It's been weird weather here; the winds last week blew all the leaves off the trees so it looks very gray and November-like, and now although it's been warm (40-50 degrees) at night, it's been gray and misty and dreary during the daytime hours.
I spent today working walleye ponds; that is, going to the small natural ponds where we stock walleye fry in the spring, hoping they will grow into six inch or so walleyes to stock into larger lakes in the fall. It's pretty much a hit-or-miss operation; it is essential that the ponds "winterkill" the winter before, their oxygen levels dropping enough to kill off all fish life in the pond, so the young walleye will not have any competitors for food. And this year seems to have been a bad year for walleye production; the fingerlings I saw were very small, not the fat and happy six inchers or more that we like to see.
Our harvest today was pretty dismal, less than fifty pounds, so we decided to pull the nets from the ponds, it was not worth it to keep them in. Of course we ran up against some second-guessing from my boss, but he was not out there walking a boat over mud flats because the water levels were so low.
We stocked what we got into a beautiful lake, one of many that Minnesota has to offer. The public access is located just yards from a small dam and outlet, and that is not the ideal situation to stock fish because they will likely be swept over the dam. So we went to a resort on the lake, deserted for the fall it seemed, and stocked the fish there where they would have a better chance. It was so quiet, no one around, no boats out on the water and the water dead calm. I looked up and down the lake and saw the mist meeting the water and the bare branches of the trees. All dreadful and lovely at the same time.
The fish I stocked today were most likely drops in a bucket. But being out today, being forced to be out, was priceless. Tomorrow I'll be outside, dipping muskies from a drainable pond, not quite the same experience. That's one of the benefits of my job: lots of time outside, and no two days are the same.