Smallmouth bass fishing is improving quickly in the metro area, particularly on the St. Croix
River, despite high water levels.
Meanwhile, excellent walleye fishing continues across much of northern Minnesota, where water temperatures remain cool.
Smallmouth on the St. Croix can be taken on a variety of artificial baits and flies. Mepp's spinners cast close to rocky shorelines and retrieved at moderate speeds have produced hits, as have a variety of crankbaits.
Stick baits also are worth a try, as are surface poppers.
Skirted Jungle Jigs cast to rocks, or Ugly Bugs or similar lures, also will take fish and can be tipped with artificial or live bait.
Up north, walleye fishing has been good on Leech Lake, also Winnibigoshish, Cass and Bemidji, among other waters, as the cool, wet spring seems to have prolonged the season's best bite, keeping fish in fairly shallow water.
Crankbaits trolled "long line'' style at night are producing, as are jig and sliding-sinker style rigs.
Fly fishing pro and casting instructor Bob Nasby, left, of St. Paul, has long been an adviser to and tester of 3M fly lines. Here he's fishing with his grandson, Bobby McGraw, on the Upper St. Croix River.
The Orvis Company of Manchester, Vt., is buying Scientific Anglers and Ross Reels from 3M, Orvis announced today.
Orvis will continue to operate the Midland, Mich., based business independently under the Scientific Anglers brand. Ross Reels will also continue to operate independently under its brand name from Montrose, Colo.
The transaction is expected to be completed in the second quarter. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Scientific Anglers always has been a bit of an odd fit for 3M. But it endeared itself to many of the company's fly-fishing executives over the years. Many have been the tales from the old days when 3M execs directed one of the company's jets toward West Yellowstone or another far-off destination to "test'' products.
But the business had a serious side. 3M had the chemists and other scientists that allowed it to develop new fly lines that ultimately were easier to cast, floated higher in the water and dried quicker. The Scientific Anglers brand is known worldwide.
"Our goal is for Scientific Anglers to be the world leader in fly lines, leaders and tippet, and for Ross to be the leading innovator in American-made fly reels," said Jim Lepage, newly appointed President of both businesses. "We plan to maintain strong investment in R&D at both businesses and we intend to bolster their sales and distribution resources here in the U.S. and build both brands internationally."
"We think both businesses have incredible opportunities to drive fly-fishing innovation well into the future," said David Perkins, Orvis Executive Vice Chairman. "Jim Lepage will move to Midland and from there he will be dedicated to running both S.A. and Ross. He and the excellent teams already in place will build these strong brands for the future. Neither consumers nor the trade will likely notice much of a difference in the branding of these fine businesses under Orvis ownership. What they will notice is renewed marketing energy, well-supported sales and service staff and an even higher level of new product innovation."
Interestingly, Orvis will not carry Scientific Anglers-brand fly lines in its catalog, stores or website, nor are there plans to more widely distribute Orvis products through S.A.'s established wholesale accounts. "Each brand must remain focused on being the leading innovator in their respective product categories and distribution channels," Lepage said. "Maintaining that clarity will be the key to our success."
Doug Hannon — a man perhaps unknown to many everyday anglers, but nonetheless a legend in modern fishing — died unexpectedly last week at his Florida home. He was 66.
His death followed complications from recent neck surgery.
Hannon was widely known as the "Bass Professor.''
A brilliant innovator, Hannon most recently developed the WaveSpin fishing reel, which produces tangle-free casts.
Hannon was widely know for catching and releasing more than 800 largemouth bass weighing 10 pounds or more.
I fished with him in the 1980s in Florida, and neither of us caught bass that big on that outing — though we did catch a lot of bass.
He was a classy guy and a lot of fun in a boat.
“He was deeply analytical and had an exceptional ability to visualize and solve complex issues, especially when it came to fishing tackle, lures and components geared to helping anglers enjoy the sport,” said Russ Riley, a longtime friend and president of the company Hannon launched eight years ago to produce and market his new fishing reels. “You could instantly see and feel his passion when he was showing anglers at fishing shows his engineering designs. He absolutely loved the sport.”
Hannon’s WaveSpin spool design won nearly every award including the “Best of the Best” from Field & Stream Magazine. It was called the “first significant advancement in spin fishing in more than 50 years,” by Outdoor Life Magazine.
In 2000 Hannon was inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wis..
“Anglers found him to be very approachable,'' Riley said.
A conservationist, Hannon often railed against the irresponsible use of herbicides in lakes and rivers.
He wrote three books, "Hannon's Field Guide for Bass Fishing,'' "Catch Bass,'' and "Big Bass Magic,'' and produced videos for 3M called Understanding Bass, Catching Big Bass, and Bass-Formula for Success.
He published the Hannon Moon Times nationally for TV, magazines, newspapers and radio, and an annual pocket guide for anglers called the Moon Clock now in its 32nd year.
Born in Winnipeg in 1946 to a Canadian mother and a father from Texas, Hannon moved to the U.S. at age 7. He attended Governor Dummer Academy in Massachusetts and graduated from Tulane University in New Orleans.
He was an accomplished guitarist, playing in rock and roll bands, and was a lifelong runner.
Hannon's wife, Lynn, died of cancer in 2006. They had no children.
Mille Lacs walleye anglers will be limited to two fish beginning May 11, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday morning.
The harvest slot wil be 18 to 20 inches. One walleye in the two-fish limit can be larger than 28 inches.
Last year the limit was four walleyes, with only walleyes under 17 inches allowed to be kept, except that one could be longer 28 inches. Fish the smaller size were difficult to find.
Changes also are coming this summer to smallmouth bass and northern pike limits on the big lake.
The lake’s 27- to 40-inch protected slot regulation for northerns will be narrowed to a 33- to 40-inch protected slot, with one longer than 40 inches. The possession limit is three.
In a news release Tuesday morning, the DNR also said that the smallmouth bass bag limit and slot limit will be broadened to allow for more harvest. The new regulation is a 17- to 20-inch protected slot. The possession limit is six, with only one longer than 20 inches in possession. Previously, all smallmouth bass less than 21 inches had to be immediately released and the possession limit was one.
“We want Mille Lacs to continue to be a world-class walleye fishing destination,” said Dirk Peterson, DNR fisheries chief. “Currently, the size and structure of the walleye population isn’t where we want it. We are committed to remedying the situation as quickly as possible through regulations that are designed to increase survival of the lake’s younger and smaller walleye.
“The smallmouth bass and northern pike regulations are designed to protect smaller walleye until we have better information on what these predator species are eating,” said Peterson. “We’ll be starting a predator diet study this spring. Meanwhile, the regulations will allow anglers some additional non-walleye harvest opportunities while also retaining solid numbers of trophy-sized fish.”
The DNR said it wants to conserve the lake’s large 2008 year-class of walleye because no strong year-class is coming up behind these fish. Fish in this year-class are 15- to 17-inches in length.
The new rules, the DNR said, intend to keep the total walleye kill below the combined state-tribal 2013 safe harvest level of 250,000 pounds. Fishing regulations may be adjusted if angler kill is expected to be either too high or lower than anticipated. This year’s safe harvest level is the lowest established since treaty management began in 1997.
In the DNR release, Tom Jones, Mille Lacs Lake coordinator, said a 2-inch walleye harvest slot is not unprecedented on Mille Lacs, having been implemented in 2001, 2002 and 2007. He said the state’s walleye harvest has been below this year’s allocation level of 178,500 pounds four of the last 10 years and in 2005 the harvest was below 200,000 pounds.
The lake is also becoming increasingly complex and unpredictable, the DNR said. This is due largely to changes due to the presence of unwanted aquatic invasive species such as zebra mussels, spiny water flea and Eurasian watermilfoil.
These factors, plus a state and tribal harvest management strategy that focused largely on walleyes in the 14- to 18-inch range, all have contributed to a declining walleye population, according to the DNR.
Jones said despite the declining walleye population, winter walleye fishing was good, which typically suggests good fishing in spring.
For a list of lakes in the northern third of Wisconsin in territory ceded by the Chippewa to the federal government in an 1800-era treaty, and the walleye limits on those waters for the coming season for sport anglers, click here.