Our anchor touched down in 23 fow and our baits ended up in 30 to 50 fow depending on how far back we cast. My Favorite Wife and I were using crawlers, sucker slices, fat head minnow or combination of all of the above.
The targeted fish of the day:
Shovelnose Sturgeon and anything else that tugged on the line. We weren't to fussy as both of us were just happy to be out together enjoying a small slice of the summer that's left. It didn't take too long before Deb was playing tug-o-war with a plump 10 pound channel cat that picked up the squished sucker head. Never under estimate the power of a stepped on or otherwise squashed sucker head!
The first sturgeon that came to the boat was a little tagged Lake Sturgeon. She was all of 25 inches. The tag number, length and location was sent to the DNR office in Lake City to be added to their data base. Hopefully some day in my life time we'll see a catch and release season on the Mississippi for these incredible fish. As with all tagged fish, please leave the tag in the fish if your your releasing them. The tags keep on giving information each time they are caught and the info turned in.
The Shovelnose wouldn't disappoint us. It seemed like 4 or 5 fathead minnows on the 3/0 Team Catfish Double Action hook was the bait of choice for these fish some call the ugliest fish in North American. I use my channel cat/Lake Sturgeon set up. A Garcia 6500 spooled with 80 pound Team Catfish Tug O War line, mounted on a St. Croix TRC70MHF. I could get away with a much lighter set up however there's a very good chance of hooking into a trophy channel cat, a monster flathead or even and acrobatic Lake sturgeon.
The Shovelnose season is continuous below Lock and Dam #3 near Red Wing. There is a 10 fish limit if you would like to try one. Personally I have too much fun catching and releasing them to try to figure out how to clean one of these boneless dinosaurs. Also known as Hackleback or Sand Sturgeon, shovels are a hoot to catch. This sturgeon roams the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and their tributaries. One of the smallest of the sturgeon, with the WI State record being caught out of Everts Fishing Resort just a couple years ago at 5 pounds 9 oz. This is a record that will fall over the next few years. One client of mine caught what would have been a new state record by at least two ounces, but released it to keep on fishing .
Males reach sexual maturity around 5 years, females around 7 years. Like the Lake sturgeon, they don't spawn every year. Areas to target the guys will have sandy or gravel bottoms with moderate to heavy current. Most articles will say they mainly feed on aquatic invertebrates. Slices of sucker, fatheads as mentioned before and worms have work very well for me. Shovelnose sturgeon are classified as a sport fish in about half of 24 states where it's found. There's a number of states that allow commercial harvest. Shovels are another fish that's under fished in our area.
The St Croix River Lake Sturgeon season opens on Sept 4 this year. Time to get out there and enjoy the last few days of summer. Take the kids and get in some early Shovelnose fishing!
Over the last year and a half, the Corp of Engineers have been working on a $650,000 "feasability" study to place a fish passageway through Lock and Dam #3 near Red Wing, MN. According to the Corps website a goal was to have one in place by 2025 at the Hasting Lock and Dam also.
Until just recently the cost along with other information was listed on the Corps website. As of this morning my links to those web pages listed them as "unavailable".
The cost to build this passageway was felt to be prohibitive on the WI side of the river. $22. million according to the Corps website.
End of story right?
According to the latest stakeholders email, alternative areas are being concidered. While the Corps, The Natures Conservansy and the WI DNR push for building this fish "super highway", MN is going into high gear to put up road blocks.
I think we all agree that we can not stop them, but do we have to keep tossing money into the river to help them along? After all, we don't hear complaining about the fishing on our 80 miles of the Mississippi.
Subject: LD 3 Fish Passage Definite Project Report Status (UNCLASSIFIED)
Sent: Friday, July 15, 2011 2:48 PM
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED Caveats: NONE LD 3 Fish Passage Stakeholders, I apologize for the lack of communication of where we are with the above project. We have been looking at alternative fish way channels that are less expensive that the current channel thru the Wisconsin embankments. 1. As you know the current Preliminary Draft Report showed an increase in Project Cost for just the fish way channel which is now in excess of $19M. Most of the cost is associated with imported cofferdam fill/removal and the channel borrow removal as well. 2. The in-house team has been looking at two other possible less expensive fish way channel locations on the lock side thru the island. One uses the Auxiliary lock chamber (as suggested by Value Engineering team) and a second channel alternative is located between the auxiliary lock and the dam. Cost estimates are being generated to see if these two alternative channels are less expensive than the Wisconsin embankment channel to construct and still meet the original goals and objectives. 3. Costs should be complete in about two weeks. Tom Novak Tel: 651.290.5524 Cell: 612.201.6390 Fax: 651.290.5258 eMail: firstname.lastname@example.org
It started off a bit later than normal with the high cold water of the Mississippi this spring. About the time we thought the water temps would kick the flatheads into high gear, the storms would come dumping inches of cold water into Old Man River and the temps would drop and the levels would rise. Once the water temperatures did hit the magical 70 degrees it turned out to be a very nice year for catching and releasing the monsters of the Mississippi! It did seem like at least one night of the weekend we canceled a trip because of lightening storm. But that’s Minnesota!
The last few weeks we’ve enjoyed what every Flathead Fisherman waits all year for, high 70 to 80 degree nights. Hot when we’re sitting at the launch, comfortable boating to our fishing locations, pleasant while waiting for a cat to bite the bullhead that many would rather clean for dinner than use for bait and a fantastic ride back to the dock with only a tee shirt style shirt and an inflatable life jacket on. Not a ripple to be found in the reflection of the moon on the water. These are the nights that were made for the Trophy Flathead Cat Fisherman!
But now it’s August. Some cat fishing folks will turn toward the smaller but just as productive Minnesota River as the water levels decrease, others with start getting ready for hunting season. For me, August is normally the boat and wife maintenance month before our St Croix River Lake Sturgeon Season starts on Sept 4th.
Many folks still are not aware of this Trophy Fishery right next to the Metro area. Catching a dinosaur that could be as old as you are or older is a tribute to what our MN/WI DNR’s have done on this border water. The best part is that the fishery is getting better and better each year!
Imagine having the chance to hook into a 20, 30, 40 or even 50-pound Lake Sturgeon and have your stout rod bent over the side of the boat. All you can do is hang on while the brute has her way with you. Possibly come out of 30 feet of water, go air borne to take a look at you and head back down to 30 feet all in the time you can say “WooooHooo!!” What other fresh water fish can actually lead you around your boat?
Many people ask me which I like better Lake Sturgeon or Flathead fishing. Both are so much the same but different so that’s why I do both I guess!
Would you like to try Lake Sturgeon fishing this fall but are unsure of what you need? Shoot me an email and I'll be glad to get you started!
To see more of the 2011 Flathead Catfish photos visit BrianK's Photo Gallery.
To contact Warrior principals, see below
Fishermen and Businessmen Resurrect Warrior Boat Brand
The Warrior boat brand is back in the marketplace. Four businessmen/anglers purchased all rights to the name, trademark, molds, jigs, tools and other assets and are making plans for the future, according to Chuck Barth, one of the owners, and a cattle rancher and owner of Tamarack Kennels in Melrose, Minnesota.
Popular pro walleye angler and 2005 PWT Championship winner Dave Andersen, Amery, Wisconsin, is also an owner. He is a long-time custom home builder and construction company owner. He brings walleye credentials to Warrior, after running eight Warriors over his pro career. He has placed in the money in 23 of 45 PWT tournaments, won the Wave Wacker, won about $400,000 on tour, and been in the top 10 numerous times. “This was a dream of mine ever since the plant closed,” Andersen said.
Both Barth and Andersen are National Professional Anglers Association members and tournament anglers. Barth is now in his sixth Warrior, and added, “This is too good a boat not to build for the walleye world.” The other owners are Joe Hellermann, former owner of Melrose Marine and Sports and former Warrior dealer, and Al Leinen, co-owner of St. Rosa Lumber Company.
Hellermann began his marine career in 1985 as a marine technician. He joined Melrose TV & Marine in 1989, and purchased and expanded it into Melrose Marine & Sports in 1999. It was sold in 2007. His service background includes factory OEM training on Yamaha, Mercury, Evinrude, Johnson and Suzuki outboards.
Barth said, “The goal will be to build the six top-selling models, and have others available on special order.” Andersen said, “I can’t believe how many people keep asking me about the boats, and what can be done. Well, we did something, and will start showing new boats at shows in December.” They intend to sell via marine dealers.
Warrior boats have been known as performance fishing boats with walleye anglers specifically in mind, for their big-water handling comfort and their roominess, according to the new owners. “Plans are already afoot to update the interior fit and finish, and to deliver the quality customers expect,” Andersen said.
At the peak of Warrior’s production, they were building about 300 boats per year, and to start, the new company will employ about 10 people, including some of the key personnel from the former factory. The new company will select from among four communities bidding to locate there.
Key Warrior Contacts:
Chuck Barth: 320-256-4647; email@example.com
David A. Andersen: 715-268-2168; firstname.lastname@example.org
Joe Hellerman: 320-333-2764; email@example.com
Since we don't seem to spend enough time together, my daughter and I have made our Fathers Day fishing trip an annual event. This year my wife made it along too.
It's always a hoot with these two in the boat as I never know what to expect. Case in point, a piece of drift wood came floating by the boat. Deb my wife didn't get a good look at it but thought it was a snake which made her scream and jump. Then like a chain reaction, Niki my daughter followed suit. All the while I'm scratching my head wondering what all the commotion is about.
Our first fathers day flathead came at 8 pm. Niki landed her first fish of the year at 14 pounds. With all the hooting and hollering coming from our boat, you would have thought it was much larger. We weighed the little guy, snapped a couple photos then gave her a quick kiss good bye. I was a bit surprised we hooked into a fish that early in the night. I baited the hook with another live 8 inch bullhead and placed it next to the big log jam with the hopes of finding a little larger fish.
With time to kill until the next bite, Niki pulled out her cell phone and started reading off little known facts from some "app" that she had installed. I must admit I never knew that Americans eat 14+ acres of pizza each day or that the humming bird is the only bird that can fly backwards. (Yawn)
Next fish up was pretty uneventful. It was a short but fat 6 pounder that Deb brought in. I call these "practice fish". It helps to go though the motions of picking up the rod, making sure the fish is there, cranking the handle a turn to lock the reel then try to break the rod setting the hook. The second person grabs the net and spot light when it's dark. This doesn't sound like much but when the adrenalin is pumping errors can happen fast leading to a missed fish.
Then there was the last fish of the night. The 9 inch live bullhead was placed next to the large snag of drift wood. Wood that the river piles up and is loved by big flathead catfish. The problem with fishing a spot like this is when a fish is hooked, it immediatly wants to head for cover and the further it gets into the cover the less of a chance we'll see the fish in the boat. It's a "tug o war" so to speak.
There was a loud "THUCK" from the rod signaling the bait was taken. My daughter set the hook like she meant it and hollered "WHOA!" The catfish must not have heard her as the rod bent into an arch and the 80 pound Team Catfish line started burning out of the drag. Niki didn't make much if any head way on pulling this guy out of the wood. In fact just after she started saying "Dad I can't do this!" I could tell the monster of the deep was tangle in the underwater snarls of the log jam. I thought that was going to be the end of bringing this fish in.
Niki gave me the rod to see if I could beg her to come back out to play. I would open the bail and she would take line. When I reeled in the extra line, I could only get so far and felt the stop of the wood. Again and again I let the line out and reeled it back in hoping she would swim out. After the six or seventh time, I though she came out. What are the chances I thought! Now it was my wifes turn to bring her home.
If you haven't experienced a large fish in current of the moving Mississippi River, it's pretty hard to explain. About the best I can say is you're arms will hurt, you'll have a black and blue spot where the butt of the rod is pressed against your tummy and you'll be grunting a lot! All three of us have marks this morning! Deb pumped and reeled, pumped and reeled...then the fish thought she was having it too easy and pulled line out of the cinched down Garcia 7000. It's not easy holding on to a rod when the fish wants to go, but Deb did a great job of working her to the boat.
When she finally surfaced next to the boat the screams of "It's HUGE" and "is that coming in here?" were heard across the Mississippi River Valley! With a quick net job the fish was in the boat which called for a round of "knuckles".
Our Family Fish weighed in at 45.9 pounds on the digital scale. A few quick photos to remember Fathers Day 2011 and back in the water she went. It was 12:30 and with three fish boated and two ladies with sore arms. It was time for the ride back home on a beautiful June night.
This Fathers Day couldn't have worked out any better. It was a Family Fathers Day Flathead!