Dennis Anderson: Walleyes seem to be bigger near the border

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 10, 2009 - 11:41 AM

On Crane Lake, hard by the Minnesota-Ontario border, a party of anglers found enough keepers, and plenty more worth admiring.

view larger photos

  

CRANE LAKE, MINN. - Saturday morning was not all that miserable, given standards long established for the Minnesota fishing opener. The temperature here was in the mid-30s and it wasn't even raining. Snow had been predicted, but that held off, and winds were inconsequential.

Sure, as the morning wore on, our fingers grew board stiff. And the wind bit at our faces like flying glass. But all together, a good day to angle.

Our bunch of about 20, most from in and around the Twin Cities, descended on Nelson's Resort on Crane Lake beginning at midafternoon Friday.

Having fished Upper Red Lake on the opener the past few seasons, we had sought a change of venue and could find none prettier than Crane Lake, hard by the Minnesota-Ontario border.

And, we would soon learn, we could find no lake with bigger walleyes to offer, either.

• • •

Like many border waters, Crane Lake congregates its walleyes in spring where currents flow. None of these areas is better known or more productive on Crane Lake than the "Gorge," or the alleyway through which the Vermilion River spills into Crane.

It was the Gorge we descended upon after breakfast Saturday. Skies were gunboat gray, and summer seemed a long way distant. Still, the smell of combusted gasoline adrift on water only recently freed of ice confirmed to us a new season had begun, one of knots and jigs, sliding sinkers and live wells.

A new season of fishing in Minnesota.

We weren't too far into Saturday's outing when John Weyrauch, fishing in about 13 feet of water, hooked a walleye that doubled his graphite rod nearly parabolically.

"Geez," said his son, Jackson, reaching for a net.

The fish by then could be seen near the lake surface, its broad back giving it a submarinelike appearance.

"Twenty-five inches," John said moments later, after boating the walleye and putting a measuring stick to it.

About the same time, my son, Trevor, fooled a walleye of still larger dimensions -- it would tape more than 27 inches long and weigh 6.5 pounds.

This last fish was taken on a sliding sinker rig with a 6-foot-long snell and a chartreuse hook baited with a rainbow minnow.

John's and Trevor's fish were photographed and returned to the water. The Department of Natural Resources has slapped (and correctly so) a 17-28 inch protected walleye slot on the lake, requiring as much. But the fish would have been set free, anyway.

These big walleyes were far from the last our group caught Saturday on Crane Lake.

Jeff Kolstad of Stacy, Minn., fishing with us for the first time, tagged our group's biggest walleye, a behemoth measuring 29 inches. Jeff was fishing with longtime opener participant Paul Kreutsfeldt of Stillwater, and the six anglers in the Kolstad-Kreutsfeldt boat produced what seemed like an aquarium full of walleyes longer than 22 inches.

Additionally, my brother, Dick, owns a cabin on Crane Lake, and he and his son, Brian, spent a good while Saturday at the Gorge, too.

Brian earned his keep by boating a 27-inch walleye, one such fish of a handful he and his dad caught whose dimensions seemed otherwordly.

"Keeper" walleyes, by contrast, were somewhat more difficult to come by. And we needed a few to knife: Twenty people can consume a lot of walleyes, and we had planned a group fish fry Saturday evening.

LP tanks and deep fryers had been toted from the Twin Cities. Bob and Gina Kowalski of Vadnais Heights had been assigned salad-making duties And others of our group -- Steve Vilks, Jeff Knopps and Dave Kelley among them -- had been given culinary assignments of their own.

On a day when the weather never really changed much from sunrise to sunset, we accumulated dinner, one keeper walleye at a time.

We did this intermittent to boating and releasing memory-book walleyes many anglers don't see in their fishing lives.

Opening day for us ended where all Opening Days should. In a screen house, with knives drawn.

Though no warmer there than on the water, and beneath skies no clearer than those that had covered us at midday, the day nevertheless had unfolded pleasantly enough.

Walleyes have that effect on people, big ones in particular.

Dennis Anderson • danderson@startribune.com

  • 2009 MINNESOTA FISHING OPENER

  • 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

Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Washington 102 FINAL
New York 91
Oklahoma City 114 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Cleveland 91 FINAL
Miami 101
LA Lakers 24 2nd Qtr
Chicago 27
Golden State 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
DePaul 69 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 72
Ohio 58 FINAL
Nebraska 71
Colorado 66 FINAL
Hawaii 69
George Washington 8:00 PM
Wichita State
Central Mich 48 FINAL
Western Ky 49
Fresno State 6 FINAL
Rice 30
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
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