On Sunday morning I wrote; "With a calm, sunny day on tap today, I’m going to play it safe and make another trip up to Red Lake. I have a feeling that the sunshine could trigger the shiners to start moving into shore again and if they do, it will attract good numbers of walleye. Even if I’m wrong, it won’t be any harder to catch fish there than it will anywhere else; I don’t think."
That prediction turned out to be darn close to perfect except for one thing, it didn’t start out calm and sunny. In fact I almost turned around and switched lakes when the attendant at the ramp said; “the wind blew like crazy yesterday, but this morning we just woke up to a nice walleye chop.”
On a lot of lakes, that would have been good news, but on Upper Red, not so good, that big lake likes calm seas and stable weather. Still, the wind wasn’t blowing that hard and I was trusting that the breeze would continue to calm down, so we went ahead and launched the boat.
On the lake, there was a moderate chop; the surface temperature was a cool, 56 degrees. Boats were strung out along the shoreline the shore and their operators, including me, were looking at each other hoping that someone would give encouragement by hooking a fish. There were a few coming in, but it was definitely a grind. Approaching noon, I was worrying that I'd made a bad judgement call, that’s when the lake laid flat, surface temperatures began to rise and the fish started biting.
The action was steady, improving as the surface temperature climbed. We had to weed through some fish to capture our bag limit, some were too large and some were too small. But at 5:00 PM Phil caught the 16 incher that topped off the creel. When we left the lake, the surface temperature had reached 64 degrees, the birds we getting active in the shallows and my guess is that the walleye action got even better.
For us, a 30 fish day on Red isn’t really considered fantastic, but you’ll never hear me complain about it either. While I’m not sure that anyone will claim that Red Lake is having one of its better seasons, I will say that most everyone who’s fishing up there is coming home with fish to eat.
Further south, walleye action on Winnibigoshish held steady for weekend anglers. The action was especially good on Saturday during the strong wind, but even on Sunday with calm seas, the fishing wasn’t bad. Reports of 30 fish catches are not unusual and some of the better anglers have reported 50 to 60 fish catches. Fish of the protected slot sizes do dominate those catches, so the release rate is fairly high. That said there are more eaters coming in than you may think, one friend reported bagging 6 keepers yesterday.
Anglers fishing on Winnie have the added benefit of finding perch, pike and panfish to round out their dining experiences.
Leech Lake appears to be taking a turn for the better. Anglers who fished there this weekend caught more fish than they had during the past week. Again, the action was especially good on Saturday when there was a heavy chop on the lake, but fish were caught in decent numbers on Sunday as well.
Fish location is not consistent, so if you’re a “one spot” fisherman, you could be disappointed. The secret on Leech is to mimic anglers who make numerous moves to locate schools of active fish. If you want to be more consistent on Leech Lake during the spring season, remember this simple formula.
If you apply these 4 steps to every move you make, you will definitely find more fish and find them faster too.
For me, Winnie will be home territory today. I have the same crew that I had yesterday, so finding dozens of eater size walleye isn’t our primary concern. If we bag some picture fish along with a couple of eater walleyes and round out the catch with some perch and pike, then we’ll have a great day, capped off with a great shore dinner. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
A little rain, followed by colder temperatures and a blustery northeast wind set the stage for a more spring-like day on the water this Saturday. Despite the brisk conditions, traffic at popular boat ramps was heavy and so was traffic at popular fishing spots.
Last week, I wrote about a couple of lakes and said that I thought I’d arrived too early, before the better early summer fishing had kicked into full gear. That theme played out again on Saturday when I visited another small lake that showed signs of getting good soon, but still hasn’t kicked into high gear.
The surface water temperature was pegged at a uniform 60 degrees almost everywhere on the lake. There were some Crappie fishermen focusing on well-known spawning areas and walleye anglers lined up along popular shoreline breaks. Not many were rewarded with a fish dinner, but there were some moments of greatness.
Shallow weeds, located in a protected bay provided us with some action. There were signs that both Walleye and Crappie were interested in the bay for its potential to provide food, but the fish were not present in large numbers and definitely were scattered, not schooled up.
Several boats full of fishermen came, quickly tried the spot and left without any action. The same thing would have happened to us if we’d been in a hurry. In fact the only reason we caught any fish there was because I had a lot of faith in the area and that encouraged me to stick with the program longer than the others. It was our super slow presentation and sheer determination that convinced the occasional fish to strike.
I didn’t anchor the boat, but I may as well have, my MinnKota was used at very low speeds .3 to .5 MPH was typical. Fan casting with 1/16 ounce Lindy Live Bait Jigs tipped with larger minnows worked best. I’m not sure if the larger minnows added buoyancy for helping our lures stay out of the weeds, or if the fish really just wanted to eat larger minnows. Either way, it did make a difference this time.
Like the smaller lakes I tried last week, only the shallow outer-extremities of the lake showed signs of life. The lakes mid-section appeared to be vacant territory, at least in the areas I checked.
While we were fishing, I speculated about a scenario that’s confusing my effort to get the timing right this season. We all know that the ice went out late this spring, but ever since it did the weather has been awesome. I think that the warm weather is making me “feel” like the lakes should be further advanced than they actually are.
The scenario is playing out for different reasons this spring, but the circumstances are very similar to the beginning of last year’s season. Maybe you remember that there were only a handful of spots where anybody could catch much of anything. The slow fishing action had anglers everywhere pointing fingers at everything from the DNR to the Harmonic Convergence, there was never gonna be another fish caught for the rest of time. Then finally the water warmed up, the fish started biting and everybody was a hero for finally figuring out how to catch them.
We may very well be experiencing a similar, albeit less extreme version of that same pattern right now. The fish want to bite, they are beginning to move, but they just need a little more time to warm up.
If I’m right, then we could be in for some great fishing over Memorial Weekend. Another full week of stable, warm weather is headed our way and if anything can get the system fired up, this could do it.With a calm, sunny day on tap today, I’m going to play it safe and make another trip up to Red Lake. I have a feeling that the sunshine could trigger the shiners to start moving into shore again and if they do, it will attract good numbers of walleye. Even if I’m wrong, it won’t be any harder to catch fish there than it will anywhere else; I don’t think. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Fishing on a local pond in Paint Rock, Tenn. late on the evening of May 15, 2018, angler Jam Ferguson landed the fish of a lifetime when he caught a 5-pound, 4.6-ounce black crappie. The fish was weighed on TN Toad Scales that night, and the scales were later certified and the fish reweighed on May 16, 2018 by TWRA officials. Pending a DNA test, it should be the official new Tennessee state record black crappie, eclipsing the former record of 4 pounds, 4 ounces set back in 1985.
If the catch and DNA results are certified by the IGFA, it should be the new World Record for ..." Learn More >> Pending TN State Record Black Crappie Might Be World Record
From all reports, most agreed that Upper Red Lake was firing on all cylinders over the opener. By Friday though, “slow but steady” was the best term to describe fishing action on the big lake. Steady because it appeared that most of the walleye anglers on the lake “got their fish” or at least most of them. Slow because nobody caught ‘em hand over fist.
Surface temperatures ranged from 55 to 57 degrees and the water was stirred up from rainfall that occurred on Thursday. This probably explains the drop off in the catch rate; Red Lake is known for slowing down after the water gets stirred up by stormy weather, big wind and heavy rain.
For me, the day started with a quick spurt of action that made it look like we had a day of fast action headed our way. That spurt was followed by an hour of fishing without landing a walleye. After that we found a scattered school of fish and began catching them a couple at a time until we hit our limits.
If there was a pattern, it was not an obvious one. We caught our fish trolling with Live Bait Jigs and minnows, but I saw a healthy number of fish caught by anglers who were anchored and using slip floats. There were some fish caught by folks trolling crankbaits too, but from a distance, it’s hard to judge how fast they were catching fish.
All of our fish were caught on the shallow breakline closest to shore. From time to time, I checked out rock points and sunken rock bars, but I couldn’t find a strong correlation between rocks and improved numbers of fish. I think that the sand breaks were as good or better, probably because of shiners staging in preparation to move shallower as they begin to spawn.
Shiner trappers on Red Lake had a couple of “decent” days last week, but the shiners have still not entered their full scale spawning mode. The cool water temperatures have also kept most of the Freshwater Drum away from the shoreline; these signals suggest that there will certainly be a resurgence of walleye action once the weather settles down again.
As you can see in the photo, the ramp at Roger's On Red was packed with vehicles. If you're heded that way, expect a healthy and enthusiastic crowd.
On my way home, I stopped at Fred’s Bait in Deer River and talked with Bill Powell. Traffic was very strong on Friday he said.
Many if not most anglers suggested that Cutfoot Sioux and Winnibigoshish will be their destination this weekend. Angler satisfaction has been high on Winnie so far this season. Typical of early season reports, there are a lot of fish in the protected slot being released. But I spoke with Amy Perrington at Cutfoot Sioux Inn and in her words; “our guests are happy, they’re coming in with a lot of fish, the action has been good.” I’m guessing that the view from Cutfoot Sioux Inn will be a busy one today, that’s because the fishing closure for Little Cutfoot ended last night. There will be a lot of boats testing the water to see how many fish, especially smaller eating size walleye are lingering in the small lake.
If you’re heading into the area today, minnow supplies are generally good. Not all of the bait shops have spottails, but they are trickling into the trapper’s nets and supplies are improving daily. So far, most anglers have been perfectly happy using large fatheads and rainbows. If you fall into that group, stopping at any one of your favorite bait shops will get you what you need. If you’re a shiner aficionado, you’ll have to scout around a little bit. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
There have been a lot of calls and emails lately from readers asking for one sort of advice or another. I’m doing my best to keep up and at the same time, prioritize the list so that I get to the really pressing issues first.
Since the “busy season” is in full swing, my office time is really limited. So if you’ve dropped me a line and haven’t received a reply, I apologize, I will get the stack cleared up eventually, so please bear with me.
I’m usually checking messages during the wee hours of early morning, so my schedule tends to favor emails rather than phone calls. Also, I do offer The Early Bird Insider’s News List, an “opt-in” email list that I routinely use for announcing last minute openings, special announcement and fishing events. List membership is free and it only takes a few seconds to register. I can’t sign you up; you need to do this yourself by clicking the link to the news list.
One final thought, every fishing question that I’ve received for the past week has been about lakes and situations that I have already written about. The fishing archives are jam packed with information about the specific lakes and situations that you’ve been asking about. So if you want a jump start on your next fishing trip, go to Fishing Report Archives, select the month that you plan to fish and peruse the past reports. I promise that you will find the information you’re looking for, plus a lot more. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
It’s been a long 3 days for me, the cancellation that gave me the free time should have felt great, but it didn’t. Despite spending a lot of time catching up on chores, I felt useless because I wasn’t entertaining somebody on the lake. I didn’t make it any easier for myself on Thursday by allowing a little rain and thunder to keep me away from experimenting with new lakes.
Living vicariously through my friends, I was still able to gather some facts about fishing, but it’s just not the same as getting the info firsthand. Luckily, I get to go back on duty today and it will be with renewed enthusiasm and a heightened appreciation for having a job!
Walleyes were still on the move at Winnie yesterday, but he cold front that triggered the wet weather also slowed down the fishing action on many of the areas smaller waters. Panfish moved away from the shoreline and protected bays where they’d been located for the past few days.
The grey weather caused an uptick in Northern Pike action and this is really common during wet, dark weather. Pike, for the most part have been done spawning for a while already and now they are stationed along steep breaklines wherever soft bodied fish like Tulibee, suckers and crappies can be located.
We pay a lot of attention to casting, trolling and jigging for pike and that’s fine, especially for smaller fish. But this is one time of the season when you can find big fish in shallow water. Using slip bobbers and big minnows works really well for encouraging larger fish to strike.
Thill makes a float that they call the Big Fish Slider that will not only suspend large minnows, but will also allow you to slowly slip along the breakline. I rig the float the same way I’d rig any slip bobber. Below the float, I add a ½ ounce sliding egg sinker and below that, I tie on a large barrel swivel. The egg and swivel are nice because they won’t slip up or down the line like a pinch on sinker would. Finish off the setup by tying a 4/0 hook to a 2 foot length of 17 to 20 pound fluorocarbon and you’re ready to fish.
If you’re drifting or trolling, hook your sucker, creek chub, golden shiner or other large minnow in the upper lip. If you’re fishing from a stationary position, hooking the minnow at the tail is very effective. When the float goes under, don’t rush the hook set, and allow the fish time to get the bait in its mouth. Getting the slack out of your line before the hook set is most important, reel up all of the excess line until you feel tension. Set the hook firmly, but don’t overdo it, if your hook is sharp, you won’t need a huge hook set.
The larger pike are my favorite for fixing “Coconut Pike Delight” and although we’re allowed more than one fish over 26 inches, I find that one fish is all I can use at a time. Fresh pike are delicious to eat, but they don’t retain freshness in the freezer. That’s okay, they’re fairly easy to catch and this gives me an excuse to fish for them more often. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Walleyes, consisting mainly of larger female fish are migrating from shallow spawning areas, back onto main lake breaklines. It’s been common to hear about folks catching and utilizing some of these larger fish, the ones over the 23 inch protected slot size. Our more persistent guests along with other anglers who seek out shallower water near spawning structures are picking up better numbers of smaller male fish.
Because of the late ice out, there are two distinctly segregated populations of fish right now. Even though female Walleyes have already ..." Read >> Bowen Lodge Fishing Report May 17, 2018
Chris Andresen, Mankato, MN provided a nice, short video from a lake near his home that shows Crappies beginning to fan beds in preparation for spawning. Crappie spawning habitat may vary from one state to another. But the way that Crappies prepare their spawning beds happens the same way no matter where you are in the country.
If you've always wondered exactly what the Crappie spawning bed looks like, this video will give you a great baseline to work from on your own lake. You may not always find Crappies on the beds like Chris did, but when you know what you're looking for, you'll be able to predict where to focus your attention when spawning time arrives.
If southern Minnesota lakes have Crappies entering their spawning season, then we can assume that "The Big Event" will be happening soon in north central Minnesota too. In Minnesota, one good rule of thumb for timing the spawn is to add about 1 week for every 100 miles further north. Another good one is to watch for Lilacs in bloom, when you see the flowers, you'll find Crappies on beds.
Did you know that you can easily identify male crappies vs female ones during the spawning season? Yes, you can! The physical appearance of a male crappie transforms to a dark black coloring during the spawning season. Females retain their traditional silvery color and are very easily distinguished from the darker males. To have your crappies and eat them too, simply release the silver ones and harvest the black ones; you'll be doing your lake a favor!
Has anyone ever called you a goof-off? If so, did using the word to describe you conjure up a sense of great pride from deep within your soul?
As a verb, the term goof-off can describe the act of wasting or killing time. But as a noun, goofing off can be used to describe a source of fun or cause for amusement. When you combine the two, goofing-off can lead you into great fishing areas, ones that you will never find any other way.
That’s right, what I found by goofing-off on Tuesday, was a great fishing area that I never would have known about if I’d been circling the perimeter of the lake in search of big game fish.
Yesterday I reported that I’d outsmarted myself on Monday by arriving at a couple of lakes too soon. I tested those waters before they’d had time to warm up enough to produce good fishing action. On Tuesday, I went to the opposite extreme, visiting a lake with cream soda colored water and lots of shallow water habitat.
At 64 degrees, this lake was nearly at a boil when compared to the 45 degree water we fished on Monday. I thought the surface temperature itself was easily warm enough to attract panfish into the shallow bays. It was, but what surprised me was that even in the bays with the warmest water, panfish still preferred it warmer still. Both Panfish and Bass were holding only in the warmest places, within the warmest bays of the lake.
You might need to click on the image for an enlarged view, which will help you spot the Crappie.
This fish, along with several others were using submerged bridge pilings to gather extra warmth generated by the sun. I know that they were seeking added warmth rather than just holding tight to cover because the fish were actually sitting over the tops of the wood pilings. In fact most of the fish were holding smack dab over the center of the super-heated wood with their dorsal fins only a few inches below the surface.
Fishing for them was a little tricky because they were reluctant to move off of their hot seats in order to grab my lures. The fish were so shallow that if I tried to put my lure over the top of the pilings, I would only scare them away. I eventually gave up trying to catch those “log fish” and focused instead on transient fish in the surrounding water. That worked better, even if I couldn’t see anything specific to target, my lure occasionally still landed in a good spot and a Crappie would find it.
I’m not telling you anything new, but in water this shallow, using a float is nearly mandatory.
Sometimes I rig a bobber stop and use one of Thill’s Bubble Gum Floats, but if I won’t be fishing over deeper water, I don’t bother with that. In shallow water, snapping on a Thill “Fish N Foam” float is really convenient and the extra weight makes them super easy to cast. If it’s breezy, I’ll use the weighted version, they buck the wind even more easily, allowing me to stay on target and helping avoid errant casts into the tree branches.
There were other panfish and bass in the shallow bays as well, but on this lake, Crappies present the better opportunity. On your lake, both the timing and the variety of species available may differ, but the pattern won’t. If your lake is clearer, then you may not see the pattern develop for another week. Sooner or later though, it will develop and the only way to find out is to go out there and take a look.
It’s important to note that these fish were not in the shallows to spawn. They were not fanning nests at all and they were not even close to what I’d call good spawning habitat. As the water warmed throughout the day, more and more fish appeared in the shallows, the warmer it got, the more active they became. For them, warm water provides comfort and an improved opportunity to feed.
For me, this type of fishing brings me right back to my childhood. The only way we ever knew where to fish for anything was by cruising along in the shallows, spotting fish and fish habitat with our eyes. Today, I’m delighted to report that goofing-off still works!
One caveat, if a cold front blows in, even if it only gets cloudy and cooler, then all bets are off; these fish will disappear until the water warms up again.I’m looking at the forecast and it tells me that today could be our last chance for sunshine and warm water. So as a professional goof-off, I’m saying that if I’ve piqued your interest and you’re thinking about doing it yourself, then doing it right away would be better than putting it off. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"After hearing from folks about the incident on Tuesday, I requested input about how and why the walleye kill occurred. The explanation is not a simple one because weather, timing and natural instinct all factored in to what occurred biologically. Arguably, judgement and expertise do factor into the equation as well and we’ll come back to that in a minute.
But first, here’s a statement about how circumstances led to the Little Cutfoot walleye die off over the past few days. It was delivered in the form of an email to me, so it’s been slightly edited to fit into this format.
Gerry Albert; DNR Region 2 Big Lake Specialist; “I am sorry to hear that some dead Walleye have been seen in Little Cut Foot Lake recently. Those fish are likely the result of several factors relating to the concentration of ..." Read Article >> Walleye Kill Little Cutfoot Sioux May 16, 2018
I admit it; I have a propensity for wanting to be the first one to get in on a hot bite. Given the choice, I’ll always choose to explore on my own rather than follow the crowd to the “Hot Bite De jour”; Hence the name “Early Bird”.
There are times though when being the first one to arrive at “the honey hole” isn’t necessarily as smart as it sounds. That’s because sometimes I show up at a lake so early in the season that the fish haven’t even arrived yet; that’s too early!
The lake I visited on Monday, one of Grand Rapids deeper and clearer bodies of water surprised me with surface temperature of 45 degrees and a hostile looking surface, filled with debris left over from the late ice out.
Except for one spot, I could scarcely view a fish on my Humminbird and where I did find them, they were extremely lethargic. In fact, despite seeing numerous fish on the screen, we were only able to connect with one walleye and a couple of small hammer handles.
After leaving that spot, we took a tour of the lake’s outermost extremities hoping to find an area where warmer water may have attracted baitfish or migrating “post spawn” walleyes. If there was one, I hadn’t found it, so it was decided, it was time to drain the drainable and head for another lake; after making one more stop at the spot where we’d picked up our first walleye. That was my luckiest break of the day, the fish had a chance to warm up while we were away and the element of surprise temporarily favored us, we picked up 4 more nice walleyes and a nice pike.
We could have kept fishing there, maybe we should have, but the fish were getting spooky again and the temptation to chase another fresh bite was too strong. So I did it again, moved to another lake, got there too early and spent the afternoon wondering why I ever left the first lake.
Luckily, my friend Craig Anderson allows me the latitude to attempt finding “something special” even if I fail. He’s a lot more prone to accepting my little setbacks and counts them as part of the overall experience. Gorgeous weather, beautiful scenery and engaging conversation, they all add up to what makes it a good day.
Like Craig said just before we left the lake, “we’ve done better, but we done worse too”. He’s right, yesterday wasn’t the first time I’ve arrived at a lake too early, in fact I added ‘em up and it looks like it’s happened about 231 times, give or take. But I think I’m over it now, I went on You Tube and got a refresher course from our beloved past president George W. Bush who you may recall saying; “Fool me once, shame on .. um .. um .. on you. But fool me .. um .. ah .. can’t get fooled again.”
WRONG, don't worry, it's gonna happen again, I just don't know when. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Watching the NFL draft a few weeks ago got my wheels spinning. The analysts were constantly explaining the physical and mental charactaristics that made each player draftable at their respective positions.
For instance, they were looking for intelligent, quick decision-makers for quarterbacks and were leaning heavily towards muscular, more aggressive players for linebacker positions.
So this got me thinking: If we had a draft for potential trophy bass, what characteristics would we look for? I went straight to fisheries biologist Steven Bardin to pick his brain and learn what traits a bass might need to reach double-digit status." Learn More >> 5 Unique Traits that Make a Trophy Bass
"Spectacular Opening Weekend! This may be the best weather on opening weekend we have ever had. Those fishing closer to the ice on the lake noticed a significant drop in temperature.
Anglers have been up river, in Four Mile bay and on the lake. There was a little bit of ice left on the lake but should not have hindered anyone’s fishing. Anglers were catching Walleye on a regular basis, many little ones and slot fish with plenty of eaters. Most were having success in Four Mile Bay or on the lake. The water level is still low, we could use some rain, but will not ask for it as it may then never stop.
Anchored with a jig has been the best approach. As usual, gold, chartreuse and pink have been good colors.
We will still be tending to some of the landscaping around the new deck. The new deck should be ready for opener. We have the new deck furniture staged and ready. The bait house materials are still a little behind.
The week ahead looks like more great weather with highs in the 70’s and plenty of sunshine and lows in the 40’s overnight." - 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
"The MN Fishing Opener was a success with strong numbers of walleyes and Sauger caught.
A jig and a frozen shiner was the ticket while anchored up. Lots of fish stacked in shallows. Lots of big girls mixed in with keeper walleyes and Sauger. Anglers focused on water depths anywhere from 10-20 feet holding fish. Water on the lake and river is about 2 feet low, pay attention if cruising shallows.
Rainy River was on fire this weekend, there were reports of 100 fish days. Anglers who remained mobile and searched for the fish were rewarded. Lots of big females caught. Jig and a frozen shiner being bounced off bottom working well. Sturgeon fishing now closed May 16- June 30. Keep season opens again July 1 - Sep 30.
Up at the NW Angle the action is much like the south shore, anglers using a jig and a minnow along shore lines were catching walleyes of all sizes. The angle area is ice free. Some boats have already navigated from the south shore to NW Angle." – Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"The weather was the talk of the resort today as we saw clear skies and calm winds. The temperature reached almost 70 degrees. We had a few sunburn cases, but a lot of smiling faces at the end of the day.
Did I mention that it was opening day of fishing season? Yes, the fishing was much better than I expected; most of the boats came in with fish.
There were a lot of walleyes caught using jigs and minnows in depths ranging from 10-20 feet of water. Key depths depended on the specific area of the lake you were fishing.
The new northern pike regulations were the subject of some serious discussions. The new regulation states that you may keep 10 northern but none can be 22-26 inches and only two over 26 inches.
The purpose is to weed out the smaller pike to allow for a larger healthier population of Northern Pike. We had some fish that landed in the protected slot yesterday. I also cleaned some fish fewer than 22 inches. It will be interesting to see how the regulation affects the lake in the coming years.
Some perch were caught, and every one I saw was full of spawn.
The water temperature will be rising rapidly this week as the forecast is for warm days and calm winds. Most were reporting surface temperatures over 50. Considering the ice officially was off on Wednesday May 9, that was warmer than I expected.
If the fishing continues to be this good, we are in for another great fishing season on Lake Winnibigoshish. We have openings for most times this season. Pick out a date, check our availability, and give us a call. It is really that easy." Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
Sharing news with friends about yesterday’s fishing opener experiences reminded me of conversations that I might have had 20 years ago.
If you ask Haley Rose, Upper Red Lake was the hottest bite this weekend. “Our total was 102 walleyes for 3 people on Saturday”. The action on the big lake, typical of most openers was good. “Post spawn” fish moving out of the rivers fuels the early season action on Red Lake. These migrations are just beginning, so anglers may be able expect an extended period of activity this season.
Walleye anglers on Winnibigoshish were lined up from the gap, all the way to the rock pile and for many, the fishing was good. Similar scenarios played out at Stony Point, Cutfoot Sioux’s “Gap” and along the west shore near the Mississippi River.
On Bowstring, crowds were surprisingly robust despite low water conditions at the ramps. For anglers who fought off the low water accesses, fishing was fairly good, primarily for the coveted “eater size” walleyes. Fishing success was not distributed evenly, suggesting that some fishermen found concentrations of male walleyes lingering in shallow water “post spawn” areas. Anglers who missed discovering these concentrations didn’t fare as well.
Leech Lake did not generate a lot of buzz this weekend, so I’m not sure that the report I have is completely accurate. That said, the one report of slow fishing on the big lake came from a very reliable source, a great fishermen who typically does well on Leech, especially during the opening week.
Leech is well known for producing tough fishing days when the breeze is calm and the sun is shining. That’s what we had on Saturday, so we might just have to wait for a better day to get a real report about the quality of fishing over there.
A lot of anglers, including my family and me, experimented with smaller lakes. Fishing un-charted water (for me) is always appealing and luckily, my family graciously puts up with my gadabout tendencies.
The lake I chose yesterday was obviously a crowd favorite for the fishing opener. We were amazed not only by the crowd on the lake, but by the steady stream of rigs going in and out at the landing; the turnover was constant.
We definitely had some highlights, but I wouldn’t rate the fishing action as being good. Conversations we had with the AIS inspectors at the landing suggested that most anglers shared similar experiences. Most boats were catching a walleye or two, some nice perch and an occasional crappie. One of the inspectors mentioned a fisherman who left the lake with 3 keeper size walleyes that appeared to be the best for any single angler on the lake.
Surface temperatures ranged between 57 and 61 degrees depending on where we fished. There was no sign of any school of smaller “post spawn” male fish lingering near the feeder creeks. The perch that we caught were already “spawned out” their appearance skinny, with sunken bellies. Northern Pike were nowhere to be found on the lake’s shallow breakline and that was highly unusual.
Adding it all up tells me that we hit the lake at the perfect time to miss out on good action. We were too late to catch the tail end of walleye spawning runs, arriving instead in time to catch the tail end of the perch spawning season. Conversely, we arrived too early for the spawning runs of minnows into shallow water. The lack of pike on the shallow breaks was evidence of that too me.
That’s why I was surprised when the minnow tanks were chock full of Spottails at the Pokegama Lake Store in Grand Rapids when we walked in on Saturday. At $6.00 per dozen, you’ll want to be protective of your stash, make sure you have plenty of fresh water and an aerator in your vehicle so the AIS Inspectors don’t make you throw ‘em away.
Is that price a little steep? Yes, but if you want ‘em, they have do have ‘em and when I pressed the attendant about their supply, he did not appear worried about keeping up with demand.
Every year I could just write the same headline, "Fishing Spotty For Itasca Area Anglers" and get away with it. Like I said yesterday, everybody is equal on the opener and some anglers are bound to do better tham others, even if it's only by sheer luck.
That means passing judgement about any lake or group of anglers based solely on a one day fishing perfromance doesn't carry much weight. Adding all of the reports into the mix, I'd say that overall the 2018 walleye fishing season started off on a positive note.
OH and by the way, everybody knows how lucky we all are to have mothers; none of us would be where we are today without them! Some of us though, are luckier than others and when it comes to my mom, I’ve been blessed with an incredibly huge dosage of fabulous luck!
Not everybody knows this, but this year I am even luckier than before. That’s because my mom is still here and for her, this hasn’t been any easy accomplishment. It’s been a long winter, but she’s made it through “chemo” and gaining more strength by the day.
My mom has helped more people, solve more problems than any other person I know. And I know that she’s loved by people all over the country because of it. But rest assured, La Prairie Minnesota could easily be considered the epicenter of love for my mamma!
I hope that everybody sets aside special time today and say’s Happy Mother’s Day Mom! That’s what I’m gonna do! - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
My daughter and son-in-law, Annalee and Austin arrived safely last night and everybody has gotten (or is still getting) a good night's sleep. We're on the verge of rustling up breakfast and then we're on our way to the lake. We actually have 3 lakes in mind and no matter which one we decide on, it will be the first time that I've never opened the season there.
All three lakes were chosen because they have Tannin stained, coffee colored water to help diffuse the sunlight. All 3 of them have flowing water in the form of small rivers and feeder creeks. In 2013, the opening week of fishing found walleyes were still using the tributaries to spawn. That behavior only lasted one week and think we're about one week further advanced this year than we were in 2013. I think that it's too late for us to find fish the same way this season, but I still have some learning to do.
My hunch is that we'll be fishing close to some of these small feeder creeks which were home to walleyes during their spawning runs last week. By now, most of the females should be gone, but hopefully there will be enough stubborn males lingering to provide some action.
Thanks to Austin, we have some "hand trapped" creek shiners to fish with and rounded out with a supply of rainbows, we should be in pretty good shape for bait. I'm guessing that we'll be using 1/16 ounce Live Bait Jigs and fishing fairly shallow water, 4 to 8 feet. We're probably going to spend more time pitching and retrieving our baits toward the shallows than we will troll. Drifting, according to today's weather forecast doesn't appear to be a very good option.
For today, I AM equal to every other angler in the state; we are all tourists, learning what we can about conditions lake-by-lake. We definitely want to catch some fish for dinner, but I'm not too sure how fussy we'll be about what kind or how many.
No matter how the fish bite, it's gonna be a great day for us and I, for one, am in a hurry to get out there. So have a fabulous walleye opener, if you see us on the water be sure give a wave or stop by for a chat. And by all means, feel free to share a story or photo from your opening day fishing trip!
You know what? I almost forgot, here are a lot of states that don't even have an "Opening Day" of fishing. But in Minnesota we do and I'm really glad because the opening day of fishing is a tradition that gives communities a reason to celebrate. The fishing opener gives families a date to mark on their calendars and set aside as special time to be together, enjoying the outdoors.
Even if you've seen it before, I think you'll enjoy this short video about the "Minnesota Fishing Opener". If it leaves you feeling optimistic, then I hope you'll share it with your family and friends. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
I want to express my sincere gratitude to all of you who responded to the WCCO Best of Minnesota Fishing Guide poll. After the polling ended, they took out the abacus, added up all of the numbers and when the dust settled, I wound up on top of the list.
It is unbelievably heartwarming to know how much support I received from my family, my friends, my fishing customers and my readers. It is so amazing to have you all in my corner that I can’t even find words to express myself.
Not that I’m not proud to be voted by you as the so-called “Best of Minnesota” fishing guide; I really am. But I don’t want you to think for a minute that I don’t know how many really fantastic guides there are in this state. I’ve known hundreds of fishing guides and believe me, there are plenty of them who could have easily topped this list.
I've been guiding for a long time and I've gotten to know hundreds of guides who are hard working, dedicated servants to their customers. My hat is off to all of you and it's not lost on me that list of devoted professionals is a long one.
For me, it's especailly important that YOU, my peers are among those who watch this segment. I don't think it will be what you're expecting and I really hope that you'll come away with a feel for my philosophy about what being a professional guide is really all about.
Here's a web link to the video for those of you who live outside the Twin Cities broadcast area, or for anybody who just missed seeing the broadcast. The segment originally aired during the 10:00 PM newscast on WCCO, Channel 4 on Thursday night. View Video >> "Best Of Minnesota" Fishing Guide WCCO TV
Enjoy the broadcast and again, thank you all from the bottom of my heart, I really appreciate every single one of you!!
I have to say that I’m impressed; the fear of fishing without Shiners appears to have decreased over the past couple of seasons. At least that’s the sense I have from watching and listening to comments about the minnow supply for the upcoming opener.
For a few years now, I’ve written that fishing for Walleyes without Shiners isn’t the worst thing that can happen to an angler. But I do admit that it’s nice having them when they are available and I’ve learned that there will be “SOME” available for the weekend.
On Wednesday morning, I sent out feelers to a bunch of bait dealers requesting updates about bait supplies. Not many responded and of the ones that did, most reported that weekend bait supplies will consist primarily of Fatheads, a few will have Rainbows and a couple will have Golden Shiners if they’re lucky. There was one surprise response though, an email from Tony at Prince Bait in Milaca says; “We have good supplies of leeches in Jumbo, Large, Medium and panfish. We also have good amounts of Shiners. Thanks, Tony, Prince Bait”
Without knowing the definition of “good amounts”, I’d caution you to make a phone call before driving too far out of your way. But for many of you who will be headed north on US Hwy 169, Prince Bait will be very handy to check out on your way up.
Finding shiners by tomorrow may be a long shot for most of us. But I don’t know of a single bait trapper who’s given up the search, so there’s still a chance. The sun is shining this morning and the breeze is calm and these conditions are predicted to persist throughout the weekend. The odds are getting better all the time and I’ll bet minnows will be running before the weekend is over.
The fabulous weather forecast for the weekend will not only influence my choice of lakes for the weekend, but also my choice of fishing spots on them.
I’m planning to avoid clear water lakes this weekend, but if I was on one of them. I’d focus my attention on areas where Walleyes migrate into and out of spawning habitat. The delta area where a river flows into a lake would be an obvious choice, but don’t be afraid to motor upstream and check out holes and bends in them. Even small rivers and streams hold walleyes during the spawning runs and in some areas, the fish are still spawning.
Stained water lakes that are known to have naturally re-producing walleyes would be an excellent bet for the weekend.
Gravel patches and areas with small rocks located near the shoreline are what attracts spawning walleyes. So on one level, stained water makes it easier for the walleye to stay in shallow water during bright sunshine. That means that if the fish in your lake are still in spawning mode, it’s less likely that bright conditions would force them away.
On another level, the darker water also warms up faster and that increases the odds that baitfish will move into the shallows during the day. Even if the fish aren’t there to spawn, they might be there to feed. So focus your attention on finding that type of structure and your odds of finding active fish will double.
Even with the late ice out, I think we’ve missed out on the most intense spawning period. So I doubt that there will be a lot of female walleyes in shallow water spawning territory. But male fish linger in these areas even after the females move away and there are times that we find large numbers of smaller fish holding tight to spawning areas during the opener.
Tomorrow, I’ll mention some ideas about clear water and spring walleye migration. I’ll field a couple of reader questions that have come in as well, but right now I’m up against the clock and need to wrap up.
My goal on Tuesday was to get you one fresh photo of a live Spottail Shiner, but I couldn’t do it. That’s right, I’ve been inside every open bait shop that I’ve passed by and so far not a single one of them has had any such animal in their inventory.
That doesn’t mean that nobody has some, it only means that I haven’t located ‘em yet. But it also means that even if there is somebody with a secret stash, it will be a struggle to take out a large enough mortgage to pay for them.
Golden Shiners aren’t a lot easier to come by, but at least a few of the dealers do already, or will have them for the fishing opener. Rainbows, also not super easy to find, will be turning up at some stores too. But for most of us, Fatheads will be the name of the game on Saturday.
I won’t give up the search and whenever I have some new news, I will definitely share it with you. At this late date though, it’s getting more difficult for me to cover a lot of ground. That’s why I’m calling on all Cub Reporters, duly deputized or not. If you have a few sentences to share about the bait supplies in your area, please drop me a line. After you have a supply for yourself, of course. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
A) Darren, thank you, I’ve needed a good excuse to make my annual supply run and pick up fresh fishing rods at Reeds Family Outfitters in Walker. Your question provided just the excuse I needed to make the run on Tuesday.
I checked the lake from a variety of vantage points and along the way, I snapped pictures at each of the landings. When you see their names, just click on them to open the images.
I took off from Grand Rapids on Tuesday and first headed west across Hwy 2 to my first checkpoint at the Sucker Bay Landing. From the ramp, I observed that the bay was ice free almost as far as eye could see. There was dense, low lying fog over the surface about 2 miles out from shore. The fog was a giveaway of the presence of lingering ice, but under the circumstances it was impossible to see how much.
As I passed between Cass Lake and Pike Bay I saw similar images; mostly open water with fog lingering above whatever ice was still floating in the center of each lake. I couldn’t see any reason to believe that both of these lakes should not be wide open for fishing this weekend.
Heading south on Hwy 371, I stopped at the Kabekona Landing. Again, most of what I could see was ice free, open water, but there was still a small mass of ice to the northeast.
At Walker, 95% of Walker Bay was already open water, the only remaining ice was black and slushy; by the time you read this, it will be gone.
As I rounded the corner, heading for eastbound Hwy 200, I could ice free conditions on both Shingobee and south Walker Bays.
I drove north to the Stony Point Campground and the scene at the landing was straight out of a Sherlock Holmes movie. The light east wind was blowing across slush on the lake, forming a dense fog. I could see a ripple on the water and the breeze was drifting ice toward the shoreline.
To the naked eye, it looked like there was a lot of ice on the lake, covering several miles of the surface on the main lake. But as the ice pushed its way into the harbor, it made a tinkling sound like ice cubes in a glass of water. Consisting of small chunks that are loosely grouped, this ice poses no threat to our fishing opener. In fact, I will be amazed if it’s not entirely gone by tomorrow, Thursday at the latest.
To the east, the scene at the Whipholt Landing was another optimistic one. There was a mile wide band of open water along the south shore and I could see large masses of the slush being pushed onto the points along the northwest corner of the bay. Here too, the ice will be gone very soon and will not threaten our fishing opener this weekend.
By this point, I didn’t see any reason to head north on County Rd. 8, the scene from Sugar Point would have been the same I’m sure. I already knew that the passage from Federal Dam is open so by now, I felt really secure in my opinion that the lake will be ice free before the weekend.
If you’re plan was to head to Leech Lake for the opener, go ahead and pack your bags and gas up the jalopy, you are Green for Go! - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Why the delayed reaction? Because conditions for getting traps into the water are going to get worse before they get better.
Minnesota’s best shiner lakes are big, lakes like Winnibigoshish, Mille Lacs, Leech and Upper Red provide anglers with the lion’s share of the Spottail Shiners that we fish with.
It’s not obvious until you study maps of most large lakes in north central Minnesota, but when you do, an interesting pattern begins to emerge. The easiest accesses to the best shallow water flats, where shiner minnows spawn, are most prevalent on the eastern, northeastern and southeast sides of many of our better shiner lakes.
Winds from the west and northwest have dominated the weather pattern for a couple of weeks now and they have forced the ice, whatever is left of it, onto the eastern shorelines. The ice is sloppy and ready to break up any minute, but until now, it’s been standing in the way of areas where the bait trappers need to focus their efforts.
That’s all going to change today when the wind reverses and blows from the southeast and hard. The forecast calls for winds from the east at 5-10 MPH with gusts as high as 25 MPH. For observers who’ve been watching the ice lay along northeast shorelines, it’s gonna look a lot different by this afternoon. In fact it wouldn’t surprise me if THIS is the final nail in the coffin of any ice that remains on the big lakes.
After the turbulence, the lakes will settle down and trappers can get serious about placing their nets where they want them to be.
If you’re thinking that the trappers should have just packed up their gear and headed toward more manageable size lakes, consider the excellent point that Nancy Koep raised an in her “minnow report” when she wrote; “Please keep in mind that the minnow trappers cannot trap shiners (or any minnows) from any lake until they get confirmation from the DNR that’s it okay to take the minnows out of that area. Trappers need to take water samples from the lakes, ponds, or rivers and send them to the DNR for AIS testing.”
She’s right, not only do the lakes need to be tested for AIS; they need to be tested every season. Of course, the burden of paying for those test falls on the shoulder of the bait trappers and can cost about $1000.00 for each body of water. Sometimes, the expense is worth it, sometimes not but either way, it takes a lot of time to get set up to place traps in any “new lake”.
Nancy says she’s been getting a lot of calls about Spottail Shiners. Koep’s Bait, already has Golden Shiners on hand and they’re trying hard to come up with a supply of “spots”.
On Monday I spoke with Sean Peck at the Winnie Trading Post. “Right now it doesn’t look good, I’ve only got one trap in the water, but I’m hoping that we get a break. No matter if we find shiners or not, it probably won’t be enough to supply everybody who wants them.”
In a way, the fishing opener would almost be more fun if nobody has any shiners at all. At least that way the bait shops could all have a decent weekend doing the best with what they’ve got. Still, I have a hunch that some of them are going to be pulling some rabbits out of some hats; some of these folks are really good at producing miracles.
We will be keeping an eye on the situation and let you know which ones. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"On the home stretch to Minnesota Fishing Opener May 12th. Ice continues to break up, float around and melt on the lake. Much like 2014 with a late ice off walleyes were stacked in shallows and Rainy River/Four Mile Bay. Most anglers on opener will be bouncing a jig and frozen shiner off bottom.
Pike season is on fire right now. Pike tournament last weekend yielded 34 pike over 40 inches for 2 days. A big smelt laid on bottom, trolling crankbaits and buzz baits are all options to catch this big girls.
Rainy River is looking to be the go to spot for Minnesota Fishing opener as walleyes of all sizes will be looking to feast after spawning late. Sturgeon fishing catch and release May 8 - 15. Water clarity should be in good shape come opener.
Up at the NW Angle... Ice is disappearing and is clear around the Angle Inlet area for a few miles. Look for more open water to open up each day with warmer temperatures early in the week and rain in the forecast. Much like the south shore anglers will be using a jig and a minnow along shore lines." – Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"Getting ready for the big weekend! Things are shaping up great for opener. The ice is still leaving the lake and is currently open a few miles past the Lighthouse Gap. Sunny and 82 is the forecast for tomorrow, then possible rain for a few days after that. The rest of the ice should go quickly.
Sturgeon fishing has been great, many big fish landed and there are many fish in the system in the 20-30 inch range.
We will still be tending to some of the landscaping around the new deck. The new deck should be ready for opener. We have the new deck furniture staged and ready. The bait house materials are still a little behind.
Warm tomorrow, then a few days of possible rain, which we need, then back to partly or mostly sunny for the opener. " - 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
Fifty Eight Degrees was the surface temperature on Prairie Lake Sunday afternoon. Maybe that shouldn’t have surprised me, but I was expecting something a little less than that. It shows what Ray can do with a calm day on a dark water lake.
I guess we never really planned on making this a high level, fish catching trip. But we caught a few anyway and that, along with good conversation and gorgeous scenery made the afternoon fly by. After that wonderful afternoon on the lake I’m looking ahead at the weather forecast of highs over 60, blue skies and calm seas. I’m just wondering, do you suppose that we’re actually going to have a nice weekend for the fishing opener?
If we do, it’s going to help improve prospects that shiners, spottails in particular will begin migrating toward shore. So far, that has not happened and most likely won’t until the larger lakes become fully accessible.
Even though some of the smaller waters in north central Minnesota do contain spottails, bait trappers rely most heavily on big lakes like Winnie, leech, Mille Lacs and others to produce large scale catches. This is especially true during the early season because expansive shallow sand flats tend to warm fairly quickly. Spawning areas on smaller lakes typically lay closer to deep water and require longer warming up. That’s one reason why shiners ‘turn on” later in many of the deeper lakes that have them.
The problem right now is that trappers can’t get set up on the big lakes. Even though the ice is almost out, there are large sheets of ice still floating on the surface and these icebergs can really wreak havoc with a shiner trap. After attempting to get some traps onto Big Winnie, Bill Powell reported; “There was no hope of getting traps into the water yesterday, by I see that conditions have since changed a little. We’re praying for east winds to help break up the remaining ice and push it out of our way.”
Like I said on Sunday, there are a handful of bait dealers holding out hope for some good, albeit last minute news. But most are resigned to the idea that Fatheads and Rainbows will have to carry them through the fishing opener.
We’ll be posting updates as they become available, but in the meantime, let me ask a favor.
Please do your best to try and be pleasant at the bait shop this weekend. Trappers are working hard, trying to find you some shiners and soon, they will. They may not be able to control the weather, but these are good people and they really want to make you happy. They do not deserve some of the incredibly nasty comments thrust upon them by an embarrassing large number of so-called sportsmen.
Conditions are improving, we will catch shiners eventually, but for now, what’s called for is patience. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Austin Jones slipped me a couple of photos from his weekend fishing trip in the Crookston area. His note said; "Water temperature on the main lake is 54 degrees, but in a back bay, the water depth is 4 feet and the surface water temperatures are running above 60 degrees and the panfish are hungry."
Yes, obviously they were and you would have to know Austin to realize the true size of that crappie. I know that it takes a good size fish to fill up one of his mitts and that's why this photo made me wish that I was over there fishing with him. I guess we'll have to try that lake together one of these days.
Jones began his fishing trip using a 1/32 ounce purple Lindy Whatsit Jig. Eventually, the panfish ripped off his Whatsit tails and he fashioned an alternative by cutting off a small chunk of another artificail tail.
The Center for Sportfishing Policy (CSP) is leading initiatives to put the Modern Fish Act front and center as Congress prepares to move the bill to the House and Senate floors for a vote.
Last week, CSP launched a new video series to educate Congress and boating and fishing stakeholders on the critical need for sound fisheries management. And, today, a new video in the series launched, featuring NMMA’s Senior Vice President of Federal and Legal Affairs, Nicole Vasilaros. Vasilaros shares the key reasons the Modern Fish Act is so critical to the entire recreational boating and fishing industries." Read More >> The Modern Fish Act Takes Center Stage In Washington
I’m glad that I and the Hippie Chick set our Saturday chores aside and drove up to see the walleye egg harvest operation at Cutfoot Sioux yesterday. It is moving so fast that if we’d waited until later today, we may easily have missed the entire show.
That’s right, the trap nets were only set on Thursday, but the fish were lined up and waiting to get in. DNR Fisheries Staff harvested 300 quarts of eggs on Friday, racked up another 360 quart harvest on Saturday and now have only about 240 quarts to collect today before meeting this year’s quota; the 2018 harvest will already be wrapped up today.
Typical of late ice out seasons, the fish showed up at the nets fast and there were a high percentage of ‘ripe” females. That helped speed up the egg harvest process, but DNR Fisheries Staff were also aided by having a lower quota to reach this year. Region 2 Fisheries manager Chris Cavanaugh said; “It’s common for fisheries staff from around the state to collect extra eggs when we have a late start like this one. It’s a hedge against something going wrong here and leaving us with an unexpected shortfall that could affect the stocking program at a statewide level.”
Despite other obvious concerns about a late ice out, this cloud could have a silver lining. Now we have a chance to test the theory about the possible correlation between a late ice out and the successful production of a strong year class of walleyes.
The theory, discussed more thoroughly in the Fishing Report March 22, 2018 was introduced DNR Fisheries Supervisor Dave Weitzel and Large Lake Specialist Gerry Albert. Weitzel and Albert discussed a possible connection between walleye spawning success and water levels. Statistically, their chart showed that most of Winnie’s best year classes of walleye have occurred during “high water” springs. A correlation between low water and poor year class strength was also shown.
Throughout the winter, I spent more time with Albert, querying about the theory. I learned that while the link between spawning successes and a late ice out could simply hinge on higher water levels, it is also possible that fish hatching later in the spring simply have a shorter waiting time before water warms and zooplankton becomes plentiful. Walleye fry that have more food become stronger faster, resulting in an elevated survival rate.
The US Army Corps of Engineers is attempting to maintain a slightly higher water level on Winnibigoshish this spring. That combined with the late ice out should give fisheries staff some data to work with. Only time will tell, but the wheels are set in motion and it’s time to keep our fingers crossed.
Personally, I would like to think that the later ice out has more to do with a strong year class than the water levels do. That’s because if having a successful year class of walleye depends solely on high water levels, then certain portions of north central minnesota are in for a disappointment this spring.
On some Itasca area lakes like Bowstring, Round and Jessie, water levels remain very low. In fact they are as low right now as they were back in mid-august of 2017. I hate to use the word drought, especially when most of the state has had plenty of precipitation. But in our little slice of the state, we definitely need some rain. In fact I’m having trouble remembering the last time I saw such low water levels this early in the spring.
Dry conditions are supposed to persist this week, so it looks like we’ll have to grin and bear it for now. My advice is that if the water was low last summer on your opening day destination lake, then you should assume it is low now too. Make some calls to be sure that you’ll be able to launch your boat where you want to.
Could minnow supplies be the next emergency to discuss? Maybe, but the same forecast that I don’t like for improving water levels, is also the perfect forecast for trapping minnows. It is especially perfect for the next couple of days and it is still possible that bait trappers could gather a lot of minnows in a hurry whenever they decide to make a move.
Although reports from most of the dealers we talked to on Saturday were discouraging, there were still a few glimmers of hope.
I just received word from Bill Powell at Fred’s Bait and while he doesn’t have shiners so far, the Fatheads and Rainbows have been coming in good numbers. At 1000 Lakes Sporting Goods, I was assured that the bait tanks will contain adequate supplies of Golden Shiners, Rainbows and Fatheads for the opener. Spottails cannot be guaranteed, but they “have a feeling” that there’s going to be good news this week.
You know me, I love good news and I’m always optimistic. So knowing that there’s a decent supply of Rainbows and Fatheads is already good enough news for me, my opener will be great no matter what.
I really hope that those of you with shiner dependences suppliers and I can assure you that they are out in the field trying really hard to find them. For the moment though, don’t leave anything to chance; there isn’t anybody in this area that has a supply already laid in, so if you hear about a dealer who has them, pick them up early and babysit them at home until the opener.
OH and by the way, if you are a bait dealer or know one who'd like to keep us updated, please do drop us a line. We'd be happy to help spread good news about bait supplies no matter where you are located. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Spring has sprung in a big way and the list of lakes in the “ice free” category is growing larger by the hour. Big Cutfoot Sioux was ice free by Friday afternoon, so were most of the Itasca Area’s mid-size waters. Only the largest, clearest water lakes continue to harbor ice chunks at all and I’m guessing that there won’t be enough ice to fill a Scotch glass anywhere by the end of this weekend.
The open water really jump started the walleye spawning run at Little Cutfoot. Walleyes are ready to spawn right now and they peeled off the starting line like a Bugatti, 0 to 60 in 2 seconds.
On Thursday morning, I spied DNR Fisheries staff setting their trap nets at the Cutfoot Sioux egg harvest station on Little Cutfoot. By lunchtime, I had barely made it back home before there were already dozens of walleye in the traps, with more arriving fast.
On Friday morning, egg stripping and fertilization had begun and so far …. quarts of eggs have been harvested.
The open water is a blessing for bait dealers who hope to lay in minnow supplies before the fishing opener next week. Minnow trappers are in for a very hectic week now that they can finally ramp up their effort to get the traps in place.
Getting traps in the water is a great first step, but there’s no guarantee how fast minnows will begin showing up. At this point, whether or not supplies will be adequate to get through the weekend remains questionable.
Warm temperatures and calm conditions are ideal and so far, the forecast appears to favor a late inning comeback. If the shiners are as hot to trot as the walleye are, then there’s a chance for good news throughout the upcoming week.
I talked with Bill Powell at Fred’s Bait on Thursday evening and to that point, he’d only had one good day trapping Rainbows and Fatheads. At the time, he was in the field checking for territory where he may be successful at finding Shiners. If he found them on Friday, I don't know about it yet, because it's too early to call. But I'll be gathering news from Bill, along with other area bait dealers as soon as the sun comes up this morning. I'll be posting updates as they become available. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
OH by the way, Insider News List members always get the first crack at last minute fishing dates that open up due to cancellations. Membership is FREE, but you have to opt in to be included. So if you’re interested in receiving an occasional note about fishing dates, live appearances or special fishing events, follow this link to join >> The Early Bird Fishing Guide’s Insider News
Your privacy is important to us! We never share your contact information with anybody, nobody, not ever. In each email you receive, there will be a link to unsubscribe or change areas of interest, so don't be afraid to give it a try.
My dad is way too self-conscious to write up a post for his fishing report that would try to encourage you to vote for him in WCCO’s “Who’s The Best Fishing Guide” poll. That’s why I’m stealing both his website and his email list today.
I’ve known a lot of fishing guides in the past 24 years and as far as I’m concerned, my pops is the best.
Over the years, I’ve gotten to know a lot of his fishing customers too and I know that they feel the same way. I also know that a lot of you read his reports frequently and that’s why I hope you don’t mind me asking just this once for a tiny little favor. Please follow the link below to WCCO’s “Who’s The Best Fishing Guide” poll and vote for pops.
I talked with some of you who already "liked" or "shared" one of WCCO's Facebook posts a few days ago. That was not the actuual vote, it was a preliminary process to whittle down the list of names. That's why I'm asking you to just click on one more little link and vote in the actual poll. Thank You Everybody, have a wonderful fishing season! Katie
"A Canadian walleye trip is something that every fishing family should experience. Fish are plentiful, the scenery is awesome and the atmosphere is restful.
Fly in fishing trips make using our favorite live bait presentations impractical, but adding artificial tails to a Lindy Jig is a deadly combination for catching Canadian walleyes. This week Jon Thelen shares tips and tricks for getting the most out of jigging on remote Canadian walleyes." View Video >> Jigging Canadian Walleyes
Bowen Lodge's report about the walleye season outlook on Cutfoot Sioux and Lake Winnie prompted some comments from readers about the prospect of DNR Fisheries closing part of the lake to walleye fishing for the opener.
I spent most of the past two days trying to track down an "official notice" from DNR Fisheries about the closure. Lacking a solid confirmation, I drove up to the Little Cutfoot walleye egg harvest site this morning to check for notices at the landings.
There were some DNR fisheries staff at the landing and when asked, they did confirm that due to the late ice cover and an early walleye opener, concentrations of walleye that remain near the egg-collection operation at Little Cut Foot Sioux Lake will be protected by a partial closure. They said that the news release had been prepared, but had so far not been distributed through official DNR channels.
Assuming that they follow past protocol, the area outlined on this map should accurately reflect the areas that will be closed to fishing for the opener.
We will update this report to improve accuracy as soon as the news release becomes available.
Always popular on the opener, Cutfoot Sioux will be even more so this spring. Walleye, particularly the coveted “keeper size” male fish will linger near shallow spawning territory. Female walleye tend to arrive fast, spawn fast and move away from the spawn sites quickly. Even taking the late ice out into consideration, most of the larger female walleye will already be in a “post spawn” condition by the opener. It’s likely that they will no longer be located at the actual spawn sites.
As they recover from spawning, female fish will begin migrating toward the main lake. The fish will be ..." Read >> Lake Winnibigoshish Walleye Opener Forecast May 2, 2018
" Starting with lake... ice continues to melt in a big way. Travel on the lake is very unsafe at this time. Pike season is open all year as border waters. Big pike are close to coming into bays for boat anglers. A big smelt laid on bottom, trolling crankbaits and buzz baits are all options to catch this big girls. Minnows of all kinds must be authorized through bait dealers.
Rainy River sturgeon fishing... The keep season lasts through May 7. Catch and release May 8 - 15. Anglers who remain mobile fared better again this past week as the Little and Big Fork Rivers opened up. Water clarity already clearing and will be cleared up by opener. Luckily sturgeon feed by smell in dirty water. Many big 60+ inch fish caught along with many smaller sturgeon.
Finding deeper holes and laying a sturgeon rig (18" leader of 60 lb test with a 5/0 circle hook) with a crawler/shiner mix and a 3-5 ounce no roll sinker is the ticket. All Rainy River Landings (including Wheeler's Point) are open to all boats. Most landings in bays open as well. Predictions are the Rainy River will be full of walleyes for the MN Fishing Opener May 12.
Up at the NW Angle... As ice disappears, anglers will target pike by boat. We are very close to prime time for pike. Ice deteriorating very quickly as there is more current amongst islands." – Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"Mixed reports on the Sturgeon, some have been doing really well and others feel they have caught more in previous years. It has been good with many large fish being caught in the 50” plus range. This time of year is awesome for spectators, there are many people on the bank watching the anglers and if someone has a fish on they always wait to see how big and usually join in the celebration when the fish is netted out of the water. It is kind of like a big party on the river, lots of laughs, shout outs when fish are caught and high fives in the boats.
The river is low, we could use a couple more feet of water under the docks. The floater docks are in at the public access.
Burger Night is back, Friday nights 4.25 for a ¼ pound single, or 5.25 for a ½ pound double, build your own burger bar with chips. Saturday is Taco Night! 7.50 for all you can eat build your own tacos.
The deck project is moving along, the wall is finished and we will start with footings for the deck Monday. Some of the bait house materials are a little behind, we have the roof and door on, hopefully the rest of the siding will show up by opener.
We are seeing temps into the 70’s this week with lows staying above freezing.
Guided Sturgeon fishing packages are now available for April and May. The Wheelers Point access is clear and we can put in boats, we will be guiding for Sturgeon through May 7th." - 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
Most bass anglers spend a good deal of their fishing season slinging a Texas-rigged worm or creature bait around the shallows - let's call it flipping and pitching. It's fun and produces big-time bites, but also spells big-time misses if you're setting the hook wrong.
Tommy Biffle is a Jedi master with a flipping stick in hand and highlights the biggest mistake he sees anglers make when they get bit. He then outlines the proper way to set the hook to get a 1-pound or 10-pound bass away from the cover and headed toward the boat." Learn More >> The Wrong and Right Way to Set the Hook Flipping and Pitching
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