Fishing Minnesota has added a new menu item (see above) called Fishing Report Clubs. It's a way to keep the really good fishing reports coming and being shared only with those who are also providing fishing reports.
We will only approve new members who request to join if they have already posted a recent fishing report in the area forum, associated with the Fishing Report Club area you want to join.
We are going to limit the number of regular memberships, in the Fishing Report Clubs, to the top 20 members in each Club, to those with the best frequency to quality fishing reports provided in the club and regular forum. The higher quality fishing report reserved for the club of course.
If you want fishing reports around your area, I wouldn't wait, some of the clubs are starting to fill fast. Use the Fishing Reports Club link in the Menu above (after you've posted a fishing report in the regular area forum) and request to Join.
DEER SEASON HAS come to an end at least on this side of Lake Iwanttobethere. The far side of the lake the season has just started and a few guys at the Hotel were missing this weekend as they also hunt the other side of the Lake. Reed the Realtor is one of them and his Bio-diesel RV is now parked at an old farm and his deer season continues. A few of the guys went out in the cold this morning and sat on snow covered stands and saw nothing. No one shot a deer this season and that happens from time to time. Good thing that deer season is not always just about harvesting a deer, it is nice but it does not make or break the season.
This afternoon we had trucks all packed by three in the afternoon, by three thirty when the football game came on we were sitting down with munchies and a couple of beers and already the cigar smoke was pretty thick above our heads. By the fourth quarter a few guys headed home preferring to listen to the game on their radios and make the drive with some daylight still left in the sky. I was not the last one to leave as Marv had come up with Dock Burriem and they were going to stay the night. Elmer was going to come back with me but he decided to stay to. I knocked the snow off my boots and climbed into the Tahoe and followed the dark muddy tracks in the snow covered trail out to the main road.
About half way home it started to snow and the moon was just a glimmer of light out in front of me. I took my time as I was in no hurry and the wipers made a pass every now and then to clear the windshield of the snow. I had my driver’s window down some and a cigar going, my last one that I had hidden in the truck. I kept an eye out for deer on the shoulder of the road as it would not surprise me at all to have a deer appear. Deer it seems have a way of knowing when the season is over and it is safe to reappear. Not a heavy snow was falling by no means, just enough to make things white and make my headlights look brighter then what they are.
I made the turn into my drive and climbed the incline up to park in my parking space. A few lights were on in the cabin and I turned off the truck and the wipers stopped. Snow fell and melted on the warm glass and I still had a few minutes left on my cigar. Quiet out, I unhooked my seat belt and it made that rasping sound as the belt retracted back and away. I just sat for awhile and blew smoke out the open driver's window. The cigar was almost gone and I was thinking of putting it out. I watched as the lights in the kitchen came on and I could make out Duncan standing on the chair looking out the window. I could hear a faint barking and then the deck lights came on and the screen door opened. Duncan came running out all legs and flapping ears. I open the Tahoe’s door and the dome light came on. Duncan saw the light, saw me and came charging across the yard.
I made it out of the Tahoe before he was on me, I patted him hard and tugged on his ears. He in turn grabbed my hand and tried to pull me towards the cabin. I went a couple of steps before remembering I had left the window open and had to go back. Duncan sat down in the falling snow and waited. I closed the window and grabbed my duffle bag and gun case. Deer season is done here but tomorrow Duncan and I can go back to chasing grouse here at Lake Iwanttobethere
I DID NOT last long on the swamp stand this morning, I got cold. As I get older my circulation seems to be like an old boiler that has long out lived its warranty and is just one broken part away from being replaced. Some days my hands and feet are warm and no gloves are needed and other days my hands need to be held close to the pot belly stove and they take forever to warm back up. Yesterday I spent most of the afternoon out on the swamp stand, the wind was on my right shoulder and I had it pressed up against the trunk of the tree using it as a wind break. I had layers of clothes on and a couple of them chemical heaters tucked away at the small of my back. No sunshine, lots of wind and some snow fell. Not a lot of snow, just enough to cover the rails a little and rest on my shoulders and pants until a gust of wind would blow it off. It was a good day to sit as I was warm even though it was in the twenties.
The walk in was slow as I took my time, head up looking for any sign of deer. Hard going though as the ground was now froze at least the small pot holes with water were. I walked around the first couple of them but after I saw that they were froze I just walked right over them. No tracks in the little snow pellets on the ground. I was hoping for some tracking snow but I was looking for the big flakes that are almost warm when they fall, not the little pellets that are almost like sleet and sting if the wind catches them and hits you in the cheeks. My beard deflects most of them and that is why guys grow beards for deer hunting, at least that is what I tell the wife. Of course I have had my beard for about thirty years so that excuse may not fly anymore.
This morning I made the walk to the swamp stand and the wind was in my face, Not much of a wind but enough that it was cold as it blew across the snow covered trail. I climbed in the stand and soon had all my zippers zipped and my hat down over my ears. My chin was resting on my chest and my eyes were just slits that I looked out at the swamp as day light arrived. I knew I was in trouble when I got the first shiver up my back.
The sun rose quickly or so it seemed and with it the wind seem to get stronger. Still a few trees around my stand with some leaves hanging on and I watched as the leaves were spinning on the branches like pinwheels. I tried to hunker down inside my coat even deeper hoping to find a warm spot but I got another shiver instead. I watched the trail coming out of the swamp and there was no movement, the more I stared the more I saw nothing at all. No birds, no sound of crows and the family of squirrels were late. Decision time came, should I call it a morning and come back out later? Then a large gust of wind shook the stand and I made the call to head back to the warm embrace of the pot belly stove back at the Hotel.
One last look around and I climbed down. I headed back with the 30/30 resting in the crook of my arm. I could feel the cold metal right through my coat it seemed. I had the wind at my back and it was pushing me down the trail, it almost felt like it was telling me to get out of the woods. I came around the bend in the trail and let out a single curse word. Across the trail a tree had fallen, too big to climb over and long enough that I was going to get wet walking around it. But that was my first thought. I made by way around to the bottom of the tree and the edge of the swamp was froze, I didn’t press my luck but moved around the tree to the other side of the trail and back up on firm ground. Going to need the chain saw or better yet I think Scott is going to be up hunting tomorrow, young guys like cutting up trees in freezing weather here at Lake Iwanttobethere
DECIDED TO STAY at the cabin today, had a few things that needed to get done that I had kind of forgotten about. Early this morning the rain finally let up and a strong wind from out of the South was starting to dry the deck off. Of course it did help that by noon it was almost sixty out and I was soon outside just working in a sweatshirt. I put the riding lawnmower away after blowing it off with the leaf blower, next in was the tiller as the ground was just to soaked to use either one of them. Last of the leaves did not get mulched and the garden didn’t get that last till in. Shovels and rakes were put away and the snow thrower was gassed up and rolled to the front of the garage. Apple picker was tucked back up into the rafters and Duncan’s water bowl was brought into the cabin.
Of course this was all stuff that was supposed to have been done before I went to deer camp but had forgotten to do. I think in the back of my mind I had this plan on actually shooting a deer and I would be back from camp and would have this all done before the snow fell. Well, no deer and no snow but it looks like the snow coming is a sure thing and the deer is pretty iffy. As I was putting stuff away I was thinking why I dislike this part of fall. In the spring you take stuff out of storage as you need it, shovels and rakes and clothes line poles. Lawn mowers and weed wackers and leaf blowers. Brooms and hoses and hoes, all you have to put away in the spring is a couple of snow shovels and the snow blower and maybe some let over deicer.
With nothing left to do I decided that maybe I would take a walk out the back trail and sit on a stump and deer hunt. Just so happen I had my hunting stuff in the back of the Tahoe. Now I am not going to admit that this was planned but sometimes things just have a way of working out. The wife distracted Duncan and I slipped out and took the trail down to the big stump and I made myself comfortable. Sixty out, some wind and sunshine and I figured with all my apples missing that I had just as good a chance of scoring a deer here as I did up at the Hotel. A couple of hours later I saw no deer and the sun was gone. Wind was still blowing, matter of fact it felt like it was getting stronger and the rain started to fall, yup, Just like up at the Hotel.
I got back to the cabin before it really started to rain hard, I changed clothes as the wife came in and told me she heard that Joe had died. First thing I did was look up on the wall where my picture of Lady my first black lab hung. Everyone around here knows who Joe was, he was a dog trainer who trained dog trainers. I had met Joe when I got my first lab looking for some pointers. I knew his son who told his dad I had gotten a dog and Joe told his son to send me and the dog on over. I spent some time watching and learning and with pointers from Joe, Lady became a pretty good gun dog. Joe had moved away and I had lost contact with him but hearing his name brought back a lot of memories of Lady and Joe’s pointers. That was over thirty-five years ago, funny how time fly’s even here at Lake Iwanttobethere
GOT THE HEATER on here in the den, not that it is cold just damp as outside the window rain is falling hard hitting the deck. I am home from the Hotel at least for now as Elmer and Vic are holding down the fort so to speak. Been a steady drizzle for the past two days and today it has rained hard a few times. A little while ago Chuck was out plowing the water down his drive and filling in some pot holes and a couple of ruts that were forming. The problem with the well was fixed and Chuck now wants to just be dry for awhile. I think he is just plowing the water for something to do. I was out for a little while as me and Duncan took a walk around the yard checking on things. I did have to push up the tarps over the wood pile as rain had made puddles on top.
One bright red apple hangs from the big tree, I know there were more of them left the last time I picked. I could not reach way up in the tree so I left them but it appears the combination of wind and rain has knocked them off the tree. I looked around the base of the tree and found no apples but did see several hoof prints in the soft ground. Looks like the deer have been here while I have been away at deer camp. Spent some time under the boat house inspecting the new roof which is keeping things nice and dry. Puddle Humper sits quietly waiting her next fishing season which is several months away. Duncan follows me around, water dripping off his coat but him being a lab he could care less if he is wet. I had traded in a fishing cap for wool hat with a brim to keep the falling rain off my neck and face when I first came out. I had checked the jumping bass on the wall thermometer and the red needle was at fifty, which for the middle of November would be very welcomed if it was not raining.
I walked down my drive doing an inspection as I went. Got the mail and then went over to Elmer’s box and got his out to. I tucked the mail under my coat to keep it dry and I walked up Elmer’s drive to his place. I used the key under the flower pot to let myself in and dropped his mail on the table and noticed he is already getting seed catalogs, a little early I was thinking as I pulled the door closed and put the key back under the pot. I cut across the yard to the short trail to my place and the rain was a little less although the drops seemed to be bigger coming off the trees. I had to wait a minute as Duncan found something interesting to sniff at and finally we were both back in the cabin. I used a towel to wipe my face off before wiping the water of Duncan’s back.
Not really supposed to be here at the cabin as the plan was to spend all my time up at the Hotel. I am thinking maybe I should go down to the Lodge for a few hours or maybe I will just go up to the Resort and hang out there. Vic had gone up yesterday to the Hotel to keep Elmer company as Marv is spending time with his daughter Tess deer hunting. Just Dock Burriem alone at the Resort and we are starting to keep an eye on him. Us old guys are starting to keep an eye out for each other not that we are asking but it just seems to be the right thing to do here at Lake Iwanttobethere
NOT LOOKING TOO good here for the rest of deer season. I am sitting in a booth at Maggots, I mean Maggie’s Resort watching ran fall and putting a few thoughts down on the laptop. This morning I had to help Chuck get his truck out of camp as he had well problems back at home. I gave him a couple of tugs with the tow strap that was hooked up to the Tahoe and got through what is now becoming a muddy trail out to our gravel road. Since I was already out I decided to come over to Maggie’s and do lunch and take advantage of his free wi-fi.
No deer have been shot at camp but I had a chance that I should have kept to myself. Sunday morning I was comfortable taking a nap in my stand when I was woken up by a snapping branch, at least that is how I am telling the story. Having done this a few times before I woke up just moving my eyes and as I looked around I didn’t see anything. Listening hard I didn’t hear anything out of place either. Sound of a crow and tree branch creaking some but nothing out of the ordinary. I was thinking that dang family of gray squirrels must be back and I looked over where they usually come from. Nothing there either so I was just about ready to readjust myself when I saw the muzzle of a deer just off to my right and below the railing of my stand. Now how did he get there?
I am saying he as I could see a couple of small branches growing out of the top of his head that as I watched became antlers about two points each. I am thinking a four pointer and I am waiting to see if this dude has a big boy's body. Of course the heart rate is starting to tick up a little and my hearing is about as keen as it can be. I ease my arm over and get the 30/30 in a position that if this little buck eases out a little more I will have a shot. Time passes, I don’t know how long as a minute can seem like ten or it may have just been a few long seconds but the deer puts his head down and his eyes go behind a tree and I take the chance and ease the rifle a little closer. I stop and the bucks head comes back up and he looks right in my direction. I freeze and wait, the buck drops his head but I keep staring and sure enough he snaps his head right back up still looking right at me I think. The next time he puts his head down I pulled the hammer back on the 30/30, big mistaken. The click sounded like someone opening a beer can in a movie theater and the little buck was high tailing it away from me with that tree between him and me.
Well, I went back to camp and mentioned the missed chance and that is all I have heard about since then."At least I saw a buck" I reply in my defense and I would show them the tracks but all the snow has melted and now I am hiding out at Maggie’s watching it rain and having a big piece of apple pie. Dave says he heard it is supposed to rain for the next three days then get cold. Usually by this time of the season the swamp has frozen over and my swamp stand is a good place to be. Not this year, I may be spending the next few afternoons on the porch, sitting in the rocking chair with a roof over my head and some hot cider in my hand. Deer camp in the rain is still a much better option then going home and working on some project here at Lake Iwanttobethere
Posted from Maggots I mean Maggie’s Resort in the heart of Lake Iwanttobethere deer hunting country
SNOW CHANGES EVERYTHING come deer hunting. Thursday night into Friday morning snow fell here at camp. I would say there was about six inches on the Hotel’s porch railing when I went to walk out to the swamp stand. Almost didn’t make it off the steps as there was some ice underneath the snow but I had a hand on a railing when one foot slipped out from under me. I went back in the Hotel and told Elmer to watch his step when he comes out then set off to the swamp stand. By ten I had not seen anything and the wind was up and the sun was breaking through the clouds. Snow was melting on the branches and I could hear and see dripping water falling on my stand. The family of gray squirrels came through I am guessing around nine or so. Not just passing through like I thought, they live around here somewhere. They work their way across my line of vision leap froging in front of one another, for some reason they reminded of clowns coming out of a VW at the circus. Only now with the snow on the ground they are quiet, as the leaves are now wet and buried.
By ten thirty I am ready to head back to the Hotel and I get out of the stand and work my way back slow like. In my footprints I find a set of hoof prints waking in my steps. I stop and look around where the tracks head off the trail and into the woods. I make a note that I better keep a better eye out on the trail. Seeing some deer tracks always helps the sprits, lets me know that I am not alone. I return to the Hotel and find the steps shoveled off, and Elmer’s tracks heading toward the stand of cedars. I get some coffee and some cookies and go back out and sit on the rocking chair and wait for Elmer to get back.
Just after dark the first set of headlights appear in the darkness coming from the gravel road. I am sitting in the rocking chair and I watch as the convoy of white pickup trucks lead by Big Earl in his Suburban with the plow down make their way into the clearing. They look like a UN peacekeeping group until they all step out in their blaze orange. The first Friday of deer camp which happens to be the second weekend calls for us all to drive over to Maggie’s for the all you can eat spaghetti dinner. After gear is all stowed away and everyone is caught up we all pile into my Tahoe and Big Earls Suburban. With all the extra weight of the guys I have no problem making it out on the now plowed trail.
We drive over to Dave Maggots resort where he puts on a big feed for the local hunters. For the longest time no one would really eat there as he called the place "Maggots" then he renamed the place after his dog Maggie and business picked up. We still call the place Maggots and enjoy telling the younger guys in our hunting group to watch out for the chucks of mystery meat that is in the spaghetti sauce. Speaking of younger guys we do have a new guy hunting this weekend, Chucks son in law Scott has joined the group and will be having a try out this weekend. Should be an interesting weekend as Chuck told him to make sure he brings up a coffee can for the stand. Big Earl always brings up broken bags of charcoal to the Hotel for burning out at the stands when it gets cold. Every stand has a metal coffee can with a couple of holes punched in the bottom. You bring out some self lighting charcoal in a bag, put it in the can and you have a nice toasty little heat source. Scott brought out a plastic coffee can so we will have to see how that works out here at Lake Iwanttobethere
Posted from Maggots I mean Maggie’s Resort in the heart of Lake Iwanttobethere deer hunting country
SPENT THE MORNING deer hunting from the front porch of the Hotel. I had my blaze orange on and my 30-30 was loaded and with in reach. Rain was falling and the only thing moving was me rocking slowly in the rocking chair. I did not expect to see anything and as far as deer go I didn’t. I could have sat inside the Hotel with my feet up and close to the black pot belly stove. Coffee pot would be with in reach as it usually rests on the top of the stove. Thing is, if I did that then I would have no chance at seeing a deer let alone taking a shot at one. Sitting on the front porch with a roof over my head and some building at my back to block the wind was still a better chance of seeing a deer then being inside.
With the long deer season here at Lake Iwanttobethere one thing is for sure and that is that the weather will change. Have had highs in the sixties on opening weekend and now today it is raining and if Sunshine Ray is right it is going to change into snow, maybe. Just me and Elmer here at the Hotel today, everyone else is counting vacation days and will be back on the weekend or have wife’s they still want to be around. Just kidding dear in case you read this. Now I suppose you want to hear about the deer, you might as well stop here. We have seen does and fawns but no one has seen a buck let alone tried to take a shot at one. What we have seen is a lot of grouse at least Chuck has. He says and this is Chuck mind you that they fly down from the trees and follow him as he walks the path to his stand. He has to stop and tell them to leave but they being grouse don’t understand and continue to follow him to his stand where they then take up positions in the trees around his stand blocking his view of his shooting lanes, that is Chuck’s story and as we know everything spoken at the Hotel is taken as the absolute truth.
As I watch the rain fall here I let my eyes wander around the site. Not much has changed we like it this way. The sign over the door is changed though. Long time ago we borrowed a sign from down at the Lodge that was posted in the small meeting room, it simple says " No Politics, No Religion, No Mother-In-Laws" you don’t talk about those three things and you don’t have to many arguments. I see now someone has added in pencil "Cell Phone Reception" must be one of the young guys who hunt on the weekends. We always tell the young guys we have three bars out here, all you need to do is take a right at the road and go down a couple of miles and you will find them. Of course if it an emergency you can climb the big pine and you might be able to get a signal out but once again we like it that way.
With no deer stories to tell you I guess I don’t have a lot to write about. Full Hotel on the weekend and we expect to see the same guys here this next weekend. Saturday night is steak night and there was some talk about that. Steak is not cheap, especially when it is the main course of a meal. It was brought up that maybe Chuck could supply some grouse for dinner but now he is taking to defending his brood. I am going to run home this afternoon, take a shower and exchange empty pie pans for full ones. Elmer forget his bag of books and his bottle so I will pick them up for him. I’ll pet Duncan on the head a few times and look for my missing cigars. I had packed a full box in the bottom of my duffel, you know to share with the guys. I open the box to find just sixteen of them and a note from the wife saying one a day is all I need. With the rain falling here I have my coffee cup in one hand but my other hand is missing a cigar, here at Lake Iwanttobethere
DAY LIGHT IN THE SWAMP my grandmother used to yell that up the stairs at me to tell me it was time to wake up when I would visit her back when I was young. For some reason sitting on the stand Sunday morning as I watched the sun rise in the swamp I thought of her and her morning wake up call. Sitting in a deer stand gives you lots of time to bring up old memories and to solve the world’s problems. Sunday morning in the stand it felt warm and as the day went on it did get warm, sixty-two was reported by one of the guys checking the thermometer at the Hotel. I spent the morning on the swamp stand, my usual place. I watched as the sliver of a moon was chased by the morning sun and the gray of the swamp turned red from first light.
Shadows became trees and brush piles and tall brown grass stopped being deer. I could hear the cawing of a distant crow and the fluttering of sparrows just passing through. Just after full light a gun shot rang out, not from my side of the swamp but from the other side. One shot, a clean miss or a clean kill, I sat in the stand and wondered which and I strained a little listening for a following shot, nothing. I turned a little on the bench seat so I could face the trail that leads into and out of the swamp, Maybe it was a miss and as I watched the trail I could imagine a buck creeping down it from the far side of the swamp to my side. After a half an hour I figured it, the deer was taking its sweet time coming or it was not coming at all.
Around ten or so I made the slow walk back to the Hotel, I moved slow as I was over dressed for the warming day. Half of the guys were already back and the inside of the Hotel was littered with orange hunting coats and sweatshirts. Hats and gloves and laughter. Coffee pot was resting on the black potbelly stove and it was warm inside the Hotel. Already some of the guys had moved chairs outside and the rocking chair on the porch was already occupied by Elmer. Big Earl was making flapjacks as the second breakfast was being served. The night before we had our steak dinner and guys this morning were still full as they went out to the stands. No one had seen a buck, a couple of does were seen but they are off limits this season. Two grouse had buzzed Chuck’s stand, he descried the experience like being in the tower in Top Gun and having Maverick do a fly by. Never saw the birds till they were right on him.
The plan was to gather and watch the football game on the old black and white TV but I went back out to the stand to sit. I shed the long underwear and by kickoff I was back in the stand enjoying the warm southern breeze and listening to the football game. I had brought the little transistor radio from home and had an ear plug stuck in one ear, the other one I had cut off. Gave me the football game and let me listen to what was going on around me. I was not really expecting to see a deer but have learned a long time ago that deer like fish are not always where they are supposed to be. To prove my point I spotted four gray squirrels leapfrogging across the ground. When I first heard them in the leaves I thought I had a herd of deer heading in my direction and I didn’t move. I watched with my eyes and I waiting for the sound of the crunching leaves behind me to get out in front of me. Pretty hard to do when someone scores a go ahead touch down in your ear. Don’t see gray squirrels here very often and four of them at one time had me thinking they were a family just passing through. Things got quiet after they moved on and I sat in the sunshine wondering to myself why I don’t just sit in a tree more often here at Lake Iwanttobethere
( Nephew is heading back to town so he is going to drop this off for the wife to post, maybe Monday? Weather is suppose to turn cold by midweek with rain maybe snow up this ways. Welcome the snow, not to thrilled about the chance of rain )
Well Packing up here getting ready to pull out tomorrow for deer camp, We all have names for our deer camp and we call ours the HOTEL. I write updates from Lake Iwanttobethere here and I am thinking that maybe when I return from camp I will instead just put those stories here under the blog. Make is easier for those who read the stories to just check out the blog which is what I really guess the stories have become. See ya soon and hopefully I will have a few good stories to tell.
Week before the start of deer season here and it is of course busy with planning. Have not seen a deer until last night when I was dropping off the mother in law and walking the creek by her place a nice six point buck ambled down the bank. Gave me plenty of time to look him over and count his rack, not just a snap shot guess view but a careful look. I watched as he ignored me and walked back into the brush to disappear into the night, I wish him good luck, next week he is going to be busy hiding.
Never enough time come fall here at Lake Iwanttobethere or maybe I should say daylight! End of open water fishing but bird hunting, mostly grouse is here and the river still calls. Sometimes you can carry a rod in one hand and a shotgun in the other but more then once I have tried to shoot a grouse with my fishing rod. I have given up on getting in that last round of golf but who knows maybe fall will last long.
Does anyone fish this lake? I catch some pike and bass but are there trophies? If there are, what are some effective strategies? And I heard they were draining the lake a while ago. Have they drained the lake?
Chasing Dogs Riding Bicycles
Chasing Dogs Riding Bicycles
I woke up in a panic. I’ve had nightmares before but this one was different. You see no one was chasing me, I wasn’t falling from a high place and I wasn’t behind the wheel seeing headlights. I had just knocked off a bluegill at the bottom of the hole that I suspected was an honest two pounds. In a world where most anglers rarely find a one pound bluegill, this was a nightmare of epic proportions. Waking up safe and sound on top of the covers and coming to the realization that I had never hooked this fish was a huge relief. Fish of this caliber, while extremely rare, do exist beyond my unusual dreams. Legendary bluegill hunter, Bruce Condello, and his group of bluegill aficionado friends, had shirts made of dogs riding bicycles because honest three pound bluegills are about as common. Bruce specifically has five bluegills to his credit that went an honest three pounds in his home state of Nebraska. If we were to start a fantasy bluegill fishing league, another of my top draft picks would have to be Clayton Davis of North Dakota. Davis recently captured a 12” two pound specimen late ice this past winter and has many other large fish to his credit. While scarfing down a gas station burrito on the way home from chasing bluegills all day may have led me to strange dreams of massive pie plates, I wanted more. I wanted to know what it really takes to land a personal best this ice season. How do these anglers select lakes that have the capabilities to produce this caliber of bluegill? Does it relate to the genetics of the fish or is it simply a matter of finding over fed obese populations? What voodoo mind tricks are involved in finding dogs riding bicycles?
North Dakota angler, Clayton Davis, has really made a name for himself the past few seasons with his social media bluegill pictures. Living in an area where walleyes and perch reign as king, he has found populations of giant untapped bluegills. Davis has a system of finding lakes that have trophy potential and it starts with looking into state stocking reports. He explained to me that you not only need to check available data on bluegill populations but also try to locate lakes with large pike. Lakes that boast populations of large pike typically have a balanced population of bluegills. Balanced populations have the potential to grow large fish versus lakes that have over abundant populations of fish that will end up stunted. Lakes will only support so many inches of fish so these large predators are needed to keep the population in check and the size good. After selecting lakes with high caliber potential, Davis begins his search. He notes that pencil reeds are paramount when searching out a new lake and big bluegills are usually in close proximity. He will start shallow and work his way through the mid depth weed flats out into the basin. During late ice, which he considers the best time to chase pie plates, he often finds giants in as shallow as three feet of water. Using the weed fishing mode on his Vexilar FLX-28 allows Davis to see his jig and approaching fish in this heavy cover. He explains that the weed mode drowns out clutter from the weeds and has been instrumental in his success. When he begins to find medium sized fish, he will often drill a large concentration of holes to circle that immediate area. This allows him to dissect the weed beds and find the best vantage points. Places for fish to ambush prey, while also providing cover from large pike, are going to hold the largest gills. He described that a sort of pecking order exists in the world of bluegills and big fish will take these prime locations and push smaller fish out into the fringe areas. The founding father of modern ice fishing, Mr. Dave Genz, has been chasing high caliber bluegills since childhood. He likes to look for big bluegills in lakes that will sometimes experience a partial winter kill. Yes, you read that correct. This is a theory that has worked well for Genz over the years. It goes back to a lake only being able to support so many inches of fish. A partial winter kill will thin the lake enough for the remaining fish to thrive and grow large. In order for this to happen at least part of the lake has to be shallow limiting oxygen after the weeds die off mid-winter. This is one of the few events that can reverse the effects of lakes that house over abundant stunted populations. Pursuing pie plate sized bluegills is my passion. I have spent countless hours milling over maps and lake data looking for the next lake that may produce a fish over 11”. I have found a few factors that I like to look for when trying new waters. The first would be current. Lakes that are connected by rivers and have some current running through them for whatever reason are always top producers. While I have not completely figured out the correlation, give this trick a try and I promise you won’t be disappointed. The second thing I like to look for is the presence of shrimp. Amphipods or shrimp are high calorie meals for bluegills and can bulk up fish faster than other invertebrates. If obese gills are on the docket this winter, find the lakes with shrimp and current. The other piece of the puzzle is genetics. Male bluegills pass on genetics to their offspring. Just as my children will never be as tall as Shaqueille O’Neil’s children, 7” male gills do not have the proper genetics to produce 11” bulls. Bruce Condello, owner of the website bigbluegill.com, has his own strain of bluegill called Condello gills. He has created this strain on a private pond that he manages by netting the pond every year in October. By taking out all bluegills except the largest 1/10 of 1 %, he has created a sort of super strain that can grow to 10” in sixteen months. One thing this tells us is that when anglers sort to keep the largest bluegills as table fare, we are genetically making our bluegill populations smaller. It is important that the bluegill aficionado recognizes this and opts to release big bulls and instead harvest more abundant smaller fish. When hunting down giant Nebraska bluegills on public water, Bruce likes to look for lakes that house large concentrations of juvenile largemouth bass. It goes back to the theory of lakes only being able to support so many inches of fish. According to Condello, largemouth bass in the 11” range are eating machines and keep populations balanced. This allows remaining bluegills enough food to pack on pounds. He also looks for lakes that have, what he describes as, high water quality. Lakes that have submergent vegetation, clear water and low nutrient loads are his top choices. Clear lakes have better sunlight penetration for weed growth. These lakes with rooted vegetation produce oxygen from the bottom up so fish don’t get stressed and can continue to feed even throughout difficult periods of the year. Lakes that are highly nutrient laden lack the sunlight penetration to grow deep rooted vegetation so oxygen comes from algae and can dip to low levels. He also noted the importance of appropriate sized invertebrates for the fish to feed on in the early stages. If another species strips out the 1 mm sized invertebrates, young bluegills must become risk takers, leaving the protection of the weeds in search of an open water food source. This often leads to them being eaten by bass. He believes that having enough of the correct sized invertebrates is more important than the amount of available spawning habitat in a particular lake. Avoiding lakes with small stunted populations is paramount. Lakes with an overabundance of weeds will foster small fish and stunted populations. Ideal waters are comprised of less than 10% weeds. Heavily weeded lakes will protect more bluegills from predation than the food source can support and the population will stunt. Condello’s best advice for an angler looking to ice a personal best this winter is to first, find lakes that have big bluegills and second, sort through a lot of fish. Visualize the items that a large bluegill may eat that a medium sized bluegill cannot. Big bluegills have bigger mouths than their medium sized counter parts so bigger baits are often necessary. Pay attention to the depth that the bigger fish are using. Don’t be afraid to leave medium sized fish to search out giants. The ice season is finally upon us and with it brings an opportunity to spend time with friends and family on the hard water again. Whether you or I ice a personal best or not this season, the charm is what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope (John Buchan). I guess I just love chasing dogs riding bicycles.
I was fishing with my bride on Labor Day. She was watching docks come in as many people were wrapping up cabin season on French Lake. She was lamenting the fact that the summer was coming to a close.
I reminded her that this is our season. September promises the start of fall colors, better fishing and football. Ok, that last one didn't impress her one bit. I have already found that fish are more aggressive. The area lakes are filled with hungry fish. They are smacking jigs tipped with fatheads - orange seemed to be the color yesterday. No longer are they picky and I can usually put a nice walleye in the live well.
October (hopefully) means the end of mosquitoes and less yard work. Nice fall days are followed by crisp nights.
This year, mowing has become a tedious chore. While the farmers may have liked all of the rains this year, my lawn does too and I am tired of mowing every 5 days.
The fishing should continue to be good and I fully intend to put more hours in the boat in the coming month. Get out and enjoy, winter will be here soon enough.
One tactic this time of year that tends to excel in larger rivers and lakes is trolling leadcore line for walleyes. Basic tackle is a large capacity level wind reel and a 7-9' medium action trolling rod. I recommend a trolling rod as the taper is made to troll nonstretch lines like leadcore or superbraids. A line counter reel can be very helpful to replicate your presentation when targeting suspended fish but leadcore line is colored every 30' and you can get by with letting out line by how many colors you have out as well. Leadcore line is a dacron sheath around a fine lead filament and the additional weight of the filament is what causes the line to sink. A basic rule to follow is 5 feet of depth for each color you have in the water when travelling at 2 mph. In most lakes and rivers, 4-6 colors of leadcore will suffice with 6 getting you to the 30' plus range depndeing on your presentation and trolling speed. Leadcore is speed dependent so slowing down will get you slightly deeper and speeding up will raise your presentation slightly due to the water resistance against the line. This scenario is also true in rivers where current may cause the need to let out additional line to get your baits in the strike zone. For most presentations 27# leadcore is sufficient to cross over between walleyes and salmon fishing and there is really a negligible difference between 18# and 36# leadcore as far as sink rate. A mono leader of 10# line between the leadcore and the bait to be presented is the next addition to the arsenal. To attach the leader you will need to push the dacron sheath down to exspose 6-8" of the lead filament, cut the filament off and tie the mono leader to the dacron sheath. A double uni knot or a nail knot work nicely and I have even seen guys use back to back clinch knots. Leader lengths can vary from 10-50' depending on the lures used. The important thing to note is if you are going to troll diving crankbaits like slamo hornets or shad raps you will need to know the dive depth for that particular lure with the amount of mono leader that you have on as the baits will dive an additional few feet deeper then what the leadcore is achieving. So for instance, I have three colors of leadcore out and a 50' leader with a #5 shad rap. I know the leadcore will get me down 15' and that a #5 shad rap will reach an additional 8' on 50' of 10# mono for a total depth of 23'. When working with spinner rigs or stick baits your rigs will generally run just 2-3 feet deeper then the leadcore and it may take a bit of experimenting to get your baits right in the zone that you want to attack. This tactic can be particularly deadly on lakes with thermoclines and where suspended forage like whitefish or tullibees are present and allows you to target fish suspended out over the basin or sitting just above the thermocline that you would not normally be able to reach with just standard diving baits. Tightlines and good luck on the water!
The other day on my way home from work, I noticed that a new deer crossing sign had been put up along a road. This was at a location that I had passed for 15+ on my way to and from work, and I can't recall ever seeing a deer there. I started wondering how the county, MN DOT, or MN DNR decides to put up a new deer crossing warning. As it turns out, I decided that this particular sign had been put up by a private party because on my way to work the next morning, I noticed that the crossing was marked with a sign on the left side, which is not something that a government entity would have done.
Anyway, my curiosity still led me to do a little research. It turns out that the MN DOT no longer puts up new signs because they are not effective (deer can't read anyways). They are experimenting with signs that include motion detectors and lights.
MnDOT’s position Since 2005, MnDOT ‘s policy has been not to install new deer crossing warning signs and to remove existing signs that have reached the end of their useful life.. MnDOT is researching other methods that may result in fewer deer-vehicle crashes. In 2001, MnDOT installed a deer detection warning system on Highway 23 in Marshall. The system uses the standard deer crossing warning sign in conjunction with beacon that flashes when deer movement is detected. The system was upgraded in 2007 and shows a 33- 57 percent reduction in deer-vehicle crashes. More information on the sign can be found here: www.dot.state.mn.us/guidestar/2006_2010/deer_detection_and_warning_system.html