Brute's Bleat March 8, 2017

My last attempt at late ice angling was a solo effort on Maple Lake Feb. 28 when it took me too long to find any sunnies. I was on a time restraint from the better half with a request to be home by 11:30 a.m. Actually, I was out earlier than normal 9:00, but didn’t find any sizeable fish until about 10:30 when my first keeper hit my wax worm. The next two sunfish were also keepers and then some smaller fish moved into view. I was sight fishing in about five feet of water and two feet off the bottom. It was interesting to watch how cautious the larger sunfish were. Sometimes they’d swim up to the bait only to back off and let the small sunfish nip away at the waxie. Most of the time the larger “keeper” fish would keep their distance and hit the bait sometimes when I switched to a different rod and jig. I kept six that I wasn’t ashamed of and I made Janis happy when I showed up only a half-hour late! A couple of cold days kept me off the ice, and on the way back to ML Thursday, about 5:30 p.m., I stopped to see what the ice conditions were. A lot of the shoreline by the swimming beach was open, but there were a couple of houses fishing out from the former carp trap. One fellow, waiting for his nephew, said the bite was slow and the ice was about three inches where he had been fishing. Apparently it was still possible to get on the ice Sunday morning as two anglers were fishing in the same area. . . Daryl Hennen and I hadn’t fished together all winter, so we made plans to give Lake Mary a shot Sunday where the ice was still safe, according to John Wurm. We stopped to see Wurm late that morning to find out what the ice conditions were. He assured us the ice was still safe and also commented he had taken a limit that morning. That was enough of an incentive for us and Wurm pointed out where he had been angling which is where we headed. We ended up fishing in about eight feet of water, a couple of feet down.The shallower water was inundated with weeds and mill-foil. We were pretty much sight fishing with jigs and wax-worms which let us harvest the larger sunfish. It took quite a lot of hole jumping in the 51-plus degree weather to come up with 15 keepers between us. I had a medium-size Northern swim beneath the small sunfish which didn’t seem to mind the intrusion as they pecked away at my waxie. Later a large carp swam along the bottom which I didn’t go after with my light tackle. Wurm stopped out after we had fished for a couple of hours and we all three decided hard water fishing is over for the season locally. . . Hennen figured the 15 sunfish would bode well for Friday night meals during Lent!
* * *
While we enjoyed warm weather the first part of the week, it sounds like ML’s St. Patrick’s Day Festival on Saturday might be different with temps in the high 30s and maybe some rain or snow. Not ideal by any means, but better than some past festivals when it was cold and windy. The answer is to dress warmly in Irish green for the parade which has never been cancelled in its 40 year history. Our congratulations to Gary and Cathy Jude who are this year’s Grand Marshalls. It’s a fitting tribute to a couple whose dedication to Maple Lake would be difficult to beat. Their’s has been a life-long effort.
* * *
The 2017 Walleye opener is May 13 and the DNR has these general rules to follow for the Big three:
Walleye and Sauger 5/13/17 - 2/25/18 6 combined, not more than one walleye over 20".
Northern Pike 5/13/17 - 2/25/18 3, not more than one over 30".
Muskellunge 6/3/17 - 12/1/17 1, minimum size 54".
I’m saying general rules because the DNR has special limits for some of Minnesota’s lakes and it would be wise to pick up a DNR Regulations book prior to heading out. The DNR also has a story on its web-site about a product called BaitCloud. This and similar products marketed under different brand names cannot be used in Minnesota waters. According to the DNR, these products use a combination of scent, sound and visual attractants to draw the attention of fish. Methods of taking fish are defined in Minnesota laws governing angling gear and the use of artificial baits. I don’t have a clue about how BaitCloud works, but the DNR has given the product a no-no. Ironically it is not illegal for Minnesota retailers to sell BaitCloud or similar products or for Minnesota shoppers to purchase and possess them. I’ll stick with a fly rod and Timber Wolves when the time comes to find some sunfish in the shallows! My last attempt at late ice angling was a solo effort on Maple Lake Feb. 28 when it took me too long to find any sunnies. I was on a time restraint from the better half with a request to be home by 11:30 a.m. Actually, I was out earlier than normal 9:00, but didn’t find any sizeable fish until about 10:30 when my first keeper hit my wax worm. The next two sunfish were also keepers and then some smaller fish moved into view. I was sight fishing in about five feet of water and two feet off the bottom. It was interesting to watch how cautious the larger sunfish were. Sometimes they’d swim up to the bait only to back off and let the small sunfish nip away at the waxie. Most of the time the larger “keeper” fish would keep their distance and hit the bait sometimes when I switched to a different rod and jig. I kept six that I wasn’t ashamed of and I made Janis happy when I showed up only a half-hour late! A couple of cold days kept me off the ice, and on the way back to ML Thursday, about 5:30 p.m., I stopped to see what the ice conditions were. A lot of the shoreline by the swimming beach was open, but there were a couple of houses fishing out from the former carp trap. One fellow, waiting for his nephew, said the bite was slow and the ice was about three inches where he had been fishing. Apparently it was still possible to get on the ice Sunday morning as two anglers were fishing in the same area. . . Daryl Hennen and I hadn’t fished together all winter, so we made plans to give Lake Mary a shot Sunday where the ice was still safe, according to John Wurm. We stopped to see Wurm late that morning to find out what the ice conditions were. He assured us the ice was still safe and also commented he had taken a limit that morning. That was enough of an incentive for us and Wurm pointed out where he had been angling which is where we headed. We ended up fishing in about eight feet of water, a couple of feet down.The shallower water was inundated with weeds and mill-foil. We were pretty much sight fishing with jigs and wax-worms which let us harvest the larger sunfish. It took quite a lot of hole jumping in the 51-plus degree weather to come up with 15 keepers between us. I had a medium-size Northern swim beneath the small sunfish which didn’t seem to mind the intrusion as they pecked away at my waxie. Later a large carp swam along the bottom which I didn’t go after with my light tackle. Wurm stopped out after we had fished for a couple of hours and we all three decided hard water fishing is over for the season locally. . . Hennen figured the 15 sunfish would bode well for Friday night meals during Lent!
* * *
While we enjoyed warm weather the first part of the week, it sounds like ML’s St. Patrick’s Day Festival on Saturday might be different with temps in the high 30s and maybe some rain or snow. Not ideal by any means, but better than some past festivals when it was cold and windy. The answer is to dress warmly in Irish green for the parade which has never been cancelled in its 40 year history. Our congratulations to Gary and Cathy Jude who are this year’s Grand Marshalls. It’s a fitting tribute to a couple whose dedication to Maple Lake would be difficult to beat. Their’s has been a life-long effort.
* * *
The 2017 Walleye opener is May 13 and the DNR has these general rules to follow for the Big three:
Walleye and Sauger 5/13/17 - 2/25/18 6 combined, not more than one walleye over 20".
Northern Pike 5/13/17 - 2/25/18 3, not more than one over 30".
Muskellunge 6/3/17 - 12/1/17 1, minimum size 54".
I’m saying general rules because the DNR has special limits for some of Minnesota’s lakes and it would be wise to pick up a DNR Regulations book prior to heading out. The DNR also has a story on its web-site about a product called BaitCloud. This and similar products marketed under different brand names cannot be used in Minnesota waters. According to the DNR, these products use a combination of scent, sound and visual attractants to draw the attention of fish. Methods of taking fish are defined in Minnesota laws governing angling gear and the use of artificial baits. I don’t have a clue about how BaitCloud works, but the DNR has given the product a no-no. Ironically it is not illegal for Minnesota retailers to sell BaitCloud or similar products or for Minnesota shoppers to purchase and possess them. I’ll stick with a fly rod and Timber Wolves when the time comes to find some sunfish in the shallows!

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