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Dock Talk: Tales of walleyes lost, caught and kept

Michael Baumert shows off a healthy Lake Belle Taine walleye caught in late July. Even though the fish made it into the boat, it still managed to escape! (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

Sometimes things don't go as planned when you're out fishing. A bite doesn't necessarily result in landing a fish. Yet other times it seems the angler couldn't lose a fish, even if they try.

Tom Baumert and his son Michael, from Dodge, Neb., joined me in the boat for an evening of smallmouth bass fishing on Lake Belle Taine late last July.

Michael, who is 10, caught some nice smallmouth and even landed his first northern. Yet he truly wanted to catch a walleye. However, walleye fishing on Belle Taine in late July is often a tricky endeavor.

Late in the evening Michael pulled back on a fish, presumably a smallmouth, but as the fish swam closer I saw a beautiful walleye emerge. A few seconds later the walleye was flopping in the net, a nice 21-incher.

This was Michael's largest walleye ever, so I decided I should take a couple pictures, especially since the salmon pink sunset made a perfect backdrop.

I snapped two photos of Michael as he held the fish under its gill, but the fish disagreed, spastically shaking. When that happens, it typically frightens the person and they quickly yank their hand out from the gills and the fish falls to the floor.

Instead, Michael threw the fish, 8-feet or so, back into the lake. Milliseconds later, he realized what had happened. His dad and I tried to counsel the teary boy, but his disappointment was incurable.

I thought about Michael the following day and wished he would've caught another walleye to replenish his confidence.

A couple days later I received an e-mail from his dad, telling me that they went back to the same area the next day and Michael caught another walleye. Michael was obviously destined to bring home a walleye from Lake Belle Taine.

Another trip that stands out was on Potato Lake in late August. The family along for an afternoon of walleye fishing consisted of a husband, wife and two 13-year-old girls. One of the girls had a nice 17-inch walleye in the boat within the first few minutes.

Shortly thereafter she caught another. Minutes later she had yet another hooked. This time, however, her line become entangled in the spinning reel, broke, and slipped through her rod guides onto the lake surface.

I quickly grabbed the rod and began lifting the floating line with the rod tip, but the fish continually pulled it further away from us.

After a minute or so of maneuvering the boat with the trolling motor, I was finally able to grab the loose fishing line. I couldn't tell if anything was on the other end, but handed it to the young lady and said, "This is your fish, if something's still on you have to pull it in." She pulled hand over hand, hand over hand and eventually hoisted in a fistful of line along with yet another 17-inch walleye. She too was simply destined to land a Park Rapids area walleye!