The days and weeks are beginning to blur, I guess that means that summer is in full swing. The Trolling for the Troops event at Camp Ripley was once again a hit. Getting to be a guide for some much deserving veterans makes for a very satisfying day in itself. Now getting to do it with anglers such as Mark Courts and Ron Schara, well that really takes it to a whole new level. If these guys with so many things going on can take time from their busy schedules, well that just shows what a great event it has become.
When you are an outdoorsy person, whether it be hunting, fishing or anything else, you do it outside. Sometimes no matter how well you prep or try to control things, they just don't work out in your favor. But even if that happens, you still walk away with a sense of possibly knowing a little more.
This week brought me to Ely for the 51st annual fishing trip for disabled veterans at Veterans on the Lake Resort. I was joined by three other guides and tournament fisherman as well as 30+ veterans from all over Minnesota. This was my second year guiding up there and definitely a week that has become pretty special to me. We were all hoping that fall lake would give up some walleyes, and it did. I was joined this year by Jerry Hertel, a Vietnam veteran who had lost his vision, but did not lose his ambition or love of the outdoors.
For once everything came together for the Minnesota walleye opener. The weather was nice, maybe a little too nice. But that was OK by us. And the fish, well they cooperated to their fullest extent. Good friend Jeremy Woodwick, his son Carter and I were on the big pond a little after the sun came up on Saturday and with reports of buddies that hit the water at midnight boating over 100 fish, our expectations were high.
It's hard enough with turkey season, morel hunting and crappie fishing all going full bore. Now the decision has to be made where to go for the walleye opener. So many choices—make a run to lake of the woods, or stay close to home? OK, so I'm going to stay close to home. Now I have to decide—hit Gull Lake or go give Mille Lacs a try.
Finally a few warm days so we can take a break from chasing turkeys and hit the spring crappie bite. It can seem like summer is taking forever to get here, but there is always something to do. Crappie fishing for me hasn't changed much over the years.
The ice is leaving and that means spring is coming. More importantly, it was time to make the annual pilgrimage to the Rainy River. These trips are very dependent on the weather. The rivers can flow very dirty from runoff and smaller tributaries breaking loose, which will kill the walleye bite. You also have to deal with the temps. Fishing in brutal cold and wind isn't a fun way to kick off the fishing year.
What to do and where to go may be a question in your head these days? Well the Rainy River is open and the big fish have been on fire this week. The new motor isn't on my boat yet so it looks like I've got some time to get ready. That gives me time to think about the busy upcoming summer. Fishing will be busy but will the fishing be good? And that leads me to wonder what we as anglers, sportsmen and sportswomen determine to be "good."
It's not very often this south end of the state has open water and the north still has driveable ice. But I guess it's another season of messed up weather. No matter how you look at it, we are one step closer to spring and open water fishing. The good news is the panfish have started their late ice bite, and the shallow water crappies are one of my favorites bites. Also the trout are biting.
Although most of the big fish seasons are closed, and many anglers will resort to fishing for panfish, you still have some choices. We are lucky enough to be close to border waters such as Lake of the Woods, which is open for walleye and pike for a while. You also can make the trip to the Dakotas for some jumbo perch.