Catching fish is all about being creative

Published 9:39 pm Saturday, July 13, 2013

Column: Woods and Water, by Dick Herfindahl

Here it is, the middle of July, and it seems like summer is just getting started. I haven’t quite shifted into panic mode yet, but it seems that after the Fourth of July passes the summer season seems to speed up, and many of the things that I wanted to get done are still in the planning stages. I haven’t gotten up to the cabin as much as I’d like, but there are just some things that I can’t seem to get enough of.

Once we pass the middle of July, we head into what some may call the dog days, which are usually associated with August. Over the years, there have been a few old wives tales concerning the dog days of August. One such tale says the northern lose their teeth in late summer, which is supposed to explain why they seem harder to catch at that time. No scientific data to supports this claim, but the more likely explanation is that the larger ones seek deeper colder water, while the smaller ones remain along weed lines. One thing that is a given when it comes to fishermen is that they can always come up with an excuse. Personally, I feel that the challenge of finding the fish is really what makes fishing fun.

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Whatever you believe, the bottom line is that the fish are there to be caught if you can locate them. Over the years, I have caught northern trolling deep-running lures over 20 feet of water, and I’ve caught August walleyes fishing open pockets in shallow weed beds. I believe that each lake has its own particular pattern, and that pattern can change not only from year to year but day to day. I have fished Spider Lake for many years, and each year I find that the fish may not be in the same place at the exact time as the year before.

Each year on my first visit to that lake, I would be thinking walleye first. At times I would be successful and other times not so much. The down part for me of seeking out the wiley walleye is that I tend to spend way too much time trying to find the hungry ones and waste valuable fishing time in the process. Spider in particular has some very good crappie fishing, and when you get into a school of those hungry slabs, there is no better table fare to be had.

I grew up fishing panfish with a simple hook, sinker and a bobber tipped with a minnow or a worm. Over the years, I have gotten away from that method and have been using light tackle with a jig and a twister. I don’t feel there is a better way to fish than tossing light tackle. When a fish hits it, I always get a tingle of excitement no matter what the fish. My favorite jig is a 3/32 oz. jig with a Northland swirltail twister. My favorite jig color is pink and the plastic color may vary from day to day and lake to lake, but I prefer the white speckled one.

Fishing kind of reminds me of hockey, because both sports allow the participant to be creative. Over the years, I’ve seen fishermen come up with some pretty bizarre lure combinations, and I’ve thought to myself that it surely wouldn’t work, only to have that person out-fish me. I eventually learned that you’re better off not offering too much free advice to a fellow fisherman.

I would take my grandson Trevor fishing a lot when he was small, and I like to think he learned a little bit about fishing from old grandpa. He wasn’t very old before I realized he was going to be a very good fisherman. He was always changing it up and trying different things. When we were trolling, he was never satisfied with waiting for that big strike; he would be in the front of the boat casting while I dragged my lure behind the boat doing the anticipating. It seems that there isn’t a week that goes by when he doesn’t text me a picture of a big fish he caught and released on one of our area lakes. One day it could be a 28-inch walleye and the next a 34-inch northern. He has also caught some very nice bass.

I believe that the one important thing he may have learned from me about fishing was to not be one dimensional. Change it up! I think its Trevor’s turn to take grandpa fishing and show him a few of his secrets for putting fish in the boat.

Following are a few fishing reports from around the state:

Albert Lea – Anglers are pulling some good-sized northern pike from Fountain Lake. Panfish have been active in lakes throughout the area. But the big news has been the number of large walleyes coming from the Edgewater Park, Island, and “The Mermaid” areas of Fountain Lake.

Fairmont Area Lakes – Hall and Budd lakes are giving up lots of crappies to anglers using minnows on the rock piles. Anglers are also taking fish when using flu flu jigs tipped with waxies and worms on Sisseton and George lakes, especially in the shallows by trees and docks. All three lakes are producing largemouth bass, along with some catfish, in the shallows. Walleye action has been best at night, with Hall, South Silver and Tuttle lakes all giving up fish.

Until next time, take a little time to relax and enjoy a little fishing and watch a bobber as it bounces lazily in the breeze; what a great way to experience the outdoors.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers because they are the reason we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.

Dick Herfindahl’s column appears in the Tribune each Sunday.