Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Feed Bag is On!!!

Despite last weeks sad turn of events, getting out on the boat can help wash all ones sorrow away.  Having a few sorrows to wash, the hot Mille Lacs bite has been nothing more than phenomenal and I have been taking advantage of everything she offers.   My first real trip was actually on Sunday, May 27th.  Although my friend Tom Emmons would more than likely disagree, he did take priority over what turned out to be a pretty good fishing trip.  This trip included Lory Brasel bringing his 18 foot Lund to fish with Tom McAtee, and I showing the newbie to walleye fishing, Welly Chou, the finer points of the Mille Lacs post spawn bite.  After stopping for bait at Lundeen's, Lory got the jump on heading to the landing on the west side by 10 minutes.  The wind was brisk from the east and my concerns about the rough water were confirmed as the lake came into view, 3 foot rollers hitting the shore.  As we passed the Conoco/Subway we spied Lory's truck parked, probably loading up for lunch.  A quick call confirmed my suspicions, it would be a lot easier and comfortable if we turned around and launched on the east side.  Although about 20 more miles, it was a smart move for sure.  Launching at the new Liberty Beach Landing, the ramp was full as we had to park the truck on the main highway.  There were 3 tournaments being held in the coming week (more on that) and with the bite strong, every landing was overflowing.  Finally getting on the water we headed to the first structure 2 miles out.  The east side of Mille Lacs has a ton of unnamed humps that come up from 35 feet to 20 - 24 feet, some are rather large and some are very small.  After drifting over a few times we fired up the Suzuki and headed a mile south to a small unoccupied structure topping at 22 feet.  We drifted across and the Lowrance lit up with fish hanging a foot or two off the bottom.  Usually this means the fish are active and it prompted me to try out the anchor function on my Minn Kota Terrova I-pilot.  Wow, what a fantastic feature for bobber fishing walleyes!  The anchor in the boat just became 99% obsolete.  With the bow into the wind the trolling motor kept us exactly in position above the fish with little sway.   Rigging up Welly line and casting it out he watched as this was a new experience for him.  As the bobber hit the stop on the line, set at 20 feet, it just kept on going.  I was wondering where his bobber went when we realized it was down.  Now bobber fishing has a technique all it's own as you really need to tighten the line before you set the hook.  With the fish moving and you stationary, this can be difficult to teach the right touch.  With that, Welly missed the first bite, the second bite, and the third bite before asking me to set the hook on the fourth hit.  Refusing, he finally got a nice 16 inch keeper.  While the Terrova held us in place a large thick mark appeared on the screen of my HDS 10.  Quickly reeling in my rig and letting it back down right next to the boat, the leech and sinker came into view as the fish swam up to meet it at 18 feet.  Back down it went and as the bobber hit the water it just kept on going.  A quick flick of the wrist and the above picture is what ended up in the net, a really nice 27.25 inch walleye.  Not bad.  The 4 of us ended up with 8 keeper walleyes, enough for each to enjoy a nice fish fry.

Last weekend was tournament time as Mark Applen and I fished the Minnesota Tournament Trail event on Mille Lacs, Sunday June 2nd.  We have fished this tournament for the last 2 years with the highlight being our rookie year where we took 3rd place, winning $1046 for the ENA Charity Fund.   Last year we gambled and may have placed 6th, in the money but our strategy pushed us to 16th place.  This year we ended up a respectable 69th out of 83 teams.....not very good!  Although the fish were biting like crazy we decided to stay close to our east side hot spots and caught a bunch of 21 - 25 inch fish yet no slot fish under 17 inches and no lunkers over 28 inches.  The primary issue was the early spring have moved the fish into deeper water, into their summer peak locations.  Our traditional hot spot of 2 years running was basically void of fish.  I was pretty confident that one needed at least a 28 inch fish to play the game and the winning team brought in 2 plus 4 slot fish (you can weigh 6 fish per team) for a total of over 18 pounds.  This along with a number of teams who did bring in a 28 incher made placing in the money very difficult.  Never the less after working our spots we headed out to the flats to try and salvage the day.  We were in the first flight of 50 boats to start at 7:00AM and as you can see the majority of the boats headed north to the mud flat areas.  We headed to the gravel bars and humps off the east side and really never got a slot fish or a 28+ until we moved to the Midget Flat.  Immediately we started marking fish and soon employed our trusty I-Pilot to hold us in place while we through out the bobbers.  Almost immediately they went down and within a 20 minutes we had 2 slot fish under 17 in the live well.  We continued to work the flat and caught about 19 fish total with the majority being again in the 21 - 25  inch range.  With a few hours left we decided to go back where we received a good tip that there were some slots being caught, as well be closer to the weigh in.  We managed to catch our third slot fish then had to head in to be counted as arriving before 3:00 to avoid disqualification.  Hindsight is 20/20 and the chances of getting a 28+ are as good where we fished as anywhere yet thinking about it, the area's were hit hard by the launches and they probably took most of those fish under 17 leaving little for us.  Oh well, it was still a blast to fish with my friend Mark, a great prelude to our big event on June 15 to raise money for the ENA fund to help the families of children with cancer.  This year is our Tenth Annual and we should surpass the $250,000 raise for a great cause.  If you feel like helping click on this link ENA Fund and hit the donate button on the bottom of the page to give through your Pay Pal account.  It's really a worthwhile cause and I will report on our success after the Golf Tournament we hold as our major fund raiser.  The last picture is a 25 inch fish that we got early Sunday morning of the tournament.  As I said, we really caught a lot of nice walleyes however Mark refused to take any more pictures unless it was of a 28 inch fish.  As a result this is the only picture I have for a reather successful day of catching the wrong sized walleyes!

Sunday I am taking my neighbor Blair and his friend from Chicago to Mille Lacs hoping to repeat the success of the last 2 weeks.  Blair asked if I would be interesting in hiring out but since he moved my shed (another story), it's the least I can do.  I hope the bite is still on, which it should be and I look forward to an exciting report next week.

1 comment:

Duane said...

Uffda! Nice fish!