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Beatin’ the heat with Sandy Bottom/Woods, water & worse

July 22, 2011
By Jim Junttila , The Daily Mining Gazette

"Summertime and the livin' is sleazy, fish are yumpin' and the lupine is high, your daddy's fishin' and your mama's good lookin', so hush little darlin' , smell the fish fry," sang WW&W country music correspondent Willy Nelsonen, Yooperizing the lyrics to his favorite song.

When the temps climbed into the 90s this week, your favorite correspondents climbed into their float tubes and joined Willie at Sandy Bottom. He's the only guy I know who plays his guitar in his float tube instead of fishin', and the girls love it and show up in droves. That's the important part.

By the time I got there, the water was covered with correspondents; Sandy Bottom, Dolly Partanen, Paris Hiltunen, Sarah Palinen, Crystal Falls and Lily Pond were already wettin' a line with Ed Wetelainen, some actually catching fish. Ed gets all the girls, his line's a mile long.

While Willie was pickin', I started pitchin' my secret topwater lure so it landed on toppa lily pad, then twitched and tugged it ever so slightly so that long, serpentine stem undulates under water, telling any hungry northern a big dragonfly, or small bird or frog has landed on top. Sure it's just a theory, but I've slid some pretty big fish with a mouth fulla lily pads and my lure wrapped inside onto my tube apron.

When you're sitting in a float tube, you're not on the water, you're in it. The water in your lap is warm, but down around your flippers it's deliciously cool. If a leech latches on, it's pure bonus; just pluck it off, slide it onto your hook, and chuck it back out there.

Pitching topwater lures from a float tube gives you a stealthier approach and presentation, letting you sneak up on fish better than you can with a bowmount on a boat. It's a creative way to work the edges and the toppa lily pads and weedbeds without getting hopelessly snagged.

"Dangling in the water isn't just a great way to cool off, it's a good way to catch leeches," Paris Hiltunen said matter-of-factly. "Any Finnish farm girl who grew up skinny-dipping in the pond can tell you that."

"They have a sucker at both ends," she continued, "if a leech latches on, it just means he likes you, I mean really likes you. Don't be a wimp, just pinch its lips and pull it off, or wait til you get back to shore, then sprinkle a little salt on it and it will fall right off," she tipped. "Just like you check for ticks when you come off the brookie crick, it's a good idea to look for leeches when you come outa the water.

"Feed the leeches and they'll feed you by catchin' fish, but don't let 'em stay stuck on too long, she added, "In a single meal, a leech will suck in six times its weight in blood," she winced. "I bet that makes you wanna run right out and go float tubing with me, doesn't it?

On the upside, they're an important part of the forage base and a favorite food for walleye, northern and smallmouth. If you ask me, Gulp leeches work just as well as live ones, and they don't suck your blood.

Have you ever watched a mother duck with a half dozen darling baby ducklings in tow, when suddenly a straggler disappears without a peep? A big northern or musky stealthily picked it off like they'd tug a seagull under by its webbed foot. They don't just like leeches.

You don't wear flippers just for propulsion, they protect your feet. If a cute, fluffy little baby ducklng can fire up a hungry predator's appetite, just imagine what kinda trigger the sight of your ten pinkies wiggling in the water would be?

Sure I like my time in the water with Sandy Bottom, but I go float-tubing with the fantasy of hooking a fish that can pull me around like a planer board; a fish so big it would leave a hole in the water if I pulled it out.

I like float-tubing Salmon Trout Lake backa the dam at Redridge, Lake Fanny Hooe, Lake Manganese, Lake Medora, Boston Pond, Swedetown Pond, No-Name Pond, Plumbago (Alberta) Pond, Eliza Pond, Torch Lake, Lost Lake, White City beach at South Portage Entry, and the Breakwaters at McLain State Park.

Yooper inland lakes are lukewarm, and Sandy Bottom is even warmer, but Lake Superior is still as bracing and refreshing as always, and the best way ever invented to cool off and cope with the heat.

Jim can be reached 24/7/365 at jjunttila@



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