Anderson: Fishing without a boat is a shore thing

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 16, 2013 - 12:36 AM

Minnesota is an angler’s paradise, particularly because of the variety. Add to that paradise — the thrill of wade-fishing without launching a boat or starting a motor.

hide

Wildlife photographer and writer Bill Marchel of Brainerd lands a largemouth bass while wade fishing in a lake in north-central Minnesota. Bass in many parts of the state are just moving into the shallows to spawn.

Photo: Photos by DENNIS ANDERSON danderson@startribune.com,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

No state can rival the variety of fishing Minnesota offers, whether for walleyes, smallmouth or largemouth bass, muskies, panfish, trout and even northern pike.

Yes, western states have productive trout rivers, and Alaska is a ­wonderful destination for salmon, rainbows, grayling and pike.

But to experience great fishing in Minnesota, you needn’t worry about crossing private land to reach good trout water, as you sometimes do out West.

And you don’t need a floatplane, as you often do in Alaska.

In many cases in Minnesota, you don’t even need a boat.

I was reminded of this the other evening as I pulled on a pair of ­waders and stepped from shore into a lake not far from this north-central Minnesota tourist town.

The sky was overcast, the air chilled. And intermittently during the next few hours, rain would ­dimple the lake’s surface.

But the largemouth bass that my fishing partner, Bill Marchel, and I were seeking wouldn’t be disturbed by the inclement weather that has prevailed this spring and early ­summer,

“I’ll start right … there,” Bill said, arching a Scum Frog toward a hole in the vegetation and generalized slop that extended a couple hundred yards from shore.

Made of soft plastic, and shaped like a frog, the Scum Frog is rigged weedless and is one of a dozen or so go-to baits bass anglers keep in their arsenals.

Built to float on a lake or river surface while being retrieved, this style of bait can — on a good day — trigger explosive hits, as largemouth bass erupt from their shallow haunts to gobble what they believe is a ­movable feast.

Scum Frogs or their reasonable facsimiles (of which there are many) are particularly effective in spring and early summer, when bass move into shallow water to spawn. But they can be used effectively in June and July as well, and even into the fall, so long as the water temperature is at least 50 degrees.

Of course these fish also can be approached by boat, and often are, as anglers employ bow-mounted trolling motors on their fishing craft to sneak up on bedding areas.

But wade-fishing at this time of year is often more effective, providing the shore angler is properly equipped, and can cast fairly long distances.

“Long casts are important,” Bill said.

So is heavy line — something in the 30-pound-test range or more.

Helpful also are smooth-spooling baitcasting reels and stout rods; equipment that can both catapult baits and provide winch-like retrieves.

Additionally, an understanding of where bass like to make their beds — whether, in a given lake, in and among vegetation, or instead more toward open water — also helps.

“Water about 3 feet deep is where I find most bass at this time of year,” Bill said.

As he spoke, the first fish of the evening appeared from the lake as if discharged from a cannon, its mouth agape. Simultaneously, Bill’s Scum Frog disappeared, and in quick succession his line drew tight and his rod bowed toward the disturbance.

“You really don’t want to let these bass dive on you once you’ve got them hooked,” Bill said. “It’s fun to fight them. But if you let them get too wound into the vegetation, you might not land them.”

As Bill spoke, I cast a Scum Frog that was dark colored, while Bill’s was light.

Also, I was fishing a little shallower than he was. But like Bill, I loaded the tip of my rod as powerfully as possible while casting, hoping to gain maximum distance between where I stood and where my Scum Frogs landed.

The first bucketmouth to hit my bait weighed perhaps 2 pounds and fishtailed on the lake surface ­acrobatically.

Retrieving the plump specimen quickly, I almost skidded the fish atop the lake surface to keep it from becoming entangled in bulrushes and other vegetation.

This fishing method almost always produces bass for Bill and me in late spring and early summer. But given this season’s cool weather, we were unsure exactly where bass would be in their springtime spawning cycle.

We needn’t have worried. The bass along the lake’s shoreline were both plentiful and hungry.

• • •

Mid- and late summer also can produce productive wade-fishing for bass, depending on the lake fished.

But as summer progresses, early morning and late ­evening often yield the best action, whereas now, in early summer, midday can be as good as any time to toss weedless baits.

That said, wading anglers should cut bass a break in spring and early summer. Care especially should be taken not to step in spawning beds, which appear on the lake bottom as light-colored circles and are readily identifiable.

Also, pre-spawn females in particular should be released.

And if possible, wading anglers shouldn’t stumble into deep shoreline holes and pitch headfirst into the lake — something Bill and I avoided the other evening, but often do not.

“You can tell the late spring and cold water have changed the timing of everything,” Bill said. “There aren’t many beds made yet, and the bass just seem farther behind in the spawning process than they usually are.”

A half-hour or so into our watery jaunt, and we had already caught and released a dozen bass, the biggest of which pushed 3 pounds.

Another half-hour produced another dozen fish, and soon a dozen more.

As the evening coalesced, finally, in darkness and rain, a deep chill infusing both, we had caught and released close to 50 bass.

All without launching a boat or starting an outboard.

Or worrying about competition from other anglers.

Lakes that offer similar wading opportunities abound in and around the Twin Cities, as well as elsewhere in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

A little scouting might be necessary, and the quarry on some waters often includes not only bass, but crappies and sunnies.

“Wade fishing is about as fun as fishing gets,” Bill said.

I agreed, and launched a final cast, watching in the distant twilight as my bait plopped onto the lake surface, tempting, I hoped, a bass lying below.

 

Dennis Anderson • danderson@startribune.com

  • related content

  • A mystery never fully explained: Where are my wood ducks?

    Saturday June 15, 2013

    The ducks appear to be avoiding nesting boxes on the author’s land.

  • Few fishing methods are as exciting as tossing top-water baits for bass. Here a 2.5-pound largemouth bass comes to hand that hit a weedless Scum Frog.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 19 FINAL
San Francisco 3
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 0 FINAL(OT)
Nashville 1
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
FIU 53 FINAL
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 88 FINAL
Indiana State 62
Cal State Fullerton 67 FINAL
Wright State 62
Western Ky 62 FINAL
Saint Josephs 59
Michigan State 77 FINAL
Rider 45
UCLA 56 FINAL
North Carolina 78
Long Beach State 73 FINAL
Western Mich 55
Marquette 72 FINAL
Georgia Tech 70
Stephen F Austin 73 FINAL
Prairie View 61
UAB 47 FINAL
Florida 56
Rice 71 FINAL
Mercer 77
San Jose St 56 FINAL
Washington 78
Washington St 35 2nd Half 3:54
UC Santa Barbara 61
Baylor 71 FINAL
Memphis 47
LSU 23 FINAL
Texas A&M 17
(6) TCU 48 FINAL
Texas 10
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
BYU 73 FINAL
BYU-Hawaii 52
Charlotte 58 FINAL
Montana 67
Illinois 77 FINAL
(9) Kentucky 71
Central Michigan 61 FINAL
Richmond 56
Oklahoma 68 FINAL
South Florida 83
Princeton 72 FINAL
Wake Forest 55
(19) Oregon State 85 FINAL
Butler 53

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Will the Gophers bring home The Axe?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close