Opening soon on a lake near you

Published 6:30pm Saturday, April 28, 2012

Once again I will be attending the Minnesota governor’s fishing opener. This year’s event is being hosted by the community of Waconia, and as in past years I am always a little curious about what the area will have to offer. A few years ago I attended the opener in White Bear Lake. I was a little apprehensive about this because it is a metro-area community and I had never really thought about spending an opener this close to the Twin Cities. It turned out to be a very enjoyable event, and I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of things that community had to offer.

This year the opener is once again close to the Twin Cities, and I am looking forward to seeing the community and fishing on Lake Waconia. I am sure it will be another enjoyable time because the host communities always do such a great job of promoting their area of the state.

Until the walleye and northern opener arrives there is still plenty of fishing to be enjoyed. I have heard that local fishermen have had some luck catching sunfish on Fountain Lake this spring. Wax worms have reportedly been working well, and catching sunnies can be a blast on light tackle.

Before I started attending the governor’s fishing opener, I would usually fish Reed’s Lake near Elysian, my favorite lake to fish on opening day.

Eventually it became crowded and putting the boat in and out became a real challenge, not to mention the parking thing.

I don’t know if there are any walleye in Reed’s Lake these days but in the ’80s I would always bring home a few walleye and northern on the opener.

After fighting traffic at that boat landing for a couple of years, I had wanted to change it up a little so, I decided to stay close to home and see if there were any walleye lurking in Fountain Lake.

This was before it was considered a good all-around fishing lake. I had made up my mind that I would try my luck in Edgewater Bay with trolling beetle spins tipped with a fathead minnow as my bait of choice.

In the ’70s I spent quite a bit of time fishing from shore at the mouth of the creek that runs into the bay. Spring brought out quite a few fishermen who lined the banks of the creek.

I can remember leaving work and hurrying to get a good spot for catching those early season crappies.

Now, these fish were the kind that magically seemed to shrink in size the closer you got to home.

We did, however, manage to eat a few meals each spring. I had not yet mastered the art of filleting crappies and sunnies so I did it the old fashioned way; gut, gill, cut off the head and scale. Once I started filleting them it was like a revelation and meant no more picking around the bones or picking scales out from between your teeth.

There are still a few fishermen around who actually prefer the old way. Maybe it’s tradition or they just like it that way. However you choose to prepare your panfish it can be some mighty fine eating.

Getting back to that particular opener, the boys and I trolled the bay for most of the morning, sharing the lake with only one other boat. In the end I believe we came away with five nice eating walleye, which is considered a pretty good opener in anybody’s book. The best thing about it was the fact that we didn’t have to leave town.

Over the years I have caught a lot of fish trolling a beetle spin tipped with a minnow, but I have kind of gotten away from that technique in recent years. I do think that I’ll be giving the old beetle spin a try again this year just to see if it still has what it takes.

It’s kind of funny how the way you fish is sometimes dictated by what you see on TV or read in a magazine. I sometimes think going back to the basics and doing what once worked can still be effective. As far as I know the fish don’t read or have access to TV to find out what’s fashionable.

A couple of years ago I read an article in an outdoors magazine where a guy suggested using spoons for big pike and muskies still works even though most fishermen have let them disappear to the bottom of the tackle box.

This past summer I decided to try fishing with a spoon again and had very good results.

I have often been amazed at my youngest son Brad’s knack for catching big pike. It is actually no secret in our family that his No. 1 lure of choice is the doctor spoon. With that thought in mind I know that I will be checking my inventory of spoons as I get ready for this year’s opener.

I may decide to take a little of the edge off before the opener and visit one of our area lakes for some shore fishing. I am inclined to think that there may be some decent crappie fishing to be had in the next couple of weeks if the water warms up a bit.

The water temperatures in our part of the state should be more ideal than farther north, but from some of the reports I’ve read and heard the inconsistent weather hasn’t exactly had the fish jumping in the boat.

Unlike summer weather patterns, temperatures in the spring need to be consistently warm for a few days to get those water temperatures up.

Until next time, get your tackle ready and remember that you don’t need to wait for the opener to enjoy a little fishing; it’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers because 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