Lots of old buddies were in the schedule this week, and a good crew of fellas that have been friends of mine for a long time showed up on Monday to start their annual trip in the Hayward area. Dan Martin (Maple Grove, MN) Cory McClure (Maple Grove, MN) and Steve Berg (Independence, MN) have been fishing with me for over 20 years, and there's been no lack of fun and good times on our trips. It's been awhile since we've targeted crappies, and it was a good way to get things started. It didn't take us long to locate a pile of biting fish in 20' – 25' of water. Slip bobbers and small plastics along with jigging spoons put a bunch of fish up to 11" in the boat. After a whole bunch of fish catching, it was time to see if we could get Steve his first musky. That was the end of the catching… The boys chopped up the water all afternoon with bucktails and topwaters without a sniff, and Steve's quest continues. The effort was valiant though, and sometimes the answer is simple. Steve just hasn't felt enough pain yet to land his first ski. We're getting closer though buddy! Water temps were in the high 60's with overcast skies and north winds most of the day. I think it's safe to say that nobody in our crew had a tough time sleeping that night. Lots of sore musky muscles!!!
After beating them up on Monday, I told the guys it was time for a change of pace. We set out on Tuesday back in the Hayward area to target walleyes. Nobody argued, and the walleyes were a bit more cooperative than the muskies from the day before. Foggy skies and flat calm conditions in the morning made for a strange feel on the water, but it didn't take us long to locate fish in 30' – 35' on a mud flat. Leeches and crawlers on jigs and slip bobbers produced, and we didn't have to move the boat for a long time as Dan, Cory, and Steve landed good numbers of fish up to 21'. A few fish were stuck on jigging spoons as well. It was a steady and consistent bite, and we didn't have to wait long between fish. Early in the afternoon, the fog burned off and our school of fish scattered. We went on the hunt for more fish and located more scattered schools in the same depth ranges. They weren't as bunched up as in the morning, so you'd get two or three from each stop before having to move. Trusting your electronics and being patient until finding the right school of fish is really important right now. Don't be afraid to use up some time looking around. Once groups of fish are pinpointed they've generally been aggressive, and it doesn't take long to get bit. We even stumbled into a few nice smallies up to 18" mixed in with the walleyes. Water temps hit 70 degrees by the end of the day, and we had a good mess of fish to fillet at quitting time. Two great days with three awesome guys. The stories keep getting better, and the laughs are harder. This trip was definitely "all about Dan"… Maybe you'll get a sandwich next time Cory. Job well done men. Until next time!
More good buddies and more good times were back on Thursday. I grew up with Brent Jacobson (Mauston, WI), Larry Parce (Holmen, WI) and Brent Granger (New Lisbon, WI), and they were back for a fun trip that's become an annual event. I value every friend I have, but there's something special about the guys you grew up with. We spent the first day of our trip in the Hayward Lakes area targeting crappies for what would hopefully be a fish fry for dinner. We were in business right from the start after locating fish in 23' of water. Slip bobbers and plastics caught tons of fish up to 11", and we had plenty for a meal in short order. The bite was fast, and fish were constantly coming in the boat with several occasions when we all had one on at the same time. Catch, catch, catch. Love it! After our goal for dinner was accomplished we switched lakes just to do a little recon. This is definitely a transitional time of year for us, and our change of lakes was a good example. The lake we went to had a very noticeable thermocline from 20' – 30' so the pattern we were on in the morning wasn't going to translate. After looking shallower, we located a school of fish in 15' stuck to the bottom. It took a little coaxing, but we got them to bite. Everyone in the boat was extremely happy for Granger who seemed to have the hot hand. Well maybe not that happy… We wrapped up the day putting several nice fish up to 12" in the boat that were all released. The fall trend also continued as we saw a large flock of geese heading south. Doesn't it seem early for this?… Water temperatures were in the high 60's and will probably be dropping over the next several days. After getting back to my house we had one heck of a fry and a feast for kings. Hard to beat a day like that!
Winds turned to the south on Friday, and we spent our day back in Hayward targeting walleyes and smallmouth. It took us awhile, but we were eventually able to locate a good school of fish on a mud flat in 30' – 35' of water. Sometimes it's hard to be patient this time of year, but it certainly pays off. After burning some gas looking at different spots, we anchored up on a large school and didn't have to move the boat the rest of the day. Jake 20, Granger, and Parce hooked up on a bunch of nice walleyes up to 21" and smallies up to 20" using nightcrawlers and minnows on jigs and slip bobbers. The action wasn't fast, but it would come in crazy flurries. The guys would catch three or four fish every time a school came through before things would slow down for a bit. All we had to do was complain a little to get a bite, and they'd cooperate again. Funny how that works! I was tempted to pull the anchor a couple of times, but the "don't leave them to find them" rule served us well. Water temperatures hit 60 degrees by the end of the day. The gang put a very respectable day together considering the slow bite, and it was sure good to have them back in the boat for a couple of days. We may all look a little older, but we sure don't talk like it… Fun stuff fellas. Can't wait until our next trip!!!