Birdshot and backlashes
Don Shelby, anchorman for WCCO-TV in the Twin Cities and announcer for an afternoon radio show on WCCO, was up visiting Ely over the Blueberry Festival weekend, but not just to see what was being displayed in Whiteside Park. He was also up to do a little fishing hereabouts. He and his wife Barbara were staying at Timber Trail Lodge on Farm Lake and got some inside info on where the crappies were hanging out. They made some nice catches of the big silver panfish and dropped off a dozen fillets for our dinner. These fish looked to be about 1 1/2 lb. on the hoof, not bad for summer’s hot weather when a lot of people are having difficulty connecting. About the only details he would divulge were that they caught the fish “around brush” which could be a lot of places on the Farm-Garden-White Iron chain of lakes. On the other hand, Shelby is a skilled angler as well as a veteran canoe paddler and camper. He knows his way around the outdoors and it is no surprise that he filled the stringer whenever they needed a fish fry.SUMMER MYTHOLOGYWhen hot weather hits, some fishermen have trouble getting fish and then the old yarns come out of the packsack like: “fish don’t bite in hot weather” and “the fish are shedding their teeth” etc. Facts are, fish continually shed their teeth, a few here and there but it doesn’t stop them from eating. Indeed, fish feed more in hot weather. They are the same temperature as the water around them and when the water gets warm, their metabolism speeds up and they eat more. The thing is, there is a lot more to eat in the summer. And the fish are apt to be where the groceries are the most plentiful.At daybreak, for instance - real daybreak like 5 a.m. - bass are close in shore and easy to get on artificial surface lures. Why are they inshore? Because their favorite food - crawfish - are in the shallows shedding last winter’s hard coat. The craws get out from under rocks at night and come up in shoal water to feed and shed their old hard shells. You can check this any night with a flashlight. Shine it around any beach and crawfish will be quite visible. They will be loafing around near shore waiting for the soft outer coat to turn hard again before heading back to hide in the rock piles. Bass know this and cruise right in there with them.During the day, bass move out on the deep side of the rock piles where they can be faked out of their skins with live leeches and crawlers, but at night they are in very shallow water near shore.Walleyes move in at night, too, hunting minnows, but are usually back in the depths before morning or suspended over deep water. Night fishing for walleyes on bars and along weedlines can be productive using floating lures like Rapalas, reeled across the surface very slow in the dark. Our best success has been from midnight to 3 a.m. OK, so you sleep all day and fish at night, but it works.Crawlers are especially good for walleyes from dawn to maybe 9 a.m. We use a whole crawler with a tiny hook, No. 8 or 10, just stuck in the nose of the worm so it can wiggle and crawl all over the place. No extra stuff like plastic jig bodies, just the worm.The problem is, a lot of other fish like perch, rockbass and sunfish like to tear up the worms, but if one goes past the nose of a walleye, it’s bingo!