Ron Hustvedt

Ron Hustvedt is an outdoors writer and photographer who covers a broad array of experiences, individuals and events centered on hunting and fishing. He is also a professional educator. Please visit his website at www.WriteOutdoors.com.

Posts about Fishing

Memorial Day crowds too much to handle? Try night fishing!

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt Updated: May 21, 2014 - 4:13 PM

            One of the best times to be out on the water, is that time period after most boats have gone in for the evening. Nighttime is a great time to be on the water, especially if you were stuck in the office rather than the boat on that sacred fishing opener weekend. 

            Fishing at night in May and early June is an under-fished time period that can reap large benefits for anglers who try it. Night fishing is a ton of fun and best of all you don’t have to compete for the best locations..

            With all the crowds on the lake during the walleye opener and Memorial Day weekend, walleye can be pressured from their traditional haunts during the day. Move into those places near dark and most of the boats are gone.

            A note of caution: night fishing is not recommended for the ill-prepared. Anglers who fumble around during the daytime are likely to have a disaster at night. Also, be sure that your lake is open for night time fishing. Mille Lacs has a night fishing ban right now and a few metro lakes have some special regulations regarding fishing at night.

Night fishing requires a boat without too much clutter, lighting that is hands-free, and a life jacket should be worn at all times. If you’ve never fished the lake before, be sure to have a good map and don’t just rely on your GPS. Mapping software is another great tool, but there are hidden rocks even on lakes with detailed mapping technology.

            Some anglers like to tape a flashlight to their landing net but most prefer to wear a headlamp. A good headlamp runs around $20 and must be easily turned on and off.

            Getting on the water before the sun sets is best if you can do it because you can get set up while there’s still daylight. Not only that, but the night bite begins before the sun sets so consider it getting out there early.

Locations

            Walleye like to move from the depths up to the shallows at night, especially during this time of the year. A large flat with emerging weeds is a great location, especially if it’s adjacent to an area with current such as a channel or narrows. Try trolling the seven to 12 foot depth range with a shallow-running Rapala just ticking the tips of those fresh-growing weeds.

            Inside turns of underwater structure can be especially good in depths ranging from a few inches deep on down to 12 feet of water. If you arrive before dusk, start at the deeper locations but once night settles in go shallow.

             

Tactics

            Livebait rigs with or without spinners are great for fishing the lowlight period as the sun is setting. A leech, minnow or crawler will each work but it’s always best to have each along with so you can key in on the most productive lure. Nortland Fireball jigs tipped with livebait are also quite effective.

            A jig tipped with a Northland Impulse artificial bait is also very effective and can be easier at night when checking the condition of your bait is not as easy. The scent given off by the Impulse baits attract walleye that more drawn to scent during low-light periods.

            Crankbaits are not to be overlooked, especially once the sun has set. A shallow-running or countdown Rapala minnow is effective when long-cast over shallow flats at night. Clackin’ minnows, raps and X-Raps are also great options. Longlining these same lures while using the electric trolling motor or a controlled drift with a driftsock are also quite effective.

No boat? No problem!

            Another great thing about nighttime fishing in the spring is that you don’t need a boat to get to the walleye, you just walk out there and they’ll come to you. Many anglers in boats find themselves in depths of two to three feet of water, which anybody with waders will tell you is an accessible range of water.

            It’s a lot of fun to be out there in your waders and I’d say it’s a more rugged experience than fishing from the boat. I’ve gone wading numerous times and had tremendous success. I still prefer to be in my boat but wading out to a shallow flat at night is a surreal experience. You have the stringer tied to your waders and your minnow bucket is tied to you as well—if you get a good bite then back up and get ready for a real in-the-water battle.

            My favorite method is to pitch a Fireball jig tipped with a shiner up into a shallow point or flat that is adjacent to deeper water. Some of my favorite locations on Lake Bemidji are Diamond Point and the fishing pier by Lake Irvine. On Cass, I like the area around the channel that flows into Pike Bay.

            In the metro area, Lake Nokomis has some great night fishing spots around the lake. Some of the best fishing is the southeast side of the lake and just north of the big swimming beach on the west side. Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet have good night fishing locations all around the lake. Areas adjacent to public beaches on any lake are good at night because nobody is swimming and all that sand makes for a good walleye cruising ground.

            Safety is extremely important with this scenario, however. I always wears a lifejacket while night fishing with waders and take along a powerful flashlight. You will have boats out there with you and if somebody wants to cruise over the shallows at a higher speed you need to be able to signal to them that you are out there just as you would if you were in a canoe or kayak. 

Game Fair 2013 promises to be bigger and better than ever

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt Updated: August 3, 2013 - 11:58 PM

Folks line up as gates open up 9 a.m. daily August 9, 10, 11 and 16, 17, 18

Folks line up as gates open up 9 a.m. daily August 9, 10, 11 and 16, 17, 18

 The Armstrong Ranch Kennels in Ramsey are set for the 32nd annual Game Fair, with tons of events, activities and attractions for the entire family . The six-day event takes place over two weekends in August beginning August 9, 10 and 11 and continuing August 16, 17 and 18. Fall hunting seasons are coming soon and Game Fair is the best place to see and try the latest gear while learning from the nation’s leading experts.

 
Your hosts for all 32 years of Game Fair are Chuck and Loral I Delaney. After a visit to England’s Game Fair in 1980, the Delaney’s decided this type of event might be a hit among the outdoorsmen and women of the Midwest. That first Game Fair held in 1982, on the same grounds as it is today, was just barely a success—but it was the start of something that’s only grown bigger and better each year, attracting millions. Game Fair has also been the launching point for many new products, talents, and experts—it’s truly the place to be for outdoors lovers of all ages.
 
Plenty of things to see and experience at Game Fair

Plenty of things to see and experience at Game Fair

Game Fair is a full participation event and visitors are encouraged to bring their shotgun (cased), their bow (cased), and their dog (leashed). Many visitors just prefer to watch others in action with a twice daily shooting exhibition, dog events, archery, birds of prey, and dozens of daily seminars from national outdoors experts. Game Fair is home to over 250 exhibitors including top dog trainers, hunting guides and retailers from across North America. With dozens of Dog Clubs and Sportsman’s Clubs, Game Fair is the nation’s largest gathering of outdoor organizations.
 
Game Fair is the only place where you can do it all. Some of the highlights of 2013 include:
·      Twice daily Exhibition Shooting Shows brought to you by the Gould Brothers
·      Firearms Trainer Wendy Brown with Ladies and Youth shooting instruction
·      Fan favorite “Mr. Sound Effects” returns to perform his phenomenal vocal skills
·      Meet Rusty the Horse, otherwise known as the world’s largest golden retriever
·      Big prize contests open to all including a $1,000 Archery Shooting Challenge, a $10,000 Duck and Goose Calling Contest, and a Turkey Calling Contest.
 
Visit with Ron and Laura Schara, talk waterfowl with champion callers, hear dog training advice from nationally renowned trainers, watch the fabulous birds of prey with Frank Taylor, or just walk along the lake taking in the sights throughout the picturesque grounds.
Quench your thirst or curb your hunger at the many concession stands. Be sure to try your luck at numerous raffles and drawings for big prizes throughout the Game Fair.
 
The spacious woods and water of Game Fair are open rain or shine from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. August 9 to 11 and August 16 to 18 (closing is 5 p.m. on Sundays). Game Fair is located in Ramsey at the Armstrong Ranch Kennels. Complete details on the 32nd annual Game Fair can be found online at www.GameFair.com or by calling 763-427-0944. Follow Game Fair on Facebook.com/GameFairUSA and on Twitter @GameFairUSA. See you at Game Fair!

A truly unique fishing opener "on" the ice

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt Updated: May 11, 2013 - 3:45 PM

 

 

 

PIKE BAY LAKE, CASS LAKE, MN--The shoreline ice around most northern Minnesota lakes has deteriorated beyond the bounds of being walkable but a shallow sandbar provided myself and two fellow anglers the opportunity to have some cautiously safe fun this fishing opener. 

Bryan "Beef" Sathre of Fathead Guide Service hams it up on the ice in shallow water on Pike Bay Lake

Bryan "Beef" Sathre of Fathead Guide Service hams it up on the ice in shallow water on Pike Bay Lake

 

 

In 30-plus years of fishing the mythical Minnesota walleye opener, I can safely say I've never seen ice on my favorite lakes this late in the season. It's been close a few years but never like this and, according to the record books, only a time or two like this in the last century. "I can remember there being ice up here in 1996 but that's about it," said Bryan "Beef" Sathre of Fathead Guide Service in Bemidji and Cass Lake. "The old-timers up here tell me that the last time it was like this was back in 1950, so this is probably a once in a lifetime sort of experience," he added. 

 

 

Armed with tow ropes, extra floatation and wearing life jackets, Sathre, another friend and I ventured out onto a shallow sand bar along the shore of Pike Bay Lake near Cass Lake Minnesota. The edge of the ice was 8-inches thick and we found ice as thick as 14-inches. The depth of the water we were over never exceeded 5 feet deep and we were well dressed in case something dramatic took place. 

We had to drill holes using an ice auger when we weren't along the edge of the ice. There were plenty of small to medium sized perch all over the shelf where we were fishing and the edge of the ice was quite stable, once you broke off a few feet of "honey-combed" ice. How did we get on the ice? The water was so shallow that we just stepped up onto it. 

A photograph I posted on Facebook went viral around mid-day Saturday with plenty of comments from people both on the positive and negative aspects of our journey. For one thing, all three of us are very cautious individuals who are otherwise very responsible members of society. We didn't venture into anything where we didn't have extra safety measures in place. There were plenty of opportunities for being stupid but we stayed over water shallower than our height and we didn't venture past a small presure ridge that prevented us from the spot we had selected to fish.

 

 

Point being, if we were out there with the primary purpose to fish, we would not have been able to access the locations we wanted to. Just being able to say we fished through the ice on fishing opener was the experience onto itself. I'm fairly certain that whitewater rafters and kayakers take a greater risk than we were that day. 

 

 

Most comments on Facebook said this was the quintessential Minnesota fishing experience and that's exactly what we were going for when we set out. Those who said it was stupid or irresponsible have every right to say that, but I respectully disagree with them. think it's irresponsible to go in a boat without a life jacket on and check out all the photos of people from this weekend who are without one. Cold water is dangerous whether you are walking through it with insulated waders or in a boat. 

None of what we did out there was staged or fake. We weren't sitting on a dock either. That was a solid sheet of ice. It looks crazy but really it was quite tame. The photographs of the two guys with their feet dangling in the water were taken by me, standing about six feet away, on the sandy bottom with waders and a life jacket on. 

 

 

Ice conditions are rapidly deteriorating and we are fairly certain that the ice we were on early this morning will not be accessible within the next day or two. If you decide to do the same, be sure to take the utmost caution. I have a five-year-old and a three-year-old child and both guys who were with me also have young kids. We left them at home for a good reason. If you decide to do the same as we did, leave the kids at home and remember that you are probably at a greater risk of something happening during your drive to the lake than when you are out there. 

Good luck fishing and happy fishing opener 2013!

 

Text and photos by Ron Hustvedt of WriteOutdoors.com

Text and photos by Ron Hustvedt of WriteOutdoors.com

 

 

In search of giant pike, across the border, in winter's final trophy hunt

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt Updated: March 31, 2013 - 12:11 AM

Some anglers go ice fishing—we were out on a trophy hunt. 

Not your typical trophy hunt, however. There would be no killing, at least none intentionally. Trophies would be released, a little tired, but no worse for wear. 

Whatever the quarry, it’s true that trophies tend to live in special places that require a little extra work to get to. A specific bay on Lake of the Woods was our destination for this trophy hunt and big pike were our quarry.

The mythical number for pike anglers is the 40-inch mark which roughly works out to being a 20-pound fish. It takes a special body of water and the right tactics to land a pike of that size. 

Lake of the Woods is loaded with big fish including probably the highest population of pike over 40-inches in the 48 contiguous states. Although there are plenty of excellent big pike entry points on the American side, our trophy hunting crew decided to cross the border into Canada—Manitoba to be specific. 

Only a small portion of massive Lake of the Woods is in Manitoba, most of the lake is in Ontario. The segment in Manitoba is known as Buffalo Bay and we stayed at the beautiful Buffalo Point Resort located right on the lake complete with a marina—a great access point for four-wheelers and snowmobiles. 

The group leader for my trip was Bryan “Beef” Sathre of Fathead Guide Service. A national pro-staffer with companies like IceForce, StrikeMaster, MarCum Electronics, Rapala and Otter Outdoors, he has fished Lake of the Woods a ton but usually from the American side. 

“Late ice is big pike time all over the lake but it seems like Buffalo Bay just has a higher percentage of pike in that 40-inch range,” Sathre said. Anglers practicing catch and release is one of the chief reasons for that. “Trophies like this have been around a long time but have a lot more life to live so we let them go to keep making more pike to catch in years to come,” Sathre emphasized.

Also along with the group was seasoned big pike angler Sabin Rasmus who has iced numerous big pike and is equally adamant about releasing every pike as quickly as possible into the waters. “Celebrate the catch with a few photos and then let it go again—there’s nothing cooler than that big tail disappearing back in the hole and the gush of water as it swims off to be caught again someday,” Rasmus said. 

 

Methodology

Trophy pike can be caught in a variety of ways but it’s tough to beat a solid spread of tip-ups over the selected area. Pike roam the lake in search of easy food, often in the form of dead fish floating just underneath the ice. These pike will kill anything they come across as well but an easy meal is tough for any predator to turn down. 

Our bait for the day was a dead minnow right around a foot long that was hooked with two trebles on a quick-strike rig. This “Slew-Dog” rig is a special set-up and the rig of choice for big pike anglers. Northland Tackle also makes a quick-strike rig called the Predator Rig and we used a few of them as well. 

Anglers can make their own rig as well so long as the treble hooks are big enough to fit the bait. In our case, foot-long frozen herring with one treble through the head and the other between the dorsal and tail. Large baits tend to deter smaller pike. Once a pike is on the line, it’s important to set the hook during the initial run to ensure a hookset in the mouth rather than deeper in the throat. A mouth hook is what makes a successful release possible.

Connecting the Slew-Dog rig to the tip-up was mason line. The thick white line performs very well in these conditions and doesn’t slice and dice your hand as a big pike burns the line on your fingers as you let it run. 

The snow was still thick on the ice so after drilling holes with the StrikeMaster equipped with extensions, we shoveled out an area to serve as a windbreak and then shoveled a viewing point so that the flag could be seen from our main base. 

Main base was at the midpoint of a J-shape resembling a decoy spread complete with 12 tip-ups set at various depths below the ice. None of the tip-ups was further than 200 feet away but only the end of the “J” was within 50 feet of home base. It makes for some high-stepping sprints when a flag pops, not to mention plenty of falls when your boot busts through the layer of slush and your other leg takes too big of a step. 

On the snow, near each hole, we placed a small black bucket to provide for an easy visual reference. Monitoring a dozen or so tip-ups from sunrise to sunset can be quite exhausting without visual references. 

 

Success

Over two days of hardcore fishing, in cold and blustery conditions, our group found its fair share of trophies. Five of the seven anglers in our group caught the biggest pike of their lifetime and seven pike over 40-inches were caught along with many others just shy of that mark. 

When you fish this way, the only fair way to do it is to take turns. We decided who would be first before the first flag ever popped but it’s funny how multiple flags tend to pop all at once, knocking that system out of order. No complaints, however. When two or three flags go in succession and you are running from one hole to the next, it’s the peak of excitement and anticipation. It’s also a great way to warm up! This is cross-training at its finest. 

Even though he’s put numerous anglers on 40-inch fish both as a guide and a friend, Sathre had yet to bust the mark himself. All that changed on our last day of angling, however, when he pulled a chunky 42-inch pike through the ice. “I love putting other people on fish but I’m not going to lie, that was a lot of fun to catch and it’s amazing how much power a fish that size has,” Sathre said. 

Adding to the thrill was the sheer girth of Sathre’s pike. “It was a very thick fish that just rolled over my hands as I held it—definitely the biggest I’ve ever caught. Best of all, it’s still swimming,” he said. 

All the pike our group caught were successfully released, often without time to take photographs. Normally a March trip features warm weather and plenty of opportunities for successful releases and photographs. Not this year with below zero wind chills and temperatures in the teens at best. 

 

Accommodations

Crossing into Canada at the point of entry just north of Warroad was relatively easy and a passport card or book was all it took. Just a few hundred yards past the international border is the turn-off for Buffalo Point Resort. The resort has a wide variety of accommodations for visitors year-round including cabins for sale right on the lake. Check www.buffalopoint.ca for details or visit lakeofthewoodsmn.com for general information on fishing and accommodations on the American side. 

Buffalo Point Resort has a full marina that offers access in the winter and a landing in the summer. When not covered in snow, there is a lush 18-hole golf course with the perfect blend of lakeshore and woods. 

With a restaurant, store and bar on the premises there was little need to venture out into other parts of Canada. Our group is not much for boozing while fishing so we had no problem with the law in Canada restricting drinking on the ice. 

That said, Canada is under strict price controls on adult beverages so if that’s part of the after-fishing plans, make sure to come fully prepared. Just not over prepared—customs has strict restrictions on how much adult beverage can be brought into the country. 

Positioned on a point, Buffalo Point provides visitors with beautiful views of both sunrise and sunset. Being so far north, and relatively away from metropolitan areas, the stars shine brighter and the northern lights glow more colorful. 

 

 

 

Today's woman proudly defines how she enjoys the outdoors and presents herself

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt Updated: February 19, 2013 - 9:38 PM

 

 

             “We Can Do It!” blares across the top of the famous poster from World War II featuring a woman flexing her arm in the rolled up sleeve of a blue denim work shirt.

            That image is a caricature known as “Rosie the Riveter” and she turned 70-years old last week reminding us of how far things have come. Her likeness adorns the wall of my three-year-old daughters bedroom as well as a refrigerator magnet in our kitchen. “Girls can do anything,” is what my daughter thinks it says and I couldn’t agree with her more.
During WWII, women were needed to fill vacancies left by men who were off to combat in the Pacific and Europe. Women were mobilized in a similar fashion during World War I but to a much lesser extent. After WWII the women were expected to return to the home but many had experienced a freedom they didn’t want to lose again.
            Over the past seven decades a woman’s role in society has changed vastly but there are still elements where they are greatly under represented. The outdoors is a prime example.
            Women like Rebecca Kent and Mercedes Akinseye are among a group in Minnesota working to change that. The group is known as, “Women Hunting and Fishing in All Seasons,” and its members call themselves a group of women and girls who love to be outdoors and want to get others out there as well. “Our mission is to increase hunting and fishing participation by Minnesota women of all ages and backgrounds through education, inspiration and empowerment,” Kent said.
            Kent is a recent college graduate who spent part of her undergraduate studies working with the DNR to study the reasons women aren’t participating in the outdoors as much as men. She interviewed women to find out the barriers that prevent them from getting outdoors and what opportunities could be presented to increase those numbers.  
            Kent and Akinseye recently spent a weekend up in Bemidji filming ice-fishing segments for a series of videos showing women ice fishing and talking about how other women can have similar experiences. Those videos will eventually end up on the group’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/WHFIS) and website (www.womenhfs.org). 

            Local fishing guide and promotional angler Bryan “Beef” Sathre of Fathead Guide Service and Promotions worked with the two showing them a few of his favorite hotspots. “Beef was great at letting us do our own thing like we wanted but he was a valuable asset to narrowing down our search and putting us on some solid bites,” Kent said. 
On Saturday, Kent and Akinseye spent the day fishing three different Bemidji-area lakes eventually catching six different species. It was a non-traditional “women’s-weekend” but that’s exactly what we set out to do, Akinseye said.
“We stayed at the Hampton Inn here in town and it’s a very nice hotel with all the modern accommodations—but we spent the day on the lake rather than in the spa, salon or shopping,” Kent said. “That’s what we went up there to do and wouldn’t have it any other way.”
 
Bemidji is loaded with those amenities as well but the pair chose the location because the outdoors opportunities are plentiful and very accessible. From their room overlooking the lake they could see thousands of shelters dotting the ice, some within a stone’s throw of the Hampton lobby.
            “We had a beautiful day on the ice. We were always comfortable and warm in our pop-up shelter,” Akinseye said. “The fishing was steady as well and we caught some good keepers for the dinner table later on.”
            After a day on the ice, they still managed to find time to relax in the hotel’s indoor-outdoor hot tub—a welcome rest after a day of drilling holes and hauling fish through the ice. “It was great to get back from a fun day on the ice, hang up our gear to dry and head to the restaurant for a drink and dinner,” Akinseye said.
            It was a weekend any Rosie the Riveter might have enjoyed after a long week of working—something most women today are doing already, compared to seven decades ago. The difference today is that a woman is the driver of her own destiny. The decisions are hers to make.
            “You can still preserve those things that make you a woman while doing other things you want to that used to be considered just for men,” Akinseye said. On the ice the attire was function over fashion with red StrikeMaster bib overalls, boots and a hearty coat but there was plenty of traditional femininity mixed in. 
            “I like to keep my nails looking nice and I always put on make-up before going fishing,” Akinseye said. “It’s not like I’m trying to impress anybody, and the fish don’t care. I do it for myself.”
            That image on that famous Rosie the Riveter poster is similar to Akinseye in that it features a woman who obviously works hard but also has make-up on her face. The main difference is that in the 1940s, a man painted the image expecting women to be tough while also maintaining her looks for his sake.
            Today, a woman can decide how she’ll look, for whom she’ll look good for, and what she does for fun. Being tough is just who she is for her own sake, not to mention when battling a scrappy walleye. 
 

Wear sunscreen! Late ice tip-up angling for trophy pike on Lake of the Woods

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt Updated: March 13, 2012 - 8:27 AM

 

 

             The grips of winter are rapidly slipping across the southern two-thirds of the state. This is bad news for ice anglers who have been cheated out of a typical Minnesota winter this year.The good news is that, normally, it takes a lot more than a few warm days to put ice anglers out of commission along the northern edge of Minnesota.

            I wouldn’t dare venture out on most lakes in the metro area but there was little concern driving the truck several miles onto Lake of the Woods, specifically Muskeg Bay, this past Saturday morning to do some late season trophy pike fishing.

            My group accessed the lake from the beautiful city of Warroad where we stayed at the Patch Motel (named after a strawberry patch).  Lake of the Woods is a high-quality fishery with healthy numbers of smallmouth bass, walleye, muskie and northern pike, not to mention plenty of trophies for each of the gamefish species.
            I spent the first 30 years of my life never having fished the big lake, but in the last few years I’ve tried to get up there at least once a year. Since time is limited and opportunities must be carefully selected, this late ice bite has to be my favorite.
            Minnesota’s Canadian border is the last stand for winter. The ice between Baudette and Warroad is usually the last place to ice fish anywhere in the country.
 
Targeting big pike
            While the walleye and pike seasons are closed on nearly every one of the 10,000 lakes, they are open on Lake of the Woods. Spring is still in the air and the fish are beginning to transition from their winter haunts to their spring spawning grounds.
            Big pike are beginning to move towards the river mouths to spawn in the backwaters and wetlands. As they prepare for that rigorous journey, they stage off the mouths of the rivers feeding on the abundant supply of food in the lake as well as in the mud. That’s right, in the mud.
            Hibernating frogs take refuge in the mud and are dormant, making for a tasty, pre-spawn morsel that hungry pike are willing to nose through for a meal.
            Frogs aren’t the only meal on the menu with plenty of baitfish located throughout the lake. Schools of tuliebee are a pike favorite and many of those are still located throughout the main structure of the lake. A lot of anglers focus on the rivers right now, but many are realizing that some of the biggest pike in the lake are still cruising the mid-lake structures in search of tulibee, the energy bar of the baitfish world.
   
         My guides for the trip were Bryan “Beef” Sathre of Fathead Guide Service and his good friends Tim, Sandy and Sabin Rasmus. The Rasmus family staked a claim on the ice with a sleeper house while Sathre and I were land-lubbers who commuted to the ice Saturday and Sunday from Warroad.  
            The snow pack on Lake of the Woods was not very high but it was quite difficult to get around anyplace without being on a snowmobile or a plowed road. Our road was maintained by Jon Asp of Jon’s Plowing Service and K&A Hide Away Sleepers who spends his winter keeping a well traveled road open from Swift Ditch almost to the Canadian border. 
            The pike bite was solid Saturday morning with three fish in the neighborhood of 40-inches hooked and released by 9:30 a.m. A few other fish caught throughout the day were of a smaller size but still fun to catch and impressive nonetheless.
            One of their secrets for big pike success is the use of dead baits rather than live minnows. Smelly dead baits with lots of natural oils are their favorites like herring. These deadbaits can be purchased from baitshops and bait dealers who much follow very strict guidelines with regards to packaging and size.
            These large baits are affixed to a tip-up using a predator rig featuring a double yoke harness for putting two treble hooks in the bait. A benefit of the larger bait is that most of the pike you hook are still holding it in their mouths by the time you set the hook. This allows for easier hook removal, less time for the pike to be out of the water and an easier release.
 
           Pike of all sizes roam Lake of the Woods from little 12-inch “hammer-handles” all the way up to monster pike beyond 50-inches in length. By most angler’s standards, anything over 30-inches is a high quality pike and anything over 40 is a trophy.
            This size-class of pike is a rarity these days throughout the nation which is why it is such a phenomenal fishery. There is a protected slot limit on the lake and any pike between 30 and 40 inches must be immediately released. A needle nose pliers with a wire cutter, jaw spreader and multi-use tool are the essentials for assuring a quick release of these big pike.
            Big pike take a long time to grow so anglers are strongly encouraged to release those giants they catch over 40 inches. For those who want a wall mount but don’t want to kill a fish, a cloth tape measure is the best tool. Accurate measurements of the length of the fish and its girth, along with a decent photograph, are enough for taxidermy artists to create a fiberglass replica. These replicas look just as good as a real fish mount and last forever as compared to a mount that can deteriorate over time.
 
Worth the drive
            Lake of the Woods normally retains quality ice throughout the month of March and, in some years, well into April. This winter has been anything but typical and even though there were a solid 30 inches on the lake, the current warm up could make conditions along the shorelines quite slushy.
            The best thing is to call ahead and find out what’s going on before venturing up. Just because one of the landings is no longer accessible doesn’t mean all of them are and many resorts provide shuttle service via ice-track machines known as Bombardiers that can go through most anything.
            High temperatures for the upcoming week are in the 50s but nighttime lows suggest there will be some refreezing, thereby slowing down the thaw. It takes a lot of heat and sun to knock down three-feet of ice.
Just make sure to pack your sunscreen—that sun is as intense in March as it is in September. When it’s sunny on the ice you can get a burn twice as fast because of the reflection. You won’t need much, just enough for your face.  Trust me on this one!
 
For more information on the Warroad Area contact www.warroad.org or call 800-328-4455. Additional information on the Lake of the Woods area can be found at www.lakeofthewoodsmn.com. 

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