Lake Report
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Spring has Sprung

New seasons mark new beginnings and it is an exciting time to be an outdoorsman...  Then again, when isn't it an exciting time to be an outdoorsman or woman.  Like any other turn of the seasons anticispation is high and so is the level of confidence.  

With the ice off all the area lakes and the spring panfish season in full swing I was able to get out and check a few bites.  I managed a day on Lake Minnetonka and a day on Lake Waconia.  Both of them proved to be good outings with lots of panfish coming over the side of the boat.  The water temps on Lake Waconia ranged in the 52-57 range and Lake Minnetonka was 47-59 prior to this big cold front we had this week.  I suspect it has dropped a bit with the high winds and cool temps.  Even snowed a few times this week.  Obvioulsy this time of year the shallow provides the warmest water and many times the first area fish will go to get active.  I did find plenty of active crappies in the 6-10 fow on Lake Waconia.  It seems most everyone has found that bite.  ;)  

Up next myself and a few of the guys will spend some days trying to harvest a turkey or two in WI.  We hope to be able to bring you a new episode of Harvest Chronicles following next weeks hunts.  The spring turkey season is quickly become a tradition for many of us at the farm and a sign of passage that the long cold days are behind us for a few months.  

Right after we wrap turkey season I will be heading to the world class fishery of Sturgeon Bay WI to chase the giant smallmouth around.  This will be my 4th year in a row I have ventured out there in May and I have come to learn that this is a trip I will never miss.  Some of the most amazing smallmouth fishing and also fierce competiton as as many as 150 teams will be battling for the title of champion.  This year I again will be fishing with good friend Dustin Byfuglien since his hopes for a 2nd stanley cup were recenlty erased by the Anaheim Ducks.  Regardless, Winnipeg had a fantastic year and it was good to see them make the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs.  

Next time you hear from you I hope it is because I have taken a big ol WI gobbler down with the Mathews!  Now get out and stretch the string.


Prospecting for Gold

It has been an amazing few weeks chasing gravel lizards with some moments and memories that will not be soon forgotten.  This prospecting put me in the biggest gold rush of my life.  Something about these massive creatures that drives me crazy.  They push me and my gear to the limits and these past few trips are no exception.  The cold, wind, and rough conditions make it that much more rewarding when you do have success. 

Over a few day period myself and Benji landed 13 fish over 27" with the biggest going 30" and weighing in at 11.9.  Hard to put into words when the best 5 for the day would have weighed over 51lbs total.  

When you look up giant gravel lizards this outing will top the list for many years to come.  All the hard work and dedication pays off at times, in a big way.  

Many people have asked what I was using when I caught all these big fish recently.  First let me tell you that all these fish came "jigging".  The bait of choice was a Clam Psycho Shad in gold shiner in a 3.8/55 size.  They usually would hit it and push slack in the line.  

Remember the tug is the drug, get out and stretch the string, Fish On!


Why The Labels


All so often I am asked. "what do you fish for"?  My usual response is, "everything that swims"!  In recent years I have been "labeled" a "bass fisherman".  People see my boat, see my updates in the summer, and then see that I fish competitively for bass and they just assume I am a "bass fisherman"....  

Not so sure I am a fan of this "labeling" of fisherman or the label that people tend to associate with me.  Let's just clear the air since I think we all owe it to ourselves to stop the labeling.  I am a fisherman, as I have always said, "if it swims, I will try and catch it"!  Being a fisherman is what brings so many of us together, so let's not allow "labels" to come between us or tear us apart.  I would ask that we stop judging people for what they fish for, or how they fish, let's support one another.  

Yes, I fish for bass often in the summer, but I also fish for crappies, muskie, walleye, and other species.  I choose to compete in bass tournaments, because it gives me a place to test my skills against others that love the sport as much as I do. 

You might ask why I bring this up.  It is imperative to conservation as well as the future of our sport that we encourage people to be "fisherman" and not worry about how or what they fish for.  It looks to me that this "bass fisherman" has found his way around a gravel lizard or two.  If a guy says he is a "walleye" fisherman is that all he fishes for???   

Guys we are all fisherman, fish for whatever you want as often as you want.  Remember that the tug is the drug and not what is at the other end.  Let's stop the labeling and allow new comers and kids alike to feel invited in and not shunned from a group of fisherman for any reason.  Let's get more diverse and support one another to learn.  I challenge you to become more well rounded.  Understanding what walleyes eat, when they spawn, and where they live helps me be a better muskie, bass, and walleye fisherman; or vice versa.  It is part of having a complete understanding.  I spend many hours passing along lessons I have learned and information to help fisherman catch more fish of all species.  This website and blog is dedicated to those looking to be more successful with their time on the water.

On that note, I am hear to share and join forces with other fisherman, not be part of the labeling.  Until next time, Fish On!  


Another "Gold Crush"

When it comes to chasing walleyes in the winter, I have invested a lot of time and energy chasing big ones.  I like to refer to them as giant gravel lizards.  The recent outings have been no exception.  We have been catching some big lizards.  These kinds of gold rush trips are what I live for.  Yes, I love to catch a few eaters for the oil as much as the next guy, but I only need 2 maybe 3 nice eaters and I have more then I can eat.  My time, energy, and focus turns to chasing trophys.  All of which we catch, photo, and release back to the lake.  

This fish came in at 28" and was FAT.  It tipped the scales at 9.1lbs and was one of many nice fish we have been able to catch and release on recent trips.   

Jen has also been getting in on some of the great action.  She has put some nice fish in the 24"-26" above the ice for a few photo's before being put back down the hole to fight another fight some day.  I am asked almost daily, "how do you catch big walleyes, and so many of them"?!  Well I am going to clue many of you in ona few guide secrets.

First and foremost, fish a big bait-big live bait(3"-5")!  Big bait seems to get big bites.  I am not afraid to fish suckers, pike shiners, or anything else that is a big minnow.  Don't get me wrong, sometimes big bait catches 14" fish.  I always fish a minnow much bigger then most people would ever think.  Let's be honest, if you are a big fish you need something big to make you feel full.  Plus if they are going to use energy to eat, why aren't they going to want something big with lots of benefits for them.  The next thing I do a lot of is fish 2-3 feet of the bottom.  Some of the biggest fish in the water column will "cruise" for food and getting it higher in the water then you are used to can help.  

Remember this is not a #'s game, this is the pursuit of the biggest walleye in the water.  You have to commit to these giants if you want to catch them.  The next thing I do is catch ALL of these giant fish on hand lines(rattle reel, tip-up).  I always catch these fish on hand lines and believe that if you set yourself up for big eyes you too are gonna want to fish them on set hand lines.  The last thing I do is fish a lot at night at always through the night.  Many of these fish bite in the middle of the night, hence at times why we might look a little sleepy in some of the pics.   

Here is a great example of what likes to feed at night on many of the lakes we guide and fish on.  These two fish fell victim to my set-up and both were over 28".  One was even 29.5" 

Hopefully this helps you catch a fish of your lifetime the next time you hit the ice.  If not, you can always book me for a trip and I will show and teach you what I do to have so much success with giant gravel lizards.  Until next time, Fish On!  

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