Msg 1 Posted: 11:39 AM 07/13/07 (CST)
Well the public dock on Harriet Island is cooking right now, as it usually is. If you enjoy fishing for rough fish, it's time to head down there with your catfish pole and enjoy the fun. Best of all, you'll be pretty much by yourself.|
I ventured down there yesterday morning with a couple dozen nightcrawlers, my 8' catfish spinning rig (rigged with 17 lb. test Trilene) and my lawn chair. Normally, I use stinkbait and other prepared baits, but I thought I'd try the universal bait -- Nightcrawlers. It seems that every fish on the planet knows just what do do with a nightcrawler.
I caught a couple of nice 5 lb channel cats, a flock of sheepheads...all about two pounds. Best of all, though, was a 10 lb carp, followed by a 30" long carp that I couldn't land. I had him up to the lower dock, but when I went for his gill covers, he flopped the hook out. Next time I'll bring the big net.
In the three hours I was fishing (off the very end of the higher part of the dock...cast straight out from the end, about 50-100 ft.) I also enjoyed watching downtown Saint Paul. Two barges went by. Several sculling teams rowed past, and even a paddlewheel with a Rotary lunch meeting. It's an interesting place.
Best thing of all, though, was a young family who was out for a walk at Harriet Island. Mom was Irish, and she and her husband had a set of three stairstep kids, from 3-5 years old.
They got there just as I was about to put a new crawler on the hook, and the three kids crowded around to watch. I asked if they wanted to touch the worm, and they all did. "Does it hurt?" one kid asked as I baited my catfish hook. "Hmm...I don't know," I answered. "Probably, but it's a worm." That seemed to satisfy them. By the way, the best way to rig the crawler is to hook it several times, forming a nice ball of worm. It slows down the bait stealers.
They all backed off while I carefully heaved my cast out onto the Missisippi. Incidentally, I use a variation on a Carolina rig there, with a pair of 1/2 oz. bullet sinkers back to back above a swivel. Below is a 2-3' leader tied to a standard catfish hook. This lets the hook run free in the current and lets the fish pick it up and carry it without feeling the weight.
So, Mom and Dad and the kids asked me some questions about Saint Paul, and there was some general chit-chat. Then I got the signal I had been waiting for. Now, fishing in the river from this dock generally means leaning your pole against the railing. You have to ignore the little taps on your rod...you waste your time otherwise. When a fish takes the whole worm, the rod will bend nicely and firmly...then it's time to grab it and set the hook.
So, that's just what I did. The kids ran up to the railing and watched as I brought yet another 2 lb sheephead in. Not an exciting battle, but what the heck.
I hoisted it over the rail, unhooked the little guy, then held it across my palms. "Do you want to touch the fish?" I asked. "It's a sheephead." Three little people crowded in and gave the little fellow a feel. It responded by grunting in the way sheepheads do, but lay there uncomplaining, as they also do.
Then, they followed me over to the railing, where I slipped it back into the river. Then the family, with the kids all smiling broadly, said goodbye and continued their walk.
This is typical of fishing on the public dock. Tourists come down there, no matter what day of the week it is. They're always curious, and it's great to be able to teach them a little about fishing, the Mississippi, and Saint Paul. Everyone enjoys time on the dock.
Normally, I fish from my boat, but sometimes, it's really nice to do a bit of just relaxing on a dock, drowning worms. It's a very peaceful way to fish...well...until you have to deal with a very large and very unhappy carp on the end of your line. But that's fun, too.
I highly recommend it, and fishing's almost always good there.
NOTE: Walleye, Sauger, and Bass must be released, since the dock is in Pool 2. Still, you can fish it year-round. I don't eat any of the fish from that stretch of the river because of mercury contamination, so it's all catch-and-release for me.
O So Minnesota Blog -- Fishing Page