Wednesday, October 10, 2007

An Average 85 Degree October Wisconsin Day, Part I

Just Your Average 85 Degree October Day, Part I

I don’t know if I believe in Global Warming, or Climate Change, or whatever you want to refer to it. Perhaps I’ve read too much of “Bad” Bob Miller’s writings on ORCA’s Reel Talk. Miller, an exceptional geologist, speaks from actual knowledge instead of off the top of his head, like most people on the subject.

However, I must say that my skepticism was mightily shaken when I awoke on Saturday morning after my conference to a Sand Country already at 70 degrees and climbing. By noon, the temperature was well over 80 degrees, and considering the all-time high temp for that day was around 76, we were truly in record territory.

Just your average 85 degree mid-October day in Northern Wisconsin

With daughter in tow we hit the beaches. Two weeks ago, I noted in The News of the Week that Lake Superior was at an all-time low. This shot of the beach—where a year ago there was no beach—illustrates how low the water is in the Sand Country.

The water was warm enough we actually went swimming

We decided to hit some noon fishing in the north end of the lake, and brought along some Rebels, tube craws, and in my case, a 1950s Creek Chub Jointed Striper Pikie Minnow in Pike Scale. This warrior came out of the tackle box of a dedicated musky fisherman (some day I’ll blog about his tackle box, which I have retained intact), and still has killer action.

We fished vintage Creek Chub pikies for musky and big northern; this was my Jointed Striper Pikie in Pike Scale

With temperatures soaring (and humidity that made it feel like mid-July), a nice wind kicked in to keep us cool. With my brother running the back of the boat and daughter set up in the middle, we were ready for fish.

Marc and daughter pitch tube jigs for bass while I cast the Pikie out the front

Nothing moving on the Striper Pikie, so I switched to tube craws, letting them sink into the weedbed and popping them up in rhythmic motion. Fortune smiled as a tubby Largemouth hit the craw like a freight train and I was on to my first fish of the day. For the record, we released all fish with the exception of walleyes.

Get my first hit of the day—a nifty eighteen inch Largemouth Bass

The daughter was getting anxious, seeing the Old Man land a fish, but her wait was not long. Soon she was on to a fish, but what was it? She set the hook and began cranking as the fish fought back.

Daughter gets a hit! What is it?

Near the boat, we discover it is one of the prize walleyes that make the region so desirable to fishermen. The first of many!

It’s a 2 ¼ pound walleye! The first of many…

With daughter and Marc cranking walleyes out the left side, I pitched a Rebel Fast Trac out the right, and was immediately greeted by the king of fishes: the lordly Smallmouth bass! The smallie smashed the Rebel on a stop-and-go retrieve, and after a quick measurement and photo, went back in the drink to breed more supersmallies. Officially 20 inches, larger than the 19.5 incher I got in June, so the streak of years with a 20+ inch Smallie is officially safe, even from technicalities!

My first 20-inch smallmouth of the day

Meanwhile, in the back of the boat, my brother gets into what he thinks is a big walleye. He soon feels the fish make a very un-walleye like run, and realizes he is into a northern. I am ordered to bring in my line.

Marc nails a four pound northern

I had switched back to the Striper Pikie in hopes of getting a big northern to hit, but was cranking as fast as the Ambassadeur reel could bring in line, when WHAM! Something hits the pikie like a freight train while my brother is fighting his fish. A double! My daughter starts to laugh.

While cranking in the Striper Pikie to get it out of the way of Marc’s fish, this six pound Northern Pike gobsmacked the lure next to the boat

After some due diligence, the water wolf is subdued, and the well built brute is put back in the water to fight another day.

Three hours of fishing has brought us all some great fish. But, as we will discover tomorrow, it was just the beginning of what turned out to be one of the most memorable fishing days in recent memory…

-- Dr. Todd from Snowy Bemidji, Minnesota

Tomorrow: A hot day turns into a hot night…

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