Friday, October 11, 2013

Window of Opportunity

First fish of the evening.
Last week we finally got some much needed rain.  Projections had rain through Sunday however by noon Saturday, it was looking pretty good.  Too wet to mow the yard, too wet to garden, I decided to fire up the old Ferguson and finish mowing the field behind the house with the brush hog.  I didn't really care if I made ruts in the field and with the wet grass, there would be minimal dust.  The brush hog is a 3 point hitch mower that is driven off the tractor PTO.  5 foot in width, the heavy blades will mow down anything in it's path including trees up to 2 inches in diameter.  I was able to finish it up while contemplating whether I should try and get up to Mille Lacs for the evening, after all it was turning into a nice night.  After stopping by my neighbor Tom's place, we had a plan to leave at 32:00 and fish till about 8:00.  Nothing too long but if they were biting, we'd know.  I finished the mowing, unhooked the brush hog and put it away for the winter, cleaned the tractor, and at 3 Tom showed up.  The sky didn't look too bad to the west, maybe it would be a nice night.  As we approached the lake and hour later, the sky was telling us a different story!  I hadn't seen Bill in a while so we had to stop and touch base.  It's been slow on the lake and anyone (even me) coming through those doors were welcome.  Picking up a few things, getting the latest reports, we left but not before he gave me my early Christmas present, and ice cream pail full of his hand harvested wild rice from a month ago.  It's insanely delicious.  From there we headed to Cove Landing as our strategy was to troll Anderson Reef, just about a mile out from the landing.  Anderson Reef used to be very good in the fall, often there is competition for the trolling runs by the guys fishing leeches under bobbers.  To my surprise there was not one rig in the parking lot, we would have the lake to ourselves. 

Besides the fact that the trolling bite had been slow, the darkening skies didn't help either.   Bill thought the buoys marking the channel and the reef had been pulled yet to our surprise they were still in, which always helps to have a visual reference point.  As we launched the boat the clouds gave us a little taste of what was to come.  Maneuvering through the marked channel that separates Cove Bay from the main lake, we headed straight for the south tip of Anderson's Reef (no relation) and started on the west side.  I like trolling the south and west side of the reef as it offers a nice trolling run caused by the gradual slope of the drop off from the shallowest point.  On the north and east side of the reef it's pretty abrupt and you can get into trouble fast.  At Bill's we discussed the strategy of using larger baits so I went with a large Rattlin Rouge while Tom tied on a #12 X-rap.  We hadn't gone 100 feet and Tom nailed a nice walleye, actually it took me somewhat by surprise as I did not expect a fish so soon.  We snapped a picture and back it went.  Now at this point it's easy to, it's going to be hot tonight!  With the lures back in the water and another 5 minutes later a fish hit my Rouge.  Unfortunately it must have struck short as it came off after about 10 seconds, oh well, still a good sign.  I like to troll over to an off reef hump, makes for a nice trolling run and 20 minutes after Tom's first fish I landed a 19 15/16" walleye, good enough for the live well.  A half hour later Tom gets our 3 fish in the boat and at 7:20 I even the score with 2nd fish.  By now the rain is in full deluge mode and we were getting pretty wet.  With the wind and rain and our years of experience, there was no need to continue the punishment....we headed back to the landing and to report back to Bill.  It was the best trip I have had on Mille Lacs since the middle of July, 5 hookups, 4 landed, 1 lost, all in about 2 real hours of fishing.  The water temperature was still a balmy 60 degrees as the fish felt warm to the hands as we unhooked them.  Although the night was short

Fishing in the Rain!
This post is later than usual as I just got back from Chicago.  My friends offered to include me on a salmon fishing trip out of Waukegan, Illinois but it didn't work out.  My apples need picking, the trucks in the shop, and it looks like Sunday I will be joining my 2 brothers for a nice fall motorcycle ride back home to see the gorgeous colors the trees are displaying this time of year.  My friend Jeff King was here last week to see his son and we just didn't have time to get together, maybe next time.  On the other hand Keith is returning home and might force me to take him on a trolling run to see if this post is actually true!  Earlier I stated that my friend Bill gave me a pail of wild rice.  He and a friend spend a number of days around the first of September and harvest wild rice in the lakes around his place.  Using a canoe and rice harvesting sticks they paddle through the rice beds, knocking the rice off the plants into the bottom of the boat.  This method of harvest is the same the Native Americans have used for centuries.  Once gathered the rice is spread out to dry for a few days before it's brought to a processor who will further dry and remove the hulls.  After harvesting around 1000 pounds of wild rice the processing yields about half or 500 pounds.  If you are ever driving north on Highway 169 by Mille Lacs stop by and buy a package of his hand harvested wild rice, it's absolutely delicious.  Open water season is swiftly coming to an end, time to start thinking about ice fishing...........uffda.

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