The walleye season has come and gone, so now what? Maybe just hit the same old panfish hole like always? Nope, not this year, this year we decided to do some traveling and chase those "other" species. First, we headed south to chase some channel cats. Catfishing is usually overlooked in the summer and unheard of in the winter. They are quite the fish, they school like crappies and fight like trout. When you do finally find the school there will be fish on your locator 10-15' thick.
Last week I was asked to go on a road trip to film the sturgeon spearing opener and the World Ice and Snow Sailing Championship (WISSA). Myself and Bret Amundson from the Minnesota Sporting Journal made the trip to Fond Du Lac, Wis., to check it out. On the first day we got to see the fishermen cut in their holes and get their shanties set up for the opening day. There were tons of events going on to add to the festivities.
When I was asked if I would like to go on a winter camping trip, right away I was intrigued as it was something that I had never done. Well, it would be an adventure that will not soon be forgotten. The group would consist of myself, Bret Amundson from the Minnesota Sporting Journal, Matt Degraef from Jasper Companies and Bill Sherck and Aaron Achtenberg from Schara Productions.
In the years I have been helping out at the Extravaganza, I have never seen a more beautiful day. I never thought it was possible to break the tournament curse that mother nature put on it years ago. I was busy at the Ice Force booth and helping out at the kids on ice Olympics all day. I didn't even have to wear a jacket. As far as the anglers that attended the event, they were all in a little better mood at the end of the day. Sitting on the ice and not catching a fish seems a little more tolerable when you aren't shaking from the cold and 30 mph winds that usually plague the tournament.
For the first time many anglers got to experience winter trout fishing on lakes that had never been ice fished. Lakes throughout the state had plenty of fisherman on them. Most anglers targeted rainbows but I did hear of some lake trout and brookies. We traveled north to go after some rainbows. We knew it was going to be a good trip when I pulled the first fish through the ice before my lure hit the bottom. Although Saturday was definitely better than Sunday, both days were amazing as far as trout fishing goes. We only had to move a few times and managed to catch over 100 fish.
As I have been planning a trout fishing trip to northern Minnesota for the last month, it turns out we will be able to fish for them right here. It was released last fall that certain trout lakes in Minnesota would be accessible to winter trout fishing, and then earlier last week it was released that many of the Crosby mine pits would also be open. This will be a great opportunity for fishermen to take a break from the usual and try their luck at some rainbow trout fishing. Although many of these stocked lakes have lots of 12 inch fish, you will occasionally catch fish 20 inches or bigger.
Are you sick of sitting around the house waiting for the cold weather to go away? Also, if you are thinking of going to the Extravaganza, here are a few pointers to staying warm head to toe. As far as stocking caps go they are not all created equal. There are actually hats with thinsulate that are at the top of the list. Also, a double layered fleece hat holds heat very well. Top it off with a facemask and you will actually be able to talk without your face hurting. You always hear people talk about layering, but layering what, is the question.
Well the only thing left of 2014 is the memories. Hopefully everyone had a great year and is ready to make this one even better. As outdoorsmen we tend to plan at the last minute and do spur of the moment trips. But some people have our future seasons all ready for us. First the wolves get back on the endangered species list with absolutely no warning or public input. And now the latest, an online class for boaters on invasive species. Don't get me wrong I do think invasive species need to be stopped. Not just slowed down at a cost no one can afford.
Hopefully we are done with this roller coaster ride of weather patterns. We were well on our way to having almost driveable ice, not any more. With the warm temperatures last weekend causing the melting ice and snow to funnel down cracks and old auger holes, there are now some pretty big openings that are covered with a dusting of snow. That makes them almost impossible to see. Some are big enough to drop an ATV through others are big enough for a person to fall through.
Just when we thought the snow this year was going to keep piling up it looks like we might not have a white Christmas. Who would of thought that we would have less snow now and warmer temps than at the beginning of rifle season in early November. Speaking of deer hunting, most muzzleloader hunters such as myself are getting ready to call it a year. The season has had its ups and downs that is for sure.