All night long I had a song running through my head, “It’s the right time of the night”. Although I’m sure Jennifer Warnes didn’t add, “For catching fish” as the next line.
This spring has been a tough one for walleye chasers. If it wasn’t windy, it was raining-or snowing. Some of the well known factories have been producing as of late, but I didn’t have a trip lined up to any of those anytime soon. I’ve been relying on some of the smaller prairie lakes to be my “go to”, but weather and other obligations have kept me off the water. I was able to get a couple bowfishing excursions in, but even those were hampered by Mother Nature.
Finally a conversation with Nick Trauba spawned a quick trip to a nearby body of water. It was overcast, there was a small chop and we’d be hitting the lake for the evening bite: perfect. At least that’s what I was telling myself.
Admittedly, I’m an average at best walleye fishermen. I just spent more time bass fishing as a kid. The last couple of years however, I’ve been tying on more walleye jigs than spinner baits and waiting for that tell-tale “tap tap tap” from our State’s favorite fish. I was excited to get back out this year and yesterday seemed to have the right ingredients.
I’ve found walleyes to be finicky, but if you can get the right conditions and find them, you can have a pretty good day.
We hit the water around 6pm and fished for around an hour with little success. In fact, hope was fading fast and I found myself thinking about what I needed to get done at home. The lake was busy as others must have had the same thoughts as us. But slowly those boats all started to disappear. Would the walleye win yet another battle in the war? Nope.
Nick pointed his crafty, old vessel to the east and revved up the motor. A 5 minute ride brought us to a rocky slope that had held fish in the past. We were anchored in 5 feet of water and casting jigs and minnows into 10-11 feet, with slow retrieves. Another 20 – 30 minutes later and fortunes were still not looking up. Finally around 7:15, from over my shoulder I hear, “That’s a fish”, as Nick set the hook hard, rocking the boat suddenly. That walleye would go on the stringer and before we knew it, we had 6 more juicy filets swimming next to the boat. We were halfway to our limit in the blink of an eye.
For the next hour and a half, we’d miss some keepers and throw back countless 10″ fish. The future looks bright for this fishery.
Nick even hooked into a “throwbacker”, setting the hook and feeling the familiar “log at the bottom”. His rod bent and the taught line moved just enough to betray the fish and inform us that the lake’s many rocks weren’t trying to claim more tackle. “This is a good fish”, Nick managed between clenched teeth as I reached for the net. The 10 feet of water that we were fishing in kept the retrieve a short one and soon we were hoisting a healthy 25″ fish from the water. A couple of pictures later and she was back at the bottom telling her friends a fish story that they’d never believe.
A couple lessons were learned that night:
1) If the conditions are right, drop everything and go fishing!
2) It may start out slow, but give it time. When the fish turn on, you better be there.
You can’t catch fish on the couch! Unless maybe you’re ice fishing.
*Bret can be reached at Bret@mnsportingjournal.com