The year of 2010 on the Rainy River might go down as one of the most memorable spring walleye runs in history. Maybe it won't be remembered as the year of catching 200 walleyes in a day, but its likely that all the anglers on that water will remember the size of the fish they caught on their trip north. It certainly will for myself, and I'll bet my fishing partners will say the same.
Last week I got a bug up my rear to head north. The reports were just too good to pass up, and I thought I would move my Sturgeon Fest trip up a week. My boat partners that included dad Tim, my buddies Dusty and Tim, understood what I was talking about when I explained to them that the 10 pound walleyes are biting with regularity. We changed our reservations and headed to Ballards Resort on Thursday night. Little did we know what we were about to get ourselves into.
Friday morning I met up with one of my muskie fishing partners, Mike Tengwall. He'd been on the water the evening before and confirmed our thoughts. The big girls were biting! It took a matter of minutes for our boat to believe the word on the street. I was lucky enough to hook the first fish of the trip. A beautiful 26 inch walleye. I followed that up with a fat 27.5 incher. Then, just when I thought I was the cool guy in the boat, Tim caught his first ever Rainy River walleye, and she stretched the board at a solid 30 inches. Wow! Now, we have all caught nice walleyes before, but this was just unheard of. Next it was my dad's turn, and he caught a dandy 27.5 and a 28 incher too. It was beyond spectacular. We all repeated this process over and over throughout the morning. I assure you that it never got old. Plus, we even managed to hook a few smaller fish for the frying pan.
With morning number one in the books, we pretty much had our trip already made. For us, it couldn't have gone any better. The only thing on our minds was a chance at a hard tugging sturgeon. After all, Sturgeon Fest is an annual tradition of ours. To commemorate it all, Dusty shaved himself a sweet mustache in remembrance of our 2009 Sturgeon Season, year of the mustache. Our antics started in familiar places and familiar sturgeon waters. Much the same as the morning started, I was the lucky one to start the action. It took me about 3 seconds to remember why I drive 6 hours north to catch these fish every year. A battle that probably pulled a dozen muscles in my back and gave me smiles for hours. At that moment I can remember sitting down and thinking, "Yes Travis, this is as good as it gets."
Day #1 was simply incredible. In fishing terms, it couldn't have gone better. To be able to add my good buddies Tim and Dusty to the list was epic, and having my father along was the icing on the cake. We enjoyed catching fish like each fish was our first one. I can honestly say that when you see a walleye that big come from the murky waters, they all get you screaming for excitement. Even after the 15th, 20th, or 30th one. It never got old, and to add Sturgeon to the list for our afternoon activities was such a sweet bonus.
While day #1 was great, we made sure that it was no fluke. Day #2 was a near repeat with many huge walleyes and a few sturgeon that were even bigger. Sunday morning was our grand finale and we sealed it with a couple more walleyes near the 10 pound mark. I took more pictures of big fish than I know what to do with, and will have more memories than I can even think to share. All I know is that it will certainly be tough to beat this trip. I just don't know how it could be possible.
You might be wondering why we don't do this every season, and how it all came to be. Well, this year was a freak of nature in terms of river conditions. In a typical year the river turns muddy and the current is out of control. The walleyes get lock-jaw and most anglers get skunked. This year was the exception. The water levels remained extremely low. The current speed was nearly zero, and the water temps indicated that the females would be in the river during the open fishing season. Some years the walleye fishing might only last for a day or two. This year, it was a solid month of picture perfect angling conditions. When you couple that with the size of the fish that people were catching, then you will understand why the 2010 season on the Rainy River will likely go down in the history books as one of the best ever. It was for me, and I can assure you it was for my buddies too! To see more pictures from our trip, check out the Rainy River photo album. Until next time, Keep on Livin' the Dream!