Thursday, May 14, 2015

One Opener Down, One to Go

A Miserable Sunday
Well, like everything else these days Team Walleye's 42nd Annual Fishing Opener at Leech Lake ended as quick as it started.  One of the things that is going to stop is looking at the forecast 10 days before an event and getting excited about the predicted nice weather. What looked like a beautiful weekend in the 70's turned into a Northeaster of epic proportions. Opening Saturday admittedly was nice, sunny and in the 60's by the end of the day our faces were pretty sunburnt.  One could travel around the lake in relative comfort however Sunday and Monday were a complete 180 degree opposite with highs in the mid 40's, 20 - 35 mph winds out of the northeast, and cold driving rain that tested our will to stay out, in fact many simply elected to stay in.  As you see in the picture the wind was howling and it had the water pretty churned up as visibility was less than a foot sometimes. This year we had a special award donated by Kevin, a hand made spinning rod complete with matching colored accents to our hats and inscribed with the Team Walleye 2015 commemorative tribute.  We decided that the fairest way to award this prize among others was a simple and fair proposition.  You see we have 6 separated fishing sessions, 1 each morning and one each evening after supper.  A qualifying fish is 12 inches or longer so if a person caught at least 1 over 12 in a session, he would be eligible to enter a chance for the rod giveaway drawing.  If you caught a qualifying fish for each session, you received 6 chances. It worked out good until one of the guys thought we meant an entry for every fish over 12" so we spent some time pulling out his slips.  Besides the fishing rod we have prizes awarded for the 3 largest fish, the most individual points and most team points which is a determination of your own numbers of fish caught and how well you did to put your teammates with you on the fish.

Mark Taylor with a decent eater.
The trip started somewhat on the wrong foot as we stopped by Lundeen's Tackle Castle to pick up shiner minnows.  Checking them at the next gas stop 60 miles up the road one of the bags had all the oxygen gone and the  minnows were dying.  We quickly got a cooler, my brother Steve's portable aerator and luckily saved about 60% of them. That was close.  Not having my boat was an issue for me for sure.  Although haven driven wheel boats before this was the first time I was faced with learning a whole new process like which side to fish out of, how the wind affects our position, what to do with everything.  It was sort of like being a fish out of water but eventually I caught on and recovered well.  Saturday morning was our first session and as always, we started at Pine Point.  This is the go to area yet is gets pretty crowded in the morning.  I had Mark Taylor and Mike Kimpel in the boat with me and after catching a couple under 12" decided to go exploring, which is something I enjoy.  Off we went to an offshore reef, the conditions were great but I didn't mark anything.  From there we went to Ivan's Reef and starting catching some really nice fish in 14 feet of water, right off the rocks.  By 2:00 we had 10 walleyes caught, 7 in the live well when the game warden showed up.  Pulling along the leeward side of the boat we exchanged greetings before getting down to business.  First the license check, we were good.  Next he asked about our fish so I pulled out our Team Walleye score sheet and explained we had 7 in the live well with the biggest 19.5" and we released a small on and 2 over 22". "Can I see the 19.5 fish?" so we pulled that out and it checked out perfect.  He commented how organized we were then did a life vest check, OK on that front.  Finally he asked for the throw cushion, readily accessible.  Thinking I had seen it before every compartment I searched was empty as I danced around the boat.  Explaining it was not my boat and was fully aware of the requirement I did a desperate look underneath the fold down seat as he exclaimed the fine for that was $600. Digging for something he whispered to the other guys that he was just kidding but I didn't know that! Not finding anything his next comment was that underneath a seat that was difficult to access was not readily accessible as I gave sir, I am afraid we are missing that vital piece of equipment. He must of felt sorry for us as he asked for my license again and stated that we were only getting a warning this time, uffda. Sometimes you win one.

My Awards
Sunday night was good as we did really well on Duck Point in 10 feet of water.  As stated earlier Sunday morning was absolutely horrible with predictions of an inch of rain coming.  Luckily it held off till about noon but it certainly took a toll on our enthusiasm as everyone was in by 1:00.  A couple of us took the time to head into Walker and pick up a few groceries and stop at Reeds, always a nice place to look around.  Also Sunday was my night to cook our annual fried walleye dinner and admittedly I got started probably later than I should have.  Luckily the weather was terrible and for the most part everyone except Andy and Pete decided to go out so it turned out OK.  Even I decided there was no use fighting the waves and to be honest, although Mark's boat was pretty big, it just doesn't ride like a fiberglass and as well, I was still learning the finer aspects of boat control. Monday was a little better as the wind laid down to 15 - 20 mph, almost tolerable.  We decided to hit the the area below Stoney Point thinking the wind would be better there but there wasn't any fish there. Heading back to Pine Point we were surprised that it seemed calmer and the walleyes had the feedbag on as we ended up with 13 for the 5th session.  Going in to eat at 2:00, dinner was served early and we were back out by 5:30. Unfortunately the hot bight of 3 hours ago was over with and for the rest of the evening we only managed 2 keeper walleyes as the heavy mist continued.  I really wanted to troll shad raps so we decided to troll the shoreline back to the resort which proved to be a bust. Maybe the cloudy water had something to do with it yet when we passed Brindley's dock a boy was just reeling in a nice walleye, go figure.  In the end Andy got the 1st and 3rd place for the largest walleye with my nephew Kevin getting the second place position with a nice 24+.  As you see I won both the Team award for the most total walleyes caught in a boat for the 3 days as well the individual points champion for the greatest amount of fish and points accumulated.  Ryan Sterle won the custom fishing rod even though he only fished for 3 sessions then went home.  All in all it was fun even if the weather proved hard on some of us old men!  We are definitely looking forward to next year, hopefully I'll have my boat by then and be somewhat proficient at it.

Speaking of my boat the last time I talked to my dealer the new delivery date was May 20th.  Before leaving town to fish Leech they called to ask me about a title to my old Ranger, which I didn't have. Asking about confirming the 20th Deb told me, no that was the build date and it would take a week after that plus another week to ship it from Flippin, AR to Minnesota.  A few days at the dealership and it looks like about June 5th is the date now.  The good news is that I should have a number of normal fishing days under my belt so the wait isn't that bad.  Still.  I am frantically getting ready to fly to Lac Seul, Canada with Pete in Garith's recently repaired Beaver.  The plan is to pick up our pilot at 5:30 and we should be in the air by 6:30.  A 4 hour flight and we could be fishing by noon.  I did peek at the forecast today, like last weekend it doesn't look like what was predicted 10 days ago, oh well here we go again.


Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service said...

Congrats. It just proves that it's the fisherman and not the equipment that puts fish in the live well.

Unknown said...

Good summary, Dave. Good luck with the Canadian opener. Hopefully you'll have another YouTube video of you hauling in the walleyes. Looks like you will have to update your boat specs in your profile.

David Grant said...

Looks like you guys had a lot of fun fishing on leach lake. Can't wait to see how you do in Canada! Hopefully the boat comes sooner than later. Thanks for sharing on how you did on the opener!

Anonymous said...

Why don't we do the fishing opener later?!?! This way it won't be shitty weather and not over mother's day weekend... double win!!!!!