I’ve been all around the country, and no place has got fishermen as passionate as Minnesota has. Simply drop the word “walleye” into conversation here and you’ll see minds wander toward thoughts of spinnerbaits, jigs, and white buns. Maybe it’s something in the water, or just the sheer abundance of it, that has made Minnesotans this way.
Darren Troseth is your quintessential Minnesotan. Not only has he got a day job at a medical device company, one of the most Minnesotan occupations that it is possible to have, but his avidity for landing big ones is unsurpassable. He earned the state’s catch and release record for lake sturgeon when he landed a 78” specimen last year. It took Darren 20 minutes to coax the 120 pound leviathan up to the ice, where he realized it was too big to fit through the hole he had augured. “We had to drill three more holes,” said Darren, “and my friend had to reach in all the way up to his shoulder to pull him out. He must have been 80 years old!”
Darren cut his teeth on the rod and reel fishing for walleye on Lake Vermilion as a boy, but he now focuses his efforts on landing mammoth catfish and sturgeon. When you charter a fishing trip with Darren’s 3 Rivers Fishing Adventures, you’ll not only benefit from his expertise on all things piscine, but also the handsome motorboat that he captains. On it he’ll take you fishing for flathead and channel cats, or the atavistic monsters that he holds a record for. He wouldn’t even mind if you broke that record under his guidance! (Or, at least, he wouldn’t let you know it.)
“When we target catfish on the Mississippi or Minnesota River, we’ll look for current seams where fast meets slow water,” explained Darren. “We especially want to see if any logs or timber have fallen nearby, because that’s where flatheads like to set up ambush. A lot of the places where we fish for cats have so much wood in the water that you’re not going to get your bait back when you reel in, but we can always hook up another creek chub or sucker. On the best night ever we caught 22 flatheads, and the biggest we’ve landed weighed 57 pounds.
“We fish for sturgeon on the St. Croix in the same way — just cast your bait out and wait for the fish to find it on the big, muddy basin. Sturgeon are always cruising around while grazing, so we try to intersect their paths. I have a few personal favorite spots, but I’m not sure how much better they really are. It seems like every time we try a new place, we wind up catching something!
“The great challenge with sturgeon is how surprisingly gently they bite. You would expect so big a fish to really jerk the line, but about half the time I have to help people notice when a sturgeon has struck. One of the reasons I prefer fishing at night is because it’s easier to detect a bite after the wind has died down. When you’ve hooked a sturgeon, though, it’s a different story. They probably pull harder than any other freshwater fish, and even a smaller 40 incher is going to put up a surprising amount of fight.
“Catching a giant fish is a life changer. A lot of the time, the first fish someone catches on my boat is also the biggest they’ve ever caught. I hear a lot of wows while we’re out on the river. I do hear a lot of four letter words, too.
“I charter fishing trips from 6pm until midnight. The nighttime is the right time, I say, because I think that’s when fish are most active, and it also means we get to see some awesome sunsets. It’s beautiful out there. A lot of people don’t realize how much wildlife lives so close to the metro area, too. We get to see bald eagles, deer, beavers, raccoons, turkey, otter families — just about everything while we’re out on the river.”
Darren offers catfishing trips from late May through September, and sturgeon expeditions from September until the river ices up. And if you somehow miraculously fail to land the fish that you are after, he’ll only charge you half price for the whole outing. To learn more about 3 Rivers Fishing Adventures and to plan your trip with Darren, you need only visit 3riversfishingadventures.com.
By David Scheller