Dog Days prove to be good days

Published 8:43 am Friday, August 22, 2008

Once again this writer has been able to enjoy an August fishing trip with good results. If you want to classify the middle of August as “dog days” that’s fine with me because I’ll take dog days fishing any time. I talked to my brother-in-law Ron on Saturday and he and a group of friends were at his place near Longville. He said the fishing there was also excellent. They were catching walleye and pike on Winnie and they also caught some nice walleye & pike on his lake with the largest walleye being 30 1/2 inches and the largest pike measured 39 inches. Ron said that he thinks the slot limit on northern pike that was set a few years ago is starting to show dividends.

Last week I headed north with my wife Jean and my sister Judy and her husband Mike for what has turned out to be our annual fishing trip. We spent a few days at our cabin where we fished several area lakes. Fishing is always different from one lake to another so you always have to be ready to adjust to the situation. As usual we had to make our traditional visit to Spider Lake where we vacationed for many years.

Spider is in the middle of the Chippewa National Forest and there are numerous places where you can pull your boat up on shore and pitch a tent. These spots have been made by the forest service and are on a first come-first serve basis and are scattered about the lake. The main campsite is on the south end of the lake and has a maximum limit 14 days camping. There is an outdoor toilet, picnic table and fire ring with walking trails and a level area for tents.

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On this day we packed a lunch and planned to spend the day. Luckily the main site was unoccupied so we were able to pull in, eat lunch and stretch our legs for awhile. There were however, a couple of other spots on the lake that did have some campers. This part of the lake has no cabins and with all its beauty if you didn’t know better you’d swear you were in the boundary waters.

We did our usual thing, trolling with a mixed assortment of lures. Minnows and jigs were getting good results on bass and pike on third lake and as the day went along and the minnows disappeared we switched to artificial bait. Mike switched to a jig with a split tail twister and instead of a minnow he decided to tip it with a single power grub and it didn’t take long before he started getting fish.

We decided to go to the first part of the lake just to look at the resort and try our luck. I switched to a Shad Rap and immediately began to catch fish. Jean was using her new favorite lure a Rattling’ Rap which she had caught a 31-inch pike on in July. She managed to donate the new lure to a pike on her first cast but I had a spare for her and she didn’t miss a beat catching some nice pike and bass.

Although we had been on the lake all day nobody was ready to leave so we stayed well into the evening. We kept enough legal pike for a couple of meals and released the rest. Spider has a slot limit for pike that only allows 24-inch and under northern to be kept and one over 36 inches. We caught and released quite a few pike in that range and a lot of smaller ones. We found that the bass were also aggressive and some of them were pretty darned nice. I haven’t seen the pike fishing this good on Spider for quite a few years. The pike on Spider are usually pretty fat and a 23-24 inch fish with the bones removed is some mighty good eating. Although some people don’t like it I really do think the slot limit is starting to show some favorable results.

I have never been one to keep many bass for the table but a couple of days earlier Mike told me if we kept a couple of them he guaranteed I’d like them. Judy fixed them and we dined on bass and crappie that day-Mike was right, the fish were excellent. Although we didn’t keep any more of the bass we caught I’d definitely keep one or two for a meal again. I don’t think there’s anything better than fish right out of the lake and into the pan. Judy fixes them like I do, dip them in egg batter and roll them in cracker crumbs. It must be our Norwegian heritage that makes this simple, low spice recipe appeal to us. No matter how you look at it, to me there’s nothing better!

The weather was great with highs in the 70’s to low 80’sand the nights were in the 50’s. The weather held until the last day when it rained off and on for most of the day. This gave us a chance to drive around the area checking out different lakes and we even stopped to wet a line at a couple of them. The Marcell area has so many little lakes that have no cabins on them but have decent public accesses. There are also some that allow overnight camping at no charge and the only requirement is that you clean up after yourself and take your garbage with you when you leave.

The “dog days” of August once again offered us a great time, good weather and some mighty fine fishing. In what seems to be a trend, Jean once again landed the largest pike — Lucky? I’m afraid that one day we are going to have to admit that there may be some skill involved.

Until next time, play safe, good fishin’ and enjoy the outdoors.

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