As we pulled out of town yesterday with the boat hooked to the truck, it was very obvious that people thought we were nuts. Everybody gave us weird looks and comments like "good luck with that" or "too bad there is no open water!" We just chuckled at it all and got even more pumped as we drove out to the river for our first open water experience of 2008. The weather was spectacular...the water was flowing...the fish were...well, lets just say it was another learning experience.
Just being able to sit in a boat on open water made our day, but as usual, we tried many tactics and spots and found ourselves some action. We started out by heading to some already proven spots. Much to our surprise, we found that there was still ice covering the area that we wanted to fish. Oh well, plan B. Not that we had a plan "B" but we had to work with it anyways. It actually worked out pretty well that we didn't have a plan, because it kept us open to anything and allowed us to try things we normally wouldn't have. If there is one thing that I have learned from fishing rivers, is that you have to be ready to find fish in places that you would never expect. I cannot recall fishing a river even two days in a row and catching fish the exact same way in the exact same place. It seems like you always have to experiment each time out before you find the days pattern. We did just that yesterday, and even though we were targeting walleyes, we were aware that we could battle many different species before we jumped out of the boat for the day. After literally a few hours of no fish, we stumbled on to what appeared to be a wintering hole for many types of fish. This hole just randomly dropped to 40 feet, and the graph was so solid with fish that it almost didn't show the bottom. I have never seen such a large concentration of fish before, and as we would jig around, we would literally bump fish every time we lifted the jigs. We tried everything to see what they were, and to get them to bite, but the only thing we found was that they just weren't eating the bait. The fish were so thick in these spots that as we would reel up the bait to check it, we would bump off of so many fish that at times we would just reel the hook into them. We weren't attempting to snag them, but when they are that thick, there wasn't anything we could do. Accidentally we hooked many catfish and sheephead. We had a few biters out of the group, but for the most part, if we dropped the jig down to the bottom and lifted it once or twice, we had one on. It was the craziest thing I have seen in a while, but we decided that we just had to leave the spot and try something else. Not that it didn't give us extreme battles, because we landed fish up to about 10 lbs, but it just wasn't the right thing to do. I will put that hole in my memory bank for a future trip for sure.
After that ordeal and still no Walleyes in the boat, we kept on searching. It was such an awesome day on the water yesterday and the sights were amazing. "Images of Whorl" were in full effect yesterday as he captured many great pictures of the abundant mallards. It seemed like everywhere we looked we had birds flying by, swimming past, and playing on the ice, and we put ourselves in some pretty cool locations to get some shots of them up close. At times I find it hard to capture the moment with a still shot photo, but some of these really turned out well. It's almost like you are right there in the boat with us when you look at some of these. Nice work with the photography buddy.
After fishing a few spots and trying a few approaches we sat and thought about the conditions before we made our final move for the day. The water was extremely low and clear, and the current was not very strong. Considering these conditions, we decided that the walleyes may just be acting more like lake fish instead of river fish. We hoped that this would be the case and that the low-light offered around sunset just might trigger a bite. Boy did we guess right! Our day was closed by an awesome 45 minutes of throwing eyes in the boat. In those 45 minutes, we went from zero walleyes to 24 in da boat, and many doubles and triples were recorded. We didn't have any giants, but many up to about 16 inches. The flurry was very fast and very short lived due to the darkness, but all of our experimenting for the day came to a close with more success. Because of the fast action, we didn't take many pics, but these two are my favorite because of the cool scenery and snow in the background. Sweetness! We ran out of bait, our stomachs were hungry, our faces a little sunburnt, and the camera's were filled with more great memories. Yep, I would consider that a great first day on the water for 2008. That's what it's all about when Livin The Dream!