I do believe we have finally turned the corner when talking weather; the only exception being the wind, which never seems to give us much of a break. Wind permitting, I will be taking time out to wet a line somewhere on one of our area lakes. I am talking shore fishing, which on most lakes in this area is a very good way to fish, especially early in the season. There was a time when shore fishing consisted of a can of worms, a heavy sinker and a snelled hook. Before beginning my quest for fish I would search for a tree branch with a nice “Y” so I could drive the single end into the ground and, after loading my hook with a gob of worms from said can and casting it out as far as possible, I would rest my rod in the Y and wait. In my younger years this was fishing at its finest, and it usually yielded good results.
I even tried this method while trout fishing with my family at Stockade Lake in Custer State Park in the Black Hills. We’d bought a one-day pass, which was good from noon one day until noon the next. I had talked to some folks that had fished there before and, while the method they used was a little different, it still sounded an awful lot like fishing bullheads to me. I rigged everyone’s line with a Lindy Rig and a gob of worms, then we just cast it out as far as possible and waited. It didn’t take long before we were catching trout. I was busy taking fish off everyone’s line when one of the boys yelled that my rod was being dragged into the lake. I dove for it and grabbed the handle just as it was about to disappear into the depths. On the other end of the line I found a nice largemouth bass. The boys still get a kick out of bringing up that time when Dad almost lost his rod and reel to a fish.
I have fished many different ways over the years and I can’t really say which is my favorite because each one is different and they all have their up sides. I covered how I usually bottom fished as a kid, but in those days I also liked to use a bobber or a cork as it was called way back then. I don’t really believe that there is a more peaceful feeling than watching a bobber as it drifts slowly in a slight summer breeze as the guy on the other end (me) anxiously awaits the moment that it disappears into the depths below.
Trolling is probably the method I use most when fishing out of a boat. When you troll, you cover a lot of water in a short amount of time and you catch most any species of fish using this method. There is nothing more fun than having a large pike or musky almost rip the pole from your hands when it strikes. Over the years I have definitely enjoyed some very good luck while trolling and, up until a couple years ago, I had caught my own personal best walleye while trolling at night.
Casting a jig with plastics, a spinner bait or a jerk bait can be a very rewarding way to fish. I do believe that it’s hard to match the thrill of having a lunker explode from the depths with your lure in its mouth at almost the same exact moment that it hits the water. It is always exciting when you get a follow from a big fish when you are casting. I probably have some of my fondest fishing memories while casting. One summer afternoon I was in a secluded bay on Spider Lake casting to an open area which surrounded by heavy cover when a musky hit my lure about a foot out of the water. I can still see the water exploding as that fish jumped with its tail about a foot above the surface and my lure hanging out of its mouth.
When it comes to early season walleye fishing, on most lakes I would have to say drifting with a jig tipped with a minnow or a Lindy rig tipped with a shiner or leech is your best bet. I have fished the Governor’s Fishing Opener since 1995 and have fished with many different folks and these two methods are, by far, the ones most preferred. I actually caught my personal best walleye just a couple years ago while drifting Leech Lake with a live bait rig called a “Slow Death.”
These are just some of the many memories I have from many years of fishing various waters across this great state of ours.
Until next time, it's time to get outdoors when the weather permits. Wet a line whenever the opportunity arises and if you don't want to fish, it's still a great time to take a walk or ride your bike around the lake.
Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers, not only during the holiday season but for the rest of the year. They are the reason that we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.