It’s amazing how productive I can be when I get a helping push from Mother Nature! This week’s cold snap has provided just the incentive I’ve needed to hole up in the office and organize the organizable.
With only 2 weeks remaining until the Minnesota Walleye opener, I’ve heard from most all of the “regulars” and the 2017 calendar is nearly set. So this seems like a good time to mention that I’ll be sending a brief notice to everyone on the Insider’s Email List about remaining dates available for the 2017 season.
You may already be familiar with my policy of not sending out un-solicited emails. That means if you want to hear from me about cancellations, special projects and the like, you can only do so by opting in to the insider’s list.
It’s the easiest sign up form you’ll ever see, just click the image link, and submit your email and you’re done. That’s right, you don’t have to spend the day filling out forms, and you don’t even have to submit your name.
Maybe you want to be on the list, but you’ve forgotten whether or not you’re already signed up? No worries, just click the link, add your email and submit.
OH and by the way, I don’t send out many emails, but there is a UN-subscribe link in every message, just in case you decide to opt back out.
"Many big sturgeon boated this past week again. Has been a great year for sturgeon so far up and down the river. Fish different holes until you find fish. Use a 3 ounce no roll sinker, a 1-1.5 foot leader, and a circle hook loaded (called a sturgeon rig) with frozen shiners and crawlers for best results. Anchor boat up stream of a deeper hole and pitch sturgeon rig into the hole. Heavy equipment is preferred. Pike fishing is going good right now in shallow bays and on the Rainy River. Best methods so far are using buzz baits or lying a frozen cisco on bottom with a hook and weight(similar to a sturgeon rig but with less weight).
Pike are active in bays. The lake and bays and water starting to warm up and pike are being caught. Pike are open all year up on LOW.
Up at the NW Angle, the ice is gone and it's open water. Remember, walleyes open May 13th, pike and crappies open all year for LOW MN and sturgeon fishing through May 15th and then again July 1st." – Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"We have heard mixed reports on the Sturgeon success. The action seems to go in spurts where one day is better than another, there have been many large ones caught. Some anglers are boating 10 in a day while others only 1 or 2. The Rainy River and Four Mile Bay have been filled with boats all week long.
Our remodeling projects are mostly complete, we are working on yard work and getting boats ready for inspections and then put in the water for opener. It is a busy time of ...year for us to be prepared for opener. Things are shaping up nicely and the weather has been great this spring.
We have had a cancellation for opening weekend and now have some availability. Give us a call and take advantage of the great May Package Specials. 3 nights lodging and 2 days guided fishing for only $410.00 per person. There are also some midweek dates available.
Colder temps are forecasted this week. We are currently seeing temperatures forecasted to be in the 20’s and 30’s during the week and back into the 50’s by the weekend." - 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge .
Keeping up with the Jones' was not easily accomplished this weekend. Taking advantage of warm weather on Saturday, Austin and Annalee Jones made their way to one of their favorite west central Minneosta lakes and found active fish.
Austin Jones wrote; “We had had a fun day on the lake yesterday. The main lake water temperature was hovering between 51-53°. When we went in to a protected back bay, we found water temps between 58-59°.
Fish of all species liked the warmer water back in that bay. We caught Perch, Pike, Sunfish and crappies.
Our best presentation was using Lindy’s Live Bait Jig in the 1/16 ounce size and tipping them with small plastic worms. We fan cast the small lures away from the boat and retrieve with a swimming motion.”
That was a nice report and definitely probably enough to entice us out of the house and onto the lake.
Mother Nature had other ideas though and on Sunday morning we woke up to cold, snow and gloomy skies. Eventually, I poked my head out to see how interested I could get. But with a high temperature of 34 degrees, waiting for the next warm day sounded like a better idea.
Sturgeon action had been fast and furious last week, but as Rainy River's legal harvest seaosn arrived, anglers attempting to harvest a Sturgeon found the action slow.Reports of catch rates dropping into the single digits for most anglers were common and most who caught fish, reported catching fish outside of the 45 to 50 inch legal harvest size limit.
Reduced catch rates didn't mean that the fish were gone from the river. Numerous fish were spotted boiling on the surface, but it's likely that fish have entered into their full scale spawning mode. Their urge to reproduce trumps their urge to eat and for now, pursuit of a legal Sturgeon will be a task for the persistent angler.
The Minnesota Fishing Museum and Hall of Fame hosted its 10th annual “Night out with the Pros” fundraising event on Friday evening. Anglers young and old joined to celebrate the spirit of fishing and help raise funds for the Little Falls, MN based fishing museum.
The turnout was good and the show organizers did a fabulous job with the show program.
Especially gratifying was to hear from so many folks who are actively promoting youth activities. They talked about high school fishing teams, kid’s tournaments and other special events that have cropped up all over the state. It’s obviously not an accident, these folks are working really hard to make sure that there’s a future for fishing and are to be commended.
For me, the personal highlight of these events seldom appears front and center, or in the spotlight. The “real story” often lies behind the scenes, and this night was no exception.
Dan Gapen, a prominent figure in fishing and a strong influence during my formative years, was at the event. All I really wanted to do was introduce Susan "the Hippie Chick" to him, hoping to give her some sense of my history. A simple introduction is never simple for us though and somehow I got started telling a story about Gapen’s influence over me when my guide boat still had training wheels.
I remembered for them how I use to visit Gapen’s booth at the Northwest Sportshow to stock up on fishing lures and to pick his brain about fishing on the river. It never failed, I said; “I’d ask Dan a question about fishing and while he was giving me the answer, he’d mention that all of the details were included in one of his stories, contained within a book, displayed for sale on his table.”
Naturally, I could never leave without buying a book and luckily for me, I had enough sense to request that he sign them. They have become some of my prize possessions.
After the chat, we all shared a laugh, snapped a quick photo and went our separate ways. But later, it dawned on me what a big deal this really was. If it weren’t for this fund raiser, it’s doubtful that I’d ever have had the chance to make the introduction, tell the story or snap the photo. Where else would it happen, how else would we all cross paths?
That reminded me; it’s easy to think about fishing for what is it now, to believe that history began with us and our own involvement in the sport. But it’s bigger than that, there were a lot of folks who came before us and they brought us lot of history. Without organizations like the fishing museum, we might not know any of it and that would be a shame.
Obviously, the fishing museum and its fishing hall of fame provide a bridge that connects what fishing “was” with what fishing “is’, that goes without saying. But think about this, what’s even more important, is the bridge that connects what fishing “is” with what fishing “will become”.
For all of the fishing pros and fishing legends, events like these provide an opportunity to influence the passing on of tradition. I think it’s not unlike like greeting somebody on your way out of the bait shop and taking the chance to shake their hand and tell them “Good Luck!” It’s a chance to acknowledge that the future of fishing is in good hands, but before we move along, let us just share a few more good stories with you.
I doubt that very many of the young folks at the fundraiser will even remember that I was there. But that’s not the point, somebody might, and no matter what, they will remember somebody, there’s no doubt that they’ll all take part of their fishing heritage home with them.
If you’re like me and just hadn’t thought about it, I hope that you’ll consider joining like I did. Yes, I signed up just this morning as a Minnesota Fishing Museum Member and I’m glad I did, it makes me feel good.
Oh, and to my 7th grade history teacher, Mr. Fransanapolovich, okay, I get it, I’m catching on.
Adam Reid Wrote; "Greetings Jeff, My dad fishes Winnie exclusively and has older electronics. I am thinking of getting him a new sonar with side imaging. How helpful would this technology be on Winnie? What sonar unit would you suggest, need gps, down and side imaging, etc..
A) Adam, Yes I do use the side imaging, it's my favorite tool on Winnie for finding small rock piles, weed beds and other off beat structures that are likely to hold fish. I do spot fish using side imaging too, but on lakes like Winnie, this is not typically my primary goal.
Now that Humminbird has introduced the “Mega” image technology, every aspect of both side and down imaging will be improved, making them more valuable than ever. I expect that many more anglers will move toward side imaging once they get a taste of "Mega".
Screen size is important, the more features you use, the more helpful having extra screen space becomes.
Since 2010, I began using an 898, and then I switched to a 998, then a 999 and now a Helix 10. Each time I’ve moved to a larger screen, I’ve gained more flexibility and I suspect that this would happen again if I moved up to the 12 inch screen as well. If I had a rich uncle, I’d have the biggest one I could get. That said, staying with the 10 inch helps me stay within my budget and the 10 inch screen is acceptable for my needs.
Anglers tend to hold off on making these kinds of investments until technology improves so much that they feel a real pressing need to upgrade. That means that he’s likely to hang on to this unit for a good long time before making the next upgrade. That’s why I’d suggest getting the most advanced technology that you can fit into your budget now. Over time, this will help you realize the full value of your investment and by the time you’re ready for a change, you’ll be happy to invest in the next unit.
For me, fishing Winnie and other lakes in the Grand Rapids area, I’d target the HELIX 10 CHIRP MEGA SI GPS G2N, I’d get everything I want from this unit and it would last a good, long time. If I needed to trim the budget, I’d move down to the HELIX 9 CHIRP MEGA SI GPS G2N and if “Uncle Ernie” sent me a big fat birthday check, I’d jump up to the HELIX 12 CHIRP MEGA SI GPS G2N.
I know you’re in the neighborhood, so if you want to take a test ride and try one out, let me know and we’ll make that happen. Chris Hernesman at Ray’s Sport and Marine really knows his stuff when it comes to electronics and I’m sure he’d be more than happy to add to the discussion too. Call Chris at 218-236-0353.
One thing I can tell you from my own experience is that these are very reliable machines. I think that you’ll be well satisfied, no matter which unit you decide on.
Walleye spawning activity in the Grand Rapids area is at full swing right now. In fact, there's a good chance that the DNR Fisheries Crew working at the Little Cutfoot Walleye Egg Harvest will have the operation wrapped up today, or tomorrow. That's interesting in that the timeline has been nearly identical to the 2016 season in which April
21, 2016 was the closing date of the operation.
What I hope this doesn't mean for anglers in the northland is that we have another opening day featuring snow and below freezing temperatures. For me, the 2016 fishing opener included a delayed start in the morning so that we could allow air temperature to rise above 30 degrees before venturing on to the water. We did it, but it was chilly and if we didn't have to do that again, we'd be ever so happy!
Lest you be tempted to believe that there’s nothing to do between now and the Walleye opener on May 13th, here are a few ideas that may make the time pass more quickly.
Perch Fishing: Panfish anglers often focus on searching for Crappie and Sunfish during early spring. But Perch are actually the first "Panfish" to arrive in shallow water spawning habitat. Areas that contain Bulrush or stands of Cabbage Weeds are preferred spawning territory.
Sight fishing is effective during spring because Perch can easily be seen roaming in and around the weedy cover.
Presentation is simple too; a 1/8 ounce Lindy Jig tipped with a fathead and suspended below a float is all you need. Troll along the shallow weed patches, spot a pack of Perch and cast toward them.
Sucker fishing is a hoot and they are delicious to eat, especially smoked and canned. My favorite way to prepare them is to smoke them first, using any typical smoked fish recipe. After the smoked fish is finished, remove the flesh and place it into canning jars and pressure can them. The bones will be completely dissolved, making this one of the best smoked fish you’ll ever eat. Your family and friends will rave about them.
There’s more than one way to acquire Suckers and Redhorse, but until April 29th, 2017, all of us who live north of Highway 210 are restricted to catching them with a hook and line. In this morning’s report, Brian Castellano offers this advice about one simple presentation; “We were using a lindy rig set up w/ a foot long leader and night crawlers. Cast the rig out, reel the line tight, put the rod in a rod holder or forked stick, relax, and wait.” Read More >> Brian Castellano Sucker Fishing
After April 29th, we are allowed to catch them by spearing, bow fishing and using dip nets. Below, you’ll see a brief summary of the seasons and restrictions. For a complete list of regulations, follow this link to the 2017 Fishing Regulations and then SCROLL DOWN TO PAGE 63.
SPEARING, ARCHERY AND DIP NETS BOWFISHING SPECIES POSSESSION LIMIT SEASONS (DAY AND NIGHT) Bullhead 100 2017 Early Season*: south of Hwy. 210 only on lakes and on Minnesota, Mississippi, or St. Croix rivers, from boats only: Feb. 27 - April 28, 2017 Regular Statewide: April 29, 2017
If you’d rather experience fishing without getting your fingers wet, then why don’t you join us at the 10th annual Fishing Hall of Fame Dinner? The “Night out with the Pros” fund raiser begins at 5:00 PM tomorrow evening, April 21, 2017 and it’s open to the public. >> Learn More >> Fishing Hall of Fame Dinner
Finally, the Minnesota DNR will be auctioning off hundreds of guns, bows and other equipment that they’ve confiscated from naughty fish and game violators.
The auction will be held on Saturday April 29, 2017 and all of the proceeds will go directly to the Game and Fish Fund, the DNR’s most important fund for delivering fish, wildlife and law enforcement programs. Items offered for sale include, but are not limited to: firearms, bows, tree stands, fishing rods and reels, tip-ups, traps, trail camera, spotlights, scopes and spears. There are 387 firearms, 100 ... Learn More >> DNR Confiscated Items
"Carhartt just introduced a killer new rainsuit called the Force Extremes at the Bassmaster Classic. Elite Series pro's have been testing it for a few months and the reviews have been awesome. "I have been wearing the new Carhartt suit for 10-12 months and have yet to find anything I don't like about it" said Elite Pro Terry Scroggins. "They are great in hot and cold weather.
When it's hot they ... " Enter >> Extremes Shoreline Angler rainsuit from Carhartt.
The 10th Annual Night with the Fishing Pros Fundraiser will be held on Friday April 21, 2017 at the Falls Ballroom, Little Falls Minnesota. The event is open to the public and tickets are available now: $35 adults, $15 12 & under.
Join us at the event for your chance to spend an evening chatting with dozens of Minnesota's legendary fishing pros, guides and media personalities. Ask the questions you’ve always wanted to ask, get an autograph from your favorite fishing celebrities and meet the latest class of inductees to be enshrined at the Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame.
"Based in the Brainerd Lakes Area, the Hall of Fame annually recognizes up to three individuals and two groups or organizations that have made a major impact on Minnesota’s sport fishing industry.
Inductees in the Individual Legends category include extremely active outdoor media professional Terry Tuma, one of North America’s most accomplished multi-species anglers, Editor Doug Stange, plus professional walleye angling’s biggest charitable name: Perry Good . The Burgers Brothers Sporting Goods and Clam Corporation will join the ranks of Legendary Organizations.
OH and by the way, YES, I will be there hob-nobbing with some of my fishing heros too!! >> Click here to learn more and purchase tickets for the Minnesota Fishing Hall Of Fame Night With The Pros
Fishing pros and celebrities on hand for the event include Bryan "Beef" Sathre, Ron Hustvedt, Walleye Dan, Jon Thelen, Marv Koep, Brian “Bro” Brosdahl, John Peterson, Chad MALOY, Perry Good, Gary Roach, Dave Genz, Al Maas, Mandy Uhrich, Shelly Holland, Dan Gapen, Jr Cooper & Cindy Gibbs, Jeff Sundin, Ray Gildow, Royal Karels, Larry Bollig, Chris Kuduk, Scott & Kody Seibert, Randin Olson, Kyle Agre, Jamie Dietman, Hank Ebert, Scotty Brewer, Robby Pollreis, Joe Fellegy, Scott Merwin
I hope that your Easter Sunday was a good one.
Distinctly different for me, was that for the first time in 20+ years, there were no children, no Easter egg hunts and none of the “usual” events that I’d become comfortable with over those years; I missed that.
Luckily though, celebrating Easter in a new way, at a wonderful church with warm and loving friends and family was a fabulous re-direct. The weather was good, the food was good, the company was good, and life was good.
With last Friday's ending of Rainy River's Walleye season, there a fresh focus on what lies ahead. For me, today marks the beginning of a new season, the countdown to the Minnesota Walleye Fishing Opener. Sure, we will be fishing before that, Crappies and Sunfish, Suckers and Perch, maybe even a trip to the river for a sturgeon. But the pursuit of Walleyes will be foremost on my mind and I’ll start today but driving up to the Cutfoot Sioux egg harvest station to pay a bunch of them a visit.
The nets were all set up last week and by Saturday; DNR Fisheries Staff had harvested about 25% of the anticipated goal for this spring. With the weather turning cool again, the spawning run may be extended somewhat, but I’d expect to see the entire operation completed before next weekend. If you’re thinking about paying the Walleyes a visit, I’d try to plan a trip to Cutfoot sometime during the next few days.
Folks interested in a casual peak at the operation can see the setup from the Hwy 46 Bridge located 18 miles NW of Deer River. But if you want to get in for a closer look, you can, but don’t attempt to go in through the resort at the bridge.
From Hwy 46, follow the road into the O-Ne-Gum-E Campground that is located less than a mile south of the Little Cutfoot Sioux Bridge. The access road winds through the campground and then north to the egg harvest site. The DNR Fisheries Staff is typically very welcoming, but if you happen to show up during the heat of a harvesting session, be sure to give them plenty of room to move around; timing is crucial during the harvest. Click here for a map to >> Cutfoot Sioux Walleye Egg Harvest Site
If you're curious about the Walleye Egg Harvest, but don't have time to drive up there, then you may enjoy this article. Read >> Using All Of The Tools Helps Provide Opportunity For Walleye Fishermen
Forty Four, those were the degrees under our boat on the Rainy River this Wednesday. For hopeful Walleye anglers that news was already good, all by itself. But there was a full moon this week too and that added more good news, it’s an extra incentive for Walleyes to begin full scale spawning activity in the river.
By all accounts, including ours, they are making their move and the final hours of Rainy’s spring walleye season promise to be very good ones.
We knew it would be a nice day on the river and we knew that clues about improving fishing were trickling in too. But for the world’s greatest camera man, Steve Kusske and me, there was a lot of uncertainty. Reports from last week about poor fishing conditions and slow fishing action were lingering in our minds. Our conversation included things like; “even if we don’t catch anything, it will still be a great day outside.”
Despite our apprehension about the chances of stumbling into a “hot bite”, it didn’t take long to see signs of encouragement everywhere. From the time we began fishing, anglers with bent fishing poles were easy to spot and boats occupied by happy, attentive anglers turned out to be the rule of the day.
One group of men fishing on a pontoon boat summed it up best; “Our trip has been fantastic! We’ve been here for 3 days, we’ve eaten fish every night and are heading home today with fish for our wives. We got big ones, little ones and the fishing action has gotten better every day this week.”
We didn’t have three days to work with, but for us, one was enough. There were fish at each stop we made and by days end; we had perfected a drift that produced numerous quality size fish, along with a smattering of smaller males. When we left the river at 6:00 PM, the fish were still biting and for all I know, they never stopped.
River current was moderate, ranging between .7 MPH and 1.4 MPH depending on where we drifted. The slow moving water made drifting easy and that’s the way I like to fish best, so that’s how we did it. But there were plenty of folks anchored too and many were catching fish at the same rate we were, some may have doing even better.
Location was interesting; the fish appeared to be segregated by sex. Large female Walleyes were holding tight along current breaks in the main channel located near shallow rock and gravel flats; which are preferred spawning areas. The key depth range for us was 8 to 12 feet of water and that seemed to hold true for other folks who were in view.
Smaller male fish were seemingly absent from these areas, they appeared to be scattered in the main channel wherever the current was slow and without a preference for depth. We caught smaller at random intervals, in water depths ranging between 10 and 16 feet.
Our presentation was simple, but very effective. We used ¼ ounce Lindy Live Bait Jigs tipped with 3 to 4 inch long Rainbows or Fatheads. If there was a preference for one minnow over the other, it was not obvious; we caught fish on each of them, apparently equally.
We had the lion’s share of our action fishing vertically below the boat, almost motionless, but not dragging. The ¼ ounce weight was more than enough to maintain contact with the bottom. Using only a simple lift-drop presentation and keeping the jig a few inches above the bottom was the key to catching most of our fish.
There were other anglers, particularly on the Canadian side who were intent on casting and retrieving jigs tipped with artificial tails. We could see that there were plenty of fish coming in for these anglers too, but I still feel like the jig and minnow we used on the US side was working as good or better.
Color may not have been a key factor on this trip. We caught fish on Blue/White, Pink/White, Gold, and Chartreuse Green. For me, a top five confidence color, Black also produced several fish, including my largest of the day.
I was surprised by the number of large fish that remained active and that indicates that they haven’t begun the physical process of spawning. Once they do, they tend to go dormant for a little while and although they will remain available, it will be smaller male fish that dominate the action.
So this was lucky timing for us, we caught enough big fish to lose track of the number and we spotted dozens of large fish caught by other anglers throughout the day too.
Like I wrote yesterday, only Mother Nature can decide the precise timing of the spawning event. But even if the big fish drop their eggs and stop biting right now, these last 48 hours of the season will still be good. It is almost a certainty that the male fish will remain active and if you can make the run, today and tomorrow should be both entertaining and productive.
You won’t see me up there today, but I could see making it up for one more trip tomorrow, schedule permitting. So if you see us floating the floatable, be sure to say hi!
Oh and by the way, I mentioned my fishing partner Steve Kusske, the "world's greatest camera man". I would be woefully remiss in my duties not to mention that his performance on the down range side of the camera is awesome too! It was Steve's 28 inch Walleye, a last minute catch that topped our list of big fish and narrowly edged out my much prettier 27 inch fish. I've always said that if you're gonna come in 2nd, then it's best to finish behind someone who is #1 and Steve really is!
Calculating the precise moment of the most intense activity during the Walleye spawn is not an exact science. Water temperature, length of daylight and water conditions are key factors, most everyone understands that. But one crucial element that we tend to overlook is development of the walleye egg itself.
Male walleyes are ready to spawn right now and as soon as they have the chance, they will. But nothing can happen until the females are ready, when eggs have reached maturity, signaling female Walleyes that it’s time to "make the move".
On one hand, there’s nothing we can do but wait, large numbers of male fish won’t provide fantastic action in the river until the females are “ripe” and the urge to spawn concentrates them in preferred, high percentage areas.
On the other hand, once the females are “ripe”, then there’s nothing anybody can do to hold them back. They will be un-stoppable, moving into spawning position and attracting large numbers of dare I say, "Horny males"? It's just Mother Nature's way of making sure that the fish do what needs to be done.
This leaves fishermen like me, who want to fish the Rainy River and get in on a day or two of high action walleye fishing to depend entirely on good timing. Water temperature, clarity, current speed, bait populations, presentation … all of it can be moot unless the fish are in position and that they get there before the season closes. Then it depends on whether we can make the time to get there while the spawn is happening in earnest.
Today, all indicators point to an uptick in the action within the Rainy River itself. Reports of slow, but steady action have been trickling in for a few days already. There are still some large, pre-spawn females available, but some of those smaller fish that were concentrated in the gap on Lake of the Woods are turning up in the river too, they have begun moving upstream.
So with three days of walleye fishing season remaining open for this spring, I, along with the world’s best camera man, have this day slated to test our timing. Maybe we will be too early; maybe we'll pick the wrong spot, OR MAYBE, we will get lucky and hit it just right. That's what we're hoping for and whatever happens, you can count on a full report tomorrow morning. Yes, that's right, YOU will be the first to know!
If you happen to be there and see us on the river, be sure to swing by and say hello!
"The lake is open up to one mile outside of Lighthouse and Morris Gap. Water depth hasn't been an issue lately. Walleyes of all sizes with good eaters, small ones and some nice slot fish mixed in. Staying close to the ice pack has been key. That being said anglers need to be aware of moving ice. Safety first.
Rainy River walleye fishing slowed when the Little Fork and Big Fork broke loose and conditions turned muddy but the water is clearing up more and more each day! Timing is key for the spring season. Sturgeon fishing is on fire right now with many 50-70" fish boated. Birchdale, Frontier, Vidas, Wheeler's Point, and Timbermill landings are open to all boats. Good numbers of walleyes are still in river with more to arrive.
Right now a 3/4 - 1 ounce jig is enough to get to the bottom while tipped with 1 or 2 frozen shiners. Bright and gold are hot colors with a rattle working best. Pike will be hot in bays once open water. Reminder to boaters that you are allowed to travel on the Canadian side of the river for navigation, but must follow call in, licensing and other specific Ontario fishing regulations if you desire to fish there.
Up at the NW Angle, more and more open water showing up daily. Air-boats at this point to get around. Waiting now for open water. Walleyes/saugers through April 14th. Pike and crappies open all year for LOW MN." – Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"Sturgeon have been active and there have been some really nice catch and release monsters. We have heard of some in the 60-inch range but nothing hitting 70 yet. The Walleye bite could be well improved with some cleaner water. The water is appearing to be clearing up but not where we would like to see it. Most of the creeks have broken free which gives us an indication it should be getting better in the days ahead.
Most Walleye anglers are heading to the lake, it is open about a mile out from both the Light House and Morris Point Gaps. Water depth is not critical, it is mostly getting close to the ice. As the big sheet of ice is breaking away from shore it will be important for boaters to pay attention to shifting ice. The forecast is showing a duplicate of last week which was great. Highs in the 50’s this week almost every day. FISH ON!" - 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge .
"Minnesota’s stream trout season opens this Saturday, April 15, and with the early spring weather of 2017 anglers should find good fishing conditions around much of the state, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
“Trout fishing is getting more and more popular in Minnesota and there are quality trout fishing opportunities in every region of the state,” said Brian Nerbonne, DNR stream habitat consultant. “The opportunities are improving through the hard work of improving trout habitat, sound land use and science-based management that anglers pay for when they buy fishing licenses and trout stamps.”
In southeast Minnesota, which offers some of the best trout fishing in the upper Midwest, DNR fisheries biologists say the past three mild winters, along with the absence of spring flooding, have led to good reproduction and healthy populations of brown trout.
Crews also have been out stocking yearling rainbow trout in some streams and ponds to provide a greater variety of angling opportunities. Barring heavy rain close to opening day, flows are expected to be moderate with clear water. The southeast boasts more than 700 miles of designated trout streams and over 200 miles of angling easements to provide ample access.
Spring weather is still taking hold in northeast Minnesota streams, limiting fishing for resident trout, but steelhead have begun arriving in North Shore tributary streams and present an opportunity to tangle with one of these feisty fish. In the northwestern region, trout fishing opportunities are available to fish for large brown trout on places like the Straight River, or brook trout on Kabekona Creek.
For Twin Cities anglers looking to stay close, Dakota County’s Vermillion River offers the opportunity to catch lunker brown trout at a number of publicly accessible spots along the stream. All brown trout must be immediately released. Rainbow trout, however, can now be harvested anywhere on the Vermillion, a new opportunity that began in 2016 and coincides with increased stocking at multiple locations.
“Minnesota trout anglers get an incredible bargain for what they pay in fishing license dollars and trout stamps,” said John Lenczewski, executive director of Minnesota Trout Unlimited. “Trout Unlimited is happy to work with the DNR to make fishing opportunities better all around the state, which benefits our state’s $5.5 billion tourism industry.”
Minnesota has roughly 3,800 miles of designated trout streams. Its five coldwater hatcheries produce more than 1.7 million fingerlings and yearlings for stocking each year. Anglers fishing on designated trout waters must have a trout validation in addition to an angling license. Last year, 108,000 licenses were validated for trout, a third consecutive year of record sales.
Let's just say that you have your boat out of storage and you'd like to take it out for an early season test ride this weekend. Well, if that's what you want, you can have it. Yes, you can find open water on a variety of area lakes right now and the list will be even longer before the weekend.
On Thursday, I was expecting to see at least some open water on my drive out from the west side of Grand Rapids. Imagine my delight when I discovered that on some lakes, the open water fishing season had already arrived.
The image you see here is of Bass Lake's South Bay; the entire bay was ice free, except for some slush lingering along the eastern shore. Across the road, Little Bass Lake was completely ice free too and so were all of the little ponds along County Road 62.
Further north, the view looking toward Bass Lake’s Crawford Island featured much more ice, but there were bands of open water, varying in width scattered everywhere along the shore. Northwest winds had blown slushy ice toward the east shore, so I suspect that the west shoreline featured more open water, but I didn’t drive around to check.
Heading up to Deer Lake, I anticipated seeing lots of open water, but was surprised by how much ice remained on this lake by comparison. In the next day or two, I’ll have an excuse to check Deer again, and when I do, I’ll snap some photos.
On Wednesday, I had already found Little Splithand Lake to be 85% ice free and Big Splithand, while still ice covered, was looking dark and ready to break up soon. Pokegama was nearing ice out too, especially at the extremities. Both the Wendigo Arm and Tioga Bay were very near breaking up already, by now, they already may be ice free.
If you're anticipating ice out on larger waters, it won't be long, a few days, maybe a week, and it doesn't matter; spring has sprung.As you’d expect, migratory birds are flocking back into the area too. Geese, ducks, Eagles and Swans, hundreds of Swans can be viewed easily along the Mississippi River and around every band of open water I could find.
Personal Appearance: If you're content staying on dry ground this Saturday, then do me a favor and swing into Ray's Marine at 11:30 AM. They're having an open house in the store at 710 NE 4 St, Grand Rapids, MN 55744. At 11:30 I'll be giving an informal talk about what's new for the 2017 fishing season. I'll have some new lures to show you and while you're there, we can talk about boats, fish, electronics, anything you like.
For Walleye anglers, the Rainy River is definitely an option for the weekend. So far, word on the street continues to be that the only good fishing is happening outside of the gap on Lake of the Woods, not in the river.
Debris floating down the river, combined with murky looking water may be discouraging many from searching upstream. But believe me when I say that Mother Nature is working her magic on those Walleye and their urge to spawn will have them moving upstream soon.
While everybody fights the crowd out on the lake this weekend, there’s gonna be a few sneaky river rats that fish further up the river, closer to the Walleyes final destination for spawning. When mass numbers of horny male fish show up, there’s going to be a lot of action, pun intended. In my estimation, a trip up to Birchdale will be warranted and soon. The question is when will the fish arrive in large numbers? If I knew that, I'd be looking for work on Wall Street as a stock broker. But I can tell you that when they move, they'll do it fast and their arrival will happen overnight. Whovever goes up there to check it out is the one who will have the most fun; at least for one day.
On the heels of ice going out on both the Bigfork and Littlefork Rivers, anglers on the Rainy River are reporting increased levels of debris floating downstream. On Tuesday, one angler’s observation was that the river looks like chocolate milk now. As expected, the muddy water and increased current continues to prevent any sort of hot bite on the river.
Anglers are catching fish by avoiding the river and moving out onto Lake of the Woods. Serious Walleye fishing effort is concentrated almost entirely at the river delta entering the lake now.
Success rates vary, but almost everybody fishing on the lake today will catch some Walleyes. Some of the more experienced anglers are reporting catch rates of 40 to 60 per day. Others are reporting 8 to 16 fish caught in a typical outing.
The clock is ticking on the Walleye spawning run and the number of fish staging at the gap before heading upstream continues to increase daily. Soon, the calendar will have more influence over the fish and muddy water notwithstanding, Walleyes will move upstream in mass.
For now, we have been blessed by not receiving any high volume of rain and the long range forecast looks optimistic. That means it’s conceivable these last 9 days of the open Walleye season could feature a steadily improving action curve. Anglers, who can make the time, are liable to find good action on the Rainy River next week, before the season closes.
Closer to home, the ice is losing its grip on Itasca area lakes. There are numerous small ponds open now and Pokegama is liable to be ice free in just a few days. Many of the area’s larger lakes remain ice covered, but the familiar black color is a dead giveaway that the ice is slushy, ready to be crushed by the next major weather event.
We appear to be on a parallel course with the spring we experienced in 2016. I’m looking at ice conditions today and they almost mirror what I observed during the same period last year. That means that fish are almost certainly on the move right now.
Last year, Walleye at the Cutfoot Sioux Egg Harvest Station were in full scale spawning mode before April 14 and by April 21, DNR fisheries staff had already completed the entire egg harvest and were moved out by April 21st.
Anglers fishing Upper Red Lake in northwestern Minnesota this spring will be able to keep four walleye of which only one may be longer than 17 inches, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
These new regulations, effective on the walleye fishing opener Saturday, May 13, allow one more fish in the daily bag than the regulations that were in place in the winter.
“Harvest under the three fish bag limit resulted in approximately 109,000 pounds for the winter season,” said Gary Barnard, area fisheries supervisor in Bemidji for the DNR. “There is still room within the target harvest range to allow an additional fish this spring.”
Red Lake’s walleye harvest is managed under a joint harvest plan, revised in 2015 by the Red Lakes Fisheries Technical Committee.
“The new harvest plan recommends a more aggressive approach when walleye spawning stock is in surplus, as it currently is,” Barnard said. “The extra fish allowed by the daily bag limit will increase open water harvest some, and allowing one fish over 17 inches meets our harvest plan objectives by spreading harvest over a wide range of sizes and removing some of the surplus spawning stock.”
"Ark Rods builds an affordable rod that lasts and catches your eye as well. They are using the best components that fit a precise action and they go through an intricate process to assure that each meets the action for the technique. Elite Series pro Randall Tharp has a unique perspective on the new Ark ..." Learn More and Enter >> Invoker Series Ark Rod Giveaway
Huge crowds of anglers flocked to the Rainy River over the weekend and while many of them were in pursuit of Walleyes, many more were attracted by the allure of doing battle with monster size, prehistoric fish.
Sturgeon activity on the river was good this weekend and we saw dozens of fish caught as we searched for Walleye.
Sturgeons prefer locations in and near the deepest holes in the river. That’s why the mass crowds concentrate on the stretch of water between Wheeler’s Point and Four Mile Bay. On Saturday, it was hard to imagine that any newly arriving angler could even find room to fish, but somehow, everybody found a way to wiggle into position. By Sunday, the crowds thinned out, providing a bit more room, but there were still more than enough boats to fill the available space.
Sturgeon fishermen who prefer privacy will often set anchor near less popular deep water holes located further upstream. Often, the action is slower, but most everybody catches some and occasionally the private spots provide even better fishing than “Sturgeon Alley” does. We spied anglers fishing near deep water holes everywhere between Timber Mill Park and the gap at Pine Island. Without doubt, the best action we observed occurred in the aforementioned stretch of river.
Don’t let inexperience be the reason that you don’t try to catch a Sturgeon, the presentation is very simple. You need an anchor that will hold your boat still, heavy rod, a heavy sinker, a Lindy Rig featuring a short leader and a box of night crawlers. That’s right, anchor the boat, drop you offering to the bottom and wait for a pick up. When you see the tip of your fishing rod wiggle, set the hook and hold on with both hands.
In case the thought of pursuing Sturgeon fascinates you, there’s plenty of time to plan a trip.
"The ice fishing season has come to an end for our area with the last couple resorts shutting it down because of deteriorating ice. Thank you everyone for making this ice season one for the ages. The lake is open just outside of Lighthouse Gap stretching to the 18-20 ft of water range.
Rainy River spring walleye fishing has been very good! With that being said, it is about timing. Last week, water clarity better than 3', many 100 fish days and monsters. This past weekend, less than a foot and not as many fish, but still respectable. Where else can you still have the chance at boating a 30+" walleye right now? The Rainy River is open all the way into the main lake. Birchdale, Frontier, Vidas, Wheeler's Point, and Timbermill landings are open to all boats. Walleye fishing so far the best seen in 20 years. The fish are still in river with more to arrive. The river should clear up sometime later this week. Right now a 3/4 - 1 ounce jig is enough to get to the bottom while tipped with 1 or 2 frozen shiners. Bright and gold are hot colors. Many sturgeon being boated as well. Pike will be hot as bays begin opening up.
Up at the NW Angle, ice conditions are unstable as current areas are opening up quickly. Travel not advised. Many resorts using airboats at this point. Waiting now for open water. Walleyes/saugers through April 14th. Pike and crappies open all year for LOW MN." – Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
Huge crowds of anglers flocked to the Rainy River for what they hoped would be fabulous fishing action over the weekend. Even though every ramp from Birchdale to Wheeler’s Point is open, heavy traffic generated waiting lines at all of them.
For many, the Walleye fishing action was disappointing, but I never heard a discouraging word from anybody. Like me, most folks were thrilled to be out of the house, off of work and in the outdoors.
Typical of every spring, a strong run of big Rainy River Walleyes began over a week ago, immediately after ice out. This early run of large fish has run its course though and at 37 degrees, water temperatures are just barely high enough to trigger a sluggish movement of smaller, male Walleye from the lake into the river mouth.
Like many, our effort to locate active fish on the river was disappointing but thankfully, friends helped us out with a solid tip about where to find some action.
I need to give Tyrell Macheledt a big public thank you and a gigantic bear hug for giving us a heads up about where to fish. Macheledt, along with another 100 boats had found their way into the gap near Pine Island where river water had forced an open hole through the ice and into Lake of the Woods.
We had launched our boat at Timber Mill Park and a 45 minute run to the gap was giving me second thoughts. But knowing that Macheledt’s group was having steady action on the lake encouraged my crew and despite the long run, they were all in for the trip.
I’ve fished the Rainy River a whole bunch of times never, but have never been forced to drive out to the lake during the spring. There are more holes of open water and more crowds of anglers than I’d imagined. So once we got out there, it took me a while to locate the right crowd, but once we figured out where they were, we got in on the action too.
The current flow in the gap was only about .8 MPH and maintaining contact with the bottom was easy using ¼ ounce Live Bait Jigs. For us, 16 feet of water seemed to be the key depth and we caught most of our fish by moving the boat shallow, then letting the current drift us from about 15 feet out into 17 feet.
We saw numerous small fish caught and I’m not sure that the precise location or depth mattered to them. Except for a handful of larger fish, most of Walleyes we observed were small, many of them in the 11 to 13 inch range. We caught “Eaters” in the 15 to 18 inch range at random intervals, just often enough to keep us interested.
If I was headed up there this morning, I’d likely return to the same area. But everything that happened this weekend was based on a south wind and today the breeze will shift to the north. Ice from the lake will turn and come at the gap from the north, eventually, closing up those holes again.
It will take a few days, but lacking a major rainfall, the river water will settle down, the temperature will rise and before the Walleye season ends on April 14th, I believe there will be a good action run upstream as Walleyes move into position for spawning.
"The river is open all the way to the lake. There is open water on the lake past Pine Island. We remind anglers to use caution when going on the lake in their boats while there are still large amounts of ice present as it can get pushed around and trap boats.
The bite started off excellent this week and now there is some muddied-up water in the river which slowed the Walleye bite. The best action has been nearest or on the lake. Looking at the limited amount of snow left on the ground there is a chance for the water to clear up by next weekend which should return the great action.
We have special spring rates on our cabin rental available through Walleye opener for Walleye and Sturgeon fishing.
Again, the forecast is showing great weather for April with highs in the 50’s this week almost every day. It appears the ground hog guessed incorrectly this year. Although, it seems many in Minnesota do not have a problem with an early spring." - 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge