Although the calendar indicates there are less than 20 days until spring officially arrives, we’ve had very few indications that we can put away the winter garb. One day it’s 30+ and the next day it’s below zero, but hopefully the warm days will soon start outnumbering the cold ones. I have but one explanation for it all – it’s Minnesota and we love it!
Looking ahead to spring and all the good stuff that comes along with it always puts me in a better mood. Have you ever noticed that even if the temperature is below normal, a day of sunshine will put most of us in a better state of mind? Lately each warm day that we have is followed by a few cold days. But alas, the good thing is that the end is in sight and spring will soon be upon us.
I never thought I’d be longing for those hot summer days filled with mosquitoes, but even that seems appealing right now. I have never really minded the winter months, but I’d guess that it’s because I can’t do anything about it. To my knowledge, complaining has never brought about any change in the weather.
One government agency (FEMA) is encouraging many Minnesotans that live in low areas to purchase flood insurance in anticipation of what will lie ahead. I do wonder if these are the same type of folks who tell me that I need to dress warm when its -20 degrees below zero. I am hoping for a slow, gradual thaw that allows ample time for the moisture to disappear without any major flooding. I can still remember a few years ago when we had some major flooding issues in our part of the state. There was one television news report that showed a farmer over by Fairmont picking up his mail in a pontoon boat. I have to wonder if there were any fish in that lake.
Spring is a good time for panfish and perch, but that usually doesn’t happen until April. Although, it’s never too early to anticipate. If you can find the crappies in early spring when they are in the shallows, it can be some mighty good fishing (not to mention eating). For years, I was strictly a walleye, northern and occasional muskie guy; crappies were only a good fish to hunt before the opener. As I have grown older, (wiser?) I have found that crappie fishing is not only rewarding at the table but also a heck of a lot of fun.
Most of my crappie fishing is done with plastics, and only as a last resort will I use a minnow. There just seems to be something special about casting an ultralight with a small jig and twister and tying into a slab crappie.
Last fall, we were doing some October fishing for northern and I decided to take a little break and cast for crappie. Although I didn’t catch a lot of crappies, there were a few to be had. I actually caught two of the bigger northerns of the trip on that ultralight with 4 lb. test and a small jig.
My grandson, Trevor, who is always experimenting with his fishing techniques has taught me quite a bit about the art of crappie fishing. He got me “hooked” on this certain type of twister tail that has turned out to be dynamite for crappies over the past few years. It’s called a split tail Slurpie and comes in various colors. Last year, I had bought this one color that I wasn’t really confident in, as I had used a different color the year before and had very good luck. I always like to try something a little different once in a while (wonder where Trevor gets it). One day I decided to give this color another try and the fish started hitting it, so I continued to use it for the rest of the season with excellent results.
Last year while fishing in one of our favorite crappie spots, I was using a jig that was “hot” the year before but had little luck. Trevor, who was in his boat a few yards away, was hauling them in one after another on the same colored jig. I asked him what he was doing different and he said he was tipping the jig with a small piece of minnow. That’s why he is such a good fisherman because he’s never afraid to try something different. I used to show him the little tricks that I’d learned over the years and now he’s showing me new things.
I do think a lot of the success that a person has with certain baits is about how confident you are in that particular bait. On more than one occasion, I’ve been rummaging through my tackle box and found a lure and thought, “I’ve never caught a fish on this one so maybe I’ll give it a try.”
More often than not, if I use it for a while with no results, it will again find its way to the bottom of my tackle box. On the other hand, if I do catch a fish on it, there may be a place for it in one of the priority shelves of the box. It’s kind of funny how that works.
Each year I also try to avoid spending too much time in the sporting goods department of any store, but like some magic potion, I am always drawn to that area just like a person who is under some sort of a spell. Once that happens, I am inclined to purchase at least one lure that I just couldn’t get along without. Ahh… so many lures… so little time!
The March meeting of Southern Crossroads Chapter 54, of Muskies Inc. was Wednesday, March 9, at 7 p.m. at the Eagles Club in Owatonna.
Our speaker was Southern Minnesota lure maker, Wayne Carrigan. Our meetings are the second Wednesday of every month. Meetings include informative speakers, door prizes, raffles and updates. We center our programs around guides, lure makers, and helping members catch more muskies and muskie talk tips.
Our goal is to improve muskie fishing in Southern Minnesota. Check out our web site at www.michapter54.com. Anyone interested in muskie fishing is always welcome and need not be a member to attend. Bring a friend and check us out.
Until next time, get ready for spring fishing and take some time to enjoy the great Minnesota outdoors!
Remember our brothers and sisters who are proudly serving our country so that we can keep enjoying the freedoms that we have today.