Northern Bait of Park Rapids has a long history of supplying bait and tackle for fishermen. Harold Condiff built the current building and started Northern Bait in 1946. Bob Franzmeier purchased the business from Condiff, then sold it to Jim and Dave May in 1992. Greg May, a Park Rapids High School graduate, became a partner in 1998. The late Tony Dean, nationally known radio and TV fishing host had this to say: "Northern Bait, Park Rapids, Minnesota, one of the best bait outlets in America."
The best college bass anglers from across the country competed on Lake Bemidji for the 2017 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship presented by Bass Pro. Competitive bass fishing has joined the curriculums of a number of colleges and high schools nationwide. Not without raising some question to the impact these events might impose on the resource and lake regions. Will Weaver, a well known Bemidji lakes area resident raised a number of questions in his opinion letter to a Bemidji newspaper. Weaver asked me for my thoughts.
Richard L. Gilbert sums it up this way in the March issue of Wyoming Wildlife. "The way we act when in the field or forest, on lakes or beside streams speaks either eloquently or disparagingly about our character"
Fishing for walleyes and northern pike started this morning at 12:01 a.m. What to expect? Like most openers, shiners are available, but not plentiful. Leeches and nightcrawlers are easy to find. We're seeing warmer water temperatures since the lakes opened a dozen days or so earlier this year. Walleyes are done spawning, widely dispersed and hungry. It's a far cry from when Gov. Dayton visited the Park Rapids area for his opener. Dayton found lakes choked with ice.
Rewinding to a column I wrote a few weeks ago, "Spring Crappie: Time to Sow and a Time to Harvest," spurred a lot of comments. Here are just a few of those comments. Pat Neu, executive director of the National Professional Anglers Association, said, "A concern exists for the future of the resource when targeting vulnerable fish." One angler wrote, "A closed season during the spawn might be the next step to preserving vulnerable spawning pan fish." However, resource professionals that I come in contact with frown on a closed spring season on pan fish.
An electronic fish finder makes it possible to locate fish while eliminating the guesswork. Anglers can benefit from using an electronic fish finder's capability to locate the best fishing locations. Modern sonar provides more information than older units and allows a fisherman to check depth, structure, speed and temperature readings pertaining each fishing application. Additionally, using a GPS-enabled fish finder can make your outings safer by marking waypoints, tracking productive trolling passes and launch spots for safe return.
Hubbard County is surrounded by lakes with Aquatic Invasive Species. West of us, Big Detroit and Big Cormorant was announced last summer of having zebra mussels. To the east, Leech Lake, and to the north, Red and Turtle Lakes have starry stonewort, as does Lake Koronis to the south. These are bodies of water so familiar to Hubbard County area anglers. A need for new challenges and responses. Starry stonewort is one of those new challenges.
Few have the on the water experience that these two gentlemen have, Joe Fellegy, 72, of Baxter, and Ray Nepsund, 87, of Park Rapids. They are career fishing charter captains on two Minnesota premier fishing lakes - Mille Lacs and Winnibigoshish. Fellegy's father bought land on the north shore of Mille Lacs Lake where he built a resort and the resort's first charter boat. Nepsund's grandfather introduced him to fishing, a passion evolving into a business ferrying people around on Lake Winnibigoshish, based out of Denny's Resort.
Greg Clusiau, a Keewatin, Minn. native and guide, feels the Park Rapids area lakes are Minnesota's gems for winter crappie fishing. Clusiau is one of, if not the best, winter crappie anglers that I have ever fished with. I caught up with Greg recently, and as always, was eager to pick up a few tips. Clusiau knows what he is talking about. He has 50 years of experience successfully catching winter crappies. Today, fishing is an occupation for him, and it has always been a passion.
Adding scents on lures to increase fishing success is in my background. My dad believed gas or oil on one's hands is repulsive to fish, keeping his hands clean by simply washing them with a bar of ivory soap. Before handling bait, he rubbed his hands in grass and dirt. Further masking human scent, he used anise oil on the lures and fingers. Today's black bass fishermen buy scents by the bucket full and apply it to their lures like holy water. It becomes a confidence thing with some guys. They apply scent like it's something as important as fishing skills or ability.