Watching a bobber sink offers a simple joy
There's something about watching a bobber sink that never gets old. I thought about that last Sunday while fishing Maple Lake near Mentor, Minn., with a friend. The crappies have been biting at a furious pace this spring on Maple, but last Sunday...
There's something about watching a bobber sink that never gets old.
I thought about that last Sunday while fishing Maple Lake near Mentor, Minn., with a friend. The crappies have been biting at a furious pace this spring on Maple, but last Sunday was the first chance to sample the action for myself.
I've been enthralled with bobbers since the first time I ever used one more than 30 years ago while ice fishing at Lake of the Woods near Long Point.
The walleyes were cooperating, and I can still picture the tell-tale bite as the bobber gave that initial dip, held in place for a few seconds and then slowly disappeared down the hole.
A lot has changed in fishing since then, but the way a bobber acts when there's a walleye at the other end of the line is still the same.
So is the rush of watching it sink and the anticipation of finding out what's down there at the other end of the line.
If only for a few seconds, I'm 10 years old again.
And that's a pretty good place to be, in my book.
Before last Sunday, I hadn't fished crappies on Maple Lake in several years. The lake gets a lot of pressure, at times, and crappie populations tend to follow a cycle of boom-and-bust.
This definitely is one of the boom years.
We started in a shallow bay on the east side of the lake, joining a handful of other boats anchored nearby and anglers lined up on shore any place they could get close enough to the water to cast a line.
There's a mentality in fishing I've never quite understood that no matter where you are, the action's always better on the other side.
While the people on shore tried to cast their lines as far as they could, those of us in boats on the other side of the bay were trying to soak our bobbers as close to the reeds as we could reach.
If we'd been on shore, we would have cast away from the reeds, though I can't explain why. We just would have.
The first stop wasn't fast and furious, as Maple Lake crappie fishing goes, but the bobbers were dipping just enough to keep things interesting.
Besides, the sun was shining, and we were in a boat. After a winter that seemed as if it would never end, that was almost good enough.
Greener pastures called, though, so we pulled anchor for another spot where the crappies were all but jumping on anglers' lines.
That was the word, at least.
Apparently, someone forgot to tell the crappies.
A half-dozen boats were packed into a small inlet near two large culverts, and several other people fished from shore. No one was catching much.
We released a couple of largemouth bass that put up a good tussle on light tackle, but the crappies were elusive.
The next two stops were no better.
By this time, it was late afternoon, and so we decided to head back to the shallow bay where we'd started. Fishing might not have been fast, but at least we were having action.
It turned out to be a good move.
The frenzy didn't start right away, but as afternoon gave way to early evening, something triggered the crappies.
There were several times when our bobbers would barely hit the water before sinking out of sight.
Other times, the bobbers would bounce and dance, sinking an inch or two before bobbing back to the surface. Unable to take the suspense, we'd set the hook anyway, the usual reward for our impatience being a jig that no longer had a minnow attached.
It was glorious.
The crappies were still biting when obligations called us home -- four fish shy of our limit. We'd kept 16 fish, released at least that many others and missed more crappies than we cared to count.
For the next couple of days, I'd see a sinking bobber every time I closed my eyes.
Some things never change. And that's fine by me.
Dokken reports on outdoors. Reach him at (701) 780-1148; (800) 477-6572, ext. 148; or send e-mail to email@example.com .