Wednesday, May 18, 2016

2016 Minnesota Fishing Opener

Monday night's 26.5 incher
Well, last week marked our 43rd annual Minnesota Fishing Opener on Leech Lake, hosted by Brindley's Harbor Resort in beautiful Trader's Bay.  May 14th is the latest date that the Minnesota Opener can be which usually means nice temperatures and warmer water.  Leech Lake like a lot of lakes in Minnesota had a relatively early ice out due to the mild winter and less than average ice thickness on the lakes. Everything pointed to this being one of the best "potential" opener's in years.  Well, this was my 27th year at Leech Lake with Team Walleye and I've pretty much seen everything from dead calm 90 weather to total iced in as we did in 2013.  This year was like most, definitely challenged the status quo!  When we arrived on Friday afternoon it was snowing out for crying out loud!  This would be my first year with my new Ranger 620FS and as luck would have it, and because of the width, Mark arranged for me to have my own private covered slip, which was really nice.  After a great Friday night meal we had our Official Team Walleye rules meeting, collected the prize money and got everything settled in.  We had a couple of new guys this year as well as a returning member from a few years back, we had a full house as there was 22 of us in the big double cabin.  Admittedly this is total luxury, the likes which is pretty nice for a bunch of guys like us.  with 10 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, nobody every feels like there is not enough room.  With a door in between the cabins we reserve one side as the bar and the other as the kitchen and it's pretty nice for sure.  Mark does a great job in assigning who does what when and it's pretty slick, one only has to cook and cleanup one meal and the rest of the time he can sit back, talk smart and watch everyone else work.  We eat pretty good, Friday was roasted pork shoulders, Saturday night was Adam's 18 ounce ribeyes, Sunday was the Anderson fish fry, and Monday was a simple meal of bratwurst, beans, and slaw.   There is definitely no losing weight on this trip!

Nice Rock Bass
Saturday morning started out miserable with 20 mph winds out of the Northwest and temperatures in the low 30's. Thank the Lord I brought my ice fishing stuff, and even then it was cold!!! We tried Pine Point first and it was pretty slow.  The word is that the early ice out was set back by the cold April and the water was about 50 degrees so where the fish were was a crap shoot, in the shallows or deeper, it was just a matter of time before someone found where they were and Adam Mayerich was that guy, he found them on Governor's Flat just to the east of us. Unfortunately he must have caught them all because we did converge with our 7 boats and although we did get fish it was nothing like what they did on Saturday, 16 walleyes for the morning session.  it was true that if you stayed in one area long enough you would get some fish however I can't sit that long so I moved around.  Also, my boat really handles the big water nice so I was not restricted to where I could go yet I fished mostly Ottertail point as we did get some nice fish there.  It has a nice rock reef and I nailed this nice almost 2 pound Rock Bass, the biggest I have ever caught.  It really slammed the jig and it fought like a nice walleye, I never say I was disappointed in catching a fish but it would have been nicer if it was a walleye! Although I did try out by Submarine Island a few times, the wind made it hard to fish those areas however we did get a few nice walleye's there.  Oh well.  As always, Monday was the nicest day and resulted in my best session of the 6 we have for our contest.  We jigged Ottertail till about 8:30 then tied on the Shad Raps and trolled the point.  This is when I caught the fish pictured above, a 26.5 incher, enough for 2nd place. It was quite interesting as I ended up going a little shallow on one of the rock piles that go out into the lake and bang, that fish hit in 4 feet of water.  I first thought I had snagged the bottom and hooked a log as it dd not fight very much.  I did see it quite a ways from the boat as Henry picked up the net. Henry was in first place with a 27 inch walleye and all I could think about was him hitting the line and it getting away so I assured Henry that his first place position was safe.  I knew it was a nice fish but didn't realize another 5/8th inch would have knocked him to 2nd place.  I was glad that it only measured what it did and his fish was safe (at least in my boat!).  Henry is a great guy and has been coming for 8 years now.  He is 69 years old and has never won the trophy so it was nice to see that his name will be forever etched on the biggest fish plaque.

I head to Lac Seul on Monday for a week so next weeks post will either be something I wrote and scheduled or a week late!  I am scrambling to get ready for that trip, I am bringing my boat so it needs to be cleaned, the right tackle be loaded up, longer extension cords, and more mats to help keep the sand out off the boat! I am pretty anxious for sure as it's a great trip as we should be talking about 100+ walleyes a boat verses 15 at Leech, a big difference.  I stopped by Bill's on the way home and picked up some Powerbait Ripple Shads for casting.  He had a great new color called New Penny. Everyone is huge on Gold colors for Lac Seul so these should work really great, I guess we will see and I will have the report when I return.


Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service said...

Holy cow, Dave, you should have brought that rock bass to a certified scale. The state record is an even 2 pounds!

Looks like another great opener. Good friends, good food, a few fish, and nobody got hurt. Success!

Dave Anderson said...

Wow, Now you tell me!!!