Friday, December 23, 2011

Leech Lake Ice Fishing and Conditions Report

Merry Christmas to all our fishing friends! What an amazing year we had at Leisure Outdoor Adventures and we have you to thank. We have enjoyed sharing our boats, making new friends, telling a few bad jokes, expecting all the unexpected things that happen and taking photos of lots of big fish! Leech Lake is such an amazing fishery and it didn't let us down this year! Thank you for choosing Leisure Outdoor Adventures for you guided fishing trip and we hope to see you in 2012!

We have been fishing on ice now for the last few weeks and as usual the early ice bite has been very good but we haven't seen the normal cold temps our Minnesota weather usually brings us. Without those cold nights we haven't made as much ice as we would expect in a normal December. One thing we have going for us is we don't have really any snow allowing that ice to build on moderately cold nights. We have still been walking to our spots just to be extra safe but we have seen many people travel out with ATV's. Keep in mind the ice is safe in most spots for ATV travel but we have found a few spots that it wouldn't so be very careful.

Leech Lake Ice Report

Walker Bay: Average of 7 to 8 inches
Pine Point to Goose Island: Average of 8 to 10 inches (be careful of the big cracks)
Portage Bay: Average of 8 to 10 inches (have found 6 inches in spots)

The fishing and weather has been ideal for a great early ice bite but remember safety is number one!

If you are interested in a guided ice fishing trip we have many packages to fit your needs. You can find them at

"Make a Memory and Get Hooked"
Jeff "Breezer" Andersen

Sunday, December 11, 2011

First Ice Report

Ice Fishing 2011 has officially started. We just returned from the St. Paul Ice Show which was an absolute blast. I had the chance to share the stage with my good friends Dave Genz, Jason Mitchell, and Jim Hudson talking ice fishing and about all the new products from Clam Outdoors.

I had the chance to hit the ice the other day with my good friend Paul and what a day to remember. We headed North and found some good ice. We decided to walk out since this was the first ice mission of the season. It was a crazy cold morning with blowing winds from the Northwest and a temperature around 5 degrees. You all know that I'm a firm believer of the IceArmor Suits and products and those feeling didn't change today. The IceArmor neck gator was a must and I'm pretty confident to tell you that without it, I'm not sure, I would have made the trek out on the ice. Paul and I drilled our first holes and found a solid 8 to 10 inches of ice. I was surprised to see that amount! Normally I like to fish outside and tried for the first few hours as we were trying to pin down the largest and most productive area. It didn't take long and I started marking fish on my brand new Vexilar FL-22HD. The problem was I wasn't getting bites! I was fishing with a rattle spoon and the fish seemed to come up to the spoon and dart away. I made the switch to a non rattling spoon and went to a full minnow. This is a dramatically different approach then the aggressive rattle spoon with half minnow technique which is probably the most common one with ice anglers. I also switched my cone angle on the Vexilar FL-22 to 20 degrees which was a key component to me catching fish and let me tell you why. The walleyes would react to the jig, fly up to it so fast and if I was moving the jig when they came in they would dart away. The wide cone angle of the FL-22 HD allowed me to see those fish sooner then a normal transducer which gave me the advantage and just about the right time to stall the jig. The walleyes attitudes changed dramatically with this small change in our presentation and it was fish after fish after fish. Paul and I just giggled with each hook set as these days don't happen too often.

Just as we were about to leave, Paul sets the hook, and the battle was on. The funny part was we just had asked each other what could make this day any better. Well I think someone answered that question. Paul with a 28 inch walleye rod and 6 pound test line knew he was under-matched for the fish on the other end of the line. It was a mix of emotions from a joyful giggle, to a serious silence, to anxious tension, to humor but after all that and a 35 minute battle a 43 inch northern came through the hole.

We took some quick pictures of the fish and let him go to fight another day. Paul and I sat in our Yukon TC fish house, with a large deep breath and a smile, we looked at each other and said lets go home! These are the type of days outdoors men and women live for and for me they just don't get old!

Where did we fish well tune into Clam Outdoor found here (Clam Outdoors Fishing Reports ) and I will tell you exactly where we were fishing in this weeks fishing report.

Don't forget to like Leisure Outdoor Adventures on Facebook! Leisure Outdoors Facebook Page

Also we are having a "Name the Tank" contest for our new ride at the Chase. Check it out at Name the Tank

For Now!

"Make a Memory and Get Hooked"
Jeff "Breezer" Andersen

Monday, November 28, 2011

Guided Winter Ice Fishing on Leech Lake

Hey Guys,

I hope that everyone is getting the itchy feeling to catch a fish through the ice like I am. We have been working very hard at LOA to get ready for this season. We are very excited to be working with some of the top brands in the outdoor industry like Clam Outdoors and Vexilar. Not only do we get to work with them you get to use their products when you go fishing with us.

At LOA we are going to provide guided ice fishing trips on Leech Lake, Lake Mille Lacs, Gull Lake, Brainerd Lakes Area, and so many more. Don't forget to check out the giant pike adventure in March. Not only are we going to cover a large area we are also excited to provide a wide variety of ice fishing packages. We will have permanent fish house rentals on Leech Lake that we can package with Chase on the Lake Resort or we are going to be offering several types of portable ice fishing packages. If you haven't experienced portable ice fishing this is something you should have on your bucket list.

Check out all of the Ice Fishing Guided Packages on our website LOA Ice Fishing Click Here

Be sure to stop down at the St. Paul Ice Fishing and say hello to Clam Outdoor fishing pros. You can view the event details Clicking Here

and a short little ice fishing tip that can help you Clam Ice House go the extra mile.

"Make a Memory and Get Hooked"
Jeff "Breezer" Andersen

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Ultimate in Ice Fishing Packages

Since the age of 4, I have spent most of my winters on ice, Artificial that is, the kind that requires a Zamboni every 20 minutes. This winter will be 100% natural baby! No pucks to chase, but lots of fish. I am SO pumped to get it started!

Leisure Outdoor Adventures is ready too! We have been working with all of our Partners to make sure we are ready to rock!

Lace up the boots and break out the IceArmor, it's time to test your ice fishing skills. Through our quest for the ultimate winter fishing experience, we have developed several exciting ice fishing packages. From fully guided portable excursions, like hand to hand combat with monster pike on Lake of the Woods, to filling the buckets with jumbo perch out of our beautiful Ice Castle permanent fish-house on Leech Lake. We have something for everyone.

Check out these packages and more at Leisure Outdoor Adventures Ice Fishing Packages

We'll see you on the ice!

Toby K


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Leech Lake fishing forecast for 2012

L e e c h L a k e
Above-average year classes of walleye produced during 2005-2008 quickly led to marked
improvements in walleye fishing. Many of these fish are approaching the 18 to 26” protected slot
limit and, although anglers will not be able to harvest these fish, they will continue to provide
excellent catch-and-release opportunities. The possession limit on Leech Lake is 4 walleye with
one longer than 26.0” allowed in possession; all walleye between 18.0-26.0 inches long must be
immediately returned to the water.
Creel survey statistics collected during 2008-2010 documented excellent walleye fishing. Walleye
ranging in length from 5 to 30 inches were reported during the 2010 survey; about 47% of
walleye caught were 18 inches or longer. At the beginning of the 2011 season, walleye produced
during 2006 will be approximately 15-19” long, 2007 fish will be 13-17” long, and 2008 fish will
be 11-14” long. Another good fishing season is expected and a creel survey is again scheduled
during 2011.
Quality fishing opportunities for species other than walleye abound. Leech Lake supports
excellent northern pike and muskellunge populations; nearly one third of pike caught by anglers
during 2010 were 24” or larger and muskellunge nearing 50” were also reported. Recent
improvements in the yellow perch population have led increased perch harvest, with fish up to
13 inches long fairly common in angler’s bags. Exceptional sunfish, black crappie, and largemouth
bass fishing consisting of quality-sized fish can be found in most major portions of the lake, with
the bite for these species typically best during May and June

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

10/9/2011 Leech Lake Fishing report

For this entry I've asked one of our guest Randy Blake, from Sioux Falls SD, to write a testimony on his weekend with us. I have added a detailed Leech Lake fishing report at the end.

TESTIMONIAL ---TRIP REPORT FOR--- 10/08/2011 and 10/09/2011
Toby Kvalevog, came very highly recommended by another fishing guide as a top notch fisherman in the Brainerd/ Walker/ Bemidji area. Toby, co-owner of and fishing guide for Leisure Outdoor Adventures has a reputation for catching very big fish. I was fortunate to fish a half day with Toby over the Labor day weekend and he put us on some real nice walleyes and pike. I knew after a half day of fishing that I wanted to come back and fish with him again on Leech Lake, especially after hearing his tales of the big ones boated over the summer and years previous.
So, I schemed and planned and worked hard to sneak in one more fishing trip with Toby, and boy am I glad that I did. I had the best walleye fishing of my life!
Although I had fished for walleyes before, most of the time it had been traditional South Dakota trolling with a bottom bouncer, spinner and crawler. I had used a Lindy Rig a few times, but not much prior to this recent fishing trip. Toby is an expert in Lindy rigging and taught me some beginner through expert use of the Lindy rig. He is a master at presentation, and boat conrol and fine tuning your location on the best part of the piece of structure. I love to learn from the experts and Toby is very helpful with loads of tips and little tricks that can make all the difference.
My personal best walleye before this trip was a 25 inch release, caught 15 years ago. During the course of two days fishing on Leech Lake with Toby, I broke and increased my personal record for my biggest walleye 5 times!
Day One my friend Mark Peterson from Hackensack MN joined us for a half of that day. We caught and released several very nice walleyes and some good eaters. The day was highlighted by a triple hookup of 5 pound fish out of the same school. Three rods bending deep all at the same time was exciting! The bigger highlight of the day was breaking my PR with a 25.5 inch release! I was very excited and thought to myself that we couldnt possibly do as well on Day Two. Wow was I wrong! Don't underestimate Toby and his ability and resolve to excel as a guide and put his clients on big fish. He goes the extra mile
Day Two we were out on Leech Lake even earlier. After a run, we settled in to fish the spot from the day before. Darn, three other boats were already there. But let me tell you one thing about Toby.......he puts you on THE spot within the spot.....he fine tunes it. Right away I caught a nice eater.....and then IT started. During the course of the day I caught many gorgeous walleyes, upping my big fish best four times!

First I caught a 25 and 3/4 inch walleye and then a 26 and 3/4 incher. Then a few 24 and 25 inch fish. Then another couple of eaters. Then we kept upping the ante.........a 27.5 incher soon was boated. During this time the fisherman in the other boats were not catching fish and they loooked on with envy as to what was going on in our boat. This continues for a couple hours.
Finally, the other fishermen left us alone and we continued to catch fish.
Ater a slow spell we moved........excellent call Toby! Not long after moving a couple miles to a new spot..... my "ship came in" ........I sunk my hooks into a heavy fish that stayed down and didn't want to come up. I could feel its powerful head shakes down at 19 feet below. Finally, after staying deep and coming up slow, when we did see the fish come to view out of the deep, we both knew that this one was special, it was bigger yet. Toby did a great netting job and the fish was safely boated. The measurements were 30.25 inch length and 17 inch girth. A trophy walleye in anyone's book...AND IT WAS RELEASED!!! It was the fourth time that day that I broke my personal record for a walleye!
But wasnt over! No........I didnt beat that one but I landed a 25.5 and a 27.5 incher and lost a good one. The 27.5 incher fought better than any walleye I have ever had on, making hard runs, stripping line several times and refusing to give up. Until we got to see it we were thinking big northern or muskie, not walleye.
Wow! What a day of fishing! I played with and caught more big walleyes in two days than I ever imagined.
I have hired a number of guides over the years and am a pheasant hunting guide myself, in addition to my day job as a lawyer. So I know the difference between a a good guide and a great guide. I was totally impressed with all aspects of the trip and appreciated the extra effort. Leisure Outdoor Adventure guides have great boats and fishing rigs and tackle. Toby was superior at boat control and use of his advanced electronics. Toby provided great bait...large lively minnows. I found Toby to be very patient and helpful and I learned more about walleye fishing in two days than I have in the past 20 years. And, he never missed one fish with the net. I give him an A+ across the board. I will definitely be hiring Toby again to pursue the big fish.
I followed Toby's recommendation and stayed at The Chase On The Lake. We stayed in a studio condo. The facility was great, the rooms clean and spacious, and the food at the restaurant was top notch. I will gladly stay there again and again.
I whole heartedly recommend fishing with Toby Kvalevog and Leisure Outdoor Adventures. I had the most incredible walleye fishing trip of a lifetime.... I am hooked!
Randall Blake
Sioux Falls, SD

10/08/2011 Leech Lake Walleye Report:
Leech Lake = Jigs and Shiners on windswept points or trolling shadraps in 4-10ft of water.
Notable area's are; big and Little Hardwoods,
Walker Bay= Perch and Walleye are active in 40-50ft of water on shoreline flats and humps. Fish are biting best on VMC "Moon Eye' jig and minnow combos.
Kabekona Bay = Lindy Rigs with Red Tails or Creek Chubs in 20-35 ft of water and shore line breaks, flats, and humps.

Equipment Tip:
Using live bait requires a sensitive rod. Not only for light biters, but for active minnows indicating a predator in the area. That's why we like to use Jason Mitchell Series spinning rods for Jigging and Rigging techniques. The combination of the soft tip and strong backbone are very well designed at an affordable price.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fall Leech Lake Walleyes

The walleye bite on Leech Lake has been getting stronger and stronger as the fall is now upon us. The jig bit and minnow bite has been strong on all the main lake flats and points. We have been using VMC HammerHead Jig in the 1/8th ounce. VMC offers these jigs in the all new UV Bright colors which is an amazing new technology which reflects more light energy, strengthening the lure's visibility. Read more by visiting VMC's Website, Click Here, and go to page V19. We have been tipping the minnows with medium sized rainbow chub minnows. This has also been a great combo for the jumbo perch that have also moved into the shallows.

The muskie action has also been pretty strong. We have averaged 1 to 3 bites a trip and have moved some real giant fish in the past few days. Hopefully we can get some hooks to stick and get them into the nets.

With the fall approaching so is the cold mornings. One of the most important thing to me is staying warm on the water. Lets face it if you are cold even the best day fishing isn't fun. I have been using IceArmor products for several years now and each and ever time I suit up I know I'm going to stay comfortable. My system includes; starting off with the Poly Base Layer (View here), then if you know me I'm in my IceArmor Wind Pants (View Here), a warm wool sweeter, then I like to wear a wind-stopper fleece jacket under my IceArmor Blue Suit Bibs (View Here), and for the really cold mornings or rain I put the Blue Suit Jacket on. The beauty part about this system is the layering aspect because as the sun rises so does the warmer air. I can peel layers to stay comfortable. IceArmor is a brand we believe in and we are confident you will be satisfied using!

Here are a few pics from recent guide trips.

(click on image for larger view)

The Jason Mitchell Elite Series 7 foot rod in action!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Leech Lake Fishing Walleye Guide Trip Story

"Make a Memory!" The words my Mom would tell me before every fishing trip and/or tournament. She didn't care about how big the fish we caught or if we took first or last place in a tournament, all she wanted was for each trip to be a special memory. A few years ago I lost my Mother and she is now looking down from the heavens above.

No different then any other guide trip, the other morning, I was up early getting my Jason Mitchell Elite Series rods (Website) rigged, the boat cleaned, fresh bait hand picked and the cooler packed ready for a day of fishing. As I drove away from the boat launch I told myself, "Lets Make a Memory Today!" The same as every single fishing guide trip it's my goal to do just that!

With just a short boat ride to Chase on the Lake (Website) I was met by Jeff and Duane, a father son duo from California, and they were ready to get after it. Jeff, the son, had never been walleye fishing and Duane, the father, had been to Canada a few times. It was a unseasonable warm day but the wind was rocking out of the south. Most of the walleyes are using midlake structure and with the big wind it made things pretty rough. We fished through the day and ended up catching our limit of walleyes but we had lots of down time in between bites. We also marked large schools of walleyes that decided they didn't want to bite. It seemed like we would catch one or two out of each school of fish but that was it and that made it a little frustrating. But, the boys were honing their live bait rigging skills for the next day of fishing as I told them with this stable weather all these fish should bite tomorrow. I could read Jeff's mind,"Yeah right coming from this goofy fishing guide." :) I cleaned their walleyes, dropped them off and said we are going to get them good tomorrow!

Same process as the day prior in search of that, "Special Memory" we headed out on beautiful Leech Lake. Another warm September day with calm winds. Duane started the day off perfect by bringing me a huge Sweet Roll from the breakfast buffet at the 502 restaurant. I chowed that thing down on the way to our first spot. With sticky fingers I baited our hooks and dropped down to the walleyes I was marking below and it didn't take long and the net was flying. The walleyes were on a feeding rampage! We bounced from spot to spot catching a mixed sizes of walleyes. Before we knew it the live well was filling up with perfect 17 inch keepers and it was still early in the morning. I could see the smile on both Jeff and Duane's faces as they set the hook again and again. As the morning progressed we started looking for some big fish and it didn't take long and we had some great fish for photos including a 28.5 incher which would have been a few inches larger if someone hadn't cut the tail. (see photo below) As the spirits were as high as the shinning sun I heard a hook set from the front of the boat where Duane was sitting. He said, "Fish on!" and I could tell this wasn't just another fish. From the Zine of the Shimino Stratic, I figured it was a large pike because we had caught a few througout the past couple of days but Duane couldn't' budge the fish. I said apprehensively, "Duane I think you have a musky?!" Just as I said that I saw the red tail fin give us a pass by and my assumption was correct. The intensity just went up a notch and in my attempts to coach Duane I'm sure I was barking out orders as I was pretty excited too. Just as I said, "Don't force her!" the large spotted fish jumped three feet out of the flat calm water of Leech Lake and Duane continued to do battle. After some pretty hard runs but no match for Duane we landed a 41 inch musky! I took a few quick photos and we let the fish swim back to her home. Feeling like we accomplished all of the worlds problems, the three of us just looked at each other and said, "What do we do now?" With smiles on our faces we continued to fish the day and the bite didn't slow down.

Shortly after landing the musky I had a monarch butterfly land on my fishing rod. I thought to myself, "Thanks Mom!" took a photo and the butterfly flew off into the sky.

I dropped Jeff and Duane off at the dock, cleaned fished, and meet up with them on the patio at the 502 Restaurant at the Chase on the Lake. We sat and chatted like we have been life long friends about the memories from the day. A hand shake from Jeff and a hug from Duane, with tears in his eyes he said, "Thank you! I'm 88 years old and haven't experienced a fishing trip like this in my lifetime!"

"Make a Memory and Get Hooked"
Jeff "Breezer" Andersen

Click on Photos for Larger View

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Leech Lake Walleye and Musky Report

Leech Lake Musky Report:

Musky fishing has been pretty consistent the past few weeks. We have had some cooler nights which has helped bring those surface temps down which has seemed to help the bite during the daylight hours. The bite has been a mix of deep weed edges and rocks. Each trip we are averaging one to three bites with several follows. Top baits have been 10 blade bucktails in low light, smaller bucktails, like the BlueFox Vibrax MuskyBuck Click Here, with lots of speed during the daylight hours. Speed has been the difference from getting follows to getting bites. Other baits to mention are the PaceMaker, and the Storm ThunderBeast. Those have been our top three producers.

I should also mention we boated one of the largest fish that I have had in my boat to date. Bob K. from the Brainerd Area caught the fish which measured 55 inches with a 25 inch girth. Congrats to him on a fish of a lifetime!

I should also mention I have been using the Jason Mitchell Elite Series Musky and Walleye Rods this past season. They have performed flawlessly! If you are in the market for a musky fishing rod and don't want to spend an arm and leg make sure to check out the Jason Mitchell Line Up of Rods. My favorite all around musky rod is the 8' musky rod. You can view them by clicking here.

Leech Lake Walleye Report:

The walleye fishing has been great! We have consistently been putting limits of perfect 16 to 17 inch fish in the livewell. With that said each day is a new day of fishing as the fish have been on the move. We have focused our efforts fishing all over the lake. Not one bite has been better then the other so be prepared for battle, from fishing with live bait rigs, trolling Rapala crankbaits, jigging, and pulling spinners. All techniques are working!

Here are a few photos from a few of our past trips.

If you are looking for a fishing adventure in Northern Minnesota let us put a package together for you with staying at Chase on the Lake and fishing beautiful Leech Lake.

"Make a Memory and Get Hooked"
Jeff "Breezer" Andersen

(Click on Image for Larger View)

Bob K with the monster Minnesota Musky

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Brainerd / Mille Lacs / Leech Lake Area Fishing Report

Not sure if it's late summer or early fall, but I know one thing, THE BIG GIRLS ARE BITING! Check out these Giants!!!

Leech Lake, Whitefish, Mille Lacs, Gull lake Fishing Report by Toby KvalevogDick Caught this 29" Walleye with Guide Toby Kvalevog on the Whitefish Chain near Brainerd MN

Leech Lake, Whitefish, Mille Lacs, Gull lake Fishing Report by Toby Kvalevog
In the past week 3 walleyes pushing the 30". Here's a Leech Lake giant caught by Leisure Outdoor Adventure guest Tim Chick.

Leech Lake, Whitefish, Mille Lacs, Gull lake Fishing Report by Toby KvalevogTom Frisch Caught his biggest Fish, a 37" Pike, in the LOA boat on Leech Lake

Fishing in central Minnesota is as good as it gets! The fish are behaving like they're suppose to right now. Fish of all species can be found on or near the steep edges closest to deep water. Wind blowing in is nice, but not necessary. These fish were all holding on edges close to water deeper than 50 feet. They're chasing cisco and whitefish. For many of these giants, we are using Red Tails and Creek Chubs in the 4-8" range. There is no place better for fresh bait than SW bait shop here in the Brainerd area. Rigging these large minnows are fun because you know that it takes a special fish to eat such a bait.
Because you never know what kind of toothy critter might be looking for a mid day snack, it's important to use the right equipment. I like to use the 7" medium light action Jason Mitchell spinning rod for live bait rigging. This rod has the perfect action for big runs that trophy fish make at the side of the boat, but still has the sensativity to feel the lightest bites. A 12lb Fluorocarbon leader material will hold up to most fish if you have a good drag system. I like to keep them light, so that my clients can reel the entire time they're fighting their fish. This eliminates the chance of slack in the line which is every anglers worse nightmare.

Here is a snap shot of what's going on in the lakes that we've been on lately:

Gull Lake:
Fish are outside the weed edges in 14-20 ft of water. Look for windy shore line points such as Holman's PT, Stone Boat House, Floans PT, Clumps, and Bow Tie Bars

Whitefish: Walleye, Pike and Bass are holding in the 18-24 ft edges on The three fingers area of upper whitefish. The main lake humps are also holding fish in the same depth ranges.

Mille Lacs: Walleye and Small mouth are starting to show up on the deeper edges of the rocks. These fish can be caught trolling or with bobbers. The mud flats are also producing walleyes on the deep edged to off of the flats. Trolling perch colored glass shads produced several nice fish in the past week.

Leech Lake: Walleyes on Leech Lake and Walker Bay are being caught with live bait and trolling crank baits. Troll the 14-18 ft edges of the main lake structure with natural patterns. Regardless of depth, keep the baits in the upper 10ft of the water column on most days in the main lake. Long lines work well for this pattern. The fish in Walker bay can be found on the deep humps scattered across the bay. Red tails on rigs, or jigs with rainbow minnows are putting many keeper sized fish in the boat.

And the CATCH OF THE YEAR GOES TO?????????????

Bob Kuschel!!
Congratulations to both Bob and Guide Jeff Andersen for this MONSTER 55" Musky caught this week.
Leech Lake, Whitefish, Mille Lacs, Gull lake Fishing Report by Toby Kvalevog

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Leech Lake Monster Muskies

Catching a monster musky, one goal that is on many anglers bucket list, but not something that will always gets the check mark.  So I got the call from Scott who said he was planning a trip to the Leech Lake area with his family and that he wanted to fish muskies with his son George (14 years old) and possibly do some walleye fishing with his daughter Lauren (11 years old).  Momma was going to do some relaxing!  We set them up at Chase on the Lake. (click here to view).

I met both Scott and George early in the AM on the first day as our plan was to fish Leech Lake.  As a fishing guide it's my role to find out their skill level and adapt from there.  In conversation Scott mentioned that he had been fishing Lake of the Woods for several years with his son George and they have caught muskies up there.  Sweet!  I knew they would be ready to put in a good shift of fishing to try and boat these goofy muskies.  

This is where I will let George take the story from here.

"The Fish of a Lifetime"
Written by George:

Before we made our trip to Leech Lake, I was scanning through the pages of a book of famous quotes by athletes. One that particularly caught my eye was a quote by a cornerback on the Pittsburgh Steelers that said, "You only get a once in a lifetime chance so many times" That's what we were up here for, the chance to catch a muskie, an accomplishment some anglers never get, let alone the chance of hooking into a 50" muskie.

We started off the first day a little slow. We met our guide, Jeff Andersen, at the docks at The Chase on the Lake.  We fished for about an hour with not one follow. We pulled up to a new spot and had a fish that barely bumped Jeff's buck tail, a hot follow on a fish that turned away on the figure eight and was never to be seen again. We fished 3 or 4 spots proved to be slow, with only 1 follow, but on the bright side the weather was clearing up and was very soon warm and sunny. Good for us, but not for the fishing. We pulled up to a rock ledge that went on for hundreds of yards. Jeff told us that this was a very good spot to catch a mid-sized muskie.  We casted for about 1 minute and soon enough a fish shot up out of the deep and engulfed Jeff's buck tail right next to the boat. He quickly handed the pole to me and the fight was on, I fought the muskie for a few minutes and brought the fish to the boat. What a good fight! First fish of the trip and my biggest to date!  We netted the fish, but one problem; the fish was hooked very deep and it was bleeding a little. After a few minutes of trying to get the hook out, Jeff finally got it and we got some good pictures with the fish. He gently worked the fish back and forth to get water going through the gills. To our surprise the fish darted back into the deep and swam away.

On the first day we also caught a hard-fighting 32" northern pike while fishing for muskies and had another big fish follow. We later fished for Walleye for about half an hour and caught one walleye and three perch.

The second day was going to be very windy, so we decided to try a nearby smaller muskie lake. Jeff had advised that we might see a few more fish there. The fishing was once again slow early. We fished 4 or 5 spots and only had 1 follow.  That all changed when we pulled out in front of some reeds and cabbage along the shoreline of an island.  We casted and casted, and to be honest my hand was getting sore, and I was getting a little bored. Then I heard Jeff tell my dad he had a follow, and I looked over a sure enough there was a good-sized muskie following my Dad's copartner, called a Pacemaker. The fish was ready to eat, but unfortunately after 3 or 4 figure eights the fish turned away. Bummer! About 3 minutes later, I was looking at my buck tail, which I was casting, and out of the corner of my eye, I watched Jeff get ready to cast and quickly stop the cast and start to figure eight. I was a little confused until I saw an enormous, fish sluggishly following the lure and then as quick as it came, disappeared. Jeff told us to reel up, and that we were going to make another pass through the area to pick up those fish. We made a pass with no signs of the giant. Jeff said we better wait 10 minutes or so and try one more time. We casted and casted, a little bummed out that neither fish showed up again! Then Jeff switched lures from a buck tail to a huge rubber bait with a big tail. The lure was enormous. After a few casts with that he pulled it out and looked ready to cast the other way, but instead casted it to the same spot. Thank God he did! A few cranks in he set the hook. "George, George, this is a big fish, be ready." I fought the fish with all my strength and effort. I was grunting as I was trying to prevent the fish from going under the boat. We fought the behemoth for 5 minutes until it finally surfaced. Everyone was shocked, Jeff netted it and pulled it out of the water. I was speechless!  I had never seen a fish that big! I was shocked. Barely any words could come from my mouth. We took a few pictures and let it go. It swam away slowly, with its enormous back sticking out of the water and finally disappeared into the deep waters. High Fives were given all around! My new shirt and shorts were drenched in fish slime and my arms were ready to fall off! The fish was incredible! A 51", 34 pound muskie! A once in a lifetime fish! Just what we came here in hopes of doing, but we still had 1 1/2 days left.

We returned to the lodge, where we fooled my mom and sister that it was just a small muskie, but we had some cool pictures of it. Boy were they surprised!!! Neither had ever seen a fish that big! My sister, Lauren who was new to fishing and 11 years old, had decided to try fishing for a little bit, and Jeff took us to a little area where we caught 7 Northern Pike all about 2 feet long and a few perch! Lauren caught her biggest fish so far, in a 23" pike! Everyone of us had fun battling the feisty northerns. What a day!

The 3rd day was tough, very tough we fished all of 8 hours and not one fish! That's muskie fishing though!  A few northern were brought to the boat, and I did catch a 8" Rock Bass on my 8" Buck tail! Jeff recommended we stop at Dairy Queen on the way back, and boy did that Nutter Butter Blizzard taste good after 8 hours of casting!

So we were down to a half day of fishing left before we had to go home. We fished walleyes for 4 hours and we all had a blast. We had caught probably 10 walleyes including two 17" fish and a 22" and a 24" walleye. Dad, Lauren, and I each caught big walleyes and we were having tons of fun. We were down to the last 5 minutes of fishing before 11:30 am. We brought out the rally caps and prayed for luck! Jeff hooked a big walleye that we unfortunately lost at the boat and another one that Lauren missed at the hook set. With 2 minutes left I was working my Jig N' Rap as hard as I could. I slowly let it down and all of a sudden, WHAM! I hooked into something, something big. The fish stayed down a long time, we all thought that it was a really big walleye. I fought the fish with all my strength, but it stayed down. After 5 minutes of it staying down, it finally made a run, ZING! The fish took off. By then we knew it was no walleye, I saw the enormous head of a Muskie charging towards the surface 30 feet out from the boat. Then it made a spectacular leap out of the water, every inch of the fish was 2 feet out of the water! Snap. I reeled and no Muskie on the end! Bummer! We all just looked at each other talking about how amazing that leap was and hooking a muskie while walleye fishing with 8 pound test! Where were you yesterday when we had 80 pound test?!

Well, what a fabulous way to end the trip of a lifetime!

Thank You Jeff for the incredible experiences, and fish of a lifetime.

George, 14
Lauren, 11

Thank you Scott, George and Lauren!  What an amazing memory!

A story and a photo that will never be forgotten by George and his Dad is what makes my job rewarding.  

Just a little bit about the fish we caught:
The first fish was caught on a Blue Fox Twin Turbo 10 blades.  This bait is made right but you have to be willing to put the work in as the blades are heavy and move a ton of water.  Bottom line is they catch fish!  Speed was the name of the game here as it seems the fish are just following slower retrieves.  Get that thing rocking if you are having follows give the one two crank and burn those arms and you will soon convert those follows to bites.  On the second fish, the big one, we landed was a fish that many anglers would have passed by.  As George mentioned we had this fish follow off a steep edge.  In most cases once you move a fish on a piece of structure the fish will eventually move back to that same piece of structure, but in some cases they stay out off the edge as this fish did.  We made a few passes and the fish didn't follow or show itself.  A perfect scenario to work a large soft pastic bait like the Storm ThunderBeast Click Here to see the lure.   Again, as George mentioned, I made several cast to the same location the fish came from but out off the edge.  Pretty much where the boat had just traveled.  Making several cast to the same location over and over and just as I was about to give up I made one more.  That was all the fish could handle!  

Musky fishing is all about ups and downs as I have written in the past.  The quote George mentioned, "You only get a once in a lifetime chance so many times" is spot on when coming to musky fishing.  When you get that "chance" you better be ready and sometimes an angler does everything right and that "chance" still slips away.  Guess what!  Keep casting my friends.....

"Get Hooked and Make a Memory"
Jeff "Breezer" Andersen 

Here are the photos from the trip...  (Click on image for larger view)



Friday, August 5, 2011

Leech Lake "Fish of a life time."

Fishing tales are full of surprises and disappointments. They are all part of fishing, and for many, what makes it fun. This story is about a young man who started a morning somewhat reluctant to fish, but ended up with the fish of a lifetime.

Kevin signed up for a fishing trip with Leisure Outdoor Adventures. He would be taking his two boys out on the water for a late summer bonding experience before it was time to head back to school. Tyler and Tristan are two typical teenage boys. Somewhat hesitant about waking up before noon on summer vacation. Little did they know that this time, it would be worth their effort.

After a brief discussion of what the "bite" has been like on Leech, we decided to spend the day trying to catch a few walleyes for a fish fry back at the 502 restaurant. The first spot of the morning produced only 1 small keeper, but plenty perch to practice the art of live bait rigging for the day. Off to spot #2!

It wasn't long after marking a school of Walleyes on the Lowrance that we had our first bite. Tyler was the lucky angler. To the side of the boat came a nice fat 16" walleye that let go just out of reach of the landing net. A little disappointment and a great opportunity for us to learn. "Keep the lines tight at all times boys. These fish won't have a chance if the lines are tight." Big hook sets and excess rod movements may have their place in deep sea fishing, but for walleyes and live bait rigging, tight lines will do. "Rod tip up and reel, that's all we need to do."

The lack of action on spot number 2 was taking a toll on Tristan (15 yrs old). While lying down on the front of the boat with a towel over his eyes to block the sun, Tristan was about to be awakened by the sound of a monster fish flying out of the water like a Whale only feet from the boat. The loud splash and commotion had our attention. "What was that?" I asked. Only seconds later the huge fish surfaced again, tail walking across the water now 30 ft from Tristan's side of the boat for all to see. I had seen this one time earlier in my guiding career on Gull lake when one of my guests had hooked a big pike. "I think that fish has someones minnow!" I screamed in excitement. "Does anyone have a bite?" Tristan, now well awake watching the show, exclaimed that yes, he had a little tap and had let the line go. "I think that is your fish," I said. "Everyone else better reel up. I think Tristan has a huge pike on".

I have found that we can catch most of our pike that bite without a leader if the angler can manage to not horse them, and forget about setting the hook. "Tristan," I said, "If you want to catch this fish, you're going to have to be calm, and pay attention to every thing I say. The key to catch this fish is going to be for you to let the rod and reel do its' job. All I need you to do is keep your rod tip up and reel. When the fish pulls hard, just let her go. When she slows reel again, but never let it get any slack in the line. Keep the line tight and rod tip up." Kevin asked if there was anything he could do to help, and I said I don't think so. Just give us the room we need to work this fish. It might take a while.

With his rod tip up, Tristan began to reel as fast as he could to pick up all of the slack line up that the monster fish had taken. "I think he's gone" he said. "Just keep reeling Tristan, rod tip up." The rod began to bend and the fish was there. ZIIIIIIIIIIIING ! "This is a big fish Tristan," I said. "You are going to catch em, no worries, just remember rod tip up!" After about a minute, we had a glimpse of our big fish. It was a Musky, the fish of a 1,000 casts. ZIIIIIIIIIIIING! Back to the bottom she went and the task was about to start all over. Tristan was a little nervous but very good about following directions and this fish was cooperating. Again Tristan got her to the side of the boat, but she was a little green. "I don't think she is quite ready yet," I said. ZIIIIIIIIIING back to the bottom again. "This experience is what we all dream about Tristan, you are doing fine. You are going to catch this fish". The look on his face was a little doubtful. With a little coaching and a fantastic job of listening Tristan brought her to boat side just long enough for me to put her in the net. "YES!!!!" I said, while giving Tristan a big HIGH FIVE! You might have just caught your biggest fish of your life, said Kevin.

After a few pictures with partner Jeff "Breezer" Andersen, we released her back to the water. Best estimates were that this fish was somewhere in the mid 40's. Not the biggest Musky but an absolute giant for the average angler and one that this 15 yr old will never forget, as well as his guide for the day!

"Tight lines everyone!"


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Gull Lake Fishing Guide

I had the pleasure to share the boat with the Skopec Crew again and what a blast!  We fished Gull Lake in the Brainerd Lakes Area and this trip was what being a fishing guide is all about.  We caught endless amounts of bass and pike throughout the day and ended the trip with a monster pike!  I will let the photos of my fishing friends speak for themselves.  Let me tell you these four can fish with the best of them....

Thanks team Iowa for a great memory!

"Get Hooked and Make a Memory"
Jeff "Breezer" Andersen

(Click on photo for larger view)