Anderson: Back on the walleye editorial, Winnie gives away her treasures

Lake Winnipegish — Sales of fishing licenses in Minnesota last week were down more than 20% from a year ago, according to the Department of Natural Resources. But busy roads leading north from the Twin Cities on Friday indicated boats would be submerged on the water on Saturday morning, when the state’s inland fishing season began.

That’s proven to be the case in this 59,000-acre northern Minnesota gem.

As the sun rose to the eastern horizon on Saturday morning, the red and white pines lit up on the distant shores of ‘Winnie’, the broad docks in front of McArdle’s Resort, where our group seated, were filled right to port in almost every style of walleye craft. .

Some boats were luxurious, others not so much. Regardless, each one, as daylight approached, slowly moved on a Winnie before boarding, and pilots and passengers alike hoped the jittery buzzards on the color-changing dances would trick the noisy in the bit.

He took his first gray eye bait within a few minutes of dropping a streak into Winnie’s 48-degree water.

Steve Felix of Naples, Florida, Joe Hermes of Minneapolis and my wife, Jean, were fishing together, each of us dragging, jumping, or fiddling with 1/8-ounce rainbow-laced dances in 10 feet of water.

This initial light eye, 14″, has entered our lives well, and was the first of what we hoped would be enough reward at the end of the day for our annual inaugural evening feast.

“It’s a start,” Steve said.

Weather-wise, the morning was about as good as we could hope, given the Armageddon-like conditions that prevailed statewide on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Saturday’s 6:30 a.m. temperature was in the upper 40s, with calm to non-existent winds.

Given how quickly we put that walleye into the boat, we thought Winnie might give up her treasures as easily as she did a year ago in the editorial, when we also fished from McArdle, and the action was quick.

But Saturday, early on, was a horse of a different color, as it were. We’ve discovered, collectively, well-lived gray-eyes (Winnie’s max is six), including three that are 24 inches or longer (Winnie’s protected opening is 18 to 23 inches). But the pace of catching up left plenty of time to chat about global affairs — which, thankfully, neither of us had any particular experience, making solutions easy to develop.

Throughout the morning we were surrounded by a fleet of about 50 boats, carrying three others in our group, including John and Judy Werrach of Stillwater. Terry Arnesen and Denny Lane of Stillwater and Elmo Lake respectively; and Tom Ellsworth of Excelsior and Jim McCaul of Mound.

Joe, in our boat, was the first to hit a large, 24-inch walleye that properly engineered a neat Fenwick graphite rod he had recently purchased. As much as the little fish is fun, the big fish is fun, the kids say, and the huge guardian atmosphere lit up our horizons for a fruitful big fish morning.

Joe said, “It didn’t hit the bait hard. He just picked it up. Then it was there. ”

Hours passed, and eyes fell upon our baits intermittently, among which the 24 inch grappled into the boat and the 25 inch Steve was caught. The latter was captured later in the afternoon when the winds – and walleye – rose dramatically.

Meanwhile, many of them were full of fatness, they chased after us, like kamikaze, all day long. The fillets of this puffy fish were (and were greasy) as delicious as those of any fin-bearing creature, and we reserved enough of them to ensure an adequate Saturday evening snack.

Jan, my wife, because of her pioneer, prefers throwing trout to hopping in search of wallis. She is, however, happy to make these seasonal debuts, as she made her first appearance in 1992, on White Iron Lake near Ely, during which we got married. Those three decades, two boys, and countless dogs and horses later, still together and still trying to put some fish in a boat is a bonus, especially for me.

Saturday ended for us as it did for thousands of other Minnesota fishermen: with a flame down a deep frying pan and fillets of the coveted Minnesota fish that had been browned to perfection.

surrounded by friends.

Greetings from the owner of the resort

Craig Brown died earlier this year in a car crash in Idaho while on an ice fishing trip. With his wife, Paige, who is widely admired and universally loved, he owns and operates McArdle. The resort’s 23 cabins filled for the opening, and on a Friday evening at 9, everyone at the resort—guests, staff, and family—came together with Paige to honor and encourage Craig, her sons Matt and Nate, and their families, as they move on.

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