It is hot, but the fishing is good

Published 8:47 am Friday, July 18, 2008

Albert Lea Lake is still producing walleye. Although the number of boats spotted on the lake has lessened there are still fish being caught. I do believe the 90-degree weather may have something to do with the number of boats. Some fishermen prefer fishing the lake at night and have had good success doing it. This last surge of hot weather may tend to slow the fishing down and prepare us for the “dog days” that lie ahead in August.

A fisherman who couldn’t seem to catch a fish in August must have invented this much over-used phrase. The one “old wives tale” that usually accommodates that phrase is the fish losing their teeth in August thing. I’ve had people tell me that northern pike actually shed their teeth in August and grow new ones. They go on to say that while they are in this process they develop sore mouths and thus will not bite. The scary thing about this is that the person or people who told me this actually believed it.

I have to say that I’ve caught my share of pike in August and I surely wouldn’t want to stick my hand inside of the mouth of any of these so-called “toothless fish.” Actually, August is one of my favorite times of the year to fish. Daytime temperatures may reach into the ’80s but the nights usually start getting cooler. I can recall arising early many mornings in August to hit the lake only to be greeted by a thick blanket of fog as I left the dock. The cool morning air greeting the warm lake water would combine to create the fog.

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There is something that just feels right when you are out in a boat on a cool, still August morning and can hear the fish jumping nearby. When the fish are top water feeding in the early morning casting top water lures is a good way to catch some nice bass. Look for an opening in the weeds and try some top water jerk baits or buzz baits and you just might find that lunker you’re looking for.

I’ve never been one-dimensional when it comes to fishing. I will fish for what’s biting and isn’t that what it’s all about — catching fish. I’ve always said that the best part is just being there but catching something while you’re at it is pretty good too.

I don’t claim to be a walleye fisherman or a bass fisherman or a muskie hunter but I do fish for all of the above without specializing in one particular species. I have to be honest and say that I’m not the best walleye fisherman, in fact there were times when I’d spend way too much time looking for them and not enough time just fishing. There are many of us that go to a lake and if, for example, the walleyes aren’t biting then we say that the fishing isn’t any good. You need to be flexible and fish for what is active.

One example of how to adjust happened a couple of weeks ago while fishing with my grandson Trevor and his grandma. We had walleye and northern in mind but were trolling for pretty much any species on a lake with just about any species. We were using a variety of baits and it wasn’t long before we started catching crappies. These were some descent crappies that were hitting larger baits. We found a spot that looked like it would hold fish and dropped anchor. Once we started casting for them it was almost one fish after another. I have to believe that we caught probably 50 crappies in a short period of time. We kept enough of them for a couple of meals and believe me they were not only fun to catch but mighty tasty. Catching slab crappies on ultra-lights can be a blast and I think I told Trevor more than once that these crappies must think they’re bass by the way they jumped out of the water.

That was a fun time and another memory that we’ll always have to cherish.

Moving ahead to fall and the hunting season here is a news release that may interest some of you grouse hunters, and if you are a grouse hunter the latest DNR survey is encouraging.

Ruffed grouse spring drumming counts are slightly higher than last year despite the concern of some hunters that last fall’s harvest didn’t meet their expectations.

“Some people thought last fall’s grouse population may have been lower than expected given drumming counts from the spring of 2007,” said Mike Larson, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wildlife research scientist. “This year’s counts suggest that any potential problems probably haven’t had a substantial effect on this spring’s breeding population.”

Minnesota frequently is the nation’s top ruffed grouse producer. On average, 115,000 hunters harvest 545,000 ruffed grouse in Minnesota each year, also making it the state’s most popular upland game bird. During the peak years of 1971 and 1989, hunters harvested more than 1 million ruffed grouse. Michigan and Wisconsin, which frequently field more hunters than Minnesota, round out the top three states in ruffed grouse harvest.

“Higher drumming counts are good news,” said Dennis Simon, DNR wildlife section chief. “Minnesota offers some of the best ruffed grouse hunting in the nation and we want to maintain and enhance those opportunities.”

Until next time, stay cool, take a little time to enjoy the outdoors, play safe and good “fishin.’”

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