In Search of Smallies Brainerd Dispatch Article

James Lindner (left), executive director of Lindner Media Productions, holds a 20-inch Lake Mille Lacs Smallmouth Bass while hosting Staff Sgt. Dave Angell of the Minnesota National Guard and David Munsinger, Air Force veteran, last Friday during the fifth annual Trolling for the Troops tournament. The Camp Ripley event pairs 30 soldiers and 30 veterans with 30 professional guides for a day of fishing on the Mississippi River or an area lake. (Brainerd Dispatch/ Steve Kohls) Gallery and Video

Jimmy Lindner rolled into the Garrison access on Lake Mille Lacs Friday and took one look at the white caps."We have a pretty substantial wind event here," he said. "Let's head to the other side of the lake."

In Jimmy's vehicle were Minnesota National Guardsman Sgt. Dave Angell and Air Force Veteran David Munsinger, both chosen to spend a day on the lake fishing with Lindner, executive director of Lindner Media Productions.

This was the 5th Annual Trolling for the Troops event, which is headquartered at Camp Ripley near Little Falls and pairs 30 active duty soldiers and 30 veterans with 30 professional anglers who fish the Mississippi River or area lakes.

After finding protected water, the anglers were offshore searching for the target species - "bronzebacks, "smallies" or, for the layman, Smallmouth Bass.They are fun to catch and the big ones often go airborne before being boated.

Angell said he loves to fish his small metro lake near his home in Maple Grove, but Smallmouth Bass have never been his focus. He had only caught one bass in his life, and that was a Largemouth Bass.

This was different, he said - they were targeting Smallmouth Bass on Mille Lacs with Lindner.

In the other seat was Munsinger, of Park Rapids, an Air Force vet who suffered a stroke 15 years ago, which caused paralysis in the right side of his body. He was using his M-Pow-R electric fishing reel.

Lindner plied his boat into about 10 feet of Mille Lacs water and looked for boulders and humps that might hold smallies.

"The bite was hot last week, but this week I think they are going to be little finicky," Lindner said.

The threesome tossed everything from top water Rapalas, wacky worms, offset rigs with a split shot on the bottom, until finally Lindner tossed a bright pink Rapala just to shock them.

Adjust, Adjust, Adjust. Change depth and lures, reel in slow and fast. Try to find the edges and the corners and what are they feeding on after spawning.The bite started soft and then things changed.

First, a Mille Lacs walleye that had to be put back because of the slot limit.

Angell's heart was breaking as Lindner tossed the big walleye back.

All of a sudden Munsinger's M-Pow-R reel whined. Then Lindner's went, and also Angell's.

Jimmy found the secret in the structure. The "smallies" were on.

The first one was close to 20 inches. Then came a second fish, and a third, and so on. All the fish were in the 17 to 21-inch range.

"All big giants," Lindner said. "They are cookie cutter giants."

Pass after pass over the boulders and edges, the trio caught big smallies until they lost count. All the fish went back into the lake, but the laughter and jokes continued throughout the day.

"What time is it?" Lindner asked. "It's 2 o'clock. We have lots of time. Let's keep fishing.

"I forgot we are parked on the other side of the lake and it's long way to Camp Ripley. How about a few more casts?"

According to Staff Sgt. Timothy Krouth, with the Camp Ripley Visitors Bureau,129 people went fishing, including guides, veterans and soldiers.

"The water on Mille Lacs was a little rough but the fishing was outstanding and the company was great," Krouth said.

Steve Kohls

I started my career in photography after graduation from Moorhead State College with photography positions at the Daily News in Wahpeton, ND. , Country Echo in Pequot Lakes,The Journal in New Ulm and settling at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1975. I have been teaching fine art black and white and color photography at Central Lakes College for the past 15 years. Currently I have been teaching Underwater Photography for Central Lakes College and the Minnesota School of Diving for the past 7 years. From May to November you can find me at the Mineland Recreation Area either scuba diving and photographing the fish or enjoying the beauty of our area’s newest lakes.

(218) 855-5870

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