish. I unhooked it, took a measurement, and released while John was still battling a monster. As it appeared near the boat I could see John getting nervous! It was the largest walleye he had on a line, and a minute later we had her in the net. At 27 ¾ inches, she was fat and sassy, well exceeding 8 pounds. Not the magical 28 but close enough to be satisfied. Snapping a few pictures we quickly got her back in the water as she took off for the deep. Here is a picture of John and his fish. We continued to make our way up the edge until another boat claimed the last 50 yards. Working the edge, they nailed 5 while we basically stayed out of their way. We caught a couple more in the 20 inch range before the bite went dead. It was time to move.

Next stop was 7 mile Flat, a structure basically in the middle of the lake. Probably one of the best known flats on the lake, it’s been hot and cold the last few years. I think it’s popularity tends to attract a lot of boats and the activity tends to push and scatter the fish off the deeper edges. Today it looked like a ghost town. John stayed with a leech while I switched to a 3 way rig consisting of a 2 foot dropper anchored by a ¾ oz bell sinker and an 8 foot homemade crawler rig. My rigs are tied with 2 hooks that are 4 inches apart, 5 beads, and a quick change clevis. Starting with a chartreuse #5 Indiana Blade, it wasn’t the color. I switched to a silver hammered Colorado Blade, nothing. I replaced that with a red blade before finally digging out an old Glow color. It was like turning on the dinner bell. As fast as I could get a crawler on, the walleyes were hitting that lure with vengeance, often hitting so hard once or twice I almost lost my grip. John had got a few more on his leech but it was obvious a change was needed. For 3 hours we were getting a walleye every 10 – 15 minutes, right up to the time we had to leave. We had netted at least 20 walleyes, not one was under 19 inches, including this 27 ½ that I nailed. As I stated last week, the slot for keeping walleyes on Mille Lacs is anything under 18 inches. No fish for frying pan again this week. Oh well, it’s hard to complain! Rumors are that the walleye harvest numbers are down this year on Mille Lacs again as I have caught very few fish small enough to keep. Like last year the DNR is reportedly set to increase the allowable maximum size to 20 inches, but with the State of Minnesota shut down, who the heck knows what they will do.  I guess we will know by July 15th.  Either way it was one of the more memorable trips and I was very fortunate to have John as my partner for the day.  I have promised him a late summer lead line trip and I hope we can make it happen. 

As for the rest of the weekend, I spent the other 3 days with my dad in Eleva. I had decided to deviate from my normal I94 route and cut down to Hwy 10, which passes a mile from my home in Dayton and goes right through Eleva. It is a scenic route and a stop at the Ellsworth Coop Creamery for some fresh cheese curds is a must. At 11:00 AM they bring out the days freshly made curds and they are manna from heaven. The fresher they are the more they squeak as you chew. You buy them in a 1 pound sealed bag and they are just laying on the counter at room temperature. The first bite produces a symphony of sounds bursting from your mouth. I am not sure that even describes it well. The next stop was Gunderson's Meats in Mondovi. In Minnesota no one knows how to make good summer sausage. They have the best, that tangy sour taste with plenty of mustard seeds to get stuck in your teeth. As a bonus I bought a pint of pickled kielbasa, fabulous! With the bite strong I am hoping to get out again and take advantage of the hot bite. I bought some plastic crawlers and would like to try them out. Hopefully I might even get a few to keep this time.

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