Today is 7 weeks till the 2017 Minnesota Fishing Opener! Many of you like me have probably tried to fill the fishing void with a day or two on the ice peering down a hole waiting for something to bite, watched a fishing special on TV, rifled through old fishing pictures or read a blog covering a favorite fishing spot. Well, those days are almost over. Soon we will be out on open water looking for a lunker! Whether you are a bottom bouncer, top water specialist, crazy caster, slow troller, change your lure every 5 minutes person, or the dude that sits on the end of the dock in everyone else’s way, we know we’re all pretty excited for the upcoming fishing season.

Enough of this already…

We want days like this!

Today I’m looking at an ice covered lake and thinking about fishing… I love just about any type of fishing. My personal favorite is bass fishing. But I enjoy fishing for Crappie in the spring and fall when they group together in schools. I find walleye the most challenging fish to catch but also very rewarding. And of course, I’m never one to complain when I land a monster Pike. One of the benefits of operating a fishing lodge is always having a boat in the water when an opportunity to head out for a couple of hours arises. Over the last two summers I’ve tried hard to learn as much as I can about fishing on Pelican Lake. Rarely do people struggle to catch fish here, but occasionally people do come up to the lodge to ask about hot spots, colors, depths and so forth. It is always a pleasure to talk fishing and hopefully help someone catch a trophy fish. Another thing that is occasionally brought up by prospective guests are questions about local fishing guides. Usually we respond that few people feel they need a guide on Pelican Lake. The fishing really is that good. However, especially for first timers at the lake, hiring a guide early in your trip can be a great way to jump start your fishing success.

There are 3 local fishing guides we know living here on Pelican Lake and we can help you connect with any of them. They range in cost from $150-$400 a day. This past September I decided to find out more about one of them and hired him to take me fishing for a day. I was interested in learning some new fishing spots, primarily on the west end of the lake, and also hoping to learn some new tricks from a seasoned pro. I hired Butch Furtman, a featured writer for several outdoor magazines, a Minnesota Fishing Hall of Famer, host of “Sportsman’s Journal” on Fox Sports and local fishing expert/guide for a day. Initially Butch wanted to take me Crappie fishing. I told him I think I’ve got the September Crappie fishing thing about figured out. I’d been out half a dozen times in September and caught more Crappie than my family could eat each time. I wanted to catch bigger fish, especially Bass. Butch said, “oh, you’re one of those kinds”. Yup.

The forecast was for overcast skies, intermittent showers, cool temperatures and winds between 10-15 miles an hour. Good Crappie fishing weather, not good bass fishing weather. Butch saw that I was serious and we set off for the west end of the lake looking for some big Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass hiding behind islands out of the wind. I had the first strike, on about my 3rd cast, the fish swirled near the surface of the water once during the fight and then got away. It had felt good and looked big, I mentally added another monster, record breaking fish to the list of monster record breaking fish that I have almost landed. Even though the first one got away, the pull on the line, the sound of the drag zipping and releasing with the tension made my blood run faster and I knew we had made the correct decision. We were gonna find some big bass…

We didn’t have any real action outside of me catching on a sunken log for about 30 minutes. Then I looked over and saw this…

Butch had landed the first fish of the day. No worries, I may not get the first fish, but I still had a chance for the biggest and most fish! Sure enough I soon caught a fish. In fact I caught several of these… like a couple dozen. I was well on my way to the most fish.

Problem was Butch was catching fish like this…

I’m not used to being out fished. But then again it isn’t everyday I am in the boat with someone who makes a living out on the water fishing everyday. I decided I needed to swallow my pride and asked him what I’m doing wrong. He asked me what I’m using and I showed him a swimbait. He said that can work at times in the fall, but is more of a summer lure. He said he was using a swim jig tipped with a chomper and set me up with the same. Looked like this…

Did it work you ask? Well you tell me…

We spent the rest of the day visiting a half dozen fishing spots where Butch showed me some rock structures, logs and channels for fishing that I’d never seen before. We stuck to swim jigs and tube jigs all day. Between the two of us we caught about a dozen of these and of course a couple dozen pike and smaller bass. It was a fun day fishing and a very educational day for me.