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It's been one cold fishing season

7/22/2004

Memories don't always serve us well. Especially when we fish memories.

That said, I can't remember a fishing season as weather-plagued as the one through which we are suffering.

It was chilly on the water for Wisconsin's May 1 walleye opener. There was heavy frost on the boat seats for the Minnesota opener.

Memorial Day weekend was a parade of cold fronts, cold winds and cold fishing. It was cold and rainy just about every weekend in June, wasn't it?

The Rum River was over its banks for weeks. A June day on the Platte River proved to be unwise as the short river was too high and too swift to fish comfortably or safely.

A recent weekend in northern Minnesota provided the latest bad memory — a miserable series of fronts and air straight from the Arctic that continued for days.

This was the Fourth of July, for carp's sake. On Lake Wabedo on July 5, the water surface temperature had not yet reached 70 degrees. Are you depressed, yet?

How about a few days off? The weather can't be this awful for the rest of the summer, can it? Let's gamble.

Before winter returns in September, before we retreat into long johns and heavy parkas, before we trade boats for ice augers, here are five adventures we ought to cast to before this miserable fishing year ends:

Float a river

And so many rivers to choose from: The Upper St. Croix, the Mississippi River above Elk River, the Root at Laneboro, the Rum above Milaca, the Cannon below Cannon Falls, the Zumbro, the list goes on.

Warning: This is a contagious exercise. Once you drift a river, catch a smallmouth or 20 and soak in every scenic bend, you'll want to do it again and again.

Climb aboard a Lake of the Woods launch boat

If it's late summer and you want to catch a walleye, it's not too late. Call the Baudette, Minn., Chamber of Commerce. Ask about fishing charters or launches.

These are large guided fishing boats that provide all gear and bait. Plus the places to catch a walleye.

Try boat camping in Voyageur National Park

OK, so spending the night under canvas isn't exactly luxury but it's fishing we're talking about.

The park's many island campsites are ideal for waking up close to a smallmouth hotspot or a walleye reef.

If the fish don't bite, head up to the Kettle Falls Hotel where they serve walleye somebody else caught.

Wade a trout stream with fly rod in hand

Flyfishing is like floating rivers. If you haven't tried it, you could become addicted. First-timers ought to tag along with a guide who will provide the proper flyfishing outfit plus casting lessons. Call trout guide Wayne Bartz at the Gander Mountain store in Rochester or call the Seven Pines Lodge at Lewis, Wis., which has a private trout stream and guides for beginners.

Fish Lake Superior

This may be the perfect summer hot spot for Minnesotans, as lake trout are biters in July and August in the deep, cold Gitchee Gumee.

A number of charter fishing boats for hire are in the Duluth Port.

We Minnesotans tend to overlook Lake Superior as a fishing destination even though lake trout populations are high and getting higher.

This fishing season may be different, however. With our long johns still on, we're already dressed for Lake Superior.


Ron Schara may be reached at ron@mnbound.com.

Schara's 250-page book, "Ron Schara's Minnesota Fishing Guide" (Tristan Outdoors; $19.95) is available by clicking here or by calling (888) 755-3155.

July through September 2004, Ron Schara's short feature, "Backroads with Ron & Raven," airs Saturdays on ESPN2 at 7:55 a.m. ET. Click here to view this week's show descriptions.