Once the hook was freed from a tree, sunfish were caught at regular intervals.
NISSWA, MINN. - Shortly after sunrise on the 2009 walleye opener, I hiked with fly rod in hand along a boat harbor. A light rain was falling and moderate-sized waves -- gray and cold -- rolled in from the lake, pushed by a north wind. It was 42 degrees.
My plan was to cast flies for panfish, and to that end, I carried in my vest an assortment of offerings. Although it was the walleye opener, I was surprised to find just one other angler occupying the channel. Not surprising was that he was outfitted in clothing heavy enough to ward off a March blizzard, stocking cap and all.
I opted to start the morning with by tying on a weighted nymph, figuring the nighttime cold had lowered the water temperature significantly enough to thwart any surface activity.
My very first backcast landed the fly in a tree behind me. The hook was embedded in a branch just high enough that I couldn't reach it, but low enough that I was not going give up and break the line, thus loosing the nifty combination of hair and feather for which I had paid two bucks the day prior.
With some effort, I was able to free the fly and get back to fishing.
On the first cast that actually hit the water, I caught a small sunfish. Shortly after I hauled in another. At times, I caught a fish on each of three or four consecutive casts, then nothing for five or 10 minutes. About every fifth sunnie was a keeper.
As the morning progressed, other anglers arrived. Most were casting small jigs tipped with minnows suspended below a bobber. Everyone was catching at least a few crappies. The larger fish were tossed in pails destined I'm sure for a fry pan. Others were released.
I caught only the occasional crappie. It was obvious it took the additional enticement of a struggling minnow to get them to bite.
The sunnies, however, ignored the jig and minnow combos but were hitting my tiny fly with some regularity. In a few hours of fishing I had 10 hand-sized sunnies and three crappies in my bucket.
By midmorning, the boat channel was lined with anglers. Fishing had slowed. I overheard someone comment that if the sun would come out, the fish might start biting again.
"It's never warm on opening day," came a reply.
Bill Marchel, an outdoors columnist and photographer, lives near Brainerd.
|Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman||1||FINAL|
|Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Arrieta||4|
|Houston - WP: T. Sipp||5||FINAL|
|Cleveland - LP: C. Allen||1|
|San Francisco - WP: T. Hudson||10||FINAL|
|Washington - LP: D. Fister||3|
|St. Louis - LP: A. Wainwright||4||FINAL|
|Philadelphia - WP: K. Kendrick||5|
|Chicago WSox - LP: D. Webb||3||FINAL|
|NY Yankees - WP: D. Robertson||4|
|Tampa Bay - WP: D. Smyly||8||FINAL|
|Toronto - LP: M. Stroman||0|
|Atlanta - WP: D. Hale||3||FINAL|
|Cincinnati - LP: M. Parra||1|
|Seattle - WP: D. Leone||5||FINAL|
|Boston - LP: K. Uehara||3|
|Kansas City - WP: Y. Ventura||6||FINAL|
|Texas - LP: C. Lewis||3|
|Pittsburgh - WP: J. Locke||8||FINAL|
|Milwaukee - LP: Y. Gallardo||3|
|Detroit - LP: R. Ray||6||FINAL|
|Minnesota - WP: R. Pressly||20|
|Miami - WP: H. Alvarez||13||FINAL|
|Colorado - LP: F. Morales||5|
|San Diego - LP: O. Despaigne||1||FINAL|
|Arizona - WP: J. Collmenter||5|
|LA Angels - LP: J. Grilli||3||FINAL|
|Oakland - WP: S. Gray||5|
|NY Mets - LP: J. Niese||2||FINAL|
|Los Angeles - WP: D. Haren||6|
|Tampa Bay||3:30 PM|
|New Orleans||7:00 PM|
|St. Louis||7:00 PM|
|San Diego||8/24/14 3:00 PM|
|Cincinnati||8/24/14 7:00 PM|
|Atlanta||8/28/14 5:00 PM|
|Detroit||8/28/14 6:00 PM|
|Indianapolis||8/28/14 6:00 PM|
|Kansas City||8/28/14 6:00 PM|
|NY Jets||8/28/14 6:00 PM|
|St. Louis||8/28/14 6:00 PM|
|Carolina||8/28/14 6:30 PM|
|New England||8/28/14 6:30 PM|
|Washington||8/28/14 6:30 PM|
|Baltimore||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|Chicago||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|Denver||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|Minnesota||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|San Francisco||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|Arizona||8/28/14 9:00 PM|
|Seattle||8/28/14 9:00 PM|
|(21) Texas A&M||8/28/14 5:00 PM|
|(9) So Carolina|
|Wake Forest||8/28/14 6:00 PM|
|Boise State||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|(18) Ole Miss|
|Tulane||8/28/14 7:00 PM|
|Temple||8/28/14 8:15 PM|
|Rutgers||8/28/14 9:00 PM|
|Weber State||8/28/14 9:30 PM|
|(19) Arizona State|
|BYU||8/29/14 6:00 PM|
|(6) Jacksonville St||8/29/14 6:30 PM|
|(8) Michigan State|
|Bowling Green||8/29/14 6:30 PM|
|TX-San Antonio||8/29/14 8:00 PM|
|Colorado State||8/29/14 8:00 PM|
|UNLV||8/29/14 9:30 PM|
|UCF||8/30/14 7:30 AM|
|Real Salt Lake||1||FINAL|
|Calgary||8/24/14 2:00 PM|
|Saskatchewan||8/24/14 6:00 PM|
|Ottawa||8/29/14 6:30 PM|
|Winnipeg||8/31/14 2:00 PM|
|Toronto||9/1/14 12:00 PM|
|Edmonton||9/1/14 3:30 PM|
Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?