Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fishers of Men Fall Outing 2008

(Art Halverson with a 31.5 Town Line Pike)

September 25-27

Thursday Sept 25th
I did not fish on my way up to Lutherdell Bible Camp on Boy Lake. I did see Dave Lindmarks truck and the GEM Pontoon trailer at Mule Lake. I didn't see it, but Cyberfish's red car was there too. Dave got one 19inch smallie and they caught several small pike and medium sized largemouth and Mike had a nice walleye break him off. When I got to the camp, Pastor Mike Pilla and a group of Teen Challenge guys went out on Boy; They got several little pike and a bass or two. Lowell and Gary had been up North for a few days at Broadwater Lodge on Woman Lake; They fished Woman and Mule with a few fish caught but nothing spectacular to report. Gary Schensted and Doug Bartz had spent the past several days hunting Muskie at Mantrap Lake lake near Park Rapids; They had seen a few Ski's but had not caught any. This day I was surprised to learn that almost no one had any plans of hitting Leech, which I figured would be a big draw. Also as it turns out we had plenty of boats so I did not need to take my boat out at all.

Friday Sept 26th
In the morning I was paired with GEM Camp Director Dave Lindmark and Fishers of Men Club Member Art Halverson. We were going to fish out of the GEM Pontoon and decided to head to Mule Lake. The Tournament for this day was to be total inches of your biggest Pike, Muskie, Bass, and Walleye and Mule Lake has all four species. There was also a $5 per person side pot you could get in that would pay down 3 places. I said that today I was donating, but that tomorrow I would be a threat. When we arrived at the Lake a little after 10am it was slightly overcast with a 10mph SE wind. Several other Fishers of Men boats also went to Mule. We started out by heading South, to work the area where Dave caught his big smallie the day before. On the way South we saw Gary Ellis and Mike Thompson land a fish and John Cummins and Gordy Merck net a fish.

We started shallow and Dave was soon rewarded with a small bass on a tube. I started off throwing a Strike King Red eye shad and caught a couple of small pike on that. Art was throwing a spinnerbait and chatterbait and caught some small pike and maybe a small largemouth or two. I tried topwater with a Frenzy Popper and got a couple of small bass. The weeds we were working looked really good but just didn't seem to be holding quality fish, so we moved to the West side of the lake starting at the Public Access heading North.

I hauled in a couple of small pike on the Red Eye Shad and got a 14" largemouth on a black single Colorado blade spinnerbait while the bait was falling. As we moved North Dave started getting a few Larry's on the deep weedlines with a Ring-N Tube. I was not getting much action so I switched to a tube. Dave continued to catch fish while I and Art struggled. I did manage to get one small larry on the tube before we made it to the Mule Lake narrows. As you go East into the narrows the lake becomes one big weedy shallow flat on the North East end of the lake where there are two main bays.

Around the time we entered the narrows things started to look quite dark to the North and the wind seemed to die off. After we passed the narrows I started throwing the Red Eye Shad and I landed a good bass and a few small pike. Dave continued to have success on the tube although he started to break off on a few fish. At one point Dave broke off on something like 5 fish in a row. The skies continued to get darker. I saw a school of largemouth with one smallie among them between the old access and Smallmouth Point. As we approached Smallmouth Point I spotted a 17-18 inch smallie swimming along. I think Dave got a couple of largemouths on the tube off Smallmouth Point and Art had a tremendous blow up on a Popper and caught a medium sized largemouth.

Conditions were getting right for topwater with the approaching storm and lack of wind, so I put on a Bullfrog color Frenzy Popper. All the other boats got off the lake when it looked like it was going to storm and the thunder was rumbling. Topwater was a good choice as I started nailing some fish. As we made our way into the far NE bay I got a 16.5" Larry which was my big bass of the day. We worked our way from the West shore of the bay across to the East shore of the bay to some laydown trees. I was catching bass consistently right in the middle of the bay. The bass had definitely turned on. Dave was still getting a few on the tube and Art got a fish or two but I had the hot hand.

It really started to look like we were going to get stormed on and there was plenty of thunder, but all the lightening was to our North. We had about an hour left and we decided to motor back to Smallmouth point and work our way to the Narrows. As we got to Smallmouth Point the wind came up out of the NW and it started to sprinkle, but this didn't last long and soon it was clearing up a little and calm again but looking dark to the North and West. As we worked our way to the narrows the fish shut down a bit and the hot hand once again was Dave with the tubes. I did get a couple of fish on topwater and Art landed a nice one on a small Chatterbait. We worked our way around the North Narrows Point and then it was 5:30pm and time to go. As we loaded up it got quite windy and dark but it didn't rain until we got North of Longville and it was pouring out when we got to camp.

We did not get a single smallie; Lindmark's and my big bass were only 16.5" and we both had a pike just over 20 inches.

Fishers of Men Club President John Cummins won the days tournament because he caught a largemouth, pike, and walleye. His fish were not very big but having that walleye clinched it for him. He gave the rod he won to one of the Teen Challenge guys. Gary Ellis got 2nd with the biggest bass, a 19.5" smallie, and the biggest pike of the day all from Mule Lake. Lowell Borgen came in 3rd but I don't know the size of the fish; I think he fished on Mule. Although I was down the standings I was 3rd place in the money pot and got my $5 back plus a dollar. Mike "Cyberfish" Thompson got a 19" smallie.

Saturday September 27th
Saturday was the big tournament day, because the person who caught the most inches of 3 bass and 3 northerns would be 2008 Fally Walleye winner. Fally Walleye is annual trophy that the top 3 finishers at the Fall Outing get to write their names on and the top fisherman gets to take home. In years past the race to be on Fally Walleye has combined both fishing days of the Fall Outing, but Lowell Borgen who was in charge decided to do things differently this year, so only this one day would count. Once again this day there was an optional $5 money pot which I got into.

Some people changed partners but once again it was me, Dave Lindmark, and Art Halverson in the GEM pontoon. We elected to go to Town Line Lake because it has above average size northerns and some nice bass as well. Town Line is a shallow weedy lake with lots of cabbage, bullrushes, and some slop. The weather was clear to partly cloudy with winds from 5-15mph out of the NW, there was more wind early and in the middle of the day than at the end of the day. It was definitely post-frontal conditions so we were a little unsure of how good the bite might be.

We started off in a good sized bay on the North side of lake. It did not take long and Art had himself a 20+ inch pike on a white spinnerbait. Art ended up getting cut by the pikes teeth and bleeding quite a bit. Both Dave and I were throwing spinnerbaits as well. Dave missed a fish then caught his first fish of the day. I think Art caught another fish and I kind of came to the conclusion that the black single Colorado blade spinnerbait I was throwing was not what they wanted, so I switched to a white and red buzzbait. By this time we were drifting with the wind. Shortly after making the switch a 22 inch Pike attacked my buzzbait. I think I caught one more pike and then we moved to the South shore to work the Rope Swing area.

I continued to throw the buzzbait and was rewarded with a nice bass. There was a good sized tree branch in the water and I had Dave work us towards it. I missed what was probably a small bass on the branch, when Art tied into a 31.5 inch Pike. As we worked our way to the Rope Swing Point I missed a couple of blow ups on the buzzbait. I think Dave may have gotten another pike. As we rounded Rope Swing Point I thought there was something trailing the buzzbait so I paused it for a second and then pumped it and I was hit by a nice pike. I managed to land it and it was 30 inches. Shortly after this fish I think I landed another Pike. We decided to head back over the area we had just gone over. It had become kind of clear at this point that the fish were in the thicker area's of cabbage.

On our return trip we landed some good pike and some nice bass. I think I got a 17 inch bass on this pass and Dave and Art got good ones too. At some point we decided to make a third pass on the Rope Swing Point. Action was not fast but it was consistent especially for me and the buzzbait. I added a 26 inch Pike at some point. On this pass around the point we went further South/West by a dock with a pontoon. The buzzbait got creamed by a 15 inch bass and right after that from the exact same area I had another even bigger bass strike the buzzbait. As this fish was coming in it made a hard charge around the back of the pontoon. Instead of asking for Art to net it, I tried to lift the fish out of the water a little bit so Art could lip it. I could not really see the fish and what I was doing and the fish shook and got off. I was quite unhappy that I lost a 16 to 17 inch fish by being kind of careless. We kept working our way SW and soon Lowell was coming close from the West and Gary Ellis was following in behind us. We decided to give this area a rest and headed to the NE corner of the lake.

In the NE corner of Town Line Lake there is an old Beaver Dam that holds bass and so we went to give it a shot. I switched up to a jig and casted into a spot with a few lily pads where there was a beaver path so the water is slightly deeper. I jigged it once and felt a pick up, so I set the hook and it was fish on. It jumped and it was a good one. I was relieved when we got it in the net. Art thought it was a 20incher, I thought it was 19", but it was only 18.5" but had we had a scale to weigh it I am sure it would have been over 4lbs because it was a full bodied fish. I tried to coax another fish but the water level was a little to shallow and weed choked and nothing else was there.

We started working our way West and Dave got a small bass on a popper. We some good looking water but it was not holding fish in the mid-day sun. We were over a pretty bare area and I decided to go back to the buzzbait and was immediately rewarded with a 25.5 inch Pike. This water didn't look so great and that one fish was all we got so we decided to run to a point on the North end in the middle section of the lake. Art got a couple of pike and Dave got a small bass on the popper, but for the most part this area just didn't look fishy, so we headed back to work the Rope Swing Point.

As we were working our way down the shoreline I backlashed and my line broke at the spool. I could see my line so we were able to go and retrieve my buzzbait that was catching so many fish. I retied but something happened on my very next cast and the line broke about half way up the rod. This time there was no long tail of line and the buzzbait was lost. What a bummer. I borrowed a buzzbait from Dave and did get a few pike on it, but no more bass. We worked the South shore for the rest of the day getting a few more pike. We quit around 10 to 6pm.

As it turned out this was my day and I wrapped up Fally Walleye along with winning the day 2 money pot and a rod and reel. My prediction was right on that I would be a contender on Saturday. Lowell Borgan got 2nd and Pastor Dave Kruger got 3rd to fill out the Fally Walleye honorees. They were both fish Town Line as well. I think Dave Lindmark got 4th, Art got 5th, and Gary Ellis got 6th, so Town Line was definitely the place to be.

A number of the other boats went to Mule and some nice smallmouth were caught on minnows. I think Gary Schensted got one that was 19" or bigger.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Snatchers Serpent Lake

When I arrived at Serpent Lake just after 7AM my partner Mark already has his boat in the water. I loaded up my gear and then we waited for the 8am blast off. When I was at the dock Bill Ludenia told me bass were on the flats biting on jig and pigs. When I was in the boat with Mark he talked about throwing spinnerbaits on the flats. I asked him if he was considering throwing a buzzbait at all and he showed me that he had one tied on. On the West end of the lake by the public access, there was just a light breeze blowing and there was a slight haze, but not enough to call it overcast.

At blast off we were boat #11 out of 12 and when it was our turn we headed East down the lake as fast as the boat would go and that was pretty fast. We ended up stopping on the Eastern Edge of a weed flat on the North side of the lake where Mark had gotten a big bass once upon a time, as we were getting into position another Bass Snatcher boat came into the same general area.

I started off throwing a pumpkinseed swim jig with a Zoom Speed Craw trailer and I was quickly rewarded with a fish on. It turned out to be the first of many pikes that I would catch this day. Mark started out with a spinnerbait but quickly put that down for a buzzbait in the calm conditions we were in. It didn't take long until Mark was rewarded with a nice bass. I switched to a white single spin Colorado blade spinnerbait and caught a rock bass, then a pike, then a 11 inch bass. As we worked our way west on the flat Mark caught another nice bass on the buzzbait. That was enough to convince me to go to topwater and I put on a Purple Berkley Frenzy Popper. I think Mark got another nice bass and shortly after that, I caught my first keeper of the day which was a solid 16" fish. Conditions just seemed to be perfect for topwater and anticipation of a strike was high. Mark caught a couple of more fish on the buzzbait to my nothing, so I was thinking maybe they wanted a more active bait, so I switched to a white spook. The fish did seem to like the spook better than the popper. I had a pike launch itself after the spook and miss it. Then a couple of casts later something hit at the spook and missed, then hit at it again and missed, I paused the bait then started it up again and this time the fish got it and I was rewarded with another 16" bass. Mark caught a couple of more bass on the buzzbait and reached his 6 fish limit. I caught a couple of short basses which was a bit frustrating cause a spook is supposed to be a big fish bait. After much walking the dog I did get a 14" keeper.

The wind came up and the surface bite died. Mark started throwing a white spinnerbait and started getting a few bass and pike. I tried the swim jig and the white spinnerbait. I backlashed and broke my line at the spool sending the white spinnerbait into the distance. Easy come, easy Go! I tied on another white single Colorado blade spinnerbait and got back after it. That was not getting any hits so I decided to tie on a black spinnerbait with a much bigger Colorado blade. I caught a pike very quickly on that.

We headed back across the flat to our starting spot and I nailed a couple more pike on the black spinnerbait and also had a couple of hits that did not hook up. We were working the middle of the flat and I was throwing out to deeper water when I got a solid hook up which turned out to be a nice 16" bass. A little while later doing the same thing I nailed yet another nice 16" largemouth. Things seemed to shut down after that and I was not even getting bit by pike anymore. Still, the good fish I got on the black spinnerbait gave me a lot of confidence to keep throwing it and persistence paid off as I landed my limit fish sometime around 11am. My limit fish was just a 13 incher. It was really nice to have a limit since my partner Mark's expectations coming in were quite low.

Things stayed kind of slow on another pass across the flat. Mark switched up to a jig and pig and got a bass on that. I think I landed a pike or two and then switched up to a jig and pig to give my back a break from the relentless casting and retrieving. I had a solid pick up on the jig and landed a 14" inch fish so I culled up a little. Not long after catching that fish Mark suggested that we hit some docks in search of a kicker.

We started off on some of the docks on the flat that we had been fishing all morning. As we were moving along we came to a short wooden single dock that looked like nothing. Mark cast at the dock and got a strike but didn't hook up. I made a cast at the front of the dock and saw the bass that Mark missed swim away from the dock then start to circle back in the direction of my Super Fluke. While I couldn't tell completely it looked like the fish picked up the Fluke and so I set the hook and sure enough, the rod doubled up. I didn't realize it when I saw it swimming, but as soon as I hooked up it became apparent this was a bigger fish. It put up a good fight and didn't go into the net easy, but I did land the 4lb 2oz beauty which turned out to be the tournament big bass by an ounce. Sometimes you just get a bit lucky and things go your way. This success motivated us to run the lake and hit docks for a while.

We got a few keepers and several shorts on docks, but nothing that would help. Eventually, we moved to the South side of the lake and started hitting docks there. The Southside docks were pretty dead and we eventually headed out over a flat. I got a small pike, then tied into a good fish that I was hoping was a bass. It was a bass but not as big a fish as the fight it put up. The fish was 15.25 and I ended up throwing it back, which was a mistake because I still had a 14" fish in the well but I could not find it thanks to the fact that I got mixed up when a couple of my clip-on cull tags came off of the fish. Mark has a walleye boat with one main non-divided livewell, so with 11 fish in there it was easy for me to not come up with the 14 incher after a bit of a search. I figured I had just measured wrong but at the end of the day sorting it was pretty obvious I had a 14" fish.

We headed back to the flat we started on and I caught yet another 15" bass that would have helped, but once again I did not find that 14" fish and so I let a bigger fish go. We worked the flat and caught a few more pikes. With about 30 minutes left we headed back to the launch area and tried a weedy point but didn't get anything. We headed in about 10 minutes early.

Mark thought I had his bag beat by 2-4lbs, but it turned out that he beat me by 10ozs, so I ended up in 3rd place overall at 14lbs 6ozs. First place was 17lbs 6ozs. I got plaques for Lunker and 3rd Place. It's hard to say whether or not my culling screw up cost me the 2nd place or not, Mark figured it probably did. Oh well, one place is no big deal, I am just glad it was me that got the big one.

The other rookie in the club this year did not fish for his second tournament in a row, so I locked up rookie of the year honors by just showing up.

Our last tournament is Oct 4th on Upper and Lower Mission lakes in Crow Wing County. Mark says they are great bass fisheries.