A season in review—part one

It’s always tough at this time of year to clean out the boat and pack up all my open-water fishing equipment.
Another season has come and gone with plenty of good memories that will last for years.
It’s funny, as I sort the piles of lures that are laying around my house and put them into the boxes they belong in, I’m reminded of specific fish catches over the past six months.
Not sure if it’s a sickness, but I remember where and what I caught all of the biggest fish on over this past season.
This past fishing season was my best ever as far as great days on the water. The ice went out early this year (Lake of the Woods for free and clear by mid-April), which was welcomed after the late spring we have had the two years prior.
This allowed area anglers to get out in the boat nearly a full month earlier than in 2009.
My season started off with a couple of outings for walleyes in the boat before the season closed April 15. Last year, I can remember fishing walleyes on the ice on the last day of fishing in mid-April.
This year we fished the same spot from a boat—a rare occurrence, indeed.
Early-season pike and smallmouth fishing was good through the rest of April. I even can remember catching some shallow-water crappies on a really nice day at the end of April while out with my buddy, Dennis Favreau.
Most years these fish are not found in shallow water until late May.
In early May, Dave Bennett and I travelled to Sturgeon Bay, Wis. for the annual Sturgeon Bay Open Bass Tournament. We have fished this event for five years now and it is one of the highlights of the year for us.
The size of the smallmouth bass on Lake Michigan is incredible. We might see one or two five-pound smallmouths during an entire season up here in Sunset Country, but we catch them daily there.
I’m not taking a shot at our smallmouth fisheries. They are fantastic—the fish just do not grow as large.
Although we had a tough tournament and finished 16th out of a 200-boat field, our good friends, Troy Norman and Andrew Carlson, won the title and a brand new boat.
The high point of the week for us was participating in a small one-day tournament the weekend before the Open, where we took second place with a five-bass limit that weighed 28.91 pounds.
This catch included my personal best smallmouth bass—a 7.04-pound monster which ate a small tube jig.
The rest of May was all about fishing for fun and doing some guiding. We had plenty of good weather, which led to great fishing for walleye and crappie.
My good friend, Davis Viehbeck of Thunder Bay, caught the biggest walleye I saw during the entire season on the May long weekend–a 32-inch monster that ate a Lindy-rigged Trigger-X worm on a Northland spinner rig.
June was more fun fishing with friends. I’m consumed with bass tournaments once July hits, so it’s good to get out with buddies early in the summer to enjoy some fun on the water.
The standout trip for the entire season took place in early June when I went on a fly-in trip with Dallas Mosbeck, Marty Hanson, and Ian White. We went into Hanson’s Outpost camp on Ajax Lake, east of Nestor Falls, and enjoyed some excellent bass, walleye, and trout fishing.
It was great to fish out of a small 12-foot boat with a 9.9 h.p. motor like I used for years at our cabin on Lake of the Woods.
Kenora’s prominent fishing guide, John Monteith, organized a great event in mid-June. Monteith organized the first Armed Forces Day on Lake of the Woods, where a number of area anglers took out Canadian military veterans for a day of walleye fishing.
Spending time in the boat with these folks really put into perspective the huge sacrifice that they make.
Next week I’ll take a look back at the bass tournaments that took place across the region during July, August, and September.
Until then, start getting the ice-fishing gear ready!

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