Saturday, July 31, 2010

Ain't no stinkin' bass

I returned to work this past Monday from a long weekend trip to Mille Lacs/Gull Lake. (The fishing wasn't all that great by the way.)

Upon my return I found this photo sitting on my desk with the title, "Ain't no stinkin' bass".

This picture of John Cross' trip to Lake Michigan salmon fishing is a reminder of the constant ribbing we give each other over my love of bass and John's love of anything but bass. Needless to say, it'd be pretty hard to not love this 20-something pound salmon and the fight it must have given on.

On a side note, isn't that a fine fishing hat John is wearing? Besides the goofy look, it sure would have helped on Mille Lacs and Gull where the sun left an impression on my neck, face and ears.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A fishing report pays off

Got a nice e-mail the other day from AJ Schulz. He and his brother-in-law, Doug Storm, read last week's fishing report and decided to try Ballantyne this past weekend.

AJ reported they got into a few bass, with much of the action coming from the weedlines in the 5 to 10 foot range near the northeast basin.

AJ caught a nice 3 1/2 pound, 18 inch bucketmouth, seen here to the right.

Doug Storm also caught a decent bass (below).

I like receiving these types of e-mails. I say why be afraid to tell someone where you are catching fish? They still have to catch fish themselves, right?

I was fortunate enough to get out this past weekend with fellow staffer Tanner Kent. We both hauled in three apiece at Little Jefferson. Here is my 3-pound, 12 ounce hawg I caught. Not bad considering we fished the day after a tourney wrapped up.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Your weekend fishing report

Sunfish action is the big draw on area lakes right now. Madison Lake continues to kick out sunfish in roughly 8 feet, and bass action remains strong along the shorelines and in weedlines under 10 feet of water.

A few walleyes are hitting crankbaits along the shorelines of Washington in low-light hours. Sunfish action remains excellent on Washington in water less than 8 feet. Small northerns are being taken on Washington as well.

The fishing pier on Little Jefferson is kicking out a consistent sunfish bite on waxworms. Bullhead action is also strong next to the pier, and some crappies are being taken on minnows.

Bass action on Little Jeff remains strong along docks and overgrown shorelines. Concentrate on weedlines in 5 feet.

Northerns are going crazy for buzzbaits on Ballantyne, and the bass action has been strong there as well. Concentrate on the weedlines in 5 to 10 feet of water. An important note here is action was stronger when those weedlines ran near deeper water, such as the deep basin on the northeast side of the lake.

Francis is giving up northerns along the weedlines, but few with good size.

River action is slow. A few anglers are starting to get back out on the river, but fast currents and deep water levels have kept the anglers at bay. Expect the catfish action to pick up in a few weeks.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Some observations from a morning of fishing

There's always a few things to observe on an early-morning trip to the lake.

Pulling up at Buckmaster Bridge at Madison Lake early Thursday morning, I noticed how calm the water was. The wildlife was the only thing giving off sound, which I found to my liking because this meant I owned that little spot by myself.

At 5:30 in the morning, life can seem very peaceful. I snapped off a few photos of this peace before wetting a line. I meant to take some video to capture the stillness, except for a few birds chirping behind me and a few fish popping bugs off the top of the water, but then again, I was wetting a line.

After an hour and a half at Buckmaster, I moved over to the German-Jefferson Lakes fishing pier on Little Jeff. A few guys were fishing there, making jokes about taking their whopper catches to The Free Press for photos.

I suppose I could have walked over and offered to take their pictures with my cell phone, but again, I was wetting a line, and when the opportunities are too far and few between, pulling up a line to take a photo of a few guys fishing is low on the list of to-dos.

I did, however, give up on the fishing for a bit after they left, only because I noticed a man and a woman, both with wonderful fishing hats, settle into the pier for some panfish/bullhead fishing.

They looked very complete, the two of them fishing on the pier, standing side-by-side, talking quietly. I admired their togetherness and thought of how I could stand all day with my wife, Mollie, fishing, talking, loving life. Of course, with our son Tyler, we'd never be able to stand side-by-side and talk, because like all children, he has plenty of energy for all of us.

I asked the two of them if I could snap a couple of photos, and needless to say, Diane Fetzer and Doyle Schneider, both of New Ulm, were happy to oblige me. Diane joked she didn't know she'd have to be in a picture when they left for their weekly outing to Little Jefferson. They did, however, get their revenge when she took a few photos of me fishing.

Turnabout is fair play, right?

The quality of the photos I took of them aren't all that great, but that's mostly because I am learning how to maximize the quality of pictures taken with my Blackberry. I think, however, you'll get the point.

Anyhow, Doyle said they catch quite a few sunnies and bullheads from the pier — Diane's favorite, he assured me — and they've seen some nice crappies come off minnows there.

"There was a fellow out here who just left that caught a big bass," Fetzer said.

Must have been the fish they were joking about taking to The Free Press. Too bad I was wetting a line.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Catfish league

Well, I told you John Cross had something up his sleeve for the Belle Plaine Cat League in Sunday's print edition of The Free Press.

He went out with a couple of the guys from the league and what he came away with was some pretty good stuff. I've never caught anything over about a 5-pound catfish, so seeing a guy hoist a 40-plus pound cat always amazes me.

Check out his audio slideshow for some images from the event.

I have a few days off this week after working the entire Fourth of July weekend. Hopefully I can get out on a few lakes and give an update. Hope your Fourth is safe and happy one.

And please, if you're going to be out on the lake or driving around, don't drink and boat/drive. It just isn't worth it.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

At least it was a pike

Not much happening with me on the fishing front.

I wish it weren't true, but it is. That's life I guess. As things start to pile up, and family responsibilities get the best of us, sometimes I guess we have to give up some of the things we love.

In this case, it's unlimited time on the water.

Nonetheless, I made it out to Madison Lake on Monday with my brother-in-law. We spent a good five hours at Madison, although an hour of it was spent enjoying a fine burger and a few cold ones at The Boat Landing before heading back onto the water.

Dave, my brother-in-law, pulled in a northern, a bass and a sheepshead on our outing, and just before the day gave way to night, I pulled in a 3.6 pound pike. Not bad. Could have been better, but not bad.

I'm hearing only scattered reports on the fishing front as well. I've had several people tell me that Lura Lake south of Mapleton is difficult to fish right now because of all the weeds. I know I've fished the south bay twice in the past month, and the weeds seem to be clearing on that end, so I'd recommend concentrating my efforts toward the Lura Lake Sportsmen's Club landing on that south side.

Sunfish action is out of control on some of the area lakes, if that is your thing. Walleye reports aren't coming across at all, so if you're still hooking into the 'eyes, feel free to drop me a line.

On a side note, John Cross spent some time with a few die-hard catfish anglers. He has something planned for this Sunday's print edition, and I believe he'll have an audio slideshow of the event. I'll post a link here when that is available.

Until then, chase some bass, the weather is perfect for it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The tale of three bass

The bass action on area lakes has been excellent, to say the least. If it hasn't been excellent, then you're probably not fishing for lunkers anyhow.

I've caught my fair share of largemouths already this year, but three of the bass I've caught, from three different lakes, have boggled my mind, slightly.

The first bass, caught the Sunday of opening weekend in the rain while fishing at Buckmaster Bridge, came in at roughly 19 inches, and hoisting it up I thought that it'd catch 3 1/2 pounds on the scale — or 2 pounds, dead on. I was surprised by this, but I surmised it must have been a postspawn bass, fresh out of eggs and finally ready to feed again.

This past Saturday, while fishing the shoreline to the east of the fishing pier at West Jefferson, I pulled in another whopper of a fish. When I hoisted it out of my net, I started thinking that very few fish bass I've caught had the length of this baby (using the pliers in these pictures, I was able to give some scale; the pliers is 6 1/2 inches long). But when I threw this bucketmouth on the scale, it came in just over 3 pounds.


Well, Monday I took to the shores of Lura Lake, and I pulled in the best of them yet, and this one measured shorter but weighed in at 4 pounds, 1 ounce. A good fight, too. Later I caught about a 15 incher that weight just over 2 pounds. Go figure.

Everyone asks me why I'm seeing such a difference in the fish, and honestly, I don't have a good answer to that. The postspawn, empty belly scenario seems most likely, but the two bigger bass on Lura definitely had full bellies, and the 2-pounder looked as though it might still have had eggs in its belly.

Whatever the case, I'm just glad to be able to pull in quality fish from our area lakes.