Dreaming on Tetonka about Alaska angling

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 7, 2002

Now that Labor Day has passed for another year, some of us are probably turning our thoughts to the hunting season. Some of you have probably already gone on a goose hunt.

I guess I am a die-hard fisherman, because I always hope to get that one last cast before the end of the season. In fact, the season is still far from over and the best may just be starting.

Any thoughts I may have had of hanging up the fishing for another year were put to rest this week.

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My brother-in-law, Lynn Johnson, who lives in Nome, Alaska, sent me some pictures of the northern pike he and a couple of his friends caught in one of the many rivers around Nome. They kept nine fish in the 14 to 17-pound range and released a 20 and 25-pound fish. He said they didn’t catch anything less than 14 pounds.

A tale like that can turn any fisherman green with envy. I haven’t made it up there yet but hope to go in the near future.

Lynn, who is originally from Twin Lakes, moved to Nome about eight years ago. My boys think he bears a strong resemblance to Grizzly Adams.

Physical resemblance maybe, but If I remember the show, Grizzly, who was always surrounded by &uot;critters,&uot; just talked to them and didn’t eat them. Grizzly must have been a vegetarian.

Lynn must have thought he was Grizzly the time he followed a real Grizzly bear on his snowmobile, armed only with a video camera and a .22 rifle. He said the gun was for bird hunting. When he spotted the bear he decided to follow it. Shortly after the snow machine killed the little light bulb must have lit up and he asked himself, &uot;What am I doing?&uot;

Lynn has acquired the necessary essentials for living in Alaska. An airplane, snow machine (snowmobile in Minnesotan), a propless boat for navigating the many Alaskan rivers, and a four-wheeler.

My wife visited him a couple of years ago and they went salmon fishing, pike fishing and she fished for and caught Arctic grayling. These are the kinds of experiences I used to read about in Outdoor Life as a young boy growing up.

When my wife was visiting him he took her up a river system to find the same spot where he caught these last pike. They had some good luck with the pike but not the lunkers that he encountered this last time.

On the way up river he asked her if any of the terrain looked familiar to her. I don’t know about anyone else, but if someone that is leading asks the follower if the terrain looks familiar, I don’t take it as a good sign. My wife asked, &uot;Haven’t you been here before?&uot; He said yes, but only once when he first got there. They obviously made it up and back, but I have no doubt there may have been a little family discussion going on.

My son, Brian, is going up to caribou hunt in mid-October and I am sure he will come back with stories to share with us. Whenever we get together with Lynn there are always stories to tell and a lot of laughs to be had.

This last weekend I went fishing on Tetonka Lake with my grandsons and Brad, my youngest son. My grandson Trevor caught a lot of small walleye and small bass but didn’t catch any real nice ones. We all managed to catch some fish. It is sometimes more important just to &uot;catch&uot; than to &uot;catch big.&uot;

There were some nice crappies and sunfish being caught on Labor Day weekend on Tetonka, also some northern, jumbo perch and a few nice walleye. This has always seemed to be a good late summer and early fall lake.

Good Luck and Good Fishin.’

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Statewide fishing report:


The walleyes are biting in deep water on jigs and minnows on Lake Ida, Lake Miltona, and Lake Mary. Crankbaits also have produced a few fish in shallower water on cloudy days or if the wind is blowing. The bigger pike have started hitting crankbaits and spinnerbaits along the weedlines of most area lakes. Find a patch of green weeds on any area lake and you’ll find plenty of largemouth bass. The Le Homme Dieu Chain of Lakes still is the safest bet for crappies and sunfish in 14 to 18 feet of water. Opening weekend goose hunting reports varied. The right field yielded birds, but it wasn’t as good as last year, according to most reports.


Lake Bemidji is giving up northern pike and a few walleyes on minnows in 16 to 20 feet of water. This bite has been most consistent early and late in the day. Muskie action remains strong in and around the weeds on Lake Plantagenet and Cass Lake. The bear season has started very slowly here. Just four bears have been registered and most hunters are reporting very little activity at their baits.


Redtails on live bait rigs are producing limits of walleyes in 15 to 18 feet of water on many area lakes. Bass and northern pike action also has been consistent on many lakes in six to 15 feet of water. Crappies and sunfish are hitting at a good pace throughout the area in 12 to 24 feet of water.


Walleye reports are pretty inconsistent, with the best bites taking place early in the day on Big Detroit Lake, Island Lake, and Big Cormorant Lake. Muskies are hitting bucktails on the weed edges of Big Pelican Lake and Big Detroit. Sour Lake is kicking out sunfish in four to eight feet of water, right in the reeds. Acorn Lake is a safe bet for good-sized sunfish and crappies as well.


The fall minnow bite is on at Snowbank Lake, Burntside Lake, and Shagawa Lake in 15 to 22 feet of water. Northern pike and smallmouth bass are weed-related and hitting minnows on Fall Lake, White Iron Lake, and Basswood Lake. Lake trout action has picked up just a bit on Snowbank Lake.


Hall Lake is providing a mixed bag of fish in four to eight feet of water. Walleyes, channel catfish, and crappies are scattered throughout these shallow, shoreline breaks. Minnows and crawlers have both turned fish. The goose season started on an upbeat note here. Most hunters harvested a few birds and it appears as though there are plenty of geese in the area.


Walleyes are hitting minnows along the shoreline breaks on Splithand Lake. Little Cutfoot Sioux Lake is kicking out sunfish and crappies in less than eight feet of water, and the deeper weeds of Lake Pokegama are a safe bet for smallmouth bass. Hit North Star Lake and Spider Lake for a few muskies.


The shoreline breaks, weed edges, and points have been the best bets for walleyes this week. Shallow-running crankbaits or jigs tipped with minnows are working best in 10 to 12 feet of water. Expect plenty of northern pike and quite a few good-sized perch in these same areas.


Muskie action is going strong as the fall season approaches. Cabbage weeds are again the key for numbers of active fish. Look to Portage Bay, Sucker Bay, and Agency Bay again this week as likely muskie spots. Expect a few walleyes during the evening hours off the points and rocky shorelines. Pitch a jig and minnow or troll crankbaits in 10 to 15 feet of water. There are a few bigger perch being seen this week. They’ve been roaming the weed-covered shoreline breaks.


The shallow rock piles seem to be kicking out a few more fish than the deep structure right now. This bite has been especially good during the evening hours, late into the night with crankbaits or slip bobbers and leeches. The north end has been the best bet for muskies, but the bays and rock piles along the east end of the lake started giving up quite a few big pike over the weekend. Spinners or bucktails are turning bigger fish. Smallmouth bass continue to be caught on the rocks and points as well. Bear hunters registered six animals here and reported a lot of activity on their bait piles.


Big Sand Lake is producing quite a few walleyes in 30 feet of water on leeches and crawlers. Northern pike and bass continue to hit spinnerbaits or minnows.