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.
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.
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.
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Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?