Brute’s Bleat: June 18, 2014


I was kind of reminded I wasn’t too complete in  last week’s column about fishing Lake of the Woods. The reminder was a new knick-name, Fish-hawg, given to me by boat operator Mike Muller. In a certain sense I suppose I should be flattered as the name implies I caught a lot of walleyes.  One other thing I didn’t mention was that on  the last day of fishing we (Muller and myself) convinced George Palmer to change from a regular sinker to using Northern Tackle’s Slick Stick.  It wasn’t that we talked him into making the change, it was because we were catching more fish. For the uninformed, a Slick Stick is a stainless steel rod about 14 inches long with a swivel on the top end where the fish line goes. A safety pin is tied on just below the slick stick which allows it to slide on the fish line. We used spinners, predominantly green and white, and the slick stick tends to keep the bait at the right depth close to the bottom. Keeping the line at a 45-degree angle was the right speed for the one-ounce slick sticks. We were using night crawlers and leeches for bait with either one working well.  One of the benefits of the slick stick is it seldom gets hung up on the rocks and consequently saves a lot of tackle for the angler. That’s not to say they’re invincible when it comes to getting stuck in the rocks. It happened to me the last day off of Brush Island after having used the same spinner for two days running. When the slick stick wouldn’t budge I ended up cutting the line and putting on a back-up slick stick.  Local fishing and hunting entrepreneur Joe Rassat introduced me to the slick stick a couple of years ago when I wanted to get the edge on Muller and Palmer, and they have become part of my fishing arsenal ever since. They come in different weights, depending upon how deep you’re fishing.  I’m not saying they’ll replace jig fishing in Lake of the Woods, but they’re effective.
My passion for fly fishing for panfish is just as strong as ever, but I’m not putting much in the fish basket. It seems the sunnies were spawning while I was at Lake of the Woods and I missed it or this is one of those years where they don’t spawn.  When I kept getting pretty much skunked I put a thermometer in my fish basket to get an idea of how warm the lakes were.  I found out Rock Lake was 74 and Maple Lake was 72 degrees and that was about two feet down which surprized the hell out of me. That convinced me the local spawn is kaput for this year in this area.  On Saturday I visited my 94-year-old aunt, Maggie, who is in a nursing home in Parkers Prairie with intentions to buzz over to Molly-Stark Lake with my fly rod. I stopped at Osakis on the way to Parkers Prairie and visited with some anglers who used flies earlier in the week and found the sunnies in shallow water. That was good news, but it was miserably windy and cold with intermittent rain as I checked Molly-Stark’s temperature, which was 64 degrees.  I made an attempt to find some spawning sunnies along the south shore and wasn’t surprized when I didn’t, considering the weather. I managed to catch some females that hadn’t spawned out, but the few male fish that I caught weren’t aggressive like they are at the height of the spawn.  This week’s thunder storm and rain predicted weather isn’t what I wanted to hear, but local anglers probably will do better in deeper water (13-14 feet) than trying to fish shallow.  I’m planning a run to Ottertail County this week with Palmer and Muller, but a lot will depend on us finding a day when the weather is decent.  Using a fly rod in a thunder storm is not a good idea!
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Keeping the lawns trim is kind of a challenge this year and the  thunder storms haven’t helped. It hasn’t been a good spring for farmers either and there are still fields that haven’t been planted. Street construction on Linden Avenue in Maple Lake has also been a victim of the inclement weather. Rain on the clay soil makes the street nearly impassable much of the time and Saturday morning I was reminded just how slippery it can get when I turned east on Division Street, but the Focus didn’t. Fortunately I was going slow or I might have side-swiped one of the pickups on Division.  
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Howard Lake and Maple Lake are 10-0 and 8-0 in North Star League play. The Lakers have an 11-0 record after their 7-1 win over Hutchinson last week. They play at Dassel-Cokato on Friday in a 7:30 p.m. game. D-C is 7-3 and third in league play. Their next home game is Sunday at 6 p.m. against Montrose.