On the ice, thoughts drift to summer fishing adventures

The author and his family enjoy as much time as possible together and on the water with fishing rods in hand.

Three more weekends of statewide walleye and pike angling, with seemingly no time limit remaining on Lake of the Woods (other than fishable ice). Jumbo perch action is another month away from being the best of the year, but it’s already picking up.

Yes, there’s plenty to be excited about with ice fishing, and I’m definitely going to make the most of it. But it’s the time of year when my mind begins to wander to summer fishing.

Time to make that to-do list of destinations to visit, lakes to fish, species to target, and experiences to live. Life is short and life is good, but one must fish.

What are your summer fishing plans for 2018? What are your summer fishing dreams?

I have a few things already in the works for this summer, and I can’t wait.

Most of all, I’m excited to spend another summer in the canoe, rowboat, and 43-year-old Crestliner V-hull with my kids. We plan on getting to some of our favorite haunts in the Brainerd area and on the Mississippi River.

My son is excited to put his new (used) muskie rod and reel to use, and I’m excited to see if he can outwit, outplay, and outlast the most persnickety of species better than me. I put my muskie gear into a holding pattern while the kids were smaller because if I’m going to spend a day on the water chasing fish, it’s going to be more catchable species with my kids. Now that the love of the chase is there, it’s time to see if Mrs. Muskie is going to cooperate.

I hope to put the guiding expertise of Josh Stevenson of Blue Ribbon Bait and Tackle to use this summer. Usually, I like to self-guide, but having a true-blue muskie expert leading me is something I’ve only done once before. That was with the great Musky Tom Landwehr of Lake Vermilion, the Zen Master of angling.

Another goal my kids have made for the three of us is to fish on every one of the Great Lakes. It all started after their first trip two summers ago with their uncle David, who lives in the Upper Peninsula. He took us out bobsticking in Keeweenaw Bay of Lake Superior and both kids fell in love with it. And last summer, my father-in-law graciously took us out on Lake Michigan with Captain Dan and we had a great day catching coho salmon and a giant lake trout.

This summer, we are looking to head east to fish Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay for walleye and perch and then fish the Port Clinton area on Lake Erie for the same species. That would only require two nights of camping and would knock two more Great Lakes off the list. No official word if that trip will work out, but there’s plenty of penny-pinching happening to make it so.

Another visit or two to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is also in the works. At least one of the trips will be through Grand Marais to the Gunflint Trail, our favorite side of the BWCAW.

The kids have never been to Ely so if a second trip happens, it might be fun to let them experience the difference between the two. Both towns are great in their own way, but Grand Marais is a great city on a Great Lake. That’s tough to beat.

With so many shorefishing locations throughout the Twin Cities area, the fishing gear is almost always in the vehicle should an opportunity arise to sneak in a few casts. Some of the best fishing my kids and I have enjoyed together has been on the shoreline of lakes like Harriet or Bde’ Maka Ska (formerly Lake Calhoun) as we had a few minutes from point A to point B.

So let the thoughts drift over these final weeks of the ice-fishing season. Book a few days in the summer with your family now before they fill up. Like Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

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