Monster fish released in Ely area

by Nick Wognum

It almost seems to good to be true. Still swimming in Ely area lakes are a 22-inch smallmouth, a 44-inch northern and a 31-inch walleye. <BR><BR>Each fish was caught and released by anglers visiting the area. Fisheries officials have been encouraging catch and release for many years now and their efforts are paying off.<BR><BR>This week more fish were entered into the North Country Angler fishing contest through Catch and Release than those listed as frying pan material. <BR><BR>Big fish put back means the future of our lakes is looking better than ever. Those fish will lay eggs by the millions in the years to come and provide for the next generation of fishing action.<BR><BR>Leading the way this week was the massive northern pike released by Dusty Nelson, age 17, of Waseca, MN. The catch was made on a spinner at Lower Basswood Falls and entered at Spirit of the Wilderness.<BR><BR>Nelson also had the largest smallmouth entered, a 22-incher caught in the same spot. <BR><BR>There was a 21-inch smallie caught and released by Mitch Lentz of Spring Valley, MN. The fish was caught on a leech in Pipestone Bay of Basswood Lake and entered at Spirit of the Wilderness. <BR><BR>An 18.5-inch smallie was caught on a Deep Diver and released by Joe Bate of Middleton, WI with the entry made at Skube’s Bait and Tackle. <BR><BR>Matt Kay of Minneapolis, MN used a crawler to catch an 18-inch smallmouth in Basswood. He released the fish and entered the contest at Spirit of the Wilderness. <BR><BR>The 31-inch walleye was released by Robin Pingeton of Normal, IL. A jig and a leech did the trick and Spirit of the Wilderness took the entry. <BR><BR>A 30-inch walleye was released by Dusty Nelson in Basswood Lake and entered at Spirit of the Wilderness. <BR><BR>Allan Reed of Duluth released a 27-inch walleye in Farm Lake and entered at Spirit of the Wilderness.<BR><BR>Gary Konkol of Hudson, WI reported two identical releases of 27-inch walleyes in Fourtown Lake. The info came in to Spirit of the Wilderness. <BR><BR>Top catch and keep of the week went to Sally Mecherle of Dyer, IN with a 5 lb. smallmouth bass caught on a leech in Basswood Lake and registered at Skube’s Bait and Tackle. <BR><BR>We had an 8 lb. walleye registered at Smitty’s on Snowbank by Jeff Moravec of Florrisant, MO. He was using leeches for bait. His daughter Hannah caught a 7 lb. northern, too.<BR><BR>While leeches and crawlers have been the hot bait for some time now, the colder weather may have turned the fish on to other delicacies. <BR><BR>Surface water temperatures in Burntside dropped nine degrees in seven days and some of the local anglers were reporting fast action using leeches. <BR><BR>With an orange spinner in nine to 13 feet of water, a husband and wife team out of Winton reported catching six walleyes that totalled 20 lbs. out of Shagawa Lake during some mid-afternoon fishing.<BR><BR>Don’t be afraid to try something different when you’re out on the water during this time of the year. Especially when we had different weather patterns moving through, it’s always a good idea to change baits and locations if the fishing is slow. <BR><BR>And if you do start to tie into some, don’t forget that Catch and Release is a great option for all fisherfolk out there! Good luck!