By Chris Schultz Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Minn. May 24, 1999
The opener - bullhead saves the day
It bit light and easy, slowly sucking down a jumbo leech on slip bobber rig. Then, with a fast hook set, it fought like crazy, pulling, twisting and bending my rod like any good size bullhead would.
That's right, a bullhead, not a walleye or even a northern, just a bullhead.
I shouldn't complain, because catching a fish on the opener is better than catching no fish at all. However, as fishing goes, I was more disappointed than a fat nightcrawler in a round plastic tub. My plans for the opener had been spoiled by inches and inches of rain that swelled the South Fork of the Crow River to a point where it was almost unfishable.
My brother-in-law and I had planned on dumping our canoe in the river at about 9 a.m. and then floating the river for a few hours, hitting some old hot spots of mine. We hoped the river would produce and we would have some fast action on walleye and northern pike while enjoying the great scenery the river provides. Sorry to say, the rain filled week before the opener spoiled it all. The river was just too high for good fishing and safe canoeing and I didn't have enough time to make other plans.
In an opening day effort to wet a line, we scrapped the canoe and headed for a bridge on a small township road. In the morning we managed a few bites, but the fast current and all the debris floating down the river just weren't conducive to fishing. In other words, we got skunked.
With the morning gone and my desire howling, I headed back to the river for a short spurt of afternoon fishing. In a half hours time, a lonely bullhead at the end of my line had saved the day and the opener. I wanted to take a picture of his lovely whisker-filled face, but my partner for the afternoon, Angus, grabbed him and took a dive into the river before I could get the lens off my camera.
In other fishing news: The walleye bite in our neck of the woods was a bit slow, while reports from anglers fishing northern Minnesota lakes were full of fast action and limits of walleye.
Reports from our area had Washington and Collinwood providing the best walleye action, Mary producing crappies, Winsted giving up good numbers of small northern pike, and Big Waverly giving up a few walleyes.
Reports also noted a huge turnout of anglers. With the crowds on Washington and Ann so large, several anglers got turned away because there was absolutely no room left to park the vehicles and boat trailers.
Joe's Sport Shop in Howard Lake reported: The turn out, probably because of all the rain, for the opener on Howard Lake was a bit less than other years with the best action being provided by northern pike and sunfish. Joe's also noted the crappie bite on several lakes in the area has been picking up fast.
Moving up north, local anglers heading to Mille Lacs, Split Hand, Pelican, Woman and Winnie all reported super walleye fishing on the opener with Mille Lacs being the hottest of all lakes, and many anglers picking up limits of walleye.
May is always a busy time in the outdoors and I'm wandering if you saw a few goslings, ducklings, or pheasant chicks on the way to the lake last week.
In the past week, I've seen all kinds of wildlife. Goslings are hatched and out in good numbers. Baby wood ducks have emerged from their homes and a local farmer told me he saw his first brood of young pheasants last week.
The timing is right for the gosslings and ducklings, but it is a bit early for the pheasants. Typically, the first hatch of pheasant chicks would happen sometime in early June. Actually, I've been hoping the pheasant hatch would be a little late this year. Young pheasants are very susceptible to cold spring rains and we've had a lot of that, so far.
Also, morel mushrooms are out, the trees are full of leaves, and several varieties of wildflowers are starting to bloom.
On a final note, and good for the above mentioned birds, gnats are flying in big numbers and mosquitoes are just starting to hatch.
Winsted Sportsmen's Club 'Take a Kid Fishing Day'
The Winsted Sportsmen's Club has announced details of their annual take a kid fishing day. The event will be Sunday, June 13, from 2 to 4 p.m. on Lake Mary.
Kids are asked to preregister at Radtke's Bait and Tackle near Winsted by Tuesday, June 8 if they will not be bringing a boat or their own equipment to the event.
On the 13th, registration will begin at the Lake Mary clubhouse at 1 p.m., fishing from 2 to 4 p.m, with weigh in and lunch to follow.
The club provides bait and lunch and there is no charge for the event.
For more information, contact Radtke's Bait and Tackle.
The event is part of the DNR's Take a Kid Fishing Weekend. Adults taking a kid 15 years of age or younger fishing on the weekend of June 12 and 13 are not required to have an angling license.
Obtain instant DNR licenses by phone
As of March, DNR and fishing licenses can be purchased over the phone, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. After ordering your licenses, which will be mailed within 48 hours, you will be given a license identification number that allows you to begin hunting or fishing-within legal seasons-the minute you hang up the phone.
Exceptions are activities, such as turkey hunting, that require tags or permits. They will be mailed within 48 hours. What's more, all licenses can be ordered at once, with the exception of deer licenses. They aren't available until seasons are set in July.
"We're of6f to a good start," says Tom Keefe, coordinator of thc DNR'S Electronic Licensing System Program. "It's all running real smoothly and we're expecting to handle a lot of calls from here on into the walleye opener."
Order instant licenses by calling toll-free 888-665-4236 (888-MNLicense). Regular license fees plus a $3.50 processing fee will be charged to your credit card.
The DNR is also working to make hunting and fishing licenses available over the Internet at the DNR web site (www.dnr.state.mn.us) beginning this fall.
- Look for the sunfish to start spawning very soon.
- Give fly-casting for panfish a try. If you're looking for a different fishing opportunity on our local lakes get yourself some fly-fishing equipment, practice a little and head out after sunfish and crappies. When the sunfish or crappies won't take a worm, small leech or minnow, they will often hit a fly gently sinking from the top of the water.
- The morel mushrooms are out and several hunters have reported modest to good success. If your interested in finding a few morels, get out there now, the season will be over soon.
- The bass fishing season will open on our area lakes Sat., May 29.
- On your next trip into the outdoors, don't forget the bug spray. Gnats are swarming in big numbers and the mosquitoes will be out soon. Also, remember to get your dog checked for heartworm and then on a heartworm preventative medication. Heartworm is carried by mosquitoes and, without proper care, can be deadly to dogs.
- Local wild turkey hunters, hunting an area just north of Howard Lake where 15 permits were available, reported several turkeys heard, but none seen or harvested.
- Look for the fishing to pick up a bit in the next week or two and remember the best walleye fishing on our area lakes usually occurs at night.