Popular Posts

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Fishing Underground

A secret society exists in the fishing community. A group of people so stealthy that most don't even realize they exist. They are back country trout anglers, and the first rule of back country trout anglers is: that there are no back country trout anglers. The only way that you spot these people is the fish slime on their Carhartt's you might notice in line at the local convenience store. Pair this with a fuel purchase and a few tubs of wax worms and you may have spotted a member of the fishing underground. These people don't show their faces at the local bait store in fear they might be asked "where they bitten". Your best chances of spotting a member of the underground is in the arrowhead region of Minnesota, because this is where the back country trout are bountiful. Their prey is of course the most regal of the trout family, the brook trout, but for most underground members the splake or rainbow trout will do in a pinch. Their day of reckoning is January 14th, the Minnesota winter trout opener.

For these anglers 16" fish are respected, 17" fish are coveted, and 19" fish... most people are lying about. In this elite group of anglers 4:30 am is considered an acceptable starting time. If a friend shows up late, you simply leave him behind. Holes are often drilled in a clover leaf formation to allow for viewing of your shallow water prey. When a big fish approaches the "berry pickers" or novice anglers often panic at the sight  and blow their opportunity. The true underground member however keeps a steady hand. Often working his jig with the precision of a puppet master.

Growing up on Minnesota's North Shore, trout opener fell right behind the opener of Wisconsin's Brule River and ahead of Christmas on the priority list. We went to lakes that you'd later lie to your mother about in fear she might name drop at the office water cooler. We went to places that had to be packed down with snowmobile to allow for gear to be hauled in. Places where we'd bring chainsaws to clear trail on the way in to allow travel. I've broke thru thin ice wading in bogs to reach otherwise inaccessible trout water. I've fished trout opener with sinus infections. I was once blindfolded and brought from Two Harbors 45 minutes to "lake x" to chase giant brookies as colorful as a kaleidoscope. If asked to go again I'd leave in a moments notice.

So why you ask do grown adults go to these measures to catch a fish. Is it the tradition of winter trout opener? Is it the allure of the unknown and what one may catch? Is it the adventure? Or maybe just a great time to get together with friends, talk smart and chase the elusive trout. Should you ever come into contact with a member of the fishing underground be sure to ask. As for me I digress, what fishing underground;)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Finding Big Panfish

I spent my night doing some research on the Department of Natural Resources Lake Finder site. If your a panfish aficionado like myself this site should be on your favorites list. Not to let out all the secrets but this site opens the book on all surveys for your favorite area lakes. It makes it easy to find lakes that have a higher density of large panfish. It also shows the number of fish that were caught in the survey, and the exact amount in the different size ranges. I live in Minnesota where the DNR also offers a mobile app. I'm sure most states have this available in some capacity. The one problem that I find is some of the test netting and electro-fishing was done many years ago, so the information is not always current. It does however still give you a starting point. So to test the site, I pulled up one of my favorite big bluegill lakes here in Central Minnesota. Reading thru the survey information I found that no bluegills were caught in this body of water by the DNR. This seemed strange to me so I made a call to our local fisheries office. The technician that answered the phone knew exactly which body of water I was referring to. He informed me that I was not crazy and big bluegills do exist in this body of water. He informed me that they had caught them in a different study where the results were not published. I also asked him what variable he believed was the most important to finding lakes with big bluegills in the area. I thought maybe freshwater shrimp as a food source, or current to aide in spawning. He informed me that a smaller population was key. If too much competition exists for food all the fish stay small and stunted. We also talked about the importance of letting the bigger males go. These big males will protect their spawning nests and not allow small fish to spawn, passing on the big fish genetics. He also informed me of a few lakes in the area where test studies uncovered  huge crappies.

My personal interest in fishing relates to the chase. Sometimes for me the act of hunting down big fish is much more satisfying than actually catching those fish. This is why I have no interest in driving out onto a lake and setting up in the middle of the community hot-spot. It is much more rewarding to strike out.

The last thing I believe in doing is trying to find a good map of the lake. Even at around a 150 acres, I am not going to be able to "drill out" the entire lake. I need something to give me some starting points. I encourage you to strike out from the pack this winter, and find some big panfish. You might just be rewarded. GT4YSBK72VHB

Tags: "fishing" "bluegills" "crappies" "Minnesota fishing" "finding big bluegills" "1slabseeker""Central Minnesota Fishing Report" "big bluegill" "lakefinder" "catching big bluegills"