How Walleye Like to Mess With You

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For any of you Earth-Mother Leaf-worshipers who hold candle-light vigils whenever a fisherman takes his boat out, don’t feel TOO sorry for the little fishies.

Catching them is NOT that easy as you think.   Fish are maliciously smart.   They continually screw with us fishermen all the time, and we typically get skunked.

So rest assured that more often than not, the fish win.

Especially walleye.

 

You won’t find a more nit-picky prima-donna fish, anywhere.

If you want to catch them, the everything has to be juuuuust right.

Like that water.  It was to be murky-dark.

If it’s too clear, they can see you, they’ll be spooked, and they won’t bite.

You can’t just have had a thunderstorm, either.  Because for days afterward, they’ll be spooked, and they won’t bite.

It also depends on where you are.   On one lake, they like worms, not minnows.

On another lake,  they like minnows, not worms.

Oh, and the jig has to have the right color.

In some places, the jig has to be white.

In other places, the jig has to be yellow.

Otherwise (you guess it), they’ll be spooked, and they won’t bite.

 

And even if aren’t spooked, and they’re in the mood to bite, then you have to find them.

Which isn’t easy.    You have to be in the EXACT right spot, which often could just be an imaginary micro-dot on the water, 10 feet in diameter.

Good luck finding that on a 10-mile lake.

But that’s how these bastards fish operate.

And say you do find that micro-dot.

Chances are, so has someone else.

You can have two boats can be side-to-side, almost touching each other.

The one boat will be hauling in fish after fish.

The other boat will get jack-squat.

(Guess which boat I’m always in?).

 

But if you come back to the same exact spot the next day (or even a few hours later), the walleye have long since gone.

Off to find another micro-dot.

But let’s say, in the rare event that you’ve found them and they DO want to bite.

This is when they really start to mess with you.

They’ll stick the hook in their mouth, and swirl the bait around like a wine taster, before they decide if they want to bite.

If you tug on the line a nano-second too soon,  they just spit the hook out.

If you leave the line slack for a microsecond too long, they spit the hook out.

But mostly (God-dammit) they’ll just suck the worm or minnow right off the hook.

 

Right now, gently tap your finger on the back of your palm, so that you almost can’t feel it.

Remember that next time you go walleye fishing.

Because that’s what it feels like, when Mr. Walleye is sucking the minnow right of your jig for a free lunch.

Blink your eyes, and you’ve missed it.

And they’ll do it again.

And again.  And again.

Until  you run out of minnows, and now you’re done for the afternoon, because they won’t bite anything else.

Damned fish.

They do this ON PURPOSE.

 

You non-fisherman are probably asking:    “Then why, in God’s name, do you spend so much time trying to catch these fish?”

Well, you see,  my name is Friar, and I’m an addict.

I’m a fish-aholic.

It’s classic behavior.   Spending lots of time obsessing over a repetitive task.   Being rewarded just often enough to make you want to keep coming back.   With the faint hope of beating the odds and finally getting the big pay-off.

Not unlike the slot-machines in Vegas.

(Except the slot-machines are probably cheaper, in the long run).

Fish Fry Low ResPS.   One that DIDN’T get away.

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24 Comments on “How Walleye Like to Mess With You”

  1. Brett Legree Says:

    That’s why I don’t fish. Or gamble at Vegas.

    Because if I wanted to catch fish, I’d use dynamite. If I wanted to take the money from Vegas, I’d probably use dynamite too. And guns. Lots of guns.

    And you know where that would get me…

    I’m a human, we didn’t get where we are by being “fair”.

    We’re bastards, smart bastards – probably too smart, which is why you have to try so hard to catch a damned fish these days…

    …because the guys who fished in those lakes 50 years ago *weren’t* being fair!

  2. steph Says:

    I thought this post was awesome.

    And even though I am a mother-earthean (in that I’m a vegetarian and such), I like your fishing stories. There’s something about living “up north” and fishing and pan frying them right away, even though I would never do it and I might cry seeing you taking them off the line and them dying, that I really appreciate what you convey so well. I appreciate your enjoyment and sense of peace and freedom in the experience.

    We’re really seriously considering moving up north as soon as we can. Colin’s thinking Sudbury. I was thinking Gravenhurst or Bracebridge or even a bit farther up, but I really don’t know the area. I just want the Canadian wilderness so to speak. (But at the same time, I do want to be relatively near a place that has shops and things – bigger than Splat Creek and Whitney and Bancroft.) Every time we go even only as far as Algonquin, we get the itch for deep, clear lakes and rivers, real fresh air, vast untouched land, the thrill of seeing a bull moose. You know the stuff.

  3. steph Says:

    PS. Weird. That last photo does make the fish look delicious. But I have always hated fish. Except tuna. I just like the idea of pan-seared, garlic and butter and herbs…mmmm.

    I haven’t eaten fish, poultry, pork, or beef (that is to say, meat) in about 7 years now. When I think of eating the others, the taste of which I enjoyed for the most part, I get nauseated. But when I think of eating fish, my mouth is almost tempted to water.

    BIZARRE.

  4. Brett Legree Says:

    @steph,

    Perhaps it makes more sense to eat fish (and might explain your craving) because for some reason, it seems a bit more “natural” than eating the other animals – since these days, they’re “cultivated” for the most part.

    (Yeah, I know we have fish farms too.)

    But we (humans) have been fishing since forever. Sure, we’ve eaten other meats too, but I bet that the majority of it was fish at one time.

    Plus… leave the fish alone, and they’ll just make more fish.

    You will never see roaming herds of chickens, pigs and cows, as funny as that might look!

  5. Amy Says:

    This is why I don’t fish for walleye… and mostly only catch little dinky sunfish that the kids want to keep as pets. I’m a lazy fishaholic. 🙂

  6. Brett Legree Says:

    I’ll hold the dynamite Amy, you light the fuse 🙂

  7. Friar Says:

    @Brett
    A good fisherman will keep a few pan-sized fish for a snack, and let the big ones go, to go breed and make more fish. And he’ll only keep his limit.

    I get pissed off at those old black-and-white photos, showing fishermen with their catch of dozens and dozens of fish…The biggest ones, too. Well beyond what’a sustainable harvest.

    Well, NO WONDER most of the lakes (even up here in Splat Creek) have been fished out.

    Yet one more example of the older generations exploiting as much as they can, to hell with the consequences, and screwing it up for the rest of us.

    @Steph

    Heh heh. Your craving for fish from that photo is probably your body telling you something… 🙂

    We all get that way. I might crave milk or orange juice or salt…Whatever. Then I binge (i.e drink a whole carton or eat a bag of chips.) It perfectly hits the spot…and that craving will go away for days, or weeks even.

    Like I said, I think it’s our body’s way of telling us that we’re missing something.

    Bracebridge and Gravenhurst used to be out of the way, considered up “North”. But now it’s like they’re almost a suburb of Toronto. Right by the 4-Lane Highway 11, with traffic jams on the weekends due to the cottagers. And the big Box Stores and ugly malls have sprung up everywhere.

    I used to spend a lot of time in and around Sudbury. If you want to feel the “North’, that’s probably your best bet.

    North Bay is relatively civilized too. (Probably about the same size as where you live right now.)

    @Brett
    Catching a fish in the wild and frying them up, certainly is a lot more natural, than buying a farm-raised fillet shrink-wrapped in a styrofoam container.

    Yet the do-gooders still get mad at us. (Go figure?)

    But if done right, fishing can be quite sustainable. We have limits and slot sizes right now. That’s helped a lot of lakes bounce back, and some are actually better now than they were 20 years ago.

    @Amy
    I’m lazy too. I only seriously fish for walleye once a year, where I go way way up north, where I’m guaranteed to catch them.

    Most of the time, I just go after bass and pike. They still screw with you, but nowhere near as much as walleye do.

    By the way, if you do catch a big one, how do you deal with it (if the kids wanna keep him?)

    @Brett
    Dude at work told me a trick (years ago, in another job).

    Put dry ice in a 2-liter pop bottle, and throw it in the lake. It’ll go BOOM! and have the same effect as dynamite. But there will be no traces or explosive residue that a game warden can catch you with.

    So I’ve heard. That’s probably something the Mythbusters should check out.

    Kids, DON’T try this at home! 😉

  8. Mer Says:

    For any of you Earth-Mother Leaf-worshipers who hold candle-light vigils whenever a fisherman takes his boat out, don’t feel TOO sorry for the little fishies.

    You’ll get no argument from me, Friar. In olden times, we got a lot of our food by hunting and fishing. I have a hard time eating farmed fish. They’re kinda oogie.

    Mmmmmmmmm, fresh fish. 🙂

    Mer

  9. Brett Legree Says:

    @Friar,

    Yes, that does work (and don’t ask me how I know heh heh but watch your fingers!)

    I guess we have to thank our luck to be able to eat like this. Even though I don’t fish, the local butcher shop in Dirty Pond (just down the road from Splat Creek, next to the turnoff to the Factory) often has local fresh fish.

    I’m not sure who sells it to them, but it’s pretty damned good – and I don’t even have to do any work!

    (Of course, I guess that’s part of the fun eh?)

  10. Friar's Mom Says:

    @ Wee Friar

    Thanks for sharing your story. I had no idea that it was so difficult to catch a walleye. And after all that trouble, you presented me with two large walleye filets from your Northern trip.

    You’ll be happy to know that three days ago I defrosted them and thoroughly enjoyed my meal.

    Thanks ever so much. Mmmmm!

  11. Amy Says:

    Friar — Tried telling them that if he put them in the bath tub they’d just die. But her son and my one nephew didn’t seem to mind. So I distracted them with the idea of trying to catch tadpoles with a net. Frogs are fun, and they can live in a tank and not in my tub. 🙂

  12. Amy Says:

    PS Hi Friars Mom!!!

  13. Kyddryn Says:

    Dude, I’m a tree-hugging dirt-worshiper, so I’m cool with fishing. Heck, my dad made a living at it for years. Mmm, tasty fish…

    Me? I’ve caught one dang fish my whole life, and honestly I think it was a dorkfish and swan into the hook by accident. Guess I’ll have to get mine at the market.

    How funny is it that you posted about fish today, when I have some lovely sockeye slotted for dinner tonight?

    Shade and Sweetwater,
    K

  14. Friar Says:

    @Mer
    It’s funny how we’ve so lost touch with our roots.

    Less than 100 years ago, very few people lived in big cities. Hunting and fishing was a big part of our diet.

    It’s a good skill to learn, though. For when civilization breaks down, after they drop the big one. 🙂

    @Brett
    Somehow, that doesn’t surprise me.

    Wonder what other tricks you learned, growing up in Splat Creek?

    Wait..Forget it. I don’t WANNA know.

    @Amy
    When Friar’s Mom grew up, Friar’s Grandpa would bring home catfish from work (that got caught in the water intake to the plant where he worked).

    Friar’ Grandma would put them in the bathtub for a few days, till they finally ate them.

    True story. Ask Friar’s Mom.

    @Friar’s Mom

    Considering the time and money I spent on my trip to get those fish, they’re probably worth hundreds of dollars.

    Glad you liked them, though. 🙂

    @Kyydryn

    That’s pretty cool. What kind of fish did your dad catch?

    Spoke to a friend of the family, who grew up in Nova Scotia in the 1940’s.

    He said at school, the rich kids had store-bought white-bread and bologna sandwiches for lunch.

    But they were poor..they had home-made bread, and lobster. Which was considered garbage fish, at the time.

    Imagine that today…!!! 🙂

  15. Kyddryn Says:

    Hey Friar, my grandfather was a lobsterman (hobby, not for a living) and we ate ’em any chance we got. Imagine people thinking they were garbage!

    Dad fished swordfish for a while, then the glare got to his eyes and he had to stop, so he skippered oil rig supply boats and small private cruise ships until he could start up his own charter service. He packed it in when fuel got prohibitively expensive. He still has a boat and always will, but prefers sailing to motoring…and he now gets his fish at the market or from friends.

    Shade and Sweetwater,
    K

  16. Friar Says:

    I read that Back in the early 1900’s, Lobster were considered garbage…people used to bury them in the garden as fertilizer.

    It’s kinda gross, when you think about it. It’s like eating a giant bug. But I DO love the taste (on the rare occasions that I get some).

    Wow…swordfishing. I’ve seen videos of that…but I’ve never done serious salt-water fishing. I can just imagine what it’s like to land a huge one and have to fight it for an hour!

  17. Eyeteaguy Says:

    The reason Wall-E fish are so hard to catch is because you are a lousy fisherman.

    That and passing gas in an aluminium boat. DO you realize how loud that is under the water?!

    Eyeteaguy

    P.S. Don’t eat fish because I can’t eat fish. Allergic y’know.

  18. Friar Says:

    @Eyeteaguy

    I’m a lousy Wall-E fisherman. But I think I’m a reasonably good bass one.

    As for farting in an aluminum boat. Well, I do the side-cheek-sneak, and it greatly reduced the noise levels.

    PS. I’m allergic to being Vegan.

  19. Davina Says:

    Friar, that one that didn’t get away looks pretty darn spectacular in that frying pan. What time’s dinner? 🙂 There paprika in there?

  20. Friar Says:

    @Davina

    No, that’s just specialty fish-batter, fried in butter till golden brown.

    I don’t like cooking. But I think I fry up a mean fish.

  21. Eyeteaguy Says:

    I fry up a mean Friar. Or a sad one, or any other emotion you seem to feel these days.

  22. Friar Says:

    @Eyeteaguy

    No, you just like to jab the Friar with the fillet knife, and torment him.


  23. Did you say Walleye?

    YUM!

    Most delicious fish evah.

  24. Friar Says:

    @Fantatic Forrest

    Yup.

    Though I’d dare say wild brook trout is a close tie.


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