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.
|Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw||14||FINAL|
|Chicago Cubs - LP: E. Jackson||5|
|Boston - WP: J. Tazawa||5||FINAL|
|Baltimore - LP: D. O`Day||3|
|Milwaukee - LP: J. Broxton||2||FINAL|
|Pittsburgh - WP: J. Holdzkom||4|
|Toronto - LP: M. Buehrle||3||FINAL|
|NY Yankees - WP: H. Kuroda||5|
|Washington - WP: D. Fister||3||FINAL|
|Miami - LP: T. Koehler||2|
|Chicago WSox - WP: J. Quintana||4||FINAL|
|Tampa Bay - LP: J. Hellickson||3|
|NY Mets - WP: Z. Wheeler||5||FINAL|
|Atlanta - LP: J. Teheran||0|
|Cleveland - LP: K. Crockett||4||FINAL|
|Minnesota - WP: J. Burton||5|
|Detroit - WP: J. Verlander||10||FINAL|
|Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas||1|
|Seattle - WP: T. Walker||10||FINAL|
|Houston - LP: B. Peacock||5|
|Arizona - LP: C. Anderson||3||FINAL|
|Colorado - WP: J. Lyles||15|
|Cincinnati - LP: D. Holmberg||1||FINAL|
|St. Louis - WP: J. Lackey||2|
|Philadelphia - LP: D. Buchanan||1||FINAL|
|Oakland - WP: J. Lester||3|
|Texas - WP: L. Bonilla||12||FINAL|
|LA Angels - LP: H. Santiago||3|
|San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson||0||FINAL|
|San Diego - WP: O. Despaigne||5|
|San Diego||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Dallas||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Washington||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Houston||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Minnesota||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Tennessee||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Baltimore||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Green Bay||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Indianapolis||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Oakland||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|San Francisco||9/21/14 3:05 PM|
|Denver||9/21/14 3:25 PM|
|Kansas City||9/21/14 3:25 PM|
|Pittsburgh||9/21/14 7:30 PM|
|Chicago||9/22/14 7:30 PM|
|NY Giants||9/25/14 7:25 PM|
|(20) Kansas State||14|
|Old Dominion||11:00 AM|
|Georgia Tech||11:00 AM|
|Eastern Mich||11:00 AM|
|(11) Michigan State|
|Bowling Green||11:00 AM|
|North Carolina||2:30 PM|
|(6) Texas A&M||2:30 PM|
|Central Mich||2:30 PM|
|Fla Atlantic||3:00 PM|
|San Jose St||3:00 PM|
|Texas State||3:00 PM|
|Georgia State||5:00 PM|
|Appalachian St||6:00 PM|
|Miss State||6:00 PM|
|Northern Ill||6:00 PM|
|Middle Tennessee||6:00 PM|
|Utah State||6:00 PM|
|Ball State||6:00 PM|
|(14) So Carolina||6:30 PM|
|(4) Oklahoma||6:30 PM|
|Ga Southern||6:30 PM|
|(22) Clemson||7:00 PM|
|(1) Florida State|
|New Mexico||7:00 PM|
|New Mexico St|
|(2) Oregon||9:30 PM|
|San Diego St||9:30 PM|
|Texas Tech||9/25/14 6:30 PM|
|(25) Oklahoma State|
|Appalachian St||9/25/14 6:30 PM|
|(12) UCLA||9/25/14 9:00 PM|
|(15) Arizona State|
|Middle Tennessee||9/26/14 7:00 PM|
|Fresno State||9/26/14 7:00 PM|
|(1) Florida State||9/27/14 2:00 AM|
|Duke||9/27/14 2:00 AM|
|North Carolina||9/27/14 2:00 AM|
|Real Salt Lake||5|
|Calgary||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Ottawa||9/21/14 3:00 PM|
|Montreal||9/26/14 6:00 PM|
|Saskatchewan||9/26/14 9:00 PM|
|Hamilton||9/27/14 5:30 PM|
|Brt Columbia||9/27/14 8:30 PM|
Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?