Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Minn.

May 14, 2001

A walleye angler wannabe

Thank goodness for northern pike, largemouth bass, crappies, sunfish, carp, and bullheads.

Without them, my fishing success would be, at best, poor, and my frying pan, for the most part, empty.

I am what I believe most Minnesota anglers are, a walleye angler wannabe.

It's the best eating fish, the fish with the big reputation, the fish that creates such a stir on the opener, and it's our state fish.

Basically, a big walleye, or stringer full of small ones will turn the heads of more anglers in Minnesota than any other fish will. Not to forget, they are also very easy to clean and fillet.

The definition of a walleye angler wannabe kind of goes like this.

We would prefer to have the big fancy boat with all the electronics that the walleye angler has. We would love to always have new high-tech line on our new fancy reels.

Yes, walleye angler wannabes have new fancy reels. We would love to have the time, patience, and desire to drive to big traditional walleye lakes, fish with long, hard-to-handle snells, fish in rain, wind, big waves, and at night.

We would also like to know all the little tricks that help walleye anglers catch walleyes, and we would also love to catch a nice bunch of them once in a while.

Typically, the walleye angler wannabe will head to a lake with the right bait, the right tackle, and armed with best fishing stuff they've got, with grand intentions of catching walleyes.

An hour or so into the event, with no walleye in the boat, and most of the time not even a walleye nibble, patience will wear thin and tactics will change.

If it's real windy on the lake, the walleye effort may last less than an hour.

Trolling for northern pike will begin, then casting for largemouth bass, then still-fishing for crappies, and finally, the boat will be anchored in the shallows with wax worms out and a small cork bobber on top of the water in pursuit of sunfish.

As the season goes on, walleye attempts will become less frequent, and much of the tackle and patience needed to nab a walleye be will left in the tackle box or at home.

By the time July rolls around, any attempt at walleye fishing is pretty much over with until maybe early October or ice fishing over the holidays.

For me, I've almost given up on any open water walleye angling other than on the Crow River and some wader fishing in the late fall.

Crow River walleyes aren't as picky and sensitive as finicky lake walleyes, and I have years of experience fishing the Crow with pretty good walleye success.

I just don't have the patience or the right stuff to be a refined walleye angler. Because of that, I've gotten pretty good at filleting the y-bones out of small northern pike, finding ways to cook mid-summer bass, and speedy at cleaning a bunch of panfish.

Courtesy of my late grandmother Ida, and my dad, who were not even in the walleye angler wannabe class, I can smoke a carp and skin a bullhead with the best of them.

Someday, with time and patience, myself and many other Minnesota anglers will graduate to true walleye anglers.

Until then, thank goodness for northern pike, largemouth bass, crappies, sunfish, carp, and bullheads.

Area lakes fishing and outdoor report

Morel mushrooms apparently aren't out yet as area hunters have had very little luck finding them.

Regarding morels, this should be a prime season for them. The weather has been warm and there has been ample moisture. Look for the morels to start popping when the lilacs bloom.

Moving onto fishing, as of Thursday, May 11, the public landing at Lake Ann was still not open, and water levels on area lakes and the Crow River were still high.

Dave Groff of Lil' Angie's Bait and Tackle at the Treasure Hunt reported that crappies were hitting on Winsted Lake, and anglers who could get on Lake Ann were also catching crappies. Dave also noted Lake Mary and Lake Ann could be hot early season walleye lakes, and that shiner minnows have been difficult to get from vendors.

Joe's Sport Shop in Howard Lake reported: There hasn't been a lot of news about spring crappie action. Several anglers noted their plans for the opener and the first week of the walleye season included lakes Washington and Collinwood.

Joe's also noted it has all bait in stock, however, leeches are running a bit small this season.

For the walleye angler wannabes out there, try Winsted, Stahls, and Pleasant lakes for fast action on, much easier to catch then walleyes, northern pike.

Outdoors notes

­ Be courteous and cautious, not competitive, while fishing this season.

­ The season for largemouth bass in our area opens Saturday, May 26.

­ The muskie fishing season in Minnesota opens Saturday, June 2.

­ To catch bait-robbing crappies and sunfish, try different size hooks and make sure they are sharp.

­ Read and review the 2001 Minnesota Fishing Regulations Handbook, and carry a copy in your tackle box.

­ Have your dog checked for heartworm and put on a heartworm preventative medication.

­ In the past week, a majority of trees have budded and are full of leaves, more of the landscape has turned green, mosquitoes in good numbers have appeared, and fruit trees have blossomed.

­ On a final outdoor note, I had the opportunity to witness a hail storm last week. In Lester Prairie, on Wednesday at about 6:30 p.m., it hailed for a few minutes. Some of the hail stones in my yard were golf ball in size, but very soft. My three-year-old daughter was in complete amazement and thought winter was starting all over again.

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