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Birdshot & backlashes

Good guides are busy people. Fisherfolk come up here from all over the country full of optimism after reading newspaper and magazine articles about the fabulous Ely area angling. And sometimes can’t find a fish.What to do? Hire a guide.How to do that? Guide services can be obtained through resorts and outfitters which advertise in the North Country Angler. Some are also listed at the Chamber of Commerce. Professional guides are darn good at what they do.The father-son team of Steve and Chris Kleist are two of these. We had reason to use the services of Steve last week when we had visitors from Potomac, Maryland, Carl and Rosemary Bleschshmidt, my wife Edith’s brother-in-law and sister. They had one day to go fishing and we didn’t have permits or anything much else. Steve set up a day trip to Basswood Lake, one of the area’s most famous fishing holes.We left the Fall Lake public landing at 8 a.m., which is not early by fishing standards, but early enough by senior citizen criteria. We had two Grumman 19 foot square sterns with 6-horse motors, lunch, tackle, bait and hope.Using Steve’s portage wheels, we went across the Newton portage, motored up Newton Lake and across the Pipestone Portage. Then we motored up Basswood to the sign which indicates no motors are allowed beyond that point. Here we put the motors on the shore and paddled some distance farther. Steve said he knew a spot in the paddle-only zone where the walleyes had been hitting a couple of days earlier. He also said he was having his best luck on nightcrawlers fished on Lindy rigs. Uh huh. Edith and I opted for our old standby, crawlers fished on jigs. If they would hit on Lindy Rigs, we reasoned, they would hit on jigs and crawlers. Yah, you bet.The plan was to meet at noon for a fish fry shore lunch. Steve said he brought Polish sausage “just in case.” By noon, Edith and I were figuring on sausage. We had not boated a single fish. As we paddled over to Steve’s canoe, we could see something was going on. Rosemary’s rod was bent over and she was getting some advice on landing her fish. Steve lifted a fat walleye out of the water and put it on his stringer. It was quickly apparent that there were others on the stringer, too. Shore lunch was assured.At a nearby campsite, Steve and I filleted a half dozen of the smaller walleyes and got the stove going, to heat up the frying pan. “Fish were very picky,” he confided. “They would only hit a plain crawler on the Lindy Rigs.”Steve, a science teacher at Vermilion College, was interested in Carl who had worked at one time in the U.S. space program. Among other things, Carl engineered the launch pad used in the Challenger flights. He also designed the first auto seat belts and air bags now used in all autos. We had wild rice, buns and coffee with the walleyes, and candy bars for desert. And fished a little and releasedthe ones caught. We picked up the motors, cruised to Pipestone Falls, made the two portages and headed for home.Carl and Rosemary thanked Steve for a wonderful day. It was the high point in their Ely visit. “One thing I just can’t understand,” Rosemary said. “Carl and I caught 15 walleyes but, Edith, you didn’t catch any all day. Why do you suppose that happened?” “Simple,” Edith said, looking at me. “I had a lousy guide.”

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