By Mike Frisch
The 2023 open-water fishing season is mostly “in the books” now. With that in mind, I want to look back at some of the fun fishing action partners and I had this past season. These are good memories that maybe can at least be partially duplicated in 2024!
Big Stone Lake
Local guide Tanner Arndt and I spent a day on his home lake of Big Stone in early June. Tanner said we should be able to catch some big bluegills and maybe we would chase bass once we got our fill of bluegills. We went to a shallow rock-weed transition area and quickly started catching ‘gills. Most of these fish were around 9 ½” in length, a big bluegill anywhere in the Midwest, though we did break the 10” barrier too. These fish were scrappy as can be and lots of fun to catch.
After catching a bunch of bluegills, we put away the ultralight rods and reels and broke out heavier rods and reels and went bass fishing. Throwing Texas rigged Rage Craws and the new Tungsten Thunder Cricket vibrating jigs we were able to put a bunch of bass in the boat. We didn’t land any of the 6-pound giants Big Stone occasionally puts out, but Tanner caught and released a couple over 4 pounds.
Later in June I traveled north to sample the good fishing in Kabetogama Lake in the Voyageurs National Park. Local guide Tim Watson and I spent a couple days chasing walleyes. These fish were shallow and eating jigs, but some were also transitioning to more summer spots and eating more summer baits like leeches and nightcrawlers presented on slip-sinker livebait rigs.
Tim and I caught a bunch of walleyes in two days and walleyes of all sizes. We caught fish from 10” long up to over 24” in length. A whole bunch of the walleyes we caught were perfect frying pan size with lots of 16-17 inchers.
In addition to great fishing, a highlight of a trip to Kabetogama is the beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife seen. The lake is full of undeveloped islands and, we saw bald eagles in good numbers, lots of waterfowl, and several deer as well. I keep going back to KAB every year for the good walleye fishing, but always leave mesmerized by the beauty of the lake and its surroundings.
Alexandria Lakes Area
Because I live a half an hour from Alexandria, MN I spend lots of time on the famed Alexandria Chain of Lakes where most of my time is spent chasing bass. In addition to “the chain” there are a bunch of other waters in the area hosting good to great numbers of largemouth bass, with some harboring growing smallmouth bass populations too. This past summer, partners and I fished the many lakes in the area several times using a variety of baits. Ned Rigs, crankbaits, skirted bass jigs, and Texas rigged plastics all produced good catches for us. Not only are the numbers of fish good in the Alexandria area lakes, but those quality 3- to 4-pound fish seem to show up more and more often every summer too!
Looking back, 2023 was a good year on the water. I will look back on these memories for years to come, but already am making plans to make more and similar memories next year, the summer of 2024. As always, enjoy your time on the water and remember to include a youngster in your next outdoors adventure!
Mike Frisch hosts the popular Fishing the Midwest TV series on the Sportsman Channel and several other networks as well. Visitwww.fishingthemidwest.com to see all things Fishing the Midwest.