A good day gone bad

And the grandson’s

first taste’ of Minnesota fish

Went fishing the other day. One of those spur-of-the-moment
deals. The words were not flowing too well that morning, so I
hooked onto the boat and headed for the river. Didn’t have time to
call anyone to go along and really did not want company that day
anyway. Usually Miss Meg gets to go along, but it looked like rain,
so I left her at home curled up by the deck door on her favorite
dog bed. Meg does not like to fish in the rain.

Put the boat in at Camp Lacopoulis, which is at the lower end of
Lake Pepin. Walleyes often stack up here, especially along the
willows on the Wisconsin side. The river was high and dirty, not
unexpected, given all the rain we had been having. But river fish
have to eat, even when the water is high. They just get harder to
find. The fishing is more difficult, too, because visibility is
reduced in high, dirty water, so trolling is not as effective as it
is in cleaner water.

Drifting is a challenge because the current tends to carry the
boat too fast. Anchoring often is the best bet. But I started out
using my electric to control the speed of the drift and slipped
down river with a juicy nightcrawler on a Lindy Rig. I kept the
boat in eight to 10 feet of water, just outside of the flooded

I was into fish right away. A channel cat was my first catch of
the day. Then a two-pound smallmouth bass. One of the things I like
about fishing the river is that you never know what you are going
to catch, but you almost always catch something.

Before this day ended I would catch a half dozen more smallies
and a few more catfish, along with a redhorse, sucker, carp, some
white bass, a bunch of sheepshead, a northern pike, a few sauger
and about a dozen walleyes. If I had taken time to slip into some
backwaters, odds are I could have added bluegill, largemouth bass,
and crappies to that list.

Crawlers are the best bait I have ever found for catching sheer
numbers of fish on the Mississippi. Everything with fins seems to
go for a juicy crawler.

After a couple of drifts with a plain hook Lindy Rig, I got
tired of fighting the debris, which is always a problem when the
water is high and fast. Most of the grass and other debris is
scooting along the bottom, so I removed the plain hook and tied on
a Phelps floating jighead, hoping that this would help keep my hook
from being fouled as often.

That did the trick, and the fish seemed to like the floater even
better than my plain hook rig. When fishing a floater on the river,
do not make the leader too long. I like about only two feet. River
walleyes are very bottom-oriented, and you don’t want that bait too
far over their heads. On a two-foot leader, a floater will keep
that bait less than a foot off bottom.

The fishing slowed in the middle of the day when it got hot and
sunny, but in late afternoon heavy clouds started rolling in over
the west bluffs. I knew rain was coming, but the fishing often
picks up right before a storm, so I kept one eye on the sky and
kept fishing.

I don’t mind fishing in the rain, but where there is thunder
there is lightening, and I’ve had a couple of close calls with
lightening, so I don’t push my luck. My best walleye of the day, a
dandy 25-incher, took the nightcrawler just before the first clap
of thunder sounded. I released the fish, then reluctantly headed
for the landing. By the time I had the boat loaded, the rain was

When I got home, the rain was coming down hard. My daughter had
her car, a Toyota Corolla wagon, parked in the spot where I park
the boat, but I figured there was just enough room for me to get
the boat and the pickup in the driveway. Backing in, I could not
see the car, because my boat is too wide. When I figured I was
probably getting close to the car with the outboard, I dashed out
into the rain to see how much room I had left. Too late.

I had forgotten that when I left the landing, I had tilted the
motor all the way up, because otherwise you will drag your outboard
skag on the road when you cross the railroad track on the road
leading away from the landing. I had run the lower unit of that
90-horse Honda right through the rear window of the car.

While I was standing there in the rain, looking at what I had
done with what I am sure was a pretty dumb look on my face, Nancy
Clancy walked out of the house to see if I had brought fish home
for supper. When she saw what had happened, she said “Doesn’t that
car already have a motor?”

And that’s a bad end to a good day.

The kid’s going to be a real fisherman

A couple of weeks ago, our eldest daughter, Michelle, and our
grandchild, Lucas joined Nancy and I for a week up at Pimushe
Resort. Pimushe is one of my favorite lakes for big crappies and
bluegills. Although only seven months old, Lucas went out in the
boat fishing with us every day. He won’t remember it, but we will
tell him the story of his first fishing trip so often that he will
feel like he remembers it.

Nancy was holding Lucas when Michelle caught one of those big
bluegills. She held it in front of Lucas to see. His eyes got big,
and he took his thumb out of his mouth long enough to use both
hands to pet the fish. He played with the fish for awhile and then
stuck that fish-slimed thumb right back in his mouth.

Yes sir, anybody who can do that is going to be a real

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