2nd Annual Walleye Central Winter Get Together February 5-6th, 2005
Elephant Butte, NM
Thursday night Hangman (Dave Lentsch), Darren Heinz and I had a strategy session for Friday as fishing had been sporadic and I was concerned about having a fish fry Saturday night for 40-45 people without any fish. We also invited my good friend and also good luck passenger Richard Lyons. The four of us headed out early Friday with plans to meet up with James and Jennifer after the weather warmed.
We started out slabbing down near the dam off a sunken island hoping to get into some numbers early. Marking lots of fish, Hangman and I were able to slab up one fish each and then nothing. Spent some time on another group of fish and then I hooked one, wrong kind of fish; it was a school of nice sized carp. LOL Deciding to go back to trolling we rigged up and put out the usual 6 board spread working our way back north toward Marina Del Sur.
The water is still stained, but clarity is not bad. The dredging has stopped in the river and the water should clear and continue to rise. Water temp was 43-44 and the wind was calm. Making a long pass up the west side of the river channel we were marking some fish, but not a lot. As we neared the south end of Rattlesnake the concentration of fish seemed to increase and we started getting bit. The fish near Rattlesnake and around to the north side also seemed bigger. We were able to spend most of the day around Rattlesnake and get some nice fish culling out some of the smaller ones from earlier in the day. By 1PM we had our limit of 8 nice fish and headed in to do some cleaning. Steve and Janine Bennett were also out and donated their limit of 4 for the fish fry also so we were in pretty good shape.
Friday night we headed over to the Ivory Tusk inside the Elephant Butte Inn to listen to the band, grab a bite to eat and also answer any last minute questions about the fishing conditions for anyone who wanted to listen. We showed the video from Captain Mack on trolling umbrella rigs for stripers and some of the newer techniques we were employing using Offshore Tackle OR-31 planer boards fishing multiple lines. Mack’s video on trolling umbrella rigs is a must have for anyone looking to get into trolling the urigs. It covers all the basics and gives you some tips that will enhance your ability to catch these fish more effectively. He has an entire series of videos available at his website Captain Mack’s Video Collection .
Saturday morning’s weather was not as inviting as it had been. Waking up to the sound of rain and sleet against the window I was worried the weather forecast may have been RIGHT and that we were in for some real winter weather. Darren wisely chose to enjoy the comforts of his warm bed while Hangman and I headed out to brave the weather and hopefully pick up a few more fish for dinner. We ran the same program as Friday and headed to the dam first to try some slabbing. Picked up two fish and then it shut down or they just didn’t like what we were offering. With the rain and wind the thought of trolling with my hands inside a pair of gloves was looking like a much better prospect.
The radio was full of chatter from Lance and his crew and it sounded like everyone that was pulling urigs were picking up fish deep along the channel so we rigged to do the same. With only two of us on the boat we ran all 430 urigs deep and made sure we had our best producers from Friday out also. Friday’s top producers were 420 and 430 bucktail rigs with silver flash and chartreuse or glow grubs. We spent from roughly 8AM until 2PM without a bite in the cold and rain. It was sort of interesting listening to all the people catching fish around us and not getting a bite, although it was slow for most. Just past 2PM someone must have flipped the switch because we started to get bit. We had gradually been shortening our rigs to shallower depths and I decided to make a pass in toward shore to see if the fish had moved in with the cloudy weather; would have been nice to think about that around 10AM. ;) Sure enough with 420 rigs 80 feet back we started to get bit and over the next 90 minutes would catch 6 fish, one weighing in just over 10#s. We were able to get everyone working the same general area everyone that was pulling rigs caught fish, some up to 18#s.
Saturday started out slow for some, not all, but most and then in the afternoon it seemed to be good for everyone. Paying your dues and staying out in some not so nice weather paid off for everyone and made the day more than worth it. We made a quick trip to the cleaning station to clean another 4 fish and head over to the Elephant Butte Inn to drop them off. Byron and Mack had everything set up and ready to go for the dinner.
Jennifer volunteered to keep track of people for the dinner and hand out tickets, which was a huge help, THANK YOU. Hangman and I worked on the door prize table and got everything out from the sponsors. We had lots of prizes to give away thanks to all the great sponsors Dynamic Communications Inc. (sponsoring the dinner), Charlie’s Sporting Goods, ReelBait Tackle, Outdoor Enterprises and Captain Mack, Walleye Central, Reef Runner, Elephant Butte Inn, Marina Del Sur, Offshore Tackle, Keg’s Slabs, Los Arcos Steak and Lobster and Mack’s Lure.
Dinner was served just past 7 and the first round of people went through all of the fish on their first pass. By the time Jennifer and I hit the line we were staring at empty pans. :( Thanks to Richard Gilcrease and Mark Stroman for donating their catch so Jennifer and I could eat and others could have seconds. Mack did a phenomenal job preparing the fish in traditional fried, Cajun blackened and baked. The fresh cole slaw, rolls and potato wedges were the perfect compliment. With Cactus Flats playing in the background we could not have asked for a better way to end the day. After dinner Hangman and I did the drawing for all the prizes and we were able to get everyone attending something (actually four somethings, we went through the numbers four times thanks to our generous sponsors).
After dinner Cactus Flats continued to play in the Ivory Tusk and some of us went the distance on Saturday with the band. They played until around 11 or so and then we packed it in knowing that 6AM was going to arrive awfully early on Sunday.
Sunday morning was more pleasant and the sunrise was spectacular. We fished for part of the day and caught some fish trolling and then decided it was time to call it a weekend. Could not have asked for better company fishing or a better group of people to have dinner with Saturday night; the weather may not have been perfect, but it was tolerable.
Thanks again to James and Jennifer Pecherski for helping me put all this together, Byron, Mack, Blair, Becka and everyone else at the Elephant Butte Inn and for all the people who traveled to come fish Elephant Butte with us.
For those of you who didn’t hear on Sunday Tom and Terri Denniston’s son Dave was in a snowmobile accident in Laramie and was injured. We send our best and wish him a speedy recovery, he will be in our thoughts. For information on Dave's condition please follow this link DaveDenniston.com
Be sure to check out the February photos page to see photos from the Get Together.