Much to the dismay of our mothers, Danish Cowboy and I decided to forego the Easter dinner of ham and chocolate that our families traditionally have and head to the Fort Peck reservoir with granola bars and fruit snacks for a few hours this past Sunday to try our hand at some springtime fishing.
We decided early on that anyone with a hook and worm can catch large walleye and northern pike so we set our sights on a much more challenging target: miniature fish. That's right. You've probably never heard of the elusive miniature walleye that are known to exist on the Big Dry Arm of Fort Peck Lake. It takes patience and skill to find them. Danish Cowboy has been fishing these waters since before he can remember and he knows all the favorite hideouts of the miniature walleye.
It takes miniature minnows that flop in your hand and look at you with eyes of horror after you have put them on your hook. It apparently does not take a coffee can full of worms that I spent hours digging up from the garden only to have Danish Cowboy comment on how small and apparently useless they were.
It also helps if you know where there are some salt cedar trees that have become submerged with the recent rising level of the lake. Salt cedar trees are most excellent for hook snagging and are known to be the preferred hideouts for the elusive miniature walleye.
It took a while for us to have any sign of fish activity. Miniature fish, after all, don't exactly cause the bobber to go crazy as those boring 15 pound fish do. I repeat, skill and a keen sense of awareness come in to play. It's why most people don't fish for miniature fish. It's just too complicated. But the kids waited patiently. They played in the water, ate sugar, and asked if they could go lay down in the camper that we do not have. With the camper idea not panning out like they had hoped it would, they were ready to go home. Danish Cowboy and I stayed strong, fed them more sugar, and continued to believe that a miniature walleye would soon show itself.
Then it happened. There was an ever so slight tilt of the pole and a bit of tension on the line. The youngest member of our fishing expedition reeled in his first fish.
A miniature walleye!
Being conservation minded people, the designated fish un-hooker of our crew decided to practice catch-and-release. Catch-and-release is not a concept that fits well inside a three year old mind. The little guy was still grumbling about it the next morning.
Having fulfilled our goal of catching a miniature walleye, we packed up the troops and headed home to eat chicken strips. We were supposed to have fish that night, but the miniature walleye proved to be too much for even the skill of a seasoned fisherman.