Thursday, June 14, 2012

Wind and Walleyes

Sunday's forecast for Mille Lacs was steady winds at 20 mph with gusts over 30, severe storms developing in the late afternoon.  Assuming the weatherman was right, my neighbor Blair Wolfram, his friend Kevin Keehn from Chicago, and I left for the lake at 6:00 in the morning.  Blair did me a big favor a few weeks ago by taking an old shed of mine, but as I stated in an earlier post that's another story.  During the move he wanted to know if I would be willing to hire out as a guide and take them to Mille Lacs sometime as Kevin was interested in catching a few walleyes.  With the bite being what it is I predicted a successful trip, a prediction that wasn't too hard to make.  The crawler bite has been on fire and with little rain, the garden has not produced much in the way of bait.  A stop at Lundeen's to load up, 6 dozen crawlers plus what I had of my own would hopefully be enough.  Driving up the south side of the lake on Hwy 169 Blair commented on how calm the water seemed.  With the wind blowing straight out of the south I assured them that the current perception will change quickly!  The landing surprisingly had parking spaces left, a sure sign that the wind blew some of the fisherman away.  Once launched our first stop was an inshore deep rock pile off of Sherman's Point to see if there were any fish hanging around.  The HDS10 sonar unit really marks fish well and I have gotten to the point of only fishing structure where I see fish.  With nothing showing up on the graph and a tip that 7 Mile Flat was hot, we headed east.  Once out of the bay the wind showed it tenacity to create rollers and whitecaps.  When the wind gets blowing hard it can be difficult as the splash from the boat cutting the water often gets blown right into the boat and into my face.  The goal of driving 4 miles out to 7 Mile was quickly changed to looking at Sherman's Flat first.  Arriving at the edge we slowed down and scanned the structure.  There were about 10 boats working the area, some drifting across the top of the flat while a few were working the edge.  Those on the edge were catching fish as we saw at least 3 fish landed before we even got our lines in the water.  With the waves peaking around 3-4  feet I decided to tie on 3 way rigs using a 2 foot dropper line/1 ounce bell sinker and my hand tied 8 foot crawler rigs featuring Tru-Turn hooks for a more positive hook set.  The heavier weights would keep the lines closer to the boat to avoid tangles as well as keeping the bait in the strike zone more consistently.  The Tru-Turn hooks for the most part do not require one to give the fish much line once a bite is felt and if you simply put the rod in the rod holder 9 out of 10 times a fish will hook itself.  The real advantage is that almost all of the hooks are in the upper jaw area causing little damage giving the fish an excellent chance for release survival.  Once a fish swallows a hook all bets are off.  We immediately started catching walleyes as the graph showed them stacked right on the edge and if you marked fish you caught fish.  By 2:00 we had 21 fish on the counter with at least another 10 that had got loose half way to the boat.  The top picture is Kevin with a nice walleye and the next is Blair with a dandy 27 incher.  It was interesting to see all of the blood suckers on the fish as the walleye Blair is holding as it has quite a few attached to the bottom jaw area.

With the bite slowing somewhat we headed to 7 Mile Flat checking out what was happening there.  It was a wet ride for me, thank God the temperature was in the 80's!  As we did on Sherman's, I found the east edge of the flat and using my trolling motor, we could easily stay in the sweet spot while the wind blew us up the flat.  As with Sherman's we immediately started marking fish on the edge.  An hour later we had another 12 fish landed including a triple on the first pass.  There was only 1 other boat on the Flat, a testimony to how rough it was.  As predicted my Sirius Weather module started beeping, warning us of the pending weather warnings issued for the area.  My HDS will overlay the radar signals onto the GPS portion of my readout making it easy to track what the storm was doing and although it was still in the distance, it didn't look good.  Deciding to get closer to the landing we went back to Sherman's Flat and caught another 3 fish before heading in.  My largest for the day was this 27 inch fish.  Our total for the day was 36 fish netted, 5 slot fish for the frying pan, and another 12 - 15 fish hooked but not landed.  Other than Blair having to readjust his concentration on the horizon, we had a great time with most of the fish measuring between the 21 - 27 inch range.  We never gut hooked one fish which might explain why we lost a number of them but who's complaining.  Looking at the time we got on the lake, time not fishing, and total fish hooked, we were getting a fish every 8 minutes.  It sure kept me busy.  I know that Blair and Kevin had a great time as fishing doesn't get a whole lot better than this!  We ended the day with a stop at a local watering hole for a burger and a cold beer before heading home.  All I know is that it took at least and hour before I got rid of my sea legs. 

This Friday is the ENA Memorial Golf Tournament which I am the official photographer.  Besides helping to raise money and take pictures, it give me a chance to do something nice for a very worthy cause.  Rain is predicted for Saturday so I am hoping to get back to the lake on Sunday.  Next weekend I have committed to help my friend Bill as a guide for a big corporate event he hosts each year.  I have done this in the past and it can be rewarding to help someone who's never caught a walleye land a trophy.  If the bite continues as it has, it shouldn't be too difficult.

No comments: