Here it is – the second installment of the Fishing Bucket List blog. As you now know, we’re sharing our “Bucket List” of fishing trips with you here in hopes of hearing your own bucket list adventures. After you’ve had a chance to read our blog posts (the last post will be next week), go to our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/fishidy) and click on the contest tab for your chance to enter to win a $100 Bass Pro Gift Card just for voting for your favorite fishing trip and sharing your own fishing bucket list adventure! The winner will be chosen on Jan. 31st, so you’ve got plenty of time!
Jordan – Lake Erie, OH
Walleye fishing takes me back to my roots. Sometimes you have to go back to where you came from to find out why you do what you do. I was born and raised a walleye fisherman by my grandpa, Jerry Truttschel. He and I would go out to Lake Winnebago, whether it was dead calm or five foot waves, to set the hook on some ‘eyes. It created the passion for fishing that I now have today. Lake Erie is similar to Winnebago because it’s known as a walleye fishery, first and foremost. Similar to Winnebago, you have to pick and choose your days on the water carefully, since Erie can kick up dangerously in a matter of minutes. Going to Erie and thinking about how far I’ve come since I began fishing would be a great experience. One that I would love to share with family, especially my dad, grandpa and the rest of our summer fishing crew!
As I previously mentioned, people explore the vast waters of Erie to find trophy walleyes. Lake Erie, the 11th largest lake in the world, is known nation-wide for its unbelievable fishing. They claim there are more than 27 million walleyes in this Great Lake that covers 809,000 acres. Even with the huge numbers in this lake, it’s more about quality than quantity. 30-inch fish in the 10-pound class are boated occasionally with many fish in the 6-8 pound class!
With the recent spike in evasive species in the Great Lakes, Erie has undergone a change in water quality. It has actually gotten much clearer since the mid 80’s. Zebra mussels, which are foreign to the lake, have filtered it. This has changed the effective fishing tactics because walleyes are now beginning to feed more in low-light conditions allowing anglers to catch big walleyes at night! This only adds to my excitement because I consider myself a die-hard fisherman. The longer I can stay on the water and be productive the better. If you’re a fishing finatic, like myself, why wouldn’t you want to put a hurtin’ on um’ for 12-14 hours straight!?!?
Brian – Saskatchewan, Canada
Every now and again while I’m paging through one of the many fishing publications I subscribe to, I notice pictures in advertisements of, what at first glance, appear to be big pike or muskie. Then after a quick double take, I realize they are walleyes! And nine times out of 10, the ad is for a lodge in Saskatchewan. Over 40 percent of Saskatchewan is covered by the famous Canadian Shield. This glacial landscape accounts for 100,000 lakes, and most of them are full of big walleye. This includes the Churchill River System, Lake Athapapuskow, Lac La Ronge, Reindeer Lake and many others. Walleye have been caught in excess of 18 pounds in Saskatchewan and the province continues to produce high quality and high quantity days on the water, whether open water fishing or hard water fishing.
Another great thing about Fishing Saskatchewan is the remoteness and the journey to your destination. Many of the best fishing lakes are only accessible by air, meaning you load all your beer…I mean gear…into a “puddle jumper” and fly into a remote lodge. It provides a great opportunity to get off the grid. To catch walleye in Saskatchewan you can use many of the common walleye techniques that are successfully used in other areas of the world, including pitching jigs, casting crank baits and trolling. Speaking of trolling, it’s a great way to locate fish on the vast bodies of water, even if it’s not your favorite technique.
Jordan – Lake Okeechobee
Ever since I started bass fishing, Lake Okeechobee has been a lake I MUST visit. Friends who have fished it tell stories about the 8, 9 and 10+ pound fish they caught! The incredible size of the fish, year-round warm temperatures and beautiful scenery make this vacation and fishing destination in the sunshine state one to be remembered, regardless of how well they’re biting.
One of the biggest attractions on this lake is the Frog bite. Top water fishing is a passion of mine, and it’s one of the most exciting ways to catch big largemouth. I’ve been dreaming of that 6-8 pounder dancing on the top of the water and diving into the lily pads for years. This is one of those lakes I believe I could hunt big fish and come out with a victory.
Lake Okeechobee is the second largest inland lake that is contained within the borders of one state. It’s located in the Everglades, which gives people the chance to be out in exotic conditions while bass fishing. It’s common to see alligators, snakes and other unique wildlife in this area. The scenery is enough of an attraction for me to go and fish, not to mention the sheer size of the largies in this lake!
The most effective ways to fish here are flipping/punching grass mats and frog fishing. The biggest fish are usually in the thickest mats, meaning one ounce or better tungsten weights are necessary. Once you’re through the mat, hop it a few times and move on. You should be looking for small pockets ahead of the boat that fish may be waiting to ambush.
Brian – Falcon Lake, TX
Everything is bigger in Texas and that includes the Micropterus salmoides, aka the largemouth bass. Forty miles southeast of Laredo, TX in Zapato County resides one of world’s greatest fisheries for bucketmouths, Falcon Lake. This impoundment of the Rio Grande is a border lake, so make sure if you decide to fish the Mexican side that everyone in the boat has a Mexican fishing license. According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife website, “to win a bass tournament at Falcon, it often takes a 5-6 pound average/fish for your stringer”.
The record largemouth was caught just this year, it only weighed 15.6 pounds and measured 28 inches! Not to mention, the fish was caught on a fluke, one of my favorite bass lures. Get me package of flukes, some hooks and you may not see me for a few days. Fishing in the summer can be less than pleasant due to the South Texas heat. If you’re there during the dog days of summer, you might want to opt for an air-conditioned barbeque joint and a bucket of Lonestars, but that’s just my opinion. The best fishing is definitely in the spring, fall, and winter. In addition to flukes, try spinner baits, crank baits, buzz baits and Texas and Carolina rigged worms and look for flooded brush humps, rock piles, inundated buildings and road beds.
Jordan – Devils Lake, North Dakota
The ice fishing and perch fishing capitol of the world! This lake has been ranked as one of the top five fishing lakes in the United States year after year. Many perch, of two-pounds or better, are harvested from this lake on an annual basis. This 130,000+ acre lake has hundreds of miles of shoreline that is home to perch, walleye, northern pike and white bass as the primary species. It’s more than 90 percent undeveloped, giving this dream fishing destination a sense of isolation and a natural feel to it. I was also told by bucket list advisary, Brian Jensen, that, “If you live in the Midwest, you can take the Amtrak train, also known as the ‘Perch Express’, right to the lake!” If you’re interested in a convenient, economical, and relaxing trip you sure can’t beat that with a stick!
Once you’re there you can choose from the many guide services in the area to find that trophy class fish you’re looking to land. I recently started my ice-fishing career, and I already enjoy jigging and chasing flags, but I don’t know what I would do with myself at a place like this. In addition to perch, Devil’s lake boasts spectacular fishing for white bass, crappie and bluegills. White bass that go three-pounds or better are fairly common, and they put up a spectacular fight on an ultra-light ice fishing rod.
There aren’t many lakes in the Midwest that give you the possibility of a 10-pound pike, eight-pound walleye and white bass, and perch in the three-pound range all in one place. Meat hunters will be happy to hear about the 80 fish possession limit of both white bass AND perch, separately, as well as 10 pike and walleyes! The various types of cover help keep this fishery producing annually. It flaunts flooded timber, submerged vegetation, reeds, rock and gravel piles, and event old, submerged roadbeds. There’s plenty of cover to keep this fishery top-notch for years to come, so it’s no wonder it’s so good!
Brian – Lake Winnibigoshish, MN
This category might seem a little ho-hum because Jordan’s and mine are so similar. There are so many great panfish lakes across the country and I went back and forth between “Big Winnie” and one of the many slab crappie lacks in the South. I’m also going to cheat a little because this one has already been crossed off my list. However, I couldn’t resist. Over the last few years I have been lucky enough to join a group of 30 guys on an annual ice fishing pilgrimage to Winnie. The long weekend usually occurs in late-March, which typically means mild weather — which can be good and bad. A few years back we were ice fishing in t-shirts! However we also had to cancel one year because the ice wasn’t safe. The weekend is great, from cooking venison steak sandwiches on the grill, to listening to the “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”, to sitting on buckets shooting the breeze. Oh and by the way, we catch fish too — oodles of them.
One year after a long nap in the back of the truck, I awoke right before sundown and caught eight of the ten biggest perch I’ve ever caught in my life in a 20-minute time frame. Perch is exactly what we target. We usually get a meal out of it and leave for home with our limits.
Walleyes are closed that time of the year but that doesn’t stop them from engulfing our minnow heads, which is always fun. We fish large flats and breaks on the west side of the lake not far from the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi. What to use? It’s pretty simple, a Swedish Pimple with a Minnow Head. The only downfall to fishing Winnie is that some days you end up doing a lot of sorting, but I’ll take that negative any day of the week. Oh, and if you become my buddy on Fishidy, I’ll even share some of my spots with you!
Stay tuned for the third and final blog of this three-part series when we’ll share our salmon/trout, saltwater species and our wildcard bucket list adventures!
And don’t forget to vote for your favorite blogger (Brian or Jordan) and enter to win the Bucket List Contest on our Facebook page: www.fishidy.com/fishidy. Good luck and happy fishing!