I was never really into sports when I was in school. But we never had a fishing team. How cool would that have been? That is what I was thinking when I was asked to take out two anglers on Sunday for the Brainerd Warrior Fishing Team. We were instructed that we could not change lures or get out tangles. We were allowed to drive the boat and net fish. And let me tell you it is pretty hard not fishing and just driving the boat. There was a total of 62 anglers and 31 guides that volunteered for this event.
Well it seems the weatherman was wrong again. The forecast for last weekend was for showers and occasional storms for Saturday and Sunday. We only had a light rain for a bit on Saturday morning. I know we can fish in the rain, but when so much goes into an event like the Nick Adams Fishing Classic it is nice to have the weather cooperate. I have to say it was a great turnout, we had some new guides from the area and from the metro and Park Rapids area. The fish even bit. Well, except the walleyes, but that is a discussion for another time.
It's that time of year again when 150 plus anglers take to Gull Lake for the Camp Confidence Fishing Classic. And that means it's also Father's Day and if you need a few ideas on what to get the outdoorsman in your family here are a few ideas - they are things that I have used in the past year and work very well. First is an inflatable life jacket. There are many models from manual to automatic and even one you can wear on your belt. With their design you don't even know you are wearing one.
Last week I was lucky enough to be chosen to be one of the 80 or so fishermen to guide for the Trolling for the Troops event put on by Camp Ripley. All I can say is it just gets better, the fishing, the conversation and the company all came together again this year. Although Mille Lacs was a little choppy in the morning. And by choppy I mean I felt sorry for the guys in bass boats. We decided to save our backs and drive around to the north side so we wouldn't have to pound the waves as much. After a quick stop at Tutt's Bait we were on the water.
After spending pretty much all week on Gull Lake, I figured it would be a good topic for this week. First was the Minnesota Fishing Challenge. The walleye bite was tough to say the least, with only a few lucky anglers finding a couple. No one really got on a good bite or pattern. Even Al Linder only got three bites all day, although it was enough to win the walleye division. Then we have had guide trips on Gull the rest of the week. Although there is a night bite pulling Rapalas in the shallows, it was a tough day bite. So the question is why?
It's always fun to write about all the things I get to experience in the outdoors. I love everything about it, even the weather doesn't usually slow me down. But there is one thing that does keep me from going in the woods as much as I used to. I'm talking about deer ticks. Yes, I still go turkey hunting and mushroom picking but I cut down on things like working on food plots and just exploring. Last week after finding some morels I came home and did the usual tick check and found a bunch. But then sure enough a few days later I found one buried in with a nice red ring around it.
Usually when Camp Ripley is busy with thousands of people it's troops training or law enforcement learning new procedures. But last weekend it was hosting the Ripley Rendezvous. Put on by the Boy Scouts of America, there was a lot of things to do for the 4,000-plus Scouts attending. Myself, Jeremy Smith and Ryan Dechaine were there from Brainerd; as well as fisherman from all over Minnesota; and, of course, Col. Scott St. Sauver was there with his freshly wrapped DAV Ranger Boat. We were all there to help out with a kids fishing program called Future Angler program.
When can you tell that we had a good fishing opener? When the governor actually catches nine walleyes. We had good weather for the opener on Lake Vermilion - that with an abundance of smaller 12- to 16-inch fish made for a great day to kick off the open water season. It was my first trip to the lake and I will say it won't be my last. A beautiful lake with good fishing is all a guy can ask for. I do have to say although we were there to cover the fishing, there was a lot more to do. The coolest thing for me was the Soudan Mine and underground laboratory tour.
This week was the 11th annual Disabled Veterans Turkey Hunt at Camp Ripley. This year they had great weather and some late season gobblers that made it tough for some hunters to get the birds to commit. But that didn't stop the dynamic duo. I'm talking about Tom Whitehead and Hank Ebert. These two have managed to team up and bag a bird for the last three consecutive years. Together they have some pretty good knowledge of the wildlife at camp; you will see them together at pretty much all the hunting and fishing events held there.
I have been lucky enough to experience many aspects of Camp Ripley, from deer hunting and fishing to just checking out the amazing wildlife and landscape it has to offer. This week I was able to get a birds-eye view of Camp Ripley from a Chinook helicopter. Just the helicopter itself is something to see, and the ride was even more exciting. We got to tour Ripley at low altitude covering land and the Mississippi river all the way to Brainerd. It was like no other plane ride I've been on, you could see the different depths of the lakes and the detailed countryside.