Fall crappie excursion on Red Lake Nation waters serves up a fishing to remember

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This was evident from the boat traffic. Or, more precisely, the lack of boat traffic.

Daris Rosebear had the water all to himself, as he does most of the time, chasing the sunfish and largemouth bass that inhabit this small lake on Red Lake Nation lands just outside outside the city limits of Red Lake.

Rosebear, 31, has been a tribal guide for a dozen years, first for Seven Clans Casino, until he ended his guided fishing service in 2016, then alone as the operator of Rosebear Service Guide.

While all of the Lower Lakes and Upper Red Lake tribal waters are only open to registered members of the Chippewa Red Lake Band, 27 Small Lakes and the portion of the Red Lake River downstream of the dam on the lands of Chippewa. the reserve are accessible to non-tribal fishermen. who hire a tribal guide and buy a non-resident fishing license.

Offering a mix of trout, panfish, largemouth bass, walleye and pike, the small lakes on reserve lands have become a popular destination in recent years for anglers looking for something a little different.

Trout lakes depend on stocking, but crappie lakes are mostly self-sustaining, said Pat Brown, tribal biologist for the Chippewa Red Lake Band.

“I’m going to go to Red (Lake) and pull out some extra crappie broodstock and transplant these fish to the small lakes in the reserve,” Brown said. “The hope is that they reproduce and then contribute to the crappie population in the future.

“We have great fishing on these lakes. It is very easy to get spoiled.

Pat Brown, Tribal Fisheries Biologist for the Chippewa Red Lake Band, holds a lake sturgeon caught during a fall 2014 sampling effort in the Red Lake tribal waters.  Small reserve lakes open to non-tribal members who hire a tribal guide provide great fishing, says Brown.  (Contribution / Chippewa Red Lake Band)

Pat Brown, Tribal Fisheries Biologist for the Chippewa Red Lake Band, holds a lake sturgeon caught during a fall 2014 sampling effort in Red Lake tribal waters. Small reserve lakes open to non-tribal members who hire a tribal guide provide great fishing, says Brown. (Contribution / Chippewa Red Lake Band)

Stay busy

With access to this type of fishing, Rosebear has carved out a stable following through word of mouth and a popular Facebook group of some 3,100 members. Trout and panfish are still popular, he says, but many customers aren’t picky about what they catch.

“Anyway, most of the time,” he said. And with so much water to choose from, there are plenty of options.

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Rosebear isn’t the only tribal guide, but he’s probably the busiest and best known. Business has been stable since May, when the fishing season opened, he said.

“I probably saw five other guides coming out all summer,” Rosebear said. “So there wasn’t too much pressure this year again.

Like many businesses, Rosebear’s fishing guide service was hit last year when the COVID-19 pandemic struck and the Red Lake Nation closed its borders. The reservation reopened in October 2020, Rosebear says, and it has had a busy winter guiding trout fishermen on the small lakes.

He has spent most of the last year hooking walleye on “the big lake” for the Red Lake Nation Fishery, the tribe’s commercial fishing operation, to make up for lost service income. guide.

“I made a lot of money with it,” he said.

Crappie to shit

The original plan for this late September afternoon was to fish for large sunfish on a small lake known to hunt sunfish that are 10 inches or larger, but recent rains have made that plan a risky proposition. Many small lakes are on low maintenance forest roads which can be muddy and dangerous after rain. The area had received quite a bit of rain the past few days, and playing it safe and not getting stuck seemed like the smarter option.

Also, it’s hard to beat a crappy lake on a cool fall day, surrounded by trees in top notch fall colors.

There would be no long boat ride to the fishing hot spot this afternoon. Tossing her 15ft Alumacraft from the concrete boat launch, Rosebear turned on the trolling motor and we put our lines in the water a few feet from the dock.

The spot had produced several dandy crap on a guide trip days earlier, Rosebear said. Due to the clear lake water, early morning and late afternoon tends to produce the best action.

“I’ve chased them all over the lake this year, side to side,” Rosebear said. “Now they’re back in front of the wharf. “

Daris Rosebear watches his line for a bite on Tuesday, September 21, 2021, while fishing in a small lake on Red Lake tribal lands.  (Brad Dokken / Grand Forks Herald)

Daris Rosebear watches his line for a bite on Tuesday, September 21, 2021, while fishing in a small lake on Red Lake tribal lands. (Brad Dokken / Grand Forks Herald)

Rosebear says he caught a 17 inch crappie on the lake when he was about 13, and a guide client landed a 16 ¾ inch crappie two years ago. Fish this size are rare in crappie fishing, but anglers can still expect a lot of action for poop down to around 12½ inches or so most days, says. he.

As for the numbers, Rosebear put it this way:

“A lot, really,” he said. “When they go, we can probably get 50 easy. I fished this lake a lot this year because the poop has been active all summer.

The fishing was simple. Using 1/16 ounce hair stencils of Sharp dressed jigs Owatonna tied to a spinning top blade, we dragged back and forth past the dock in about 14 feet of water.

Each pass produced a shit or two and occasionally small pike, but it wasn’t the kind of action Rosebear had encountered on her previous trip a few days earlier. Rain and a cold front the day before could have been a factor, Rosebear suggested.

He didn’t need to worry.

As the sun dipped towards the western horizon, it seemed to bathe the trees – already resplendent in their fall colors – in shades of gold and orange. It was difficult to tell where the horizon ended and where the water started.

It was around this time that Rosebear made her way to a new place and reached shit gold.

Daris Rosebear threw a crappie in the boat on Tuesday, September 21, 2021, while fishing in a small lake on the Red Lake Indian Reservation.  (Brad Dokken / Grand Forks Herald)

Daris Rosebear threw a crappie in the boat on Tuesday, September 21, 2021, while fishing in a small lake on the Red Lake Indian Reservation. (Brad Dokken / Grand Forks Herald)

These fish were bigger, more aggressive, and each pass produced several crap, plus a bonus largemouth bass, in 17 feet of water.

Like jewels with fins, crappies are a fish to admire, and every bite was a treat. Arguably, poop is even tastier than walleye, but all the fish landed on that crisp fall afternoon have been released.

As Rosebear predicted, the bite lasted for about an hour – actually a glorious hour – until the sun disappeared behind the trees.

The afternoon, which started slowly, ended in style. It was time to come home and call it a great afternoon.

The final shit tally? A lot, really.

Daris Rosebear of Rosebear Guide Service in Red Lake, Minnesota, admires a largemouth bass captured on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 on a small tribal lake.  (Brad Dokken / Grand Forks Herald)

Daris Rosebear of Rosebear Guide Service in Red Lake, Minnesota, admires a largemouth bass captured on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 on a small tribal lake. (Brad Dokken / Grand Forks Herald)

Daris Rosebear loads his boat to end a successful afternoon of fishing on Tuesday, September 21, 2021, on a small lake in the Red Lake tribal lands.  (Brad Dokken / Grand Forks Herald)

Daris Rosebear loads his boat to end a successful afternoon of fishing on Tuesday, September 21, 2021, on a small lake in the Red Lake tribal lands. (Brad Dokken / Grand Forks Herald)

If you are going to

  • Non-resident tribal licenses to fish in the small lakes of the Red Lake Indian Reservation cost $ 10 per day, $ 25 per week, and $ 50 seasonally and are available at the Red Lake Law Enforcement Complex in Red Lake, Minnesota. Bring the correct change.

  • The season for largemouth bass, walleye, black crappie, pumpkinseed, perch, pike, lake trout and coarse fish is open from the second Saturday in May to October 31; the rainbow trout and brook trout season is continuous.

  • More information on fishing in small tribal lakes can be found at redlakednr.org/fishing-regulations.

  • For more information on the Rosebear Guide Service, contact Rosebear at (218) 407-5535, 2016rosebear@gmail.com or consult his Guides service Facebook page on Facebook.com/Rosebear-Guide-Service.

– Brad Dokken


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