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.
|Atlanta - LP: A. Wood||0||FINAL|
|Philadelphia - WP: A. Bastardo||1|
|Cleveland - LP: D. Salazar||5||FINAL|
|Detroit - WP: J. Verlander||7|
|Toronto - LP: R. Dickey||0||FINAL|
|Minnesota - WP: K. Gibson||7|
|Seattle - LP: J. Beimel||6||FINAL|
|Texas - WP: P. Figueroa||8|
|Los Angeles - WP: H. Ryu||2||FINAL|
|San Francisco - LP: M. Bumgarner||1|
|Colorado - WP: F. Morales||3||FINAL|
|San Diego - LP: I. Kennedy||1|
|St. Louis||8||Bottom 8th Inning|
|Milwaukee||2||Bottom 8th Inning|
|NY Yankees||8||Bottom 8th Inning|
|Toronto||5||Top 8th Inning|
|Boston||1||Top 7th Inning|
|Kansas City||5||Bottom 6th Inning|
|Minnesota||0||1st Prd 14:55|
|Los Angeles||9:30 PM|
Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?