Some ‘bullheaded’ comments about fishing

Ron HustvedtFishing with my kids over the opening weekend of fishing was one of the biggest joys I’ll ever experience in my life. My 4-year-old son caught his first fish from cast to setting the hook to reeling it all the way to the boat.

My 2-year-old daughter also had a milestone by reeling in her first fish without too much help (I kept my hand on the back of the rod just in case and also set the hook and handed it off to her).

They had a blast and big thanks to my parents for helping make it all possible as well as the 24-inch pike that dominate Upper Gull Lake north of Brainerd. Pike in that 20 to 27-inch range was almost all we caught the entire weekend.

It made me reminisce to my earliest days of fishing. Bluegills were a common catch and so were bullheads. The bullhead. Now there’s a species I haven’t caught in quite some time.

Not that I’m complaining, really. But it has pervaded my thinking the past few days as I try to recall the last time I reeled in a fish, cursed the thing at the end of my line and worked hard to remove it without getting stuck by the pointy dorsal or pectoral fins.

Minnesota has yellow, brown and black bullheads swimming its waters and rare is the angler who intentionally pursues this voracious species of fish.

I grew up catching a lot of bullheads in the city lakes of Minneapolis. No lake was better for bullheads than Taft Lake right near the airport. As a kid, I would cast a plain hook with a worm under a bobber, count to five and start reeling because there would be a bullhead at the end of the line.

Put on a piece of pork rind and you just keep casting, removing and casting again without having to bait your hook because that rind never fell off the hook. It was certainly a lot of fun for a few outings, but after awhile it got tiring.

I did, however, become quite adept at grabbing a bullhead without getting stuck. All those bullheads also made for some great fertilizer under my Mom’s tomatoes. A word to the wise: A pile of bullheads work as great fertilizer, but the overload of nitrogen they provide prevents those tomatoes from ever turning red.

We ate a lot of green tomatoes that fall! And that was the last time I pursued bullheads on purpose. Maybe it’s time to return to Taft Lake and see if those slime balls still roam the waters.

My tomatoes can do without, but a few trees of mine might just like it. Better yet, anybody have a good bullhead recipe? If you do, post it here as a comment or send me an e-mail at I’d love to publish it and possibly interview you for a future blog.  

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