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The Primitive Fish of the North The Lake Sturgeon Gary Howey

  The Rainy River located on the Minnesota Ontario Canada border flows into Lake of the Woods with both the river and the lake premier destinations for anglers.

  I was one of several hundred outdoor communicators that made their way north to attend our annual Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW) 2017 conference held on Lake of the Woods.

  They keep us quite busy at the conference, but there was still time for several side trips including sturgeon fishing, walleye fishing, grouse and waterfowl hunting.

  Since I had never fished for Sturgeon, I was looking forward to tangling with one of these primitive fish that inhabit the waters of the Rainy River.

  Lake Sturgeon, are one of twenty-five species of sturgeon found in North America. They are a prehistoric looking ancient bottom feeder. Their skeleton is primarily made up of cartilage. They are streamlined with their armored coated body having rows of bony plates on both sides and their back and when not handled right cut like razor blades.

  They feed using its elongated snout that has taste buds on and around its lips which protrude down from their head. They, like catfish have  barbells coming down from their mouth, which helps them to locate food.  Their main diet is made up of insect larvae, worms, leeches and other small organisms it picks up from the muddy river bottom. [Read more…]

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We find walleyes cooperative at Carroll Lake By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

CARROLL LAKE, Ont. | The tannin-stained water spilled over huge precambrian boulders and settled into the pool below.

Steve Brinkman, general manager of The Lodge at Carroll Lake, held our 16-foot boat at the edge of the eddy, and we cast jigs into the deeper water. This was classic Canadian fishing. This small river, one of several feeding the lake, drew walleyes like a magnet. It made the journey in, fraught by shallow boulders with an appetite for props, well-worth the risk.

Gary Howey set the hook into yet another 18-inch walleye. Our companion boat, with Randy Smith, Yankton, S.D., a veteran of other Carroll Lake trips, and Chad Tramp, Ankeny, Iowa, on board were also fighting fish.

Yes, this was Shangri-La, an earthly paradise where old walleye anglers must go when they die and find themselves in heaven. Jackpine and spruce, birch and aspen grow right to the water’s edge. Their roots gripping the thin soil veiling the oldest rock in the world. Indeed, the Shield is a magical place. [Read more…]

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Into the Blue Carroll Lake Fly-In By Gary Howey

As the Otter floatplane, lifted off the water, banking to east, a sea of blue appeared on the horizon. We were flying into Sunset Country Ontario, Canada to fish Carroll Lake. What appeared on the horizon proved what I had heard about the province to be true, that there are more than 250,000 lakes in Ontario with about one-fifth of the world’s fresh water.
Our destination was The Lodge at Carroll Lake, a lake twenty-two miles long that lies one hundred sixty five miles northeast of Winnipeg, Manitoba, in the Woodland Caribou Park on the Ontario and Manitoba border.
Approached the lake, the Otter, came around, with the Lodge and cabins coming into view, looking much like a photo you would see in National Geographic.
The lodge and cabins, nestled amongst the pine and birch trees, lay along the shoreline of the calm waters of the bay.
The Otter slipped into the dock where passengers Tami Brinkman, Mitchell, S.D., Randy Smith, Yankton, S.D., Chad Tramp, Ankeny, IA., Larry Myhre, Sioux City, IA. and I were greeted by Steve Brinkman and his crew.
The main lodge, a huge building with a large stone fireplace would be where we would eat our meals prepared by the Lodge Chef.
We would be at the camp for two days and were anxious to test the waters for some of the excellent fishing available in these Ontario waters.
It would not be long before Steve, Larry and I launched in one of the Lodge boats with Randy and Chad following in another, we were about to experience a trip of a lifetime.
The weather prior to our arrival did not seem to be in our favor, as it rained hard for several days. We were not sure what to expect as cold fronts had been moving into the area on a regular basis, which always indicates a tough bite. We were pleasantly surprised when shortly after we arrived in the narrows. Steve, who was rigged for the occasion, pitched his jig towards the shoreline. On his second cast, he felt the extra weight indicating a pickup. He set the hook as an angry walleye shook his head violently, attempting to dislodge the jig. The fish was a healthy seventeen-inch fish and the first of a hundred or so we would boat before our trip was through. [Read more…]

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Springtime is trophy northern pike time By Larry Myhre

Myhre-Pike

Springtime is the time for big northern pike. They are spawned out, and feeding big in shallow water in very predictable areas. Now is your best chance for a trophy.

The sun was beating down on this small, northern Ontario lake. But that was a good thing. It was only a few days after ice-out, and a warming sun often prompts big northern pike to put on the food bag.
My friend and I had booked a two-week trip into a fly-in lake even farther north and our intent was to fish the big shallow bays for monster northern pike.
Problem was, the ice just wouldn’t leave this year.
In order to save the two-day drive to get to where we were now, we elected to get on the scene so when the lake opened up we’d already be there. An hour flight would put us in camp.
We had already lost more than a week of our booking, but languishing around our bed and breakfast lodging was not what we liked. So, what about this little lake? Any fish in it?
We were told no. A gold mine up the watershed had polluted the water. The walleyes were gone.
But what about northerns? Maybe, we were told.
So we looked at a lake map. There was a stream flowing in along the northwestern corner. If there were northerns here, they would be there. Right now.
We scrounged up a 16-foot boat and a small motor and off we went.
Using fly rods, we made a drift right in front of the small stream.
And what happened, you would have to see to believe.
If there is a heaven for northern pike fishermen, we had fallen into it.
Fish after fish, most over 40 inches long and pushing 20 pounds fell for the big Lefty’s Deceiver flies I had tied. Our arms were so tired from casting the big rods and fighting the big fish we began trolling. Trolling with a fly rod. I had never done that, but it worked.
Our best fish measured 43 inches. We were confident there were even bigger ones there and began working our way up the creek.
Then the cell phone rang. Part of the lake had opened up at the camp we had booked. The float plane would leave as soon as we could get back to shore. We would have the rest of this day and two more on that lake before the flight out.
So much for our two-week booking.
But the point of all this is that ice-out pike fishing can be fantastic. And you don’t have to go to Canada to get in on it. Any of our lakes in northern Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota or Minnesota, will offer great pike fishing right now.
So how do you find them.
Two things. Shallow bays. Current.
Northerns move into shallow bays to spawn. They are there before the ice leaves the lake, and they will stick around for at least two weeks. Later they will move out into the main lake, and once summer arrives they will go deep and most likely never see a fisherman’s lure.
Current is also a draw.
Northerns often ascend small creeks to spawn. I remember seeing northerns in the little creek at our South Dakota farm in the spring. That creek was a tributary of another, larger creek which eventually dumped into the Big Sioux River over 12 miles away. [Read more…]