Open Season: Summer is finally here; right time to hit the lakes
"I don't even remember what a bite feels like," I grumbled, as we trolled along one of Ottertail Lake's numerous drop-offs. "This is ridiculous."
"Oh, shut up," my wife, Erin, snapped. "It's not like I'm catching anything, either."
I tried thinking of a comeback, but couldn't. What was the point? She was right, after all - a quality I've begrudgingly come to accept.
A few hours of dragging shiner minnows resulted in enough weeds to fully stock an all-you-can-eat salad bar, but still no fish.
By all rights, we should have been inundated with chunky, white-fleshed walleyes. For the past few years, we'd figured out a system to some truly remarkable fishing that directly correlated to the same time each spring. As a rule, fishing was always good by early June, a few weeks after fishing opener but before any bug hatches. All it took was finding the right depth, the right presentation - low and slow - and the right spot.
But today marked a hitch - an anomaly of sorts - in our careful planning. Up until this point, it was discouraging, and I was disgruntled
"There's...one," my dad, Bret, said; carefully choosing his words as if speaking too quickly would result in a lost fish. His rod bent sharply with the weight of its payload.
Erin reeled in so as to avert any disastrous tangles, and snatched up the landing net in the process. We watched dad wrestle the walleye from its home.
"Feels good," he said, the rod tipping into the water for emphasis.
I was just about to follow Erin's lead and reel in when a telltale nibble sent me nearly into a panic. Flipping my bail, I let loose a slinky of line to give my fish some time to take the bait.
A subtle buzz from dad's reel said his fish wasn't ready to give up.
After a bit, I locked the bail, tightened the line, and ripped the rod forward like Zorro swinging his rapier.
The creature on the receiving end didn't take kindly to the experience, and immediately attempted to wrench itself from the hook.
But the set was good, and as Erin scooped up dad's chunky walleye, I fought my fish finally to the surface.
After hours of bobbing along, the dullness suddenly was shattered by two flopping fish on the floor of the boat.
Dad's walleye, a perfect 19-inch eater, was the only one we caught that day - my fish was a northern, and at 29 inches didn't meet the 30-inch slot limit for the lake.
But while we didn't load the livewell with limits, it still was great just to be out again. And besides, the summer is young. And Erin and I did manage to catch a few eaters the following weekend with my Grandpa Vern, a few days before the mayfly hatch started to kick into high gear and virtually halted any walleye bite.
The best, however, is yet to come; it's just making the time to do so. And when it comes to fishing, well, you don't have to twist my arm too hard.