March 25, 2011

Eyes on winter fishing at the Tailrace

Eyes on winter fishing at the Tailrace
By Robyn Rohde
BHG News Service

The Tailrace below Garrison Dam has been a cure for “fishing fever” all winter long. More recently, the waters of the Tailrace have proven a medicine for open water fishermen stricken with a severe case of “spring fever.”
“It’s a fun way to fish during the winter,” Nick Kosenda said. “We come down here quite a bit.”
The Minot resident and his two buddies Lance Warner and his dad Herb Warner were one of many boats out on the open water last Friday. Nearly 45 trucks with boat trailers lined the east boat ramp that day.
The threesome were pitching jigs with minnows on them and were able to reel in seven good-sized walleye for their efforts. An angler can never be certain what he or she may catch at the Tailrace. Walleyes and sauger are usually targeted but big brown and rainbow trout, burbot, paddlefish, sturgeon, whitefish, smallmouth bass and northern pike are among the fish lurking in Tailrace waters.
With the sun shining and temperatures in the low 40s, Friday was a great time to be on the water. In those kinds of days the worries that winter fishermen face are lower. The biggest challenge to tailrace fishing in the winter is simply making sure that the equipment is in working order and the lines don’t freeze.
With the exception of when the wind blows from the south, a fisherman can usually get out of the wind in the Tailrace and find the conditions comfortable enough that chilly weather is not a major concern. Some fishermen use portable heaters in their boats when necessary to keep their hands warm, especially when dipping into the cold water of minnow buckets when fishing with live bait.
“The fishing’s good if you can tolerate the weather,” Kosenda said. “As long as it is not too windy it’s usually good down here.”
Other fishermen prefer to leave the boat locked away during the winter and head to fish off the Tailrace’s wing walls instead. Tom Bennett, Garrison, is one of those fisherman.
“It’s kind of hit or miss. One day you will catch your limit in an hour,” he said. “The next day you come down, you can’t get anything. (Friday) morning started off with pretty regular ones from eight to 10 inches but it’s been nothing since then.”

The Weather Network