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Fishing opens this Saturday

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Fishing opens this Saturday
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

We all know that the first Saturday of May means the fishing opener! It's here and I'm ready to wet a line and pick a fight with the biggest fish in the lake. Then it'll be fillet a few, flop some butter in the pan and get out the corn meal! But right now I'm looking out the window and there is snow falling.

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There was ice on the duck ponds this morning a week before the opener. You know there are going to be some lakes up north that will still have ice on them!

We are way behind schedule as far as fishing goes with the delayed spring. Smelt are just now running on Lake Superior! The steelhead run will still be going on into May on the south shore of Wisconsin! My fishing journal never had ice-out dates as late as we are having this year. I'm usually thinking about big crappies on Lake Tainter around April 9, but not this year!

Brother Dick who lives on Audubon Road was up at our "secret" crappie lake this week. He arrived a few days after the ice went out looking for crappies. He's retired and has all kinds of time on his hands and a need to catch and eat fish. It sort of runs in the family. Dick headed up to our shallow, muddy-bottomed lake where he had heard the crappies were just coming in. Once there, he found a guy who had been there the day before and took a few nice crappies. I could just imagine the smile on his face.

His plan was to tie some plastic on a small crappie jig down a bit from a bobber and cast the shoreline from shore until the crappies were found. It didn't take long because history has them coming to the same spots year after year. That is why a fishing journal is so nice to keep. You always remember locations, dates and baits and the stories are always the same unless you are a really good angler whose fish grow each and every year! The only problem was the crappies were small with a capitol "S" -- 6 inches on average! It would take at least three potatoes to fill up on fish that small.

No one ever accused Richard of NOT being smart so he decided to work deeper water out a bit farther. Bang! Just like that, he was into some bigger, more feisty fish: sunnies! Not just average sunnies but some 8- and 9-inchers! I've always said it's a good thing that sunfish don't get as big as pike or bass because we probably couldn't land them if they did. After about four hours of hard fishing Dick had a 25-fish limit and was on his way home with a family meal planned.

On his next trip to the lake he took his grandson Noah and once again found fish frantically feeding! It only took little Noah an hour to get his limit. I'm not sure if that means he's the better fisherman or if grandpa might have had a hand in that one. The action was fast and furious for Noah!

Of course there was another angler who was catching more fish than anyone else. He was an older guy, a little bit crusty around the edges, who was sitting on his bucket pulling in more and bigger fish than anyone else. Somehow Dick's cast went over his line (I'm wondering if that was an accident or not?) and as they were untangling lines Dick noticed his secret bait -- a slightly larger jig head and a waxie instead of plastic. Who said waxies just work when ice fishing?

Hopefully I'll get over to the secret crappie lake and battle some bruiser bluegills and hopefully a few slab crappies before Saturday. It's late for the spring crappie bite. With cold water, the pike and perch are probably just getting done spawning, but walleyes could be right in the middle of it!

As far as the season opener, I'm not sure where I am going to be found. In the past few years I've been out turkey hunting to avoid the opening-day crowds, but I didn't get that turkey season this year. Let me know if you have any secret spots that need to be explored, and if you have an open seat in your boat. I'm ready to go. I bet you are too! I'll dig the worms! Let's go!

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