Nice weather brings memories of past fishing trips

Published 8:45 am Friday, April 23, 2010

With the near “picture perfect” weather we’ve been experiencing in April I find myself thinking more and more about the fishing opener. I don’t especially mean that exact date but more like signaling the time when I can hit the lake in search of that “lunker” that I know has been lying in wait for my lure to pass by.

More and more I can picture myself sitting in my boat as I fish one of my favorite lakes. Although Spider will always be my favorite I have discovered a few other lakes to get excited about in the area north of Grand Rapids where we spend a lot of our vacation time.

Over the years I have always been a big fan of trolling. For many years when the kids were small we’d spend most of the time trolling, and drifting would just be a way for the “Skipper” to get a little break. We started out with a little 14-foot, car-topper boat that only weighed about a hundred pounds. I could carry it on top of my pickup topper and throw the old 10-horse Evinrude in the back. This worked pretty well for a few years but as the kids grew older and got their own tackle boxes the boat started shrinking. That old Sea Nymph sat pretty low in the water to start with, but it started getting pretty scary when you had four people in it, all that tackle and two kids that would stand and cast without notice.

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We always spent the bulk of our time trolling, which my wife, Jean, and the boys loved. We all liked to troll for northerns and in those days it seems like they were more plentiful, plus it was a great way to get the kids excited about fishing. I can still hear the excitement in the boys’ voices as a pike would slam one of their lures as it moved swiftly through the water. I have mentioned in previous columns about my son Brad’s casting prowess and how hooking Dad’s hat with an unannounced cast was a sure way to make his brother, Brian, bust a gut laughing. Now I was never able to prove any of it, but I think that they pulled quite a few of those stunts just to get a rise out of the “old skipper.”

I had become quite good at maneuvering that small boat while dealing with the many challenges of the day. I would drive the boat, fish, bait hooks, take fish off, untangle lines, drink a cup of coffee and smoke a cigarette (a habit that I quit many years ago) all the while trying to maintain some sort of sanity. We usually caught a lot of fish, always had some good fun and there were plenty of laughs to be had, most of which were at the “skipper’s” expense.

Looking back at it I have to say that those were good times when we didn’t have to have a lot of “extras.” Just the basics, which was all that we really needed in those days. As a family we all liked to fish and camping was just second nature to us. There was nothing better than coming off the lake in the evening, cleaning our catch and settling in by the campfire. Roasting hot dogs and making smores was almost an every evening thing. If you’ve never spent a night camping or sitting by a campfire on a nice summer evening you’re missing out.

If you don’t think tenting would be your thing, try staying in a camper you might be surprised how much fun you can have. There are places that rent pop-up campers or regular motor homes by the week. If you just want to test the waters, most state parks have some cabins that you can rent. Get out and enjoy nature and expose the kids to the outdoors experience. Our youth of today will be our outdoorsmen and women of the future and we need them to carry on the outdoors heritage of this great state.

Get a kid hooked on hunting or fishing and he’ll develop an appreciation for the outdoors. Fishing is an inexpensive way to have some great fun in the outdoors and develop an appreciation for it. The Fountain Lake Sportsmen’s Club hosts the “Take a Kid Fishing” event each summer and it’s a great time to get them started. In past years they have furnished a pole and some tackle along with bait for any kid that needs it. This is an awesome event for the community and one that any kid can participate in.

Upper Red Lake’s mid-season slot adjustment remains for 2010

Regulations that require Upper Red Lake anglers to release smaller walleye during the first month of the open water season will remain in effect for 2010, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

From May 15, through June 14, anglers must release all walleye 17-to 26-inches long. Effective June 15, anglers must immediately release all walleye 20-to 26-inches long. During both time periods, anglers can possess no more than four fish and only one of those fish can be longer than 26 inches.

The walleye size limit will revert back to the 17- to 26-inch protected range on Dec. 1, for the winter angling season. The possession limit will remain at four fish.

“One year-round regulation would be less complex but this set of regulations provides a good balance of resource protection and angler opportunity on Upper Red Lake,” said Gary Barnard, DNR Bemidji area fisheries supervisor.

A more restrictive size limit is necessary for the early season when angler catch rates are high and mature spawning walleye are extremely vulnerable. During the first month of the season, anglers must sort for smaller “keeper” size males and immature walleye. As the open water season progresses, catch rates and fishing pressure decline, reducing the impact of harvesting larger walleye. The adjustment back to a more restrictive size limit in winter is necessary due to consistently high ice fishing pressure.

“This regulation package, which has been very popular with anglers and local businesses, effectively manages walleye harvest within established safe harvest levels,” Barnard said.

Until next time, get out and enjoy our great Minnesota outdoors and while you’re at it take some time to wet a line.

Remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers throughout the year.