Walleye Karma

     Let me start off by saying, I am not much of a walleye angler.  I don't really have anything against the species per se.  I just don't spend much time trying to catch them on purpose.  Sure, I sometimes catch the occasional lone walleye. I've just never been able to catch multiple fish in a single outing.  Even this post isn't really about catching walleye.  I just wanted to try and catch a few walleyes this week to break up all the months of panfishing through the ice in Madison.  Still I didn't technically catch any walleyes on this trip.  What I did get though was a crazy story, and it goes something like this.
     While lounging about at work last night I shouted over to my buddy Richard, "I hear they are catching tons of walleyes below the Jefferson Dam."  I wasn't sure if this was really true, but I did see a picture of a guy with a walleye in his hands on Lake-Link.  "Who's they" he yelled, "Nevermind! I'm down" he said.  "I've never caught a walleye."  We decided to meet up at my place and you could tell by the rod and reel combos we were loading in my truck that we had no idea what we were doing.  Still we were confident that we would soon be knee deep in Sander vitreus (that's the Latin name for walleye, I checked on Google).
Richard working the river after a crazy cast.
     Arriving in Jefferson we found a place to park and wandered down to the dam.  The locals gave us little more than a passing glance as we setup our gear on the only available spot and started casting.  Richard had me cracking up as he worked out the winter off-season by firing errant casts all over the river.  I couldn't quit laughing each time he crossed my line or snagged his lure on the bottom.  We were having a great time even if the fish weren't cooperating.  Other people were catching fish, some with great frequency.  All we were doing was missing strikes, losing lures, and cracking jokes.  Shockingly, we were once again the loudest guys on the shoreline.
     Then true to form I snagged a branch while teasing Richard about his casting skills.  I didn't want to lose the chartreuse Echotail on the end of my line so I started doing that little dance we all do when we snag the bottom.  You know what I mean, the walking back and forth, violently shaking the rod, almost swearing little dance?  Finally, I decided that it just wasn't going to come loose so I tried to break the braided line with the classic "Tug of War" style technique.  Heaving back on my line it suddenly came free.  I reeled in and noticed that it was a little heavier than normal.  Lifting the lure from the water we saw that it was stuck on a small branch that was covered in old fishing line and lost jigs.  That little branch was so covered in lead and monofilament that it even had a little dead walleye on it.
     Freeing the Echotail from the branch I resumed casting when Richard says, "I don't think that fish is dead."  "Why is that?" I asked without turning around to look.  "Well you know, it's breathing."  I looked back and he was right!  I grab my pliers and quickly went to work freeing that little guy from the tangled mess of jigs and line.  He had 2 jigs in his mouth and 1 in his side and he was none to happy about it.  Soon I had him separated from the branch and back into the water.  He quickly took off for the depths leaving Richard and I with nothing more than the big dopey grins on our faces.  Walking back to the truck later he said, "With karma like that it's no wonder you catch so many big fish."  To which I replied, "If you thought that was impressive you should have been there the time I saved that baby duck from the big snapping turtle," but that's a story for another time...
This is what a happy walleye looks like.
     Tight Lines.

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