Friday, November 18, 2016

The story of the SIXTEEN INCHERS!

One of "those guys" who caught 20-inchers, Rod Sarver

Dennis Goemaat with another beautiful walleye

Mark Pothaven hoists a big one. All these big fish were released.
Each season at camp has its unforgettable experiences and here's one for me from last summer.
I will preface this by pointing out that Red Lake has seen an explosion of walleye numbers in recent years and that it is now common to catch very large quantities of walleye at every outing. The numbers are absolutely unprecedented. Although all sizes are represented in the catch, there are certainly some spawning years that are especially abundant. This is what led to the conversation in the story.
I should also say that by the third or fourth week of the season I saw a pattern to what was going on with our fishermen and asked them if they could explain it. Incredibly, none could. On the boat ride from town out to camp I would say something like, "Everybody so far has caught hordes of smaller walleye the first two days they were here but then they found the bigger ones. When I asked them what they did different after two days, they invariably would say, 'Nothing.' If this happens to you, I would appreciate it if you let me know what you did so I can pass it on."
Now the story, the only thing which I have altered is the actual name of bays so as not to give away anybody's secrets.
"Hey Dan, I've got a question for you. When the guys got off the boat in town on Saturday they said they had caught lots of 20-inch walleyes. Where did they get them because all we are getting is 16-inchers."
I don't know exactly but we are catching walleyes just about everywhere.
"All we are getting are 16-inchers. I mean, we are catching lots and lots of them, every time we go out."
For some reason everybody first gets the smaller walleye and then they find the bigger ones too and they never seem to be able to say why.
"Those guys at the dock said they got 20-inchers. What bay were they fishing?"
Well, I know they fished at least part of the time in X Bay.
"We tried X Bay! SIXTEEN INCHERS! We also tried Y Bay. SIXTEEN INCHERS! We tried Z Bay too. SIXTEEN INCHERS! We even drove half-way down the lake to a bay we have never fished. SIXTEEN INCHERS! I mean we are catching hundreds and hundreds of them!"
Of course 16-inch walleyes are probably the perfect ones to eat. Their fillets are thin enough that they cook exactly right when deep fried.
"You are probably right on that but we don't want those. We want 20-inchers. What were those guys at the dock using for bait?"
I'm pretty sure they were using wor...
"We tried worms! SIXTEEN INCHERS! We tried leeches. SIXTEEN INCHERS! We tried minnows. SIXTEEN INCHERS! How were they fishing, those guys at the dock, because they got 20-inchers."
I think they were just trolling spi...
"We tried trolling spinners. SIXTEEN INCHERS! We tried using jigs. SIXTEEN INCHERS! We tried crank baits. SIXTEEN INCHERS. I mean we'll probably catch a thousand of them by the end of the week. Can you help us get 20-inchers or not?"
I guess not.
"I figured as much."
Two days later I saw the same fellow and asked if he had found any bigger walleyes.
"Yeah, I mean, oh yeah! In fact we had doubles on 25-inch walleyes, not once, not twice but three times yesterday. Man, this is really great."
So what did you do different after just getting 16-inchers the first day or two?
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