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Twentieth Annual Woman Lake Walleye
Spring Fishing Trip

Woman Lake Chronicles – Part II

 


Day One – Thursday, May 17, 2001

As I sit here in Jerry Peters' Woman Lake cabin typing my first report, the Loons are out there on Broadwater Bay, going crazy with their calls from out of the darkness. I love listening to them. The Loons are just one of the many wonderful things we've enjoyed up here for the 19-years we've been doing these spring Walleye trips, and I'm excited about this year too.

Loon Swimming

And man, are they biting! The Walleyes? No – the mosquitoes. When I arrived here this afternoon, they (the mosquitoes, not Walleyes) attacked me in droves. I can't ever remember the bugs as hungry as this. But the Walleyes apparently were overfed, because they didn't bite at all.

Andrew (my son–in–law, third trip with us) arrived a bit after me, was duly attacked by the mosquitoes, and then we escaped out to the lake for our first shot at the fish. Bottom line: he got two, a 9–incher and a 13 1/2–incher. I was so busy instructing him on how to fish that I neglected to catch anything myself. But wait 'til tomorrow.

First Fish of the Year

Today's pictures show Andrew with the first fish of the year, and me with a minnow that I dragged around for an hour without raising any interest on the part of the walleyes. But I did want to point out to you what a fine looking Shiner Minnow it was. And it could have been a great bait, given the price. Shiners a re $3.50 a dozen at Swanson's, which I believe is a dollar more than last year. So presumably they're better this year, justifying the price increase, and we'll catch Walleyes by the bushel. Right.

I do have to report one bit of excitement. As Andrew and I were heading out to the lake in my boat, a huge "cruise boat" went blasting past us and around Government Point. Inside the buoy... We held our breath. You need to understand that there's a major rock bar between the buoy and the point, some two feet down in the water. It kills propellers. We expected the speedboat to disintegrate. But it didn't, and I don't understand it. Nothing happened. A clear miracle, and maybe that means this is the year for miracles, and one of us will get a 10–pound walleye this year. Stay tuned.

Juris Caught a Minnow

Dinner was great. Marie sent along her fabulous stew with me, and we also had pickled eggs, and venison sticks. Superb. Except that Andrew thought I was bringing beer and I thought that he was...

Okay – the two of us will be here tomorrow, and the rest of the crowd shows up on Saturday. I predict we'll have 20 Walleyes by then.

 


Day Two - Friday, May 18, 2001

Well a beautiful day today – lots of sun, light breezes, warm, all that. And to be sure the big Walleyes of Woman Lake enjoyed it too, undisturbed by us. But the little ones are in to suicidal tendencies this year. Andrew got three more walleyes today under 10– inches, plus a fluke 17–incher. I kept tutoring and mentoring him, so couldn't do much catching myself (see attached picture). But I did manage to pick up three little Walleyes myself too. And then, a 26–inch Northern also somehow snagged itself on my line, and that's the biggest fish so far.

Andews 17-inch Walleye
Juris resting with refreshment

I forgot to mention yesterday, but the Loon pair that makes a nest on the channel to Woman is back again this year. We drive past mommy (daddy?) sitting on the nest every time we go out to the lake, and it's a beautiful sight. The digital camera of mine isn't up to taking a picture of the nest, and so if you want to see them you'll have to come up here next year yourself.

I need to clean up some FAQ's. Julie Greenseid (Andrew's sister) posed the following three part question about the picture of Jerry Peters and the Walleye that I sent out with Woman Lake Preview # 2:

  • Question 8:
    How'd you get that walleye to stay so still for the picture?

  • Answer 8 Buttom
  • Question 9:
    Why is Jerry holding it so far away from himself?

  • Answer 9 Buttom
  • Question 10:
    Why does the fish look happier than Jerry? I assume it was the fish that took the hook in the mouth, right?

  • Answer 10 Buttom
Jerry Holding A Large Walleye

Okay – just a bit ago we got a phone call from Hugh Perry. He and Peter Hunt are an hour away, will be here tonight. The rest of the crowd shows up tomorrow. Lots more fishing action to report then, I'm sure.

 


Day Three – Saturday, May 19, 2001

We're mostly here now. Hugh Perry and Peter Hunt popped in last night at midnight (bearing a bottle of Talisker, greatly appreciated). Then by noon today Jerry Peters was here, and Rick Zieman and Pat Kelly. Tomorrow we get Lee Woll and Bruce Boettcher, and that's this year's crowd.

This year's boat trouble was allocated to Pat. His trolling / depth finder battery was DOA, so a trip to Longville to get a new one. Unlike last year, my boat and Jerry's are running fine.

The weather is also fine, except for fishing. It was 80+° today, blue sky, all that. What isn't fine? The walleye situation. We've now caught 18 walleyes in the last three days, averaging 11.8–inches in length. This is by far the smallest walleyes we've had as long as we've been keeping records. No idea why. For reference: the walleyes have averaged 14–inches in length for the last ten years, and last year, our best ever, they averaged 16–inches. The Northerns are running very small too. Wait til next year?

Peter Hunts Little Northern
Pictures

The left is Peter Hunt and his sparkling 12–inch Northern, and the other is a super panorama that Rick Zieman took at sunset tonight.
Saturdays Sunset

Results after the first day
FisherpersonWalleyeLongest Walleye
Peters 1 13 1/2 "
Ozols 6 13 1/2 "
Kelly 1 15 1/2 "
Zieman 0 0 "
Hunt 2 12 1/2 "
Greenseid 7 17 "
Perry 1 10 "
Woll Not here yet
Boettcher Not here yet

One final note: Andrew and I spent two hours tying Lindy Rig leaders for Jerry today. We made about 20. He came over to the table, picked them up in a big gob, and snarled them so badly that we had to throw them all away. Arggghhh....
[So he says! The leaders were already in a pile that lead to the snarled mess when I picked them up. From the Editor.] However, there was a ray of hope.

Go see: Editors Note Button
Juris's Rats Nest

 


Day Four – Sunday, May 20, 2001

Hey, did we ever get blown off the lake today! The morning was spectacular walleye fishing – cloudy, windy, warm – just perfect conditions. As standard for this year, the walleyes didn't cooperate, of course, but the conditions were great. We had all three boats out, super fishing. The afternoon started the same way, but soon a north wind started to blow and the temperature started to drop. Around 4:30 or so the cold front came through as we were drifting south along government point at a nice clip. Then suddenly the wind died, and we were becalmed. Within three or four minutes the wind shifted 180° from the south at hurricane speeds, the rain started pelting us, and the air temperature dropped some twenty degrees. We could barely see where we were going as we fled to the cabin.

So tonight we'll lounge around Jerry's place, enjoy another one of his great dinners, play cribbage, drink Peter Hunt's Talisker, tell lies, all that. Which is fine, because being out on the lake until 10 pm every night is wearing, especially since the walleyes have been so unfriendly.

Rick Ziemans 25-incher

Before the storm, with one exception, the fishing was so so. We caught nine walleyes and some ten northerns of miscellaneous and mostly small sizes. However, Through a major stroke of fortune (certainly no skill involved), Rick Zieman caught a beautiful 25–inch walleye. Check the picture – a great fish. That puts Rick number nine on our "top ten walleye" list. And certainly the big excitement of the trip so far, but we have four more days to go.

Other news – I think the depth finder on my boat is broke, although it's hard to tell when a 40 MPH wind is blowing rain in your face and the waves are 4–feet high on the way back to the cabin. If it's broke, that's not good. You can fish for and catch Muskies, northerns, bass, bluegills, crappies, and sharks without a depth finder. But you can't catch walleyes. Or that'll be my excuse anyway.


Results after the second day
FisherpersonWalleyeLongest Walleye
Peters 1 13 1/2 "
Ozols 6 13 1/2 "
Kelly 3 15 1/2 "
Zieman 1 25 "
Hunt 2 12 1/2 "
Greenseid 8 17 "
Perry 1 10 "
Woll 1 14 1/2 "
Boettcher 3 18 "

Hugh Perry (left) went home late today and Bruce Boettcher (middle) came up. Bruce was the champion fisherman last year and we look forward to seeing what he does this year.

Perry and Bruce in Jerry's Boat
  • Question 11: The question for today again comes from Julie Greenseid. She asks:
    What is a "Lindy Rig Leader?"

  • Answer 11 Button

Day Five – Monday, May 21, 2001

Okay – we figured it out. The walleyes up here are really confused this year. They think they're Muskies. For of course, they as well as we know how inordinately difficult it is to catch a Muskie. And this year the Muskies would be easier.

Today was on "O–fer" walleyes. None in the last 30 hours. None since 4 pm yesterday. And for all we know, maybe none ever again. They just ain't biting. The weather today was cloudy and windy and cool, after the storm yesterday, and maybe the dropping temperature is part of it. Or maybe they've figured out how to avoid Lindy Rigs. Or maybe the walleyes are gone, and the lake is empty.

Andrews 20-inch smallmouth

However, at least one other species of fish isn't confused about what it's duty in life might be. An hour before he left for home at noon today Andrew caught the fish you see in the picture. A 20 1/2–inch Smallmouth Bass is spectacular in anybody's book, and he got that nice one. Lee Woll did a super job of netting it, after Andrew had fought it for some 10 minutes. That puts Andrew in 3rd place in our "All–time Fish" list in the SMB category, and that sure made up for the lack of walleyes as far as he was concerned. For the rest of us, there's always tomorrow.


I do have to report that Jerry Peters got a 27 1/2–inch walleye today. Last year on Leech he caught that fish, the biggest ever for any of us. Today he picked it up from the taxidermist in Fargo and brought it back to the cabin. And to be sure, it's a graphite replica, and the fish is still in Leech. The walleye stats for today? See yesterday's report. They didn't change. We caught a dozen or so Northerns, but the walleyes escaped unscathed.

Jerry's Walleye Coffee Table

Tomorrow the forecast is a high of 48° and heavy rain...

 


Day Six – Tuesday, May 22, 2001

Greetings from Old Woman Lake! I truly have to apologize to you ladies on my email list, but that phrase has the exquisitely proper connotation. For that's the way the day went: we turned into a bunch of Old Women. I couldn't get them to go out fishing! The 40° temperature, 30 MPH wind, and the rain and sleet and snow were too much for my crowd of (male?) fishing buddies. They wanted to stay in the cabin, watch TV, eat, drink, BS, sleep, whatever. Anything but face nature. Is that why we come up here?

Well, I finally got Jerry and Peter Hunt to go fishing with me for an hour in the morning, and then took Rick, Pat, and Peter out again out on my boat for a bit in the afternoon. Bruce and Lee never did fish. So that was that. We got a handful of small Northerns. The lake apparently is still empty of walleyes, until the next stocking.
You get a feel for the the climate here today?

Peters and Hunt Cold as Hell
Fishing?
BAH! Humbug!

A sad note: I told you about the Loon nest on the shore of the channel to the lake. Well, over the last few days I couldn't see the Loons on the nest. Today, coming back from the afternoon fishing, we found out. Their nest has been washed away from shore by the wind and waves, and today was floating around in the middle of the channel. One of the Loons was still on it. The best thing that could happen is that the wind will blow it to shore in the channel, where hopefully it will stick somehow. If the nest goes out into the lake, it will break up. I'd hate to see that. I look forward to seeing the Loons on their nest every year. I took pictures of them last year, and we'll post that on Jerry's web page when I get back.

Zieman is ready for anything

I'm Ready For Anything?

We also have a ton more pictures this year than what I'm sending out with these emails. We have five digital cameras up here, most are in use, and I'm taking pictures off all of them and saving them on my Macintosh. We're starting a new feature – Jerry is posting other pictures on the Fishing Memories web site. He will have a directory (someday hopefully) and you will be able to click on any thumbnail picture to view it, along with a caption – maybe. (Julie G. – I particularly direct your attention to the "Lindy" picture. And there's a story behind that too.) I stand ready to answer questions about any of these pictures.

A quick update on the depth finder situation. My unit, which I reported as broken on Sunday, was fixed Monday am. The old trick of reconnecting the power cable which had shaken off in the wind and waves did the job. On the other hand, that same afternoon the depth finder on Jerry's boat did in fact break more seriously. It was a cable problem again. But in his case, when you get the transducer cable caught in the trolling motor and it rips out, things are a bit more tricky. In fact, unrepairably tricky. Jerry bought a new depthfinder at Reed's in Walker yesterday.

An update on Jerry's walleye mount also. He ordered a 27 1/2-inch graphite fish, to show his "Walleye of a Lifetime," as the centerpiece of that beautiful composition documented in yesterday's picture. It's a gorgeous, huge fish. In fact too huge. We indirectly measured the walleye today. It's right at thirty inches. He's not taking it back.

Tomorrow is the last full day of this year's trip. If we don't catch a walleye tomorrow, we're going to Iowa for Bullheads next spring.

A great rib dinner by Master Chef Jerry Peters tonight.

The official temperature in Longville, Minnesota was 38° at 7:30 pm today.

 


Day Seven – Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Hey – the Iowa bullheads are safe for next year! Woman Lake was pretty good to us today, and we'll be back here next year. Before I get to today's fishing though, I have to quote Peter Hunt, an expatriate Brit, on conditions yesterday: "Bloody cold, bloody wet, bloody windy, bloody snowy, bloody useless."

Amen.

Juris's 25 1/2-inch walleye

But then it turned today. The high hit 56°, the winds were of only moderate gale strength instead of full hurricane, and it rained no more than 20% of the time. And the fish must have been hungry after two days of lockjaw, for they were catchable. In fact, some quite nice ones were boated. Jerry Peters got a 22–inch walleye and an 18 1/2–inch smallmouth bass. I got a 25–inch walleye, which ties Rick Zieman for the biggest fish this trip. And Rick himself got a 26 1/2–inch dogfish, which conceivably could be a state record, but nobody was brave enough to touch it to weigh it. Rick released it.

Overall we caught 27 fish today, of five different species (walleye, northerns, dogfish, smallmouth bass, perch). That includes 14 walleyes ranging in size from 8 1/2 to 25–inches. The previous two days we caught zero. Our total number of walleyes for the trip now is 40, which just sneaks us ahead of our worst year ever, 1998, when we caught 37.

(I need to note that all the fish we catch on our Woman Lake trips are released, with only a couple of minor asterisks. That's been our policy for at least the last decade. You'll also notice that I always tell you about our fish in terms of "inches" and not "pounds." That's a classic differentiator between "releaser" people and "keeper" people. You'll never hear anybody in my fishing crowd talk in terms of pounds.)

Not bad, really, considering that we basically lost Monday and Tuesday, with no walleyes. The average length now is up to 13.8–inches, which is close to our overall average for the last ten years of 14.4–inches

Lee Woll Holding a Rare Walleye
Pictures:


I've shown you photographs of everybody except Pat Kelly and Lee Woll, so you get them today. That's Lee holding a walleye he caught as a byproduct of fooling around with a snag for five minutes – when the snag popped loose the fish was on the line.

And Pat is pictured holding a pretty 15–inch smallmouth bass that he caught. A unique photograph by Rick Zieman – most people take pictures with the head of the fish toward the camera, but Rick apparently wanted to highlight a different part of the fishes anatomy.

Kelly Holding a 15-inch smallmouth

We go home tomorrow. I'll post a wrapup report this weekend, and Jerry will have his "Woman Lake Chronicles 2001" on his web page in a couple of weeks. [That's pushing it. The editor] I'll let you know when it's out there.

 


Wrapup – Friday, May 25, 2001

Okay – the trip is over. Nobody went fishing Thursday morning, we'd all had enough. We cleaned up the cabin and went home.

This was our 20th year, and the last one at the cabin on Broadwater Bay belonging to Jerry Peters' parents. Next year we'll be at Jerry's own cabin on Girl Lake (connecting to Woman through a channel into Broadwater Bay and then into the main lake). Can we go another 20 years?

We had a rookie as part of our crowd this year. Peter Hunt flew up from Texas just to fish with us and was already talking about next year when he left. So we'll certainly keep going for a while. Which raises a question: Do any of you participate in or know of any annual event like ours that has been going on longer than 20 years? I'd be interested in hearing about it.

Before I get to the final statistics I need to tell you about a small adventure Thursday morning as we were leaving. As Lee Woll and I were taking my boat out of the lake, the trailer frame cracked and nearly broke apart. To be sure, operator stupidity (mine) was involved, but the trailer had seen more than a decade of service, and was close to end of life anyway. We put the boat back in the lake and I took the trailer to Walker, 25 miles up the road, to trade it in on a new Shorelander. $1500. Ouch... But at least I've now got a better trailer (good for another 20 years of Woman Lake trips?). And the boat didn't get hurt in all that, so no problem.

The final stats:

Here are the final results
FisherpersonWalleyeNorthernSmallmouthLongest Walleye
Peters 5 5 1 22 "
Ozols 7 9 1 25 "
Zieman 2 10 1 25 "
Kelly 5 3 1 22 "
Woll 2 5 0 15 1/2 "
Hunt 3 7 0 18 1/2"
Boettcher 7 6 0 18 "
Greenseid 8 7 1 17 "
Perry 1 0 0 10 "

We ended up with 40 Walleyes, which is our second worst year ever. The weather Monday and Tuesday mangled the fishing. But three of the Walleyes were over 20-inches, and that's not bad at all for Woman Lake. We caught lots of really small ones, so we'll be seeing a couple of nice year classes in the next two or three years.

We caught 52 Northerns, averaging around 20-inches with the biggest at 26–inches. The Northerns have been running smaller the last couple of years. It's interesting about cycles in fish sizes. During our early years tiny Perch just infested the lake. We would catch perhaps 3 or 4 Perch in the 6-inch range for every Walleye. This year we caught maybe 10 Perch total, and the ones we did get were in the one foot size. And why is that? A few years ago we were also catching a fair number of 30+ inch Northerns, and now those are gone too. Maybe someday we'll cycle to a point where all the Walleyes are over 20–inches? Right... But if everybody on Woman practiced our "total catch and release"?

I got a question about why we don't keep any walleyes. I'd be happy to explain. It'll cost you a few beers and an hour or so at Grizzly's in Apple Valley.

Rick and I tied for the biggest Walleye, at 25–inches. Rick caught the biggest fish, his 26 1/2–inch Dogfish. I questioned him at length on how he could measure that fish to within 1/2–inch when he was afraid to touch it. Rick squirmed. Although not the biggest in terms of weight or length, Andrew's 20 1/2–inch Smallmouth Bass was by far the nicest fish, and perhaps the best one in the last five years or so on our trips to the lake.

Group Picture For 2002

The final pic is our traditional group shot taken on Thursday morning by Rick Zieman's new digital camera. I'm the one in the front right. I'm holding my beloved G4 Macintosh Powerbook. Andrew and Hugh Perry were gone so they didn't get into this picture, but I'm sure they'll be back next year, as will we all.

One final note. When I came home on Thursday I stripped off my "Muskie" sweatshirt and canned it. Like my boat trailer, its time has passed. You'll never see it again. Next year I'm wearing a Stonehenge shirt. Peters will put a bunch of pictures on his web page in a week or so. I'll let you know about that. And then next winter you'll get an update after our annual "Midwinter Garlicfest," and then Woman Lake again next spring. I'm excited about it already. See, I've got this snappy new trailer, and the weather is sure to be better, and the fish will be bigger than ever, and...

Sunset On 2002 Trip

 

Cheers —
Juris


 

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Last Modified: June 02, 2007
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