Night fishing remains good despite rain

spectr17

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MAY 20, 2002
 
Night fishing remains good despite rain

Larry Dablemont, Joplin Globe

Outdoors in the ozarks

We caught some nice crappie this past week on Stockton Lake, fishing under submerged lights at night.

Stockton has remained clear, even though it is ten feet high and will probably rise more. Bull Shoals may get 25 feet higher than normal this week, but it too should remain clear in the lower reaches, and if so, the night fishing with submerged lights should produce some big walleye the next week or so.

I intend to find out, if we can just get a stretch of settled weather and some calm, clear nights.

The turkey season is over, though I may make one more trip to Kansas this week to hunt a morning or two with a friend of mine.

On the next to last day of the season in Missouri, I called up a big tom for my daughter which stayed out of range and gobbled and strutted for an hour. We never got him, but it was something to see, a great hunt and an enjoyable morning.

I think he may have been the one I missed on opening day, and he would naturally be a little wary. I say this because it may seem to some readers that I never experience failure in calling gobblers. That is pretty much accurate, I have become so good at it over the years that I get to trying to think of ways to give a gobbler a better chance once I sit down on him and start calling.

I felt sorry for several of them this year. It doesn’t seem fair to hunt them with a shotgun. I may take to hunting spring gobblers with a bow, or maybe a slingshot. There are lots of us turkey hunting experts which just don’t get enough credit. But there sure are a lot of us experts.

This spring, six mature gobblers were killed by myself and hunters I took out into the woods, one by a grandmother who had never been turkey hunting, and she got her first gobbler within 30 minutes of the time he left the roost.

But I seldom write about the times I get one close and can’t fool him. It happens, and I am just awfully happy when one gets away every now and then. There were more gobblers this year than I ever remember seeing, and the hunting was so good I wonder if it won’t be remembered by all of us as the best year ever.

Up in Canada, it’s one of the most unusual of springs. The last of the ice just faded away a week or so ago, and the water is still cold. There are no leaves on the trees yet, and everything is two to three weeks behind.

I talked to Dawn Kroeker, who runs her family fishing lodge and resort near Emo, Ontario, and she says walleye and smallmouth fishing which normally is beginning in late May, may not get good until the second week in June.

The Rainbow Lodge, which she and her mother and sister operate, began as a tent camp which her Norwegian grandfather began in the early 1920s. Back then, the closest road ended at the other end of the lake, and everything came in by boat or plane.

Her father built the modest lodge and four cabins in 1946, and Dawn still has a fisherman from Illinois who comes back every year, who was the first customer of the lodge when it opened 55 years ago.

There’s a tremendous history with this family, the Helseths. Dawn’s brother, Tinker is something of a legend in the region, one of the best-known bush pilots and guides, now 40 years in the business, beginning as a teen-ager and flying a plane for years before getting his pilot’s license at 16.

Tinker Helseth is so well-known, with his own lodge at Nestor Falls on Lake of the Woods, that he never has any openings for new customers. Fishing with him would be more difficult than fishing with the Queen of England.

But Dawn and her sister Sheri still have time to take people fishing.

They took over Rainbow Lodge in 1997 after their younger brother was killed in a tragic accident. In their thirties, neither actually wanted to get into the business, but they couldn’t stand the thought of their father’s lodge being sold.

Dawn’s 12-year-old son is beginning to guide some now, the fourth generation of the Helseth clan to do so. Her mother, in her mid-seventies, still cooks for fishermen at the lodge. She also brings out the old pictures, hundreds of them, and tells stories about the old days.

“You can’t imagine how much people enjoy listening to her recollections,” Dawn told me.

But fishing wasn’t that much better in the old days than it is today. There are big smallmouth and northerns and walleye to be caught, but trophies never come easy. Most people enjoy catching average-sized fish, and seeing pristine Canada lakes and wildlife as they do so.

Besides the lodge and four cabins there, Dawn operates six outpost cabins on Jackfish, Loonhaunt and Pipestone lakes, and one of her guides takes day trips to Lake of the Woods for up to four fishermen at a time.

Loonhaunt is a fly-in lake where you are fishing alone in a true wilderness setting, and there are many other wilderness lakes where you can fly in, spent the night tent camping and fly out the next day. But most American fishermen aren’t up to that, most choose to have the modern accommodations of the lodge and day fishing for crappie, smallmouth, walleye, trout, northern pike and muskie.

Amazingly, the crappie are a new fish which are becoming plentiful. Dawn says that ten years ago, they didn’t have them. One hundred years ago, there were no smallmouth.

So things are a little different in Canada today, but not much.

The waters I fish there are pretty much the same as the first French explorers and trappers found them.

And when fishing slows in the Ozarks in July and August, I’ll be fishing there on some lake I have never seen before, catching something for supper in the land of northern lights and singing loons.

If you’ve never fished in Canada, it’s much easier than you think. Call Dawn and she’ll help you work out a great trip. Her toll-free number is (866) 482-2110, or go to her Web site (www.rainbowlodge.com) to see pictures of the lodge and cabins.
 


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