Fishermen are taking advantage of warm fall weatherPublished 2:17pm Saturday, November 19, 2011
Column: Woods & Water, by Dick Herfindahl
It looks like the nice weather that we have been experiencing the past few weeks has been pretty good to area fishermen.
Even as the average temperature inches slowly downward the threat of any measurable snow has so far eluded us. The channel by Frank Hall Park has been a busy place the last couple of weeks. The perch bite is still on and, from what I’ve seen, most fishermen have been doing pretty well.
Geneva Lake was the hot spot earlier this fall with the narrows producing plenty of perch and a few pike in the 22-inch range. I have always had a fondness for fall fishing but this year I haven’t been able to take advantage of it for some reason.
In his later years, my Uncle Ben would take an annual fall trip to Winnibigoshish every to fish for perch. For years I wondered why a person would go way up north just to fish the lowly perch. That was before I discovered how tasty a mess of nice-sized perch can be.
In my younger years I always thought of them as inedible because the ones we caught were always pretty small or grubby. Later on when I fished Big Sand Lake in the Deer River area we would catch “Jumbos,” but they were always full of grubs and no matter how hard I tried to convince myself that they were harmless I just couldn’t quite bring myself to eat them. I always thought that it was such a waste because they were big, fat fish that had a lot of meat. Eventually we would catch some nice perch on other lakes that weren’t grubby and they were mighty tasty on the table.
Our little lake up north had some dandy perch in it for a few years but then they just disappeared only to be replaced by crappie and bluegill, which was a pretty fair tradeoff. Finally, after all those years of wondering, I could see why my Uncle Ben would head north in the fall to fill his freezer with those tasty perch.
I guess my mindset back then was why in the world would a person drive all the way up north to fish perch when, there you were in “God’s Country,” which is loaded with walleye and northern pike.
Some time ago I adopted the philosophy about fishing for what’s biting. I probably thought the idea was OK after reading it in In-Fisherman Magazine. After all if Al says it then it must be a good idea. I would probably draw the line at bullheads however, even though I have partaken in that delicacy in the spring, I just don’t enjoy cleaning them.
Late fall fishing is one thing that I truly look forward to almost every year. My old neighbor Gene and I did a couple of fall trips to Spider Lake in late September. This is usually a good time to go and if you hit it right the leaves will be peaking. We, however, usually had cool damp weather and did from time to time fish in corn snow and had to put up with some rain squalls. It’s funny how fall weather can seem different because of how fast a storm can come upon you and then just as fast as it came, it was gone.
There was more than one time when we’d have to pull up on shore and seek cover from the storm because you could see it coming across the lake like a wall of water pushing the water into frenzy ahead of it and creating big waves and whitecaps. This was a time that you didn’t really want to be out there. There was an unoccupied cabin along the shore and we docked the boat and spent some time under the roof of their wood shed. This actually happened on more than one occasion and on a couple of different lakes.
No matter how bad the weather got it was still a good time because there was something special about being there at that time of the year. In late fall you usually have most of the lakes in the area pretty much to yourself. It kind of gives you a peaceful feeling when fishing a lake that just a month or so earlier had been busy with boats going to or coming from their favorite fishing spots.
Fall fishing is not without its hardships or whatever you want to call it. I’ve mentioned before about the communication thing with the fingers. Like when your brain is telling your fingers to bait a hook and your fingers can’t seem to grasp the concept or the minnow firmly enough to put it on the hook. Once you’re on the lake long enough for the fingers to get numb it is probably time to seek the warmth of a cabin or in our case at the time the camper.
When my neighbor Gene and I went fishing at Spider we would take my pickup camper. I had that camper for quite a few years and the one thing that always worked really well on it was the heater. There was nothing like coming off the lake and stepping into that toasty little camper. You’d thaw out in no time but it was almost like taking a sleeping pill. The fishing wasn’t always that great but I did manage to catch my own personal best walleye on one of those trips. Whenever I think back to those fall trips I feel pretty good and I know that they were special times that will never be repeated.
With the end of the firearms deer hunting season reports show that there were less deer taken this season than last. I have heard a few reports of some nice bucks being shot in our area. One person that I know got a 10-pointer and an 8-pointer was also reported. This is pretty darned good but overall there doesn’t seem to be as many deer around as in past years. Some speculate about the weather having an effect but others think that the increased number of coyotes in the area is taking its toll on the young deer. I do believe that coyotes are definitely affecting not only the deer population but also the pheasant population in our area.
Deer registration up for second week
Better weather conditions for hunting and a Friday holiday for some were the likely reasons deer registrations climbed to within 7 percent of the 2010 season-to-date level after the second weekend of the 2011 firearms deer season, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Final numbers from the second weekend show that hunters have harvested 143,000 deer so far in 2011, down only 7 percent from the 2010 to-date harvest of 153,000. During the second weekend, hunters registered approximately 27,000 deer compared with about 22,000 last year.
Until next time, hunt safely and enjoy the outdoors experience.
Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers during the coming year. They are the reason we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.
Dick Herfindahl’s column appears each Sunday in the Tribune.