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Twenty–First Annual Woman Lake Walleye
Spring Fishing Trip

Woman Lake Chronicles – Part III

Day One – Thursday, May 16, 2002

Well, it seems my claim wasn't quite 100%. We got up here, went out and didn't catch the 17 walleyes I cheerfully predicted. But then, I was only off by 17... However, Andrew did catch a Perch.

But to back up. I got a late start, arrived at about 5 PM. Andrew got here also and helped me with the boat. Jerry, Bruce Boettcher, Pat Kelly, and Rick Zieman were already here. But in Jerry's new cabin – not out on the lake. Why? Well, they had already been out for several hours, in conditions where the wind speed was higher than the temperature. The greatest excitement had been a snag that unexpectedly popped loose. They were back at the cabin recovering from the shock. It goes without saying, no fish.

First Fish of 2002

Old Dock Install

Okay – Lee Woll and Jack Sikora showed up a bit later, and Jerry promptly put us to work getting his dock in the water. More excitement. And after that Andrew and I finally got out for an hour or so. Conditions were better – the wind speed and temperature were now both about the same, but the fish didn't care. Andrew somehow snagged that Perch, but I was skunked. Rick and Pat also gave it a shot, no fish. This is not good.. The weather forecast is for colder too. Don't know – maybe next year we go to Iowa for Bullheads instead.

But here's a brightener (this is for you Cindy) – it seems that the Loons whose nest was blown into the lake last year are back! Now Andrew and I didn't see them when we went out through the channel, but Jerry assures us that the Loons are nesting again. So we'll keep looking for them.

Tonight – a spectacular 25 lb, Black Angus, garlic stuffed, roast beef dinner with garlic mashed potatoes and a pearl onion sweet pea melody by chefs Peters and Boettcher. Zieman and Kelly did the dishes, also a very professional performance. I hope they keep doing it. And then Peter Hunt showed up, all the way from Texas, and tomorrow we're going to go out and get them. I'm 17 fish behind in my prediction, and we'll see what happens.

25 lb Garlic Roast Beef

BTW – Zieman forgot to bring his camera. That's the most disgraceful thing to ever happen on our 21 years of Woman Lake trips. I was depending on him.

But I've got six pictures of my own out on Jerry's web site from today – go see them at:

Here are the results for this first day
Fisherperson # of Walleye # of Northerns
Everybody 0 0

Day Two – Friday, May 17, 2002

I have a major success to report. Marie's Special Recipe Pickled Eggs, that she sent up with us, have been gobbled up with amazing speed – we're almost through with the second jar, and both Zieman and Andrew have had their hands in the jar almost continuously. Pickled eggs – a pure joy!

Early Morning Frost Hey, you say, why is the guy babbling on about pickled eggs? I thought they were on a fishing trip. Well, you may think that, but the walleyes have different thoughts. No walleyes. Clear, windy, cold, very cold indeed. In fact, the early morning temperature of 28° left a thick layer of frost on the windshields. No walleyes, after two days, no walleyes at all. And with that, you may understand the pickled egg thing...

Okay – we all went out for most of the morning, and then lunch, and then the afternoon fishing, with only a smattering of Northerns to show for it (see results below). We came back in around 5 PM, and at least half of us ended up taking naps. Kelly and Zieman actually went out again for an hour this evening, and succeeded in breaking the Mercury on Pat's boat, but of course didn't catch anything.

A word should be said about Lee's new Crestliner water craft. What a relief – We all were worried they would drown on one of these trips. Asked if the Boston Whaler was going to be retired, Jack emphatically said: "NO!" "The nice thing about Lee's boat", rambled Jack, "is that I can stand up and stretch my legs and I don't have wear boots anymore".

Jacks Boston Whaler     Lees New Crestliner
Jacks' Boston Whaler     Lee's New Crestliner

This has been an unprecedented trip so far - we've never gone this long without a walleye. An Oh–fer, if you can believe. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens tomorrow – we might be looking to contact Guinness about an entry in their book.

  • Question 12. Okay – a question came in from my friend Rick Baylor, one of my most faithful WLR readers. To wit:
    "Juris, for us folks who live in the South, can you give a little explanation of the dock removal thing? A buddy of mine, originally from Wisconsin, once told me something about having to take down the docks in the winter because of ice or something, but how does that work? Do you have to re–drive the pylons?"

  • Answer 12 Button
Loon on its nest
Loon report

The left photo was taken by Rick Zieman (he talked his wife or daughter or friend or somebody into delivering his camera up here). A pretty picture. Rick takes nice photos, when he has a camera. It has its nest in the Boy Channel and the right loon (head barely visible) has its nest on the Broadwater Bay side of the Woman lake channel.

Loon In Boy Channel

Here are the results for the second day
Fisherperson # of Walleye # of Northerns
Peters 0 3
Ozols 0 1
Greenseid 0 0
Kelly 0 3
Zieman 0 0
Boettcher 0 0
Grovak 0 0
Woll 0 3
Sikora 0 1
Hunt 0 0

It goes without saying all the fish were released. Biggest Northern was 24" by Peters. Lee Woll also caught an 18" smallmouth while throwing his Redeye spoon for Northerns in Lantern Bay. The bass was so shocked by seeing such a scroungy lure coming through the water that its mouth dropped open and it got snagged. But Lee's fish is the best of the trip so far, and may well stay that way. The end of second day without a walleye came to a quiet end as Mother Nature displayed one of her finest sunsets as captured by Rick..

End of Day Two

Day Three – Saturday, May 18, 2002

The First Walleye Of The Season

You may not believe this, but we got the stupidest fish in the lake today. Bruce caught it, a 19" walleye. Every other walleye in the lake managed to avoid us, except this one. The stupidest walleye, can you believe... (And of course Bruce released it, so its genes will propagate, and maybe they'll be easier to catch in the coming years.

But it's a start. And actually Rick also caught one too, a 14–incher, perhaps the second stupidest fish out there. More tomorrow?

But the weather didn't change – cold front, bright sun, wind, temp in the 40's, more frost on the boats in the morning. If it doesn't get warmer quick, I'm not optimistic we'll do much better.

The intriguing event of the day? Mark and Andrew went to refill our 5.8 gallon gas can in Longville. It's a U.S. certified tank, 5.8 gallons. The gauge on the gas pump read 6.5 gallons when the can was full... Perhaps the genes on that walleye have already spread, to the human population in town?

Kellys Perch

On Pat Kelly's broken motor – I quote Mr. Kelly: "I don't know what it was. There's this round rubber thing in the propeller [waves his hands around] and it was broke. Cost me $117 to replace it." Comment from Lee Woll: "They fixed the slip clutch.",
But Pat did catch a Perch and a rather stunning 48" branch today.

Kelly Caught a Branch

(As I write this, at 10:02 pm, pitch black. Rick and Peter are still out on the lake. They took out Pat's boat, the one with the fixed propeller... Hmmm...)

Major league dinner tonight, again, from Peters. A 15 lb, Black Angus, slow roasted, Prime rib with vine ripened sliced tomatoes, lightly sprinkled with Zesty Italian dressing and covered with a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese and basil, caesar salad with blended flavors and made from scratch Yorkshire pudding smothered in Au Jus. Peter Hunt did the honors.

The crepe suzettes with fresh raspberries strawberries, Chambord raspberry liquor, and Amaretto that Bruce made later on didn't weigh nearly as much. But Peter Hunt's Oban single malt scotch did go very well with them.

Prime Rib Dinner

Rick and Peter just came back. They apparently did not sink, after all. And Rick even caught a walleye, can you believe. Incredible how many stupid fish are out there. Their numbers are apparently exceeded only by stupid fishermen.

Stats as of Saturday, after Zieman and Hunt got back in:

Here are the results for the third day
Fisherperson # of Walleye # of NorthernsLargest Walleye
Peters 0 3
Ozols 0 1
Greenseid 0 0
Kelly 0 3
Zieman 2 1 15 in
Boettcher 1 2 19 in
Grovak 0 0
Woll 0 3
Sikora 0 1
Hunt 0 0

Quick note: I went down to Minneapolis and back today and took pictures at our Muskies Inc. Kid's Fishing Outing to Lake Nokomis. Wonderful event. You Muskie Inc–ers on the list here will hear more about that.

Day Four – Sunday, May 19, 2002

Well, the critters started showing some signs of life today. The weather didn't change that much – The cold front clouds, bright sun, the wind, all that. But the water temperature went up to 50, though, a very gradual warming trend, and the fish are starting to bite.

We got 6 walleyes and 7 Northern Pike today. (Until further notice whenever I say "we" you can interpret that to mean the other guys, not me.) And Bruce got a 21–inch walleye, which is a very respectable fish. So maybe there's hope for tomorrow.

Spring 2002 Group

My previous fishing buddies, SIL Andrew Greenseid and Mark Grovak went home today, so I went fishing with Zieman and Kelly. We stayed out until 9:30, a pretty night with a perfectly clear sky and a big half–moon up there. And Rick Zieman got two walleyes in the last five minutes, so that's a really hopeful sign. Of course, they were only 11–inches each, but hey, that's a lot better than the first three days.

[Top row (l,r) Peters, Woll, Ozols, Sikora, Kelly,]
[Bottom row (l,r) Zieman, Hunt, Boettcher]

You might have noticed my reports talk about fish in terms of inches, not weight. That's because we release them all – the walleyes and northerns and everything – and have done so now for at least 10 years on these trips. When you release a fish, it's easy to measure the length, but trying to weigh it is a different thing. You can hurt the fish doing that, and we don't. So it's inches, not pounds.

Jerry was out tonight with Bruce and Peter. Bruce got that 21–incher, but Jerry broke a swivel on a hookset on something that must have been gigantic. Nobody has ever broken a swivel before. If you paid me to do it, I wouldn't know how to break a swivel. But it happened to Jerry. The big fish – they have a way of getting away, don't they...

Equipment Report

All the boats worked fine, but Lee had to diddle around with the cooling system on his brand new 115 hp 4–stroke Mercury outboard. It seems that Lee thought mud got sucked up into the water intake, which clogged the plumbing, and overheated the engine. Lee had to "backflush" to clear it out. As he was backflushing, a gray goop was flushed out, not mud. Apparently a factory defect. A minor problem, and a better deal for him (free) than Pat's $117 propeller.

Lee Backflushing His New Mercury

Dinner report: Chef Boettcher made - Saute'ed Chicken with lemon juice, mushrooms, capers and Marsala, sprinkled with chopped scallions, Garlic mashed potatoes, Saute'ed French Cut String Beans topped with toasted almonds, Spring Salad garnished with freshly grated parmesan cheese and croutons, and to finish, an Apple Cobbler to die for, topped with vanilla ice–cream (Tomorrow night we're going to MacDonalds).

Here are the results for the fourth day
Fisherperson # of Walleye # of NorthernsLargest Walleye
Peters 0 5
Ozols 0 1
Greenseid 0 0
Kelly 0 3
Zieman 5 1 15 in
Boettcher 4 2 21 in
Grovak 0 0
Woll 0 4
Sikora 0 2
Hunt 0 0


Day Five – Monday, May 20, 2002

Well, the last day, and the weather changed dramatically. The temperature got up to the mid 60's, and the wind died down to nothing about noon and stayed calm for the rest of the day.

We got some nice fish this morning (see previous definition of "we"). Jerry got a 21 and a 23–incher, with that last fish being the biggest for the trip. Rick and Pat both got 19–incher. And interesting about Pat's fish – it was tagged (#73367). The Minnesota DNR had a study program to catch and tag walleyes on Woman Lake, and for a year or so we got a bunch of tagged fish. This tagged fish is left over from that program, and the first one we've caught in two years.

Spring 2002 Biggest Walleye

This afternoon I paired up with Peter and Bruce fished with Jerry. It was bright and calm and hot, lasting into the evening, and the walleyes went back to sleep. But Bruce and Jerry managed to occupy their time with things other than walleyes. For fish that allegedly has a brain the size of a rice grain, they certainly have a mind of their own. It's either too cold or too hot or something for them to be caught. So only Lee Woll's little 12–inch walleye this evening, and nothing else.

First Eelpout Caught On Woman

Peters did catch a (dogfish?) today, though. It's in the "web pictures" section. Jerry, Bruce, and Peter were all afraid to touch it, so it didn't get properly measured. But it was at least 24–inches, the biggest (dogfish?) we've ever seen here.

Dogfish, Burbot, Eelpout, Bowfin: What's the Difference?

Dinner tonight was an Italiano extravaganza – Chefs Boettcher and Peters started with an Artichoke/cheese dip appetizer served with lightly garlic'd, toasted French Baguettes, followed by a Tuscany Italian salad with vine ripened tomatoes topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese ala Peters. The main course was manicotti stuffed with spiced Italian sausage, Ricotta and Parmesan cheeses and covered with a red sauce from the Isle of Elba. For dessert, Venetian Peach Cobbler with Marscapone Pecan Sherry sauce (Tomorrow night it's hot dogs and beans, washed down with Blatz Light – At home.).

Okay, enough for tonight. I'm pooped after 5 days of hard fishing with only 1 Northern Pike to show for it. I've never been skunked for walleyes on the previous 20 trips, but there's a first time for everything.

Peter left for the airport already, and the rest of us are heading out tomorrow morning. Jerry is going stay here, and undoubtedly the walleyes will go nuts and start jumping in his boat. But you just wait and see what I do to them next year!

The final stats are below. Our worst year ever, by far – 14 walleyes. Last year with 40 was the worst up to that time, and some years we've gotten over 100. But – they were all released and we hope to catch them again next year.

Here are the results for the fifth day
Fisherperson # of Walleye # of NorthernsLargest Walleye
Peters 2 5 23 in
Ozols 0 1
Greenseid 0 0
Kelly 1 3 19.5 in
Zieman 6 1 19 in
Boettcher 4 3 21 in
Grovak 0 0
Woll 1 4 12 in
Sikora 0 3
Hunt 0 2

Also caught:
1 (dogfish?) [Editors Note 4] – Peters;
1 crappie and 2 largemouth – Hunt;
1 largemouth – Zieman.

Woman Lake Spring Trip 2002 – Wrapup

So much for 2002, our 21st annual trip. The ten of us got 14 walleyes over the five days. That's an average of right around 1/3 of a walleye per person per day. Man – if Bruce and Jerry were depending on using the catch for making dinner, we would have starved. (They were all released, of course, like always.)

Speaking of dinner, you know it's a tough year when I devote equal time to the dinner menus and accolades as I do the walleyes caught! But, I've told ever so many people, so many times, that fishing is better than catching, haven't I? That was back when I was catching fish.

But guess what – it surprises even me – that actually does seem to be the case. I was skunked this year on Woman Lake itself. (The Perch and Northern I caught came out of Girl, in front of Jerry's cabin.) And it doesn't bother me a bit. I had fun.

For you see: "I'll catch a walleye tomorrow, but I'm going fishing today."

So I'll be out there again on Woman Lake, tomorrow and next year too, with the rest of the crowd. Maybe the catching will get better, and who knows, it might even get worse! But it doesn't matter. This year was fine. I have absolutely no complaints.

Well, hold it a bit...

One minor complaint. I seem to have established a tradition..

The attached picture tells the story. The good news is that I don't have to buy a new boat trailer like last year. But the bad news is I do have to get the trailer light fixed where it broke when I backed the trailer into Jerry's Fence Post getting ready to go home. So goes it.

Juris Inspecting Trailer Damage

Here are the final results for spring Trip 2002
Fisherperson # of Walleye # of NorthernsLargest Walleye
Peters 2 5 23 in
Ozols 0 1
Greenseid 0 0 -
Kelly 1 3 19.5 in
Zieman 6 1 19 in
Boettcher 4 3 21 in
Grovak 0 0
Woll 1 4 12 in
Sikora 0 3
Hunt 0 2
Also caught:
1 eelpout (not to be confused with a dogfish) – Peters;
1 crappie and 2 largemouth (off of the dock) – Hunt;
1 largemouth – Zieman.


The Final Sunset For 2002
The Final Sunset Of Spring Trip 2002

I hope you all enjoyed this nonsense and it didn't clog up your emails too much.
I truly look forward to doing it again next May, as I hope you do too.

Cheers —



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Last Modified: May 24, 2013
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