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

Jumbo perch time is upon us

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt Updated: March 10, 2011 - 11:05 PM
By Ron Hustvedt, Jr. It’s tough to beat a good jumbo perch bite. Unfortunately, a lot of ice anglers never bother to chase after these green and yellow ice-fishing trophies. Right now is the prime time for pursuing jumbo perch on Minnesota’s finest lakes including Mille Lacs, Cass, Lake of the Woods, Bemidji and Gull. Not to be confused with their pesky little brothers, true jumbo perch are difficult to catch and require just the right combination of location and presentation. Just to be sure, a jumbo perch is one that’s over eight inches on most bodies of water. There are a lot of lakes in Minnesota, however, where a jumbo doesn’t earn that title unless it’s over ten inches. Northern Minnesota fishing guide Bryan Sathre of Fathead Guide Service said that jumbos require a different approach because they tend to act more like walleye than perch. Locations vary In most winters by the time early March rolls around the perch are relating to deep water locations. “Right now they are usually in 25 to 35 feet of water but they’ll begin to move shallower as the temperature raises—it really depends on the body of water,” said Tony Roach, a guide on Mille Lacs. Sathre said that he’s normally fishing over deep water for perch but added that this winter has been out of the ordinary, especially for perch. “I haven’t been fishing deeper than 17 feet this winter and normally I’m out there really deep by now,” he said. Fish are being caught out deep as well, he added, but he hasn’t had to move around the lake as much this year as in year’s past. “I just have to find a transition area such as where a soft bottom of mud meets a hard bottom of sand or rock,” he said. Sathre just finished running the annual Kid’s Perch Derby up on Lake Bemidji last weekend and 847 kids endured a snowy afternoon on the ice yanking perch through the ice. “The great thing about jumbos is that they are plentiful enough for the kids to have a blast but offer enough of a challenge for the true giants and peskier eaters that adults have a great time catching them too.” Methods of presentation The location of the perch might vary greatly this winter, but the typical presentations are holding strong said both Roach and Sathre. Both agreed that there are three primary methods for catching jumbo perch: vertical jigging spoons, a short shank jig and a float system. When used with a minnow or pinched off minnow head, each one can be deadly under different conditions. Jigging spoons do a great job of getting the bait into the strike zone and you should either abruptly jig it or hold it steady to trigger a bite. Both prefer using large crappie minnows or fatheads with spoons and pinching the head off between the gill plate and dorsal fin. “That extra bit of skin gives it a bit more flash and seems to really out perform a minnow head pinched off at the gill plate,” Sathre said. The float system approach can be done one of two different ways depending on which expert you ask. Sathre said he prefers a shiner on a glowing eyedropper jig. “You can catch a nice eelpout with that same rig so watch out,” he added. During Roach’s “Perch School” last weekend, he had 25 guys on the ice all doing a great job of catching jumbos through the ice using Live Forage spoons tipped with eurolarvae. “The realistic color brings the perch in to take a look and the eurolarvae is all they need to take a bite—there are so many bugs coming up through the mud right now those perch are puking it up in the keeper bucket,” he said. Additional considerations Both Roach and Sathre employ the use of a flasher as well as a camera and say the two are invaluable tools when used together. Not only are they used to locate and identify fish; they are also critical for reading a strike. “People are used to average sized perch which are known for hitting your bait several times before taking it while jumbo perch tend to inhale the bait and then slowly swim away—that’s something you want to see so you can set the hook,” Sathre said. Roach said the camera is also a good tool for really keying in on transition areas like where sand meets mud. Often, jumbo perch are belly to the bottom this time of year so electronics are essential for determining what’s a fish on the bottom and what’s a rock. Both anglers said a rod with a rod tip that will help show these subtle strikes are best but it also needs to have a firm backbone to quickly reel in a jumbo once its on. “You aren’t going to feel the strike a lot of time but you can see it by carefully watching the tip of your rod—once you feel it, there’s not time to waste, reel in quickly or set the hook with the rod because that perch isn’t going to chomp on your hook forever,” Sathre said. Besides making for some terrific fishing action, perch make for a tasty meal. A meal of perch fillets after a day on the ice is tough to beat. Those looking to partake in Roach’s Perch School are in luck this year since he added a second weekend. Beginning March 18 at 6 p.m. and running through to Sunday, March 20, the perch school is run through Hunter’s Point Resort. The guides, food and lodging are all part of the cost that will run $395. It features a Friday evening class, a full-day of fishing Saturday and half a day of fishing on Sunday.

Early season goose hunt a great way to start the waterfowling season

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt Updated: August 26, 2010 - 11:56 PM

 

Author Ron Hustvedt with a limit of early season geese

Author Ron Hustvedt with a limit of early season geese

Minnesota’s early goose season opener is nearly upon us and those of us who have taken advantage of this season know how truly good it is—and how good this season should end up being.

Have you looked up lately? There are a lot of geese flying around these days.

            The Saturday of Labor Day is the opener so if you aren’t leaving the state or going to some family reunion or last minute summer wedding you’ll have three days of some of the best hunting of your life. Or the worst, depending on how well you scout ahead of time.
            Either way, if the statisticians and biologists are correct, this should be a good early goose season because there was good goose production in the spring meaning there are a lot of young birds out there.
            Last year, less than 40,000 hunters participated in the early season, which is nowhere near the regular number of waterfowlers. That means there are many who are not taking advantage of this tremendous hunting opportunity. With almost 100,000 birds taken by that group, in only a 19-day season, it makes for a high-average hunt for those who participate and know what they are doing.
            “You have old birds out there too but what makes the early fall hunt so good are all those young birds that have never been hunted,” said Rick “Swede” Peterson of Swede’s Guide Service.
            The early season hunt is definitely a unique experience with weather often resembling the summer rather than the fall. The lack of cold weather, however, makes it a good season for introducing inexperienced hunters to the sport.
            “This is a good season to get yourself into the mindset of waterfowling and work on your skills at decoying, calling and concealment,” he said. With so many young birds flying around, the hunting can be more forgiving, at least during the first weekend.
            Peterson has been guiding goose hunting for the past 16 years including plenty of early season hunts. He does all of his hunting along the fringes of the Twin Cities and said there’s plenty of good hunting to be had within an hour of the sprawling metro.
            “I hunt in the area around Chaska and Buffalo but all around the area there are a lot of public lands and waters open to hunting,” Peterson said.
            There’s much more private land that a hunter needs to gain permission to hunt, and while a lot of the best fields are already taken, there are many undiscovered and gems all over the metro holding tons of geese.
Early season hunting is often filled with tremendous weather and plenty of action

Early season hunting is often filled with tremendous weather and plenty of action

Hunters should also be sure to check local shooting ordinances when hunting around the metro. Where it is legal to hunt, however, the action can be unbelievable. As for me, I’ll be hunting up in north central Minnesota going after birds who like to roost on big lakes like Leech and Cass.
 
Scouting
            The geese are pretty easy to find this time of the year with a little bit of scouting. Two of the best places to find them are in the air and on the water. Geese spend a lot of their time on their roosting ponds this time of the year and leave only to fly to nearby fields where they feed.
            Scouting fields can be a good way to fine them, but if you find the roosting pond they spend their nights on you can unlock a larger area available for you to hunt. Watch the geese when they leave the pond in the morning and see where they fly. Usually you can follow them pretty closely from the road and typically they don’t go much further than five miles.
            Once you’ve located a few fields where they are regularly feeding, you now have a place to try and get permission to hunt. If they won’t let you, try to gain permission to hunt nearby fields or look for public hunting land nearby.
            Because only a third of the regular waterfowlers are out there, public land can be a great place to hunt because you’ll usually have the place to yourself.
            Being near where the geese are going is less than ideal, but if somebody is hunting that field it pays to be nearby because those geese have to go somewhere after they are shot at and if you are close you can traffic those geese to your area.
            Pressured fields don’t hold geese very long so secondary locations can be a good place to hunt after opening morning.
Study what the geese are doing while you scout so you can set your decoys up in a similar fashion

Study what the geese are doing while you scout so you can set your decoys up in a similar fashion

 
Decoys
            Peterson said you really have to know what the geese are doing this time of the year when you put out a spread of decoys. “They are still functioning in family groups of six to 10 so in your spread you don’t want a big group all together,” he said.
            A spread of 15 to 24 decoys is a good range because it gives you the look of two or three family groups in an area. Some hunters put out more but it’s not always advantageous to do so since the geese have so much access to food this time of the year and a big group might deter an incoming flock from your field in search of a less busy location.
            Peterson said to be sure and place decoys around your blind or pit to help break up your profile and add to the concealment. The majority of the decoys should be immediately in front of your blinds and the wind should be in your face.
            Family groups of decoys should be spread out with holes for incoming geese to land. Those holes in the spread should be close to hunters because that’s where the geese are going to head when they come in to land.
 
Flagging
            Flagging is also critical to a good decoy spread because it adds motion to your spread and can really help convince geese approaching your area that it’s a good place to land with plenty of other geese already there.
            “I feel that if you aren’t flagging you are missing out on 30 to 50 percent of the success of your hunt,” Peterson said.
            There are a variety of flags out there, but the black flag on a 30-inch stick is the simplest and often most effective. The key is to not wave it around but to luff it up from the grounds and back down again as the geese approach from a distance to convince them to come your way.
             
            Once they get close enough to really see the spread well, stop flagging and avoid placing it on the ground if it isn’t camouflaged on one side. A black flag lying motionless on the ground resembles a dead goose and will deter them from landing.
            “The biggest thing flags do for you is get those birds in up and close so you have good clean shots at them,” Peterson said.
Randy “Flagman” Bartz has a new flag out on the market this year called the Finisher. It’s a pair of wings on a stake that can be placed amongst your decoys leaving your hands free to call or prepare for the shot. Bartz said he’s had tremendous success with the new flag and wants to hear from hunters who use it their experiences in the field. Any photos or video hunters happen to shoot would also be appreciated so check Bartz out online at www.flagmanproducts.com.
 
Concealment
            In addition to having a few decoys around your pit or layout blind, covering it as well as you can is key to being successful.
 
There's a lot of fun to be had during the early goose season--like the author wearing a decoy shell as a makeshift hat (not really!)

There's a lot of fun to be had during the early goose season--like the author wearing a decoy shell as a makeshift hat (not really!)

           You want total visual deception so be sure to use natural vegetation if possible to cover your blind and allow you to blend with the surroundings, Peterson said.
            “You want to totally disappear so that the geese only see your decoys and flagging as they approach,” he added.
 
Calling
            You don’t have to be a master goose caller, especially in the early season, but you should have some confidence in your ability to sound like a goose and the only way to do that is to practice. 
            Peterson has won his fair share of calling contests but said you don’t need to be a calling champion to bring in plenty of birds. “You aren’t going to be making a ton of calls, just some clucking and moaning which is exactly what the geese hear in the wild—if you just did clucks and moans you will bring in a ton of birds,” he said.
            As a flock approaches a group of geese already on the ground, the geese approaching will make some noise but for the most part, Peterson said the group on the ground is silent. “Once they land there’s a lot of noise, but your calling should be subtle and more subdued as the geese approach your spread.”
            Geese are social birds that like to vocalize with each other. If they come in making a ton of noise try responding with feeder calls but always pay attention to how the birds are responding. If they seem spooked or don’t respond, change what you are doing and try to figure out what they want.
            Peterson said hunters who have confidence in their calling don’t have to do a lot of it to be effective. The way to become good is to practice a lot and 10 minutes a day is really all that’s needed. “Practice in the car and if you can find geese before the season, listen to them and try to mimic those same sounds,” he said.
            Peterson said you don’t need to be able to make all the sounds of a goose. Clucking, moaning and feeder grunts are all it takes to give the geese what they want to hear.
 
Read the geese
            Just like any kind of hunting or fishing, pay attention to the conditions and how the birds are responding and try to adjust what you are doing to match what they are looking for.
            A good way to figure this out is to watch and study geese ahead of time. Look to see how they respond to each other as they approach an area, watch how they spread out in the field once they land and listen to the sounds they make.
            Use the early season for what it is—a primer for the waterfowling season and opportunity to help control the burgeoning goose population. There are a ton of geese in Minnesota and you can help manage the population, not to mention get some tasty meat, by heading out to hunt the early season.
Grab a few friends and hit the fields this September for an early season goose hunt--it will probably become your next waterfowling tradition

Grab a few friends and hit the fields this September for an early season goose hunt--it will probably become your next waterfowling tradition

 

Saturday's Game Fair gubernatorial debate will kick off official race

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt Updated: August 11, 2010 - 10:40 AM

 

            The annual Game Fair, held at the Armstrong Ranch Kennels, has become quite the popular stumping ground for politicians over the years. Known as the nation’s largest outdoor, pre-hunting, family participation event, Game Fair attracts around 50,000 people every year—the vast majority of whom are hunters or hunting supporters.
Game Fair's final weekend is August 13, 14 and 15

Game Fair's final weekend is August 13, 14 and 15

            Quite a sizable demographic, eh?
            The only other time you get that many people together in one place at a public event is the Minnesota State Fair. While many Game Fair attendees also head to the State Fair, once the fall hunting seasons arrive that Game Fair crowd is pretty hard to reach.
            We tend to spend every spare minute we have either in the field, in the marsh, in the stand or getting ready to head out to one of those locations. Politics doesn’t seem to fall very high on the list of priorities when watching a chilly, October-morning sunrise outdoors—but it needs to be. More so these days than ever before.
            Just as Game Fair helps hunters with last minute preparations for the fall hunting seasons, it has also become an opportunity for to learn where candidates stand on issues important to the outdoors.
            Thanks to pressure from several organizations and publications, Game Fair has become almost a testing ground, if you will, for candidates. It has also been a gathering place for candidates and Constitutional amendments to garnish support from the “hook and bullet” crowd that is so prevalent in Minnesota.
            “This year, there are more political candidates with a booth than we’ve ever had in all of our 29 years,” said Chuck Delaney, the host and founder of Game Fair. Both the democrats an republicans have a booth, both U.S. Senators have a booth, the Secretary of State has one, both candidates for Congressional District 6 are there, the 48th DFL District, Gubernatorial candidates Tom Emmer and Tom Horner have booths, as do several judge and county attorney candidates. Sportsmen organizations, including Sportsmen for Change and the Minnesota Conservation Federation, also have booths with a priority placed on politics.
            The Fox News Channel was at Game Fair twice during its first weekend covering a national story centered around the 6th Congressional District between Democrat Tarryl Clark and Republican incumbent Michele Bachmann. Both candidates worked the crowds at Game Fair, which resides in their district, while a three-person camera crew captured every sight, sound and reaction.
            If you want to avoid politics you can still come to Game Fair for all the hunting, dogs and outdoor sports people expect; but if you want to meet the candidates, talk with their supporters, grill them on their stance on issues or praise them for their voting record and priorities then Game Fair is the place to be.
            For the first time in Game Fair history, it will be the launching grounds of the statewide Gubernatorial election and the first of what will most likely be several debates between the three candidates. That’s because, coming on the heels of the August 10 primary, all three major party candidates will be on hand to debate clean water, habitat and similar issues important to hunters, anglers and other outdoors enthusiasts.
 
Independence candidate Tom Horner at Game Fair being interviewed by Fox 9 News

Independence candidate Tom Horner at Game Fair being interviewed by Fox 9 News

           The debate is being sponsored by Outdoor News Editor Rob Drieslein and “Sportsmen For Change” executive director Garry Leaf (and hosted by Drieslein and Ron Schara) all of whom are very familiar with politics at Game Fair. Throughout the years, both have worked hard to bring political issues and candidates before the crowds.
            For many Game Fair attendees, this is one of the last times they’ll think about politics as they spend as many spare minutes of their time in the field and marsh throughout September, October and November.
            Sportsmen and women are a pretty disjointed group when it comes to politics, but we are a very important demographic who need to raise outdoors up the list of our voting priorities. Come on out to the Game Fair on Saturday to hear the gubernatorial candidates debate at 11 a.m. in the Main Seminar Tent.
            If you can’t make it then, come out Friday or Sunday and stop by the different political booths and make sure the candidates of all parties know that you exist, you have outdoors priorities, and that you’ll take a few minutes out from your busy fall hunting schedule to vote. Don’t forget to mention that after the election, you’ll hold them accountable for their pledges and promises.
Eight candidates atteded a 2009 candidate forum including Mark Dayton, Tom Emmer and Margaret Anderson Keliher

Eight candidates atteded a 2009 candidate forum including Mark Dayton, Tom Emmer and Margaret Anderson Keliher

             

 

Moving water the key for hot, late-summer smallmouth bite

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt Updated: July 29, 2010 - 9:59 AM

 

Author Ron Hustvedt with a quality St. Cloud smallmouth

Author Ron Hustvedt with a quality St. Cloud smallmouth

 

No matter what the advertisements might say, there is no official end to summer. Labor Day is the marker for most while the more meteorological types wait until the autumnal equinox. Whatever your definition, summer is on the decline but there’s still plenty of time to take advantage of a terrific late summer fishing pattern for smallmouth bass.

For some reason, a lot of anglers think summer fishing means hitting the lakes and ignoring the rivers. River fishing is great in the spring and fall it is also a great place to fish throughout the summer and especially in late summer when weather patterns are known to be unstable. Rivers just seem to have a more consistent bite and cold fronts don’t impact them as much.

The smallmouth bite can be hit or miss and the fish are very temperamental making it tough to get a bite some days—the bass are easier to find in the river or any reservoir system.

One of my favorite stretches of river is found close to my home in Elk River north to Monticello. I also really like the stretches around Sartell and the one between Royalton and Little Falls.

These are known as world-class smallmouth waters but are often devoid of fishing boats, even on the weekends. Pleasure boaters can be found on these stretches throughout the weekend but they receive very little fishing pressure for the quality of catch they produce. The patterns on these stretches for smallmouth bass can be applied to any similar body of water around the state such as the Rum and St. Louis.

The places to look are where you find the fastest current, big boulders and sporadic weeds. The river flow is like a continuous buffet line and the smallmouth sit in these stretches just waiting for food to come down the current into their mouth. 

Ginger Hustvedt with a chunky smallmouth bass

Ginger Hustvedt with a chunky smallmouth bass

On the Mississippi River’s Sartell stretch, the water is the deepest and slowest of all the pools with steep banks, lots of shoreline with overhanging trees and slow moving water. River stretches like this are ripe for fishing weightless plastic lures with an oversized hook.

 

The reason for an oversized hook is because it acts as a weight for the plastic allowing an angler to twitch the lure under the surface of the water in a walk-the-dog retrieve.

Sometimes the fish on these stretches are not in an aggressive mood so a slower approach is best. A 1/4 to 3/16 ounce jig tipped with a plastic trailer such as a football jig and a crawfish style plastic like a crawpappy. You want something where the pinchers flutter really nicely whether you fish it fast or slow and I prefer solid plastics to the hollow ones in these situations.

Using a large piece of plastic on a smaller jighead is beneficial because it allows the angler to have more control over the lure and creates a more natural look because it allows the current to work it.

On a tough bite a slow retrieve works best with this presentation. When the bite is hot you can burn that same jig and plastic rig over the weeds and rocks. It’s tough to beat burning a jig in the heat and you can easily stall your retrieve in some areas and poke a fish that’s sitting there waiting for food to swim by its face.

The north end of the Sartell stretch features faster flowing water much like you’d find further south around St. Cloud and Elk River. In that skinnier water try dropshotting green-colored tubes with a 3/0 hook Texas-rigged on a drop shot with a quarter ounce weight and 12-inch dropper,

Cast the drop shot to the rock shelf and work the big boulders. Face the boat upstream if you can and run the trolling motor so you are just gaining on the current and covering new water as you most slowly upstream. Casting upstream, use a steady retrieve stopping to pop the lure off the rocks and maintain contact with the bottom. Crawfish style lures with a good pincher-flutter once again work great in these locations.

Mark Westerman with a late August smallmouth and plenty of beautiful scenery

Mark Westerman with a late August smallmouth and plenty of beautiful scenery

 

Fishing upstream is the best on the river because you are always bringing your lure down with the current, which is a more natural presentation because the fish are already facing upstream. If the fish are active they won’t care as much. When going upstream is not possible due to current or depth, consider quartering the river or going cross-current and focus in on corner breaks like gravel flats one to four feet deep.

Clam beds are easy to spot because you can see the open clams sitting on the bottom—this is a good place for a top water walk the dog lure because the smallmouth often feed here. Anybody who has spent some time on a river knows what eelgrass looks like. As the current flows over the eelgrass it pulsates in the current like wind flowing over a field of grass. You’ll see schools of minnows on the edges of these weeds and the smallmouth are close by hiding out in the pockets of the eelgrass.

 

Crankbaits like this lipless version work great on river systems

Crankbaits like this lipless version work great on river systems

If the topwater approach doesn’t catch them in those eelgrass locations just run a weightless plastic under the surface and get ready for a big hook set. Crankbaits are also great along that deep break most rivers have where the shallow bank drops into the river channel. Smallmouth bass often hang off the edge of the break and have a hard time resisting a crankbait swam their way.

 

Before the summer leaves us for a few months, get out to your nearest smallmouth river and try these techniques. Hit those upper stretches of the Mississippi if true tackle busting action is what you like.

 

River fishing in late summer is definitely worth checking out for hot smallmouth bass action

River fishing in late summer is definitely worth checking out for hot smallmouth bass action


 

 

Search for 'larger than average' bass not always elusive

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt Updated: July 20, 2010 - 1:42 AM

 

Ron Hustvedt with a dandy largemouth bass

 
           Anglers tend to go through a natural progression—first they are satisfied to just catch fish; second, they are satisfied if the number of fish they catch is high; and third, they are satisfied if the fish they catch are big.
Ron Hustvedt with a dandy  largemouth bass

Ron Hustvedt with a dandy largemouth bass

            That seems to be how it goes for most anglers, though not all. The trouble with this progression is often in making the step from being happy with numbers to desiring bigger fish. For a whole variety of reasons, it seems that a significant number of lakes around the state have a similar size structure when it comes to bass.
            Green Lake near Spicer is a great example of this phenomenon. There are a ton of smallmouth bass in the lake, the bulk of which are three-pounders. For proof of this look no further than the standings from a recent bass tournament. Take the average weight and divide by the number of fish and the figure is right around three pounds.
            Perhaps Green Lake is a bad example because not many lakes are known for having such an impressive average. On most lakes with healthy largemouth populations, the average tends to be in the one to two pound range. These bass are always willing to bite and are fun to catch, but spend a day catching nothing but one to two pounders and many anglers begin wondering if they can do better.
            This is the point where regular anglers and tournament anglers have in common. While catching fish is the name of the game, there’s that desire for larger fish.
For tournament anglers, finding those larger fish is the difference between taking home a payout or going home with nothing but good stories. For average anglers it’s the difference between a good day on the water and a day you remember forever.
            The challenge for both the regular and tournament angler is pinpointing locations and presentations for those larger bass roaming the lake. It is a pursuit that sometimes pays off, literally and figuratively, and sometimes doesn’t.
     
John House with a meaty Mississippi River smallmouth

John House with a meaty Mississippi River smallmouth

       An angler has to stay incredibly open-minded and you can always follow seasonal patterns where the fish should be but at any given time you need to be able to switch it up and use something a bit different to catch that fish that’s a little more difficult to catch.
            It’s the old versatility game but it is much easier to talk about it than to apply it and be successful. There are days when being versatile and open-minded works and there are days when it won’t—both for the fish and the angler. The key here is to realize that fact and not let it frustrate you.
           
Leaving the comfort zone
            For a lot of bass anglers, a favorite method is pitching a jig tipped with plastic. The jig remains the most versatile of lures because it works shallow and deep, along the rocks, under docks and in the weeds. There will be days, however, when you won’t get a single bite on it.
            Most anglers have their chosen methods of fishing and those lures they are confident in using. There comes a time, however, when one must leave their comfort zone either to get on bigger fish or to figure out why there isn’t a bite.
            There comes a point where you say, this is my bread and butter and what I’m comfortable doing, but it’s not working and I need to switch. When is it the best time to switch? When you are not satisfied with the results.
            Though not preferred, most anglers are more versatile then they imagine and have the ability to switch gears for larger fish. Those who don’t have this will achieve it with more time spent on the water.
            A lot of bass anglers throw plastics in the spring, jigs in the summer and spinnerbaits in the fall. That right there is three different techniques making you a versatile angler—as long as you keep those applications in your back pocket you can pull them out at anytime.
Tom Braaten with a six-pound largemouth bass from a lake known for "producing lots of small bass"

Tom Braaten with a six-pound largemouth bass from a lake known for "producing lots of small bass"

 
Bass all over the place
            This is the time of the year when bass can be found almost everywhere on the lake or in the river. They are up on the inside weedlines, in the sloppiest weedbeds, along the weed edges and on the deep breaklines.
            If you want to catch fish all day, the shallow locations are generally better because you are target fishing. Anglers who want to catch some fish with size, however, should go to the deeper water where bass tend to school up.
            You won’t catch fish consistently all day but you have the opportunity to catch a bunch of fish in a short time and if you find the right spot you could catch 15 to 20 of them and they could be all different sizes or a bunch of four-pounders.

            The thing to remember is that versatility is the key to success and to not get frustrated if the fish don’t cooperate. That’s just the nature of fishing.

 

 

The author with a "rockin' big bass" as his two-year old likes to call it (caught by the two year old legitimately)

The author with a "rockin' big bass" as his two-year old likes to call it (legitimately caught by said two year old)

 

Grand Marais still my favorite side of Boundary Waters

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt Updated: July 12, 2010 - 12:25 AM

 

Sunset over Grand Marais as seen from the scenic overlook along the Gunflint Trail

Sunset over Grand Marais as seen from the scenic overlook along the Gunflint Trail

 

Apparently the construction on I-35 in Duluth and scattered locations along the North Shore’s Highway 61 is keeping some people from visiting the region. I just returned from a week trip along those very roads and my assessment is that it’s being overblown.
 
Is there traffic? Yes. But no more than usual it seemed, and I drove through on the way up during the Grandma’s Marathon rush in Duluth. Was there construction? Yes. But this is summertime in Minnesota and construction is a given.
 
Our trip took a stop in Grand Marais like it always does simply because it’s one of the best cities on the face of the earth. Such an eclectic mix of people, culture and cuisine.
Rainbow over Artist's Point in Grand Marais

Rainbow over Artist's Point in Grand Marais

There is also the strong presence of majestic Lake Superior. If you haven’t seen the lake from Grand Marais then you haven’t yet truly experienced Lake Superior! My favorite sunsets over Superior feature the Sawtooth Mountains, the lighthouses to the harbor and the beautiful trees along Artist’s Point.
 
Grand Marais sunsets feature plenty of blue, gold and orange

Grand Marais sunsets feature plenty of blue, gold and orange

Grand Marais is also my preferred way of accessing the BWCA Wilderness Area. Oh I’ve been through Ely and will again. There’s nothing wrong with Ely, but it just feels more touristy and traffic-ridden. The tough part about Ely is there’s such a high concentration of entry points in a single area. You have to go a day or two in to get away from the crowds.
 
On the Grand Marais side there are several main roads to the edges of the BWCA and the ever-popular and winding Gunflint Trail is 50 miles of staggered entry points. Driving along the Gunflint Trail is a magical experience with wonderful twists and turns through spacious woods. It only takes part of a day to get away from the crowds on the Grand Marais side of the BWCA.
 
A variety of experiences await in Grand Marais

A variety of experiences await in Grand Marais

While on my most recent trip we stopped by to visit our good friends Dave and Nancy Seaton who own Hungry Jack Outfitters about halfway up the Gunflint Trail. They are great people and run a top-notch business. Like most every outfitter up there, they offer both full and partial outfitting services.
 
I know there are many other high-quality outfitters, but my family will never go anywhere else. Both Dave and Nancy are BWCA paddling enthusiasts and they have traversed most every path imaginable throughout the Gunflint area. They are always good for a tip about the best fishing hole, the secret blueberry patches and the best campsites on any given lake (and the campsites to stay away from!).
 

So maybe there will be a closed lane or two along the way. Maybe there will be a line-up of cars that slows your journey by 10 minutes. Any time lost in construction traffic on the way to Grand Marais seems to be returned tenfold once you arrive and that makes it all worthwhile.

My family's traditional Lake Saganaga group photo

My family's traditional Lake Saganaga group photo

 

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