Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Not the Easiest Day Out There

The time had come for what I hope is becoming an annual trip to the Red River for the fall walleye run. Our initial trip had to be cancelled due to work commitments but we made it out a week later. The days were getting shorter and colder, the wind had been blowing for a week from all different directions and to top it off, the locks had been opened fully making an already dirty river even dirtier. Everything was stacked against us and the reports were not looking good but we didn't care we were going for our chance, however slim it was, at a trophy greenback.

We left for Selkirk at 3:30 in the morning and made it to the launch with lots of time before the sun was due to shine. With the boat quickly prepped and in the water we were the first ones out there. The fishing was phenomenal the previous year at a spot away from the crowds and it was decided that was where we would start. The water clarity and current were not in our favor, but we needed to give it a try. Regular jigs, flasher jigs and knuckleballs tipped with frozen shiners or chubs were used with some rattle baits as well. A few missed bites and two solid hook ups with something heavy but both were lost on the way up. A handful of boats had gone by, but nowhere near the numbers we saw last year. It was in our best interests to try and find better water clarity so we headed north.

On the frigid ride north it was clear that the opened locks had turned a lot of folks away from the Red for a while, many possibly went to Pine Falls where reports had been better. The shores however were as packed as last year but no one seemed to be catching. The wind was still blowing at least 30 kmh as we stopped in a sheltered slack water area to try our luck. We spotted a few bald and golden eagles perched in some tree tops as different depths were tried but not a bite, and barely a mark on the electronics. The water looked the same as down south so on we went further north.

Our next stop was just past the mouth of Netley Creek where it turns out we should have launched from, as the water was slightly clearer.  There were more boats out this way but it didn't look like anyone was catching. We anchored up in 15 feet of water and the current was a little stronger than we would have liked, it was almost 11 am by now and not a fish in the boat yet. By this time last year we had easily caught and released over 100 fish with a handful of nice keepers in the live well. After 15 minutes with out a bite I suggested we move closer to shore anchor up again and wait it out, so that's what we did.

It wasn't long before I missed a bite and then Jay landed a bullhead, soon after that another one. We hoped that was a good sign and boy was it ever. "Yep, net!", Jay blurted out, I reeled in quickly and grabbed the net and instantly there it was, a beautiful jade green walleye.  "Shouldn't you play it out a bit?" I asked. "Hell no! Get it in the net!" was Jay's response, so that I did. Scooped up and in the boat I couldn't believe how heavy it was, this was the biggest walleye I had seen in person but am well aware they get bigger than this. Hook out and measurements taken, it was 28 and 1/8th inches, a few quick pictures and off it went. The fight was so quick and water so cold, once it was released it shot off with vigor. There wasn't any hooting or haulering, but the excitement was there and shared quietly, however the brief photo op attracted a few near by boats to pull anchor and come closer.

When a fish like that is landed it really gets the blood flowing, even if you weren't the one fighting it. Not long after, a goldeye, a few sauger, some bullheads and a larger burbot than last years trip were all caught and released by the other two guys in the boat. Burbot are so cool! This is a species I hope to target in the future. As for me, well I was still fishless, missing bites and losing a jig to one hammer of a bite off. At this point I was coming to terms with getting skunked, at least we had seen a few fish landed. But what about those eater walleye, the nice 16 to 18 inchers, where were they? Certainly not where we were as the other two in the boat landed a 24 and 26 inch walleye within thirty minutes of each other.

After a lull in the action we pulled up anchor and moved a few hundred feet, it was there we found some eaters. Finally another hook up on my part and boy did it fight, head shakes and short runs it was hard to tell what was on the end of my line, although it did not feel like a giant. Up came a 16 inch walleye, no skunk stripe for me!! We continued fishing until around 5 pm with a few more eaters kept, but a very slow day all in all. One last kick at the can before ice up would be great but if that was it, we made the best out of a very tough day on the Red.

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