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Thirtieth Annual Woman Lake Walleye
Spring Fishing Trip

Woman Lake Chronicles – Part XII


Day One – Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Welcome once again to Woman Lake Reports. This is Year 30. We started these Woman Lake spring trips in 1982 and this year’s trip completes three decades of fishing. The world was different back then, but the walleyes weren’t. They were fickle, hard to catch, elusive, and pretty, just like they are now. Over the years we’ve certainly caught and released our share although the last few trips have been slow. But hope springs eternal.

So this year: I drove up to Woman Lake on Wednesday and Jerry and I launched our boats at Longville and ran them to the cabin. We also picked up a couple of dozen shiners at the Longville bait shop, now at $5.50/dozen. In 1982 they were 75 cents/dozen.

The rest of the crowd is straggling in over the next two days but we weren’t about to wait for them to go fishing. We were out on the lake early evening and fished for a couple of hours in almost perfect conditions – cloudy, warm, and a slight “walleye chop” wind.

I’m sure you recall those dismal results from the last few years, when catching a walleye was as rare as catching a 50–inch muskie. Well, this year might be a breakthrough! In two hours of fishing we got four perch, one 24–inch northern pike, and four walleyes: 12, 14, and two 17–inchers. Awesome start!

We fished a couple of the standard spots – Government Point and Gold Coast and the fish were just jumping in the boat. So we’ll see how the rest of the trip goes but sure was an encouraging start.

Let me back up a bit. In addition to dismal fishing you might recall that the last couple of years we had car and boat troubles galore. Not this year: My car ran fine on the way up. The battery and the generator worked. I remembered to put the drain plug in the boat before launching. (Jerry forgot on his boat but Mary was there to remind him.) My boat started right up and no alarms for lower unit oil stuff. Jerry’s boat started and ran great despite lack of winterizing last fall. Neither one of us ran into a sunken log when bringing in the boat to the dock at the cabin. And we left the bait bucket hanging over the side of the boat only twice when taking off. So a very promising start in these matters also.

And then finally this delightful experience. As we were launching the boats in Longville a goose family – mommy, daddy, and eight newborn puffballs – came out of the parking lot, marched across the street, and jumped into the water. They stopped traffic and drew a crowd. I took a couple of dozen pictures two of which are attached.

Goose and goslings crossing street
goslings jumping 3 feet to water

Okay, Rick and Pat will be here today and we’ll see if yesterday’s fishing luck continues. Next report tonight if I’m not worn out from hauling in walleyes or more likely tomorrow morning.

(If we hadn’t caught some fish you would have gotten a lot more goose pics.)

Today’s other pictures at:

Wednesday, Day 1 Additional Pictures



Here are the results for the first day
Angler # of Walleye # of Northerns Largest Walleye Largest Northern
Jerry Peters 2 0 14"  
Juris Ozols 2 1 17" 24"


Day Two – Thursday, May 19, 2011

I got sunburned yesterday. When a bloke spends a full day on the lake and neglects suntan lotion, that's what happens. The sun is high in the sky, we had pretty blue skies and light warm winds, and the results were as expected.

However, what else can happen under those conditions is that a bloke can expect to catch walleyes, and that certainly happened yesterday too. Not so much for me I only got one. But between all of us we go thirteen of the critters ranging in size from 9 to 22 inches. Pat Kelly fishing out of Jerry's boat got that 22-incher just as the sun set last night and they were running out of minnows. A very nice fish, see the pictures.

Yesterday Bruce, Rick, and Pat were out on Woman Lake for most of the afternoon and picked up four fish, one each. Jerry had various errands to do and didn’t get to the cabin until later. One of his errands was to prepare dinner for us, his special bouillabaisse fish stew which was excellent. (Those of you waiting for the usual extended dinner photos and description will get that next report — Bruce is making a beef dinner tonight.)

Then we took both boats out in the evening and got nine more walleyes plus a couple of modest northerns and a bunch of perch.

This is working up to be a great year. That’s 17 walleyes so far with three more days to go. For comparison, in 2009 we got ten fish total with the biggest at 18 inches. Last year — well, as I write this I can't find the stats and can’t remember, but it was slow.

Exactly why fish populations rise and fall is a often a mystery but overfishing is typically involved and Woman Lake has been pounded hard over the years. But this year it’s on a rebound.

We haven’t found any nesting loons. Most years we have up to three nesting pairs in the channel to the lake and it’s always fun to take photos of them on the nest. But apparently not this year. However, yesterday afternoon we had one loon that played around our boat for a half hour, came up to within a few feet, and even dived and swam under the boat. That was great and I got a lot of close–up shots of that one.

Eagles the nest on government point has had an eagle in it every time we go by. Photos of that tomorrow too.

Rick Zieman Holding 22-inch walleye

Pat Kelley Holding 22-inch walleye

Rick Zieman in a classic fisherman’s pose on the back of my boat. Warm sun and gentle rocking of boat in waves will do that to a man. He woke up every time he got a bite, though.

Pat Kelly is delighting in his 22–inch walleye as Jerry looks on. The average length of our walleyes over the years has been 14.5–inches, and this one is up in the top 5% or so of all fish caught.

The other photos are out at

http://www.walleyes.org/wolakechron/2011/thursday.htm

Okay, time to go fishing. Weather forecast predicts showers this afternoon and that might make the walleyes stir up even more.


Here are the results for the second day
Angler # of Walleye # of Northerns Largest Walleye Largest Northern
Jerry Peters 7 0 14"  
Juris Ozols 3 2 17" 28"
Pat Kelly 5 3 22" 23"
Rick Zieman 1 0 15" "
B. Boettcher 1 0 12" "

 

Day Three – Friday, May 20, 2011

 

I had to come home to Apple Valley from Woman Lake last night to do a video shoot job for my photo business on Saturday and Sunday. This complicates getting the Reports out. I toyed with the idea of depending on the end of the world to eliminate the need for the Report, but decided against that. So the Report.

Yesterday was a fine day, a good day indeed. The fishing success of the previous two days was not a fluke — they continued biting.

The cloudy, warm weather and light winds helped. On the morning outing we caught: 3 walleyes, 3 northerns, many perch, a clam, a crayfish, and two motors.

Fishing Line caught in the motor

The motor thing is a standard flail. Under various circumstances of drifting and turning, the line from the fisherman in the front of the boat can gat tangled in the motor. As the boat moves through the water the propeller spins slowly, picks up the line, and wraps it around the propeller shaft. I’ve been directed to keep the identity of the fisherman secret — shows what you have to do to untangle the line. Mostly it doesn’t work and you end up cutting it. And then retying is also a pain, but in the big scheme of things, no big deal. Unless you fall in the water which hasn’t quite happened yet.

After a break for lunch – Marie’s great meatballs – we went back out for the “evening bite.” And bite they did. This time we got 9 walleyes, 5 northerns, many perch again, but no motors, clams, or crayfish. Mark Grovak showed up in time to go with us and caught his first (picture) and second walleyes ever. His techniques are a bit unpolished as yet, but hey, the man caught fish!

This makes for about 30 or so walleyes already, far better than recent years.

Fishing Line caught in the motor

And now, a curious fish tale, related to me by messers Pat Kelly, Jerry Peters, and Bruce Boettcher at dinner: Pat had a fish on at noon. The fish broke loose with the leader, hook, and swivel due to Pat’s incompetent tying of swivel to line.

Two hours later, same spot, Bruce hooked a walleye and brought it in. Jerry netted the fish. Bruce attempted to lift up the fish which then flipped around, close to going into the water. Jerry yelled out, “What’s that other line doing there?” He grabbed the line, which turned out to be another leader hooked into the fish. Jerry pulled it back into the boat. Upon close inspection it turned out to be the leader that Pat lost earlier.

The above account is the best I could do. I interviewed Bruce, Jerry, and Pat at length. They were not coherent. Lots of disputes and claims and finger pointing. Bottom line – something interesting happened but we’ll never really know.

Fishing Line caught in the motor

Dinner: A great roast beef dinner by chef Boettcher. For some reason he doesn't look very happy about his masterpiece. Could it be that he didn't have any help in the preparation? The centerpiece was a… Morte Bovine… ?? Rachel: What did we call that last year? The same fine cuisine. Help out.

Due to various logistical issues I can’t get you the usual web pictures so here are three attached to this email and we’ll get back on track next time. I may have to wait until Monday morning though for the next Report.

 

Here are the results for the third day
Angler # of Walleye # of Northerns Largest Walleye Largest Northern
Jerry Peters 10 4 15" 25"
Juris Ozols 3 2 17" 28"
Pat Kelly 7 5 22" 23"
Rick Zieman 3 0 17" "
B. Boettcher 1 0 12" 15"
Mark Grovak 2 0 14"  

 

Day Four – Saturday, May 21, 2011

On Friday evening Juris packed his bags and headed south, back to his Apple Valley home, ostensiibly to film a dance production for a local group. That left a huge gap in the Saturday and Sunday reports. On top of that, I, the web master, didn't immediately pick up where he left off and now it is three years later and I have blank memories about the events of those days. What we do know is that the fish count was well documented and will be the only data for those two days. Kelly, however, did scratch down some weather facts and other odds and ends that can be incorporated into a daily sysnopsis. And we do have copious pictures that will take the place of the prose.

 

 

>
Here are the results for the fourth day
Angler # of Walleye # of Northerns Largest Walleye Largest Northern
Jerry Peters 14 4 15" 25"
Juris Ozols 3 2 17" 28"
Pat Kelly 9 5 22" 23"
Rick Zieman 3 0 17" "
B. Boettcher 4 2 19" 18"
Mark Grovak 2 0 14"  
Brian Peters 2 3 15" 22"

 

 

Day Five – Sunday, May 22, 2011

 

 

Here are the results for the fifth day
Angler # of Walleye # of Northerns Largest Walleye Largest Northern
Jerry Peters 15 4 16" 25"
Juris Ozols 3 2 17" 28"
Pat Kelly 11 6 22" 23"
Rick Zieman 6 2 17" 24"
B. Boettcher 4 2 19" 18"
Mark Grovak 2 0 14"  
Brian Peters 2 3 15" 22"

 

Day Six – Monday, May 23, 2011

Catching up. I went back down to the Twin Cities Friday night late to work a video shoot. The rest of the crowd fished Saturday and Sunday, both days rainy, and apparently had excellent success. When I left I directed Pat Kelly to record the daily fish totals in a notebook, but that was a mistake. I believe I would have gotten a much more comprehensible data set if I had hired a chicken to scratch it. Anyway, as best I can interpret from Pat’s handwriting, they pulled up 17–walleyes, 10–northerns, 30 perch, 2 sturgeon,a bikini top, and a mermaid. Not sure if those last three were connected but will quiz Pat on this next time I see him.

Jerry’s son Brian also came up for the weekend and got his share of the catch. The crowd all left by Sunday afternoon and I returned here Monday morning. Jerry and I went out by ourselves Monday evening starting at 4pm, and not only was it great fishing, the catching was exceptional too!

For the five hours that we were out we got 8 walleyes, 7 northerns, a bunch of perch, but no mermaids. Interestingly, we fished a new area further out to the south of our favorite “Gold Coast” spot, and the fish were very active there. Over the years we’ve tended to get fixated on a few known productive spots and just fish those. Not really a good idea, and we need to expand our horizons. So yesterday Jerry put us on that new area and the fish were there. We’ll be back next year.

Let me comment on the lengths of fish. We’ve gotten one 22–incher, a couple of 18–inchers, and a number of fish in the 15 – 17–inch range. Those are not monsters but excellent fish anyway. However, the interesting thing is that at the bottom of the length range we’ve pulled up many 12–inch fish this year. In previous years, certainly going back ten or so, the “small” fish were typically 11–inches. Those are two–year olds, and apparently that year class has grown better than earlier ones. So why is that?

I’m going to get together with Doug Schultz of the Minnesota DNR for this area, show him our stats, and will ask him about this and other things. Fish dynamics in a lake is a fascinating subject and often mysterious but the DNR will certainly have insights.

 

Young girls dancing during a show Juris was filmingPeters holding a nicely colored walleye, ready to be released

This is a photo I took during my video shoot for a dance class recital. Nothing fishy about that but I wanted to show you what kept me off the lake for the weekend.

The second is a shot yesterday of Jerry holding his 18–incher. Will leave it up to you which photo has prettier subjects.

 

The other photos are out at

http://www.walleyes.org/wolakechron/2011/monday.htm

The first four pictures? There are three things that a fisherman does on a trip. The first two are fish and eat. These photos document the third activity.
I’ve also included an extract from an email my buddy Ron Fredrick sent me chronicling his own woes during a fishing trip. I have to say that Ron didn’t invent anything new there – we’ve all done those kinds of things and more.

I’m going home tonight, which finishes off this year’s Woman Lake trip, and will have a wrapup in a few days.

 

Here are the results for the sixth & Final day
Angler # of Walleye # of Northerns Largest Walleye Largest Northern
Jerry Peters 20 6 16" 25"
Juris Ozols 6 7 17" 28"
Pat Kelly 11 6 22" 23"
Rick Zieman 6 2 17" 24"
B. Boettcher 4 2 19" 18"
Mark Grovak 2 0 14"  
Brian Peters 2 3 15" 22"


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Last Modified: June 9, 2013
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