Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Those Crazy, Hazy, Lazy Days of Summer

First smallie of the year
Just like the old Nate King Cole song, we are in the middle of the summer and to be honest, the fish aren't biting too well these days.  As well it hasn't been too hazy either!  June was warm however July has not seen the air conditioner run very much as the weather has been just about perfect.  Of course Alaska weather is perfect for me so I love those lows in the 50's each night.  Reports on Mille Lacs have been spotty, my friend Pete, who fishes the Mississippi River is even complaining about the slow bite and for him, that's unusual for the river.  Last week's post with Charlie wasn't my worst days of catching on the pond but it ranked right down there.  I guess the good thing about that is it appears that Mille Lacs could be filling the voids as Mark reported catching a couple of foul hooked perch in 34 feet of water last weekend.  Time will tell.  With our ENA Golf tournament party slated for Sunday and the simple fact that I felt lazy, it was decided that Lory and I would head back to the Mississippi River on Saturday and try our luck again as we had more time.  While contemplating our trip the neighbor Todd came by to see what was up.  Telling him that we were going on the river in a half hour, maybe he should join us. Todd is not much of a fisherman but we asked anyway and expected the same answer......I have to work on work.  Sure enough, that was his answer.  Hey, it's Saturday afternoon, you can work tomorrow as he headed home.  3 minutes later Todd was back, deciding that maybe a few hours on the river wouldn't be that bad.  Loading the boat and hooking it up to my Polaris UTV we headed through the pasture and to the landing next door.  Things worked quite a bit faster with an extra guy as we had the gates opened and closed in record time.  That's where the "faster" ended.  With three 220# guys in my 14 foot jon boat being pushed by a 1976 Evinrude 15 horse outboard we hit a blinding speed of 6.5 mph up river.  With 3 mile ahead of us, it took about 2 beers to get there.  Earlier I had picked up a dozen nice river shiners at Vadoo's bait and was determined to catch something on them.

Todd's first Mississippi catfish
Our first spot was a deeper stretch of river, running about 9 feet for about 100 yards or so.  A guy was fishing there last week with crankbaits and it looked pretty good.  Noticed I said looked as we tried shiners, crawlers, and preserved minnows yet the only thing we managed to catch were a few snags on the bottom.  Next stop was in front of the Stephens Farm, once owned by Win Stephens, the prominent Buick dealer in St. Louis Park.  You can tell it was a nice place a one time but after Win died, his wife Elsie pretty much went in seclusion with a house full of cats.  We saw her in Cub Foods one time with about 40 pounds of frozen beef liver that reportedly she cooked and ground up each day to feed her cats.  Never the less, the river that borders her property on the north side can be pretty good.  Not today.  Moving over to the Anoka County side of the river, we headed around the north side of the island on a channel that can be pretty good.  As we headed down the outside bend I nailed a smallie on a fire tiger Bomber.  At the same time both Todd and Lory hooked up as well, a triple on crank baits.  Netting my fish first, the lure was stuck in the net as Todd's fish was small enough to bring in by itself.  Lory had the nicest smallie yet had to wait for the net, too late as he tried to lift it in the boat the line broke and off swam the smallie with a lip ring in him.  We motored back up and tried the run again but we must have caught them all on the first run.  Oh well, it was still nice to at least catch some fish.  The current is swift as the water runs around the island, maybe that's a clue where the fish were hanging out.  Unfortunately with 3 in the boat it's a little tough to maneuver.  

What a pig!
Heading down river the rest of our strategy was to fish the deeper hole below Cloquet Island, maybe some nice catfish were biting, anything that might be interested in a crawler of minnow.  Changing rigs to a slip sinker and circle hook, we loaded them with night crawlers and let them sit on the bottom.  The first to hook up was Todd with a small catfish.  Not the largest catfish but his first on the river.  Next line to give a tug was mine, and tug it did.  With circle hooks you don't set the hook rather a simple easy pull and the circle hook with work its way to the corner of the fishes mouth and turn causing the hook point to dig in.  When fishing halibut in Alaska circle hooks are the preferred hardware.  Halibut tend to swallow the bait and with the circle hooks you can literally pull them out of their stomachs and because the fish are straight down the hook does it's job allowing a safe release if the fish is too small.  Whatever the fish was it was big.  My guess was a nice 12 pound catfish however as it broke the surface a tank of a carp made itself known.  Now this was by far the largest carp I had ever hooked as it bulled it's way around the boat.  After a 10 minute battle we finally had it in the net.  My guess was 20 - 25 pounds but of course one always likes to exaggerate.  Never the less it was huge as I snapped a few pictures and let it go.  Years ago I would have probably brought it home for dad to smoke, cut it up for the garden, or simply throw it on the bank as carp were not very desirable.  Ed Enos, my friend Kevin's grandpa was an expert at smoking carp, a delicacy back home.  I suppose I could have considered this but it seemed like too much work at the time, away it swam.  Still it made for a fabulous picture. 

I have an open invitation to join my friend Eric to fish the wingdams south of Alma, my old fishing haunts.  It's tempting and I hope to report next week.  My garden continues to be taken over by weeds, the cucumbers have failed miserably, and the tomatoes seem like they are 3 weeks behind.  I guess the cooler whether has put the hold on everything.  My new raspberries are doing well and I picked blueberries last weekend.  I guess the good thing is that by time the peppers and tomatoes are ready I'll be more in the mood to make something of them.  It's suppose to warm up later this week and with the State Fair starting next Thursday, summer is going fast. 

1 comment:

Duane said...

I could have used that carp in my garden. I thought, at one time, it was illegal to put carp back in the water?