TOWER — Terry Moe of New Brighton, Minn., was continuing a tradition Saturday that has been going on for more than 50 years.
Moe and his father Jack, 87, of Brookston were up at 4 a.m. and on Lake Vermilion by 6:30 a.m., fast trolling with Rapalas for walleyes in Pike Bay. About five hours later, they were calling it a day after reeling in a total of eight of the prized fish.
“We got two fish pretty quick,’’ 56-year-old Terry Moe said, then it was pretty dead. Two hours later, the father-son combination was trolling around Whiskey Island when they caught five in a row within 30 minutes. Of their total catch, four were around 17 inches in length, while four were a bit smaller.
Nevertheless, “they’re good eating.’’
Jack Moe, Terry Moe and their family used to hit the lake 50 years ago for the walleye opener and camping at Hoodoo Point with relatives.
“It’s a traditional thing,’’ Jack Moe said. “We used to come up here and get our limit in about two hours,’’ Jack Moe said. At the time, each person could keep six fish.
The trip has gained more importance as the years have gone by.
“Probably this is our only big fishing trip of the year now,’’ Terry Moe said.
While the fishing was over for another year, the fishing opener experience was not. Terry said he planned to clean the walleye and “have a meal of good, fresh fish’’ before freezing the rest. “It’s the best fishing of the year really.’’
Other anglers thought the fishing itself wasn’t so great on opening day.
“I thought it was a little slow’’ due to the early spawn, said James Nelmark of Embarrass, who had been out on Pike Bay with his 12-year-old daughter Chelsey.
Trolling on the bay from 5-9 a.m. netted five walleyes, with three of them taken. “Every year, we gear up’’ and head out to the big lake, no matter the weather.
Anglers were lucky Saturday as temperatures surged to 65 degrees. However, the wind was up and down throughout the day, making it seem cooler.
Despite that, Nelmark was happy to be in the boat after a long winter in the area.
“It’s fishing opener,’’ he said. “People look forward to fishing opener.’’
Al Hanson of Mountain Iron was one of those people. The 67-year-old was at the Hoodoo Point landing at 4 a.m. with his grandsons Wesley Thiry, 13, and Aaron Hadrava, 15.
To his surprise, there were 25 cars already in the parking lot when they arrived. “I though I was an hour late. The fish don’t bite until maybe 5:30 anyway. I’ve never had anything good before 5:30.’’
The fishing as a whole wasn’t that good, according to Hanson.
“Fishing has been poor, extremely poor. My worst year since 1991,’’ he said. “The water was only 48.8 (degrees) ... So that’s pretty chilly’’ for good fishing.
The trio had a great grandfather/grandsons experience.
“It’s great. They had a good time,’’ said Hanson, who joked that Wesley slept in the boat until daylight. “That’s pretty routine.’’