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Nineteenth Annual Woman Lake Walleye
Spring Fishing Trip

Woman Lake Chronicles – Part I


 

You'll be getting daily reports from me for the next week on our 19th annual spring Woman Lake walleye fishing trip. I'll have a picture, narrative, statistics, etc. for each day. I've got my digital camera and my Macintosh with me, and the cabin has a phone line.

Those of you who know me well know that I do these kinds of things. The rest of you just bear with me.

Jerry Peters and I are leaving Sunday, May 14th to go up to his cabin on the lake. The rest of the crowd will filter in and out over the rest of the week. We're coming back the following Sunday.

For those of you who are not aware, Woman Lake is some 4800 acres and located about 150 miles north of the Twin Cities (as the crow flies).



Map of Woman Lake Button

Jerry's cabin is on Broadwater Bay (A). We'll be fishing Government point (B), the Clay Banks (C), the Gold Coast (D), the Blue Boat (E), Horseshoe Island (F), and Lantern Bay (G), as well as any other place that we can hope to catch walleyes.

If it's a good year we'll get over 100, with a few up in the 20–inch+ range. If it's a bad year we'll get 50. We'll get a comparable number of Northerns.

All of the fish will be released.

That's the lead–in. I'll be at Jerry's house tomorrow at 10 am, and we'll be on the lake by 3 pm or so. We'll stop by Swanson's in Hackensack first, to get 8 dozen Shiner Minnows. We'll go through 40 dozen or so for the week.

I'll report to you tomorrow night on the first days fishing, and I promise to have a picture of me and a Walleye. I'll be the one on the right.

Cheers —

Juris


Day One – Sunday, May 14, 2000
Mother's Day

Jerry and I (ignoring our mothers) started our annual pilgrimage mid-morning and decided to stop at one of our favorite Fishing Bars, the Bridge Tavern, to say hello to Kris and have a Bridge burger for lunch – only to learn she'd sold the place last Friday and was there temporarily during owner transition.
We shall miss her.

We got to the cabin early afternoon, with a shattered windshield on Jerry's boat (obscure / unknown causes) the only problem along the way. I brought my boat up too. The weather has been bright and windy and cold, although the wind finally died down by evening. Supposed to be better tomorrow.

After an hour cleaning up the glass from Jerry's boat, we launched it and got out on the lake, leaving my boat dry docked. Spectacular. Cold, but spectacular. We fished for a couple of hours, came back into the cabin for a snack, and back out again until dark.

The First Walleye Of 2000

 

Plus Peters caught one crayfish, and I got one crayfish and three sticks. Everything was released, of course. The attached picture shows Jerry and the first walleye of the season. (Jerry is the one in back, the fish is in his hands.) His two Northerns were both 24–inches and mine was 21–inches.

First Walleye of The Trip

Tonight Jerry made a superb steak dinner for the two of us, succulent charcoal broiled, medium rare tenderloin with sautéed mushrooms while I, unable to cook, played with computers to download the digital camera pictures and do the email. To sleep now, and more walleyes tomorrow. Kelly and Zieman said they might show up tomorrow night.

I've already had a few questions in response to yesterday's pre-trip email, so I'm starting a Frequently Asked Question section (FAQ) as a separate highlight on the web page for all trips.
The first questions are:

  • Question 1. Where does the name "Woman Lake" come from?

  • Answer 1 Button
  • Question 2. How long have you guys been doing this?

  • Answer 2 Button

Here are the results for this first day
Fisherperson # of Walleye # of Northerns Longest Walleye
Peters 2 2 16 1/2 "
Ozols 1 1 12 "

 


Day Two – Monday, May 15, 2000
The First Day After Mother's Day

I'm writing this Monday evening, 9 pm. Jerry and I just got in. It started a light rain a couple of hours ago, and we gave up. Nice and calm though. Three times out today.

  • Morning – Spectacular fishing, truly spectacular. Temperature at 70 degrees, blue skies, puffy clouds, flat calm. Beautiful time to be on the water. And accordingly, the catching was miserable. Total skunk.
  • Afternoon – got cloudy, light wind. Worse fishing, better catching. One of us got two fish, walleyes. One was 24–inches. The small one. The other was 26–inches. I won't get into who caught them, and who got skunked again, but just look at the picture. The 26–incher ties for second place for the biggest walleye we've caught on Woman Lake in the 19–years we've been coming.
  • Evening – Cloudy, rain. I got an 18–inch Northern and an 18–inch Walleye. I also caught my sixth stick of the trip – where do they come from this year? Jerry finally got out of the skunk business and got a 14 1/2, 15 1/2, and a 17–inch walleye. The fish are running substantially bigger than the long term average 14–inch fish we usually get.

At noon we drove into Longville, got some clear vinyl and fixed up a makeshift windshield for the boat. At least it kept the rain off Jerry's face.

Zieman and Kelly didn't arrive today, we'll see them tomorrow.

Earlier today Jerry tried to demonstrate how he could crank his brand new Wintel PC up to 900 MHz and broke it so bad it won't even boot up. I'm writing this on my 6 year old Macintosh Powerbook that runs – repeat, runs – at 25 MHz.

Okay – I got more questions in the mail today for the FAQ.

  • Question 3. From Rachel Salter in England.
    Why are walleyes called walleyes? Are they walleyed?

  • Answer 3 Button
  • Question 4. From Peter Wick, also in England, an interesting question.
    Could you accurately predict the age of the fish that you catch, and possibly calculate the probability that they have been caught before, or do they only get caught once and then remember?

  • Answer 4 Button

Editors Note 1: The results of the most resent DNR study is available on our web site.

The 26-incher
(see editors note 2, below)
The 24-Incher
Juris Ozols 26-inch Walleye Juris Ozols 24-inch Walleye
Editors Note 2: We'll have to instruct Juris on how to properly hold a fish when taking pictures.
Here are the results for the second day
Fisherperson # of Walleye # of Northerns Longest Walleye
Peters 5 2 17 "
Ozols 4 2 26 "

 


Day Two – Tuesday, May 16, 2000
The Second Day After Mother's Day

I got some carping from Baker and Julik yesterday that my stats were fishy. Well yes, I was off by two inches. Corrected stats are provided below.

It was an "O–fer" day for me with walleyes, but great otherwise.

Tuesday morning dawned rosy and pretty after Monday night's rain (there's a wonderful quote fin Homer's Iliad about "rosy–fingered dawn" that I want to use but I can't remember it – can somebody send it to me?) Peters and I went out and he got a 23–inch and 24–inch Northern, and I got a 18 1/2–inch Northern and a Perch. First Perch of the trip.

Peters also brought out a 1 1/2-pound can of peanuts out to the boat. It's now empty. Arrrgghghghgh....

Pat Kelly and Rick Zieman showed up at lunch time, and we took both boats out. Some miscellaneous Northerns & Perch, and one walleye – a 9–incher brought in by Pat Kelly after a tremendous struggle. The smallest walleye up to that point for Peters and me was 13–inches, so Pat broke new grounds for the trip. The attached picture shows Pat and Rick this pm, getting ready for their epic fight with the walleye.

Pat Kelly and Rick Zieman

The walleyes played coy again in the evening when we went out. Three small ones, and again a handful of Northerns and perch. But a beautiful evening. The full moon played in and out of clouds and the Loons went nuts for a while. Those of you who have never heard Loon calls in the night on a flat calm lake need to get that fixed. I'm available for charters. And finally,the light puffs of breeze from shore carried the scent of Lilacs in bloom out on the lake to us. You should have been there.

Here are the results for the third day
Fisherperson # of Walleye # of Northerns Longest Walleye
Peters 7 5 17 "
Ozols 4 3 26 "
Zieman 1 1 15 "
Kelly 1 1 9 "

 


Day Four – Wednesday, May 17, 2000
The Third Day After Mother's Day

No rain this morning, despite predictions. It started out calm, windy, calm again, windy again, and hazy cloudy throughout our morning fishing. Slow walleyes again. Peters got a 25–incher though, which is his best walleye on Woman Lake ever. I didn't get a 25–incher, and neither did Pat or Rick.

We all fell asleep for naps after lunch, sprawled out on various chairs and sofas, except for Jerry who continued to try to fix his Wintel PC. He has now fished for 23–hours on the trip and worked on his PC for 27–hours.

However, Jerry did take a shower. After due contemplation, I decided he had an excellent idea and I took a shower too.

The afternoon got windy, really windy. The walleyes got slower, which was surprising – cloudy and windy is classic walleye conditions, but they must have seen us coming. Three walleyes, three Northerns, one Perch. Pat got a 20 1/2–inch walleye, which on normal years would be a really nice fish but is only in fourth place this year. They're running really big – maybe the early spring has something to do with it.

Back to the cabin, and Jerry fixed up a great roast beef dinner for us, with mushrooms, onions, mashed potatoes, and gravy. He also made jumbo shrimp with horseradish cocktail sauce for appetizers. Starving is not an issue on our annual trips with Peters as the chef.

Jim Baker and Ron Reich, with Jim's 19–foot Crestliner, showed up just in time for dinner. But they stayed behind when we went out for the evening to do the dishes.

The evening – windier yet. Three to five foot waves. We took green water over the bow a couple of times. We didn't take any consequential fish over the bow though. One moderate walleye each for Ozols, Peters, and Kelly. Skunk for the rest. The two newcomers – Baker and Reich – got absolutely nothing but were lost only for an hour coming back at 11 pm.

But hope springs eternal for fishermen, and things will be better tomorrow, for sure.

The picture I sent yesterday was corrupted, as several people pointed out. I used a Microsoft program to encode it, and that was clearly a mistake. I'll go back to using Macintosh software. But it's a nice picture of Pat and Rick in their boat and so I'll resend it again in another email tonight.

Today's picture is Peters against the sunset last night. I have a couple of pictures of him holding his 25–incher but when you've seen one walleye, you've seen 'em all, and so I'll hold on to that one.

Editors note 3:
Juris was to embarrassed to publish the fact that I know how to properly hold a fish for maximum visual impact. Compare for yourself. Mine looks like it's a giant.

Jerry Against the Sunset

Karen Kelly (she's Mrs. Pat Kelly, btw) sent me the following quote from Homer – it was the one I was looking for:
"Thus all day long the young men worshipped the god with song, hymning him and chanting the joyous paean, and the god took pleasure in their voices; but when the sun went down, and it came on dark, they laid themselves down to sleep by the stern cables of the ship, and when the child of morning, rosy–fingered Dawn, appeared they again set sail for the host of the Achaeans."

Here are the results for the fourth day
Fisherperson # of Walleye # of Northerns Longest Walleye
Peters 10 6 25 "
Ozols 5 6 26 "
Zieman 2 6 15 "
Kelly 5 3 20 1/2 "
Baker 0 0 -
Reich 0 0 -

 


Day Five – Thursday, May 18, 2000
The Fourth Day After Mother's Day

Well, a lot happened today. Bruce Boettcher arrived and caught a 25–inch walleye after 15 minutes on the water tonight. That was after his 20 1/2–inch walleye after 10 minutes on the water this afternoon. My son–in–law Andrew Greenseid also arrived and caught two walleyes after a half hour on the water. Rick Zieman caught a 19–inch Smallmouth Bass, which is # 10 in our all–time records for Smallmouth. The other guys also caught a bunch of walleyes and northerns today, and Ron Reich even got a rare Rock Bass.

As for me, I caught a 6-inch Perch.
But the good news is my boat runs.

I launched it at noon, in order to be ready when Andrew got here. Jim Baker helped me get it in the water, and that went fine. Then, I got into the boat and turned the key to start it. Grind, grind, cough, hack, wheeze, belch, smoke, sputter, cough, smoke, grind... Try again, and more belches and smoke, and the motor finally kicked over and hiccupped along, rattling the whole boat. I took it out into Broadwater Bay, and could coax no more than 25 MPH out of it, when it normally runs at close to 40.

To make a long story short, after two trips to Longville, a set of new sparkplugs, and a healthy dose of "Sea Foam" in the gas, the boat now purrs along. And I'm happy. Amazing how little it takes to make a guy happy.

Rick used masterful technique to get his Smallmouth. He was in Pat's boat, as usual, and Pat had his new "snagless" sinker snag. As Pat was fooling around trying to unsnag, the boat drifted into 8–feet of water. Rick was asleep, with his line in the water, and the Smallmouth somehow managed to swallow Rick's minnow. But it's a great fish, Rick's best ever.

The picture tonight is of Jerry peters taking a flash picture of Bruce's 25–inch walleye. A pretty night – A super fish. Flash Picture of a Picture

Here are the results for the fifth day
Fisherperson # of Walleye # of Northerns Longest Walleye
Peters 12 6 25 "
Ozols 5 6 26 "
Zieman 5 7 18 "
Kelly 8 4 20 1/2 "
Baker 1 1 19 "
Reich 0 1 -
Boettcher 5 1 25 "
Greenseid 2 0 18 "

 


Day Six – Friday, May 19, 2000
The Fifth Day After Mother's Day

The boats are acting up. You recall the adventures I had with mine. Then this happened today Jerry and Bruce went out this morning in fine style, with Jerry's 17.5–foot Lund driven at 37 MPH by his 90 HP Johnson. They came back in not quite so fine a style, driven at 3.5 MPH by his 9 HP "kicker" motor. As it turned out, his big motor blew up its "capacitor discharge" unit, which Jerry found out when he hauled the boat in to the Johnson dealer in Longville. But $140 later it ran fine.

For what it's worth, Jerry also had an "O–fer" day fishing.

We only got 7 walleyes today. Pat Kelly caught one of them, and claimed it was 10 1/2–inches, but Andrew and I witnessed it and we think it was more like 6-inches. Or maybe it was his bait minnow that we confused with the walleye.

One interesting thing, though This morning I caught a 22–inch Northern that had a large fresh gash down one side behind its head, and a smaller gash on the other side. I'd like to claim that a Muskie had taken a swipe at it, but who knows. In any case, this evening at the same spot Andrew caught a 22–inch Northern with aa large fresh gash down one side behind its head and a smaller gash on the other side. No question, the same fish. That fish just wanted to be caught. We'll try again at the same place tomorrow and see what happens.

Jim Baker and Ron Reich left today at noon, so we we're down to 6 fishermen this afternoon and evening. Pat and Rick leave tomorrow. We won't make 100 walleyes this trip, not even close.

  • Question 5. From Rick Baylor of the Navy at Patuxent River, with whom I have the pleasure of working on a project.
    Is a Rock bass the same as a Striped bass, which us folks in the Southeast call a Rock Fish?

  • Answer 5 Button

Here's a note I haven't mentioned before There's a Loon pair that make a nest in the channel leading into Woman Lake from Broadwater Bay where Jerry's cabin sits. Every spring the Loons are there, with one of them always sitting on the nest and the other one swimming around in front of it. Today, Mommy (Daddy?) was perched on the side of the nest, obviously feeding the little one that must be hatched now. I don't think the baby will be out on the water by the time we leave, but it sure would be fun to see it.

One final note: This is my son–in–law Andrew's second year with us. He sleeps up in the loft along with most of the rest of the crowd. Andrew confided that he brought along ear plugs this year, for use at night. And that's a brilliant stroke. I myself have learned to ignore the terrific snoring chorus that arises up there, but then I sleep on the couch down in the living room. Andrew is right in the middle of it, and his ear plugs are a lifesaver.

The Year 2000 Fishing Crowd

Today's picture was taken this morning right before Jim and Ron left.
Pretty scroungy looking crowd, isn't it?

Tomorrow night is our last night here for this year. Time flies, it really does.


Here are the results for the sixth day
Fisherperson # of Walleye # of Northerns Longest Walleye
Peters 12 6 25 "
Ozols 7 8 26 "
Zieman 7 7 18 "
Kelly 9 6 20 1/2 "
Baker 1 1 19 "
Reich 0 1 -
Boettcher 6 3 25 "
Greenseid 3 2 18 "

 


Day Seven – Saturday, May 20, 2000
The Sixth Day After Mother's Day

Well, just four of us diehard fishermen hanging in there. Pat Kelly and Rick Zieman left this morning, so just Andrew, Bruce, Jerry and me left. (In Pat's honor I caught a 9 1/2–inch walleye today.) And we'll be closing it up and back home tomorrow.

Not a bad day, though. We each got at least one walleye and one northern, and got a total of eleven walleye between the four of us. Andrew had a particularly good day. He hauled in at least one each of five species of critters crayfish, walleye, northern, perch, and – the best one – a 19–inch smallmouth bass. That's the second one of the trip – Rick got a 19–incher earlier.

As it turned out, when Andrew finally landed the bass after some 10 minutes battle, we discovered that it already had a hook in its mouth with three feet of line trailing behind. Somebody else had obviously been unable to handle the fish. Andrew cut off the line as far down as he could and released it – a magnificent fish. BTW – Andrew also got a 22 1/2–inch walleye.

Before I forget, I need to note that we never did lose any of the new "snagless" Lindy sinkers. The first year they've been out, and they work very well. Hard to believe that something new could be invented in the way of fishing paraphernalia, but these sinkers are good. Normally we lose perhaps a couple of dozen old style sinkers to snags.

The weather started out hazy sunny today, a little bit of wind at midday, and then cloudy and calm and a light rain tonight. A beautiful foggy night for both fishing and catching. And the Loons were discussing it among themselves again too. I love these quiet gray Woman Lake evenings, drifting around in the mist, no other boats, nobody intruding. I don't know of any other place or time that creates the same feelings.

Here are the results for the seventh day
Fisherperson # of Walleye # of Northerns Longest Walleye
Peters 16 7 25 "
Ozols 11 9 26 "
Zieman 7 7 18 "
Kelly 9 6 20 1/2 "
Baker 1 1 19 "
Reich 0 1 -
Boettcher 7 5 25 "
Greenseid 5 3 22 1/2 "

All released. We've caught more 20 inchers this trip than any other trip of the last nineteen years.

Pictures. You're getting two tonight, the last ones of the trip. Peters will send them to you to avoid the corruption stuff I've had problems with.
Editors Note 4: I have a PC.

Andrew's 19-inch Smallmouth
Andrew's 19–inch
Smallmouth
The Mystery Fish
The Mystery Fish

The first picture is of Andrew and his Smallmouth Bass – a classic fish photo.

The second picture is a contest. Peters caught an unusual fish today. The first person to email me with a correct identification of the species of this fish gets a free subscription to next year's Woman Lake Reports.

And that's enough. I'm going home tomorrow. I'll send out a wrapup report on the stats etc. of the trip in a couple of days.

 


Day Eight – Sunday, May 21, 2000
The Seventh Day After Mother's Day
Wrapup Report

Okay — —

I've been home for a week now, Woman Lake is fading until next year, (shades of Brigadoon), and it's time to wrap this thing up.

Last Sunday Andrew and I left for home at noon, while Peters and Boettcher went out fishing. As it turned out, that was the best fishing of the week. They caught 6 Walleyes between them, including a 26 1/2–incher by Bruce which is the biggest Walleye of the week. Peters also got a 30–inch Northern which is the biggest fish for the week.

Click on Editors Button

The attached picture, which I sincerely hope comes through to you all, shows these two fish. (Rachel – note the Walleye's eye – that's what they really look like too.)

The Biggest Fish
Largest Walleye and Northern Caught
Overall, we caught:
  • 62   Walleyes from 9 to 26 1/2–inches, two of them tagged
  • 41   Northern Pike from 16 to 30–inches
  • 2   Smallmouth Bass, each 19–inches
  • 11   Perch up to 12–inches, approx.
  • 4   Rock Bass, approx.
  • 1   Eelpout
  • 15   Crayfish, approx.
  • 2   Clams
  • 10   Sticks & branches, approx.
  • 4   Johnson 90 hp motor propellers.
  • 13   immovable objects (probably rocks or tree stumps), approx.

All of the fish et al were released (rocks and tree stumps not withstanding), but I kept one of the sticks that has a nice "driftwood" look to it. Also note that one of the Northerns was caught twice but is included as two separate fish.

Here are the final results
Fisherperson # of Walleye # of Northerns Longest Walleye
Peters 17 8 25 "
Ozols 11 10 26 "
Zieman 7 7 18 "
Kelly 9 6 20 1/2 "
Baker 1 1 19 "
Reich 0 1 -
Boettcher 12 5 26 1/2 "
Greenseid 6 3 22 1/2 "

The fish were big. The overall average length of Walleye was 16 inches this year, compared to 14.3 inches for the 673 Walleyes we caught (and released) during the years 1992   1999. Also interesting we caught only 11 fish under 13 inches. That's 17%. For the other years, 242 of the 673 Walleyes (36%) were under 13 inches. That says to me that there have been some bad year-classes the last couple of years, and the fishing two or three years from now will show it.

Let me comment very briefly   I keep all these statistics on our fishing only because I've done it for some 15 years now, and not because I believe in all that. Stopping now would just not be right. But fishing if far more than catching and associated stats.
To wit —

Things that have happened on other trips but that did not happen this time:

  • Nobody hit a rock with a propeller.
  • It did not snow   But came close.
  • Peters' dock did not collapse.
  • No DNR license or creel checks.
  • Peters did not yell at those two jerks in the "Hooker" boat that hog our Government Point spot.
  • We did not have to rescue a very hungry Tern that tried to steal a minnow, midair, from a cast, and got bound-up in the line, with the poor fisherman watching the distraught Tern drown.
  • The Pelicans that inhabit Pelican Island on Leach Lake didn't miscue and grace the waters of Woman Lake.
  • Zieman and Kelly didn't both catch the same Northern at the same time.
  • We didn't lose 2 dozen slip sinkers.

Things that happened this trip that have never happened before.

  • Lost the driver side tempered glass window of Peters boat for no apparent reason.
  • Tried to rescue a whitefish from the talons of an eagle, but lost.
  • We paid $2.66 per gallon for gas at Broadwater Lodge – nearly 50 bucks
      (Longville's dockside gas pumps, at reasonable prices, were removed).

On the "Mystery Fish" contest Ron Fredrick, a kindred Muskie Nut from Chicago, was the first to identify the fish that Peters caught as an Eelpout or Burbot or Dogfish. Karen Kelly was the second to identify it correctly. Ron gets the first prize of one free subscription to my Woman Lake report next year and Karen gets the second prize of two free subscriptions. Rick Baylor thought that the fish was a Coelacanth; I'll have a discussion with him on fish ID.

Next year Jerry and I are going to hook up a live Webcast from the boat. I'm going to have my portable Mac with a video camera connected via radio to an Apple "Airport Station" in the cabin and on to Jerry's walleyes.org web page. You'll get real time video. Stay tuned.

I hope you all enjoyed this nonsense and it didn't clog up your emails too much. I truly look forward to doing it again next May.



This Trip Has Been Dedicated To Our Mothers.
Without Their Support, Love And Understanding
Our Annual Pilgrimage Would Not Be Possible.

 

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