Being a meteorologist certainly has its benefits. One of them is knowing what kind of weather to expect when traveling and knowing when and when NOT to travel. In the same way too much knowledge can be a detriment, and it almost cost me an awesome little vacation last weekend. With several snow systems and a lot of wind I was seriously thinking about not hitting the road with the family to head up north to Brainerd. In fact I actually called the trip off the day before we left because it looked like conditions would be poor. After taking a really close look at stuff Friday morning I decided we would be able to squeeze our travel in between the weather makers, and I am soo glad we made the trip!
We left Friday around 1 and got in to Brainerd late on Friday. The trip wasn’t bad at all! And the kids were a joy in the car which hasn’t always been the case.
OK enough about the travel, let’s talk about the fishing! We were set up on Gull Lake and despite the vast number of awesome lakes in that area I was committed to fishing Gull. I went out early on Saturday and just did some basic exploration. Reports on the lake were scattered and there really wasn’t that much activity on the lake. Guys were driving out and we had a solid 18 inches of ice everywhere we went. By late Saturday morning despite not catching any fish I had some good spots marked for the evening bite.
Weather Details: While the pattern was active and typically stable weather is preferred, the snow systems coming through weren’t bringing with them drastic changes to the barometer, temperature or wind. Saturday was sunny all day long with temperatures in the low to mid 20s for highs, winds were very light throughout the day. Sunday brought clouds and snow showers; our area near Brainerd ended up with 2-3 inches of snow with it starting in the morning and carrying on throughout the day. Highs Sunday were in the upper 20s, it was definitely more breezy throughout the day. We had a slight dip in the barometer as the clipper system passed through but it wasn’t a drastic change. Monday brought clearing skies and temperatures back into the mid to upper 20s. The winds relaxed again.
So as you can see while we did have a shot of snow and a change in weather during the weekend the effects of that change weren’t very strong. It is my opinion that subtle changes in the weather can go unnoticed by fish while large changes can modify fish habits. Our time on the ice confirmed this as we had nearly identical fishing experiences on Saturday night (before the storm) and Sunday night (after the storm).
Back to the fishing. Through my time looking at the maps I wanted to get away from any groupings of houses and locate our own pattern. There are a couple of good flats on the NE side of Gull, my plan was to find a unique area along the transition from the deeper water to the actual flat. I was hoping to fish in around 18-22 feet. The spot we found was an underwater point reaching out from the flat into the deeper water. We used our Lakemaster chip in my father-in-laws GPS, to locate the spot and set up on the point. We got out and set up early at around 3 pm. It was very quiet up until about 5 when I started to see a few fish on my Vexilar. The first couple to come through were pretty tight lipped but as we got closer to the golden hour of sunset the bite really picked up. We had an awesome flurry of bites and fish and several times had to try and content bites on both our rods at the same time!
Most of our fish were on the small side around 10-12 inches. I was fishing a dead stick with a fat head and a red hook about 1 foot off the bottom and jigging a Northland rainbow color glow spoon with a rattle and a minnow head. I ended up with 11 walleyes in about an hour and a half when they slowed down. The split was about 50/50 on what I caught them on. One of the tricks I used was to give my dead stick minnow a little pop when I saw fish coming in. That resulted in a number of good bites. Saturday night we were able to put together 3 fish to take home. My biggest was probably around 16 inches which is a nice eating fish.
The next morning we fished and I caught another 8 fish with 2 keepers out of the mix. We fished the same spot and used the same technique. The fish weren’t as aggressive as the night before but we still caught them from about 6:30 through 8 am. Our last evening of fishing was Sunday night and we went back to the same old spot and had another great night. I ended up with another 11 fish and a few more keepers to take home to the family at the cabin for a meal.
All in all it was a fantastic trip, we also got to do a little skiing on the fresh snow, went for some fun family walks with the kids in the sled and enjoyed the pool and hot tube at the resort.
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about the stuff we did or the weather we dealt with…