OH BUOY! FISHING TAILS

Thank you to Bob Hoeft for writing the following article for the website.

I was about 1980. My father in law, Fred, and I were out on Serpent
Lake in the middle of a choppy, cloudy afternoon in early August fishing
walleyes. Back then, there was only one buoy on the lake. It was
located close to the middle between Vinje’s, Thompson’s and Minister’s
points. The buoy was a very homemade looking thing; a barrel with a
short tower and bell attached. (Today there are two buoys on either side
of the previous location where a boulder came within 2 feet of the
surface and has since been broken apart by dynamite).

With limited sonar equipment we were lining up the buoy with the
Deerwood water tower to stay around the bar. After about a half hour
of fishing we lost our bearings completely; the buoy had broken lose
from the chain and was free floating. That was the last time that buoy
was seen on Serpent Lake. Now we have 26!?

Often, walleye fishing in Serpent Lake was great any time of the day or
night. On one occasion my father in law and I were out near the same
spot in the middle of another choppy August afternoon. We had 10
walleyes and Fred had one on when we became aware of a boat stalking
us. As it turned out it was two game wardens checking us out. After
landing a 3 pounder, they checked our licenses and fish and commented
that they had no idea you could catch fish like that on Serpent. They
were going to go home and get their equipment and be back later that
day.

Between 1968 and 1986 the walleye fishing in Serpent was excellent.
There would be 20 to 30 boats on Vinje’s point fishing with slip bobbers
and leeches on any spring evening. Catching quality walleyes and often
a limit was nothing unusual and some years that would extend into the
summer and fall.

So what happened to all of that? Stocking by the local sportsman’s club
stopped. It had started in the late 50’s as there were no natural
walleyes ever in Serpent Lake. The Department of Natural Resources
eventually took it over, but never stocked as many. In 1985 and 1986
Serpent Lake was noted by the DNR as being one of the top 12 walleye
lakes in the State. Outdoor columnist Ron Scharra recognized it twice in
his Deadly Dozen, pre opener article in the Star Tribune and fisher folk
flocked.

I also believe, however, that the forage base changed in ways that I do
not completely understand. One thing that has surprised me is that
Serpent Lake was known as a cisco (tullibee) lake at one time. These
fish are great forage for walleyes. They have virtually disappeared,
probably due to warming temperatures. I am always surprised when
one shows up in the DNR’s survey report for Serpent Lake.

When the walleye numbers greatly diminished suddenly crappies
became abundant. In the spring folks who used to fish walleyes are now
fishing crappies. Crappies are there in the summer too, but require a bit
more patience. If you are an ardent fisherman, such as myself, Northern
Pike are quite abundant and wonderful table fare, especially when
deboned.

Happy fishing! It’s all fun! It’s all fish! It’s just not quite the same.

This article was written by Bob Hoeft

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