Minnesota

Minnesota was the first of the three states I covered on the trip that included the Dakotas. I arrived in Minneapolis on a Saturday and saw a baseball game at Target Field. I never plan my trips around the baseball schedule, but whenever I am in town when there is a home game, I buy a cheap ticket and go. The Twins were playing the Athletics, who often seem to be in town when I am traveling and want to see a game; I have seen them play over the years in Seattle, Baltimore, Detroit, and Phoenix.

As for the fishing, I headed to Duluth to fish Lake Superior for salmon and trout with Jon Dahl (https://fishinduluth.com). I owe it to Jon to mention that he told me specifically that late August and early September are the best months for big ones and that July (when I planned to go) can be slow with the bigger ones harder to find. However, for the first and only time, and in an effort to save money by combining Minnesota with the Dakotas, I did not heed this advice, and rolled the dice and went in July anyway. While my risk-taking did not pay off with an unexpected trophy, I did have a great time catching eight lake trout, including a six-pounder, and five salmon, including a four-pounder and 4.5-pounder, on a clear and calm 88-degree day. Jon is a great teacher and a fun guy with whom to spend the day.

Update September 2020: For my annual out-of-state trip in 2020, I chose lake sturgeon on the St. Croix River with Darren Troseth of 3 Rivers Fishing Adventures (www.3riversfishingadventures.com). Darren has a phenomenal track record of catching trophies and even holds the Minnesota state record for lake sturgeon.

The night was cold by Virginia September standards, though Darren didn't even have his winter coat on, and the bite was slow. However, Darren's expertise paid off and within a few hours I had my first Minnesota trophy, a 55.5-inch lake sturgeon with a 20-inch girth, estimated to be 41 pounds.

The next night greeted us with thunderstorms and hail and got even colder than the first night. The fish only bit about once per hour, but they were some impressive fish. My first fish was a 55-inch by 20-inch trophy with an estimated weight of 40 pounds. The next fish was smaller but still would likely have been a trophy by weight. The third fish was truly amazing: a massive 68.5-inch by 26-inch trophy with an estimated weight of 81 pounds. This fish fought harder than any fish I've caught in recent memory, even on 80-pound braid. It was also the biggest fish ever caught on one of Darren's guided trips. Lake sturgeon that size are about 50 years old. I finished off the night with another trophy (54.5 inches) and three fish between 40 and 45 inches.

The four trophies by length (and one by weight) meant that Minnesota became the 40th state in which I have caught at least one trophy. In all, it was a fantastic experience with an excellent guide, and I am excited to go back sometime down the road.