Hit the water for family fun in the sun

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 29, 2002

Last week I mentioned the dangers of overloading the front of a pontoon boat. This can happen, but rarely will anything like that really happen unless you are totally asleep at the wheel.

Pontoons are a great way for a family to spend a day or even half a day together in the outdoors for a fairly minimal price. Plus you may even catch a few fish at the same time.

As a kid, I have fond memories of going to St. Olaf Lake with our family and some friends. When we got there Dad would rent a pontoon boat for the afternoon, a picnic lunch was packed and Mom always made her famous potato salad. The best part of it was that we not only had a picnic and got to spend time with our family and friends but we always seemed to catch some fish; the sunburn was an added bonus.

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There are still some resorts around the area that rent pontoons and boats with motors. Best Point on Lake Tetonka is one that still does. I believe Beaver Dam on German/Jefferson still does this too. One way to find out is to get a Southern Minnesota vacation book. The Chamber used to have these books available for most areas of the state.

If boating isn’t your thing, there are lots of nice parks in the area where you can picnic, relax and even wet a line at the same time if you want to. With the access we have to all this shoreline and the nice facilities provided by the city, county and state, let’s take advantage of it and enjoy the resources we have.

To me, fishing is a way to relax and get rid of any stress you may have built up. There may be a couple of exceptions. If you are fishing with young grandsons it can get to be quite a workout. I have discovered a rule to live by: Stay as far away as possible from any bushes or trees. Night crawlers and minnows seem to catch more trees than fish at certain times.

I fished Tetonka on Saturday and we caught quite a variety of fish. One nice striper, some small walleye, a smallmouth bass, a few nice perch, small northern and of course numerous farm animals – namely sheepshead. The walleye have been running small but once in a while you can net a keeper. There were also some nice largemouth caught by some of the campers at Best Point this past weekend.

Here are some fishing reports from this area and around the state:

– Waterville – Lake Tetonka was producing some walleye with a Lindy/worm harness-spinner combo in about 14 feet

– Madison Lake – Sunfish are hitting in 5 to 10 feet of water; crappies are being caught in 7 to 12 feet with bass action continuing to be good.

– Faribault – Sunfish and crappie are still hitting along the shoreline breaks on Shields, Mazaska and Roberds lakes. Bass are active in the shallows but walleye action has been fairly slow

– Rainy River – The Manitou Rapids level has increased from 16 feet on Saturday to 18.48 and Little Fork increased from 5.0 to 10.34 in the same time frame. Only good news is the forecast for a dry week through Friday. Dry weather is needed here to let levels recede. The Rain River Basin is overwhelmed with excess rainfall since the 8th of June. International Falls plans to close Kettle Falls dam as soon as Namakan crests and in a domino effect, if you will, they will reduce the outflow into the Rainy River.

– Lake Winnibigoshish Area – Even with all the rain, thunder and wind the bite is still strong. Shallow water was great until Sunday, and then it slowed down. Best areas are lower High Banks by the reclaim and work it south in 7 feet to 8′ feet. The grass hump on Sugar point in 6 to 8 feet and the Clam beds close to Ravens point in 7 feet of water. Northlands NEW GLOW 1/8-oz. watermelon or the Fire-tiger fire-ball jig and tip it with a shiner or a fathead minnow.

– Kabetogama Area – The walleye bite stayed consistent despite the weather. Anglers are still having success catching fish in shallow bays outside the weeds such as Tom Cod and Daily Bay. Anglers report many fish being released over the slot size of 17 inches and in consequence they are fishing deeper water with jig and minnow. Depths of 25 to 30 feet near reefs and rock piles are kicking out saugers, perch and slot fish

– Lake Vermilion Area – The walleye bite on Vermilion continues to be very good. The walleyes have moved to most of their summer haunts and have been hitting almost any type of presentation. Many of the fish have been coming out of 22 to 50 feet of water. Lindy Rigs with crawlers and minnows as bait have worked well. Jigs baited with minnows or half of a crawler have been working very well in the deeper water close to steep rocky drop-offs. There are some fish starting to show up on the bigger sand flats also

– Detroit Lakes – Heavy rains over the last few days has affected the fishing. Between the heavy rain and lightning and thunder, fishing has slowed a little across the area. The good news is that its supposed to turn nicer over the next few days and that should get the bite going again.

– Leech Lake Area – Walleye anglers having best success these days are concentrating their efforts in the evening hours on Leech Lake. Look to Sugar Point, Huddles Reef and Sand Point for very consistent action during the evening hours. Here anglers are using Live Bait Rigs with 30-inch snells tipped with minnows, leeches or crawlers trolled very slow for best success. Average size has been good with most fish caught in the 17 to 20-inch range

– Alexandria Area – Longer, hotter and more humid days ahead. Look for fishing to keep improving as well. Keep one eye on your line, and the other on the weather. Don’t get caught unprepared. When lightning flashes, head for shore. The fish will be there tomorrow, if you will.

– Mille Lacs Lake Area The fishing this last week was very good again. Still catching fish out in front of Fisher’s just off of the rocks in 15 to 18 feet. The Carlson Humps are doing very well also, 20 to 27 feet of water. The mud flats are getting better every day now as the days are longer and the water temp is warming up. The water temp is about 66 degrees. Leeches and night crawlers with a long leader have been doing real well. Also night crawler harnesses with gold or silver spinners are good. Out on the mud, black or dark blue spinners are working well.

Remember to snap a picture of your catch and turn it in to the Tribune’s Catch of the Week.

Good Luck and Good Fishin’.

This 4th of July has taken on extra meaning for us and we should celebrate our Independence and the traditions we have established with it.

Have a Safe and Happy 4th of July!