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 Recreation

Finding respectable walleye during the mid-winter groove

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt Updated: January 14, 2012 - 4:55 PM

 

Tim Schwartz of H2O Outfitters in Big Lake with a chunky Mille Lacs walleye he caught guiding with Roach's Guide Service

Tim Schwartz of H2O Outfitters in Big Lake with a chunky Mille Lacs walleye he caught guiding with Roach's Guide Service

 

 Late ice and early ice get so much attention it’s only fair that mid-ice gets its fair share of ink. After all, it’s the timeframe more anglers fish and it is largely neglected by the experts who are too busy debating the merits of early ice versus late ice.

            This scribe has wandered through that debate with some early ice fishing in December and a late March fishing trip last winter. Similar to other anglers, the majority of my ice fishing comes when the ice is at its thickest, the weather at its coldest and the lakes their busiest. This year has been “interesting” at best but the story remains the same.
            Why so little attention to this mid-ice timeframe?
   
The author's father (Ron Hustvedt Sr.) with an early morning walleye that made it into the frying pan that night

The author's father (Ron Hustvedt Sr.) with an early morning walleye that made it into the frying pan that night

         The answer to that question might be tough to find, but big walleye over 20-inches are thankfully not as difficult.
            Oh sure, a lot of work and a certain level of luck comes into the equation for finding walleye with of a respectable size, but anglers need not worry with a few tidbits of advice.
            This scribe recently chatted with fishing guide Bryan “Beef” Sathre of Fathead Guide Service out of Cass Lake and Bemidji for some advice on finding walleye big enough to give a good fight. The conversation took place during a furious jumbo perch bite on Lake Bemidji:
 
Bryan "Beef" Sathre with a beautiful golden walleye caught in the Bemidji area

Bryan "Beef" Sathre with a beautiful golden walleye caught in the Bemidji area

            Q: First of all, where can you expect to find walleye that measure 20-inches plus?
            A: It’s not like they hang out in a specific area away from the other walleye, but combine your location with the right presentation and you’ll find yourself catching a lot of walleye in that size range.
            On the lakes I fish, there are a lot of 20 to 24 inch walleye to be had with these tactics but you will occasionally find yourself with a walleye pushing the 28 inch mark or beyond. Don’t be surprised if you catch a hearty pike or eelpout as well. Walleye in that size range hang out in the same places as other large predators this time of the year.
            What I look for is a wide variety of locations, but my favorite is a transition zone where a soft bottom meets a hard bottom.
            You can use an underwater camera to find these areas, a high quality flasher will work as well but a simple weighted dropper is the cheapest way to go. Just put it on your hook and feel it make contact with the bottom. If it sticks after bottoming out, then you have a soft bottom.
            Soft bottoms have a lot going on with them including bug hatches, worms coming up and crayfish moving around. All of these activities attract baitfish and, in turn, larger predators.
            I also utilize the best mapping technology I can get my hands on to find breaklines, inside turns, underwater points, rock piles and donuts.
 
Author Ron Hustvedt with a hefty Lake Bemidji walleye

Author Ron Hustvedt with a hefty Lake Bemidji walleye

            Q: Besides what we had for breakfast, explain a donut.
            A: Large sandy flats are especially good for them but you can find them elsewhere on a lake. They essentially are areas of a consistent depth with a deeper hole contained in the middle. It might only be a 12-foot flat with a 15-foot hole in it, but that’s what you want to find.
            I like to fish these because they provide a natural edge that predators tend to like patrolling around. There’s often times a weedy edge nearby providing shelter for baitfish and cover for predators.
            Where there’s not a weedy edge, and when I’m on a spot I know has walleye regularly cruising by, I’ll toss down my structure on a string and create a weed bed. Perch and other baitfish come into the area and hold tight to the artificial weeds which is more incentive for those big predators to move in.
            If you find just such a location, try to figure out which direction the predators typically move in from. It’s amazing how the walleye can be almost like creatures of habit for the right location.
 
            Q: How deep of water?
            A: I know a lot of anglers who swear by deeper water, but I’m one who likes to stay shallow. There are some who fish as shallow as eight feet but I like the 14 to 18 foot range most of the time.
            Where I consistently fish is on the top half of a breakline. The depth drops gradually from eight to 12 feet and then fast from 12 to 15 feet. It’s gradual from 15 to 18 and then it drops off fast.
            Just make sure to stay away from the crowds and limit your movement. Noise is a big factor largely ignored by anglers but I’ve seen it time and time again on the ice.
 
Tony Roach of Roach's Guide Service on Mille Lacs with a quality mid-winter walleye

Tony Roach of Roach's Guide Service on Mille Lacs with a quality mid-winter walleye

            Q: What presentation tends to work best?
            A: If I’m fishing a tougher bite I’ll use a jigging spoon with a minnow head. If the fish are neutral and need to be willing to be coaxed into a bite, I’ll use an eye-droppers jig that has a stamped, spoon-shaped body tipped with a small to medium-sized shiner minnow.
            If you want to fish two lines, I like to deadstick the eye-dropper on a slip bobber rig while I jig with the spoon. With the eye-dropper, hook the shiner after the dorsal fin so that when it swims it has to put up a considerable effort and provides additional flash.
            In other situations when the walleye are steady but not strong, I’ll tie on a dropper spoon rig with a whole shiner minnow.
            A jigging spoon is the most versatile rig both with color and size. Tipped with a minnow head, jigging spoons can be absolutely deadly. If you have electronics, be sure to watch how the fish react to your presentation.
If they come in and hold, only to leave again, it could mean you have to slow your presentation. Be willing to let the walleye tell you how to react. Usually they want the action slowed down, but every once in awhile you can only get them to hit while aggressively jigging.
            Just be sure to pay attention if one comes in and leaves again because if you see that walleye once, and you didn’t try and set the hook in it, the chances are good that it will return.
 
            Q: Any other advice?
            A: With walleye over 20 inches be sure to practice catch and release as much as possible. There’s nothing wrong with a fish or two for a meal but let the rest of them swim another day.
            On yeah, watch out for the occasional pike using these tactics in these locations. They lurk around for the same reason as those larger walleye.
            I hate to say it, but there are also plenty of eelpout down there and that trophy walleye could turn into an ugly catch in no time. It might be slimy out of the hole, but under the ice a ‘pout provides you with an epic battle.
 
The midwinter bite is always hot up on Lake of the Woods

The midwinter bite is always hot up on Lake of the Woods

 

Life in the Ice Belt (a poem)

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt Updated: January 2, 2012 - 2:17 PM
 
Life in the Ice Belt
 
In the north, winter’s lots of fun.
The heat is gone but not the sun.
The weather is harsh, people nice.
Plenty of action on the ice.
 
A barren wasteland, some believe.
Ice fishing offers us reprieve.
Above the ice, not much to see.
Below the ice, things are fishy.
 
Augers are a special ice drill.
They tap the ice, unlock a thrill.
Pop a few holes, clear out the slush.
Get ready to fish. Feel the rush!
 
Drop down a lure, give it a jig.
Watch electronics for something big.
A flasher shows action below.
A camera lets you watch a show.
 
Get a bite. Fish on! Set the hook.
Rod bent, drag screaming take a look.
Down the hole, as it nears you’ll see.
What’s on the line? Shout,  “Yippee!”
 
Guide the fish into the ice hole.
Reach down, grab it and get control.
Sunfish, crappie, perch, walleye, pike.
Take a photo for friends to like.
 
Ice fishing is such a fun sport.
Six months of winter, way too short.
The ice calls to you. Give it a try.
Ice fishing helps winter whisk by.   
Poem and photo by Ron Hustvedt

Poem and photo by Ron Hustvedt

Meet the Hudson Bay Bound women after their historic journey that continues to its next phase

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt Updated: September 19, 2011 - 12:04 AM

 For Ann Raiho and Natalie Warren, paddling the 1,800 miles from Fort Snelling to Hudson Bay was just one part of the journey known as “Hudson Bay Bound.”

            That phase of the journey, which lasted 85 days, ended on August 25 in York Factory, Manitoba along the shores of Hudson Bay. Raiho and Warren enter the history books as the first women to complete the journey, inspired by Eric Severeid’s book “Canoeing With the Cree” first published in 1935.
            “The end of the Hayes River was a magical experience and we are happy that we accomplished our goal,” Warren said. The journey began June 2 at Fort Snelling, near the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers.
            The first phase included planning the entire trip while wrapping up their senior year of college at St. Olaf in Northfield and competing in a run for the Ultimate Frisbee national title.
Arriving at York Factory at Hudson Bay

Arriving at York Factory at Hudson Bay

            “A lot of expeditioners spend months of time planning and we did all that while keeping very busy and are so glad that everything worked out,” Raiho said. “Now it’s time to share that experience with others and hopefully inspire them to take their own outdoor adventures,” Warren added.
            The trip doesn’t feel like its over because their arrival in York Factory only sparked the beginning of yet another journey. “For one thing, we took a float plane from York Factory to Gillam and then took a 36-hour train ride to return to Winnipeg where our friends from Menogyn picked us up and returned us to Grand Marais,” Raiho said.
            In early September, Raiho and Warren gave a presentation of their journey to paddlers from all over canoe country at Stone Harbor in Grand Marais. The presentation went so well, they have been asked to share their story with others. “It would be fun to do some public speaking both from a motivational speaker role and sharing what we saw from an environmental perspective—a few offers have come in and we are open to others,” Warren said.
            Warren and Raiho want to be sure that everybody who is interested attends their celebration party this Thursday at the Bloomington REI from 7 to 8:30 p.m. “We’ll tell the story of our trip including video, photos and music provided by us,” Warren said.
            There will also be an auction for a Langford Prospector canoe from Stone Harbor, the canoe they used to make their epic journey. Proceeds from the auction, in addition to the other money they raised along their trip, will be donated to the YMCA’s Camp Menogyn. “People can make donations at the event as well if they are interested and we hope that we can raise at least $10,000 for Camp Menogyn so they can provide outdoor adventures for a lot of young people,” Raiho said. 
            Those who cannot make the event are invited to check their website at www.HudsonBayBound.com for photos, video and the entire blog of their trip along the way.
            The actual canoe they paddled to Hudson Bay is not the one up for bid because of its historic value but it will be on display at Stone Harbor in Grand Marais for years to come.
Ann Raiho looks out over Hudson Bay while strumming a tune

Ann Raiho looks out over Hudson Bay while strumming a tune

            Sharing their trip with others is only part of the next phase. As recent college graduates, both Raiho and Warren are in the middle of one of life’s great journeys. T
Once January rolls around, Inver Grove Heights native Raiho will be heading to Colorado State University of Fort Collins to pursue her master’s degree in ecology.
            Warren, on the other hand, will be job searching as she travels to Madison, New York, Washington, D.C. and her hometown Miami, Florida. “I’ll be back in Minneapolis as well and would love to work here if the right opportunity presented itself,” she said.
            One of the most commonly asked questions of the pair is what they plan on doing for their next wilderness adventure. “I have a cousin who is going on a seven-week trip next summer with Camp Menogyn so I told her in 2015 she can come with Natalie and I on another trip somewhere,” Raiho said.
            Where that trip will take them is another story yet to be told. Topping their historic journey to Hudson Bay will probably not be the goal but getting out there and doing something is always better than sitting around doing nothing.
            Raiho and Warren hope that others are inspired by their journey to do just that.  

Something for everyone at Game Fair

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt Updated: August 4, 2011 - 12:01 AM
The 30th annual Game Fair is worth a visit!

The 30th annual Game Fair is worth a visit!

 

The 30th annual Game Fair is only a week away and this year is looking to be another great one, if not the best one yet. Nearly two million people have visited the Game Fair over the years with about 50,000 a year for the last decade or so. Make plans to be there as the show runs from August 12-14 and 19-21. 

I’ve been attending the Game Fair every year for the past 15 years and have been helping run the show out there the past five years. It’s a great event and the hosts of Game Fair, Chuck and Loral I Delaney, are a class act who are simply amazing. The amount of time and energy they put into hosting the event is phenomenal.

Almost all of the usual fan favorites will be there this year once again and there will be plenty of new things to see as well. This includes exhibitors, dog events, shooting events, archery courses, concessions and plenty of people watching.

One of the great things about Game Fair is that it’s a full family participation event. Bring the dog on a leash and walk around one of the few venues where dogs are more than just allowed, they are invited.

Bring the kids too and have your kids bring a few friends. There are so many kid events to keep them busy and having fun. The event is centered around hunting, but I have a lot of friends who go there every year and they don’t hunt. When I ask them why they go, their answer is that it’s fun to bring the dog and their kids always beg them to go every year.

Tough to beat that!

Located just outside of Anoka on Highway 10 and Armstrong Boulevard, the Game Fair grounds are simply gorgeous. There are 80 acres of oak trees, lush grass, wetlands and a good-sized lake.

One of the benefits of working at Game Fair, that even exhibitors are aware of, is how wild the grounds are when the fair isn’t going on. During the early morning hours the ducks are on the lake, sandhill cranes usually pay a visit, deer are not an uncommon sight and a ton of different species of birds.

Oh sure, they are all close by during the fair and often are seen by the lucky ones who can pull their attention away from all the fair events. With shotgun shooting exhibitions by Tom Knapp, dogs jumping off docks and cruising through obstacle courses, informational seminars and great new products to look at, the wildlife around you can be easily missed.

Fine art and taxidermy are also found at Game Fair. I spoke with Chris Knutson of Art Barbarians in Rogers, MN and he said his booth in the Art Barn will be a busy place as usual. “We’ll have Jim Hautman here the first Saturday of the fair. Scot Storm will be hanging out every day along with Bret Longley on both Saturdays and Sundays.”

For those who don’t know, Jim Hautman is a four-time and current winner of the Federal duck stamp. He’ll be doing demonstrations and chatting with visitors to the booth. Scot Storm is a great guy who I’ve had the privilege of interviewing. He is a phenomenal wildlife artist and winner of this year’s pheasant stamp. Storm and Longley will be doing painting demonstrations as well.

Something that doesn’t get talked about enough is the charitable nature of the Delaneys. They donate a lot to various organizations in the community and non-profits in the community are invited to utilize the Game Fair as a way of fundraising.

National and state conservation organizations are also beneficiaries of the Delaneys and Game Fair. Pheasants Forever has run their “Build a Wildlife Area” fundraiser out of Game Fair since its inception nine years ago and the Delaney’s have given generously to that cause over the years.

This year Federal Ammunition’s new pink shotshells will be available for those participating in the shotgun shooting events. Buy a box and make a donation to help find a cure for cancer.

Politics are tough to escape and Game Fair is no exception. A lot of Congressional representatives and both senators have a booth at the Game Fair along with the Secretary of State’s office. The Republicans and Democrats are both there showing their support of hunting and firearms along with several unions and labor organizations.

Even though it’s an off year for elections, there will be plenty of it to see and the organization “Sportsmen for Change” might even have a forum or two for people to chat with policy makers. I covered the gubernatorial debate last year at the Game Fair and have no doubt that as close as the election was, hearing from those folks firsthand regarding conservation issues probably swayed a few voters one way or the other and decided the election.

If you have never been out there, I encourage you to attend. Stop by the Information Booth and say hello to me (Ron Hustvedt). Say hello to Ron Schara (the “other Ron”). Say hello to Raven the black lab. Say hello to Chuck and Loral I Delaney.

For all the details about Game Fair 2011 go to www.gamefair.com

I’ve left out a lot of additional features of the Game Fair partially because any good blog shouldn’t be this long! The rest of it is for you all to fill in.

What’s your favorite part of Game Fair?

What are you looking forward to?

 

 

 

 

 

Time for annual ‘running of the bulls’ on your favorite bluegill lake

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt Updated: June 25, 2011 - 4:55 PM
True bull bluegill have that classic hump by their head

Some people don’t like it when bass are called “bucketmouths” or muskies are called “water tigers” but that’s a different argument for a different day. Those same folks might not like it that big bluegills are called “bulls” but I know how to change their mind.

Let them hook into one and try to battle it.

Big bluegills defy the term “panfish” because they exceed the size of your average pan. I’m talking trophy fish in the 10-inch and above range. The kind of bluegill that has a big bump on its head and looks almost freakish compared to the small ones that tend to hang out at every dock in the summertime.

"When these massive creatures turn sideways after a solid hook set, the term “bull” makes complete sense," said Bryan "Beef" Sathre of Fathead Guide Service in the Bemidji and Cass Lake area. Sathre is a bluegill trophy hunter who loves to tie into big bluegill, wrestle with them for awhile, snap a quick photo, then watch it swim away to fight another day.

"Pound for pound, bluegills are the toughest fish in the freshwater world. I tied into one the other day and swore I’d hooked into a pike until I got it closer to the boat," he said.

Right now is one of the best times around for catching big bluegill, Sathre said. That's because this is the time of the year when they are sitting on their beds and are extremely aggressive. It’s also the time of the year when they are at their most vulnerable state.Be sure to release that big bluegill to fight another day For that reason, if you go after these bull bluegills, please be sure to practice catch-photo-release. "If you want a meal of sweet-tasting bluegill fillets then keep a few smaller ones for the frying pan. Anything 10-inches or larger should quickly be released in my boat. It’s a good rule to consider in yours too," Sathre urged.

He fishes for them like they do for tarpon in coastal areas, "We’re sight fishing a lot of these bluegill locations. What I look for are transition points in the bottom in shallow bays and flats. My Costa del Mar polarized sunglasses help me find their nests that stand out as sandy holes." This is the result of the bluegill fanning out a nest that they guard very vigorously.

Another fantastic location is in the six to eight foot emerging cabbage beds or reeds adjacent to this deeper water. This is where they stage before spawning and hangout as they recover and is a fantastic secondary location. Big bluegill are a blast to catch "I’ll move in with the trolling motor until I’m 20 to 30 feet away and then cast to them with a slip bobber and small jig tipped with a waxworm or panfish leech. An ultra-light rod makes everything so much more fun and I really like the castability of the Bionic panfish line in four-pound test. It has low visibility but is strong enough to handle the largemouth, smallmouth, crappie, perch, pike and rock bass that are bound to hit your lure in these locations," Sathre said.

For lure selection, Sathre said he likes a 1/16th to 1/32nd firefly minnow or small jig. "If it’s windy I’ll go with the larger size. You don’t have to worry about spooking them with the cast or getting right on top of them. Get it close and they’ll come to you," he said.

Another great tactic is to go baitless and throw panfish Slurpies tubes on a float system. Case it up there, let the jig sink, reel it in a few feet, wait for the jig to catch up, pause, and repeat the process. Author with a high quality bluegill "Super pro bobbers from Northland Tackle do a great job in all conditions. If it’s windy then I use the weighted bobbers. Either way, balance the bobber so that you can detect a subtle bite. The other day I had it so my bobber was barely above the water making for very little resistance once a bluegill hit my jig," he said.

Where does Sathre pursue these massive bluegill? Most anywhere in the state has the potential for big bluegill waters. Around the metro they are a well guarded secret but go ahead and try asking your local baitshop. Lake Minnetonka or Waconia might be the best bed in the west metro while Bald Eagle Lake and the Mississippi River backwaters might be the best choice in the east metro.

"In my neck of the woods up here in Bemidji I like lakes such as Turtle River, Rabideau, Grace, Wolf, Andrusia, Grant, Irving and Blackduck," Sathre said.

Just remember to catch-photo-release these trophies so they can continue to raise the next generation of bulls.

Bryan Sathre with an impressive bluegill

What is your favorite baitshop? Be sure to frequent your local Mom and Pop baitshop this summer

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt Updated: April 30, 2011 - 10:59 PM
The May/June issue of the “Lake Country Journal” arrived in the mail today and I was very excited to read an article within about Mom & Pop Baitshops. I was absolutely stunned by the layout of the article and how well the art director did with the layout of the article. It really captured that old-time feel that you can only get from a good-old fashioned Mom & Pop Baitshop. In the interest of full disclosure, I wrote the article and took the photographs that went along with it. That said, writers don’t usually get to see the finished piece until after it’s published so it’s always fun when a publication really does a good job utilizing the writing and photography you worked hard on. I’m not writing to brag up the article, however. I’m writing to encourage everybody to visit the Mom & Pop baitshop nearest their fishing area this summer. These locally owned stores have their fingers on the pulse of fishing in the area. They also have a great supply of bait and are more than willing to set you up with the best information for having a great day on the water. Some of their prices might not be as good as the local big-box chain store, but throw some business to the little guy. These local baitships are a dying breed and they will not survive without angler support. In the article I wrote I included two of my favorite baitshops in northern Minnesota—S&W Bait in Brainerd and Bluewater in Bemidji. The owners of these shops are first-rate and know their stuff. On multiple occasions they have provided me with the right insights for a successful day on the water. Please use the comments section of this blog and post your favorite Mom & Pop baitshop. Don’t forget to mention the town it’s in and some of the best lakes nearby. I’m going to do some fishing around my home this week so that means stopping by Marv’s Minnows in Zimmerman just off 169.

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