Was I fishing in a dream, or did this opener really happen? Someone pinch me please. For the first time since I can remember fishing a Minnesota opener, the snow didn't fly, the wind didn't blow, and the cold never set in. It was beyond beautiful! Heck, I even saw the first water skiiers and party cruisers on the water. While all of the "norms" for our opener failed to transpire, one thing remained the same - the walleye chomp was on!
My opnening day partners were Dusty Gesinger and Sean Bailey. Two fishin' dudes that I've shared many openers with. We hit the Waconia watering hole for the midnight start time, and boy did we start the season out with a bang. The first walleye to hit the net came shortly after midnight by yours truly. An 'eye that was too big to keep and pushed the stick at just under 24 inches. I was proud! Not to be outdone, Dusty crushed my mark with a lengthy 27 3/4 inch walleye of his own. We laughed and gave high fives. Our streak of Midnight openers has given us some extremely large fish over the past several years. One common scenario is that I catch the first fish, then Dusty catches one just a bit bigger. For example, two years ago I got us on the board just after midnight with a 28 incher that I thought would win the 'big fish' honors. As I was puffing my chest over my big catch, he set the hook into a 31 incher that blew our mind. I guess it's fate, but I will be the first to admit that I love every time he out duels me. I have become accustomed to it and would expect nothing less from him. Maybe it's why I give up my night of sleep, and why I love the midnight opener so much.
While our midnight run is always fun, we really look forward to Saturday morning and catching a meal for a fish fry. After a short rest, we left Waconia and headed over to lake Minnetonka to watch the sun rise over the lake. This too has been a yearly tradition, and once again the walleyes held up their end of the bargain. As the sun hit the Eastern horizon, the lines went tight. We boated some for the frying pan, but found most to be way too large. A problem that we weren't complaining about at all. We found our average size to be about a 4 pound fish, and caught several between 22 and 25 inches. A treat for a metro fishing opener. For a while we thought we were on Mille Lacs or Leech, but again, we weren't complaining.
The rest of the weekend was more of the same. We fished hard, fishing a total of three lakes, and finally managed our meal for a fresh walleye dinner. With weather typical of July, many large walleyes, and the fact that I caught at least one walleye on 3 different lakes on Saturday, I am going to rate this opener as one the best I have ever experienced. My boat was truly blessed with the great walleye success. The only thing I couldn't figure out was how the heck Dusty and I caught all those walleyes, and Sean got skunked? Haha, Yep, he won't live that one down anytime soon! Fortunately, he stepped his game up on Sunday and finally got the smell out of the boat! Thanks to all that made my opener so memorable.
As always, you can see more pictures in my personal walleye photo album. Also, if anyone is interested in catching some metro 'eyes, the time is now and I still have limited room available for guided trips. From the walleye filled metro waters, keep on livin' the dream!
Catch more at www.trophyencounters.com
The year of 2010 on the Rainy River might go down as one of the most memorable spring walleye runs in history. Maybe it won't be remembered as the year of catching 200 walleyes in a day, but its likely that all the anglers on that water will remember the size of the fish they caught on their trip north. It certainly will for myself, and I'll bet my fishing partners will say the same.
Last week I got a bug up my rear to head north. The reports were just too good to pass up, and I thought I would move my Sturgeon Fest trip up a week. My boat partners that included dad Tim Frank, my buddies Dusty Gesinger and Tim Dingwall, understood what I was talking about when I explained to them that the 10 pound walleyes are biting with regularity. We changed our reservations and headed to Ballards Resort (the nicest resort I have stayed at on LOW yet) on Thursday night. Little did we know what we were about to get ourselves into.
Friday morning I met up with one of my muskie fishing partners, Mike Tengwall. He'd been on the water the evening before and confirmed our thoughts. The big girls were biting! It took a matter of minutes for our boat to believe the word on the street. I was lucky enough to hook the first fish of the trip. A beautiful 26 inch walleye. I followed that up with a fat 27.5 incher. Then, just when I thought I was the cool guy in the boat, Dingwall caught his first ever Rainy River walleye, and she stretched the board at a solid 30 inches. Wow! Now, we have all caught nice walleyes before, but this was just unheard of. Next it was my dad's turn, and he caught a dandy 27.5 and a 28 incher too. It was beyond spectacular. Dusty soon got in on the action too, and we all repeated this process over and over throughout the morning. I assure you that it never got old. Plus, we even managed to hook a few smaller fish for the frying pan.
With morning number one in the books, we pretty much had our trip already made. For us, it couldn't have gone any better. The only thing on our minds was a chance at a hard tugging sturgeon. After all, Sturgeon Fest is an annual tradition of ours. To commemorate it all, Dusty shaved himself a sweet mustache in remembrance of our 2009 Sturgeon Season, the year of the mustache. Our antics started in familiar places and familiar sturgeon waters. Much the same as the morning started, I was the lucky one to start the action. It took me about 3 seconds to remember why I drive 6 hours north to catch these fish every year. A battle that probably pulled a dozen muscles in my back and gave me smiles for hours. At that moment I can remember sitting down and thinking, "Yes Travis, this is as good as it gets."
Day #1 was simply incredible. In fishing terms, it couldn't have gone better. To be able to add my good buddies Dingwall and Dusty to the list was epic, and having my father along was the icing on the cake. We enjoyed catching fish like each one was our first. I can honestly say that when you see a walleye that big come up from the dark stained waters, they all get you screaming for excitement. Even after the 15th, 20th, or 30th one. It never got old, and to add Sturgeon to the list for our afternoon activities was such a sweet bonus.
While day #1 was great, we made sure that it was no fluke. Day #2 was a near repeat with many more huge walleyes and a few sturgeon that were even larger. Sunday morning was our grand finale and we sealed it with a couple more walleyes near the 10 pound mark. I took more pictures of big fish than I know what to do with, and will have more memories than I can even think to share. All I know is that it will certainly be tough to beat this trip. I just don't know how it could be possible.
You might be wondering why we don't do this every season, and how it all came to be. Well, this year was a freak of nature in terms of river conditions. In a typical year the river turns muddy and the current is out of control. The walleyes get lock-jaw and many anglers get skunked. This year was the exception. The water levels remained extremely low. The current speed was nearly zero, and the water temps indicated that the females would be in the river during the open fishing season. Some years the walleye fishing might only last for a day or two. This year, it was a solid month of picture perfect angling conditions. When you couple that with the size of the fish that people were catching, and when I say people, I mean everyone, then you can understand why the 2010 season on the Rainy River will likely go down in the history books as one of the best ever. It was for me, and I can assure you it was for my buddies too! To see more pictures from our trip, check out my Rainy River photo album. Until next time, Keep on Livin' the Dream!
Catch more at www.trophyencounters.com
It's not every day I get to spend an afternoon in the boat with a Hall of Fame angler. Today I was lucky enough to do just that. It's an honor and quite the humbling experience to be in a position to do such a thing. Sure I work for the company that Ron Schara started many moons ago, and we work along side each other day in and day out, but to get away from the hustle and bustle of the office life and spend time in "our element," was pretty special. No cameras, no motive; just good clean fishing for the simple fun of it all.
Our location - the Mississippi River in the heart of the Twin Cities. Pool 2 they call it, and it's catch and release year round. Our target was the gorging spring walleyes that fill the flowing waters. For myself this was trip number 4 on the season, for Ron Schara, it was his first. Ron and I are both a little competitive when we fish together, so going into it I figured I would have the upper hand with the slough of walleyes already to my name.
During our drift, we shared stories and laughs about fishy topics. I had a couple, but mostly I just listened to the man that's been there and done that. We bounced ideas and thoughts off each other, and I think you could say that each one of us learned a thing or two while we floated that water. I learned that my favorite all-time fishing pole does have a life span, and it ended on March 10, 2010. I now know a few "secret spots" that produced jumbo walleyes many years ago. I learned a lot of things from Ron on our short trip on the water, but one thing will definitely stand out from them all. It is important to catch the first fish and the biggest fish. I did neither, and now I will have to live with it for a very long time...
Thank you for another memorable trip Ron. Congrats on the first fish and the biggest fish, but please note, I won't let it happen again!
Catch more at www.TrophyEncounters.com