Walleyes start slow, pike hot

by Nick Wognum

Water temps below 50 degrees on many area lakes kept the walleye sluggish but made for some great northern pike fishing on the first days of the season.<BR><BR>Area lakes were filled with boats on the 2004 fishing opener. The weather cooperated, although not right away.<BR><BR>At 6 a.m. it was a brisk 24 degrees and early morning anglers were lucky enough to scrape ice off car windshields before heading out. <BR><BR>But by noon the temperature had hit 50 and a nice day seemed possible. By 2 p.m. the wind kicked up, driving waves into the north and east shores of lakes. <BR><BR>As usual, the reports ranged from feast to famine. Most found fish out of the currents and in 16 to 18 feet of water. Minnows were working well for walleyes and the crappies started hitting mid-morning as well. <BR><BR>For those who couldn’t get the walleyes to get excited, pike fishing provided a great alternative. <BR><BR>Basswood Lake gave up the state record northern pike on May 16, 1929. The record books still stand with the 45 lb. 12 oz. monster on top, but a big 25 lb. 1 oz. pike was taken out of Basswood by Robert D. Jablonski Sr. of Waukegan, IL on May 17 of 2004.<BR><BR>Jablonski used a quarter ounce green jig tipped with a pike sucker on eight pound test to land the monster northern. The fish was 46.25 inches long and had a 21-inch girth. He registered the fish at Voyageur North Outfitters.<BR><BR>Garrett Carlson of Ely caught a two-for when he reeled in a 21 lb. pike that had a one-pound walleye in its mouth as well. The 43-inch specimen came out of White Iron Lake on a rainbow minnow and was checked in at Voyageur North Outfitters.<BR><BR>Matt Urbas of Ely caught a 7 lb. 8 oz. pike in White Iron Lake and checked it in at Skube’s Bait and Tackle. <BR><BR>Top walleye registered was a seven-pounder taken on a leech in Bearhead Lake by Lennie Henning of Maplewood, MN and checked in at Vermilion Fuel and Food. <BR><BR>Next up was a 6 lb. 1 oz. walleye that measured 25.5 inches long, caught by Travis Salo of Tower in Lake Vermilion and registered at Vermilion Fuel and Food.<BR><BR>The best bass was a 5 lb. 2 oz. smallie caught on a leech by Lindsey Colosey of Chanhassen, MN in Burntside Lake and registered at Skube’s Bait and Tackle. Colosey’s smallmouth was 21 inches long.<BR><BR>Greg Colosey, also of Chanhassen, was right behind Lindsey with a 4 lb. 2 oz. smallmouth, also caught in Burntside and also registered at Skube’s Bait and Tackle.<BR><BR>Frank Demenge of Cloquet brought in a 3 lb. 6 oz. bass that went 17.5 inches on the ruler, caught in Bear Island Lake and checked in at Timber Wolf Lodge. <BR><BR>Geri Lovitz of Sauk Rapids caught and released an 18-inch smallmouth bass in Farm Lake and registered the catch at Skube’s Bait and Tackle. <BR><BR>With warmer temperatures this past week, look for the walleye fishing to pick up. Walleyes like water warmer than 50 degrees and area lakes are just starting to reach those temperatures. <BR><BR>The DNR is asking that people remember the new pike rules that went into effect last year. They are as follows:<BR><BR>Fisherman will not be able to keep any northern pike between 24 and 36 inches on a number of area lakes. Also, while the bag limit remains at three, only one pike over 36 inches can be kept. <BR><BR>This rule applies to Basswood, Vermilion, Birch, Farm, Garden, South Farm, White Iron and the first 4.8 miles of the North Kawishiwi River from Farm Lake to the long portage. <BR><BR>Remember, you can always register that 24 to 36 inch northern that has to be put back in our Catch and Release section.<BR><BR>Be sure to register your catches at the Check In Stations listed in these pages. Cash awards are given every six weeks for the biggest walleye, bass, pike and trout taken. <BR><BR>All entries in the North Country Angler Contest are included in the end of the year drawing for a three-day, two night stay at Zup’s Fishing Camp. <BR><BR>