If he’s not studying, he’ll be fishing

Rochester teenager

is on the water

every chance he gets

Evan Blakley is 14 and is not happy that summer ended for him on Tuesday when he became a freshman at Century High School.

His distress about the end of summer, however, comes from a deeper reason than most students. School and homework cut into his fishing time, especially for smallmouth bass. "They’re fun, they’re big, they fight hard." he said.


He and his dad, Brad, fished for them on Mille Lacs Lake this summer and caught some rod-benders; a 30-fish day was a slow day. At another lake near there, they hauled in 5-pound largemouth from below docks. Around Rochester, he would ride his bike to the Zumbro River and fish for smallies. He and his dad would fish for largemouth in the reservoir at Chester Woods Park.

It was a sweet summer of fishing.

And now, it’s over.

Not that Evan will quit fishing. He’s a 14-year-old fishing machine. "Better than sitting in front of a TV all day," he said. Some think he’s a fishing fanatic. He agrees. "Yeah, that’s the right word," he said.

Late last week, wearing a Gander Mountain hat and an Ugly Stik shirt, he guided his dad’s jonboat onto the Chester Woods reservoir. He had eight of his fishing rods with him, tipped with jigs, plastic worms and a weedless (sort of) rubber frog. He was ready.

He chattered on about his love for Bitsy Bug jigs. "You ever use a Bitsy Bug? It’s an excellent lure all the time," he said. Tube jigs do work in some situations too.

"Do you ever peg your bullet weight?" He does at times to keep it from separating from the worm.

Turning pro is a possibility. "I’m not sure, maybe," he said. Whatever his job, he wants to make sure he has a lot of time to fish.


Evan even fit into the fishing tradition of exaggeration. He said he caught a 27-inch smallmouth up north. That would easily be a state record, maybe a world record. But he never really measured it precisely and later, after consultation with his father, admitted maybe it wasn’t really exactly 27 inches. But it was a brute.

As he talked, he caught a few small largemouth, but by 7 p.m. evening was hastening on, telling him summer was nearly over. And that meant school. At Century, all frosh have to join a club. There is no surprise at which one Evan is looking at — the fishing club.

He guided the jonboat to the dam, where he hoped for a lot of hits, and cast the plastic frog and other lures.

He had no luck, and Evan was miffed. He tried deep near flooded trees. No luck there, either.

"Let’s fan-cast that area of weeds," he said. He and his dad caught about 30 fish there one day.

He continued talking about fish and fishing; you can’t miss that zest. At times, it was hard to remember he’s only 14, because he talks a great game, he knows his stuff. And he casts with an underhand flip that is incredibly accurate.

Though fishing wasn’t torrid, he caught more than a few. Still, it was never enough. He simply wanted more, and bigger ones for sure. He didn’t want them some day, he wanted them now. Patience is not one of Evan’s virtues.

He had a hit and missed the hook set. "Ah, nice fish too," he said.


The sun was getting lower, shadows darker. "Ah, look at that point, it should have a lot of bass," he said. It didn’t. He’s always the optimist, but not a patient one.

The sun finally began to set, but Evan still didn’t have that one big bass. He had tried everything but live bait. Sure enough, that small cooler near his feet had leeches. He put one on a 1⁄64-ounce jig and cast. Nothing. He added a bobber. It went down, he set the hook. It was a nice fish, but the reel broke. He hauled it in hand-over-hand and held up a fine 2-pound largemouth. It was a good fish, a fine way to end the evening.

But that triumph was tempered by knowing school was a day closer. The end of the glorious summer was but a few days off. But some great fishing still remains for the year — and there’s always ice fishing.

Weiss is the Post-Bulletin’s outdoors writer. If you have comments or story ideas, call him at 285-7749.

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