Brian Klawitter

Brian Klawitter is an expert in trophy flathead catfish and sturgeon fishing. He owns and operates BrianK's Trophy Catfishing and Sturgeon Adventures. His guiding and seminars first cover safety, then education on fishing for the "monsters of the rivers."

Posts about Fishing

Stupid Crazy Open Water Fishing In January?

Posted by: Brian Klawitter Updated: December 31, 2009 - 4:54 PM
Tom Donaldson  of Dresbach Mn and his father took the day off yesterday to make the 1.5 hour drive to Pool 4 of the Mississippi River near Red Wing for some quality father son time fishing. Now most people this time of year have their portable fish house, auger, Marcum and St Croix ice rods in the back of their vehicles.  These two didn't have ice on their minds, they were pulling their boat filled with everything a person needs for spring time fishing to the landing at Everts Fishing Resort in Hagar City. The goal was 12 walleye or saugers for a late evening dinner with the family back in Dresbach.

They stopped into the bait shop to talk with Dean Marshal the manager. Dean always has the pulse of the river. The hot plastics were all laying on the counter.  Plastics seem to work the best this time of year and not too many complain when they are threading on a  Paddletails instead of dipping their hands in the bait bucket for a cold minnow.  Dean said the Oystershell, Stewart Pro Blue, Fire Cracker and the newly released Everts Brand paddletails called BK Semi Pro Electric Blue were the go to colors lately.

When asked how the bites been, Dean's reply was "stupid good". Tom felt that was a good sign!

The two found themselves motoring up towards the dam around 11:00am. Tom said this is a great time of year to be fishing this area. Everyone is thinking ice fishing and we have the whole river to ourselves!

What about the bite Tom? I asked.

"It was more like Stupid Crazy! We could fish with two rods but both Dad and I put one rod away. We would drop a line down then find out we had a fish on before we could drop the other line. It was too hard fishing with two lines!  Most of our fish were coming from 18 to 25 feet of water vertial jigging down stream. Then we would "drag" with 5/16 H20 Precision Jig Heads and Ringworms up stream and have just as much fun. It really was a stupid crazy bite!  Ok Tom, translate stupid crazy for me. "We fished for about 2 hours. Easily, without stretching it had 40+ fish in the boat. We took home 12 saugers in the 16 inch range with 2 of them being very close to 18 inches". 

End of December, snowing, most people thinking of ice fishing and Tom and his Dad have the whole river to themselves with Stupid Crazy fish.

That's just Stupid Crazy!

The Incredible Sturgeon Excursion!

Posted by: Brian Klawitter Updated: December 8, 2009 - 11:24 PM
It was Chris Winchester that asked me back in November of '05 if I thought there would be more people interested in a spring Lake Sturgeon trip to Lake of the Woods. He said we should give it a name...and the Sturgeon Excursion was born.

In years past, Bill Patton, Chris and a few friends would get together just after walleye season closed to fish for the strange looking fish they call Sturgeon.  When they arrived at The Wigwam Resort they would pay for their lodging, then most employees would leave for vacations. After the walleye  season closed, there was nothing to do until it was time to get ready for the next walleye opener in May. Nothing was open unless a trip was made to Baudette 13 miles away. Cabins were $15. a head and the keys were left on the kitchen table when it was time to go home.

Thinking there wouldn't be much interest, I was taken back when the announcement was made in our website's cat fishing forum. In April of 2006 there were about 50 people in attendance. The three day event was incredibly successful with everyone catching sturgeon and many catching the largest fish of their life. Sturgeon  50+ inches and into the 40 pound range were caught and released. There were smiles on everyones faces and the same thing was heard over and over, "I'll be back next year".

Fast forward to the 2009 Sturgeon Excursion. Saying the Excursion is popular would be an understatement! There are at least 3 websites filling at least 4 resorts, plus many folks staying at or near The Wigwam in the following weeks after the Official Sturgeon Excursion. Cabins are book a year in advance! It's been called the "kick off to the next years open water season" as the area fished has been frozen just days before the Excursion.

The nice part of sturgeon fishing is a person doesn't need a lot of tackle. Starting at the terminal end, three or four night crawlers on a 3/0 circle hook, a heavy swivel, a 3 ounce sinker on 20 pound mono or 50 pound braided line wrapped on a reel like a Garcia 6500 all attached to a muskie or catfish rod and you're set!  There are some that use lighter gear. These people aren't doing the fish any favors. This is catch and release fishing only and since man nearly wiped out this fish at the turn of the century, I urge everyone to use the proper gear and support the fish by cradling it for photos ect. Get your measurments if you like, check for a DNR tag, take a couple snapshots and get your fish back into the water. Sexually maturing after 24 years and then only spawning every three to four years, it's very important to release them in be best condition possible.

Sturgeon are a cooperative fish! If you don't like to get up early, don't! If don't like to fish late, don't! There's  enough sturgeon moving through the Four Mile Bay area to be able to fish when you want.  No need for a passport either. Very few fish on the Canadian side, just no need to. Where to fish?  As long as your not fishing on a fellow boaters anchor rope behind you, you're good athough a person needs to remember, these fish like to make you dance. We call it the Sturgeon Dance, where even with the heaviest gear, they will lead you around the boat..all the way around the boat and if they can, into your anchor!  It's just as much fun to watch the next boat dance with a sturgeon as it  is to catch this hard fighting fish yourself!

From a small group of guys in 2005 to the gathering of hundreds in 2010, the April Sturgeon Excursion folks will talk about their turn at the sturgeon dance for a long long time!

Brian Klawitter

November Walleye Sauger update Pool 4 of the Mississippi

Posted by: Brian Klawitter Updated: November 6, 2009 - 9:28 PM
With the beautiful weekend predicted by our weather men, it's a sure thing there will be many taking advantage of it. While some head for the woods for the deer season, others will enjoy some of the best fishing of the year!

There were too many smile at the fish cleaning house tonight to not stop in and see what's going on and maybe find few tips on what's working today.

It turns out that many presentations were working for the guys with limits or near limits of fish. Using 3 ways seemed to be the best or maybe most often used set up. This was followed by vertical jigging plastics. Paddle Tail's were the clear winner in this catagory. The folks that were using a plain jig and minnow seemed to struggle the most.

When I use the Marcum camera, (video above) one thing became very clear. The fish in most areas hug the bottom. The angler that raised the lure a foot off the bottom is going to be 6 to 8 inches out of the strike zone. The tried and true method for plastic is to find the bottom, lift your rod tip 2 to 4 inches, hold as steady as possible...then count to 20. Then repeat. It's the steady hold and the river current working the lure that gets the strikes most every time.

With the river water temps rising slightly, the flathead cats were out roaming for an extra meal before the long winter. There were a number of lucky anglers that hooked into flats from 5 to a reported 40 pounds today.

It's going to be a great weekend to be out on the water!

Everyone Thinks of Pool 4 in the Spring

Posted by: Brian Klawitter Updated: October 26, 2009 - 9:49 PM
Many think of fishing Pool 4 near Red Wing is the place to be in the spring. Not so for eater sauger and walleyes!

In fact, the fall bite can be just as good if not better than in spring.

What's working today?

Pulling three way rigs is hot right now. Many use their favorite stick bait. Keep in mind that the colors might change throughout the day. Depending on the flow the day you're looking for a meal, 2 to 3 ounces of weight will do the trick. What I hear that's more important than color is speed.  Trolling down to .4 miles per hour works very well. Moving side to side at that speed on a current seam will give you plenty of tugs!  Don't forget a Ringworm on a # 2 hook in place of that $7.00 shad imitation works very well too.

For those that feel more comfortable vertical jigging, plastics are taking off. B-Fish-N Tackles Stewart Pro Blue Ringworm is a deadly color in both spring and fall as well as Purple Chartreuse.  On brighter days, give the Oyster and Firecracker a shot. Bright colors on bright days and darker colors on cloudy, overcast days.

The folks pitching blade baits are having just as much fun as the trollers and the vertical jiggers. In fact, now is a great time to learn how well those funny looking blades baits that some people call sonars work casting them, then working them slowly back to the boat. Lifting the rod tip slightly and dropping the bait until the line tells the anger the bait is on the bottom. Generally they fish smackem while the bait is falling.

While many boats head up to the dam area, the wise angler will stay away from other anglers. The sauger and walleyes are moving up from the lake towards the dam. There is literally 11 miles of excellent fishing.

For the trends and scoop on what's happening on Pool4, check out the Mississippi River Forums on In-Depth Outdoors. For the upto the minute hot tackle, stop into Everts Fishing Resort.

When the manager of Everts,  Dean speaks tackle, the fish listen!

Free USCG Inspections & Some Opinion

Posted by: Brian Klawitter Updated: October 19, 2009 - 9:59 PM
 There's been a lot of chatter on the message boards about the US Coast Guard "cracking down" on  guides that work on the federally controlled waterways in the area. Some of the waters that have been in the spotlight lately are the Mississippi, the St. Croix Rivers and Lake Vermilion. The law the Coast Guard is enforcing requires vessels for hire to have the operator obtain an O.U.P.V. license that's issued by the Coast Guard.

It's very clear. The guides that haven't gone through the licensing are very, very unhappy about the law (and it's enforcement as of late)  and the guides that have the license are happy. This means more business for them,  although many are ducking for cover to keep a low profile. Why? Because they don't want to be targeted as the "snitch", turning in unlicensed guides. I can't blame them, everyone is connected in the fishing industry one way or another.

It's time for the guiding industry to stand up and take a lead on either following the laws or changing them. It's just plain wrong to feel uncomfortable because of following the law.  The people that should feel uncomfortable are the guides that knowingly shrug off the law and the people that support this illegal activity!

When I spoke with Officer John Nay of th CG's St Paul office inquiring the purpose of this law, his response was "It's all about safety. When people hire a guide, they expect a certain level of safety."  And safety is what the Coast  Guard focuses on.  They require a physical, a background check, random drug testing, CPR and basic first aid certificates along with a properly equipped vessel which includes boat registration.

About a week ago, I was contacted by the Neil McMillin the USCG District Staff Officer
from the Eighth Western Rivers Region
. He's been contacting advertised guides to join in a voluntary boat inspection. The purpose of these inspections is to help ensure boaters have the proper safety equipment on board and are complying with the licensing laws. The CG offers this inspection to anyone that asks for one, not just guides. It's free. It's voluntary. These inspections are not a "gotcha". They are set up to increase safety and awareness on our waterways and help inform boaters and guides of what and how they can become safer boaters and to come into compliance with our laws if needed. The inspection information is not passed on to enforcement. Once passing the inspection, a decal that's good for two years is placed on your boat. I have one. Neil's attitude was pleasant. He was through in his inspection and we talked about many how's and why's of boating regulations. Even though we didn't agree on every point, he offered points of view that I hadn't thought of before.  I encourage all guides to contact Officer McMillin for an appointment.

As professional guides we are the leaders of the industry.

As a friend of mine put it,  I'm paraphrasing... no matter if you are for or against the Coast Guards licensing, with all the talk on the message boards and in the papers, the ball is in the customer's court to ask for verification of required licenses and insurance.

Whether you're a guide or not, contact Officer McMillin for your free inspection.

Neil McMillin
District Staff Officer
Vessel Examinations/Program Visitation
Eighth Western Rivers Region
Division 11

Good Fishin'


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