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

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Tennessee 7:25 PM
Jacksonville
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Atlanta 127 FINAL
Cleveland 98
Phoenix 111 FINAL
Charlotte 106
Dallas 117 FINAL
Detroit 106
Utah 105 FINAL
Miami 87
Orlando 92 FINAL
Boston 109
Brooklyn 89 FINAL
Toronto 105
Memphis 117 FINAL
San Antonio 116
Milwaukee 97 FINAL
Portland 104
Houston 115 FINAL
Denver 111
Indiana 100 FINAL
LA Clippers 102
Ottawa 2 FINAL
New Jersey 0
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 2
Dallas 2 FINAL
Vancouver 0
Langston 65 FINAL
North Texas 78
Delaware State 72 FINAL
St Francis-NY 64
James Madison 72 FINAL
Ball State 52
SIU Edwardsville 65 FINAL
Campbell 70
St Francis-PA 67 FINAL
Duquesne 52
North Florida 77 FINAL
Florida State 93
Catawba 69 FINAL
George Mason 99
Ferrum 48 FINAL
High Point 106
Hampton 55 FINAL
Illinois 73
Gardner-Webb 65 FINAL
Jacksonville 68
Longwood 60 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 71
Arkansas State 69 FINAL
Miss State 55
Tennessee 72 FINAL
NC State 83
NC A&T 55 FINAL
Ohio State 97
Manhattan 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 65
Robert Morris 57 FINAL
Toledo 83
Char Southern 58 FINAL
Wofford 64
Kennesaw St 90 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
Barber-Scotia 52 FINAL
NC Central 108
Detroit 70 FINAL
UCF 75
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 73
TX A&M-CC 73 FINAL
Denver 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 61 FINAL
Houston 56
UT Martin 54 FINAL
Illinois State 64
Milligan 76 FINAL
Louisiana 115
Abilene Christian 44 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 83
USC Upstate 73 FINAL
Memphis 83
Alcorn State 56 FINAL
Murray State 94
Central Mich 80 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Georgia State 54 FINAL
Old Dominion 58
TX-Pan American 69 FINAL
Saint Louis 75
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
SMU 67
Texas State 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 66
SC State 39 FINAL
Texas Tech 101
Missouri State 70 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Chicago State 60 FINAL
Western Ky 75
Morehead State 50 FINAL
Green Bay 66
Northern Colorado 82 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 92
Winthrop 62 FINAL
Auburn 80
New Mexico St 55 FINAL
Baylor 66
San Diego St 62 FINAL
Cincinnati 71
Eastern Mich 46 FINAL
Michigan State 66
Loyola Marymount 58 FINAL
Stanford 67
Incarnate Word 82 FINAL
Grand Canyon 80
Northeastern 58 FINAL
Cal Poly 60
Central Arkansas 55 FINAL
New Mexico 76
Howard 45 FINAL
Pepperdine 53
Portland 73 FINAL
UNLV 75
CS-Northridge 56 FINAL
Oregon 79
Grambling St 38 FINAL
Washington 86
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Western Carolina 79 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 66
(21) Miss State 66 FINAL
Louisiana 51
(25) DePaul 109 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 84
Liberty 64 FINAL
NC State 67
Elon 77 FINAL
Campbell 51
Akron 73 FINAL
UCF 64
Richmond 77 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 67
Montana 70 FINAL
Seattle 64
(7) Stanford 46 FINAL
Chattanooga 54
Florida A&M 69 FINAL
Southern U 80
Oklahoma 72 FINAL
(13) Duke 92
Savannah State 56 FINAL
Auburn 62
Northern Colorado 43 FINAL
South Florida 84
Youngstown St 73 FINAL
Robert Morris 65
Siena 75 FINAL
Sacred Heart 65
Vermont 63 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
(1) South Carolina 69 FINAL
Hampton 49
Fla Gulf Coast 91 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 46
Texas Southern 92 FINAL
Houston Baptist 80
Northwestern 88 FINAL
UNLV 84
NC A&T 70 FINAL
Appalachian St 72
NC Central 52 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 67
Drexel 50 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Cincinnati 52 FINAL
Northern Ky 66
Alabama State 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 77
Morehead St 69 FINAL
USC Upstate 75
Arkansas State 59 FINAL
Kent State 44
American Univ 60 FINAL
Manhattan 52
UNC Greensboro 60 FINAL
St Bonaventure 78
Arkansas-Monticello 56 FINAL
Northwestern St 61
Prairie View 70 FINAL
Sam Houston St 51
McNeese State 59 FINAL
(3) Texas 76
Yale 90 FINAL
Wagner 65
Oakland 61 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 54
Eastern Kentucky 62 FINAL
Alabama A&M 56
SIU-Edwardsville 47 FINAL
Northern Ill 69
McMurry 25 FINAL
TX-Arlington 82
Portland 65 FINAL
Eastern Washington 72
North Texas 42 FINAL
San Francisco 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

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

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close