Author: Chris Hansen

Bullheads

When I set the hook, I knew right away that this was no bluegill, and not a crappie either. The rest of the family was bobber fishing, and I was pitching a small tube jig to the edge of some green milfoil, a proven approach on this favorite panfish lake. A session here usually ends with at least a dozen nice sized panfish swimming in the livewell, and we usually find a pike to join them—just right for a fish fry. And a pike is just what I figured this was, at least at first, and I hoped I could get him in the boat before he claimed my jig as his own. Savannah looked away from her bobber to say, “Is it a northern, Daddy?” I was about to affirm, but something wasn’t quite right. A pike, even a small one, moves fast. This thing was fighting deep and slow. I took it easy, as I at least wanted a look at whatever it was. I said “I don’t think it’s a northern—it’s fighting like a…walleye? Or maybe it’s a…” and then it showed itself, and I chuckled as a big bullhead came to the surface. Despite all the panfishing we do, I couldn’t remember us landing one of these before. I showed the girls how to hold one to avoid the fins, and they both wanted to...

Read More

Smallmouth Bass, Fairy Stones, and Treasure City

Most of the time if I go camping it is because of necessity, not just because camping is so much damn fun.  I may camp out because there just happens to be a campsite where I’m fishing, or maybe I spent too much money on tackle and can’t come up with the funds for a cheap motel.  Or maybe a little of both.  The fact that I’ve spent the last few months selling my girls on a camping trip tells me that I must like it at least a little bit. Like most parents, I want my kids to...

Read More

Muskie on a Fly? Totally Doable. Right in your backyard.

You want to catch a muskie on a fly?  No one said it was going to be easy.  Or did they?  Be sure that I didn’t.  You want to catch a lot of fish?– I suggest a trip to one of our fine local spring creeks, this time of year the hatches will keep the trout feeding and your four weight bent all day.  Or consider a foray for panfish in one of the thousand lakes within a couple of hours of the Twin Cities—if you tried you could get into triple digit numbers in a half day of...

Read More

Since I’m a Guide…I Think I’ll Just Guide Myself!

  “PLOP” I watched one of my last jigs disappear into the swirling green water I was standing in.  It had slipped through my shaking fingers when I was retying after releasing the biggest snook I had ever caught.  I should have been mad, but I just chuckled and barely even considered trying to recover it out of the thigh-deep water.  Still thinking about the big snook, I pulled my jig box out of my pack and selected a similar model, and my fingers were still trembling a bit as I knotted it onto what was left of my...

Read More

Middle Dam

There is a special place not far from here, known by many as Willow River State Park. Before I had ever been there, I knew it as Middle Dam.   My grandpa was a retired teacher who fished a lot, and often talked of this place.  Surprisingly, for how much he fished, he never once set foot in a boat.  His fishing haunts were comprised of various locations in western Wisconsin, mostly in the Hudson/River Falls/ Somerset area.  For a shore fisherman, it is hard to do better than this area, there is a multitude of streams, rivers and lakes offering access to good fishing for the boat impaired.  Grandpa lived in the Twin Cities, and I would spend much of my summers at his house, and we would travel to the various Wisconsin haunts on many summer days.   On the trips there and back he would often tell tales of fishing with his son or with some of his students, many of the stories I had heard so many times I think I knew them better than him.  One common theme from these old stories was fishing at a mythical place called “Middle Dam”.  Based on the info from these stories [these stories mostly took place in the 60’s], Middle Dam had populations of fish beyond what a ten year old could comprehend.  I imagined what a mecca this fantastical...

Read More