July 11, 2009

The Land of 10,000 Lakes

Even though this post doesn't really have anything to do with the Western Sierras, or fly fishing, I figured it was worth it to post some pictures and a report from here in Minnesota. The locals here in Detroit Lakes don't really fancy the idea of fly fishing on their lakes. Most everyone I talked to was either chuckin' spinner baits the size of my forearm (cowgirls) or draggin' leeches through the weeds using a Lindy rig. I haven't looked into it too much, but from my new experience I can say that fly fishing for northerns and muskies would be a lot of fun, probably not very productive, but a lot of fun. Fly fishing for walleyes might be a little bit harder to do. It's my understanding that those fish like to hang around the bottom where the weeds grow 10 feet tall, and I would hate having to clean weeds off my fly every cast.

As we flew in I could see why they call the state the land of 10,000 lakes. We stayed with family right on the shores of Big Detroit Lake. We had a boat, a canoe, all the tackle we needed, and about 30 different spinning rods to choose from, but no fly rods.

I debated wether to bring mine, but figured when in Rome, try not to look like the idiot from California. My wife's uncle is a big walleye fisherman and it was funny to see the look on his face when I asked him if people around there fished using fly rods, "Well... I spose you could... but why would someone do that?... You betcha!" He didn't say that last part.

Although we caught all the big fish from my wife's uncle's boat (you know you're in the mid west when you have to refer to something using more than one possesive apostrophe), the canoe served as the early morning fishing transportation. The Canoe was perfect for trolling through the weed-socked, lilly pad-covered, bath water warm shallows. Any trolling motor, I don't care how "weedless" it is, would have choked through these shallow flats. I could tell the boat fisherman were a little envious as I pulled 10 or so largemouth bass out of the weeds just out of their casting range every morning. The bass weren't huge, but they made up for it in numbers.

We did all of our walleye fishing in the late afternoon trolling with bait casters and Lindy rigs with leeches. These Minnesota fisherman love their leeches, and so do the sunfish and crappies. We caught more sunfish and crappie in one outing than all the other types of fish caught, the entire trip, combined. Some of the sunfish were pretty big, but more annoying than anything else.

Your bait would barely hit the water before a sunfish would eat the entire leech. It was amazing that these tiny fish, with mouths no wider than a pencil eraser, could eat an entire 3" leech and 3/0 hook. Tenacious, but annoying.

Every now and then the bait would make it to the bottom and we would get a walleye or a northern. Although the northers do get big, we didn't find any big ones. We did, however, find some big walleye: two 4.5 pounders and one 5.5 pounder in back-to-back nights. Not too shabby by the local standards.

Mean-lookin' bastards! But good to eat.

We caught several smaller walleye as well, but no muskies.

I heard a lot about the muskies in Big Detroit Lake. My wife's uncle showed me a newspaper article from the previous week's paper about a woman who caught a 48" muskie on what could be compared to a size 4 mepps spinner, and 8 lb test line. She must have had that fish hooked just perfect, because those musky have rows of long razor-sharp teeth all over their mouths. My wife's cousin was on the boat with us every night and she hooked what may have been a big musky, but it broke off just above the hook after about 10 seconds of fight. Those Lindy rigs aren't made for muskies.

Next time we come out here my mission will be to nail a big musky on a fly. Until then I'll stick to my favorite CA back country rivers and streams.