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Thirtyfirst Annual Woman Lake Walleye
Spring Fishing Trip

Woman Lake Chronicles – Part XIII


Day One – Saturday, May 12, 2012

Hey, the first two days and a bunch of Walleyes already plus some fine Northern Pike! Fishing is always great but this year the catching also looks to be good.

Our 31st annual Woman Lake trip. This year the usual suspects — Juris Ozols (me), Jerry Peters, Rick Zieman, Pat Kelly, Bruce Boettcher. Plus a bonus — Peter Hunt from Texas, an avid fisherman who has graced our presence from time to time also came up to chase the wily Walleyes of Woman Lake. Peter is an English expatriate and his accent always adds spice to our conversations.

A bit of background: a very mild Minnesota winter and an early spring this year. Lakes iced out up to a month earlier than normal. We also moved up our trip a week because of various conflicts.

So a day ahead of the rest of our crowd, Peter and I came up from the Twin Cities on Saturday, the fishing opener. We drove past Lake Mille Lacs, the enormous Walleye lake in central Minnesota and the boat launches were just jammed with cars and trailers. A lot of the state's fishing population was obviously out.

But Woman Lake called us further north. We launched my Crestliner in Longville and bought 3 dozen shiner minnows at $5.75 per dozen. In 1982, our first year, minnows were $0.75 a dozen (and gas was $1.40 / gallon.)

As opposed to some other years you may recall, the boat started fine, the trouble alarm did not sound, and life was good: a day on Woman Lake by ourselves with very few other boats out. Pretty, Bluebird weather which isn't particularly good for catching but catch we did. The first fish was a decent two–footer Northern Pike, several more of those, and then 17 1/2–inch and 14–inch walleyes. Not a bad start at all.

Photo of Juris's boat in the garage

(left) This is what a boat looks like after sitting in the garage since last summer. It takes a couple of hours to get it ready to go on the trip.

Peter Hunt netted his first fish of the trip - a nice northern (right)

Peter Hunt's first fish, a northern, of the trip

The web pictures for Saturday are at:

http://www.walleyes.org/wolakechron/2012/saturday.htm

 

Here are the results through the first day
Angler # of Walleye # of Northerns Largest Walleye Largest Northern
Juris Ozols 1 2 14" 25"
Peter Hunt 1 1 17 1/2" 23"


Day Two – Sunday, May 13, 2012

Peter and I went out midmorning to windy and cloudy but warm weather.  The walleyes were still asleep but we hooked into a few Northerns. Then as we were puttering around on the lake I got several cryptic cell phone calls from Jerry Peters. You have to realize that phone coverage up north here is spotty at best and I couldn’t make out what he was saying. Apparently Jerry was having trouble launching his own Lund in Longville and wanted me to come help him? But then another phone call and no, he didn’t need me? And then…

Well, as I found out later, Jerry launched his boat only to discover that the boat keys were back at his house on Leech Lake, some twenty miles away. After wife Mary retrieved the keys, the boat didn’t start anyway.  Dead battery. $90. And the boat started and ran fine.

So the boat troubles seem to have shifted around a bit this year but are not severe.

In any case, we met up with Jerry at the cabin, also joined by Rick Zieman and Pat Kelly. After a few brief “hellos” back out on the lake for three hours, with more walleyes. Rick got 19” and 20” fish plus two more and Pat caught a fat 28” Northern – all released of course.

Back to the cabin for dinner prepared with customary élan by Rick Zieman: Tilapia, fresh asparagus, jumbo shrimp, plus salad, finished off by chocolate chip cookies thanks to Sara Kelly, mother of Pat.

Then back out for the “evening bite.&rdquo The weather had been windy all day with white cap waves but moderated a bit in the evening.  The fish must have been feeding during the day and didn’t bite much in the evening with only Pat’s 18 1/2” walleye to show for our efforts.

The fish are running big this year. Three over 18–inches already and no two-year old 11–inchers. So some of the good year classes from previous years are showing up. But we need to see the smaller fish too so that we have the bigger ones in coming years.

Okay, a good start this year. Manageable boat troubles, decent weather, seven walleyes running large sizes. Life is indeed good.

Pat Kelly landing a walleye

Pat Kelly with a fish on the line during the evening bite on the Gold Coast as the sun sets over Government Point.

A Canada Goose family with young of the year. But only three little puff balls?

The web pictures for Sunday are at:

 http://www.walleyes.org/wolakechron/2012/sunday.htm

Here are the results through the second day
Angler # of Walleye # of Northerns Largest Walleye Largest Northern
Jerry Peters 0 2 1/2   18"
Juris Ozols 1 2 14" 25"
Pat Kelly 1 2 1/2 18 1/2" 28"
Rick Zieman 4 4 20" 28"
Peter Hunt 1 3 17 1/2" 30"


Day Three – Monday, May 14, 2012

 

Walleyes? Who cares about Walleyes? Feeble fighters, no excitement.  We’re now into Smallmouth Bass!

This afternoon Peter Hunt hooked into a 21” Smallmouth, an absolutely gorgeous fish. It’s the second biggest Smallmouth we’ve ever caught on Woman Lake.

Now, yes indeed, it’s not yet Smallmouth season. We know that. And we weren’t fishing for them. Peter was just dragging his Lindy Rig with shiner minnow around various places, fishing for Walleyes. But the Smallmouth hit, put up a glorious fight with many jumps and swirls, and Peter finally brought it in. A couple of quick pictures and release. The fish was only lightly hooked so it was okay. But really a great fish.

Back to Walleyes. Four of the five of didn’t catch any of those today. The weather during the day was hot – 83– degrees and calm wind and the walleyes didn’t stir. Later on, during the evening bite, Rick Zieman actually did haul five of them in – 10, 11, 12, 13 and 17–inches. Everybody else was skunked for walleyes although we got a handful of typical sized Northerns.

Rick’s first four walleyes are 2 or possibly 3–year old fish, and it’s nice to see those year classes start to show up. We’ll be getting bigger ones in coming years.

Other than Peter’s bass, not a lot of action today. The hot, calm weather not only turned the fish off, it made an afternoon nap for at least three of us the thing to do. So we’ll hit them again tomorrow although the weather is predicted to be similar.

Loons: We have two nesting pairs this year. One nest is in the usual place in Broadwater channel and the Loons are on it. When we passed by this afternoon a Canada Goose pair was swimming around in the vicinity and Mommy Loon on the nest didn’t like that at all.

The second nest we discovered in Lantern Bay, first time we’ve seen one there. It appears to be a man-made floating nest anchored off shore, and two Loons were swimming around it but the nest was bare. Only later, when I looked more closely at the pictures I took did I spot the two eggs that are on the nest (see photo below). Have never seen that before. We’ll go back and see if the Loons are really doing their job, or perhaps they’ve abandoned it?

Looking forward to more Walleyes tomorrow enough Smallmouth Bass for this trip.

Peters throwing a minnow bucket to Juris's boat

This somewhat cryptic photo shows Jerry Peters tossing a minnow bucket to the Ozols’ boat. We ran out of shiners during the evening bite and Jerry was kind enough to share some of his with us.

Look carefully – there are two tan Loon eggs on this floating nest. But why isn't Mommy doing her thing on the eggs?

The web pictures are at:

http://www.walleyes.org/wolakechron/2012/monday.htm

 

Here are the results through the third day
Angler # of Walleye # of Northerns Largest Walleye Largest Northern
Jerry Peters 0 4 1/2   18"
Juris Ozols 1 5 14" 25"
Pat Kelly 1 4 1/2 18 1/2" 28"
Rick Zieman 9 5 20" 28"
Peter Hunt 1 4 17 1/2" 30"


Day Four – Tuesday, May 15, 2012

 

A windy day today, which means the Walleyes weren’t biting. Sunny too, so that didn’t help. Other conditions under which Walleyes don’t bite are moderate wind or calm and either sunny or cloudy. Otherwise, they can be very active.

Peter Hunt had to leave for Texas today so I took him out for an hour casting the Redeye on Lantern Bay three modest Northerns plus a couple of follows. When it came time to leave the Crestliner wouldn’t start – it turned over but wouldn’t fire. I cranked and cranked it but nothing.

So there Peter and I were, drifting around in Lantern Bay with a dead boat, and nobody else around. What to do, what to do?

After contemplating it a bit, Peter reached over and flipped up the “Kill Switch” next to the throttle, which I had somehow or other turned off. The boat motor fired instantly. It has been observed that the greatest cause of human failure is shooting oneself in the foot.

Anyway, on the way back to the cabin we met Jerry’s boat coming out.; They fished the Gold coast and Rick actually did manage to get two 17” Walleyes.  Jerry also caught an 18” Smallmouth, now our second big bass this year.

Back at the cabin for lunch we had Jerry’s wheat bagels covered with chocolate – “Philadelphia Indulgence” – that he likes to goop on a half inch thick.  That was a first for lunch for us ever up here.  Normally we eat leftovers or scraps, whatever we can get our hands on.

Naps, etc, and then afternoon fishing, also windy and slow. One 10” Walleye – see the web pictures – and miscellaneous Northerns, no excitement. When we got back to the cabin Bruce Boettcher was already there working on what turned out to be a truly great dinner.

But first the Evening Bite. We’ve settled on a pattern over the years for that. We go out to a certain spot on the Gold Coast and drift or troll around that. The Walleyes can be very active right at sunset, but only if it isn’t windy or calm. Tonight it was two modest Walleyes plus the usual Northerns. Rick did have an intriguing bite in 30 feet – on the hookset the pole bent over big time, but then slack. When he brought the line up only the lips of the shiner were left on the hook. Clearly a Muskie was down there, we decided.

An outstanding, truly great dinner by Master Chef Bruce assisted by Junior Chefs Peters and Zieman tonight:  Woman Lake Surf and Turf, Boneless Ribeye Up North Style, Goliath Shrimp with Leech Lake Horseradish Dip, Wild Baby Portobello Mushrooms steeped in Garlic Sauce, Home Made Italian Garlic Bread smothered with Parmesan Butter,  Romaine Lactuva Sativa (lettuce) Salad with Creamy Caesar Dressing: Fresh Garlic, Anchovy Paste, Lemon Juice, Black Pepper, Sour Cream and Buttermilk.

So a repast like that — I’m incapable of writing Woman Lake Reports which is why you’re getting them Wednesday morning instead of Tuesday night.

 

Hoards of Mayflies lying on the driveway The Mayfly hatch is one. The good things about Mayflies are that they don't bite and last only for one day. The bad thing is that they come out by the billions and swarm in massive groups, fortunately, just above your head. And they are littered everywhere. This photo shows the entrance to Jerry's Leech Lake house completely coverd with one day old
– thus dead – Mayflies.
Before he left Peter Hunt caught this Northern Pike. I knocked it off the hook in trying to net it. Peter claimed it was 30– inches. I disputed that. I said 25 inches. This photo shows the fish in the water. The "front" redeye was on the fish. The Redeye was measured at 3ndash;long. With Photoshop software, I laid out the other Redeyes on the photo. Count the Redeyes — the fish is 8 1/2 Redeyes long. Thus 25 1/2–inches. Peter conceded defeat. Hoards of Mayflies lying on the driveway

Web pictures at:

http://www.walleyes.org/wolakechron/2012/tuesday.htm

 

Here are the results through the fourth day
Angler # of Walleye # of Northerns Largest Walleye Largest Northern
Jerry Peters 1 5 1/2 13" 18"
Juris Ozols 2 5 14" 25"
Pat Kelly 1 5 1/2 18 1/2" 28"
Rick Zieman 11 8 20" 28"
Peter Hunt 1 4 17 1/2" 30"
Boettcher   1   21"


Day five – Wednesday, 16, 2012

 

Hey, if you think a Windows PC is slow, let me tell you about the walleye fishing during the day today.  The temperature went down to 39 last night but started coming up in the morning and got hotter and hotter. The wind was flat calm in the morning and got calmer after that.  Bluebird skies again.

We went out fishing for several hours in the morning, with exactly one perch between the five of us.  No other bites or anything else.

Rick and Pat got so fed up they went golfing in the afternoon.  Jerry and Bruce went into Walker to buy fishing equipment.  I took a nap.

No real stories to share with you about any of that, it was a slow day.

Pat and Rick made a very nice dinner – Blackened Cajun Chicken, rice, cole slaw.   I didn’t take any photos but see the picture in the web pics link.

We went out for the evening bite and the day turned into a Macintosh computer – much better.  We got six walleyes including a 21-incher each by Bruce and Rick.

The evening bite has been quite interesting in terms of predictability over the years.  Nothing is certain in fishing.  But over the years hot, calm days like today almost always guarantee a good evening bite.  Maybe the fish sleep during the day and then “get hungry” in the evening?  Don’t know, but we do get good evening bites on days like today.

Yesterday I told you about my fiasco with the kill switch on my boat.  I got comments from a couple of WLR recipients with similar experiences, so maybe it’s not that rare.  But now that I’ve run afoul of the kill switch flail I’ll never do it again.

This is the last Report from up here for the year – we’re all going home tomorrow.  As always, Woman Lake will turn into Brigadoon until next year.  That will be year thirty-two for us on these trips, almost a third of a century.  Amazing, really amazing.

A wrap-up from home in a couple of days.  I appreciate you reading our reports and look forward to it again next year.

Web photos at:

http://www.walleyes.org/wolakechron/2012/wednesday.htm

Here are the results through the fifth & final day
Angler # of Walleye # of Northerns Largest Walleye Largest Northern
Jerry Peters 1 6 1/2 13" 23"
Juris Ozols 2 5 14" 25"
Pat Kelly 3 6 1/2 18 1/2" 28"
Rick Zieman 13 8 21 1/2" 28"
Peter Hunt 1 4 17 1/2" 30"
Boettcher 1 2 21" 21"

 


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Last Modified: June 9, 2013
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