***HLO 2012 Stories***
This past weekend I accompanied my friend and fellow HLO pro staffer on a trip North to Red Lake. Ben and I stayed at our good friend Dylan Maki's cabin just outside of Northome and the three of us hit Red hard Wednesday through Friday.
The trip started off good, arriving at the cabin around noon on Wednesday. A little lunch was eaten and a fire was made to roar in the stove to warm the cabin for us when we arrived back after fishing. It was a chilly 3 degrees above as we ventured North towards Red Lake. Once at Roger's landing, we were informed that the best fishing was found from 8-11 feet, however we would end up moving several times before settling down in 12 f.o.w for the evening bite. It was slow at best but we did end up scratching together 9 solid walleyes from 15-18 inches. This would prove to be a delicious dinner back at the cabin.
We all got to bed early that night and fell asleep one by one while reminiscing over tomorrow's plans. The alarms sounded at 6:00 am. on the dot Dylan cooked a hearty breakfast of ham and eggs for us before we departed. JR's landing on the south side would be our destination for the day. Once we had the Can-am Commander unloaded we set off to the west, away from the ice city that seemed to grow in population by the hour. The first spot we tried had always held fish during the early ice periods in years passed, however the schools had seemed to venture further out. We tried 3 more spots in 11 feet around some rock structure, all proving just as dead as the first..
It wasn't until the fifth move of the day that we started getting fish, once again it was not hot and heavy but steady nonetheless. We were .01 miles from the reservation line and away from most of the people. That is key on Red Lake as well as any other big popular lake such as Lake of the Woods. When the walleyes move from the shore structure out into the deeper flats they can be hard to target, however, if you stay mobile, and keep away from the people you are bound to find yourself active fish. Don't be afraid to move spots after 15-20 minutes, when you find fish, you will know right away.
We ended the day catching just shy of 25 fish for the three of us. Another meal of baked walleye and cheesy potatoes would be enjoyed next to a hot fire place at the cabin.
Friday was kind of the same story as the first few days, fishing was slow but if you kept moving and trying new things you would find a handful of hungry walleyes. Finding fish in relatively the same spot as the previous day, we stuck it out and fished hard until late mid afternoon, keeping 10 fish for the frying pan.
It seemed as though everyone was in the same boat, some groups got into good numbers of fish without moving once all day and others would move around non stop and still not find many active fish. The same story held true for most of the week. The bite is spotty but if you put in your time you will find active fish. Rogers, Morts, and Jr's are all good options to go out of if your looking to fish the South end. There are many many people using this end of the lake so try and separate yourself from others for the best bite. Truck travel is the main mode of transportation, with great ice conditions and only a few inches of snow on top, you will have no problem getting to a spot you want.
Our go-to baits this week was the Plane Jane spoon/Clacker combo from Reel Bait Tackle Company, Lindy Flyer and the Northland Macho Minnow tipped with a Minnow head. For me, I enjoyed using the Plane Jane, it was a very versatile bait that can be fished fast, slow, in the middle of the water column, or banged off bottom. It has proved to be very effective no matter what way you choose to use it. Log onto www.reelbait.com and place you order for these awesome baits!
Remember, make sure to add us on Facebook, and let us hear your latest fishing stories! Good luck and be safe on the ice!
Written By: Colt
I hope you all had a great Christmas with family and friends. There is nothing more important then spending the holidays with the ones who mean so much to you.
After all the Christmas festivities, Scottie Thomas made the drive over to Grand Rapids to spend a few days fishing with me. He was pumped to try his luck with the giants on Pokegama Lake. Although, walleye fishing the previous couple days had been on the slower side on Poke, Scottie knew there was always that chance at hog ten pound plus walleyes.
The first morning kicked us out a big skunk tail. We fished two different spots and both were dead. There is only a short window (maybe an hour) out on Pokegama. If you're not on walleyes, a move can waste precious time, but can lead to success if it's done swiftly. That's what we did and it didn't help one bit. Our second spot was more fishless than the first.
After a delicious breakfast, Scottie and I decided to turn our attention towards hog crappies for the afternoon's adventure. We headed north to top secret turf in search of slabs. Since walleye fishing was slow and high pressure hung in the air, we figured crappies would give us a little more action.
We arrived at the lake pretty early considering the time when the bite usually started. It didn’t matter to us. The Strikemaster would have plenty of time to chew ice and we could relax in the Otter. That’s exactly what we did and surprisingly it didn’t take Scottie long to ice two giant 14 inch crappies. Things looked like they were going to come on with a bang.
The afternoon carried on and a crappie was caught here and there, but things never got fast and furious. Prime time didn’t improve the action either. The fish were on the sluggish side. A few monster crappies were caught on Reel Bait plane janes tipped with a few wax worms and the other slabs with caught on Custom jig and spin jigs tipped with a wax worm or minnow. Ten giant crappies definitely made the rods bend and our moods high. The drive home was good as we talked about the morning’s walleye plan.
Morning came quick as Scottie set the hook into a Poke giant eyeball. His pole doubled over and his drag burned for about ten seconds. All of a sudden his line snapped. Profanity flew from the ice house as Scottie jumped up, threw open the fish house door, and flung his rod across the ice. I couldn’t help not to laugh. That was probably a ten plus pound hog I thought under my breath. Scottie was upset. I encouraged him to get his line back in the water.
Minutes later, I set the hook and fought a beautiful lake trout up the hole. The lake trout season doesn't open till mid January so we took a few pics and released her back into the lake. It was an awesome fight. Walleyes eluded us that morning too.
Scottie and I went to one of my classic, go to spots that evening. Well, it didn’t prove much better, but it gave up a few eater walleyes. I sure wish you would have landed that hog Scottie. LOL! It’s always good times when Scottie joins me on the water. Love Ya Man!
Godfrey, Topper, Mama, and Colt also put some time in on Pokegama this past week. Fishing was slow for them too. One or two walleyes caught per person were about average. Godfrey topped the charts with a hog 26 inch marble eye.
You all might think, Wow that is slow fishing? Well, we fish Pokegama this time of year because your chances of icing a 10 plus pound walleye are better here than anywhere else. We love HOGS!
written by BRock
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
This past weekend the HLO Crew spent most of their time on Pokegama Lake. Topper and Godfrey put their spear houses out. Topper speared a couple eaters for the few short hours he spent in his house on Sunday. We checked ice around the lake and got out walleye fishing on the evenings. Fishing was on the slower side, but a few were caught each evening. Topper caught and released the nicest eye of the weekend a healthy 25". Even though fishing was slow, our Fergies and Plane Jane lures from Reel Bait Tackle Company triggered the most bites.
Fergies have been awesome for us the last couple years. If anyone wants to order these special baits, visit www.reelbait.com. Fergies are a spoon bait that contains an unbelievable minnow design. Plane Janes are smaller and also hammer the walleyes. The thing that sets these baits apart are their clackers. Clackers put off a vibration and thump in the water that is like no other bait we have used. Fish get absolutely angry and strike aggressively. Please check Reel Bait out. Their online store offers an array of great ice fishing tackle.
Ben Olson hit up Red Lake this weekend and reported a pretty good bite. His group had to keep moving in the morning hours to find walleyes, but once they found them, the bite was on. If you are mobile on Red, you will be successful. Ben is on Lake of the Woods right now. He said fishing is steady with lots of small saugers and a handful of walleyes mixed in. Most are fishing 27-30 fow. There is about a foot of ice on LOTW. Resorts are not letting vehicles out yet. Four wheeler travel is the norm.
Please be careful fishing. The lakes are currently pretty slushy and sloppy around the Grand Rapids area.
Every so often we wonder if deer migrate south during the winter especially here in Northern Minnesota. With a few hard days of hunting in the books during the middle of the week and not a single deer spotted, Topper and I decided to head south for the last weekend of muzzleloader season. Intercepting deer during mid migration after the rut sounded like a superb idea.
After strategizing due to no deer sightings, we contacted our good buddy, Josh Bork. We explained the situation at hand. We have been hunting the two most prime food sources here in northern Minnesota, acorns and aspen clear cuts, and we can’t buy a deer. They must have migrated your way to find corn and beans. Josh agreed! He was gratified and told us we had a place to stay for the weekend. Wow, were we pumped. We would be on deer in no time. The trails headed south.
We arrived in Stanchfield at about eight Friday evening. Josh had a few cold ones waiting for us when we walked in. We chatted about deer hunting and the mornings’ plan well into the night. Things sounded rewarding already. Josh said most of the deer were moving north to south and another wave was surely on its way with the snow storm predicted late Saturday and into Sunday. The situation couldn’t get any better. The migration was on. The bucks would be riding the storm right into our laps. Well, bucks would make the weekend, but with the last two days of muzzleloader season upon us, we just wanted to fill some tags. We had to put meat in the freezer. A cold and snowy winter was on its way.
Snow flakes filled the stiff cool current as Bork dropped us off at our stands on Saturday morning. Imagine that, not only did we have a free place to stay; we had a damn good guide. Bork had followed this areas’ deer migration for a number of years now. He knew what was up. The snow dissipated in the first hour on stand, but the wind continued. We did not see a single deer that morning so we kicked out of the corn fields and headed back to Stanchfield for breakfast.
After a meal of chocolate chip cookies and some summer sausage we turned to plan two. Josh had a few areas where the migration was usually fast and furious. The deer in these areas weren’t stopping for food, but just speedily passing through; heading more to the south for better corn. There was only one problem with these areas; the deer usually accelerated through them because they were usually in a hurry. Our plan was to slowly walk through them in a diagonal pattern and hope to intercept them.
Through the bean field and over the hill we went. A huge slough lay in front of use that swung from north to south. We started on the south and hoped to put a stop to a migratory deer or two. It wasn’t a minute into the hunt, and out ran a doe right by Topper and me. We both pulled up and fired fifty caliber chunks of lead at it. Miss. Miss. We both looked at each other in awe. That deer was flying. A couple hundred yards later, another doe cooked by me. This time, I lead the deer about a full body length and slowly pulled the trigger. The dirt flew and the deer kept running. I missed again. Bork was not kidding about this area. The deer truly weren’t stopping for anything. They all ran by us from north to south. They definitely knew where they wanted to go to the south.
We walked a few more areas and shot a couple more chunks of lead at these migrating deer, but did not touch a hair. We certainly needed to practice our running full bore shots. We stopped at the local pub and grabbed lunch. A break in the action was just what we needed. We ate some grub, gathered our thoughts, and then headed back to sit the evening on the edge of the corn.
The evening didn’t turn out any better either. The food was there, the trails were there, but the deer didn’t show. Just before dark, a loud howl echoed over the edge of the field. “Holy, are you kidding me”, I thought. A fricken wolf! The wolves were now following the migration? That’s not good for the deer. The deer migrate south to avoid the wolves and find food. Oh no, a few of those carnivores must have caught on.
We woke Sunday morning to six inches of snow and thirty mile an hour wind gusts. It was not a good morning to sit. We determined that it was a good idea to cook breakfast and then give the quick migratory areas one more shot. Full stomachs kept us indoors until just before noon as we visited and watched the snow buck outside.
With our snow camo on, hoods up, and muzzleloaders ready to rock; we climbed into the first chunk of turf. Minutes into our slow and snowy walk, I was almost run over by a buck. I’m not sure if the buck or I was more frightened to see one another. I jumped higher than the tag alders as I tried to shoulder my gun. I screamed ‘deer’, and watched Topps rush to get a shot. About five seconds after almost getting run over, a shot rang out. I got on the bucks tracks and found a little hair about sixty yards from where I was nearly pancaked. Then I found little specks of blood and then low and behold a deer lay in front of me. Seeing a deer not moving through this migratory area must have meant it was dead. Topps and Josh ran over and we all high fived. We had worked as a team and got the job done. Topper made an unbelievable shot on this eight point buck. It wasn’t huge, but it would be good eats. This deer wouldn’t be migrating south any further. It was going north to our freezer!
So next time you are struggling to see deer in the North Country during the late season, try heading south and attempt to catch fast migrating deer. These deer are on a mission to find food and escape the wolves. Near Stanchfield, they won’t stop to give you a shot. They’re heading south in a quick manner. Contact Josh Bork for a wonderful guided trip. He knows what’s up in that turf!
written by Brock
Small lakes around the Grand Rapids area have 4-5 inches of ice. Brock fished one of HLO's secret back lakes on Friday and hammered crappies. We all know how great the bite can be early ice, but we have to be safe. Check the ice before and during your early ice adventures. Use caution and don't attempt to walk or drive your equipment on unsafe ice. Pokegama lake has 3 inches of shoreline ice. It will be about another week before we start fishing it.
Mama and Godfrey hunted the Godfrey' swamp hard Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Deer activity was on the slower side. They saw a few does, but no bucks. The full moon and the warm temperatures had the majority of deer movement taking place at night. The deer they did see were early in the morning. Brock hunted around Grand Rapids and Hill City on Friday and Saturday. He did not see a single deer. C'mon deer!
The weather was warm, windy, and rainy all weekend long. It didn't help daylight deer activity and it sure didn't make any ice. The weather actually melted the ice. It felt like a weekend in April. The air was very thick and moist. The couple inches of snow that lie on the ground disappeared in a hurry with Monday's rain.
Late week looks like its going to bring some colder weather. We need this wind to stop in order to make some more ice on our smaller lakes and freeze the larger lakes. I’m sure some anglers will be fishing a few smaller panfish lakes by the weekend. Our larger lakes are probably going to be out of the question for another week or so. Next week does look cold, though. Let’s hope. Bring on the cold and get the walleye rods ready.
Fishermen are fishing Red Lake and have been for about a week. Red Lake’s shallow water and gradual depth change allows it to freeze much sooner than other lakes in Northern Minnesota. Most anglers are driving four wheelers or walking out about a mile. Ice conditions are 6-8 inches a mile out. The walleye action is consistent in the morning and evening hours in 8-11 fow on the south shore. There are some nice pike biting also.
Although, none of the HLO crew ventured out on the hard water; one of us still wetted a line this weekend. Topper and Lindsey were in the Dominican Republic for a little vacation. They got some fishing in down there. I’m sure the weather was a lot more beautiful than it was here. Judging by your pictures you posted on Facebook, it looks like you two had a blast…
This coming weekend is the last weekend of muzzleloader season. I’m sure we’ll be givin er! If you guys are thinking about fishing this weekend; BE SAFE!
We had to keep feeding the fire at the huntin shack on Friday night. The temperature dropped like a rock during the day. Saturday was going to be by far the coldest morning of this year's hunting season. Cribbage and cold ones along with lots of good laughs also kept the cabin warm that night. Mama, Godfrey, and I were pretty fired up for the opening day of Muzz.
Saturday morning came very early as the crisp cold air barked my throat on the way to the outhouse. Let me say, the toilet seat told me the temp was well below zero. It was not a good feeling. I wish I would have started the heater, but time was not on my side for that visit. I survived and woke the boys when I stumbled back inside to the warmth of the crackling fire.
My truck read one below zero as we made our way to the swamp turf on the east side. Our wheelers chocked and sputtered with the first cold air of the season. The air cut through me like knives as we crossed the bridge and headed for the crunchy swamp. A fresh blanket of snow provided us with much needed info. Adam decided to hit up the corner stand because tracks littered the ground around that area. Craig and I were already determined to hit up the north end of the swamp.
It was game on once the sun popped up over the crystallized cedars. My head pounded to the abundance of silence. Trees snapped intermediately as if to say, "Give us some heat". The morning was cold, crisp, and very deery. It was one of the best mornings I had sat all year. Well, that's until the wind picked up. Burr! Things got really cold and my toes began to burn. I wondered if Mama and Godfrey were out wondering around or still on stand. They had to be freezing too.
Prime time 10A.M came and went in the swamp. Then 2P.M entered and exited and not a deer was saw by the three of us. We decided to make our way out and hunt the land adjacent to the cabin for the last hour of light. That kicked out a deer less hunt also. It was time for more cribbage and a sizzling fire.
Sunday kicked out a different plan to the morning. It was hard to get out of the warm covers and into the cold air of the cabin. The fire burned out long before the alarms rang our ears. No one wanted to get up and start the fire so we just went back to bed until first light. I guess the numerous early mornings were finally catching up to us.
We formulated a few early morning deer drives that didn’t pan out. I hopped in my Chev Bomb and took off towards home around noon. Godfrey and Mama jumped in Mama’s Chev and they headed off down the logging roads. There plan was to cut some fresh tracks and go after the kill. A warm truck full of munchies kept them driving I do believe. All of a sudden, Adam spotted a doe bounding away. He leaped out of the truck, threw in a 209 primer and tore off through the woods. A stand off with the doe a while later blew smoke into the damp air as his muzz bucked. A tasty doe lay in the fresh snow in front of Godfrey and Mama. The weekend did find success, winter eats!
written by BRock
Katie Jo Saumer put the smackdown on a big 10 pointer!
The second week and weekend of the MN deer season was a tough one for most of the HLO Crew. We spent the majority of the days from dark to dark sitting and waiting for that shooter buck to walk by. Trail camera pictures proved they were around. Other areas we hunted, we just knew there were hogs in the vicinity. Regardless, we understood it was just a matter of time.
Godfrey put in the most time out of all of us. He took the first week of the season off of work. He passed quite of few smaller bucks throughout the week. Finally on the seventh straight day of hunting, a doe brought Adam what he was waiting for. A beautiful nine pointer made the mistake of following a hot doe. The buck walked right in front of his .270 at 30 yards. A chip shot put the buck down.
It just shows everyone what patience and confidence do for you during the deer season. No, not everyone has seven straight days off to wait for a big buck to present itself. Holding back on those small bucks will eventually give you an opportunity at a hog at some point in time. If you know they are in your turf, give it a shot.
One more week left at that shot. GOOD LUCK to you all and the rest of us!
A fresh blanket of snow covered the ground as I stepped outside around 4A.M. I don't think you could ask for a better opener, I thought as I made my way to work. Work! On opening day of the MN rifle season? I bet you all are thinking I'm crazy. Yep, no way I could get it off. This was the first opening day of rifle season I would miss since I was old enough to carry a gun. I was feeling the pain, trust me. I missed everything about the opener, especially Dad. Colt would have to hunt by himself and carry the 49 area hunting tradition on.
I sat at work and couldn't stop looking at my phone. I wanted play by play action via text messages. Well, I got them regularly. Colt was the first to put a deer down. I was pumped. He bleated in a respectful eight point with the Primos can call and gave it the lead. The first deer was down for the HLO crew. I kept wondering how many deer were walking by my stand that morning as I emotionally suffered at work.
Topper text me that Brittanie had just shot her first deer a little while after the excitement of Colt’s buck calmed down in my head. Topps brought Brittanie (his niece) out for opener to try and get her her first deer. Well, success was achieved. Britt let two does go by in the early morning. I guess she was looking for some horns. A little while later, Mr. Spiker came by and she put the crosshairs right where they were supposed to go. Boooooya. Congrats on your first deer ever!
Work was a little smoother knowing a couple deer were down. Godfrey text me and said they were seeing a few does, but no racks yet. Dan Neary reported seeing a couple does and a small buck. It sounded like the crew was taking part in some action. Sitting in the stand is a lot more enjoyable when deer are moving. Craig had not text me so I assumed he had not seen anything in his swamp yet.
That afternoon, Topps text me that Brodie (his nephew) had just shot his first deer too. What? After Topps and Brittanie had hung her deer up, Brodie wanted to see if he could top his sister’s first deer. It wasn’t long on stand and Brodie had harvested his first deer ever too. It was a three pointer. Randy couldn’t believe the day. I told Randy that Jeremy was more than likely doing backflips all day long as he watched over his brother and son and daughter from above.
I was able to hunt Sunday morning as I switched to night shifts that evening. I had action most of the morning. I saw six deer: a fork, spike, 3 does, and a descent buck that wouldn’t stop for a split second. The rut seemed to be on. It was a beautiful morning even though I didn’t fire a shot. I will be looking for racks before the trigger gets pulled.
Just before I got out of my stand for the morning, I received a text from Topper. His uncle and he were hunting the same area as yesterday. Topper shot a nice eight pointer that morning. A picture message confirmed the news. Wow, what an opening weekend for the Toppers.
Godfrey text me that afternoon and said he had passed on a pretty nice eight pointer. The deer were moving and I was off to work. Ish… I would have to wait till Tuesday to hunt now. Stay tuned in on facebook or check back next weekend for another HLO hunting report. We will be on stand all week.
This weeks hunting tip: If you don’t have a Primos Original Doe Bleat can call, go get one NOW and start using it. I can’t express how valuable of a call it has been to all of us here at HLO. We have called in a lot of bucks over the last five years with this call. We have also shot a couple really nice bucks because of this unit. Turn over the can 4-5 times in succession every 15-20 minutes. Get ready!!!
There are two places that really stick out in my mind that humble a person in realizing what a small little speck of beauty we are on this earth: the oceans and the mountains. Last week I had the chance to be stuck right in the guts of the towering Rockies. Eight days of climbing up down and all around everything I could get my feet on left me feeling not a bit down about coming up short of bagging an elk. The people who have experienced hiking around the mountains know exactly what I’m talking about; the people that haven’t need to put an honest effort into getting out there.
We left about six o’clock Wednesday evening and drove straight through showing up at camp around five o’clock Thursday evening. They say to take it easy when you first get out there and get used to the climate, but I don’t really have that gear and either does my cousin Adam. Dan wasn’t too far behind, but you definitely realize that people adapt in different ways. We had camp set up in about 45 minutes and were off straight up and down the mountain behind camp. Sucking wind but driving on we started seeing some good elk sign right behind camp. The next day we put on a lot of miles scouting new areas and getting some plans worked out.
By Friday night we all had our separate ways to head. Opening morning came fast and we were off to our first choices. Dan was overlooking a great looking valley, Adam right behind camp, and me scanning a beautiful draw. About noon, I was drooling over some tasty looking mule deer but had no tag. About one o’clock I get a text from Adam saying pack your stuff and come down we got work to do. He shot a nice 4x4. He was bored in the first spot we looked at and hiked up the rest of the gruesome mountain to the next flat. Feeling good about the spot he hit his hoochie momma (cow call) twice and it was on. Two cows chirped and here came a rack through the trees. The bull walked within 50 yards and presented a shot, down he went.
Dan jumped in the truck with me and we cruised around the back side of the mountain where we figured it would be a much better exit with the meat. We were just about to our rendezvous point when we caught a glimpse of a nice bull. Dan bailed and tried to get on his tracks. As I crept forward to find Adam, the bull pulled a fast one on Dan, crossing the road in front of me and up the mountain never to be seen again.
I was starting to get the feeling this was going to be easy. We were half a day into it and we had a bull on the ground with another close call. Well, I was dead wrong about that as a couple days slipped by without any more chances for Dan and me. Of course, since Adam had his tag filled, he seemed to be seeing them just puttsing around. I have to say at times my interest was a little astray. I found myself pounding the mountains just looking for the next beautiful piece of scenery.
Throughout the time we were there we had a few more close calls. I pushed one by Dan, had another bail out and chase from the truck and an awesome call and chase session. We were told it was almost certain that there would be no talking with the animals. Well, Adam and I were chatting back and forth with a cow when we heard a bugle erupt down the mountain. Off we went bounding deeper and deeper into the bush. Finally we had us a good old standoff calling back and forth with the bull. We could hear his herd of cows chirping and his hooves getting closer. Just when were almost able to see him, I felt a light draft on my ears. The first one wasn’t bad, but then a bigger gust hit the back of our necks and it was all over. Busted! The bull winded us and was gone as fast as he came. Definitely one of the most exciting hunts I’ve had. Then we had to figure out how the heck we were going to navigate out. Going back up didn’t seem to be an option so we headed for a road I could see on the GPS downhill. The idea turned out to be quite the adventure. Just before we hit the road on the GPS we ran into a sheer cliff about 300 feet down. By the time we made it to a road and had service to call Dan we put on about 12 miles. Feet were a little bloody and body fatigued but worth every bit.
There were many other good times had and the beauty never ended the whole trip. It was a long depressing ride home. Our trip was gone with the blink of an eye, but being able to tell stories to friends and family keeps it fresh until the next time. I strongly recommend feeding the piggy bank whenever you can and start planning your trip out west.
Wow, it has been hard to keep up with the weekly stories as our hunting season approaches full throttle. For most of you who know us, yes, we do have regular jobs too. Some are more flexible than others. We have been hunting out of state or preparing for the rut here in Minnesota. The MN rifle season is just a few short weeks away.
Topper, Dan Neary, and the Hines’ are elk hunting in Colorado this week. They shot one bull on opening day(Saturday), and that’s all the information I’m going to give you for now. They are getting in on lots of action so they should have an exciting story for you all next week. Good luck the rest of the week boys. I'll be working like usual.
Craig King is heading to Canada on Wednesday for five days of Whitetail hunting. They are staying at Locken’s cabin on Dogtooth Lake. This area is not known for a high population of deer, but we all know what kind of hog bucks live up in that country. Good luck Craig. Bring back a monster buck so Sunday I can hold both hog whitetail and elk racks. I’m pretty sure both groups are returning on Sunday.
The rest of the HLO crew was doing their whitetail homework or preparing for the upcoming MN rifle season. Colt and I visited our 49 turf this weekend. The area was logged this summer. Some spots were clear cut and others select cut. Our familiar territory is now ever so different. The walking trails we once followed Dad down were now buried under limbs and skid trails. We will now have to walk down new trails as Dad watches from above. Tears filled our eyes as the hunting memories came to our heads as we scouted the new woods. It was especially hard when we strolled through the spot where Dad had shot his last deer. This year is definitely going to be hard on the both of us. There will be no old man to make sure our sandwiches are made the night before, breakfast is cooked in the morning, and a fist bump and a good luck is followed be the dark departure into the woods. Miss you Dad. Your 30-06 is sighted in buddy!
We all have lots of confidence this year as we push towards the MN rifle season. Buck sign litters our areas and trail camera photos indicate a couple hog bucks.
Although, the HLO crew has not been bowhunting much this fall, we plan to make it a little more as we push towards the rut. A couple of these hog bucks we have on camera need to be targeted before rifle season. Out of state hunting trips have took preference over our bowhunting this year in MN. If you are looking for bowhunting equipment, make Itasca Archery your one stop. Gary will set you up to the fullest. His hours are limited this year, but give him a call and schedule a time to stop in. His experience and expertise is second to none. www.itascaarchery.com
Fall was in the air this weekend. HLO crew members were engaged in most activities that this wonderful season has to offer. Fishing, grouse hunting, whitetail scouting, and duck hunting were the names of the game this weekend.
First off, Dan and Topper prepared for their Colorado elk hunt. Their plan is to leave Tuesday afternoon, arrive at their spot Wednesday evening, set up camp, and begin scouting. Season opens Saturday morning. Good luck boys, bring back some meat and some bone!
Ben and Colt reported an awesome mallard shoot in North Dakota earlier in the week and into the weekend. Green heads were numerous and falling like flies in the cut bean fields. They are concentrating on fields a ways south of Devils Lake.
Brock got out on the Grand Rapids area lakes this weekend and put a hurtin' on the fall walleyes. Water temperatures were anywhere from 47-51 degrees. A jig tipped with a big fathead or shiner was the goto. Reel Bait original flasher jigs proved very effective in 1/4 ounce. The rocks held large schools of walleyes. When the wind blew, the fish were right in the rocks and shallow (5-8fow). Calm winds brought the bite to 16-20 feet of water. Steep breaks were the best.
Brock put the Lund away early this week. It was a sad day. April is a long ways away. Hunting season will pass the time. Putting the boat away didn't stop Brock and Colt from getting a quick evening of fishing in on Tuesday evening, though. In two hours of fishing, they put over a dozen walleyes in Colt's boat. Fish are definitely putting the feed bag on right now.
We are turning our attention to hunting as we close in on the end of October. We might try to find a day to make it to the Rainy River for the late season bite if our hog buck success goes accordingly.
Stay tuned for some elk steaks!!!
The first cold weather spell hit the Northland this weekend. Cold blustery winds, rain, sleet, and snow flurries were the stories the last few days. It was probably a good weekend to be a duck hunter. No, we did not go duck hunting here in Minnesota. Colt and Ben reported a slow past couple days duck hunting in North Dakota. The strong northwest winds blew most of the ducks out of the area, and never replenished them come Sunday. Look for the Dakotas and Minnesota to fill as the weather continues to cool.
Brock fished Bowstring on Saturday for just a couple hours with little luck. Dan and Topps spent another weekend preparing for their Colorado elk hunt in another week or so. Godfrey put the finishing touches on a couple last whitetail mounts from 2011.
Most of the HLO crew did some whitetail scouting over the weekend too. Buck sign is increasing day by day. Get out and put the leg work in and get your plans going. Its almost time for us to hit the bow stands.
This weekend marked the one year anniversary of the passing of Jeremy Topper. Hang Loose JT! We will never forget you man!
What's better than the Harvest Moon falling on a weekend? Well, slamming walleyes in the Lund under that full moon sounds pretty fun. Night fishing was a big part of the weekend for Randy and I. Leech Lake was the place to be on this September full moon.
Randy guided the Matteson's to an awesome walleye slug fest on Friday evening. It took them a little bit to figure out the walleyes' dinner menu, but once they did; fishing was all laughs and fun. Salmo stings were what the walleyes ordered and most of them were hungry for clowns (color). Six feet of water on the insides of the weeds was where those active fish were eating that night. Lots of marble eyes in the 20-27 inch category were boated. Multiple pictures of hog walleyes were taken throughout the night. It was tough to leave the bright moon and the glistening waters of Leech Lake until after midnight. It was by far the best night bite of the year for Randy.
I had a trip planned on Saturday's full moon with Dick and Dave. Once I received word of Topper's success on Friday night, I couldn't handle myself throughout the rest of my work shift at Blandin. Walleyes danced in my head. I looked forward to the Harvest moon on Leech Lake this year. The last two year's September full moons on Leech were too good to forget. With this summer's (June, July, August) slow night fishing results, I was pumped to get out on Leech.
Last year I targeted full moon walleyes on the south end of Leech. Topper's success the day before led me into Portage Bay. After catching a few eyes on Reel Bait flasher jigs tipped with shiners as we waited for the sun to go down; we made the switch. The change of presentations was to Salmo #12 stings. It didn't take more than a minute to slam the first walleye of the night trolling cranks. A minute or two later, Dave plugged a healthy golden 27 inch hog. Topper was definitely correct about the inside of the weeds in Portage Bay. For an hour, we caught walleyes in the 20-25 inch range very consistently until that shoreline slowed. We moved spots and started catching fish again. This spot was not on fire like the previous one, but it sure gave up some beautiful 24 and 25 inchers. After moving to another area and putting a few eaters in the Lund's livewell, we returned to the first spot of the night. Fishing this 250 yard stretch of shoreline kept getting better and better. On average, we picked up four or five eye balls each pass.
As midnight rolled around, I told Dave and Dick to make the call on when to leave. They wanted a few more picture fish and eaters so we made a couple more passes. As 1AM came, Dick decided on one more shoreline troll. Well, one more turned into about five or six. When you have a bright moon above you and the walleyes are slamming, it's hard to call her quits. Eventually 2AM found us cruising back to the landing. We used Federal Dam's fish cleaning house, exchanged high fives on an excellent night of fishing, and then departed. I'm sure those walleyes kept on eating all night long. It was tough to drive home with that big bright full moon in my rear view. Glad I'm going back on Monday night. "Woooooooo", can't wait. I better nurse the gill plate cuts all over my fingers and hands tonight.
Ben Olson and crew in North Dakota shot more mallards and geese again this weekend. Those boys stay on the waterfowl all year long. I hope I can make it out there this fall. Judging by their pictures, every hunt sounds like a slobberknocker success.
The rest of the HLO crew fished locally or chased wood chickens and scouted whitetails this weekend. The grouse are really starting to hit the trails as the foilage clears. Anyone who reads this better get up north and check out the Fall colors soon. The next strong wind might blow all these brilliant colors away. We have fall openings available if anyone is looking to book a fishing trip anytime soon.
written by Brock
Daylight hours are slowly dwindling, leaves are starting to change, and the humid summer heat is being replaced by a nice cool north breeze.....It all leads up to one thing; what we hunters anticipate most: FALL!!! Ah yes fall, the time of little to no sleep, days without showering, ever so healthy gas station meals, dropping gas gauges, sore feet, and beautiful sunrises each and everyday. Whether it’s 15ft up in a mature oak, waiting out that buck of a lifetime, working your dog on a cool fall evening on your favorite grouse filled trails, or a peaceful day of fishing on the lake when all the summer goers have seemed to disappear. We as hunters all have a special place that we wish would stay all year.
For me, the open fields of North Dakota have thumped my heart the past few years. Chasing waterfowl is what turns me over each morning. Ducks and geese have seemed to take my life over every fall season, especially come late august. There are so many things that go with waterfowl hunting that I can’t get enough of. It might be the fading light as we get out of the city and head into dark openness that ND has to offer, the sound of 50 mallards whistling and buzzing into the decoys at first light, the deafening calls of a big flock of honkers right in your spread as they’re about to touch down, or just painting up your face like a kid on Halloween to better your camouflage. These are just a few of the things that get me fired up when I get to thinking about the fall waterfowl season.
Going on to my 4th year of college at the University of North Dakota and also my 4th year of hunting the Dakotas; I feel I have finally gained enough knowledge from past experiences and hunting trips to share a few tips and techniques that have worked for me to become a more successful waterfowl hunter. Before I even begin to talk about some basic strategies and tips for waterfowl hunting, there’s one major thing that a successful waterfowl hunter must do all year round to stay sharp. That one thing would be SHOOTING!!! One can’t expect to dust off the ol’ rusty but trusty shot gun the night before opening day and expect to be hitting there leads just right on every bird. I know from experience what not shooting all summer does to a hunter. Last season on opening day fellow Hang Loose member Colt and I were out hunting. We had our first flock of geese working into our spread. When they were about 10 yards out and back pedaling above our blinds, we pulled up and whiffed on every single shot. We both looked at each other in disbelief wondering how we managed to miss every one. I mean these things were close enough to wave a broom at and swat them out of the air. Anyways, me and Colt tucked our tails between our legs and watched the geese fly off laughing at us. Lesson learned!!!!!!! One thing to keep in mind when your shooting trap and getting ready for the season, is to always shoot a few times with your waterfowl loads. I know they are pretty spendy to be shooting at clay targets, but your leads and patterns of those shells are way different then your basic trap loads.
The next few things I go over are all simple but important things you need to prepare before you go hunting each fall. One of the first things I do is pick out a day where you can spend some time on your decoys. Usually depending on your spread this takes a full day so I always plan ahead. I like to pull them all out and get the hose running and spray and wash off all of last years mud and grime that had collected on them throughout the hunts. This keeps your decoys in good shape and also makes them look much more realistic. If you’re feeling real ambitious I buy the flocking kits for your goose heads and touch up the patches that have worn off due to wear and tear. This keeps the shine off of them when the frost collects in the early mornings.
Once I get all my decoys cleaned up and looking nice, I then pull out my layout blinds and do what I feel is one of the most important things. That would be a term called “mudding” your blind. Some of you might be thinking what in the heck does that mean, but the term pretty much sums it up. Go fill a bucket full of the sloppiest and stickiest mud you can find. Sometimes you may need to add water to it if it seems to be dried up. Then you need to set up your layout blind and smear that mud all over your blind like your frosting up a big cake. Stick your finished product out in the sun for the day and let it dry to your blind so it sticks. Once it is completely dry I like to take a broom and quickly sweep off the excess mud. At this point you’re probably saying why in the heck would I spread mud all over my brand new blind I just bought? This process will get rid of any shine your blind has and blend you into the field much better. Fields are naturally muddy. Camouflage is everything!!!!!!
One last thing I do before every season and also quite a bit during the season is clean out and tune your calls. This is as simple as taking your call apart and letting them soak in some hot soapy water over night. However, if you are not experienced with tuning your calls, I would suggest you do not take the whole thing apart when you clean it. Most companies will tune them free of charge if you send your calls into them. If you are looking at getting yourself a new call take a look at my personal favorite C&S Custom Calls. Mike Stelzner is a Minnesota guy who runs a great company and makes the most unique and one of a kind hand crafted calls. They sound great and ducks can’t resist them.
Ok, now that we are all prepped and ready for season, I will now go over a few of what I think are the most important factors into being a successful duck hunter. The first and most important thing you need to do is SCOUT!!! Get out every morning, afternoon, and evening that you can think of prior to season and find out what these birds are doing. You want to know where they are roosting, where they go to feed, where they rest in the afternoon, and then where they feed at night. Knowing what the birds in your area are going to do day in and day out is essential for your success in the field. Once you find where these birds are feeding, look and see exactly what part of the field/pond they are feeding in. This is what waterfowl hunters refer to as being on the X!! When you are set up where the birds want to be, you are going to be happy with the results.
After finding the X, the next thing you need to worry about is concealment. Waterfowl have a pretty sharp eye sight and when you got a big flock working, you will have upwards of 20 pairs of eyes looking for any irregularity. Make sure you get those layout blinds completely camouflaged in, or those boats fully covered by cattails. If birds are constantly flaring away from your spread, the first thing I always check is if everyone’s blind is completely concealed by vegetation or if part of the boat is showing. It might be a lot of work, but take the extra time and effort to get it done right the first time. You won’t be disappointed. If you can see a little glitch in your setup, the 40 eyes above you will definitely pick it out.
Once you get your blinds all brushed in and taken care of, you now need to figure out how you’re going to place your decoys. The first thing you need to do, is find out which way the wind is blowing and strategize from there. The reason I say that is because ducks will always land into the wind. It’s best to have the wind right at your back or somewhat diagonally at your back so they are landing right into your face. However, if you got a wind coming directly out of the west and you’re facing east, you’re going to have a little difficulty when the big bright sun peeks over the horizon. On this occasion, I will set up so the ducks are coming in from right to left or vice versa. This allows for everyone to get some great shooting and it also helps you identify the birds a little easier.
When setting decoys field hunting, the two main formations that I like to use is either the ‘U’ or the ‘X’. When using the ‘U’ formation, I like to place the blinds directly on the bottom of the ‘U’ or on the side (this is where the sun factor comes into play). In this formation, the ducks or geese will more then likely land right in the pocket of that ‘U’. When I use the ‘X’, I like to be right smack dab in the middle of it with about 1/2 or 3/4 of your decoys in the middle and the rest branching out, thus making an ‘X’. I like to use this spread when the wind is swirling or there is little to no wind at all. When placing decoys, do not bunch them all together; ducks and geese land and feed in family groups so make your spread resemble multiple flocks or families all feeding together. Play around with both of these formations and mix them up a bit to find what works best for you. There are lots more ways to strategically place decoys, but these two are my favorites.
The last finishing touches on your spread would be placing your spinning wing decoys. I like to put these exactly where I want the birds to land because it draws in the most attention. If possible, I put them right next to the blind so I can reach up and shut them off and on when I want. I like to do this because ducks love the spinning wing decoys, but geese, they can’t stand the things. The geese will either stop short of you and land out of your spread, or just not come in at all. So when the geese start to work you, turn them OFF!!
With all said and done, I hope my experiences and tips will give you a little more help in a more successful and hassle free season a field. One thing to remember here at Hang Loose Outdoors, we’re not all about getting out there and shooting a limit as fast as we can. We love to watch the birds work and just take in everything the great outdoors has to offer. We strive at learning new things with every outing. If at all possible, make sure you take the chance to introduce a kid into the outdoors. Even if they don’t have their hunter’s safety yet, I can guarantee you; watching a flock of ducks or geese come in and land 5 yards away will be one of the coolest things they have ever seen. My heart still races when big honkers or mallards come spilling into the decoys!!! Good luck and have a great season!!! Most important; be SAFE!!
Written by Ben Olson
The last tournament of the season was an awesome experience for Topper and I. We didn't win the two day walleye tourney, but we did not lose either. We learned so much once again that can be added to our arsenal. For the first time on the Cass Lake chain; fishing was good and another lake was added to our favorites list.
Cass Lake is so structure oriented that I don't think you could hit all the spots in a whole year. Steep breaks, tips, saddles, and deep flats are just a few structures that litter the lake. The amount of bait in this chain of lakes is unbelievable. We had never experienced a fishery with so much bait before. This was the starting to our week long learning experience. Fish were almost absent on the Lowrance HDS sonar.
We found just a couple spots that had a number of walleyes during prefishing. After Day 1, we learned that regular sonar was not showing the majority of the fish on most strutures. We had to use Lowrance downscan to see the fish because they hugged the hard bottom so tightly. The sandy bottom camoflauged the walleyes hugging the hard substrate, but downscan seperated these fish from bottom enough to indicate the spot was worth fishing. Once again, Lowrance shines with it's great technology.
Fishing through the amazing clouds of bait was difficult to form a strong game plan each day because we lacked a big fish program. We had no problem catching numbers of eater walleyes. We had trouble catching big walleyes all week and usually that is our strong side. Well, wait till next year Cass Lake; I think we have lots of leads and many tactics to try.
All in all it was another fun and exciting tournament. We improved our fishing knowledge, learned another great fishery, and extended our tips and tricks program to catching those marble eyes. Tournament fishing is all about having fun and learning. We did both.
written by Brock
Well, Cass Lake MWC wrapped up our 2012 tournament season. Thank you so much to our sponsors: Rays Sport & Marine, Paul Bunyan Communications, Itasca Archery Supply, Scooter's Septic, Reel Bait Tackle Company, Lowrance, Mercury, St. Croix Rods, Ohman Pump Service, Mutch's Forestry Services, and Tikes Trophy Sausage; without their help we wouldn’t be able to do it.
Our tournament season was not a huge success this year in standings with the middle of the pack being our norm. Knowing we were always just a bite away or landing a couple lost fish would have put us near the top, keeps the chins up. The amount of knowledge you take from these tournaments is irreplaceable. We always say, we learn more in one weekend at a tournament than we do all summer (it's true).
If you have a competitive bone in your body and you love to fish, then you owe it to yourself to give a tournament a chance. It’s a little different style of fishing than you’re probably used to. Knowing there is pride, bragging rights, and cold hard cash waiting for you if you play your cards right keeps your concentration tight. During the time that you spend pre-fishing, you are studying maps and going through structure with a fine toothed comb. Once you find fish you throw everything in the tackle box at them.
After a couple days of combing and trial and error you have to develop a plan for the big day or couple of days. The ups and downs are crazy so make sure and pick a partner you get along with. If you’re anything like us, there will be moments in the day you want to push your partner out of the boat then times when you want to give a totally heroic kiss. It seems like so often one person is on and the other struggles. You can almost tell when you are going to do real well when both people are capitalizing on every bite. Like every sport it seems like you can get the shanks. We’ve all had the days where you can’t do anything right and the days you can do no wrong. Imagine how that amplifies in this situation.
A couple great examples; last year Brock and I (Topps) took second in the Kraus Anderson Walleye Classic on Lake Bemidji. We pre fished, came up with a plan and executed well. We were both catching fish back to back neither one of us out preforming the other. We put our unders in the boat went to our big fish spot and boated a couple dandys. Good plan, good execution. The next weekend we fished the Walleye Classic on Pokegama Lake (home water). This was quite the opposite! Our plan was to just locate the schools of larger walleyes (we already knew how to catch them). Well, that part of the plan worked good, but when tournament day came, we couldn’t boat a fish. We were on top of monster schools, but not educated on how to get them to bite or which schools were hungry and when. Long frustrating day ended with very poor results. We definitely lived and learned from that day.
If you decide to fish a tournament, plan for ups and downs. You will be competing against the best of the best on that body of water. Many will be locals that have been fishing there since they were kids. Other tournaments like the MWC, there will be professionals and seasoned veterans. Work hard to check as many pieces of structure as you can. Try and find those sweet few bait’s or presentations that you can switch up through a school and trigger bites or catch a big fish or two. You always need big fish and a full bag on the day that counts. Most of all, work hard and never give up. Many tournaments are won in the last couple hours. Who has the most stamina?
Good luck and hope to see ya standing next to us on stage next year. Hopefully in second just below us, that is. Haha.
written by Topper
This last week was spent with goose hunting on all of our minds. Last week had been good but with the cold front and strong north winds this week we expected more birds to be in the area. Ben, Charlie and myself set out west toward Michigan, ND on a scout mission after class on Friday. Its a good 35-40 miles down highway 2 before we are able to veer off onto some country roads. As soon as we were off the main road we noticed something that usually does not happen until mid to late October. Farmers were already harvesting their soy bean fields. Cut soy bean fields are a go-to feeding areas for ducks and geese. Having seen this we began to get excited for duck opener. However, geese were still on our minds.
It wasn't more than a mile down our favorite cut across road when we spotted about a hundred geese in a cut wheat field. Now one hundred geese is not anything to get head over heels excited for but it is a good start nonetheless. We decided to keep that field in mind and began further west in search of more numbers. We had barely gotten up to speed when we noticed a small wheat field surrounded by trees on all sides, and in the middle, four to five hundred geese sat feeding. There was one other person looking at the field but when we rolled up he decided to take off back down the road. With no reason to leave, we decided to stake out the field till dark and see where the geese were roosting. Unfortunately, the other guy must have wanted the field more.. He had bombed down back roads until he found the owner, got permission to post the field and did so without saying as much as one single word to us. We all got a bit of a laugh out of his rude actions and continued to head west.
With the rest of the night resulting in fields of thirty to forty birds we made our way back to the first field we spotted. The wheat still held around a hundred birds and was a good field to intercept traffic birds so we decided that was the one we would hunt.
Back at the apartment we all discussed the weather and wind, discussing where we would set up, and in what direction. The weather called for a fourteen mile per hour wind from the WSW switching to a WNW at twenty seven by eight o'clock. This would mean the geese would get off the roost, fly downwind and have to J hook into our spread, against a twenty seven mph wind they would be almost motionless coming into the spread.
Not much sleep was gotten that night as we reminisced about what could happen the next day. We really hoped the wind would be strong enough to where the geese would not want to maneuver around the trees into the smaller field we had gotten beat out of the day before. As we packed up the truck and hitched the trailer we noticed the wind was already bucking at about ten or so. This was a good sign.
We stopped for gas and snacks at the local Stamart on our way out of town and enjoyed the desolate highway with nothing ahead of us but stars and the bright half moon. We arrived at the field at about four o'clock and proceeded to unpack the trailer full of our fourteen dozen full body decoys. Blinds were brushed in and the spread was set up in regular fashion as we all enjoyed the sounds of honks and quacks from the roost about a mile away. Coyotes joined in on the tune making the process of setting up very enjoyable.
As light came the sounds of geese leaving their roost came to our ears. The wind was still coming from the South so the geese came in a little awkward at first. However, the wind did switch within the first hour, this helped greatly. Flocks of two, three, four and five worked into the spread all morning. I have to say, the Hang Loose boys shot lights out, not leaving many geese to escape back to the roost. Ben commented on how good his new pattern master was working he had purchased the night before.
I think we would all agree when I say our favorite flock of the day was a group of six. These birds came in high but just sat right down on top of us with the strong winds. We all popped out of our blinds and put the hammer down, it seemed within one or two shots each, all the birds lay belly up on the ground.
The most comical part of the day took place when our buddy Jesse Hidde walked back to get the truck. We had decoys blown over all around our spread. At least a dozen were on their sides. This didn't seem to matter as we had four different groups come into the spread just when we thought all the birds were done flying. Three more were taken from the sky within a few minutes, what a way to end the day! Forty birds were cleaned within fifteen minutes or so and we were on our way to the Michigan cafe!
All these will go to kabobs, pulled goose, jerky and smoked goose. YUM YUM!! we love our wild game here at HLO. Each of us have our own little twist to cooking and when it all comes together we usually have a feast in front of us! Get out there and bag some wild game for yourself, there are a million different ways to fix your meat so if you need some ideas or just want to know how we do it here at HLO hit us up on facebook and we will be glad to give you our two cents!
Written by Colt
Godfrey and Craig made another trip to Canada. They chased lake trout on a couple different lakes; one being Dogtooth. Fishing was good with lots of trout caught between 28-34 inches. Hopefully, Godfrey will find time to put together a late story for you all.
Randy Greniger was home from Indiana so we spent lots of time in the boats enjoying laughs and rippin fish. We hit the night bite a few different nights. Night fishing on Pokegama and Sugar proved good with lots of eaters caught. Greniger boated a 28.5 inch walleye on Pokegs during daylight hours on Saturday. The rest of the weekend and into the week was spent on Cass Lake. We prefished and cruised around the lake endlessly with our Lowrance Gen 2 HDSs. Fishing was on the slower side on Cass. It looks like there is a little transition currently taking place. Lots is going to change leading up to the Masters Walleye Circuit tournament on Sept. 14 and 15th. Topper and Brock will be leaving Tuesday for Cass. Wish us luck!
Topper and the family enjoyed a Voyagers house boat trip on Crane Lake all weekend long. The Lund/Mercury Pro Guide was pulled behind the house boat. That was used to find the hungry eye balls. The first day was tough, but once Topps scanned enough waters with the Lowrance HDS Gen 2, the fish could hide no more. Plenty of walleyes were caught off deep secondary shoreline structures throughout their long weekend. Spinners and crawlers were what the walleyes ordered. What an awesome trip.
Brock went to Cass Lake a few times throughout the weekend prefishing for the MWC tournament on Sept 14 and 15. He found plenty of walleyes. The eater walleyes were biting on spins/crawls. We will be on Cass fishing for the next two weeks. We are looking forward to solving another puzzle and competing against the best walleye fisherman in the area once again.
Craig and Godfrey prepared for another trip to Canada chasing lake trout and hog walleyes. They will be fishing thursday through Labor Day up there. Bring back some pics boys!
The walleye fishing came back to life on Pokegama Lake this weekend after about a two week slow stretch. All summer long, walleyes were abundant. In June we were finding them along the weeds in 16-24 feet of water. Warmer water pushed them out onto the humps and secondary deep flats in July in 30-45 feet of water. Eater walleyes were hard to come by in July, but it didn’t matter to our clients as they were all smiles with five to ten pound walleyes bending their poles. Some days we would see ten to twenty hogs in the bottom of the net. It was another unbelievable big fish bite on Pokegama. Mid August cooled down a little and the deeper eyes became hit or miss from day to day. Just in the last week, the majority of those marble eyes have relocated to the shallows and to that familiar cabbage line. We have been catching good numbers of eater walleyes with an occasional hog in 10-16 feet of water. There are overwhelming clouds of bait in the shallows right now and this is where the walleyes, pike, bass, and panfish seem to be. Spinners tipped with crawlers are putting numbers of walleyes in our Lund boats. Big minnows (shiners, redtails, creek chubs) rigged on a lindy have been turning up mixed bags. If you want an action packed day, stop at River Rat Bait just West of Cohasset, pick up a couple dozen big minnows, and go fishing on Pokegama. You won’t regret it. Walleyes, pike, and bass are all hungry and they will make your day. Give Randy or Brock a call to book a guided fishing trip on Pokegama or any of the other awesome Grand Rapids area lakes.
Winnibigoshish has been kicking out walleyes on the shoreline too. Ten to fourteen feet of water has been the ticket. A spinner rig tipped with half a crawler has been working best for us. Look for the minnow bite to pick up as the water temps cool and we push into September. Fish should start slowly transitioning back to the shoreline on most of our bodies of water. Start fishing those windy weed beds, inside corners, and rock transitions. Reports of good crappie fishing have also been heard around the area. The evening hours on the edge of the weeds should be your best bet. Brock guided out on Leech Lake for big crappies this past Saturday. Fishing was slow at best, but the day’s storms and lingering cold fronts could have contributed to the sluggish action. The few panfish they caught were big, though.
Colt and Ben picked up shop and headed back to North Dakota this weekend. We hate to see another school year so soon, but we all know what that means; hunting season! Yes, hunting is just around the corner. Early goose is open in North Dakota right now. Colt and Ben organized all their decoys, cleaned their guns, and did some scouting in preparation for some honker slaying. Lock down some fields boys. We can’t wait to come out and fling some steel with ya guys. Visit us on Facebook for up to date North Dakota goose action and current fishing reports!
Lake Trout fishing has hooked us inside out the last couple years. In the winter, we make multiple trips to Canadian waters chasing monster lakers. Each trip turns out to be a success, but that huge laker keeps eluding us all. When talking huge, we’re speaking of lakers in the upper 20s and 30 pound range. The lakes we are fishing contain these enormous trout, but our luck has fallen short of tussling with them.
Browns Clearwater West (BCWW) is full of these hog trout and it was our destination this past weekend. We have hit this familiar water body quite a few times in the winter, but never in the boat on the open water. The weekend was looking promising for trout action. Craig, Godfrey, Dan, and I headed across the border on our way to BCWW Thursday evening. Big trout were all we could talk about.
We cruised across the water early Friday morning in my Lund equipped with Lowrance HDS Gen 2s. With Lowrance electronics, multiple familiar spots, four awesome sticks, and a variety of baits, we all figured it wouldn’t take much time to shape out the open water trout program and put the pieces of the puzzle together. Our goal was to catch fish, mark and map out more spots for winter fishing, and possibly tangle with a few giants.
The Lowrance HDS Gen 2 indicated lots of fish on the south shore of one of our familiar trout areas right away that morning. We all dropped down and it didn’t take long to figure out the whitefish were stacked there. There had to be trout with them too, we all thought. Finally, Dan laced into the first trout of the trip, a beautiful ten plus pound LT. The Reel Bait gold flasher jig tipped with a swim bait put the smack down. Things looked good.
Spot to spot we cruised and fished with no further fish showing up in the bottom of the net or on the Lowrance HDS. We kept digging deeper and deeper into the trout puzzle as our thinking caps threw around ideas faster than we could test them. We fished steep rock ledges so sheer we couldn’t tell you if we were jigging in 100 or 200 feet of water, to reefs, sand bars, and gradual shoreline breaks. Finally around midday we put the downriggers down and trolled the open water anywhere from 240 ft to 60 ft. Every little thing we did organized another piece of the puzzle. Things were frustrating, but the more we failed, the better our chances got. The tables had to turn on one of our ideas.
I marked a few icons on spots that looked to have trout or whitefish as we trolled downriggers. That evening we went back to those spots and they turned out to be good. Craig and Dan put a couple double trout in the boat in one of the spots. We caught lots of whitefish and that kept the action interesting (we caught tons of whitefish the whole trip). Before sunset, we headed back to where Dan had caught the first trout of the day. Whitefish were slamming, but no additional trout saw the boat.
We all knew tomorrow was going to be a challenge as Day 1 only saw five trout in the boat. The night fell on us as the Lund cut through the open water mirror back to the resort. On the way back, my Lowrances started lighting up. Bait balls filled the screens. There were the smelt that we had looked for the whole day. Trout follow smelt. There were so many smelt packed from 100-40 feet for a mile of sandy shoreline that it blew our minds. Nice arcs appeared under them too. Wow, we just put a couple more pieces on the puzzle now.
Saturday morning we headed straight out to find that bait from the evening before. Low and behold, it was gone. We would have to come back in the evening. We slowly broke water to where Dan and Craig had doubled up. Awesome, a boat was dead on my waypoint from the night before. What are the chances of that? We only saw one or two fisherman the day before and now we had a boat right on our only good spot. I worked around him and found some good arcs in 70-85 feet of water. We caught a few lakers right close to bottom. Flasher jigs and fergies from Reel Bait were the way to go on these bottom feeding trout. The boat left soon after and we ripped into our spot, slamming a couple more trout. Most of the trout were anywhere from ten pounds into the low teens.
We fished around a few deep reefs late morning and Craig put another laker in the boat. As late morning turned into noon, we left for the North Arm of the lake. The North Arm has always been good to HLO when the fishing is slow on the main lake. It didn’t take long to locate active whitefish and bait with the Lowrance HDS in the deepest part of the North Arm. The trout had to be close. From noon to two we caught and released five more trout before a break was called. We hit the sandy shoreline for lunch and a quick rest away from the sun. We cooked polish over the open fire and admired the beautiful campsite and scenery of the Arm.
We bounced spots and scanned water for the rest of the late afternoon with just one or two more trout being caught. As the sun started to drop, the Lund brought us to the resort shoreline where all the bait was piling up the evening before. The smelt were not anywhere to be found on the Lowrance. I motored around for a bit and told everyone we were going to sit on the tip in deep water and just wait for it to happen. I cruised around a little in 90-120 feet of water and found three solid arcs. Well, this was a good spot to wait for the bait and lakers. We all dropped down. It didn’t take long and I ripped one of those trout that I seen on the graph. It was game time.
We had gotten there just in time. The lakers started flying in like underwater fighter jets below us. They were doing the same thing we were; waiting for the bait. Well, our bait was there and they wanted it. We boated twelve hog lakers and lost four or five in the last hour of light. The bait and lake trout stacked up on that break like cord wood. The Lowrance HDS called the shots to where the lake trout were hanging underneath the smelt. Some came in on bottom and jolted straight up to smack one of our lures. Others came in suspended from 40-80 feet down. As they appeared on the graph, we adjusted and they ate. We had a blast. We all wanted to stay into the dark, but a long day on the water and hungry bellies sent us back to camp.
Sunday brought tired fisherman to the Lund. A fish fry over an open campfire, cold beverages, and awesome stories kept us up late that night. We hit the water just as it was getting light. Fishing early than the previous days, we figured we had to catch the lake trout chasing the last of the smelt off the sand flats and back into the deep water where they disappear during daylight hours. The Lund stopped where it had left off the night before; in 90 feet right at the head of the flat leading into very deep water. Smaller schools of smelt appeared on the Lowrance and the lakers were right behind chasing them into the deeps. And the action began just as it had left off the night before. Our poles started doubling over with drags a peeling. Wow, what a spot. We caught eight trout off this particular area in a short period before the action came to a halt. The smelt scattered into 200 feet and the lake trout followed.
We hadn’t hit the North Arm in the morning hours yet so we decided to run and gun it up. The graph indicated a whole new morning world to our North Arm spot when we pulled up. All the whitefish were vacant and the bottom was covered in bait. We just knew what that meant; Hogs were close! And close they were as Mama set into one before his lure could even make it half way down. Then I crow hopped into a big girl too. Double! Oh it was going to be good. We boated close to twenty lake trout in the next two hours. They were slamming. The largest laker of the morning pound wise was in the upper teens.
Everyone decided twenty-six lakers in a few short hours was a good morning. We had a campsite to pack up followed by a five plus hour drive so we tossed in the towel. We got very close to completing our puzzle on the trout program on Clearwater West. The pieces of the puzzle could not have been placed more perfectly without help from the Lowrance HDS Gen 2s, four awesome sticks, and four great friends. It was a very successful trip.
You all are probably wondering why we didn’t complete the whole trout program puzzle? Well, there are always things to learn and build on every time out fishing. Hopefully next trip, our program works, more spots are uncovered, experience is built upon, and lots of fun is shared once again. Haha, we always have fun. Keep hanging loose ya all!
Written by Brock
Katie’s family reunion was this weekend on Mille Lacs Lake. I was pumped to head down south to the big pond on Friday. In the back of my head I hoped that the wind would be calm. I looked forward to bringing a few out to troll Salmos on leadcore and downriggers. I wanted to show them a different way to hammer eyes than the slip bobber method they were so familiar with. Trolling would also offer a relaxing and social atmosphere in the Lund. I just wanted to catch some fish, have fun, and enjoy the time with a wonderful family.
Friday turned out to be a beautiful day after the rain quit right around 8AM. Bailey and I headed out of Hunters Resort around 9AM. The wind was out of the Southeast so even if it was bucking, it would be fishable in the main basin. The majority of walleyes are hanging in that main lake basin, suspended in 30-34 fow. They are roaming that open water off of structure chasing baitfish and bug hatches. This time of year can be hard fishing, but using your electronics like Lowrance HDS, and crankbaits to cover water can make for a rewarding day.
It didn’t take long to catch our first walleye, but it didn’t take long for the wind to switch 180 degrees either. In a snap of a finger, the wind picked up out of the northwest and soon those Mille Lacs rollerz started haunting us. We decided we better head back to the Resort as the waves were a little much and more family was soon to show up.
We enjoyed laughs and great food as each of us kept an eye on the lake. The wind had switched back to the southeast, but it was still strong. Good times were shared and soon we couldn’t handle it anymore. Most everyone was ready to take to the water. Katie, Bailey and I headed out in my Lund. Soon Tommy, Alex, Laura, Scott, and Brit joined us out on the water in Tommy’s Lund. It didn’t take long and we were catching fish. Bailey caught a hog of a 27.5 inch and we boated a few more. The wind kept us close to Hunters Resort before Tracy called us all in for dinner.
What a great time it was even though we didn’t get to spend a whole lot of time on the water. When the wind blows, Mille Lacs can be a bully. Bring the Salmo hornets and leadcore rods on your next outing to Mille Lacs. Get out in that main lake basin and start trolling. Pay attention to your Lowrance HDS. If you catch a fish or mark a couple, lay down an icon, and turn back around. Work that open water where you’re graphing or catching fish. Good Luck.
The rest of the HLO Crew attended Benson’s summer Bog Days. It’s awesome excitement when the big trucks fling the mud and more great times are shared with friends.
We are off to Clearwater West chasing Canada lake trout next weekend. You better hide trout cause we’re bringing it all!
Rainy Lake is just another one of Minnesota’s gems. Last weekend it was a great place to be. Beautiful weather followed us from the second we arrived until we landed the boats on Sunday. Fish were plentiful and the good times never stopped.
We rolled up in a little different style this go around. We hit the lake with the Lund Pro Guide for walleye chasing and a pontoon for other recreational activities. When we arrived, first on the agenda was to give the walleyes a workin’ over. It didn’t take long and the Lowrance HDS had us fishing active walleyes. The schools were big and ready to feast. Perch colored spinners with a crawler was our go to bait. We didn’t have to experiment much, our first presentation was flawless. Within a couple hours we had enough walleyes to stuff 7 guys’ bellies to the point of bursting. After supper it was story time and laughter until our stomachs hurt.
After shaking a few cobwebs out and a cup of coffee Saturday morning, we were out for a little catch and release. Things didn’t change from the evening. We caught beautiful walleyes at will that morning. After a few hours of fishing, we headed in for a monster breakfast. There wasn’t any shortage of food on this trip. The only real excuse we got from Spence for excess amounts of food was, “I was really hungry when I went shopping”. There was no complaining during the feasts!
After breakfast we all loaded up the coolers and headed out on a journey to Kettle Falls. We casted for pike for a bit, but settled in just to putts and enjoyed the north country beauty! Our mission was to pick up a few bags of ice and have a cocktail. Of course we couldn’t just drive by the bruiser of a cliff in Anderson Bay. It seems there is a trend with the Anderson cliff. The first person goes quickly, the second and third think a long time, with the last of the guys saying, “ABSOLUTLY NOT!!!!” We arrived at Kettle Falls to get our ice and cocktail. There must have been 50 other people that thought they would stop quick too. Well 50 people, great weather, great bar…. It took us about three to four hours to decide we would get our ice and go.
It was tough to get everything packed up and go like always. Rainy is a tough place to leave. If you get the chance it is a wonderful place to go. You can do it quick, easy, and economical. You can really get that boundary waters beauty, but have all those creature comforts. Don’t get me wrong, I love to rough it, but when you only have a couple days to get a group together, the speed is nice. Get up there and enjoy! The fishing and beauty will keep you coming back year after year!
Last week Topper and I were focused on Swan Lake in Pengilly, MN. We had a group coming up from Central Minnesota that wanted to get the skinny on the lake so they could go do battle with the eyes and pike more effectively themselves for the rest of their stay.
We started off by going up to Swan after work Friday at about 2 o'clock. After cruising some news spots that we had not checked before we fell back to some “old school” spots. These spots had been found by Brock and Tops back in the day when they used to fish the Swan lake walleye tournament. Sure enough, these spots held good pods of walleyes from 10-16 feet of water. After locating four spots with fish, lines were dropped and a handful of walleyes and pike showed themselves. We were excited to get back on the water and meet our clients from Iowa and South Dakota.
As light came early on Sunday morning, I found myself driving the Lund down the highway to Topper's house. We collected a few last minute things and headed to our favorite bait store, River Rat! The Rat always has what we need, anything from big creek chubs to leeches, crawlers, shiners and everything in between. We picked up crawlers, leeches and red tail minnows. You never know from day to day what those walleyes will be biting on.
We met our clients at the landing right around 7 o'clock. They were excited to be there and wanted to start fishing right away. We split up and headed out. Topper went to our go to spot right away as I started looking around at another quick spot that had a good pile of fish the day before. I shortly joined him on our favorite shoreline, our Lowrance graphs showed us right away that the fish were there thick. I started Mike and Jay out with a crawler harnesses and half a crawler. It wasn't long before Jay tied into the first walleye, a healthy 17.5 inch. I then began to run a big minnow and quickly caught two 15 inch walleyes.
The day went good for both Topper and I. We were consistently on walleyes and catching them quite frequently. The day ended at 11 o'clock with our clients being pumped up about the fish they caught as well as being able to get out in their own boat and fish the spots we had showed them. We left them hanging with a monster bag of freshly cleaned walleye and pike. Overall a very good trip.
Don't forget, the Pokegama big fish bite is still in full swing. The big walleyes are schooling up in the deep transitional flats from 20-45 feet of water and are hungry!! We are finding fish on almost every point or hump that has a deep water flat protruding out. Also, fish are stacking up on the humps that top out anywhere from 25-40 feet. Our Lowrance electronics make it easy to pin point these fish, especially in deep water.
We are still rigging crawlers over the top of them at about .4-1 mph. However, big minnows and leeches have also been very effective. Plan on bringing all three types of bait if you plan on making a day out of it. Stop into the River Rat on highway 2 west and they will hook you up. We are still taking trips out there so give Brock or Randy a call and get out there for some big walleye action!
Craig and Adam went to Canada and chased lake trout this past weekend. They had some very good success. They boated 25-30 lakers a day. Vertical jigging swim baits and paying attention to suspended lakers on the Lowrance HDS was the game plan. Fish On!
written by Colt
Heat....Rain.....Heat.....Rain.....Heat.....and more rain seems to be the story we can’t get away from. This past week we were given some great weather with the occasional day time shower up here at Lake Vermilion. Water temps have rose up here to high seventies to low 80s depending on the time of day and the weather that we have.
I have been living and working up at Pehrson Lodge Resort this summer so the majority of my fishing has been on the Big V. If you haven’t got the chance to get up here and fish, I would highly recommend you do. No better place to catch great eater sized walleyes and those elusive GIANT muskies!! Not uncommon to pull 50+ inch skis out of here on any given day. The lake also offers great panfish fishing and a scenery that will blow you away. Make sure you give Eric and Mary Hanson a call here at Pehrson Lodge for your stay. You won’t find a nicer resort on the lake and it is great for both your avid fisherman or just a relaxing family vacation. You can find all information on Pehrsonlodge.com. Tell em Ben sent ya!!
Fishing has been on the slower side this week as we move out of the bug hatches and into the massive schools of bait forming. Anywhere we fish our lowrance graphs light up with huge balls of bait making the bite a little bit harder. Look for the fish to be found on the mid lake rock reefs in 20-30 feet of water up here on Vermilion right behind those massive balls of bait. Anything from walleyes to small mouth bass seem to be concentrated on these reefs right now and loading up more and more each day. Use those lowrance graphs to find where the reefs go from hard rubble to a mix of sand and boulders and thats where they are usually hanging out. Spinners and a leech or slip bobbers seem to be the go to presentation right now. First light and last light have been the key times during the last couple weeks but that doesn’t mean there are not fish to be caught during the day. Pack away those walleye rods and break out the big muskie sticks and start casting for the GIANT skis this lake is known for. Fisherman had great success trolling the open water cisco schools that were suspended during the bug hatch but know have been concentrating on shoreline structure, hog boulders, and deep weed beds. Look for the muskies to start heating up as the water temps are now high and stable. Also, enjoy the walleye and muskie night bites out on this wonderful fishery. Give us a call or visit us online at Pehrsonlodge.com.
The rest of the HLO Crew was away from their usual fishing turfs this weekend and doing a little exploring on other Grand Rapids area lakes. They fished an array of terrific fisheries including: Wabana, Deer, Moose, Trout, and Bluewater. They had some good luck with eater walleyes and also ripped into some giant smallies. Back to Pokegama for the big walleye program this week. Keep those rods bending and good luck!
written by Pro Staffer Ben Olson
It’s a great week to talk about the big minnow presentation. The big minnow presentation has really been catching on lately. This is a style of fishing we adapted to quite a number of years ago. The first years we started running these rigs, we were targeting monster gators in deep water. We had endless hours of fun on Trout, Pokegama, Red, and many other lakes perfecting this style. We started noticing how many giant walleyes actually hit these things. These things meaning: large creek chubs, red tails, and suckers. We were pulling walleyes in on suckers that were 10-12 inches long. Over the years, many others caught on to this presentation as well.
The presentation isn’t always deadly, but a lot of you have surely heard the phrase, 'match the hatch'. Walleyes focus on eating what the majority of food is on the menu for the particular time of year. A short timeline would be: shiner spawn in the spring, to bug hatches, to young perch in early summer, and then to big forage as summer heats up. There are many variables in between, but that’s a general guideline. In short, we are at the point of the year where the majority of bug hatches are coming to an end, and summer is in full throttle. Much of the walleyes focus is turning to the forage that is now grown because of these healthy bug hatches. Walleyes are becoming even more in predator mode. Food is a little bit harder to catch because of its size. The little energy spent opening their mouths for bugs is now over. Walleyes have to react fast, hunt and catch their prey, and do it using more energy this time of year. We all know walleyes, especially big walleyes, don’t like to spend a lot of energy, but they must in certain critical feeding opportunities during the mid to late summer.
So before I bore you with anymore facts and or opinionated discoveries we’ve picked up on over the years, here is the skinny on how to wack eyes on hog minnows! Go to River Rat on Hwy 2 west of Cohasset and check out their selection. Minnows are hit and miss this time of year, but The Rat always seems to have one of the three: creek chubs, red tails, or suckers. Get yourself a dozen of any or mix and match from 4 to 10 inches long. Tie up a 5 to 8 ft leader with a bead of your choice color and a single hook (#1 or #1/0). Go find yourself a school of fish with your Lowrance HDS and slowly troll through them at .2 to .6 mph, keeping that hog minnow in front of their face. They can’t resist. When you feel a tug, feed them line for 15 seconds and set the hook. Game On!! Run these hog mins anywhere from the weed edges to 45 ft of water.
Good luck and go get em!
Written by Topps
Saturday and Sunday were stifling hot, but that didn’t hold us back from being on the water chasing hogs. Topper had a couple guide trips on Pokegama Lake and they were a success despite the heat. The big walleyes were biting and I mean big. In three guide trips, six clients caught the biggest walleyes of their lives. Two walleyes were a tad under the thirty inch mark. Topper reported, “The Lund Pro Guide saw almost twenty fish over twenty-eight inches the last few days.” Those are hogs. Deep water was the name of the game in the heat. Crawlers were most effective. The eater walleyes were few and far in between. I don’t think anyone had complaints when those ten pound Poke giants were biting. Good work Topps. The night bite is kicking out more eater walleyes and a few giants as well with that big moon high in the sky.
As for me, I packed up the camper, Lund Explorer, my beautiful fiancée Katie, and good friend Scottie, and headed up to Northstar campground. Our mission for my four days off was to fish muskies. Northstar and Deer Lakes were our targets for those elusive fish. Sunday evening started off with a bang as Katie boated a beautiful thirty-eight inch muskie we named ‘half tail’. Half Tail was missing its bottom half of its tail fin. Katie did an excellent job battling the feisty predator. We fished into the night and under the moon with little additional action that night.
Monday morning we hit her early. I caught a fat 35 inch ski off a spot I call ‘Brock’s Hump’. We saw a lot of muskie follows that morning, but that was the only one that actually ate. Scottie had a forty-six incher miss his crank bait twice right by the boat. The fish had its mouth wide open in attack mode both times, but couldn’t get its aim straight. We named that fish ‘blind ski’ for the rest of the trip. Too bad that thing couldn’t catch its meal because the rest of the morning was really slow as the heat and humidity index sky rocketed. We hit the campsite around noon and tried to stay cool until the evening bite.
As we played in the water and lied around the campsite, we began hearing thunder in the distance. Scottie (he knows muskies like the back of his hands) got jacked. Muskies get very upset when storms are rolling in and like to eat anything in their path. It’s proven. Barometer changes make these fish go crazy at certain times.
So we headed out in the muggy weather and started casting and blasting. The storms grew closer and our anticipation climbed. We all had positive muskie attitude awaiting the next strike or follow. As the lightning plummeted to the north of us, we kept casting and covering water. It looked to us that the storms were going to stay to the north. Katie kept on begging me to get off the water, but Scottie and I knew at anytime that 50 incher could eat. All of a sudden, the storms made their move straight towards us. It was time to go.
We flew back to the landing and loaded the boat just as the lightning and thunder jumped on top of us. We pulled into the campsite as the mirror on top of Northstar Lake started to ripple. The calm waters grew ferocious in matter of seconds and we scurried to take cover. The winds went from 0 to 60 in about two minutes. We huddled in the camper and watched trees buckle to the ground. The storm lasted a good hour and then the winds died and gave way to a red skied sunset.
Chainsaws were heard all over in the distance as we took pictures of the most beautiful sunset we had ever seen. Scottie received texts from his buddy in Bemidji that read, “Bemidji is destroyed”. I began to get nervous now as I didn’t have any cell phone reception. “Was Mom ok”, I thought. “I wonder if Hill City got hit hard”, I murmured to Katie. Katie got a text from Mom that she was alright and that Grand Rapids got hit hard too, but Hill City was fine. We played cards and had a few cold ones in the camper to close out the crazy night.
The alarms went off early and we landed the Lund back into the water. The drive from the campground to the landing was impressive. Lots of trees were snapped in half or uprooted all around the campsite and along the sides of Hwy 38. We put the storm behind us and started casting. The storm must have really scared the fish because we only saw one lazy fish up until noon. Trolling open water didn’t turn up any action either. It was a dead sea.
We returned to the campsite and cooked a big lunch over the open fire. The temperatures were very hot once again so we didn’t head back out onto the water until 7PM. Again, the action was very slow. We stuck with it, and gave it all we had under the full moon right up until about 1AM when we finally called her quits. Obviously it was going to take a couple days for the fish to return to their normal patterns after the intense weather.
We packed up the campsite and headed back to Grand Rapids early Wednesday morning (Fourth of July). Another big storm hit later that afternoon. Virginia, Hibbing, and Floodwood reported golf ball sized hail and strong winds. Grand Rapids and Hill City got more rain, but no brutal winds like the previous storm on Monday. Thank God. This area weather has been unreal the last couple weeks.
One good thing….. We are still catching hogs despite what Mother Nature throws our way. Condolences to all those who lost their vehicles, houses, or other personal belongings due to wind and crashing trees. May your good friends and family help you out, your insurance give you lots of money, and your lives keep on going strong. Things will get better!
AND A BIG CONGRATULATIONS TO TOPPER AND LINDSEY ON THEIR ENGAGEMENT!
I worked night shift on Friday evening. Fishing filled my brain during the slow times. I tried hard as to slide through the night as easy as possible. Saturday was a big day and I was an immense part of it. Saturday was the Angler Young Angler walleye tournament on Pokegama Lake and I was the MC (master of ceremonies).
I agreed to be the MC because I figured I couldn’t make a whole day fishing a tournament on no sleep. I could do it, but wouldn’t be on the top of my game. The Angler Young Angler (AYA) is a tournament where one adult fishes with up to two children, 17 years old or younger. It is a great competition and an excellent event to get kids pumped up about fishing. The winners from each of the thirty AYAs across the U.S go to Canada for the National Championship in August. This is a tournament I wouldn’t miss so being the MC was a great way to get involved and another good thing for Hang Loose Outdoors.
I arrived at Tioga Beach at 6AM. I was dead beat tired, but nothing coffee and Monster couldn’t solve. There I helped set up the stage and organize the event. The morning started off great until the rain showed up right as the boats started coming in. The rain did not stop either. Everyone huddled under the pavilion as Anthony and I did boat checks. It seemed as the majority of the anglers were in no hurry to start the tournament. But, by 8:15AM, the thirty-two boat field was all in line and awaiting the 8:30 start. We played the National Anthem and then the tournament was underway.
I headed for home to catch a nap once things were all organized and ready for the weigh in at 3:30. The rain still came down as I drove home. I wanted to take a quick nap and then go fishing myself, but the weather in my head and the rain on my windshield told me to sleep on it.
I returned to Tioga Beach a little before 2PM. Everything was set up and ready to rock for my MC performance and the weigh in. I chatted with Scott Glorvigan for a bit. He cruised around on the lake and took pictures of the tournament fisherman earlier in the day. He pointed out that Topper had two pigs and Dan Neary had two hogs as well. I was pumped. I sure hope they found some unders to go with those big ones I thought in the back of my head.
Chico made the 3:30PM wait interesting as he ran up the hill to the weigh scale with a giant 28 incher at around 2:30PM. He weighed in and led the big fish category for quite some time until the boats started pouring in.
Topper, Brodie, and Matt were one of the first to weigh in. They weighed two giant Poke walleyes. Both were just over six pounds. Topper struggled to put a walleye under 20” in the boat the whole day. Everything was over 20 inches that they caught (allowed 2 over 20" and 4 under 20"). They sat in the hot seats for quite some time until the big bags started rolling in. Brad Rasmussen, Mike LeClaire, Tony Jerulle, and Gordon Fothergill weighed in bags right around 16 pounds. They both had two hogs along with an under or two. HLO Pro Staffer, Colt Anderson, took Brittanie Topper and David Peltier; they weighed in right after those big weights, but came up short.
As I tried to remember boat numbers, weights, and names all while trying to interview the kids while they came up on stage to show off their fish and talk to me; I lost track of who was left to weigh in. I proceeded to get the hot spots and tactics out of the kids, but they refused to tell me their Dad’s or Guide’s secrets. All of a sudden, Dan Neary came to stage to weigh in. His kids were Luke and his daughter, Taylor. They weighed three fish in at 17.12 pounds. I almost did a flying swan dive into the sea of kids below me when I heard their weight come up. Three fish at 17.12. They had hogs and they had the hot seats.
And Dan didn’t fish the Pokegama Chamber of Commerce Walleye Classic the previous weekend???? Ummmm No explanation Dan!
A few more boats weighed in and I thought Dan had her by the tail. He had her by one hair of the tail when I looked back in the tent and saw Dan Olson and his son, Jake, left to weigh in. My heart sank. Nearys’ win just got a lot tougher. Dan and Jake had won this tournament the last two years. They were the last to weigh in. Dan and Jake came to stage with four or five fish. I couldn’t remember. All I could see was their weight written down on the paper that Cara handed me. It read 17.28 pounds. They were three peat champions. Wow. They beat Dan Neary by 0.16 pounds.
Congratulations to Dan and Jake Olson on their 2012 Angler Young Angler win. Now, it’s time to go to Canada and win the National Championship. Good Luck Boys. Win it for our area. Bring the National title of Angler Young Angler back to Grand Rapids, MN where it’s been twice before.
Written by Brock
Prefishing was unbelievable on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Visions of a 60 pound 7 walleye bag filled our heads. It was very possible. After witnessing what Thursday and Friday provided under the water, we all thought we were going to need seven walleyes all over 25 inches to win or even jump into the top three places on Saturday's tournament. We caught and released multiple 25-29 inchers during prefishing. Pokegama was on like hot wax. But, as we all know, Pokegs can chew you up and spit you out in a matter of a day or even a few hours. Sometimes your fish can disappear from a structure or shoreline in no time. Where they go, we'll never know. It's called fishing and once one can figure out all the mysteries; well there will be no reason to fish anymore.
Pokegama Lake is a top notch walleye fishery. It's hard to compare any lake to it in the area or in the state. It holds giant walleyes and lots of them. It's very common during the month of June to boat an 8-10 pound walleye when fishing hard for a whole day. Pokegama holds lots of eater walleyes (15-19in) too. If you’re fishing for a meal, there is no better place to wet your line in June and July and even into August. Hang Loose guides a lot on Pokegama during the summer. If you are looking to learn the lake or reel in the walleye of a lifetime please contact us.
The best Pokegs walleye fisherman headed out on Pokegama Lake Saturday morning to determine who could put the most hog walleyes in the boat. The tournament follows the AIM, catch record release format. There is no better way to hold this tournament. All walleyes are released.
Hang Loose had three teams competing in this tournament: Topper and Brock, Colt and Ben, Adam and Craig. When the day was done, most of us hung our heads a little. Our game plans came together, but lots of our fish from Friday had moved or disappeared. That is typical Pokegama from one day to the next. We all rebounded to stay on fish, but the amount of hog walleyes we all lost throughout the day was depressing. Topper and Brock took 11th place. They lost a 30+ at the boat as well as a few more upper 20 inch fish. That's fishing though. These big walleyes on Pokegs are so strong. Their huge head shakes can throw your hooks faster than you can say, “grab the net”. It’s amazing how much drag they will peel too. Adam and Craig took 12th place. There game plan was solid the whole day. Colt and Ben took 13th place. Their fish left there spots from Friday, but knowing Pokegama well, they adapted, and found some giant eyes, but came up one fish short. If they would of had seven fish to weigh, who knows what place they would have scrounged up. It’s pretty crazy for all three of our teams to place 11th, 12, and 13th. We must fish together too much. We were all one more big fish away from the top three. What a fun tournament, though. We wish we could have more than one tournament like this on this fabulous fishery every year.
Visit this link for info on next years Pokegama Lake Walleye Classic: http://grandrapidschamberwalleyeclassic.com/ or shoot us a call or email. We look forward to seeing this tournament grow every year.
Topper and Colt headed to Lake Bemidji State Park on Wednesday afternoon. They set up camp and jumped in the Lund to scan the waters of Lake Bemidji with the Lowrance Gen2s. The Krause Anderson Walleye Tournament was just a few short days away. Brock and Topper took second place last year. They were determined to do just as well this year.
Topps and Colt used the new Lowrance HDS Gen2 to locate a few pods of walleyes in 15-25fow. The also found and caught a couple in Brock and Topps' second place spot from last year. Things were looking good so far. They returned to camp to a campfire meal and a few cold beverages.
Brock got off his twelve hour work shift at 5AM on Thursday and immediately headed to Bemidji. He met Colt and Topper at the campground. With zero hours of sleep, he jumped in the boat for a full day of prefishing. The day was hot with temperatures approaching ninety degrees and very little wind. The boys cruised Lake Bemidji with their heads glued to the Lowrance HDS. Spot to spot they went. Very few fish showed up on the graph and the ones that did chose not to bite. Mayflies littered the calm waters and the boys figured that was the reason why the walleyes were so stubborn.
With enough fish (couple walleyes and a pike) though, for a fish fry, they headed back into the campground around 6PM. A fish fry was enjoyed with the Colters and Hernesmans and then it was time for Brock to finally crash and get some shut eye.It was a long hot day.
Friday, Brock and Topps hit the lake at 5:30AM. They fished a deep spot they had found on Thursday afternoon. Walleyes were all over the Lowrance HDS and they were hungry. In five minutes, they boated a 23, 24, and 15 inch. They were pumped this spot was on. They located two more deep spots that morning that held fish. With calm hot waters again on Friday, they could not get anything going in the shallows. It seemed they had a handful of good spots for Saturday's tournament.
Saturday came early and 100 boats took to the waters of Lake Bemidji for the 2012 Krause Anderson Walleye Tournament. Fishing started off really slow for Brock and Topps. Their first deep spot had very few fish on it and the ones that were there were glued to bottom. They ground their spot out for a couple hours and put a 24 inch in the box. Multiple spots later proved no better. It was time to try some shallow spots from last year. That didn't work either. They went into guide mode and hoped spot to spot with their heads buried in the Lowrance HDS. It was time to find some fish. They found fish on a spot they called bearded clam. The fish were active, but the boys struggled to hook the fish that bit. Things were not going good.
Hours later and spot after spot, they returned to bearded clam to finish out the day. Topper put three more walleyes in the box. A couple more smaller fish were caught, but they couldn't get that fifth tournament keeper. They returned to weigh in knowing it wasn't their day. Topps and Brock finished half way up out of 100 boats. Congratulations to Hanson and Hanson on their win. Congratulations to the Murphys from Grand Rapids on their third place finish. We can't wait for next year.
I know I haven't wrote a story about this tournament yet. There are not many days that go by where I don't think about this tournament. I'm sure all our close friends and family heard about the decisions we made on the first day of the two day tournament. It's all good. Out of 300 plus boats, we still finished in the top 100. What an awesome fishery Mille Lacs is. One of these days, I will get around to writting a story from this weekend. Hope you all enjoy our blog!
Where would I be without an old man hovering over, watching me with my every move, shouting at me when I fumbled with life, teaching me to fish and hunt, showing me how to survive in this world? Where would I be? Well, I wouldn't be where I am today. I love where I am today. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else but in this area of Northern Minnesota. There is so much to offer. Now, I know why Dad and Mom chose this beautiful area. It was so we could thrive in it, pursure it, and live in it.
I have found my niche in life and it is the great outdoors of this area. Fishing and hunting is my life and I owe it all to my Dad. He gave me the passion, the knowledge, and the wrongs and rights. Years through the water and into the woods, I began showing him the future of the great sport. Wow, did he get me hooked. He wrapped me around every branch of the outdoors and I absolutely love it. I can't thank him enough. There is no way to thank him.
As all the memories drift through me the last few days, tears come to my eyes, happy tears. Dad and I had the greatest memories ever and they will never leave me. I will live through the memories. There will always be a seat open in my Lund for you Dad, a buck in the woods for you, and a hug and a high five when success is achieved. Love you forever and please watch over the HLO Crew.
Rocky Anderson's Funeral service will be Wed June 13th at 11:00am at St. Josephs Church. Visitation begins at 10:00. Luncheon following service!
Here is a little fishing report from the MN opening weekend and mid week for all you walleye anglers out there. Water temperatures are almost set for a great shallow water bite. The shiners on most of our walleye lakes (Winnibigoshish, Upper Red, Leech, etc) are just starting to find the shallow water (4-8 fow) for their spawn. As the water temps hit the low to mid 60s, look to the shallows with a jig and minnow for your best success. Concentrate on the wind driven shorelines and those inside corners and points for the best bite. Sandy shorelines are great places to find these shiners and the walleyes should be right behind them.
The opening weekend brought mixed results for most anglers. The majority of fisherman caught fish, but keepers were hard to come by. Lots of slot fish were caught on Winnibigoshish, Leech, and Mille Lacs. Walleyes were scattered in the shallows and out onto secondary structures and shoreline breaks. Reports were anglers were catching walleyes on Leech, Winni, and Bowstring in 6-16 fow. Jigs tipped with shiners brought in the most eyes. Lindy rigs with leeches and crawlers also enticed some hungry walleyes. On Mille Lacs, 6-8 ft lindy rigs with leeches were the goto.
Strong West winds put an opening weekend damper to the fishing on Upper Red Lake. Topper reported slow fishing up on Red. The waves were huge and the water was very dirty on the East shore. With the south winds, the last couple days, the fishing report has gotten better and better on Red. The water is clearing on the shoreline breaks and the fishing should be lights out this weekend. The shiners are finding the shallows and the eyes are right behind them. Look to Upper Red Lake for one of the best bites this weekend in 4-8 fow. 1/16 and 1/8 ounce jigs tipped with a shiner or chub will trigger those walleyes. Pay attention to your Lowrance HDS graphs. Find the bait and the walleyes will be there.
Mille Lacs currently has the strongest bite right now. Opener was very good as well as throughout the week. Look to the shoreline in 6-10 fow during the morning and evening hours. Slip bobbers with leeches are the goto. As late morning hits, find the secondary rock breaks and fish the edges of them (20-24 fow) with 6-8 ft lindy rigs tipped with leeches or crawlers. Troll or drift at .6-1.0 mph. We were on Mille Lacs on Wednesday and the fishing was great. We found lots of big fish in 20-24 fow along with a handful of 15-16 in eaters. Again, look for these deep fish on your Lowrance graphs. They are hard to miss. Look for pods, not just one here or there, then work back and forth through them.
Bowstring is probably the most solid lake in the Grand Rapids area right now. The north end is giving up walleyes in 6-10 fow on jigs and minnows. If the wind lies low, try a lindy rig. Winnibigoshish's north shore should be very productive this weekend with this south wind that we have been having. Find the bait and those hungry eyes will be right behind them. The shallows should fill with walleyes for the next two weeks. Good Luck...
The panfish action is still pretty heated around the area too. Look to the shallow mucky bays in 2-5 fow and fan cast a 1/16- 1/32 ounce jig tipped with a twister tail or crappie minnow. The male crappies are black and beautiful right now. The gills are in the shallows too.
Picture of Kristi and Shawn Matteson with their limits of walleyes from Winnibigoshish above. They had a great trip with Randy Topper HLO Guide Service!
Randy made a fast move just days before the opener of the 2012 MN fishing season. He purchased a brand new 2012 1825 Lund Pro Guide with a 90 Mercury from Rays Sport and Marine in Grand Rapids, MN. Rays Marine is by far the best around and they have treated us exceptionally well over the last few years. You can’t beat their friendly attitude, great service, and all around expertise.
Buying a brand new boat just days before the fishing opener is not the brightest thing to do if you are looking to hit the water hard on opening day. A brand new motor requires many hours of break in time and as you all know, and a new boat takes a couple days to get situated. Well, there’s lots of time to fish this year. Break it in right!
Topper, Mama, Lindsey, and a few of the usually opening weekend crew, hit Upper Red Lake again this year. Saturday, the wind howled from the west and made it almost impossible to get from the Tamarack River out onto the big lake. Topper did not want to risk breaking his motor in the wrong way so they only fished for a short period. He reported fishing very slow and the water being dirty. With three straight days of west winds, the east shore of Red Lake gets so murky that the fish shut off due to poor visibility. The rest of the weekend on Red was very similar for Topps and the clan.
Colt and Derrick hit up Bowstring on opening day and reported very good fishing. Bowstring was rolling too, but they said the fish were biting. The north end was good in 6-10 feet of water with a jig and shiner. They also caught a few walleyes on leeches. Overall, from all the reports I heard, Bowstring was probably the best out of most of the lakes around the area on opening weekend.
Dan Neary hit up Leech and said the fishing was so so. They caught fish, but the majority of their fish were in the slot and had to be returned back into the lake. Adam and Staci, fished Deer Lake on Saturday. Walleye fishing for them was slow throughout the day, but descent in the evening. They hooked some nice keeper eyes. Ben Olson reported slow fishing on Lake Vermillion. The west end of Vermillion was absolutely dead and the east side was fair at best. He did manage to find a few slab crappies in the shallows during mid week. When the walleye fishing is slow, try targeting panfish. YEP. Those frisky slabs are in the shallows right now spawning.
As for me, I fished Hill Lake on Saturday morning for about three hours. I graphed a few descent schools of walleyes, but could not get one to bite a jig and a minnow. After hours of jig jig jigging, I finally switched to a night crawler and lindy rig and began putting perfect eater walleyes in the boat. Water temps were 55F and there was no minnow bite, what? Lucky I put those dozen crawls in the boat before I left. After a few walleyes on the St. Croix, it was time to head home and get ready for work.
Sunday evening Topper and Dan finally put some good walleyes in the new 1825 Pro Guide of Topps. Splithand gave a good report for the boys. The eyes were biting a jig and minnow worked slow and vertical.
On Wednesday, Dan, Gary, and I headed down to Mille Lacs Lake. The morning bite was very good in 20-24 ft with a 6-8 ft lindy rig tipped with a leech. The key was to find north facing nipples on secondary structures that had a rock to sand transition holding right around 20 feet. This is where the hungry walleyes were holding. We caught lots of fish in the slot including three over 26 inches. We didn’t catch many keeper eyes, but brought home enough for a fish fry…
Good Luck this second weekend!
What words or thoughts rattle your mind when someone mentions the month of May? The MN fishing opener, antler sheds, morel mushrooms, fresh golden brown walleye fillets, or camp fire stories with friends and family; might be just a few that come to your mind, especially those of you from this region. May definitely sets the tone for the rest of the summer. This busy month flies by so please take the time to enjoy it.
May is full of diversity and offers so much to the outdoorsman. Fisherman began their full throttle fishing season. Hunting enthusiasts scout for the falls hunting season before the majority of the leaves take to the trees and the underbrush drowns out visible sign. Some of you ramble the ground in search of morel mushrooms or wild leeks. Most others and the majority of us all enjoy sitting around the campfire with friends and family. Whether, it’s frying fish over an open fire, telling stories of past gatherings, or just enjoying a cold beverage and gazing into the varying flickers of colorful heat; everyone loves this month.
When you’re on the water, traveling to or from the cabin/campground, or cruising down the trail on your four wheeler; please keep an eye out for others. Lots of families are on vacation and children are on a rampage having fun and enjoying the weather. Take the time to stop and think of your surroundings. If an elderly couple at the boat landing is having trouble loading their boat, give a helping hand. Everyone is recreating and trying to enjoy themselves. Make this month safe and set the tone for the rest of the summer.
Spend this weekend with your friends and family and keep those family traditions rolling. Have fun. Good luck to those fishing and someone hurry up and get that oil ready for these walleye fillets that I’m bringing home!
The HLO Crew enjoyed their weekend at Benson’s Bog Days in Cohasset on Saturday. They also picked some morel mushrooms and caught some panfish on Pokegama. Good luck to everyone fishing this weekend. Tight Lines!
Written by Brock
Craig and Topps hit the road Friday morning with high expectations of tangling with the prehistoric STURGE! After the long road to Baudette, they landed and begun there expedition. Hopes were high when they received a pic from Topps cousin holding a mammoth 69” creature just as they landed. Spot after spot the day began to drag with no bites. Another pic comes in from cousin Aaron, his son this time with a 69”. They began to cuss themselves for not heading up river versus staying close to the lake. 'O' Well at least they know where they will head for the tourney in the morning. The day ended without a fish being landed. Up river at Birchdale where the pics where rolling in from, four boats landed 17 sturge.
After a late evening of story telling and laughs, the morning came, and the boys where off and running to Birchdale. Expectations high from the previous days pics, spot after spot was beat up. Slowly tourney reports started showing up on the cell phone. Nothing serious until a group from by the lake sent a pic, a MONSTER 68” sturge with a 31 inch girth. Then Mr. Dan Neary gives his update with seven sturge boated near the lake. Dam! That’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. You make all the right decisions sometimes and other times, all the wrong ones. That’s why we love to fish. It's called fishing, not catching. In this weekends circumstance we should have picked a proven spot and ground it out hour after hour. Other times, you can bounce around and pin-point a great spot for the day and dominate it. If you can figure out the million dollar question as to when to use the exact technique for the particular day, you got the sturge right by the whiskers. Congrats to the Timmer’s, Scott and Jason, for landing the biggest sturge in the 11 years of sturge slam.
Good luck, lean back and keep your balance
Rain, sleet, snow, wind, and cold temperatures met us as Katie and I pulled into Rainy River Resort early Saturday morning. We flung our things into the cabin, pulled our rain gear over our warm clothes, and made our way to the landing.
We landed the Lund into the Rainy River and set up anchor right in front of Sportsman’s Resort. This was about the calmest spot on this stretch of river. It has been a very good sturgeon area for HLO the past few years. Katie missed a bite right away. Ooooooo were we in the honey hole already? Four moves and three hours later finally yielded our second bite.
Katie slammed into a nice sturgeon. She couldn’t believe the fight she was experiencing. The fish dragged her around the Lund. I kept telling her to stick the end of the rod in her hip or on her leg, but she was so wet, it kept slipping off her suit. Wet was an understatement. Katie got the best of the fish as I netted her 40 inch. It was her personal best sturgeon to date.
Wet and cold continued for hours as we huddled in the bottom of the boat waiting for the next bite. Finally, my clicker went off. I crow hopped into a very heavy sturge. Fish on! I battled the fish for over five minutes. The sturge was right under the boat as it peeled drag and shattered my muskie pole in half. Katie and I broke out laughing as I continued to fight the fish with a three foot stub of a rod. I landed the 51 inch sturgeon. We snapped a few pictures and returned the beast back into the river. My hands were about to fall off.
We moved into Four Mile Bay and finished out our day there with no additional bites. It was time to warm up. We had had enough of the cold, wind, rain, snow, and sleet. We returned to Rainy River Resort around 6P.M. We enjoyed some great food and exchanged conversations with the kind managers at the resort.
Saturday brought beautiful weather and a new face to the Lund, Scottie. Scottie was fired up to hit some sturgeon. Well, we moved all over from Sportsman’s to the mouth of Four Mile Bay with no action. A visit with the Conservation Officers reported slow fishing all over so we moved back to our Sportsman’s hole.
Katie ripped into a 44 inch sturgeon after a half hour of being in the hole. With sunshine and warm weather lifting our spirits, Katie slammed into another sturgeon. This was no small one. Scottie yelled at Katie to bend her knees and take deep breaths. The fish dragged her all over the boat. She did a great job making sure the beast stayed clear of the anchor. Her rod handle buried into her hip, she reefed on the fish. Finally, after ten minutes, we pushed the fish into the net. Katie instantly plopped down in the seat to catch her breath. The 56 inch hog made the whole trip.
We stayed in the same hole until 7P.M. We caught a couple smaller sturgeon after Katie’s hog. It just felt great to enjoy the beautiful day on the river. Knowing anytime, that 70 inch prehistoric monster could bite our crawlers, kept us in great spirits. Well, sun and potential hogs kept us in high hopes until our stomachs growled for food and a couple beverages.
The rest of the HLO crew attended Shawn and Kristi Matteson’s wedding. Congratulations!
Written by Brock
The last weekend of the walleye season on Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River can be down right crazy in the beginning of April. If conditions are there for the mother load pre spawn bite, then you better hold on. Yes, boat landings get a little busy as well as hotels, but when the river packs full of hungry hog walleyes, what can you expect?
The end of the season usually offers the best bite, if the river clarity is on the clearer side, the current is moderate, and descent weather is available. This year, the conditions were set in stone for a great last weekend bite. The river opened really early with low snowfall and exceptionally warm March weather. A lot of fisherman went up in mid to late March when the walleye pre spawn run from Lake of the Woods into the Rainy River had only just begun. The river was a little dirty, the weather was unstable, and the fish were not yet in the river. The conditions were not perfect.
We waited for that glorious last weekend to roll in. Reports indicated it was going to be crazy. On Wednesday, the fish reported putting on the feed bag. Thursday came through with a very good report also. I roped my neighbor Gary into joining me on the River on Friday and Saturday.
I told Gary about stories of the real Rainy River bite as we headed up Hwy 46 towards Baudette. I explained how the window for the ultimate bite was very short and ever so unforgettable. In the back of my head, I thought; wow, I should probably slow down about this great bite, maybe until it happens. There have been too many similar situations in the past few years. One day the river can be giving up hundreds of hog walleyes, and the next day, zero.
Friday, we boated 115 walleyes (that was an accurate one to one count). We could have caught a lot more walleyes that day, but the absence of the real big walleyes pushed the Lund and Lowrance fish finders up river, spot after spot, searching for hog walleyes. Yes, it was fun hammering on 15 to 20 inch marble eyes, but we were after the true Lake of the Woods giants. River mile after river mile turned up male walleyes and more male walleyes. Where were the females? We caught a few females (26-27 inchers) in a spot HLO calls ‘Shale Rock’ just before the rain and cold weather made us call it quits on Friday evening.
Saturday morning we returned to Shale Rock and it was crazy. The hog females were slammin. Reel Bait flasher jigs and fergie spoons were dominating the roofs of mouths, one foot lindy rigs tipped with the largest rainbow chub, and pretty much any jig in gold were unstoppable. We didn’t leave Shale Rock area all day long. The Lowrance HDS was full of yellow bellied walleyes, and they were slammin, there was no point in moving. Gary and I boated 60-70 walleyes on Saturday. Thirty of those eyes were over 24 inches. We caught lots of 26-27 inch marble eyes along with a few 28s and a 29.5.
I was so happy to show Gary the real Rain River pre spawn bite. My stories fell into place and another person experienced the crazy pre spawn bite on Lake of the Woods through Hang Loose Outdoors.
Topper, Lindsey, Amos, and Jess fished the Rainy River on Saturday, but they were many miles up River from Brock and Gary. They slammed the walleyes too. They caught a mix of hogs and male eye balls throughout the day. Amos caught the largest walleye of the HLO crew for the weekend, a 30 inch. What a successful weekend…
Thanks Tom and Sandy Eaton for the hospitality Friday night.
Written by Brock
For all of you guys wondering about the Rainy River walleye bite, it's currently going real good up there now. A ton of walleyes are in the river and most boats are catching 50 plus fish a day. Lots of fisherman are boating multiple marble eyes over 26 inches in one day too. The season closes this Saturday so you only have a few more days to hit it. After Saturday, our focus is directed towards giant sturgeon in 4 Mile Bay and in the river. There is nothing like fighting a 60 plus inch prehistoric beast. Good luck to those fishing eyes the next couple days and the rest of you chasing the true hogs of LOTW!
We spent some time late week on Pokegama Lake. It felt awesome to be out on our favorite lake once again. We found panfish in a couple different spots in 20-25 feet of water. Tioga Bay had its fair share of crappies and bluegills as well as Wendigo Arm down by Troop Town. The fish were pretty tight lipped during daylight hours, but we threw together enough for a fish fry both days. In the evening hours, the crappies moved a bit shallower into 10 feet of water where they chose to bite a little better. The water temps fluctuated across the lake anywhere from 46-51F. I bet this week's cool weather doesn't warm much up. Look for the crappies and gills to find those shallow mucky spawning grounds in the next week or two when the water temps stabilize in the low to mid 50s.
We should be up on the Rainy River a couple more times before the walleye close and then after chasing sturgeon. Good luck fishing!
Congratulations to Brock and Katie on their engagement last week!
The Rainy River pre spawn is upon us. The river is wide open out into 4 Mile Bay and into LOTW now. Big boats are landing at Birchdale, Frontier, and Vidas landings. The recent river report is fair to slow for walleyes. The water was pretty murky yesterday as well as today(3/29). Water temps were 39-40F. The walleye bite was best anchored in clearer water or near feeder creeks. A lindy rig with a big rainbow worked well. Look for the bite to improve as the water clears and the weather stabilizes.
The bite in 4 Mile Bay and LOTW is currently better, but still slow due to the water and the cold front that has been hanging over us. Look for lots of boats to occupy and fish this area this coming weekend. The bite can only get better!!!
For now, stick to the jigs, tipped with a white twister tail and a rainbow chub. Three quarter ounce jigs in gold, pink, and white are the goto. Keep in contact with the bottom and move slow. Fish the breaks going into the deeper holes along the river channel in 14-20fow. Hold on cause the giant Lake of the Woods walleyes will rip your pole right out of your hands.
If you're looking for sturgeon, don't forget the muskie pole and a couple dozen night crawlers. A foot leader with a single hook, a glob of crawlers, and a 2 ounce weight will allow you to tangle with the biggest fish of your life. Fish the deeper holes for these prehistoric beasts. Anchor up, cast your bait out, put your clickers on, and kick back. When the walleye fishing is slow like it is now, try targeting these hogs. You will be hooked.
If you haven't witnessed the spring Rainy River run, give us a call or go experience it for yourselves. Truly unbelievable!!!
The Rainy River spring pre spawn is truly action packed when it's on. Conditions must be right. The water clarity should be well over a foot with water temperatures in the 40s and a stable weather system present. When these conditions align at the end of March through the first half of April, walleye fishing is lights out. Thousands of anglers hit the Rainy each and every spring just hoping for the river to be on.
Warm weather broke the river up early this year. Some years, the river is barely open to 4 Mile Bay by the second weekend in April. Well, the river was to that point around March 23 this year. With snowfall levels very low throughout the winter, runoff should have been limited making for a clear river early and an amazing bite. The bite was pretty good out at the mouth of the river leading up to last weekend. Then our 70 degree weather got pushed out with a huge cold front. Slower fishing reports soon followed.
Brock, Dan, and Ryan hit up the Rainy River on Wednesday. It was the first time the HLO Crew had been on the river this year. They landed at Vidas landing and began fishing walleyes right off the bat. The water clarity was very dirty and the walleye bite was extremely slow in the morning. They switched to fishing sturgeon after no walleyes were boated in the fist hour and a half. The sturgeon fishing started off pretty slow too. Finally, Dan horsed in a 35 inch sturge and then soon followed that up with a big 48 inch. The boys then went back to fishing marble eyes after they hit two more deep holes for sturgeon with no bites. The walleye fishing again was pretty slow mid day, but they caught a few. The key to triggering a bite was to anchor, bounce your jig and minnow barely off bottom or use a lindy rig tipped with a big rainbow chub, and then wait for the walleyes to bump into it, sniff it out, and finally eat. With the river so dirty, walleyes have a very hard time seeing their prey or your bait. You try finding a green bean lying on the floor of your kitchen with the lights off. No hands, either. It's not easy.
Ten hours of fishing turned up a handful of walleyes and a couple sturgeon for the boys. It was a very slow day on the water. The water temp was 40 degrees. The river was dirty. You lost sight of your jig and minnow about six inches under the surface of the water. The cold front still hung in the air too. The recipe for the river being "on" was just not there.
Topper and the Forestry Boys (Craig, Jake, Amos) couldn't handle a bad fishing report that night when Brock got back. They were committed to heading up and fishing 4 Mile Bay and the gap of Lake of the Woods the next morning. Well, they did just that. The fishing was no better up there either. They searched for walleyes with the Lowrances, but came up far short. They even cruised out onto the big lake looking for schools heading towards the river for the spawning season. They caught a few walleyes, but reported it slow at best. The weather was down right brutal too. Mid thirties, wind, and rain wasn't a good blend. Rain never is a good thing this time of year for the river. It doesn't help to clear up the river. It makes it even worse. Topper said the only way they could catch fish was to go very slow against the current or anchor and let the walleyes come to them.
Hopefully the weather improves, the water clears, and the fish start to slam. The season doesn't close until April 14th. There is plenty of time for the river recipe to turn around. Keep fishing hard until then. Take the muskie poles with if you are heading there this weekend. If walleye fishing is slow, try targeting the biggest fish of your life; the prehistoric sturgeon. Until next time, let’s hope for the river to be “on” soon!
written by Brock
It was surely a beautiful weekend in the north country. Temperatures were in the high 60s all across Northern Minnesota. Temps in the 70s were recorded in some spots too. And it's March? We all know what this weather does to the ice. It melts extremely fast.
Colt and Ben were on Lake of the Woods chasing pike for three days. They put some hogz on the ice. All fish were caught and released including multiple pike over 40 inches. Their groups’ largest fish for the weekend were two 43 inchers. Good work guys.
Adam and Craig were in Canada lake trout fishing for three days. Ice conditions were very sketchy. They caught quite a few lakers between their group. Adam’s dad tangled with his first laker, a 35”. Adam caught the biggest one of the trip, a 36.5” Canada brute. They also reported catching a few nice pike, some monster whitefish, multiple small mouth bass, and a couple huge crappies. It’s hard to beat Canada fishing.
Colt’s group along with Adam’s reported ice conditions on the unsafe side by Sunday afternoon. Drastic changes took place from Thursday to Sunday. Well, put the ice fishing gear away and bring out the boats. The Rainy River pre spawn is here. It’s time for hog walleyes and giant sturgeon. Big boats are landing at Birchdale and small boats at Frontier. By this weekend, it will be full throttle. If you have never experienced the Rainy River in the spring, please contact us for more information. We would be happy to share some tips or guide you to the big ones.
Ice conditions all across Minnesota are unsafe. Please don’t try to venture out onto the floating ice cubes. We are probably going to see the ice off all lakes before April. Wow!!
Topper gave a fishing seminar at the Grand Rapids JC Home Show on Saturday. His seminar was called “Adapting to Walleyes”. He talked about changing presentations and different bait types based on water temperatures and seasons in order to put more walleyes in the boat.
Finally, I had a weekend off in March, time to head to Lake of the Woods in search of those hog pre spawn pike. My work schedule does not match up with Brock’s so the amount of fishing we do together is limited. I begged Brock to go up to LOTW’s on Sunday knowing it would probably be the only day I could go this March.
Brock and Topper worked at Rays Sport & Marine boat show on Saturday at the Civic Center in Grand Rapids. They helped cook fish for the event and spent the rest of the time talking fishing with the community. At the end of the evening, I found myself driving them around, eventually ending up at Toppers for two short hours of sleep. We left for LOTW’s just after 4A.M. We stopped at River Rat Bait in Cohasset to pick up a dozen big suckers that Ken left us outside. Thanks Guys! I was driving while Brock and Topper snored. Good thing I brought my pillow for Topper to use. I sang to myself to stay awake and slammed down coffee the whole way north.
We arrived to the big lake shortly after 7A.M. We set up six tip ups, half with big suckers and half dead herring. We drew strings to see who would go first. I won the draw and was pumped when I woke from a nap to see the first flag. One downside of this trip was that I could not use my left foot due to an ankle injury. So in order to get to the flag, I had to use my crutches to get into the otter sled and then the guys had to drag me. Needless to say, Brock and Randy got a good workout in. The first fish was a small one, not what we were looking for. A few more small ones followed.
As I was hobbling around on the ice watching for flags, Randy and Brock enjoyed a nice nap. I saw the furthest flag spring up and yelled, “FLAG furthest one down”. They both jumped up with eyes half open in confusion. They were not quite awake yet as they stumbled in opposite directions. I laughed so hard and pointed them in the right direction. It was Randy’s turn as I watched them race away. Randy landed a beautiful 38.5 inch pike which gave me confidence that I just might get my first 40 incher today. Brock caught a small one and my turn was up again. We used live and dead bait so when the next flag went up; I knew there was a fish on the line because it had dead bait. I hobbled into the sled as Topper threw my crutches in behind me. Brock pulled me in the slushy snow to the flag. The ‘t’ handle on the tip up was spinning super fast. Brock told me to set the hook. I felt a log of a fish on the end of the snagger rig. I could tell that it was huge, but after a few seconds, the line went slack. I was bummed to lose that fish, but it was a beautiful sunny day and there was lots of daylight left. A short while later, I caught another small pike and it was Brock’s turn. He managed to pull in a fatty of a 38 inch. Topper followed Brock’s hog up with a 37 inch. I did not catch a big one, but I managed to catch a few smaller pike along with a slight sun burn. We all decided we had good sun burns as we picked up tip ups and enjoyed an unbelievable sunset.
As we drove back to Adrian’s Resort, I got a little scared with the amount of water that was on top of the ice now. The majority of the snow melted with the last two days of 60 degrees and sunshine. Brock just drove right through the largest puddles and laughed as I freaked out. Four Mile Bay was in very rough shape especially close to shore. If you plan on heading to LOTW this weekend, bring your four wheelers. Be careful and cautious. Good luck hog hunting! Rainy River walleyes and sturge are right around the corner…
Written by Katie Jo
Usually you will find the HLO Crew on Lake of the Woods chasing hog pike on the first weekend of March. Well, that was not the case this weekend. We were busy catching up on things. It was one of those weekends when we needed to stay home and take care of business. Topper and Brock worked on preparations for the upcoming tournament and guide season. The planners were taken out and days were marked for pre fishing and guiding. It looks to be another busy spring and summer for us. We can't wait. Bring on the open water. The Rainy River pre spawn walleye season is only three weeks away. Ooooofta! Eye balls fatter than footballs and hog sturgeon!
The Grand Rapids Boat Show is this coming Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in town at the Civic Center. Come check out all the great deals from Rays Sport and Marine. Topps and Brock will be there all day on Saturday. Stop by on Saturday for a fish fry and fishing talk.
Godfrey did some more taxidermy this past weekend. He mounted two more deer heads. He and Mama got some things ready for there Canada lake trout trip in a week. Pretty sure Adam's Dad is tagging along with them on their trip. If Todd still knows how to fish, it will be interesting when he laces into a hog fifteen plus pound laker. Better prepare yourself Todd. Do your lake trout stretches! Mama, Adam, and Staci also fished Pokegama one evening and caught some pretty good bluegills on the Wendigo Arm end.
Brock got out fishing a couple hours on Sunday and Monday evening with his neighbor Gary. Sunday night they fished Pokegama for crappies, but had no luck. Monday they hit a back lake in Remer and caught some descent crappies, enough for a meal. The panfish seemed very stubborn. Look for the crappies and bluegills to turn on the feedbag as we push further into March. This coming weekend looks to be in the 50's. If that's the case, we might not have too much white stuff left for long. Wooooooooooo.
Sounds to us like a great weekend to chase slabs and a better weekend to head up to LOTW and tip up hog pike. We might have a plan to hit those hogs up on Sunday or Monday. Bring on the teeth!
written by BA
It’s always a wonderful decision to head straight up to Lake of the Woods in the morning after working a twelve hour night shift. Well, it seemed like a great idea to catch photo release hog pike for the day. No sense in wasting the day away. March was only a few short days away and we all know what that means: Hog pike on LOTW are starting to get into their pre-spawn patterns and that means eating is on the top of their list.
Adam drove my Chev Bomb up Hwy 46 as I passed out in the passenger seat. A quick nap and I bounced up, ready to rock. We had just passed Upper Red Lake and it was just beginning to get light out. The wind was bucking across the road out of the Northwest. Oh, we knew it was going to be cold and windy out on the big lake, but it didn’t faze us much. All that mattered was we were going to have tip ups in the water.
As we made it out onto the lake, the plowed roads and snow drifts indicated Baudette had received a lot more than just six inches of snow a few days prior. I would say they got more like a foot. The banks of the roads were unsurpassable and snow drifts looked a little deep there beyond. We found a few openings off the roads where wheel houses had been set up and instantly bombed off the road breaking trail to one of our hog pike spots. I had the Chevy pinned in a few spots, but for the most part we made it just fine.
Our four flags were in the water by 9AM. It was bone chillin cold with a twenty mile an hour wind. It was brutal. We sat in the truck as it was very warm and comfortable. It felt good to be set up, any second a flag could pop and a twenty plus pounder could be rocking. Well, the first two flags were mid twenty inchers. A good sign, pike were out and about.
The next few hours went something like this: eat, nap, eat, nap, reinforce wind blocks for our tip-ups, nap, and clean snow off top of flags, reinforce wind blocks. Adam and I were going insane. Where were the hogs? It was so brutal; a move was almost out of the question.
We finally got a flag at 4PM. The t-handle was spinning a million miles an hour as I jumped on the flag. I slowly stopped the line as I felt the snagger rig sink into the pike’s grill. A few runs later, a fat 36 incher came up the hole. Adam snapped a few pictures and we released her back into the water. I jumped around and around trying to warm my hands. Wow, it was cold. We could do without the wind.
The next couple hours were flagless. We packed up at dark and bombed back to Baudette. We almost got stuck, but the Silverado kept on givin er. A slow day of fishing was still very much enjoyed once again. Thank god for the warm truck on a cold day on the water.
Saturday, Adam and I attended the 25th Annual Minnesota Deer Hunters Association State Habitat Banquet at the Timberlake Lodge in Grand Rapids, MN. The night was fun filled with tons of games, raffles, food, drinks, and fun. Our luck turned from Friday to Saturday as one of Adam’s ticket numbers was announced. He won the 50/50 cash. We drank on him the rest of the night. My and Topps Hang Loose Guide Service Trip was silent auctioned off towards the end of the banquet. Thanks to Timberlake who threw in two rooms with the trips. Great banquet! Thanks to Grand Rapids MDHA and all the volunteers for putting on a wonderful night.
Topps and Mama visited Ely this past weekend. They took part in Joel and Spencer’s birthday party. No, they didn’t fish. They snowmobiled most of the weekend. Now that we have snow, enjoy it! It won’t be here long. Pretty soon we will be sitting in the Lunds on the Rainy River, catching hog eyes and Sturgeon.
written by BRock
How about we put the weekend in rewind? Where do we start? We could start right off the bat with drag buzzing lake trout action or we could begin with the preparation mode that took place on Thursday. All in all, this past weekend was packed full of action, excitement, and good times. Wish we could rewind time and be back up on Clearwater West this very second.
Thursday was full of chaos as we punched out of work and raced home to get our fishing things ready for the trip that was at our fingertips. Leave time was set from Grand Rapids at 12:01AM Friday. That would put us up at Brown’s Clearwater West Resort well before light so we would have plenty of time to unload the gear and get fishin before the sun came up. Well, we only had a few hours to pack and a couple quick minutes for a nap. As some of you may know, when HLO goes on a trip, excitement runs high, and sometimes our brains get scattered signals when it comes to efficient planning. All that really matters is: fishing poles, tackle, auger, Vexilar, snowmobiles, and fish houses. If anything else is forgotten, so be it; we got hog lakers to catch.
Surprisingly, we left Topper’s house a couple minutes early. Why? Well, Dan backed out of the trip at the very last minute so instead of packing two rigs, we only needed one. Hope the LT’s are slammin Dan. We’re off to Atikokan, Canada.
We arrived at Brown’s Clearwater West well before light. We all voted to take a half hour nap before getting dressed and unpacking the equipment. The nap was the most sleep we got that day. We were met with the cold damp Canadian air as we stepped outside the truck. It put us into fishing mode as everyone scurried to dress up for the elements before doing their lake trout stretches (lake trout stretches get your arms, wrists, head, neck, and knees ready for the long drag buzzing battles that lake trout dish out).
Mama and Godfrey set up a good ways down the shoreline from Brock and Topper. It wasn’t long and we could hear Godfrey hootin and hollering as he fought the first laker of the weekend. It wasn’t long after and Randy was yelling at me from a hundred yards away as his pole bent in half and his drag zinged. After a solid ten minute battle, Randy posed for pictures holding a beautiful eight pound lake trout. The rest of the day was kind of a blur as the action kept our faces glued to the Vexilars and our lures rippin up and down. Between the four of us, we iced 10 more lakers from 10AM to 3PM. They were all between five and ten pounds. They were all angry too. Good thing we did our lake trout stretches. They fought like no other fish on the ice.
We probably would have caught more lakers that day, but Mama took a couple hours off of fishing. We blew a snowmobile belt so Mama headed all the way back to Atikokan to search for a new one. It never fails; something usually breaks in one way or another. Too bad it’s happened to Mama’s gear the last two trips to Clearwater. He found a belt so we were set the rest of the weekend.
Saturday we decided to explore new ice as we punched excessive holes in the morning hours. Topper and Brock moved three spots before they landed on a couple hungry lakers. Mama and Godfrey headed back to Friday’s area as their new attempted spot was dead. The morning was slow as the late morning found all of us back in Friday’s general area. Saturday’s action was slower than Friday’s, but we had no problem hooking up with hog lakers here and there. Mid afternoon found us yet again exploring new turf. Without an accurate lake map, we drilled nearly a hundred holes in a couple hours. The new spots were rewarding as I tangled with a monster laker that went close to fifteen pounds. Mama and Godfrey found a mess of lakers themselves. Saturday we iced eleven lakers; success.
Sunday brought the first sunny skies of the weekend and the last day of the trip. We all set up on the deep flat where I had caught the giant laker the previous evening. Adam found the corner of the structure and caught four beautiful lakers. Mama bounced around him with no luck. Topper and I moved back to a spot we caught fish Saturday morning, but not before we witnessed the craziest mirage (1.an optical phenomenon, especially in the desert or at sea, by which the image of some object appears displaced above, below, or to one side of its true position as a result of spatial variations of the index of refraction of air) each of us had ever seen. The rocky Canadian shoreline grew and disappeared before our eyes. Trees on the shoreline were covered up by reflected snow and ice. The islands grew above the regular shorelines like mountains and the steep rocky ledges looked like they were going to melt into the ice. It lasted for a solid hour. I guess it was one of those: You had to be there moments. It was like the northern lights had come out during the day.
That definitely sealed the trip. Noon came as we slowly packed up and headed back to the resort. We hated to leave especially on the nicest day of the trip. We all knew we had to get back. It felt good knowing this time to Clearwater West was a big success. Four of us iced thirty lake trout in two and a half days. The average laker was right around eight pounds. A bunch of tens were caught including my hog. We kept a fish a piece to bring home. The rest were caught and released. This was our third time to Clearwater West and we totally revamped our game plan. We hit all new spots, focusing mainly on gradual flats adjacent to deep water and steep shoreline breaks. It proved to be very rewarding. No, we didn’t wrestle with a twenty plus pound trout, but knowing we fished our best on waters where they get much larger than twenty pounds will keep us coming back year after year. One of these days the HLO Crew will be pictured holding a 30 plus pound world renowned laker from Clearwater West.
Written by Brock
As I sat at work all I could think about was grabbing my brand new Rip City 42in trout pole and vexilar, swooping up Staci and cruzzing up to my lil bros house in Ely, MN to chase after angry trout! Kevin had been catching fish all week and sending me pics just to tease my addiction!
While driving up there, I explain to the new comer(Staci) about these crazy/fun fish and talked about some of the strategies and ways to hopefully make the drag peel. She seemed to get more and more excited with every word.
We pulled into Ely just in time to watch the 8 ball get slammed into the pocket by Kevin to win the match at league pool. We then enjoyed some of the locally brewed beer at the Boathouse bar while talking about fridays plans.
The alarms went off at 6AM and we hit the ice of Burntside lake. Soon after with the excitement building, we started drilling holes at kevs hot spot! An hour later with no fish, we moved to a promising looking spot a few hundred yards away. With the holes drilled, my Linder Darter plummeted towards bottom after a minute or two a huge red mark appeared on the vexlar, and the chase was on. No hit took place, but it wasnt long and "Fish On" was yelled out by Staci as I could here the drag peel, but not for long as the rod went limp and the fish was gone. She was hooked right there and then and the darter never quit moving.
About an hour later "Fish On" was screamed once again and from the bend in the pole I knew it was not a lil rat. After a dag peeling fight, it ended up being a fat 26 inch laker with Staci now smiling for the camera with her first lake trout (beating Kevins personal best)!
With Kevin now pouting that the beginner beat his record with her first trout ever, he got serious! After an hour or so of hard jigging, Kevin finally teased a hog to slam his bucktail jig and another fight was on and a good fight it was! He hooted and hollered and the drag screamed as his Jason Mitchell pole showed the signs of a giant! Five minutes later Staci pulled the 30 inch hog from the hole. What a beautiful fish it was with no signs of clipped fins. It was a true natural!
With those two hogs being the only two fish put on the ice on friday, we hoped saturday would produce something special, but we fished from dawn to dusk with very few fish graphed. We did manage to catch a fat 23 inch laker on a cisco baited tip-up! Big thanks to my lil bro and Jenn for letting us stay and guiding Staci to her first angry laker!
Written by Adam Godfrey
Who can sleep when you have Lakers on the brain? That quick sentence was all it took and we were off on the road Friday at one in the morning. Smooth sailing across the border and we were half way there. As Topps fed Craig coffee from the thermos, the minutes felt like hours. Finally, we pulled into Brown’s resort just as Barry Browns was getting down to the shop. We picked his brain for a minute and started unloading. One thing we’ve learned about lake trout fisherman is that they are very tight lipped. Take what you hear with a grain of salt because it just may be far from the truth. So just grab your gear and get after it.
We were surprised by 17 inches of fresh snow when we arrived. Slush was going to show its ugly face no doubt. That it did within the first hundred yards from shore. It was a long wet struggle with all the gear but we made it without getting stuck. We went all the way across Clear Water West Lake and set up the tent on a nice point nestled in the Red Pines.
Camp was set and we were off to our first spot. Of course we anticipated setting up on our first spot and hammering fish but as we all know that’s not always the way it works. We struggled to graph a fish so the hunt was on. Pounding hole after hole, trying point after point. Finally, as Andy and Mama went back for the second load Dan and Topps each plucked there first Laker. Thank god, because it was looking to be a stomach growling night in the tent. The rest of the evening was still tough with only the two Lakers and a white fish caught through the first day.
With stomachs full of Laker and venison we settled for some Zs. In the morning Dan and Topps went back down to where the crew caught fish the previous year and again began to struggle. After an hour of fishing and spot hopping we decided to brave the slush and head to Grey Trout. It was a haul but we made it and were set up on our go to spot there. Guess what? A struggle again! Finally Mama smacked one then Andy. We thought we were going to find our groove but again it just tapered off.
Frustrated and hungry we decided to head back to camp. We couldn’t go a whole trip without a problem as Mama knocked a hole in his fish house sled on the way back. So we were down a sled and had to drop it off at the resort. We figured since things were tough we would lighten up our load a bit by getting rid of all our liquids. So cards, stories, and laughs consumed our night.
Light came and maybe a few too many laughs took place that night for Mama and Andy they decided to sleep in. Whoops! Not a good idea cause Topps spot was on fire. Bing Bang Boom Topps landed three beauties a 26, 28, and 29 incher. Each were crazy battles. Those fish are nuts up there, 15 minute battles for each fish. Up and down all around by the time you get your first look at em your knees are shaking and heart is pounding. Then you pull that baby out and they are absolutely breath taking.
Topps was on cloud nine packing up with an awesome Laker day under his belt. It was a white knuckled ride back with every bit of gear strapped on to make it in one trip. We made it with no problems. Although fishing was tough this is a place where you can support a smile even when times are tuff. It’s beautiful and just knowing you drove over many world class Lakers will keep us coming back.
We recommend this trip to everybody. There are a few expenses in the beginning. Now that we have mastered it, we make this trip for under 100 dollars for everything. So it is affordable and very dynamic. There are many things to catch from monster walleyes to hog Lakers. So get your fishing buddies together and get the plan rolling.
written by Topps
Ely, MN called my name as I prepared my four days off of work. The temps were supposed to be descent so I thought I would venture up and spend a couple days with Kevin G chasing lake trout. Kevin put a few nice lakers on the ice the past few days so I was pumped. It’s that time of year, laker time.
The last couple years, the HLO Crew has been gaining some good experience with laker takers up in that neck of the woods. Burntside and Snowbank lakes are very familiar with us. I like Burntside a lot better than Snowbank and the other smaller lakes so I told Kevin I would like to start at B-Side.
After a snowy and slippery drive to Ely, I was finally ready to look at the map of B-Side and form a game plan. Kevin pointed out where he had been fishing and I showed him a few spots of my own. We figured we would hit a new spot in the early AM. If we didn’t graph anything in the first twenty minutes, then we would bounce out to one of his spots.
Well, we had to bounce to one of Kevin’s spots after my new choice failed us. It wasn’t long in Kev’s spot and we started seeing those LT’s. They were flying and chasing like fighter jets. Up down, up down with our lures they went. Wow, I forgot how much fun they were to watch on your Vexilar. One finally hit me and I missed it.
Kevin followed up my miss with a laker and then another. Both were right around two pounds. They would be good eats later after a long day on the ice. Fishing slowed as the day went on. We bounced from spot to spot to spot with no chasers. The North Arm of B-Side was very dead. We might not return up there for quite some time.
The evening found us back on the main lake as Kevin caught one, the best one of the day, on a tip up. That was the last laker we caught on the trip. Wednesday was absolutely dead. Tuesday brought sunny skies and a fairly good bite where Wednesday laid heavy cloud cover and steady low pressure. I returned to GR on Wednesday night.
Topper and Lindsey went spearing on Saturday morning. If they even knew what they were getting themselves into. In a couple hours they seen multiple fish over 30 inches. They speared a 35, 37, and 28 incher. They passed one fish that was bigger than the 37”. It was a crazy and toothy day. Time for a pike fish fry!
Colt and Ben went up to Lake of the Woods on Friday to Sunday. Walleye and sauger fishing was very slow due to a low pressure cold front that swept through mid morning on Friday. They caught enough to eat, but the amount of lookers and non biters that appeared on the Vexilars was a little sickening.
Katie hit Mille Lacs up with her parents this weekend. The fishing was on the slower side, but the hogs were not. She caught a 29.5 inch. It's her personal best eyeball. Way to go. The Mille Lacs bite was best in the night hours of 6PM-8PM.
The HLO Crew is leaving Thursday to Atikokan, Canada (Clearwater West). Our journey is hog 20+ lb lake trout. The drags will be buzzzzzin! Wish us luck. Post some pics and a great story when we get back.
OOOFFTA tacos!! 3AM shove off!! A red eyed ride to Hungry Jack Lodge near the BWCA chasing hog Lakers for Amos’s bachelor party; worth it! Finally, after all the anticipation, 10 anxious anglers were on their way. We rolled into Grand Marais about 6:00AM, scooped up a little breakfast, and headed up the gunflint trail. We surprised the owners a bit early, but the friendly staff at Hungry Jack welcomed us with open arms.
We threw our stuff in the cabins and were off to the nearest lake trout lake we could find. All of us went our separate ways in pairs of two, hiding from the frigid temps in our shanties. It wasn’t long when Jake came over the radio screaming, “first gunflint Laker”. Topps and Craig started jigging frantically trying to get on the board, but with no luck minute after minute and yes, hour after hour. Amos (Mr. Trout) and Abe found a nice school of fish and everyone moved in on them besides stubborn Craig and Topps who ended their day with zero! The rest of the boys ended up with just over 20 fish between the 8 of them.
After a very late night and a cringing bar tab, the boys were off with high hopes to the next lake. Guess who is over the radio first thing in the morning? Yup Jake, this time with a nice 5 pound Laker he released. We thought it was the start of a great day, but again minute after minute and hour after hour, lots of fishing, but not much catching. Guess who pulled through in a major pinch? Guess no more, it was Topps. He yanked two smelt back to back, stunning 7 inchers. Wow that guy can really fish!!!
Saturday was a bust, with only two Lakers caught between eleven guys, but lots of good times were had. The night brought some crazy dice games and lots of laughing and wise cracking. We packed her up Sunday morning and headed home. It would have been nice to catch a few more on Sunday, but when you yank 2 smelt and 2 Lakers for 11 guys in 10 hrs of fishing you have some major celebrating to do that night. All in all, it was a great time and we would all recommend staying at Hungry Jack Lodge. Take a peek at their web site it is a beautiful place: www.hungryjacklodge.com
Good Luck Amos and Jess!!! Who needs Lake Trout when you’ve already hooked the catch of your lives!
Written by Topps
What a temperature change! We are looking at highs in the single digits this week. That wind almost makes it unbearable. This cold weather should hopefully lock up those sketchy spots on some of the lakes in the Grand Rapids area.
The pressure ridges on Pokegama Lake are still unsafe and one should not attempt to drive 4 wheeler or snowmobile over them. Please cross these ridges as close to shore as possible. There is still some open water at the south entrance of Sherry's Arm just south of Camper's Island and Battleship. The walleye bite has been hit or miss from one night to the next (typical this time of year). One should expect a couple bites at that prime time morning and evening windows, though. Focus on the steep drops on the tips of points, bars, and deep mid lake humps this time of year in 30-40 fow. Pike spearing is picking up on the lake now in 10-14 fow. Fishermen are finding fair to good panfish action in Tioga Bay.
Lake of the Woods offered the best and most consistent walleye bite this past weekend. The bite was good to great 5 to 7 miles out across Pine Island in 30-34' feet of water. Look for this to be the best bite for the next week or two until those eyes decide to head farther out to the reefs or turn back to the shorelines. Truck travel is good out of Adrians Resort.
Red Lake was hit and miss this past weekend. Some fishermen struggled to catch a few eyes while others found a mess of fish here and there. It seems that the fish are moving away from the shoreline and out into the big pond. I believe your best bet is to get out into that 14fow and be mobile. Drill holes, fish them for 20 minutes, if nothing, move a couple hundred yards. One will eventually find a big school of hungry eyes with this approach. I know its hard to do when it's freezing cold out, but it leads to success. Use those Strikemaster augers to rip thru the ice and those Vexilar flashers to locate the fish. Good Luck.
Winnibigoshish and Leech were fair for walleyes this weekend. The humps on the Northwest part of Winni were good in the afternoon hours in 20-24fow. Stony Point was so so in 14-18fow in the evening hours. Truck travel is fair to good out of the resorts. Contact the resorts prior to planning your trip. It's a weird ice year this year. If you want to be mobile, bring those 4 wheelers. The ice is rough in many areas on our big lakes and it's easier to navigate with the wheelers.
The "Crew" did a little trout fishing this weekend, but look to hit it hard this coming weekend. The ice on our clear trout lakes was a little sketchy. By this coming weekend, it should be all good for 4 wheeler travel. Keep jigging and hang on!
An exciting weekend was in store for me when I leaped from bed on Saturday morning as Topps blew up my phone at 11A.M. “What are you doing still sleeping, he screamed?” I said, “Well, I didn’t get off work until 5:45A.M. “No excuses, pack your stuff, meet me at my house in half an hour,” he stated.
I cleared my head, threw my clothes on, and headed out the door. Of course, Topper made me drive, take my wheeler, my fish house, and my trailer, so yes; I had to load those up too. I made it to his house in an hour.
We stopped at our favorite bait store, River Rat, for some hog suckers and a scoop of chubs. We then cruised up Hwy 46 heading North. Our destination was Ryan Timmer’s pad in Warroad, MN. We all know what lake lies up there, Lake of the Woods (LOTW).
We figured we could stop at Red Lake on the way up for a quick evening walleye bite. We pulled into Keliher at 3PM. We were going to have to be speedy if we planned on wetting a line on Red. We got on Red around 4P.M, jumped on the wheeler, and drove 2 miles to the rocks on the south shore. The walleyes were there, they just weren’t biting. Lots of lookers appeared on the Vexilars. After a handful of lookers and talk with an old fellow that stated fishing was ever so slow today, we jumped back on the wheeler and headed out.
We had beverages on our mind, friends we hadn’t seen in years, and the tickler of the weekend, HOG pike on LOTW! We pulled into Timmer’s driveway around 7P.M. We caught up on old times, threw back a few cold ones, and formed the morning’s game plan. Oh yeah, Timmer and Bridey fed us a delicious meal, also. They even had spare bedrooms for the both of us. Little do they know, they said we could stay anytime. Topps and I will be moving some of our things in this coming weekend.
The morning greeted us with 30 degree temperatures and sunny skies. The four of us knew it was going to be a good day. A long ride put us on the ice in one of our familiar pike hideaways. Usually this spot only gets hit by the “HLO Crew” in March and early April. We figured with the unseasonable warm weather, it was sure worth a shot. Our confidence was high.
Topps hit the first tip up and pulled up a rat pike. Good sign, they were there. An hour later, my turn was called, as I glanced over at our nearest tip up, and seen the ‘T’ handle spinning so fast that the flag wouldn’t go up (I heard stories about this, but never witnessed it until now.). I ran to the flag, as the fish slowed, felt pressure and set the hook. Baaam, snap, gone. The hog pike on the end of the line snipped the leader like it was two pound test.
We questioned Timmer and Scott’s leaders that evening at the planning table. They were not hang loose snagger rigs by no means. But, they wanted to put them out cause they worked last year. Well, after that break, and a potential 40 plus incher was lost, they were crying for HLO snagger rigs. They got em. We didn’t lose another fish after that.
The rest of the day went like this: I landed a little pike; Timmer pulled in the first good one of the day, a 37 inch; Scott followed that up with a 30 inch; Topps second turn got him a 27 incher (he was steaming cause we all knew someone was going to land another hog soon); My turn took forever as early afternoon placed me behind the camera holding a 35 incher; Timmer’s luck followed his second turn up with a beast of a 39 incher; and Scott topped off the whole day with a 43.5 incher right before dark. The 43.5 inch northern pike was the biggest pike we have caught and released on LOTW. It was a giant that was caught on a HLO snagger rig, taken pictures of, and returned back into the big lake. It’s estimated weight was somewhere in the ballpark of 23 to 25 pounds. GEEEEZ
Topper and I headed home late Sunday night. It was definitely the wrong decision. Monday was 40 odd degrees. Topps, you should have called in sick to work. We probably would have caught a 45 incher.
The rest of the “Crew” fished locally around the Grand Rapids area this past weekend. Back lake panfishing was hot. Colt and a few friends caught some slab crappies north of town. To top off the weekend, Godfrey and Dan Skelly trapped two Bobcats. These cats were huge (right around 40 pounds) and very much deserved. Congrats guys… Hard work leads to success.
written by BRock
Happy New Years to everyone from all of us here at HLO. We hope your 2012 is full of excitement on the water and in the woods. Let's hear those drags buzzin, wings settin, and bucks gruntin, all backed up with lots of high fives and hang looses. Be safe and successful!
We were on the hardwater from dark to dark of the last week of 2011. The fishing was fair to good. Pokegama was so so. The walleye bite definitely has slowed from that of early ice. One can still expect a couple bites at prime time. Look to deeper water off of steep drops this time of year. Don't be scared to venture into 40fow for those marble eyes. Try a set line, also. Finicky Pokeg eyes can drive one a little crazy this time of year. Pokeg will eventually reward you with one of those 10 pound hogs for your time well spent.
We focused a lot of our time this past week on our back country lakes. The crappies were biting on the couple lakes we did fish. Brock even took his mom out for a piece of the action. She cpr'd a couple crappies in the 12-13 inch range and kept a couple 10-11 inchers for a neighbor. The murky bog stained lakes were consistent throughout daylight hours. Drilling multiple holes and using our Vexilars proved most productive to finding those suspended panfish.
We tip uped one of these same back lakes on Friday. This lake usually gives up multiple 30 inch pike that we catch and release. Well, it barely gave us a flag. Brock, Topps, Beaner, and Mama were totally frustrated with the day. Usually a fish fry takes place out on the lake, but we had to settle for vene polish cooked over the open flame instead. It was still a good time. Fish can't bite all the time.
That same day, Godfrey guided the Illinois crew (Alex & Emily). They caught a few walleyes in the morning on Pokegama then headed out to another back lake. The pike action was pretty good on this back lake. They iced quite a few slimers in the 24-28 inch range and one obese 34 incher. It was good action and fun times. That night the "Crew" prepared a feast of venison and fresh pike at Godfrey's house.
We hit another back lake on New Years Eve day. We brought Brodie Topper with us. The low pressure system had the big crappies mouths sewed shut, but the little ones were biting. We caught lots of crappies, just one hog. Pretty sure Brodie iced that one.
Look for the fishing to improve once this low pressure system that has been sitting on us for the last couple days leaves.