WILTZ: My grandkids are musky addicts!In last week’s column, I began telling you about a late June fishing trip to Ontario’s Vermilion Bay area with my grandchildren and son-in-law, Tom.
By: Roger Wiltz, The Daily Republic
In last week’s column, I began telling you about a late June fishing trip to Ontario’s Vermilion Bay area with my grandchildren and son-in-law, Tom. Clark’s Camp, our destination, was 10 miles north of Vermilion Bay and a pleasant day’s drive from southeast South Dakota. I’ve always believed that great Canadian fishing can only be had by traveling further north and fishing a remote lake that is only accessible by float plane. Although we had a fine time, this trip upheld that belief as the action was slow.
Reefs or structure that were 7-8 feet deep and surrounded by deeper water held eating-sized walleyes we could catch on minnow-tipped jigs. We found such places with the use of the depth finder, and this fishing kept the kids thoroughly engrossed even though it required work and patience. Their enthusiasm knew no bounds. When we came in for the day at dusk, they headed for the end of the dock and continued fishing!
Though I never anticipated the kids, especially my twin 12-year-old granddaughters, catching musky mania, we spent about 75 percent of our time chasing muskies, the fish of 10,000 casts. Though the management, along with other anglers at Clark’s, told us that most of our musky sightings would relate to the walleyes that hung out on reefs (muskies dine on walleyes), our action came from heaving big musky lures toward shore.
We took a total of seven muskies. None were trophies, but four eclipsed 30 inches, and we did see some bigger fish. While grown men develop sore elbows chucking over-weight Bull Dawgs, Suicks, and Top Raiders, Sam, Gab and Grace cast for hours in hopes of seeing a big guy, and they did have their follow-ups. I was sure proud of them. I know what they want for Christmas — heavy musky artillery!
But the most excitement on this trip didn’t come from toothy muskies. It came from seagulls! Some gulls were raising a pair of tiny “fuzz-balls” on a particular small island that amounted to no more than a few boulders, and they did not tolerate our circling their island to cast toward the bank for muskies. If it happened the little guys were in the water and therefore visible, they went into an attack mode.
One would fly up to a great height, and then fold in his/her wings and dive bomb one of us. When one would zero in on me, it appeared to pull out of the dive when it was about 2 feet from my head! It occurred to me that with their size and speed, they could break my neck in a full force collision. They certainly got their point across.
In the future I will offer the kids a trip to a fly-in camp where we will catch a lot more fish. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if they want to go back to Clark’s and try those muskies again.
We made a great adventure of our return trip by stopping at the Soudan Iron Mine near Ely, Minn. Minnesota’s oldest iron mine, U.S. Steel gave the mine to the State of Minnesota in 1962, and Minnesota turned it into a state park. It is an absolute gem.
We took the original elevator the miners rode 125 years ago to a depth of more than a half mile beneath the surface. We then rode the same train the old miners rode through the numerous parallel drifts. Seeing this old mine is well worth the trip from South Dakota. I’d suggest heading to Duluth and taking in the Glensheen Mansion among other Duluth attractions. Then travel north on Hwy 61 and stop at both Gooseberry Falls and the Split Rock Light House while heading to the Soudan Mine.
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Last week I also wrote about GULP, the soft imitation live bait we threaded onto jigs while fishing the fast water at the Randall Dam. GULP is packaged in liquid. If one lets it dry out, it gets rock hard. This stuff could be used for patching cracks, etc.
Anyway, while fishing the Randall tailrace with GULP the other day, a walleye made off with my GULP without getting hooked. Another bit the tail off of my GULP. Can fish digest GULP? I wonder. It could lead to badly constipated walleyes.
About a year ago I wrote about Coach Dan Moran’s musky fishing adventure on West Battle Lake east of Fergus Falls, Minn., where he and his wife were guided by Dave Williamson. In September my partner Jerry and I will musky fish with the same Dave Williamson. Hopefully, we will do as well as the Morans.
The application deadline for SD Rifle Antelope is Friday, August 10. The last major deadline, East River Rifle Deer, is August 31. In looking over our coming pronghorn antelope season, I went to the 2012 Pronghorn Density Map on the SD Game, Fish & Parks website. The information was collected from an aerial survey done in May and June.
I appreciate the SDGFP Department’s honesty. Most of our South Dakota antelope range holds less than one antelope per square mile. An island in our southwest corner holds the most pronghorns. I’d like to see this year’s season canceled so the herd can rebound, but I suppose our GFP depends on the license revenue.
*See you next week.
hoto: 12-year-old Gaby with a musky