Here's a cabin story for everyone. After a couple of guide trips on Saturday (walleye/crappie trips) I joined the thousands of Memorial Day vacationers on the treck to "the cabin". I was looking forward to seeing how things had progressed througout the last week as far as the crappie fishing in the Walker area where the cabin is located. Why not walleye fishing on Leech or somewhere like that? We'll, trust me, I fish enough walleye during the week, so a good crappie bite is "good game" for me. At any rate, the hunt for shallow crappies would start Sunday around 10:30 am ( I like to sleep).
With the boat in the water and 56 degree water temps--(quite the improvement over the last trip which indicated 47 degree temps) the search was on. No problem, I had a plan--look for big dead bull rush beds from last summer. So I put on the Maui Jims and started "looking" at potential spots aroud the lake while cruising along with the bow mount trolling motor. Within minutes crappies, nice bass, and some bluegills were spotted soaking up the rays in 2-4 ft of clear cool water. I'll tell ya, it had to be last years bull rush beds on a small or large flat with a slow taper. A narrow band of rushes plunging into 20 or 30 ft of water--no good. Some of the best spots were within wading distance of shore. Now that I had found them, what next?
Since the dead bull rushes were thick and the fish were dead smack in the middle of them (not even in the pockets) --casting anything was not an option--snag city. It was time for good old fashioned "dabbling". In this case I used a 10' fly rod with a small spinning reel attached to it. On the end of the 6 lb line was a 1/16 oz. white jig and a struggling crappie minnow. I elected for the 1/16th vs. a 1/32 oz jig after having problems with the minnow swiming the jig into the weeds. The areas were so tight that I had one chance to land the bait on the head of the fish or they would spook and swim away. This was not kid friendly fishing--so I hooked the fish and the kids pulled them in! Another factor was that the boat had to keep moving beacuse they minute I stopped to work a pod of fish they would scatter--probably because of the high sun and the shadows. It was definetly a run and gun dabbling event.
I am anticipating that in one week they will be less confined (they will) and be on the outer edges and not so "spooky". If the journals I've kept over the years tell the story, than that will be the case. Frankly, I'm waiting for 59-62 degree temps, than the crappies get really easy to catch--kid friendly in other words. Of course if I would have been more prepared, I wouldn't have left the 20' "dabbling" pole in the garage--ouch! Oh well, I made the fly rod work--I just had to reach a bit more.
Good luck, Capt. Josh www.minnesotaguideservice.com
I had it all planned out--start shallow and work deeper. Turns out, most of the fish my clients and I caught were in small groups hanging around the 19-30 ft range--so I did the opposite. With 46 degree water temps (basically only 2-3 degrees cooler than Lake Superior on a summer day) and a delayed shiner run, the fish could have been anywhere. With a little searching around with the electronics and a little information from the locals it didn't take long to realize that the fish were a little deeper than planned. Par for the course on "Opener".
Starting the day at 6:30 or so, I "marked" some fish and "bait balls" clearly in the 19-30 ft range just outside the first break off shore. No problem I thought, all I have to do is have a story for the local "Patriot" radio station who would be calling me @ 7:30 am live to the boat. One hour to catch some fish?-- sign me up.
Sure enough after 15 minutes we had three fish in the box and a story to tell the station when they called. Bottom bouncers and a shiner minnow and some precise boat control and we were in business. Thankfully I was in a "stay put" mood focusing on each fish I marked--giving each fish multiple chances from all trolling angles to bite--and most did. Trust me, I am not a patient person and will move spots immediately if fish are not caught in 5-10 minutes. After exhausting the bouncers utilizing a fast clip on the troll, we switched to live bait rigs to filter out the remaining fish that could be triggered take the bait. With the active fish removed from the school, it was time to change fishing spots.
Moving spots is always a gamble--no matter what. There is always that "what if" devil guy on your shoulder. I say ignore him and follow your gut and dont look back. Well maybe 2 hours later look back, and then hit the same spot again,-- other then that--no way. This time the results of not looking back and finding one other spot with similar characteristics was my meal ticket. Four of us had our fish by lunch time and it was once again a successful "Opener". Remember, the fishing only gets easier throughout the season. Good Luck, Capt., Josh www.minnesotaguideservice.com