St. Louis River Burbot

St. Louis River Burbot

2009 brought about a season of firsts for me.  Although I am weathered by angling and 2010 marks my 30th season I am still catching new species of fish and finding new ways to catch the old species of fish.  Fishing is still a constant challenge that I welcome regularly.  Whether it be getting to the spot, running out of bait or lures, breaking or loosing gear, or being too sick to fish, I welcome it all!

I am gonna do this chronologically and will attempt to not digress as much as I would if we were sitting and talking fish over a cup of coffee.  If I loose you in this diatribe I am sorry in advance.  Your comments are welcome.

In January I caught a Burbot through the ice over Minnesota’s St. Louis River.  This is the first Burbot that I have caught and successfully documented.  As my life-list stands it is considered my first Burbot species as now I have the photographic evidence of the catch.


I started the “trout season” off by camping and angling with my fiance.  At this point Shell was six months pregnant and for the first time was armed with a box of flies that she tied and a fly rod that she had made by hand.  Further, she landed her first Brown Trout on that rod with one of her flies.  This weekend was a true blessing and a monument to my angling experiences.


A 20-inch Brook Char.

Two weeks later I was tossing spinners for Browns in timber on a section of Non-designated trout water when I caught and released back-to-back 20-inch Brook Char.  The one in the photo has obviously been caught and mishandled before.  I left her go healthy and good to go.


The last fish before the wind cuts me off.

May brought about the annual inland Walleye opener and found me in the wilds of Minnesota’s northern border country.  We caught many many many walleyes on this trip however this pike will remain in my memory because it is the last fish that I caught before the wind demon took my tackle box into the lake.  She is a modest critter however memorable indeed.


A three-foot 20-pound Common Carp from June.

A hookless lure caught and handled Longnose Gar.

For the majority of the summer I chased Gar and Sturgeon on the Mississippi River.  This required hours and hours of bottom fishing with heavy tackle.  Although I never did get a Sturgeon out of the Mississippi, I did manage to return to my youth by landing a 20-pound Common Carp.  At three feet long this fish fought me in the current for nearly a half-hour.  Where I grew up, Commons were the dominate species and fish of this capacity and larger were quite common.  Albeit, that was 20-years ago.  June also found me learning to tie my own rope lures to assisted me in hooklessly catching a Longnose Gar in the Mighty Mississippi river backwaters.


A 36-inch Shovelnose Sturgeon.

Dry Fly Shortnose Gar

In early July I shook the stick and finally managed to catch myself a Shovelnose Sturgeon.  I have been dreaming about this species since I was very small and saw them at in the fish tank at the county fair.  At 36-inches this fish is very old and very formidable.  I also finally landed a Shortnose Gar on a dry fly.  This has been a challenge of mine for five seasons.  It is wonderful to have closure and evidence of this challenging fly caught species of fish.

Shell and I got married in July.  She is my catch of the year, really, but she’s nto a fish, at least last time I checked!


Heath and Michelle Sershen.


Shell, Wilmo, and some riverland critters.

I typically chase the Hexagenia Limbata Mayflies on the Mississippi River in July.  This year Shell joined me on a day that would mark our bug hunting experiences summit forever.  We were out in the Refuge when the Hex storm began.  It lasted only a half-hour however we were covered in the beautiful little critters!

August was awesome to me!  Shell gave birth to Starker Dunkin Sershen.


Starker Sershen

Starker is named after Aldo Leopold’s first son.  I am sure that he will find inspiration from the solitude of the natural world however I am unsure as to how he will interpret that into his life and make it his own.

After Starker the year just got more and more awesome!


Shortnose Gar.

Dad got his first ever Shortnose Gar.

In September I added a Goldeye to my life list.




Shovelnose Sturgeon

I took dad to the spot where I was sure that he could catch his first Shovelnose Sturgeon.

In October we added one more species to the list for the season.  Dad and I each got Lake Sturgeon!


Lake Sturgeon


Lake Sturgeon

Over all, 2009 was a great year.  I left out that fact that I added two other species of fish to my list this season.  in January it was a Burbot and somewhere along the line I got my first Longnose Gar.

Ultimately being married and having a family of my own can be said that its better than angling however you cannot shake a stick at five new species in one season; Burbot, Longnose Gar, Shovelnose Sturgeon, Goldeye, Lake Sturgeon.