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    On the south end...  Great fall fishing this past week.  Walleyes were active with most anglers anchored up and jigging with a minnow.  No surprise walleyes are relating to bait in anywhere from 9' - 27' of water.  Good reports around the lake.  Structure and current areas holding good numbers of fish. Good walleye reports from Four Mile Bay in 10-15'.  Pike continue to be active in bays and along shorelines.  Trolling crankbaits will catch you a mixed bag.

    On the Rainy River...   A strong run of emerald shiners this past week brought more walleyes into the river.  The river is low, current slow.  Anglers reporting groups of fish from Wheeler's Point to Birchdale.  Most anglers are jigging with live or frozen shiners.  Pink, glow and gold combo effective.  Try moving hole to hole until you find fish.  Change the angle of your jigging using different weight jigs.  Pull the jig forward against current, let it fall back and bang bottom.  Trolling crankbaits over flats where fish are spread out also effective.  Sturgeon anglers focusing on deeper holes with current.  Good reports of smallmouth bass again this week.

    Up at the NW Angle...  Until the US / Canada border opens, guests can travel across the lake staying and fishing in MN waters.  There are boat shuttle / passenger services available to the Angle.  Check with your favorite NW Angle resort for options. 

    Walleyes active this week up at the Angle.  Jig and a minnow on points, areas with current, and bay mouths where there is bait all good places to start in 8'-24'.  With the many islands, lots of spots to fish.  Gold, pink, chartreuse and glow colors great choices.  Crappies in mix, 15-30' adjacent to structure.  Pike are active.  Muskie anglers reporting action trolling cranks or casting jerkbaits in cabbage weed bays.  A complete list of lodging available at www.LakeoftheWoodsMN.com/Lodging
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    Catching gar from a kayak – on purpose


    For anyone who knows me, they probably understand that my body is not made for a kayak. I am not very bendy to say the least. So, when fellow scribe Joel Spring of Ransomville asked me to go kayak fishing for longnose gar no less, I was a bit apprehensive. First, because of that whole kayak thing. Second, because who goes fishing for gar – on purpose!

    I decided to give it a try. Spring promised that it would be plenty comfortable because it was a sit-on-top kayak with a seat and plenty of room to stretch. Once I was in/on the personal vessel, he was right – it was not bad at all.

    Like with any fishing trip, I brought way too much gear. That is not good for a kayak, especially when you are not very bendy. Did I mention that? I brought along my camera bag that was stuffed with extra fishing tackle and binoculars (which I could not reach because it was on the bow of the kayak strapped down). I had an extra tackle box that was tied down to the stern of the boat (which I also could not reach because I am not very bendy).

    Basically, all I needed was my fishing rod and a lure in the way of tackle. And “lure” is suspect because there are no hooks on it. Spring calls it a “rope fly” and he has added a spinner to give it a little flash. It is a piece of rope that has been frayed. That is all you need. Really.

    We paddled across the launch ramp on the Oak Orchard River and Spring was immediately excited.

    “There are lots of gar just outside the weed bed,” as he pointed near the docks. He caught one on his first cast and I immediately paddled over to try and take a photo or two from the phone. My camera bag was too far away.

    “You should see them just fine if you have polarized sunglasses,” he said.

    I switched the glasses I had on and it seemed to make a difference, but I still could not see them … until I did. Then they were everywhere. These waters were infested with longnose gar and if I were going to catch one, this would be the place.

    As we moved up the creek in search of more active gar, it did not take long. Yes! I fought the fish as Spring jockeyed into place to take some photos. The rope fly worked its magic and I pulled the fish alongside my kayak. There was no net.

    “Just put your gloves on and grab it by the snout,” said Spring matter-of-factly.

    These gars have a long mouth full of teeth. Trying to get the fish to open its mouth to pull the rope fly out was no easy task. Spring came over to assist as he saw me holding the body with one hand and the mouth with the other.

    Once we released the fish, Spring was back off casting, catching several more gars including one that was huge. “They get bigger than this, too,” said Spring. He was much more adept at catching, and releasing, the prehistoric-looking fish.

    I had several more hits, but the rope fly failed to connect properly. Next time … and there will be a next time – if Joel asks again. We will have to wait and see on that one.

    It took me longer to get out of the kayak after my legs were locked into place from not moving them for 2-1/2 hours. However, it was worth it, and it was a great experience to try something new and be successful.

    I wonder how a pontoon boat would work fishing for longnose gar.


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