May 25, 2006 at 12:41 p.m.
He then went on to add that if I foolishly blabbed about it to anybody but my brother-in-law he'd hunt me down to the ends of the earth and kill me. It’s not uncommon to hear a serious angler use a statement like that (metaphorically speaking, of course), but I didn't see even a shadow of a smile touch his lips as he said it, so I audibly gulped and took the statement at face value.
After receiving this covert and highly classified information at a pre-arranged dead-letter drop somewhere in Paradise Park, I called my brother-in-law, Bil, to share the information. Bil is a very busy man that owns and operates a big ISP company in Minneapolis and, generally speaking, I try not to bother him at his business. (Unless of course he is on the receiving end of a red-hot walleye tip.) I told him who it was that shared the information with me when he suddenly blurted, “I’m a few steps from my car down in the parking garage so you might lose the signal. You get the bait. I’ll meet you at the landing. I’m on my way.” Click. Jeesh, I might just as well have thrown on a double-billed deerstalker cap and said, “Come Watson, come! The game is afoot!”
As I wrapped a few things up at work and patiently waited until quitting time, I looked out my office window to witness a wicked storm barreling out of the north. Suddenly, the menacing blob was right over the Chisago area and it was hailing, raining, and windy under a dark and sickly-green sky. If that weren’t enough, the barometer literally fell into the basement. By mid-afternoon, the worst part of the storm rolled through on its southerly course and took the wind with it. My hopes for a good outing were really waning. A bottomed-out barometer and lack of wind on the heels of a big storm isn’t exactly the ideal recipe for good walleye fishing.
After running home to gather my equipment, I finally met Bil at the landing where we launched the boat and kept a watchful eye on the skies. It really was a crapshoot as to whether or not the walleyes would cooperate following such a severe storm. I kept reminding myself that you just never know when it comes to fish, and sometimes they bite even when the weather conditions say they shouldn’t.
It took a bit of time, but we did find the spot and wouldn’t you know it, we immediately marked fish...lots of fish. Big hooks appeared on the LCR and they were tight to the bottom in 15 – 17 feet of water. Bil got rigged up first and I bet he didn’t have his jig and minnow down on the bottom for ten seconds before he reefed back on a fat 24-incher. Then a minute or so later I hit a good upper-teens eater that I dropped in the livewell. I hooked another large fathead on my jig and send it to the bottom where it was immediately pounded by another fish – and I mean hard. I set the hook, but this time I simply could not move this walleye off the bottom. It took the better part of five minutes before Bil and I even caught a glimpse of the fish. It was quite a battle, with me back-reeling like a bugger every time the big fish flicked its tail and made a mad dash away from the boat. The six-pound line hung in there and the knot held and we finally got a net under her. Man oh man, what a horse.
Bil and I had a few strikes against us before we even shoved off from the landing, but the tip from my buddy was hot and we decided to fish anyway. No, we weren’t out there fishing under what you’d call “ideal conditions” that late afternoon, but we knew the post-spawn fish should be there and it was arguable some of the best walleye fishing that I can recall. We caught 15 or so, and took plenty of good “eaters” home for the freezer. This sort of fishing doesn't come around very often and we were darn lucky to get such a timely tip and that things sort of just fell into place.
A lot of proud parents carry pictures of their adorable children in their wallets and purses. Well, call me what you will, but on occasion I’ve been known to carry pictures of fish around with me. The photo of that walleye got pretty dog-eared this past week, and my shoulder is still a bit sore from constantly reaching into my shirt pocket to whip it out and bore folks as I re-told the tale of this walleye outing.
I’ll tell you one thing though. I did keep my word to that buddy of mine. More than a few guys had me under a bare bulb with wet jumper cables in their hands, but I refused to talk and didn’t give up the spot. A little tickle of electricity wouldn’t bother me near as much as the consequences I was sure to suffer from my friend if I blabbed.
Dan Brown’s weekly outdoor column is brought to you by Frankie’s Bait and Marine, in Chisago City, and St. Croix Outdoors, in St. Croix Falls, Wis.