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Esox_Magnum

Spirit Lake parking.....

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We went off on the north end about 4:00 Saturday and as we drove south along the west side of the lake we just had to laugh. As many times as we've fished Spirit in both ice season and open water, I don't know that I've ever seen that many people out there.

And with the big crowds, there always seems to be an one-who-thinks-I-am-silly or two. Saturday we spent much of our time hole hopping, and that's also how we got our best fish. We'd relocate, I'd drill about 10-15 holes, and we would spend our time jumping around, trying different holes, lures, etc. Well anyway, on one occasion, I look up and see a pickup coming rather fast across the ice. Then I see my 9 year old son not too far from the trucks line. My jaw drops as I watch this guy zoom waaaaaaay closer to Hunter than made me comfortable. My first thought was to run him down, but quickly decided that served no real purpose. Anyway, Hunter really didn't seem all that disturbed by it (the joy of being 9), but when I walked over there I found the tracks less than 5 feet from his bucket mark mad

90% of the people out there are good people, but it's hard not to notice the other 10% once in awhile.

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Ya I hear ya, Theres always someone out there that not paying attention or is not thinking about anyone but themselves, Its great to run into people that are repectful and just love fishing.

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I hear you there things like that make me more careful when I go out so others don't get mad at me I was on storm lake on Saturday no large crowds there and on Sunday it was just my son and I and two other guys on the pit

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"less than 5 feet from my 9 year olds bucket".....

That dude better consider himself lucky. Next time it might not end so nice.

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Im not sure the pics even do it justice there were people literally as far as you could see down the west side of the lake. Without the perch bite the IGLs would be at a near stand still. Im sure things will pickup in the upcoming weeks with all the snow melt, longer daylight hours, and warmer temps.

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My brother caught fish while I was drilling holes no more than 6' away. We also caught fish as people drove right past us as well. They seem unphased with noise and traffic. The bite was might lighter yesterday than it has been in the past.

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I know the wife caught way more than me, she had the camera I relied on the flasher. A few bites were so light they barley moved the spring bobber ok all bites were that way. I would hate to have to buy a 2nd camera.

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Sigh...

It has been a good year there. Next year and the year after won't be.

I watched it happen this summer. Those perch are crazy, they will bite on anything. Problem is that guys are keeping everything.

That picture made me want to puke...Shacks all over 7" perch( in most of them ) That guys will keep. I am moving off this weekend, I can not wait.

Can that dinky little lake support that many fisherman?

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Is the pressure good for the lake? probably not but IMO Its not doing all that much harm due to the sheer number of fish. Its going to do more to hurt the walleye, muskie, and pike fishing than it will hurt the perch. The past two years they have had ideal spawn conditions and unbelievable survival rates. The DNR is not letting this go unchecked they have been doing ALOT of surveying at the main accesses and keeping track of everything that is happening.

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Only time will tell the effect the pressure will have on future populations, but I agree with PerchPounder in that there are SO many perch down there, and not everyone is keeping 7 inchers. As many as there are still down there, I don't see how next year won't be pretty good as well.

The thing I'm most concerned about is the walleye population...where are they? We've had the camera down in locations all over the lake, and so far I've seen one small 'eye swim through. Pike and muskies are seen pretty regularly, and of course loads of perch no matter where we are, but where are the walleyes? And as many perch as we've caught using minnows or minnow heads, you'd have thought we would've come up with the occasional walleye, but none. Hope this isn't a sign of things to come....maybe it's just a coincidence and we've been in the wrong place at the wrong time???

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That's a pretty good question. I have picked up quite a few this year but...I have fished at least half of the winter and I stay in my shack over night.I have had the best luck using chubs.

I agree they have been few and very far between on the cameras this year. We haven't seen too many of them come through either and we usually have at least two cameras down.

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I know the eyes are there I catch plenty during the summer. do see 2-3 every time out though, either subs or slots normaly. I also help with the spring gill netting and theres no shortage of eyes out there they just have so much feed swimming around.

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I'll second what EM said. The forage base in Spirit is probably as high as its ever been. Leaving people to think that the walleye population is low. Record perch spawns and average walleye spawns have the lake looking almost opposite of what it was a few years ago when the walleyes were all below the minimum length and the that were caught were generally very nice.

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When I moved here in 04, it was nothing to catch walleyes in the summer like we are catching perch now on Spirit. I know many weekends 2 of us went through a pound of leeches. Granted out of the 300 or so caught in a weekend maybe 3-4 were keepers. Rare was the catch of a perch back then. Now my summer trolling yeilds a dozen or so eyes an outing, most are eaters (14-16 1/2) or slots. Few under 14's are being boated. But we are getting fair numbers of perch, and normaly they are nice ones. I also know Spirit holds a good poulation of White Bass, where are they? Wheres the crappies thats sometimes an easy catch in the spring? Our muskie catch rates about nil on Spirit last 2 years, drop a camera down and you see them, we catch a bunch in the gill nets but can't catch one, or only 1-2 a year. 04-05 season during the small eye big bite we at times boated 6-9 muskies a weekend.

Whats changed since then?? Near perfect perch spawns. With the lake over run by forage sized perch and spottailed shiners, its a wonder we catch anything at all. I also know we lost near 50% of the lakes muskie poulation summer of 05. Less teeth to control the perch. But has made West an awsome muskie fishing experience. Perch and walleyes run in cycles when one is high the other seems low. Couple more years everyone will wonder where the perch went. There will be blames of years like this fished it out. Its just mother natures way. A few years after that it may be like this again.

I'm taking advantage of it while its here and getting out and catch some perch. Just hope I can get into the eater sized ones in bigger numbers.

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I have been busy as [PoorWordUsage] at work and haven't had a ton of time to post but we have been on BIG perch for the last couple of weeks. You guys know where I moved. It made all the difference in the world.

There was still some sorting but I have had days that have been just incredible size wise. On top of that, I have been picking up very, very nice northerns and a couple of eater eyes here and there.

Esox, your post makes a ton of sense. It looks like I will be out all weekend, this will be my last weekend on Spirit until walleye weekend. I will be fishing Storm the rest of the year.

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I'll probably chasing some of the elusive West lake gills to start the weekend but if that doesn't work out then I'll probably end up on Spirit with one last perch trick up my sleeve before I head to Michigan the following weekend.

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Give me a shout if you do end up out there it will be good to see you guys again.

Not to mention, I may need to have one of you get me out of my icehouse again.

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I think I learned my lesson that night, we are going to have to rethink the entire door setup:) There was not a chance I was getting out that window....

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