Thursday, August 22, 2013

Wingdam Walleyes

Carter's on the board!
Looking for a bite that's been better than Mille Lacs these days, I received a call from my friend Eric Hayes inviting me to fish the wing dams below the dam in Alma, Wisconsin with his 9 year old son Carter.  About the same time I got a call from Mark at Blueberry Ridge, the berries were perfect, come on down.  That's all I needed as the plan was to meet Eric at the boat landing around 9:00 on Sunday, fish till 3:30, pick berries till 6:00, and spend some time with my mother before driving home.  With perfect timing I arrived at the landing about a minute behind Eric and Carter.  Now  I had meet Carter a few years back and was excited to see him again.  Kids need adults that can engage them and I was looking forward to teaching him a few fishing skills.  Well, no teaching needed!  Our strategy was to begin trolling the front of the wing dams with crank baits such as Bombers, Shad Raps, or Smash Shads.  Wing dams are rock structures put in the Mississippi River to direct water flow to the channel, assuring enough depth for the barge traffic.  Some wing dams are better than others depending on the water flow, depth, location, how steep the front side is. Because they are made of rock, it's easy to get hung up and with the zebra mussels, lines such as Power Pro or Spiderwire are needed to avoid cutting your line and losing your bait.  Snags are fairly easy to get out but sometimes a lure retriever was necessary.  Eric hadn't fished this area much so we would have to troll the face to get an idea of it's lay under the water.  A big advantage was his Lowrance Side Scan, we could see exactly where the rocks started, ended, and the position of the wing dam to the boat.  The first fish was a dandy, about a 10 pound northern that hit Carter's lure.  For a nine year old Carter handled that fish like a seasoned veteran.  Dad lets him use a pretty sweet St. Croix rod with a Shimano Stradic reel, I have friends I would not trust with that rig.  I snapped a few pictures before I realizing the camera could take a video (I keep forgetting). With that we got Carter bringing in the northern and dad putting doing an excellent job of netting.  I just love how those big northerns look coming to the boat.  Check this link Carter's Northern. We continued fishing a few more wing dams when finally Eric caught a walleye over 15 inches, the minimum size limit for the river.  A few minutes later we had a second one.  From then on it was smaller fish, close, but it's pretty hard to stretch them as long as we needed.  Oh well, I did finally get one, a 14 inch walleye on my Smash Shad and this was the last walleye we got for the day, a total of 6 fish, 2 keepers and 4 released.

Carter's walleye
Carter was getting bored of the uneventful  pace of trolling, especially given the last 2 hours were pretty unproductive.  He had his eyes set on the rock rip rap along the shore, a perfect place to cast for bass, especially smallmouth.  His favorite lure was a plain plastic fluke rigged on a worm hook, unweighted and danced just below the surface, I was told the fish go wild for these.  Watching Carter cast into the rocks he would often end up on the shore while I was struggling to get close enough. He got hung up a few times but I admired his aggressive attitude toward those fish that were up tight against the shore. While we moved along the rocks and worked the edge, the bass didn't disappoint.  I think I ended up with 5 bass, including this nice smallie that Carter netted for me.  3:00 came fast as we loaded the boat up and I headed north to Eleva.  It was a real pleasure to fish with Eric and Carter, Eric has fished walleyes with me at Leech and Mille Lacs and Carter is a chip off the old block.  I brought him a Cabela's Fisherman's Folding Tool and he loved it.  Admittedly worried he might be too young but dad gave me the go ahead and he never put it down.  Hopefully in 30 years he'll remember how he received the tool in the bottom of his new tackle box.  I got something out of the deal as well, a new way to fish bass on the river behind my house, and a new friend, pretty good trade if you ask me!

My guide for the day!
Stopping in Eleva I headed to Blueberry Ridge to get my quota of blueberries.  They were more ripe than a couple of weeks ago, with Mark's help I picked 6 large pails.  We'll probably make wine out of a couple of the pails, 1 goes to Bill Lundeen, and the rest will get frozen.  Blueberries freeze very well and in the middle of winter they certainly are a treat.  I am writing this at the Cleveland Airport, having been here since Tuesday, it's time to go home.  My great friends Mark, Jack, Matt, and Jared Taylor are in Alaska fishing and they have sent me some great pictures of their adventure which I hope to write about next week.   They are coming home on Saturday so I'm looking forward to a full report.  My plans for the weekend are still not settled as we are definitely in the dog days of summer.  Maybe catfishing on the river, a motorcycle ride, working on the garden, there's never a dull minute this time of year.


ketchikanalaskafishing said...

Fishing in Alaska is definitely a great way for you to get to enjoy your weekend or vacation.

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SilverKingLodge alaskanfishing said...

When I was a kid, I really want to catch fish, now that I'm a grown up I can really catch them with my father and brother but the problem is I don't know how to catch fish and what equipment should I use.

I'm planning to drop by at this Alaska Fishing Lodges and I will find someone who can teach how to catch fish.