I’m not ready for this folks… Gordon Lightfoot said it best, “The gales of November came early”. Jim and Renee Sandlin from Springdale, AK brought Jim’s son Craig from Leoti, KS to the Hayward area for some big smallmouth action. This is definitely a big fish time of year, but they didn’t bargain for the huge weather system that moved in just in time for their trip. Rain, sleet, and snow along with 35 mph wind gusts made Friday an adventure to say the least!!! Yes, I said SNOW! This was one tough bunch, and they persevered through some of the most brutal conditions we’ve had all season to catch some very well deserved and well earned trophies that included walleyes up to 25″ and smallies up to 21″. If you can hack fishing in these conditions, you stand a chance of landing some very impressive fish at this time of year. The Sandlins were definitely up to the task, and proved that you won’t catch them sitting in the cabin!!! We caught all of our fish on minnows using a combination of jigs and live bait rigs in 15′ – 22′ of water. Water temps dropped throughout the day and ended at 58 degrees by the time we were done. Cooking lunch on the tailgate wasn’t an option, and a noon pit stop at Angler’s Haven for a big bowl of hot chili sure hit the spot. They even helped dry our clothes for us. Now that’s service!!! Thanks to the Sandlins for sticking with it on a super tough, but super memorable day on the water. Renee, You’re a trooper!!!
If Saturday was a break in the weather, it wasn’t much of one… All we were missing was the snow! Joan Engstrand from New Brighton, MN bought a Chequamegon Bay smallmouth trip for her husband Tracy’s birthday. I can assure you that she didn’t pay extra for the weather though!!! 20 – 30 mph winds made for almost impossible conditions on the bay. I said, almost… After our first strategy failed, the Engstrands were brave enough to put their faith in my “Plan B”, and it paid off big time with the largest pike and smallmouth Tracy had ever caught. We worked our tails off, but found some really nice fish in 12′ – 15′ of water including smallies up to 21″ and a bonus 38″ x 16″ pike that was the fattest gator I’ve seen in a long time. I’m not sure how much that fish weighed, but it would’ve been interesting to see it on a scale. With two personal bests caught on the same day, Joan is thinking that Tracy will be getting a second job to pay for those replicas he’s planning!!! Water temperatures ranged from 53 – 54 degrees on the bay, and we caught all of our fish on minnows using live bait rigs and slip bobbers. I can’t thank Joan and Tracy enough for for rolling with the punches on another day with extremely tough conditions. Once again it’s more evidence that if you keep working at it, good things are likely to happen. Just stay the course!!! The Engstrands were another fun bunch to have in the boat when dealt a bad hand with the weather as they kept their sense of humor, and we definitely had some good laughs over our circumstances. What else can you do??? Great job Engstrands, and have a great week everyone!!!