"I'm just a girl who can't say no when somebody asks me to go fishing," said WW&W fishing correspondent Dolly Varden. "It's not just a passion, it's a vice."
Correspondents to this column may not be heavy on facts, but they take their work and play seriously. "It's both vocation and avocation," Varden added. "I'm a lucky girl."
Fictional correspondents are my stock and trade and are willing to say anything I write, but I must admit the best fishing line I've ever heard, bar none, came from a real live girl, Annette Broulette, who once told me "You can't go fishing without Annette." I was just a guy who couldn't say no.
In last week's column, I came right out and admitted that I was struggling with walleyes. That's my story and I'm sticking to it, but let me clarify something; I'm actually struggling without them and continue to, but I'm hopeful and optimistic enough to believe that the longer I go without, the closer I am to catching one. I can sleep through a bite with the best of them and still manage to catch fish, just not walleye.
In the meantime, I'm having a good season with northernen'. I'm looking for and visualizing northerns the size of trolling motors but catching mostly hammer handles that hammer whatever I'm fishing for walleye. Don't get me wrong; an incidental unexpected catch is always a surprise and a welcome addition to any impromptu fish fry.
I've experimented with a lotta different lures and presentations this week, catching northern, smallies, perch, bullheads and clams, but not one 'eye. They've gone from ignoring me to defying me; only the benign neglect treatment remains to be explored in our relationship. I've hung live and Gulp crawlers and minnows beneath bobbers, strung them on harnesses, and snugged them up to jigheads. I've also gotten lucky with swimbaits like the Northland Mimic Minnow and jointed Rapala.
Ever since Summer Solstice arrived, we've been doing a lotta boatless fishing, mostly the evening shift from seven until dark. It's the bewitching hour on Yooper brookie cricks and beaver ponds, when the surface is dimpled with rising trout, greedily slurping bugs and feasting on the hatch du jour. You can fool 'em with a wet or dry fly, worm, grasshopper, cricket or what have you. I try dry first, but when they're in a feeding frenzy, they're not that fussy and a foam ant works as well as anything.
While the evening brookie bite has been pretty good, the bug bite is bad and I'd stay away if I were you. I was driven off Woodtick Crick and into the insect-free comfort and safety of the Drift right about dark twice this week, but not before getting bitten indiscriminately by black flies, deer flies, fish flies, horse flies, noseeums, mosquitoes and ticks the brookies were biting on. Keep a head net in your pocket and you're OK.
There's quite a conservation ethic among Keweenaw walleye anglers; they keep and eat what they call "good eaters" in the 15-20 inch range, but gently handle and release those big mommas, the 22 to 30-inchers, to continue their wanton, unprotected spawning and uninhibited reproductive ways. Occasionally, trophy wallhangers are released to the taxidermist and proudly hang on walls in Copper Country homes, camps and bars.
Rice Lake near Big Traverse Bay is one of the fishiest, most generous lakes in the Keweenaw, giving up liberal catches of walleye, northern, bluegills, pumpkinseeds, perch and bullheads to boat and bank anglers alike.
A field of 359 entered the recent 37th Annual Rice Lake Fishing Derby; 220 adults (17 and over, 68 juniors (10-16), and 71 children (9 and under), most of whom caught fish. Sponsored by the Lake Linden-Hubbell Sportsmen's Association, the popular family event attracted hundreds of visitors. For more info and photos, visit llhsa.org.
Desmond Sandstrom caught a 7 lb. 1 oz. northern to win the Grand Prize, a Humminbird Fish Finder/GPS.
1) Seth Harala
2) Rick Anderson
3) Kerry Laurie
1) Jay Mitchell
2) Kelly Kotaniemi
3) Jack Johnson
1) Jim Spelich
2) Marcus Gloss
3) April Beveridge, Bendon Middleton (tie)
1) Ryan Knoll
2) Devon Muljo
1) Riley Snell
2) Luke Marcotte
3) Troy Corrigan
1) Mason Loukus
Jim can be reached 24/7/365 at firstname.lastname@example.org.