Issue 1 • Edition 5
Featured in this issue
BRAINERD, A MECCA FOR FISHING INNOVATION BY: JIM KALKOFEN
PLUS MORE! • Mrs. Walleye
By: Brian S. Peterson
• Let’s Go Fishing
By: Dave Csanda
• Leadcore Trolling Techniques By: Ted Takasaki • Courtship Flights Among Waterfowl • Your Best Shot
Read Online: www.brainerddispatch.com or www.brainerdoutdoors.com
By: Bill Marchel
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Welcome Outdoor Traditions is a faint memory of days long gone woven into our very being. It is the sometimes subtle and other times aggressive calling we hear that pulls us out of our homes and offices into the wonderful world that nature provides us. It is the warm feeling of sharing those memories with friends, family, and of course new friends preferably around the glow of a fire. Simple yet often awe inspiring Outdoor Traditions can be found in the joy of a first hunt or first catch. Often it is woven into the simplicity of the moment when the sun clears the trees during an amazing sunset or the absolute peace felt while simply hiking through the woods. Most importantly Outdoor Traditions is a way of life that honors, respects and admires the wonders of the outside world. It is handed down generation to generation and is expressed in the smiles of both adults and youth as they explore the simple pleasures that nature offers. Whether trail riding, camping, fishing, hunting, hiking, skiing, snowmobiling, or any of the many other outdoor activities available to us we all share the same enthusiasm for experiencing what each season has to offer. Outdoor Traditions blends stories of days gone by with current photos and helpful articles and advice. The website at www. brainerdoutdoors.com has current outdoors related news, photos, videos and more so be sure to not only visit the site but bookmark it as well. If you are on Facebook become a fan of the Outdoor Traditions page and share your photos and stories with other users. Watch for the Outdoor Traditions page in the sports section of each Sunday paper as well.
by Richard Polipnick
This is your magazine, your stories, and your experiences. It is up to each of us to pass on the stories of our past and the traditions of our youth to ensure that those traditions remain strong for generations to come. Keep the torch lit, pass it on, and share outdoor traditions with someone you care about. Richard Polipnick Assistant Advertising Director Brainerd Dispatch Growing up in the Brainerd Lakes area the outdoors has always been an intricate part of my life. Early in childhood I developed an overwhelming passion for the outdoors and it has been one of my goals as a parent of five children to share that with them. Building traditions based on a love and respect of the outdoors is something that I have and am striving for to help ensure that my children have many outdoor related stories to tell their children and their grandchildren.
Welcome ...................................... 3 Let’s Go Fishing In Brainerd! ....... 5 Spring Time ................................. 10 Recipes ....................................... 11 Campgrounds By The Corps .... 12 Fishing Innovations .................... 14 Courtship Flights Among Waterfowl .... 16 Ripley Esker SNA ........................ 18
FISHING INNOVATIONS Page 14 Page 28
MN Fishing Challenge ............... 19 Featured Products .................... 20 Leadcore Trolling Techniques .. 22 Boating Tips ................................ 24 Mrs. Walleye ............................... 26 Spring Into Panfish! .................... 28 Memory Lane ............................ 31 Service Directory ....................... 32 Today In The Outdoors.............. 33 Your Best Shot ............................ 34
PANFISH! 506 James Street • P.O. Box 974 Brainerd, MN 56401 (218) 829-4705
STAFF: Publisher .................................. Terry McCollough Advertising Director ................... Tim Bogenschutz Copy Editor ............................................Roy Miller Special Projects Coordinator ............... Nikki Lyter Marketing Coordinator .................Monica Nieman Magazine Layout ................................ Tyler Nelson Ad Design .......................................... Jeff Dummer, Andy Goble, John Maatala, Tyler Nelson and Cindy Spilman Sales.............................Kelly Carlson, Linda Hurst, Richard Polipnick, Kristine Roberts, Glen Santi, Carla Saffon, Jill Wasson and Dave Wentzel Online Sales Manager .........................Beth Lehner
www.brainerddispatch.com www.brainerdoutdoors.com Visit us on Facebook 4
T h e
L o g
Outdoor Traditions is a trademarked magazine published by the Brainerd Dispatch, P.O. Box 976, Brainerd, MN 56401. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. ®2010 Cover photo provided by Tim Bogenschutz
LET'S GO FISHING IN BRAINERD! by Dave Csanda
THE BOAT HAS LANDED IN BRAINERD,
and it has
to encompass approximately 20 local chapters
“Let’s Go Fishing” prominently emblazoned on its sides.
throughout the state of Minnesota, with more coming
And if you’re experience level qualifies as being 55 or old-
on board in rapid succession.
er, you have a FREE ticket to hop on board and go fishing in comfort and style.
“We’ve always viewed the Brainerd lakes area as the true core of our fishing heritage and lifestyle here
In a few short years, Let’s Go Fishing, the
in Minnesota,” Joe Holm says. “The fact that some
Minnesota-based network of volunteer boat captains,
of our other chapters originated prior to the one in
support staff and fishing enthusiasts, has achieved
Brainerd does not diminish from the key part it will
something few people would have thought possible
soon play in our winning lineup. Brainerd is a hub of
given their humble beginnings and auspicious vision.
fishing education, enthusiasm and entrepreneurism.
Last year, LGF took approximately 10,000 seniors
It not only has the fisheries; the senior population is
fishing on specially-rigged deluxe pontoon boats
growing by leaps and bounds as retirees flock to the
throughout Minnesota. And best of all, it didn’t cost
local woods and waters. If ever there was a location
any of the lucky anglers a dime.
where Let’s Go Fishing will be right at home and
Let’s Go Fishing originated in Willmar in 2002 as
achieve its intended purpose, it’s here.”
the brainchild of founder and executive director Joe
The Let’s Go Fishing program is tailor-made for
Holm, who visualized a program for “Enriching the
the residents of local senior facilities, church groups
lives of individuals 55 and older through free fishing
and veterans associations, as well as small groups and
and boating activities that strengthen communities,
individuals. Fishing trips generally take place during
build relationships, and create memories.” An
the week to avoid weekend boat traffic, and typically
amazing and ambitious goal, particularly when
last 1 to three hours, depending upon the group, with
you consider the key word FREE in that mission
multiple groups often going out on a boat during the
day. Folding ramps permit wheelchair access when
needed. All that participants need is a fishing license,
of elbow grease, plus the key support of major
although in certain instances, fishing licenses are not
and local sponsors and a volunteer base of over
required for residents of approved senior facilities.
1,000 Minnesotans, LGF has grown over the years
Ask your trip scheduler for further details.
Photos provided by Dave Csanda
D a v e
C s a n d a
Contacting the Brainerd chapter well in advance to book a desired trip date allows both
In the end, it’s a simple case of committing
LGF and participants to coordinate transportation,
to a worthwhile concept, raising the funds to
timing, destination and details to make things run
make it happen, taking the time and expending
smoothly. As you might imagine, the demand whips
the energy to make a difference in someone’s life.
the scheduling process into a whirlwind of frenzied
That’s what LGF does. They simply do it on the
activity, especially if poor weather forces a trip to
water, rod in hand.
be rescheduled. But that’s fishing for you; you can’t
The Brainerd Lakes Area Chapter of Let’s Go
predict the weather, but you can expect to have a
Fishing begins its inaugural season blessed with
good time once the boat leaves the dock.
a core group of unselfish individuals dedicated
On the water, trained volunteers do everything
to turning the dream into a reality, and a plan in
possible to make trips not only pleasant and
motion to achieve the goal. They have a 28-foot
enjoyable, but also to put participants on actively
deluxe Crestliner fishing pontoon custom-rigged
biting fish. If you prefer a simple boat ride, well,
and ready to hit the water this spring, sporting an
that’s possible as well. But most folks who come
impressive set of local sponsor logos prominently
aboard want to feel a throbbing fish on the other
displayed around its luxurious perimeter. The first
end of the line, which sparks imaginations and
wave of trained volunteer captains and support
triggers memories of glory days long ago. One senior
personnel are ready and waiting to take seniors
participant, who rarely if ever spoke prior to his
fishing on our area waters come spring, supplying
fishing trip, suddenly became a chatterbox, telling
all fishing tackle, life vests, bait and refreshments.
and retelling the tale of his fishing experience to
Fortunately, Let’s Go Fishing has a remarkable
everyone willing to listen.
plan on going along with them.”
track record in this regard. Once people learn
“I became a local Let’s Go Fishing volunteer
about it, volunteers seem to flock to their local
when I worked at a senior facility in the Duluth area,”
chapters like ducks to water. As they do, a
says Jennifer Bergstrom, the new administrator at
number of individuals and local businesses toss a
Good Samaritan Society’s Woodland Campus on the
few additional dollars into the pot, and the beat
south side of Brainerd. “I experienced first-hand the
difference the program made in people’s lives. As a
“Initial fundraising has been very promising,”
person who loves to fish, one of my first priorities
says Jim Erickson, who wears dual hats as a
upon moving to Brainerd was to see if I could help
fundraising coordinator, and as the Safety and
start a local LGF chapter in the Brainerd Lakes Area
Training Coordinator for Brainerd Lakes Area
as well. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it
LGF. Together, Jim and LGF marketing director
was already in the works, and that our area would
Bernie Barringer have tirelessly made the rounds
be seeing seniors on the water this coming season. I
acquainting service clubs and potential sponsors
L e t ’ s
F i s h i n g
B r a i n e r d !
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with the LGF program. “We’ve already sold most of
there’s typically no shortage of willing participants.
the boatside sponsor decals,” Jim says,” and have
We’re on course for an auspicious start, but
received over $10,000 toward the purchase of the
it’s only the beginning, and the voyage is far
pontoon boat. However, we still need to raise over
from complete. To help lay the foundation for
$30,000, and we hope to do that before fishing
funding and future growth, the Brainerd Lakes Area
Ch Chapter of LGF will host an
“I believe the Brainerd
f fun kickoff event located
at Mills Ford in Baxter
on April 17, featuring a
who’s who of celebrity
anglers and local angling
success, and we
to all events is FREE.
appreciate the trustt
Be sure to stop by to
people have alreadyy
festiv enjoy the festivities and learn the secrets
placed in us. A huge
to catching more and bigger fish in our local area
advance to those of you who will support LGF in the
waters. And experience first-hand what Let’s Go
coming months. Your efforts will definitely make a
Fishing is all about. Once you do, chances are you’ll
difference in the lives of others.”
Obviously, putting together a program of this
If you’d like to schedule a FREE fishing trip
scope and caliber requires a dedicated commitment
for seniors in the Brainerd area, become an LGF
from a broad array of major sponsors, patrons
volunteer, sponsor or patron, or would simply like
and volunteers. And we’re pleased to say that
more information, contact:
the Brainerd Chapter of LGF already has already
Let’s Go Fishing Brainerd Lakes Area Chapter
garnered strong financial support from area
PO Box 257
businesses. However, live bait, boat and tow vehicle
Brainerd, MN 56401
gas, and refreshments don’t grow on trees, and tax-
deductible contributions are not only welcome, but
For an overview of the Minnesota-based Let’s Go
integral to success.
Fishing program, a 501C3 non-profit organization, go
The larger the participation grows, the more
to www.lgfws.com, or to www.brainerdoutdoors.
volunteer boat captains, volunteers, training sessions
com and follow the link to Let’s Go Fishing, to view
and fishing equipment will be needed. In fact, once
a short on-the-water video of LGF volunteers and
the Brainerd Chapter pays off the remaining balance
seniors on a typical fishing excursion.
on the purchase of their initial pontoon, a second boat will likely be necessary to meet the local demand. Because once the words free and fishing trip work their way into the local consciousness, 8
L e t ’ s
F i s h i n g
After 28 years as a magazine editor and TV angler at In-Fisherman, D A V E C S A N D A recently rejoined his old friends at Lindner Media, producers of Angling Edge Television, in Baxter.
B r a i n e r d !
FREE! LET’S GO FISHING DAY, APRIL 17, 2010 FREE!
To help launch the Let’s Go Fishing program in the Brainerd Lakes Area, and to introduce the community to its services, a unique FREE event will take place on April 17th in Baxter, with anglers of all ages--young and old, veteran and novice alike--invited to attend. The day’s festivities include FREE kids’ fishing clinics and casting contests, plus opportunities to meet representatives from local fishing clubs, receive area fishery updates from the Minnesota DNR, and learn boating safety tips from the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Department. Have your photo taken with a replica of the world record walleye. Plus enjoy a smorgasbord of food, have a chance to win valuable doorprizes, and bid on silent auction items featuring premium fishing and outdoor equipment. All proceeds go directly into the local LGF program. If you’d like to contribute to Let’s Go Fishing to help defray costs, you’re eligible to receive a complimentary LGF fishing hat or tackle pack based on the amount of your tax-deductible donation. Every little bit helps. However, admission is FREE, and the day is designed with a carnival atmosphere that celebrates all aspects of fishing in the Brainerd Lakes Area, including an opportunity to meet, greet and share fishing information with local and professional anglers alike. And just look who’s on the celebrity roster. Highlighting Let’s Go Fishing Day is a powerhouse array of fishing mini-seminars performed by a lineup of angling authorities from the Brainerd Lakes Area, the likes of which has never before been assembled in one place, nor is likely to be again. It’s your
chance to meet and obtain veteran advice from some of the biggest names and faces in the fishing business, each of whom has chosen to live and work in the Brainerd area due to its unparalleled fishing opportunities and northwoods setting. Presenters will discuss fishing tactics for the wide variety of fish species available to anglers throughout the Brainerd Lakes Area--from pike to panfish, walleyes to muskies, and largemouth to smallmouth bass. Plus boat-rigging advice, and tips for taking better photos of and cooking those big fish you’re going to catch. The expert scope of their information is literally priceless. That’s why they’re all donating their time and experience to help launch Let’s Go Fishing, and why you reap the FREE rewards just for showing up. The Brainerd Lakes Area Chapter’s new deluxe 28-foot fishing pontoon will be on display for all to see, and local LGF volunteers will be on hand to explain how area seniors age 55 and older can arrange FREE fishing trips on local waters. Sign up as a group, as individuals, or as intergenerational grandparent/grandchild pairings. Get on the schedule. And remember, with the generous help of major sponsors, a broad range of contributors and unselfish donations of time and experience by trained local LGF volunteers, your Brainerd Area fishing trip is FREE! Can’t beat that! If you like what you see, get on board as an angler, a volunteer, a supporter in some form of Brainerd Lakes Area Let’s Go Fishing. Don’t miss the boat! Once the ice goes off the local lakes, the fun begins.
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C s a n d a
By Mike Host
IT BEGINS IN A SUBTLE, BUT SEEMINGLY
It begins in a
exuberance, leaping from tree-top to tree-top in their new found freedom.
subtle, but seemingly fickle way. One
Out on the ponds, lakes and streams, wood
tentative step forward, then two half-
ducks, golden eyes and green headed mallards once
hearted steps back, and then a bolder
again forage in the muddy bottoms that were long
step forward, followed by another, and
locked away under winter’s frozen impenetrable
another, and then there is no looking
barrier. They preen their feathers while nosily and
back. Winter never gives up its cold icy
enthusiastically readying themselves for spring’s
grasp without a fight, but there comes
annual courtship. Deep in the woods, does, heavy
a time when it has run its course, and
with fawns, lie wearily on the warming hillsides.
quietly succumbs. To paraphrase the
They appear gaunt from the long winter siege, but
Gaelic songwriter, “The valleys are no
for now they revel in the rebirth of the land, and
longer hushed, no longer white with
know that food will once again be plentiful and that
snow.” The days grow longer and soon
their time is near.
By Bill Marchel
they outlast the clement sunlight, and
Everywhere swollen wombs empty with tiny
our warm stars rays grow even more
replicas of their parent species, hungrily searching
radiant. As young women wait for love,
for nourishment and a chance to survive and carry
the entire world waits for springtime.
on in this new world. Eggs are laid and hens settle in
Green grass appears once again,
for their long lonely vigils in their nests. Fish crowd
and the slender, tender blades are
to the same sandy shallows their parents once came
prominent on the sides of sun-basked
to spawn, their belly’s now ripe with roe. Cubs and
pups, and all of the newborns emerge wide eyed
overwhelming autumn’s and winters
from their darkened dens, presenting themselves
at nature’s altar. Enduring their species yes — but
and daffodils poke their colorful
more than that, doing their part in the rebirth and
fragile heads out of long neglected
the cleansing of mother earth.
flowerbeds, still littered with last
It’s a time for all of us to renew ourselves too,
season’s decaying leaves and grass. The
and to look forward to those carefree lazy days of
trees and bushes of the forest sense
summer. It’s a special time to plant the harvest and
the change and conceive the swelling
welcome the warm April rains that softly fall and
buds that will slowly ripen into another
germinate the seeds, replenish the lakes and ponds
year’s protective leafy canopy. Their
and wash away winters dirt and grime. Mankind
rough trunks glisten with running sap
knows that when the years of our lives are finally
as they prepare to add another ring
finished and tallied, they will most often be measured
of life, and once more their branches
by the summers of our life, and spring is the great
are alive with a menagerie of colorful
precursor to all the summers. It sets the stage with
birds; back from their winter retreats,
this remarkable reincarnation of life itself. It is a fresh
and now carefully weaving their
new beginning for nature, and for all of us. Each day
we wait in breathless anticipation, as if every spring
Acrobatic squirrels show off
their aeronautical skills and pent-up
10 S p r i n g
T i m e
will be our only spring.
Natureâ€™s FOOD MINNESOTA WALLEYE AND WILD RICE 2 lb. walleye fillets 1 tsp. salt 1/4 tsp. pepper 4 slices bacon, diced 1 c. chopped fresh mushrooms 1/4 c. minced onion
1/3 c. minced celery 2 1/2 c. cooked wild rice 2 tbsp. snipped parsley 1/2 tsp. salt 2 tbsp. butter, melted
Cut fillets into seving size portions; place in well-greased baking pan. Sprinkle fillets with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper. In skillet, fry bacon until lightly browned. Add mushrooms, onion and celery; cook and stir until tender. Stir in cooked rice, 2 tablespoons parsley and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spoon a heaping 1/2 cup of rice mixture on top of each fillet. Drizzle melted butter over rice. Bake covered in preheated 350 degree oven until fish flakes easily when tested with fork, about 20 minutes.
MUSHROOM WALNUT SAUCE 3 tbsp. butter 1 tbsp. minced shallot 1 c. sliced fresh mushrooms 3 tbsp. flour 1/2 tsp. dry mustard 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried thyme 1 pt. half & half (2 c.) 1/4 c. chopped toasted walnuts
ALL SEASON FLANK STEAK 1 flank steak (1 1/2 0 2lbs.) 1 med. onion, chopped 1 clove garlic, minced 1 rib celery, chopped 2 tbsp. butter 2 c. day-old bread cubes 1/4 lb. ground pork 3/4 tsp. chilipulv
1/2 tsp. hot pepper flakes 1 tsp. each: thyme & marjoram Salt to taste 2 tbsp. vegtable oil 1 1/2 c. beef broth 1 c. beer 1/2 c. water 1/3 c. flour
Cut 1/2 diagonal deep slashes across the surface of steak (pound if desired). Saute vegatables in butter and let cool. Add bread crumbs. Combine pork with seasonings. Knead with hands. Spread over steak. Add bread mixture, pat firmly and roll up. Tie or secure ends with skewers. Brown meat in large skillet. Drain off drippings, and beef broth, beer and simmer 1 1/2 to 2 hours, turn occasionally. Remove meat and strain broth if necessary. Combine flour, water and broth. Cook until thickened. Serves 6.
Melt butter in saucepan; saute shallots and mushrooms until tender. Blend in flour, mustard, salt and thyme. Gradually stir in half & half. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil; boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in walnuts.
Reach 43,000 homes with your 1x2 ad. Service directory Form can be faxed to (218) 829-7735 or contact your sales rep (218) 855-5828 Directory Ad for 1 issue - 1x2 $75 BUSINESS NAME: CONTACT: ADDRESS: PHONE: Your directory can also be viewed online 24/7. Photos provided by Bill Marchel
one m e v Sa
R e c i p e s 11
CAMPGROUNDS BY THE CORPS Some of the best America has to offer by Sheila Helmberger
CRYSTAL CLEAR WATER, SPACIOUS WOOD-
sandy swimming beaches, shaded picnic areas, playgrounds and an area to launch your favorite fishing boat. Everything you’d expect at the perfect campground. And these are only a few of the amenities offered at the nation’s Corps of Engineer campgrounds. The Army Corps of Engineers was originally known back in the 1940s for their hand in constructing dams in tributaries to control the flow of rivers, building lake reservoir and producing hydroelectric power. Today, the Corps shares all of those resources with the rest of us by maintaining 456 lakes in ED CAMP SITES,
12 C a m p g r o u n d s
t h e
43 states, 56,000 miles of shoreline, 4,000 recreation sites, 101,000 campsites and 5,000 miles of trails. The campgrounds mean unlimited access to fishing, boating, sailing, water-skiing, swimming hiking and other outdoor activities. Deb Griffith is a park ranger at the Ronald Louis Cloutier Recreational Area or the Cross Lake Recreation Area. The Corps campgrounds aren’t a very well-kept secret. “We have over 40,000 campers a year,” she said of the Cross Lake recreation area. “Even though they were used specifically for their dams at one time they are federal lands that have all been
C o r p s
turned into recreation areas for the public to use. We have a 119 site campground, fishing docks both above and below the dam, a boat launch area and two swimming beaches.” The waterway at the Crosslake recreation area also opens up to the 13,660-acre Whitefish Chain of lakes offering 119 miles of shoreline. Griffith said the site in Crosslake is part of the Mississippi Headwaters, St. Paul District. The district also includes Gull Lake with access to one of the area’s favorite pieces of water, McGregor’s Sandy Lake, Pokegama Lake in G r a n d Rapids, L e e ch Lake in Federal Dam boasting walleye, perch, bass, northern pike and musky fishing and Winnibigoshish, thought to be formed by a huge ice block left behind by a receding glacier and located between Bena and Grand Rapids. At one time the sites were bustling little areas with the construction of buildings in the late 1800s and early 1900s that included things like a dam tender’s dwellings, living quarters for other personnel and offices for workers. Each of the sites in the headwaters district has its own story and historical significance. Many of the areas are included in the National Register of Historic Places. Griffith said most are open each year from May 1-Sept. 30. “We have park rangers at all of the sites,” she said, “the rest of the staff at the parks is made up of volunteers that help out through various volunteer programs.” Each Corps of Engineer campground offers a different experience. The facilities range from primitive sites to paved pads with full hook-ups and hot showers
available. Brochures, maps, directions and additional information may be found on each location’s Web site to ensure you get the type of area you desire. You can narrow down the search for your spot by state, area, facilities desired and activities you’d like to participate in. User fees are charged in some of the areas. Day use and campground fees will be waived by the Corp of Engineers for active service personnel and Department of Defense civilians that are on mid- or post-deployment leave from duty in a hostile fire zone. Call for more information. To reserve a campsite or an area for day use by logging on to recreation.gov or call 1-877-444-6777.
S H E I L A H E L M B E R G E R has a jour-
nalism degree. She is a mother of three, and contributes regularly to various local publications.
ATVs, Boats, & Personal Water Crafts Full Parts, Sales, Service & Rental
2 Miles South of Pequot Lakes on 371 N
www.sprmotorsports.com Photo provideds by Sheila Helmberger
H e l m b e r g e r 13
BRAINERD, A MECCA FOR FISHING INNOVATION By Jim Kalkofen
THE EPICENTER OF FISHRon was the creator. I was the businessman. Al was the There's a reason it's called promoter. It was sort of a big carnival act!” the “Brainerd lakes” area, not just Brainerd. Water Among the four patents he holds, Adams was especialabounds. It's our heritage. It's also the main ingredient ly proud of the No-Snagg walking sinkers. He said the in the recipe called “fishing innovation.” Brainerd will Thill Night Bright fishing floats were one of the greatforever be rooted in history books as one of the major est revenue producers ever. “Over the decades, we recenters of ideas, tackle and tactics that propelled the fined old-standards to produce fish. Each advancement fishing industry forward. served a purpose,” he said. Nick Adams, long-time head of Lindy Little-Joe fishing The epicenter in Brainerd grew naturally, he said, tackle said, “This area virtually became the epicenter “We had the people, the water, the desire to improve of innovative fishing tactics.” Dr. Roland Kehr, local old techniques and bring creative new products to mardentist and former board member of Lindy, said, “It ap- ket, the right conditions, a good promotional image, pears we're a super-mecca for tackle and fishing creativ- solid companies and a good reputation.” ity, and have been for decades.” Doc Kehr said the multi-species available in the diJoe Fellegy, one of Minnesota's foremost chroniclers verse lakes and rivers made Brainerd a unique area. of things “fishy,” said, “We live in the hotbed of how- “With about 425 lakes in a 25-mile radius, the likelihood to. Once Ron Lindner understood people would pay of success was much greater,” he said. “Add Al and Ron for fishing know-how, the rest of the world couldn't getting together with Nick, the promoters like Roach, catch-up.” Al Lindner viewed it like this, “Education the Lindy team and Babe and In-Fisherman coming on was the heartbeat. We lived in a hotbed of scientific the scene, and the backgrounds of the many guides who fishing and shared what we learned in magazines and branched out and chased many species made this the television.” fishing innovation center that remains today.” Adams, ever the philosopher, suggested that our foreJoe Fellegy saw the revolution coming while guiding fathers, mostly from the Scandinavian countries, and walleyes on his Mille Lacs launch. He was one of the the Indians fished here for generations, “It's in our original writers and editors for the Lindners when they genes; it's what we do,” he said. Fishing innovation began In-Fisherman. He was fond of adding the “P” evolved from the love of fishing, and includes major to the famous In-Fisherman formula. “They originally tackle companies like had F + L = P. I changed Normark, Lindy, Northit to F + L + P = Success. land, Gopher, plus many This will remain forever,” local manufacturers he said. The formula: and the Nisswa Guides Fish + Location + PresenLeague. tation = Success. He said Products were beto have remained in the ing made in Brainerd, magazine business meant and tourists and anglers he could not spend seven helped spread the word. days a week guiding. He “Lindy was an innovator returned to the water. “I in promotions, and the still get nostalgic about Lindy rig had the support those years,” he said. of top guides. Our pro These lessons and thetam members traveled ories from Buck Perry widely,” he said. Lindy and Bill Binkelman bestarted from the simple came fishing wisdom that Nick Adams and Al Lindner in the early years. Lindy rig, credited to Al served as the impetus for and Ron Lindner. “Ron was the new tackle being inventa genius, way ahead of his time, but he came to me say- ed here. Then, light line, small hooks, flashers and ing, 'We're broke.' He wanted start-up money, but I told leeches popped onto the scene, and backed with promohim to get $250,000 of orders. He did. I borrowed the tions for the Lindy rig, “A huge transition occurred and money, our business was started on a handshake, and the growth curve raced upward,” Fellegy said. our formula for success was as simple as the Lindy rig: “With a profit to be made and the right products and BRAINERD
14 B r a i n e r d ,
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thinkers here in the Brainerd area, the Hucksters of How-to went to market,” he said with an affectionate chuckle. “We had the perfect combination of people in the 1970's, and they're still here, along with a new generation keeping the trends alive.” Al Lindner said, “Rigging and jigging walleyes was an adventure for guides; resorts were full of tourists and vacationers flocked here. Mille Lacs, Leech, Pelican, Gull, Whitefish and hundreds of smaller lakes were loaded with fish — all species.” Then he cited the factors, listing the reasons for the confluence of fishing innovation as he saw them after returning from the Vietnam jungles in 1968: 1. The Nisswa guides League was big, with Marv Koep constantly promoting. 2. The Lindy staff in the early days, with Gary Roach, Babe Winkelman and dozens of other experts — and Ron and me — on the PR trail. 3. The waters of the area. 4. The Lindy rig and resultant promotions. 5. Tactics like back-trolling, long rods, flashers, leeches, light mono, trolling motors, fishing deeper fish, maps. spinnerbaits and worms came onto the scene. 6. The In-Fisherman magazine and television series, packed with how-to lessons.
7. A public desire to learn more about where and how to fish, and master the new methods and gear exploding onto the market. 8. Fishing Experts moving into the area and the promotional team bringing tactics from down south and all over North America back to Brainerd. “We promoted like crazy on TV, with outdoor writer fishing trips, filing fishing reports, writing our theories in the magazine, speaking at sport shows, and the more we did, the more that products and tactics sprang into life,” Lindner said. Also a fact, but seldom recognized, he said, “Anglers wanted to learn about a specific tactic and adapt it to the species they fished for. They could hire a guide and didn't have to take a road-trip on their own.” Lindner said, “Per capita, the Brainerd area has more highly skilled anglers than any other area I know of
Continued on page 33... J I M K A L K O F E N has been in and around
boats all his life. He has been director of the largest walleye tournament circuits for two decades, and was inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.
Do you enjoy taking photos?
Do you have a favorite image of an eagle, Áower, sunset, et, or how about your favorite hunting partner? Here’s your ur chance to share it with readers of “OUTDOOR Traditions.” s.” Send it along with a two-sentence explanation as to where, e, why, and how it was shot. Both could be published online e and in the 50,000 copies of our new quarterly magazine,, “OUTDOORS Traditions.” Each issue will have an “editor’ss pick” contributed photo, including a credit line of the photographer’s name and portrait if available. Deadline for the summer edition is May 17, 2010 . The Dispatch will collect images quarterly (spring, summer, fall, and winter).
Send your photo to: “Your Best Shot” Brainerd Dispatch, P.O. Box 574, Brainerd, MN 56401. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope if you want your materials returned. Or send your digital Àle to email@example.com om
Photos provided by Jim Kalkofen
J i m
K a l k o f e n
Waterfowl Cou SPRINGTIME OFFERS SOME OF THE BEST WATER-
courting is amazing. In unison, an entire flock will dive
The males are dressed
and dart, sometimes nearly stopping in midair, only to
in their colorful breeding plumage, and are often ab-
suddenly change direction. The males are continually
sorbed in courtship activities which make them less
whistling and grunting while doing their best to stay
wary and more visible.
close to the hen as the flock meanders aimlessly above
FOWL VIEWING OF THE YEAR.
A portion of this breeding ritual involves what are called courtship flights. The photos on these pages depict courtship flights of several species of ducks.
a marsh. The event is both an audio and visual delight to witness. Just why ducks engage in courtship flights is not
During a courtship flight, male ducks numbering
fully understood. Perhaps it is a method for the hen
from a few, up to as many as 25, will chase a single hen
to test the stamina of several potential suitors. Some
while in flight. Each drake does its best to woo the
people claim the drake that stays nearest the hen
during a courtship flight is the one that wins her favors.
Most species of ducks engage in courtship flights to
That theory may be true since I've noticed that the
some degree, but the puddle ducks, especially mallards,
more mature, fully-feathered drakes seem to occupy
pintails, wigeon, gadwalls and green-winged teal are
locations closest to the hen during courtship flights
much more acrobatic during courtship flights than
while the lesser males are often positioned at the edge
the diving duck species such as scaup, redheads and
of the flock or behind.
Whatever the reason, waterfowl courtship flights
The champions of courtship flights are pintails. The agility and elegance these swift fliers demonstrate while
A favorite food of ring-necked ducks is wild rice so look for springtime courtship flights over wild rice beds.
16 W a t e r f o w l
C o u r t s h i p
are and always will be a highlight of any springtime birding venture.
It's obvious how redhead ducks got their name. Here five drakes compete for the hen's attention.
Photos provided by Bill Marchel
urtship by Bill Marchel
The best time to observe courtship flights like this group of nine drake mallards chasing a single hen is in the early morning and late afternoon. Waterfowl are often idle during mid-day.
Pintails are the champions of courtship flights. Sometimes as many as 25 males vie for a single female as they cavort about a marsh.
Green-winged teal are among the smallest of duck species. When the light is just right the males flash their brilliant iridescent wing patches and head stripe while engaged in courtship flights.
Diving ducks like these lesser scaup are not as acrobatic during their aerial courtship flights as the puddle duck species. The divers tend to fly in a more direct manner.
B I L L M A R C H E L is a wildlife and outdoors photographer and writer who lives near Fort Ripley. His work has appeared in many regional and national publications and he writes a monthly column for the Brainerd Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
B i l l
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By Jake Kulju
RIPLEY ESKER SCIENTIFIC & NATURAL AREA (SNA) 18 R i p l e y
ABOUT 7 MILES NORTH OF LITTLE FALLS OFF OF COUNTY R O A D 4 8 is a place you may have
seen a hundred times, but never paid much attention to. The Ripley Esker Scientific & Natural Area is part of a statewide SNA program implemented by the Minnesota DNR. SNAs preserve the ecological diversity and health of Minnesota. SNAs typically preserve landforms, fossil remains, wildlife communities and endangered or rare species of plants and animals. The Ripley Esker SNA is one of the best examples of an esker in the state. An esker is a glacial deposit that forms a meandering, steep-sided ridge of sand, sediment and gravel. The Ripley Esker is nearly one-mile long and is part of an almost 7-mile long esker system. The Nature Conservancy gave the land to the state
as a gift. The entrance to the SNA site has a geological marker. Eskers across the state are becoming increasingly rare. Mined for their valuable gravel and sand, many of the state's eskers have disappeared. Nearly 40 native species of plants, wildflowers, shrubs and trees can be found at the Ripley Esker. Plant communities of oak savanna dominate the souther side of the esker, while a deciduous forest extends to the north. You will have the best viewing experience here in early spring or late fall when the trees are leafless and the prairie grasses have bowed down. You can learn more about this SNA and the DNRs other SNAs at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/snas/ sna00959/index.html.
J A C O B K U L J U is a Minnesota-
based freelance writer who also writes regularly for the Voyageur Press of McGregor. Contact him at email@example.com.
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S N A
Map courtesy of the Minnesota DNR
AL LINDNER ANNOUNCES SECOND ANNUAL MINNESOTA FISHING CHALLENGE HONORARY
announced that registration is now open for the second Minnesota Fishing Challenge, presented by Mills Fleet Farm. The tournament, to benefit Minne-
Fleet Farm, at the Teen Challenge campus on Business 371 on the south edge of Brainerd, or at businesses throughout the area. All ages and all skill levels are welcome. “The first annual event was a great success and will only grow. The anglers' smiles told the story.” Lindner said. “New friendships and new fishing partnerships were created, but the real blessing was the great effort all contestants made to benefit Teen Challenge,” he said. Photos of last year's event can be viewed at the Fishing Challenge website. Minnesota Teen Challenge serves teens and adults whose addiction problems range all the way to those that are so serious they can no longer function in social, family, and work settings. For more than 25 years, Minnesota Teen Challenge has been helping addicted individuals find healing and hope. The Central Minnesota Center in Brainerd opened in June 2008.
sota Teen Challenge, will be held on June 5 on Gull Lake. Trophies will be awarded for walleye, bass, pike, panfish and mixed-bag divisions. Entry fee is $100 per two-person team. That covers a banquet the night before the tournament, special awards and prizes. Each team then raises a minimum of $500 from friends, relatives, co-workers, etc. Last year, teams raised more than $100,000 for Teen Challenge. All donations are 100-percent tax deductible. Sign up online at www.mntc.org/fishingchallenge; call 612-238-6184 for registration forms; or pick one up at
Mille Lacs Lake - Garrison MN Largest Selection of Bait and Tackle in the Area! Best Service, Great Prices. Guide Services Available.
Photos courtesy of www.minnesotateenchallenge.com
Hwy. 18 West • Garrison, MN• (320) 692-4341 F i s h i n g C h a l l e n g e 19
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P r o d u c t s
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P r o d u c t s 21
LEADCORE TROLLING TECHNIQUES 22 L e a d c o t e
By Ted Takasaki and Scott Richardson
T r o l l i n g
T e c h n i q u e s
Photo provided by Ted Takasaki
EARLY SPRING. RIVERS ARE OPEN. Lots of sauger and walleye are congregating for their spring spawning ritual. That’s a formula for fun on the water early in the year. But traditional river methods of jigging and rigging aren’t always the best way to boat the biggest fish within the huge schools that are working their way to the hard-bottom, spawning areas where they’ll lay their eggs. Low temperatures, regular cold fronts and the overriding desire to spawn can create days where the only fish that seem to want to take a minnow on a jig or a small floating crankbait on back of a three-way rig are the smaller males. The key to targeting larger, lethargic female fish can be trolling larger profile lures by as many fish as possible and to trigger reaction strikes rather than enticing bites from feeding fish. Trolling with leadcore is just that technique. This tactic might not catch as many fish as the others methods. But once the technique is learned, leadcore can yield some of the biggest walleyes and sauger you’ll catch all year. Leadcore isn’t as hard to use as it might seem at first, and the investment of time and a little frustration will yield big dividends — literally. Avoid the temptation to give up. Leave the jigging and rigging rods at home so you are forced to stay with it. The critical piece of the puzzle is to remember that leadcore is speed-sensitive. The faster you go, the higher your baits ride in the water column. Concentrate on being precise. If you don’t, your baits make never be in the strike zone. Start with 18-pound leadcore line on larger line-counter reels. Use longer rods such as the 10 — St. Croix Wild River rod on the outside rod holders to obtain a good line spread. Use shorter rods on the inside. As its name implies, leadcore line consists of a thin lead core middle which is surrounded by a Dacron cloth sheath. Simply push the Dacron sheath back and three inches or so the lead core exposed. Pinch off the lead core which leaves only the Dacron sheath. Then, tie on a #12 barrel swivel and a leader of 15-pound super braid. Tie on a crankbait snap. One of several lures work, but stay with big profiles that resemble shad. Shad Raps in sizes #5 to #9, Wally Divers and Lindy Shandlings are popular choices. Use bright colors like perch or firetiger in dingy or dark water and natural shades in clear. Before letting out line to start fishing, hold the lures just underwater at the side of the boat to make sure they’re running true. You could have a tangled mess if you don’t. LOCATION
By February, fish are already staging in holes near spawning areas. Sauger are deeper. How deep depends on the river. They can be as far down as 25 feet or more
T e d
on the Mississippi River in places like Lake Pepin. They can be 10 to 15 feet deep on the Illinois River near Spring Valley, Ill. If walleyes are also present, they tend to be much shallower, perhaps less than 5 feet deep. Both species will be deeper as water level falls and shallower as it rises. Look at areas closer to the main dams in high water. Both species are looking for hard-bottom areas with gravel or sand or even clam beds as the sauger do on the Illinois River. They want water to be moving to keep their eggs from smothering under slit, but the current must be slower than the main river. Look for eddies behind current breaks. The most obvious are on the inside turns of river bends. Others can be behind points, at the junction of the main river with feeder creeks and tributaries, just downstream and to the sides of dams, or even behind fallen trees or at the edges of tree roots growing from shore. Good sonar devices, like the Humminbird units with side imaging, can help identify the depth contours. They are important for a couple of reasons. Predators like walleye and sauger travel along the breaks and they herd baitfish against them to feed. Side imaging can also help identify the important transition areas where the hard bottoms meet softer mud. There are
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Hwy 371 N, Brainerd 218-822-3500 Offers good on new and unregistered units purchased between 3/1/10 and 4/30/10. Offers only available at participating Polaris® dealers. Applies to select models. See your dealer for details. Offer subject to credit approval. Rates as low as 3.99% for 36 months. Applies to the purchase of all new, 2007-2010 ATV and RANGER® models made on the Polaris Installment Program from March 1, 2010 to April 30, 2010. Fixed APR of 3.99%, 7.99%, or 10.99% will be assigned based on credit-approval criteria. Examples of monthly payments over a 36-month term at 3.99% APR: $29.52 per $1,000 ﬁnanced and at 10.99% APR: $32.73 per $1,000 ﬁnanced. A down-payment of 0-10% may be required. Warning: ATVs can be hazardous to operate. For your safety: Avoid operating Polaris ATVs or RANGERs on paved surfaces or public roads. Riders and passengers should always wear a helmet, eye protection, protective clothing, and a seat belt (on RANGER vehicles). Never engage in stunt driving, and avoid excessive speeds and sharp turns. Polaris adult ATV models are for riders age 16 and older. Drivers of RANGER vehicles must be at least 16 years old with a valid driver’s license. All ATV riders should take a safety training course. For ATV safety and training information call the SVIA at (800) 887-2887, see your dealer, or call Polaris at (800) 342-3764. ©2010 Polaris Industries Inc.
T a k a s a k i
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times when walleye and sauger can be massed so tight to seams like that a few feet either way will miss them. Watch your sonar for signs of fish just up from the bottom. But, sauger and walleyes can be so tight to the bottom that even the best sonars won’t detect them. If baitfish are present, take a few minutes to make a pass. With leadcore, you can check a spot without wasting too much time. In any event, keep moving until you locate fish and connect. PRESENTATION
Leadcore gets baits down fast, so crankbaits will follow the path of the boat better and stay closer to the bottom than using just monofilament line. Leadcore line is perfect to follow the breaks precisely. Trolling speeds are normally 1.5 mph to 2.5 mph. Because leadcore line is speed sensitive, keep the speed constant each pass so the lures stay just off the bottom. Make a fast pass first and go slower on the next passes if you must as you find what combination of speed and depth the fish want. Pick a break, point the boat upstream and rev up to speed. Let out line until the lures touch bottom, then crank up just enough to keep them from hanging up. Line counter reels aid repeatability. As an alternative, leadcore comes with color changes every 10 yards. Count the colors as you let out the lures. When Ted used leadcore to win the FLW Tour event
at Lake Pepin last year, he used a 9.9 horsepower Mercury Pro-kicker motor on the stern of his Lund 208 Pro-V GL to provide his base forward trolling power. He used his Minn Kota Terrova trolling motor with co-pilot on the bow to fine-tune the speed and this combination assisted to make faster turns in order to follow the break. The transducer on the bow mounted electric trolling motor at the front of the boat also gave an early signal when the depth began to rise or fall so he could turn the boat quicker to stay on the break. Watch your rod tips. They stop vibrating as soon a the hooks are fouled with debris or a fish is on. Fish literally hook themselves, and there’s no mistaking a strike as the rod yo-yos in the rod holder. With no-stretch leadcore, take your time reeling them in to avoid letting them pull free. If it’s early season fun you want, get the lead out and head to the nearest river where walleye or sauger spawn. T E D T A K A S A K I is one of the country’s top pro walleye fisherman and a former PWT champion. Not only has Ted won many fishing tournaments, he is the CEO of Lindy Little Joe, Inc. maker of fine fishing products.
Boating Safety Tips 1
Lifejackets save lives. The Coast Guard statistics show that 90 percent of boaters who drown are NOT wearing a PFD. Kids require special sizes that fit correctly.
Don't run wide open in channels, under bridges, near rafts or docks, and especially not anywhere close to swimming beaches.
2 Never drink alcohol while boating. Alcohol
No-wake generally means 5 mph, with no whitewater coming from the hull of your boat.
Be aware of the weather. If you hear thunder or see lightning, head away from it to a safe location. When the sky looks threatening, aim toward home before lightning arrives.
4 Know safety procedures, including where the
Let someone know where you're going and about how long you'll be gone.
5 Know the rules of the road. Whe meeting other
Read the Minnesota boater's guide. Young boaters must take a boating safety course.
plays a part in one-third of boating fatalities, according to the Coast Guard. Stay alert! Watch the people in your boat. Watch 360 degrees around you for other boaters, jet skis, swimmers, anchored boats, etc.
fire extinguisher is located.
boats, drive as you would on the highway. When passing, pass on the left, with plenty of room. If in a “cross-roads” situation, the boat to the right has the right-of-way. If in doubt, slow down, even if the skier gets wet.
24 L e a d c o t e
T r o l l i n g
By: Jim Kalkofen
T e c h n i q u e s
sweepstakes Grand Prize– Arctic Cat snowmobile!
Coming May 1, 2010 BRAINERDLAKES
Beverly Roach recently displayed a Mrs. Walleye fishing rod at the Roach home near Merrifield. Roach’s sister, Diane (pictured to her left), died of breast cancer at age 50 in 1998, ultimately prompting Roach to market a line of fishing rods.
EVER SO SLOWLY, THE ICE-COVERED LAKES WILL GIVE WAY TO THE OPEN-WATER FISHING
And there it will be, in Gary Roach’s boat. The pink fishing rod. No, it’s not for Roach, better known as Mr. Walleye. It’s for his wife. And, ultimately, for his wife’s sister. And for women suffering from breast cancer throughout the Brainerd lakes area. Mrs. Walleye is making sure of that. In 1998, Bev Roach lost her sister, Diane, to breast cancer. Bev remembers all too well her sister’s constant chemotherapy treatments and wanted to do something for women who are going through the same thing. Roach and her four sisters and brother grew up in the Brainerd area, so she wanted to keep it local, too. And SEASON.
26 M r s .
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to help with everyday needs, such as money for gas or a babysitter for local women battling breast cancer. So last spring, after several years of contemplating the idea, Roach — with the help of her husband and ProLine Fishing Inc. — marketed a line of Mrs. Walleye fishing rods, with $5 from the sale of each $59 rod going to the Pink Ribbon Cupboard, a nonprofit fund set up to provide emergency financial assistance for families undergoing breast cancer treatment. Sales of the pink ProLine rods — designed especially for women by Gary Roach and based on the popular Mr. Walleye Series — raised $1,425 for the Pink Ribbon Cupboard. So in less than a year, with little more than wordof-mouth advertising, according to Bev Roach, nearly 300 pink Mrs. Walleye rods were sold.
A portion of the proceeds from Mrs. Walleye fishing rods go to help Brainerd area women battling breast cancer. “I think we’ll do a casting rod next time. Now we just have the spinning version,” she said. “We wanted a good rod. There’s a lot of cheap pink rods. And I wanted the right pink. It’s a project very close to my heart and to my family.” Like the Mr. Walleye Series, the Mrs. Walleye rods are available at Fleet Farm in Baxter, as well as Service Drug in Brainerd. According to Pink Ribbon Cupboard founder Kathy Buxton, financial assistance will be for non-medical needs, such as gas vouchers for travel expenses, mortgage/rent payments, groceries, telephone and other utility bills, etc., for women in Aitkin, Crow Wing and Cass counties. All funds raised or donated to the Pink Ribbon Cupboard assist families in need as a result of breast cancer treatments. “We’re going to keep doing the same thing. Maybe more advertising,” Roach said of the fishing rods. “I just want it to keep going for what it’s going for. That’s what I wanted. It would be nice to have a pink reel. And we’ve talked about (pink ice fishing rods). It would be great for the kids. When Gary did the prototypes of the light blue ones (they also considered lavender before settling on pink), we gave one to her (Diane’s) son’s little boy. And they just had a little girl and we gave her a pink one.” Roach occasionally fishes with her husband and says she’s caught some nice fish with her pink Mrs. Walleye rod. “If there’s not one in the boat, I’ll be in trouble,” Gary Roach said matter-of-factly. “She liked to fish,” Bev Roach said of her sister. “We’d go up to the Winnie (Lake Winnibigoshish) cabin and
Ron Hunter at Judd’s would take us out. She was pretty sick by then. We probably went two or three times. And our parents had a cabin on Pelican. She never did get to fish with Gary.” Diane also started what would become a family tradition — sisters’ weekends, which included a girls’ weekend during the opening of the Minnesota deer hunting season and numerous trips to Las Vegas. “When Diane first started our sisters’ weekend, we had all kind of drifted apart, busy with life and raising our kids,” Roach said. “She got us back together and doing trips and things. And we are so close now and it is all because of what she started. That will last for the rest of our lives, and we have her to thank. “She loved it all.” Anyone wishing to donate to the Pink Ribbon Cupboard may call Buxton at 829-6205. For more information on Mrs. Walleye rods, go to www.prolinefishing. net.
B R I A N S . P E T E R S O N , Outdoors Editor, may be reached at brian.peterson@ brainerddispatch.com or at 855-5864.
B r i a n
P e t e r s o n
SPRING INTO PANFISH! by Dave Csanda
ICE-OUT IN THE BRAINERD LAKES AREA TYPICALLY OCCURS IN MID- TO L A T E - A P R I L , and fishing interest and anticipation is already in high gear. In most fishing households, preparation is underway for an early angling foray, most likely for panfish. Even as the ice goes out, panfish are already moving from deep to shallow water, crossing weedy flats. Their destination of choice is the back ends of wind-protected bays, boat channels, or other shallow areas separated from the cold main lake. The water in these areas tends to warm quickly, with soft, dark bottom soaking up the sun's energy and transmitting it to the surrounding water as heat. This kicks off the food chain, triggering plankton hatches, attracting minnows and the fish that feed on them. Bluegills and crappies typically bypass the mouths of bays and channels and don't stop moving until they reach the sheltered back ends. Crappies, in particular, are very skittish while moving. You might be able to ambush them as they pass beneath a bridge at night, dangling a minnow below a lighted bobber to attract their interest. Once they reach the back ends of bays or channels, they tend to become more sedentary, cover-oriented, and willing to bite. With most shallow weed cover having been smashed flat by recent ice cover, flooded wood assumes major importance. Fallen trees, flooded shoreline brush, submerged dock sections, logs, lily pad roots and such draw fish like magnets. Broken reeds and shoreline bulrushes may produce as well if they provide sufficient depth and cover. Bluegills usually tend to be a little shallower, crappies a touch deeper, but both can be mixed together in a good area, typically in 4 feet or water or less, and sometimes in as little as a foot. When panfish are this shallow at this time of year, they don't want to strike anything that's moving. Your best bet by far is to use a small, thin bobber to suspend a bait before or just above their eyes. Long, thin floats have less water resistance than classic round bobbers, and are not only more sensitive to revealing subtle panfish bites, but less likely to spook them. Watch your bob-
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ber closely. Sometimes, all it does is rock or slightly sink on a bite. At times, it even raises and then falls flat over across the surface, indicating that a fish has risen, taken the bait, and pushed it upward, rather than pulling it down. At any sign of a bite, sweepset the hook. For bluegills, you seldom need anything more that a size 8 light-wire Aberdeen hook baited with a piece of nightcrawler, threaded onto the hook to disguise its presence. Place a couple of split shot on your line about a foot or so above the hook to help sink your bait, hold it in place, and provide a little extra weight for enhanced casting distance. If you prefer, switch from a plain hook to a small ice-fishing jig, and dress it with a waxworm, just like you'd do through the ice. Bluegills are usually willing biters and likely to hit just about anything that's lifelike and fits in their tiny mouths. They are curious, and will often leave the edges of cover and swim over to investigate your bait, even if you make a poor cast that lands too far off target. If big bluegills are around, and fishing pressure has made them a little spooky, there's no better bait than a small leech, hooked through the suction cup. Bull bluegills simply can't ignore their seductive swimming motion. Photos provided by Dave Csanda
Crappies, by comparison, are notoriously cautious compared to bluegills, and less likely to leave cover any distance. So you want your baits and bobbers to land very near the edges of cover, or allow the wind to drift them in right up along the edge. Crappies have larger mouths and tend to prefer slightly larger baits than bluegills. Most people simply use about a size 6 light-wire hook to hook a 1 _-inch crappie minnow either up through the lips, or lightly beneath the dorsal fin. A struggling minnow lures crappies slightly out of cover to investigate and strike, but once again, not very far. Once you make a number of casts and determine exactly where they are, land repeated casts exactly in the same area to catch a few more. If crappies are active, all you may need is a 1/32-ounce floss-bodied jig commonly referred to as a flu-flu or crappie jig. Their gentle, undulating action imparted by wave motion entices bites, even without adding bait, most of the time. Try white, yellow or pink patterns, at least to start, since these colors imitate small minnow forage. Occasionally, fish may prefer a darker color if feeding on insects, but lighter colors are usually your best starting point. Bluegills tend to bite all day long, although spring afternoons tend to be warmer and trigger better fish activity than mornings. Crappies tend to become most active later in the day, often as the sun dips toward the tops of the trees. They may continue biting after dark, and even throughout the night, whereas bluegills are generally daytime feeders. Early panfish movements have everything to do with finding warm water, cover and forage, and little to do with prespawn scouting. It's all about eating. Weeks later, as the water warms, weeds begin to rise, and the extreme shallows begin to thicken, both bluegills and crappies are likely to shift a short distance to find better combinations of bottom content, depth and cover for spawning purposes. But until then, head way back, fish very shallow, and suspend small lifelike baits below sensitive bobbers in order to catch panfish. The more you complicate things, the less fish you tend to catch. The Brainerd lakes area abounds with panfish waters; virtually every lake, river, reservoir pit or pond offers an array of bluegills and crappies. Larger lakes like Gull, North Long, Pelican, etc., hold a wide range of
different panfish schools and sizes, with some of them being larger fish. Most of these larger waters do experience plenty of panfishing pressure, however. Spring is one of the best times to learn if really big panfish are available in a lake, since all of the fish must come shallow to spawn, within easy reach of even casual anglers. The general rule of thumb is that many of the largest bluegills tend to come from smaller, off-the-beaten-path lakes that don't receive serious fishing pressure during the spring spawning cycle or ice fishing season, when panfish are particularly vulnerable to angling. Some of these lakes have only primitive boat accesses suitable to small boats or trailer vehicles with four-wheel-drive. Even so, spring is a good time to fish them, because the fish typically draw within casting distance of shore. Some of the larger lakes in our area known for big
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Fishing with Kids and Grandkids Panfish offer ideal angling opportunities for kids and inexperienced anglers because they are easy to catch, particularly in shallow water during spring. Simple bobber rigs that suspend a hook baited with a piece of nightcrawler for bluegills, or a small jig or hook baited with a small minnow for crappies, are all you really need to catch fish. Kids have small hands that aren't well suited for larger rods and reels that take time and practice to master. Start them out with push-button spincast reels and shorter rods that they can handle, usually spooled with 8- to 10-pound-test monofilament. Make casts for them if they struggle. If they show interest in learning to cast, work with them on coordinating a casting motion and releasing their thumb off the button at just the right moment. Judge their level of excitement and interest to avoid frustration. As they grow older and gain experience, switch them over to spinning reels and longer rods for added versatility and effectiveness. These setups allow the use of lighter 4- to 6-pound-test lines which enhance finesse and help entice more panfish bites. In spring, search out visible flooded cover like fallen shoreline trees, beaver lodges, broken reeds, etc., occurring in the back ends of shallow bays. In many cases, you can walk to such spots along shore, especially in the back ends of manmade channels. In a boat, stealthily anchor within casting distance of the cover, set your bobbers to suspend baits perhaps 12 to 16 inches below the surface, and go get 'em. Kids are enthusiastic and energetic, at least for awhile, assuming the fish are biting. Even so, encourage them not to stomp their feet and make a lot of noise, which may spook nearby fish in shallow water. Chances are one or more kids will want to play with bluegills tend to be quite shallow, fertile and weedy. Rice Lake, a reservoir of the Mississippi River on the north side of Brainerd, is a good example. In spring, many bays offer an abundance of shallow flooded wood cover with superb panfishing opportunities for both big bluegills and slab crappies. When it comes to crappies, larger lakes tend to produce the biggest fish, as long as they do not experience serious fishing pressure and harvest. Even so, crappie populations tend to naturally cycle about every 7 or 8 years, going from being dominated by numbers of small crappies, to lower numbers of larger fish for a year or two, and then back to a numbers game. The DNR and area bait shops can provide good information on which area lakes currently offer some of the larger crappies in our area.
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the minnows, or look at panfish in the livewell. Some like to play with nightcrawlers; others don't-ish! Politely ask them not to spill the nightcrawler bedding on your boat carpet. Good luck with that, by the way. Parents, listen up: With kids in the boat, and plenty of lines to rebait and untangle during a typical fishing excursion, it's best if you put your own rod down and focus on making everything run smoothly for the children. I've noticed that some parents are more likely to get into a fishing contest with the kids, rather than help out the little ones. Not a smooth move. If the bite is good, the kids will naturally keep score to see who's caught the most and the biggest. If someone is lagging behind in their catch, help them catch up. If the bite is slow, or when kids lose their patience, pick up and move to another spot. Watch for blue herons, loons on nests, ducks and geese, beavers and muskrats, eagles and ospreys-any and all things wonderful about the outdoors. Dip your landing net to catch painted turtles, let them scramble around in the bottom of the boat for a few minutes, and then return them to the water. Take the time to make the trip an adventure. Don't keep them out past the point where they become tired, bored, hungry, cold, wet and generally grumpy. Bring snacks. Take breaks. Have fun. Kids don't have your level of patience. And sooner or later, they will test yours. Take a deep breath and remember the goal: fishing and having fun together. Doing so instills enjoyment, builds confidence and equates a fishing trip with family fun, perhaps laying the groundwork for future trips together and a lifelong interest in angling and the outdoors. That's what my grandpa did. And here we are today, passing it forward.
In recent years, the DNR has instituted a 5-fish-limit on crappies and bluegills in some Brainerd area lakes as an experiment to see if lowering total harvest increases panfish size. I'm pleased to report that it has. With angler attention converted from filling a bucket to enjoying the fishing experience and perhaps taking a few home to eat, trophy panfish populations are on the rise. And the bigger they get, the more fun they become.
After 28 years as a magazine editor and TV angler at In-Fisherman, D A V E C S A N D A recently rejoined his old friends at Lindner Media, producers of Angling Edge Television, in Baxter.
Memory Lane EVERYONE
My love of the outdoors began from a family of mentors. First it was my Grandmother with her victory garden and beautiful flower gardens. It was her bright blossoms and bees that caught my early interest and imagination. I loved the colors and smells but I never will forget the first time I got stung. I stepped on one big bumbly bee in Grandma's front yard. My Dad had a somewhat different perspective. He introduced me to the outdoors by handing me a snow shovel and showing me how to mow straight lines in the yard. To be fair, I have great memories of Dad taking us to twin lakes to go plinking (shooting at blackbirds in the swamp). He also took us hunting for pheasants and rabbits and we learned to eat wild game at an early age. But, in the purist terms, my real mentor was my mom. Dad got us there, but it was Mom that got me to see the real beauty of the outdoor world. She would be the first to point out the smell of hemlock drifting through the woods. She could identify the songbird by its song and knew the types of wildflowers by the season they bloomed. How does one learn all these things without a good mentor, keen senses and steady observation? Mom's questions always came with answers. What tree did that leave fall from? What constellation is a mighty warrior and has three stars for a belt? What month of the year do the redpolls' come back? She knew and then we knew. Because of this in the past 40 years I have introduced many people to the outdoors. The last dozen years, via a cabin we built on the edge of the Boundary Waters. Mom, at nearly 80 years young, would still make the difficult journey there two or three times a year. The trip started with a six-hour car ride and ended crossing six and a half miles of water by boat. All of this to get SHOULD HAVE!
Photos provided by Tim Bogenschutz
to a place where most of the time she would just sit and observe. Her agenda included expending equally time watching birds, then grand children, the more birds, then great grand children. She was in her element. I don't know if she loved the campfires, boat rides or fishing more. But, I'm pretty sure it was fishing. She didn't care what size, color or specie, she just got a kick out of catching one. The exact time of each capture would be prominently announced with her patented high-pitched squeal and crackle. We all knew what that meant and would turn to see her proudly holding up her quarry. As you can probably tell by now, Mom is gone now, but certainly not forgotten. We lost her this last summer. If you listen carefully, I believe you can still hear a some of her high-pitched laughter echoing through the woods. My favorite memories of her are many, but the most rewarding is this. The last time she came to the cabin she couldn't get around much anymore. One afternoon I took my brush cutter and cut a path wide enough to get the ATV out to the cedar ridge behind the cabin. I said to her, “Come on, Mom, let’s go for a ride.” After we had bumped our way far enough out into the woods, I turned the motor off and we just sat there not saying much. We were soaking in all that is included in a beautiful fall day. That day the smell of hemlock may have been replaced by fresh cedar, but it would do. The look on her face said it all, shear contentment. I had taken my mentor to a place she loved and together we had a chance to enjoy it one last time. T I M A . B O G E N S C H U T Z For half a century I have been drawn to the outdoors. My interests have varied from hunting, the love of wildlife photography, to hiking, canoeing, and fishing.
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Do you have a great story you would like to share re p, about your life in the outdoors? Fishing tales, deer camp, p. camping outings with friends and family growing up. R Here’s your chance to share it with readers of “OUTDOOR g Traditions.” Send us your story of 500-700 words, along with quality photographs and short biography about the writer. If your article is chosen, it will be published in our OUTDOOR Traditions magazine. Deadline for the summer edition is May 17, 2010. The Dispatch will collect stories quarterly (spring, summer, fall, and winter). Send your story and photographs to: “Memory Lane” Brainerd Dispatch, P.O. Box 574, Brainerd, MN 56401. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope if you want your materials returned. ch.com Or email your digital Àles to firstname.lastname@example.org
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today in th 1
MARCH Spring Light Goose Opener Crow Hunting Season (1-31)
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Continued from page 15... compared to the rest of the country.” Speaking of the lakes area, he said, “Within 60 miles of Brainerd, we have the best mix of multi-species fishing in the country.” Whether under the ice or in summer, he remains amazed at the diverse opportunities. “Plus, there's so much interest in so many species,” he said. “In my opinion, it's better today with bigger fish.” Lindner said he catches bigger bass today than in the early years. Catch and release plays a big part in bass and muskies, and even big walleyes are being released, he said, “Smallmouth bass is better than ever; muskies
are all over; and it's easier to catch big crappies today.” He said pike is not the same quality (for big pike) as in the past, but they can still be caught. With the quality of fishing and the people living here, Lindner said, “The Brainerd area will remain a hotbed of fishing innovation and creativity well into the future.” Editor's Note: The Brainerd Lakes Chamber describes the area on their phone message as the “Fishing Capital of Minnesota with 465 lakes.”
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Your Judy Syring,
Elk River, MN
Judy and her husband Jeff have been photographing nature and wildlife for over 20 years. You can see more of their work www.woodlandwondersphotography.com
Send a slide or print to “Your Best Shot” Brainerd Dispatch Dispatch, P P.O. O Box 574 574, Brainerd, MN 56401. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope if you want your materials returned. Do you enjoy taking photos? Do you have a favorite image of an eagle, flower, sunset, or how about your favorite hunting partner? Here’s your chance to share it with readers of “OUTDOOR Traditions.” Send it along with a two-sentence explanation as to where, why, and how it was shot. Both could be published online and in the 50,000 copies of our new quarterly magazine, “OUTDOORS Traditions.” Each issue will have an “editor’s pick” contributed photo, including a credit line of the photographer’s name and portrait if available. Deadline for the summer edition is May 17, 2010. The Dispatch will collect images quarterly (spring, summer, fall, winter). After each issue of “OUTDOOR Traditions” publishes, we will then place the images on our website.
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Outdoor Traditions Issue 1 Edition 5 • Brainerd: A mecca for fishing innovation • Mrs. Walleye • Let's go fishing • Leadcore trolling techni...