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Twenty–Fifth Annual Woman Lake Walleye
Spring Fishing Trip - Silver Edition

Woman Lake Chronicles – Part VII


Day One – Thursday, May 18, 2006

The good news: Jerry’s Lund floats, and it didn’t sink when we finally got on the lake.

The bad news:
The starting battery was dead, requiring all kinds of diddling.
The trolling batteries were dead.
The battery charger is broke.
The live well is dead.
The 9.9 HP kicker is dead.
The depth finder is dead.
And other things …

But that's a terrible way to start out the first of our silver anniversary Woman Lake Reports.
Let me back up.

Jerry and I drove up together today, picking up his new pontoon boat along the way. That’s his present to Mary, and they’ll be spending lots of time on it this summer with the grandkids. We got to the cabin at 5 pm after starting out at 10 am and Pat Kelly and Rick Zieman were already here and on the lake. And for the second year in a row Peter Hunt came up from Texas and was out with them. He is always a joy to grace our presence.

So the three of them were enjoying a great fishing day as Jerry and I struggled to resurrect his boat, see above. Lee Woll and Jack Sikora showed up in the middle of that, and Bruce Boettcher a bit later. We’re all here.

Jerry, Bruce and I finally made it out to the lake in the evening for an hour or so, got some dribbles of Perch and little Northerns, and that’s it for the day.

But here’s a good sign — Pat got five walleyes and Rick three, although Peter was skunked. The smallest was 13 inches, the biggest 17, all from 25–30 feet on Lindy Rigs with silver shiners. Last year we got a fair number of 11–inchers, and that year class has put on 3–inches or so. We should get a bunch of them this year. Woman Lake is coming back from some of the terrible doldrums of a few years ago.

As all of you regular subscribers to WLR know, we released all of the walleyes, and will continue to do so.

And the big news — the Cindy Fuller Loon Report: There are at least four pairs of Loons in the channel to Woman Lake, and we saw one nest already. There are probably more, and we’ll get pictures tomorrow.

As we were fishing by Government Point this evening, we could hear some Loons talking to each other in the stillness of the twilight. Wonderful, magic sounds. Loon calls from out of the darkness. Close your eyes, right now, and listen. Can’t you hear them too?

Here are the results for the first day
Angler # of Walleye # of Northerns Largest Walleye Largest Northern
Jerry Peters 0 0
Juris Ozols 0 0
Bruce Boettcher 0 0
Peter Hunt 0 0
Lee Woll 0 0
Jack Sikora 0 0
Pat Kelly 5 0 17"
Rick Zieman 3 0 15"

Day Two – Friday, May 19, 2006

It’s looking good this year, Woman Lake is back.

We have 23 Walleyes for the trip so far after two day. Lee has a 21–incher for the biggest one and Pat a 9–incher for the smallest. A whole lot of them around 13–15 inches, which are a year class from three years ago. A few Perch, mostly around six inches, and smatterings of Northerns.

Three fish worthy of note. Lee got a 21–inch Walleye, not bad at all. Rick got a 30–inch Northern which also isn’t bad. There’s a 24” – 36” slot limit for Northerns on Woman Lake, not that we have any thought of keeping one.

But the best one is Pat Kelly’s 19–inch Smallmouth, a fat, pregnant fish.

We get nice sized Smallmouth every year. In 1993 Jerry got a 21 1/2–incher
(read about it), which is truly a monster. Bass season isn’t open of course, and these fish are caught (and released!) by accident, but still are pretty fish to catch.

Nice day today. A bit cloudy in the morning, and then clear or partly cloudy the rest of the day, temperature up to about 70. Not much wind, a great fishing day, and even a great catching day, witness the 16 Walleyes for the day.

Boat Report: Jerry bought a new battery, charged some other ones. The depth finder and trolling motor now work. The live well (which we use for keeping shiner minnows) is still dead. I forgot to tell you yesterday that his boat registration is also expired, but the DNR hasn’t caught him yet.

Loon Report: Lots of them around. We saw one pair on a nest in the channel, I’ll have pictures.

Food Report: Jerry made beef tenderloin dinner, 15 pounds, tonight. Incredible. Bruce made garlic mashed potatoes, but he used only three bulbs of garlic. We complained. Tomorrow he’s promised six bulbs.

Dock Report: You might remember that last year we discovered Jerry’ dock was a secret fishing hot spot? Peter Hunt continues to pound it this year at odd moments. So far he has Rock Bass, Largemouth Bass, and Northern Pike from the dock. No Muskies yet.

Crayfish Report: Over the last few years we’ve pulled up lots of Rusty Crayfish hanging onto our shiner minnows. The fishing has also been spotty or worse. This year, no crayfish at all yet, and good Walleyes. Correlation maybe?

Pictures. Jerry got his computer fixed, we’re back in business. The pictures for yesterday and today are at:

Thursday’s Pictures

Friday’s Pictures

 

Here are the results for the second day
Angler # of Walleye # of Northerns Largest Walleye Largest Northern
Jerry Peters 1 0 16"
Juris Ozols 6 0 15"
Bruce Boettcher 2 0 13"
Peter Hunt 0 3 26"
Lee Woll 1 6 21" 23"
Jack Sikora 0 3 24"
Pat Kelly 7 0 17"
Rick Zieman 6 1 15" 30"

Day Three – Saturday, May 20, 2006

I work at General Dynamics, Bloomington Minnesota. We have a security system that involves coded electronic badges for everybody, including me. To get from the front door to my office I have to run my card through five different readers. To get anywhere in the building I have to use my badge multiple times at many doors. Agony. Repeated daily, weekly, monthly.

Then this: I went down to the dock early this morning. The scent of pine trees in the air, breeze off the lake in my face, waves swishing against the boats at the dock. No badges, no security, I just went down to the dock. Nobody else around, only a boat going out the channel to Woman Lake. The eagle that we’ve seen regularly this year was already floating overhead. I stood there, nothing to do.

It was wonderful.

Where would I rather be, here or pushing my badge through readers? Why do I do that?

Well, never mind, on to the report. Weather change today, with cloudy skies and wind most of the morning. We fished for a while in the morning and then got blown off the lake for most of the day. A lot of naps in the afternoon and not much else – lazy times.

It cleared off and calmed down a bit by evening, so we got a couple of more hours in. A slow fishing day, with only eight walleyes caught. Jerry got a 26–inch Northern, but nothing of any real consequence. The walleyes are still running in the 13” – 17” range, that strong year class from three years ago.

I’ve started keeping the statistics as posted here:

http://www.walleyes.org/wolakechron/2006/stats.htm

Note that both Pat Kelly and Rick Zieman have eight walleyes each and I’m in third place with seven. Before this evening, when I went fishing with the two of them, I was in first. hey put me in the middle seat of Pat’s 14–foot Lund, with Rick up front and Pat driving in back. They both caught walleyes. Nobody has ever caught a walleye from the middle seat. Nor did I. I’m going back fishing with Jerry tomorrow.

Birds: Gary Nelson from Maryland, a long–time subscriber to Woman Lake Reports, sent in some data on the “mystery bird” in the picture yesterday. His info is here: Heron Info

I’ve also got two Loon’s nest pictures. One of the Loon’s nests is practically under a tree with an eagle’s nest, and the eagle lives there. I’m afraid of what will happen when the little Loonling hatches. Nature may take its course.

Jerry’s dinner for us tonight: A 20–pound prime rib, Caesar salad, Yorkshire pudding, steamed asparagus, with apple crisp baked by Bruce for dessert. You may recall from my reports other years that this is not unusual.

Weather forecast is better for tomorrow, light winds and cloudy. That’s Walleye weather, I predict good things for us.

Saturday’s Pictures

 

Here are the results for the third day
Angler # of Walleye # of Northerns Largest Walleye Largest Northern
Jerry Peters 5 1 16" 26"
Juris Ozols 7 0 16" 0
Bruce Boettcher 3 1 16 1/2" 21"
Peter Hunt 1 3 17" 26"
Lee Woll 1 6 21" 23"
Jack Sikora 0 5 0 24"
Pat Kelly 8 0 17" 0
Rick Zieman 8 1 17" 30"

Day Four – Sunday, May 21, 2006

Unless I’m mistaken, the shower has yet to be used by anybody. Whatsoever.

Some days are diamond,
Some days are gold…
Some days you catch walleyes,
Some days you catch Northerns.

We got an even dozen Northern Pike today, ranging up to 28 1/2–inches, which is about a 7 or 8 pound fish. Total length of Northerns for today: 263 inches or almost 22–feet. Most of those were caught with Lindy Rigs while fishing for Walleyes. Lee, Jack, and Peter did do some casting for them, trying for a big one, but didn’t get anything of consequence. They did catch a couple of 15” Largemouth Bass.

Lee and Jack are the Northern chasers of our crowd, spending most of their time in various shallow bays casting for Northerns. Lantern Bay is one of their favorite spots.

Here’s something we’ve debated: Woman Lake is a known Muskie lake and has produced some giants in the past. But in the quarter century we’ve fished it, we’ve never caught one. We’ve gotten over 750 Northerns in that time, with the biggest a 38 1/2–incher in 1994 caught by Jerry. No Muskies, ever, either with our Lindy Rigs or casting in Lantern Bay. Why is that? Why haven’t we gotten at least some babies? Would appreciate your thoughts on that.

Back to Walleyes. We did get ten Walleyes today, in–between catching the Northerns. And this evening, fishing just outside Lantern Bay, Jerry pulled in a 24–incher, a beautiful fish. Go take a look at the photo.

Right before Jerry’s fish, Peter Hunt got an 18–incher, also a fine Walleye, and the biggest of his career. He got quite excited. But then Jerry’s big one. I quote Peter: “Now you’ve made mine look like a bloody tiddler.” I’ll leave it up to you to interpret that statement, but here’s a hint: Peter is an expatriate Brit.

The weather did it’s best to help the fishing – cloudy with a slight wind, a “Walleye Chop” pretty much the whole day. The temperature never got above about 55, but with the light breezes a very fishable day. In the evening it calmed down totally. Rick’s fine shot of a Loon at sunset gives you a feel for it.

Sunday’s Pictures

We’ve got the new updated stats at –

http://www.walleyes.org/wolakechron/2006/stats.htm

Okay, I’ve got other stuff to tell you, but it’s already midnight, and my writing skills deteriorate markedly about this time of night. More tomorrow.

Juris

 

Question 16. Karen writes:
“Why do you catch and release rough fish [Karen is referring to the dogfish we threw back in the last couple of days]? Wasn't there a DNR notification of some sort that said if rough fish were caught to not release them back into the lakes since they were becoming too prevalent.”

Then Dave VanDoorn, one of our Muskie Inc. friends writes:

  • Question 17.“ I see you folks are catching fish — what are some of your favorite recipes for walleye?”

Finally, Jim Roerig, another Muskie Inc’er (and a fine photographer in his own right) has some info on those rough fish that we’re catching and releasing. Jim says:

“Eelpout, burbot, ling, cod are all the same fish. Go see

http://www.ci.barnum.mn.us/html/eelpout.html

Dogfish and bowfin are the same.  Go see

http://www.bio.umass.edu/biology/conn.river/bowfin.html

Okay, I ran long again today, apologize for that, but it really is grand to be here and we’re all having a ton of fun. (Especially in the afternoons when the storm blows and we can take a nap.)

Saturday's pictures

Next report tomorrow night. [Editor's Note: Spare us]

Juris

Here are the results for the fourth day
Angler # of Walleye # of Northerns Largest Walleye Largest Northern
Jerry Peters 6 4 24" 28 1/2"
Juris Ozols 8 3 16" 28 1/2"
Bruce Boettcher 5 1 16 1/2" 21"
Peter Hunt 2 5 18" 26"
Lee Woll 1 6 21" 23"
Jack Sikora 0 7 0 24"
Pat Kelly 12 1 17" 26"
Rick Zieman 10 1 19" 30"

Day Five – Monday, May 22, 2006

A glorious day today, the last of this year’s trip. Blue skies, lots of sun, warm light winds. The best kind of weather for fishing. And of course it made for rotten catching.

We only got two Walleyes today, a 14–incher and a 15–incher, and a handful of Northerns. Those continued to run quite large though, with a 28 and a 29–incher today.

We caught those just south of Lantern Bay, an area where we spent a lot of time this year. Jerry also got his 24 inch Walleye in about the same spot yesterday. I’ve got a map of Woman Lake in our photo section to show you that location and some of the other spots, including the Loon’s nests.

Monday’s Pictures

And our statistics summary


We got 50 walleyes and 45 Northerns for the trip, not bad at all. As I’ve noted before, the two year old Walleye year class isn’t present though, and we’ll feel the impact of that in coming years.

Speaking of Northerns, I need to insert this testimonial from Peter Hunt, our Brit buddy who comes up from Texas to fish with us every spring:

“I have listened and read many stories on how to catch a Walleyes, but I have not heard much about Northern fishing. For most of the Woman Lake crew Northerns are considered an interruption to a well planned walleye drift and I have come to know them as “snakes.”

“For Jack Sikora and Lee Woll, connoisseurs of the Northern Pike, most of the day is spent pursuing these slimy, smelly creatures. On this trip I joined them for several afternoon trolls around Lantern Bay. They invariably use a simple technique of casting out a spoon. Not just any old spoon, but one with two big red beads called a “Redeye.” They explained to me that a German company has been making them for fifty years and they have been buying them for forty nine of them. They have quite a collection.

I learned that the rest of the team consider the Redeye as a lower class lure but I can assure you that they work well and its fun to see a Northern come up from the weeds and inhale one. I am now in the Redeye club and the Redeyers, as we call ourselves, caught 25 of the 45 Northerns with them.

So be it.

Our 25th annual Woman Lake trip draws to a close. We’re heading south tomorrow. This trip ends on a special note.

Peter has been fishing off the dock every day and tallying up the number of species he’s caught. Woman Lake has 15 different kinds of fish, and he’s caught 7 of them. But he has yet to catch a “Pumpkinseed Sunfish.” There’s lots of little fish that swim around the dock and boatlift. And Pumpkinseeds? As we settle into the boat for the evening’s fishing and Jerry begins to back out of the boat lift, I peer over the side to see if I can spot one of the little critters for him. Lots of bluegills and small bass. And then…

There’s the Muskie, just outside the weeds, in four feet of water next to the boat. I point and yell. Jerry and Peter both jump up. They see it too, clearly. It’s some three feet long, the classic mean “Muskie Glare” on its face as it looks back at us. It turns behind the boat and fades into the lake. It leaves us stuttering and shaking.

After 25 years of fishing, it’s the first Muskie Jerry and I have seen on Woman Lake. They are here! Maybe next year…

Okay, back home tomorrow and a nice hot shower.

Juris

Here are the results for the fifth & Final day
Angler # of Walleye # of Northerns Largest Walleye Largest Northern
Jerry Peters 6 4 24" 28 1/2"
Juris Ozols 8 7 16" 28 1/2"
Bruce Boettcher 5 1 16 1/2" 21"
Peter Hunt 3 9 18" 29"
Lee Woll 1 8 21" 24"
Jack Sikora 0 9 0 24"
Pat Kelly 12 1 17" 26"
Rick Zieman 11 2 19" 30"

 

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Date Created: June 6, 2006
Last Modified: May 24, 2013
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