And it begins! The 2009 open water season was upon us. The sound of flowing water slapping against the side of the boat set me at ease. This sound and the experience that goes with it is my addiction in life. Every time I hear it and feel it, everything else in life just goes away. I guess you could say that open water fishing is my drug of choice. Any problems or issues of this economic world were left at the landing, and for a few hours this past weekend, I was able to sit in a chair and take in the rays of sunshine. Life is good, which must be why I quote it as living the dream.
I joined my fishing partner and fellow guide Mike Ernst for what would be his first trip in his brand new boat. He was as excited as a 5th grader on the last day of school. Matt and Sean also joined us for this epic launching of the new rig. The location was the Mississippi river. One of the few options in Minnesota for open water this time of the year, and one of the only places that a guy can legally target walleyes. The chance to get a jump start on the season sends us there each spring, and the rewards can be tremendous. Walleyes over 10 pounds are a reality, and the multi-specie aspect of the river just adds to the excitement.
We were eager to break the ice with the first fish in his new boat, but nobody expected what was about to happen. After a few hours of frutless searching, I set the hook into what felt like the bottom of the river. Two pumps on the rod was all the I needed to reassure me that I wasn't snagged. I spent the next 15 to 20 minutes following this beast up and down stream. Our thoughts were comfirmed when the giant broke the surface. I had accidentally snagged a wintering Flathead Catfish. Measuring in at 41 inches, my jig somehow managed to slide under his fin while jigging across the bottom. An accident that I will admit was 100% by mistake, but made for one heck of a first fish in the new boat!
Fresh off of the big catch, I proceeded to land a walleye, a sauger and one more channel catfish before we all engaged in the action. From a position of the back seat, I couldn't have enjoyed the experience any more. Mike was the guide, and I was the guided. I joked about it all as I put my feat up in relaxation mode. Aside from the gusting winds, it was a blessing to be out there. We found a mixture of walleyes and sauger with a few more rough fish mixed in. The enormous walleyes that we were after weren't ready to bite just yet. A water temp reading explained that we were a couple of days early for the big push. A push that will top the charts as one of the best walleye fishing opportunities of the year. The weather reports show that the next few days will trigger that bite, which I look forward to all year. The 2009 open water season is here, are you ready for the action? Until next time, keep on livin' the dream!