Monday was another good day in the battle against ice. Sunny, warm and little breezy. To the naked eye, ice conditions didn't appear to change much. But, the pools of standing water are getting bigger and the so are the areas of open ground.
Around my house, the plowed corn fields are now snow free and as if there had been a waiting line at a ball game, Ducks, Geese, Swans and even a couple of Cranes flooded into them. There must be at least 50 Wood Ducks using the flooded pasture on the North side of the house and Mallards inhabit the small puddles adjacent to the fields.
At 4:00 AM today, I woke up to thunderstorms and the rain has been coming down ever since. Sometimes heavy, sometimes light, each drop adding to the prospect of open water for the fishing opener.
Yesterday, I started into an answer for Tom Crosby about the prospect of fishing for Walleyes without using Spottail Shiners. I promised to deliver the next installment of the answers this morning.
Update 11:54 AM and Just in time to say that I got it done in the morning. The Q&A about Walleye fishing without Shiners has been completed. It's become a stand alone article that you can find by clicking here >> Walleyes Without Spottails . - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
(4/30) I Love This One because I know that we all agree on one thing and that is; "Fishing is Fun"! Yum knows that too and they just launched a new website to tell the whole world. Yum's message is that whether you're a seasoned fishing pro or if you just started fishing yesterday, you're just like us, in it for the fun.
The new site is all about what makes fishing fun and they want to share it with you. Click and check out the new site >> Yum Is Fun!
Try waking up every morning, spending your entire day looking out accross the lake, hoping to spot any patch of open water. Believe us, We Feel Your Pain!
But we're not ready to throw in the towel on the fishing opener, the ice conditions on the big lake are moving in our direction. Large patches of dark, old looking ice are encouraging, so is the open water that spans the bay from Winnie Dam out to Plughat Point.
Optimistic too because this morning, we're watching the rain come down, whittling away even more on the ice. So until you finally lay your head on the pillow each night, check with us for the latest ice out >> Read Full Lake Winnie Fishing Report
On Sunday, cloud cover slowed the meltdown, but not entirely. Air temperatures still rose into the mid 60 degree range, encouraging the loss of more snow cover.
I know that there are still a few anglers on the ice and I know that they're catching some fish, but with only a dozen days remaining before the 2013 Walleye Fishing opener, I am officially done talking about fishing on top of the ice. Instead, we'll be focusing on getting prepared for the opener.
At the moment, that includes figuring out where we're gonna fish, so I think keeping tabs on the progression of ice out is gonna be a daily topic. On Sunday, I wanted to get a handle on lakes in the Lake Winnie region, so I headed out West from Deer River on Hwy 2.
Ball Club Lake remains ice covered, but the standing water that was present on the surface, has drained off. There was no sign of any activity on the lake and all of the landings looked muddy and sloppy. Water flow from the Ball Club River moving into the Mississippi remains high, but not at the "flood stage" level that I had expected to see. That confused me at first, but it wasn't long before I got the explanation.
Little Ball Club was ice covered too, but at least here I saw some tiny patches of open water. The small creeks that flow in from the West have both been encouraging the ice to melt in areas immediatley adjacent to the outlets. The ice on Little Ball club didn't look particularly good or bad. It was just typical, late ice and I don't have a handle on the presence of slush on the surface.
Spring is springing and while there's still lots of ground to cover, piles of snow disappeared fast on Saturday.
Wanting to be sure that my my timing was good for gathering information, I waited until late afternoon to take a tour of some Grand Rapids Area Lakes on Saturday. Most of what I saw was expected, but there were a couple of surprises along the way too.
First surprise; Where is all of this snow going? Judging by what I can see, the farm fields and wide open spaces must have lost two feet of snow cover this week. But there isn't all that much runoff. I guess that same deep snow must have helped keep the frost line from going too deep this winter because except for a few low lying areas, runoff from the melted snow appears to be simply vanishing.
Don't get me wrong, I think that's good and it's just more encouragement for us optimists that the Grand Rapids area is gonna thaw sooner rather than later. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Remember this from yesterday? "I know it's putting a lot of eggs in one basket, but I'm still optimistic that the warmer weather heading in is gonna work on all of our snow cover, resulting in a fairly fast meltdown."
Many have said that being a true optimist makes me particularly well suited for being a fishing guide. While I believe that to be true, I discovered on Friday that even an optimist can stumble into a better optimist.
Moving along the interstate at a snails pace wasn't suiting me very well on my trip back to Deer River on Friday evening. Knowing that I'd be late getting home either way, I decided, in true Garage Logic style that it was time to "Make a Move!" So, I took the first available exit ramp figuring that even if it took longer to get home, maybe I'd have a chance to snap a few decent pics along the way. I didn't travel 5 miles before a comforting sight jumped up and bit me in the nose.
A lake, open water, 73 degrees, a park full of people enjoying the gorgeous weather and a guy slipping on his chest waders to do some shorline fishing. I am telling ya, it was a beautiful sight! Obviously, I had to stop and after I snapped a few pics, I returned to the truck with a spring in my step. From then on, the whole darn trip was just plain good!
Along the way, I noticed that the warm sunshine took a gigantic bite out of the snow cover. Areas that were still snow covered on Thursday had opened up completely. Everywhere along the stretch from Maple Grove to Garrison, fields of grass were now exposed, most of the snow now long gone.
Northbound from Garrison, signs of winter were more prevelant; Serpent Lake was hosting a die hard ice fisherman that had decided to head out onto the ice in his vehicle. Wet, slushy snow covered the surface of the lake, adding to my optimism that the ice is gonna go out fast, once the meltdown really takes hold.
By somewhere near Emily, I started seeing deep snow again, but areas of deep snow were also accompanied by fast flowing water in the ditches. Lots of water, moving in a hurry toward small streams and rivers. My guess is that we're only looking at a couple of days until we see flood stage water in low lying areas near streams and rivers. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
April 28, 2013 More reaction to the news about the restrictions on Spottail Shiner Trapping for Lake Winnibigoshish . Mostly comments coming from anglers who are rightly concerned about the impact that the bait harvest ban will have.
For readers in and near Duluth, Minnesota, be sure to pick up the Sunday copy of the Duluth News Tribune. Sam Cook takes up the topic and will have interviews with folks from the fishing industry, plus an interview with the man who made the decision.
If you're late to the discussion and want to get up to speed, Read the original article ... >> Lake Winnie Shiner Trapping Ban
Anglers heading to the Rainy River for the opening day of the Sturgeon fishing season found stable river conditions and cold water. Yesterday's surface temperatures on the river remained below 40 degrees and fish movements continue to be behind schedule.
Sturgeon fishermen are catching larger fish than average, but fewer numbers than they would during a typical opening day trip. Several fish in the over 60 inch range were reported yesterday.
Current on the river is still manageable, but there is some run-off coming in from the tributaries now. The Minnesota DNR's river level map currently rates water levels on both the Bigfork and Littlefork Rivers as "Medium". You can click here for a peek at the DNR River Level Map and see for yourself.
On a quick tour around the area, I started seeing early signs of movement myself.
On the Mississippi River, the appearance of new ice chunks floating downtream indicate that water levels are rising and that shoreline ice is breaking up. Almost anywhere along the river, it's easy to see that the water is going to get really high, really fast.
Moving West from Deer River to Ball Club, the Ball Club River is already flowing out of it's banks as it heads toward the Mississippi. Most of the surface snow has melted on Ball Club, there is water on the ice, but no sign of shoreline water so far.
At the Winnibigoshish Dam, current flow was still light. Open water spread from the dam about a half mile into the bay. It's a happy spot for Ducks, Geese and Swans right now, but it's gonna be a while before it tempts any boaters.
Ice fishing news has been really quiet, but it's still feasible to fish this weekend. There are reports of ice thickness ranging from about 22 inches on Bowstring Lake, up to 36 inches at the gap on Lake of the Woods.
Shoreline conditions are going to erode in a hurry now though, so I'd expect this to be the last weekend that presents any serious opportunity. ATV's will be the way to travel and Lake Winnie, Round Lake, Cutfoot Sioux and Bowstring all have acceptable ice conditions. If you see areas of deep snow anywhere, they should be avoided! Likewise, any areas that appear to be wet or slushy should also be completely avoided.
Movement in the right direction, even if it's slow, is still good! The warming trend is pushing toward the Northland, creeks and rivers are getting restless and moving water will begin working it's magic on shoreline areas. Soon, I hope.
The trip from Deer River to Minneapolis on Thursday wasn't as revealing as I had hoped. for 2-1/2 hours, virtually every lake I saw was frozen, locked up tight, with ice showing little sign of weakening. If it weren't for the hope I got from the flowing streams and rivers, it could have tempted me to get discouraged.
Luckily, by the time I got South of Princeton on Hwy 169, the evidence was more positive. From here on down, the snow cover is gone, some tiny lakes are open, some backwater areas of larger lakes are too and everywhere else, the ice has got that old, soggy look about it.
More weather heading our way, good weather, warm. It's nice to see a few smiling faces around town again and for me, I really liked having a small patch of real estate where I could walk without all of that white stuff moving under my feet. In fact, having a patch of open, dry grass felt so good to my feet, that I stood there doing nuthin' for an hour, maybe more. Well, I took a picture, that's almost nuthin'.
April 25, 2013 Reaction to the news about the restrictions on Spottail Shiner Trapping for Lake Winnibigoshish has been strong . Mostly comments coming from anglers who are rightly concerned about the impact that the bait harvest ban will have.
Without doubt, it's going to impact all of us who fish for Walleyes, especially those anglers who steadfastly believe that the Spottail Shiner is the only live bait worth buying during the early part of the fishing season.
But what concerns me even more, is the economic viability of the live bait industry. Few, if any realize just how dependent on the supply of Spottails our bait dealers really are.
It's easy for any bystander to say that all we need to do is make an adjustment, switch to a different kind of bait. I'd probably be in that camp myself, if I knew for sure that there would still be an open bait shop where I could go ... >> Read the Full Article Lake Winnie Shiner Trapping Ban
Brace yourself! Go find your golashas and move the livestock to high ground! In a few days, we're gonna have more water than we know what to do with!
Granted, a lot of it is going be lying on top of the ice for a while, but temps in the 60 degree are range predicted for the weekend. That is a serious warm up and there's gonna be a lot of snow looking for somewhere to go.
If you've been grumbling about the long winter, then unpack your smiles again and puh-leeease, start using them! Because the folks who find themselves under water might just need the support.
My friend Joe Oliver has been encouraging me for a while to try his recipe for cooking fish. Last evening, I finally had a good excuse to do it and made the time to cook some. It was delightful and I can honestly say that Joe and Carol Oliver's Coconut Fish Recipe turned out to be the best way that I've ever prepared Crappie fillets.
I'm just like you, we all have our favorite ways of cooking and old habits are hard to break. But I can't think of a better way to make an impression on someone than to prepare them this meal.
Knowing Joe and knowing that he wasn't gonna steer me wrong, I decided to document the recipe as I did my cooking and I'm glad that I did, because now YOU are in LUCK! All you have to do is click here for >> Joe and Carol Oliver's Coconut Fish Recipe
Finally, if it's fishing you want to do, then you're not gonna get my attention by grumbling about the late ice. Because if you really want to catch some fish, you can do it right now and chances are that you'll be the only one on the lake.
The Crappies and Jumbo Perch have been more than willing to cooperate and anglers who have given it a go, are being rewarded for the effort. What they all have in common is that they've been amazed by the lack of traffic out there.
Over the past few days, reports of good Crappie fishing on other area lakes have emerged as well. Yesterday, Bill Powell from Fred's Bait shop told me that he's had similar reports from the few folks who have been out on the lakes.
"The word on the street is all we need is a good dose of global warming and everything should be fine for the opener…right?
Anglers from the Bemidji area’s best option may be to find a river to fish on the walleye opener on May 11. The Rainy River may be one of the best areas in Northern Minnesota to fish on the opener the way things are look at this point.
Many lakes may have ice on the opener and many other areas may be closed to angling on the opener to protect concentrations of spawning or pre-spawn fish.
The DNR is still watching the conditions develop before making their decisions on what areas to close. Anglers will need to watch for last minute postings about what areas are closed.
It all depends on what happens in the next couple of weeks. The extended forecast is predicting significantly warmer temperatures starting this weekend, so there is still a chance for open water.
Unfortunately, the exact conditions needed to get rid of the ice quickly are also the worst case scenario for flooding, which would be a bad thing for many cities along the major river systems.
The countdown to the opener has begun, stay tuned.
Meanwhile, back to the present, there is still at least 30 inches of ice on most lakes, with anglers enjoying some very good ice fishing for perch, sunfish and crappies.
Many of the fish have moved into 5 to 8 feet of water, with anglers catching fish right under the ice. Anglers can often see the fish moving through under the ice if they look down their holes.
The best way to fish may be to use a longer rod and dab and dunk baits down the holes from a distance, to help avoid spooking the fish." - Paul A. Nelson, Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service, firstname.lastname@example.org - 218.759.2235
With only 18 days left before the fishing opener, even the most optimistic of all fishermen, ME, is starting to get just a little bit nervous. It wouldn't hurt my feelings at all to see just one little bitty lake starting to show signs of ice out. While that hasn't happened in Northern Minnesota just yet, it has begun to happen in areas near the Twin Cities and that's encouraging.
If you know me, then you know that I'm gonna find a bright spot in the story and yesterday, I got a couple of them hand delivered. First was a comment by email that said; "At least if we have to ice fish on opening day, we'll be able to fish with 2 lines". Good Point!
My long time friend and customer, Pete Raquet told me on the phone that Lake Minnetonka is finally starting to show signs of giving up for the winter. Still no place to float a boat, but according to Pete, there's a rim of open water around the lake, maybe 3 feet wide, maybe a little more.
With a serious warming trend advancing and a rainy weekend in the forecast, we are difinitely going to see some movement. Now, lets just hope that we don't wind up with more water than the midwest knows what to do with! The mid-section of the country is already flooding and when this stuff starts to melt, we might wish that we had winter back again!
On Lake of the Woods, Border View Lodge, Mike Kinsella wrote; "Open water is FINALLY starting to hit the mouth of the Rainy River. Quite a difference from last year!
The late winter appears to have pushed the sturgeon run back some. Reports have been staggered with some groups doing very well and others just boating a few of the monsters. As water temps begin to warm and the current picks up, the bite should pick up.
There were a few northern pike fishermen on the bay last week. Pike fishing should be great once the bays and backwaters open and the fish get ready for spawn.
We will be posting river updates, as well as the public access status, on facebook this week. We have midweek openings this week and next at just $34 per person per night. Give us a call and catch your own river monster!" 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
Fishing Report April 22, 2013, Jeff Sundin
Happy Monday! There was a sunrise this morning.
I know, it sounds like a little thing, but after watching it rain most of the day on Sunday, a little Blue sky should help the Monday morning drive time attitude around the Northland.
It's ironic that after a winter of talking about deep snow, slush and horrible travel conditions, we finally have improving conditions for ice fishing. Now all we need are some ice fishermen.
On the chance that you can still be persuaded to try one last ice fishing adventure, I'm dropping in some reports from over the weekend. Die hard ice anglers are finding mixed conditions, some reports are about "easy going" on the lakes and they have been receiving full cooperation from the fish! Others haven't been as lucky, still battling slush and deep snow in the more remote locations.
"Last weekend, a small army of us ice fishing enthusiasts gathered together for yet one more trip “back in the bush.” Using two snowmobiles, four atvs, and one side-by-side, eight of us made our way some ten miles back in the woods to visit a trophy panfish lake.
Not really knowing what to expect, after the recent snowstorm, I figured we had it covered, using a diversity of travel to reach this little gem.
Going in, Blake and I did the best using snowmobiles, as the snow was" ... >> Read Greg's Full Report
Fishing Report April 21, 2013, Jeff Sundin
A day of relief from winters grip came in handy on Saturday, but I'm afraid that wintery weather already snuck back in on us.
Luckily, this cold snap is going to be shorter term and with a lot less precipitation. If the forecast is accurate, we'll see the beginning of a warming trend during the next few days and this ought to help loosen up at least a small portion of the snow and ice.
I need to make a confession, I've been holding back on telling you a couple of things, discouraging news that I didn't want to share during the work week. In fact, I purposely held back until this morning, Sunday, just in case those of you who read the report before going to church might want to slip in a little, special prayer this morning.
I just don't like getting into the gloom and doom mode, I never have. But after watching the weather this past week, it's been getting more concerning by the day. The ice is stubborn this year and doesn't show much sign of leaving voluntarily.
Bowen Lodge Lake Winnibigoshish April 21, 2013
On Thursday, I was having a talk with Bill Heig, who gave an update about conditions on Lake Winnibigoshish and Cutfoot Sioux. Right now, the lakes look like we should be preaparing for Christmas instead of the fishing opener. Still covered with snow, still plenty of ice and not much sign of any traffic.
As a resorter, there is obvious concern about what condition the lakes will be in for the 2013 Fishing Opener, due to arrive in just 22 days.
Concerns about the late arrival of spring are not un-founded, but with that said; They could still be a little bit over-blown. Assuming that our weather patterns begin to track back in line with some of the historical data provided by the University of Minnesota, then we could >> Read Full Lake Winnie Fishing Report
Fishing Report April 20, 2013, Jeff Sundin
I stole a couple of hours away from the pressroom on Saturday to go on a tour, checking ice conditions in the area. I have to admit that in some areas, it's gonna take a miracle for us to have open water for this opener.
A real eye-opener was the ice pack that I found at the channel heading into Little Cutfoot Sioux. I never expected that it would be wide open, but in the back of my mind, I did expect to see a few of the boys from the DNR preparing for the Walleye Egg Harvest. I thought that maybe there would be a little activity up there, you know, moving in some equipment, making ready for some movement.
Instead, I found nuthin', no sign of anybody except for a few pairs of confused Geese, sitting on the ice and snow, waiting for something Green to munch on. There is a little open water and there is a good current flow in the area around the bridge, so I know that things will move fast once it begins to open up Still, I can't imagine that things will move fast enough to forestall an announcement about fishing restrictions for the Walleye opener.
No, there hasn't been any announcement yet. But Cutfoot and Winnibigoshish have both been subjected to special spring restrictions in the past and I see no reason not to expect them this opener. There have already been a couple of announcements including this one that I posted yesterday.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says; "The (DNR) has announced temporary fishing and spearing closures on a number of designated spawning beds and fish preserves in northern St. Louis and western Lake Counties. The temporary closures are in accordance with Minnesota Statute 6264:0125 to protect fish when they are more susceptible to catch and overharvest as well as limit disruption in spawning areas." Read the complete DNR News Release here .
Wallleye fishermen who love to use Shiner minnows during the early portion of the Walleye season are going to find some significant shortages of bait this year.
On the Rainy River, Sturgeon (4-21) Fishing has been improving. Anglers are fishing in some cold weather, but the snow that's plagued North Central Minnesota has been falling short of the Rainy River. The river current remains low and since only "Catch and Release" fishing for Sturgeon is allowed, the crowds are light. Anglers will be allowed to keep one Sturgeon (per season) beginning on April 24th, 2013. Even then, most of the prehistoric fish will be returned, but if an angler catches one between 55 and 65 inches, they could choose to keep it.
Currently, the bite has been described as "light" but improving. As is the case with most Pre-Spawn movements, the larger fish are caught during the early portion of their runs, before they begin dropping their eggs.
Fishing Report April 20, 2013, Jeff Sundin
Ordinarily used to describe the month of March; The expression "In like a lion, out like a lamb" was better used to describe the day we had on Friday.
The phone rings during the wee hours to announce "schools cancelled", the TV blasts news about a winter storm warning and ... the day ends with a glowing sunset, calm winds and snow melting into puddles. I wish that I could melt anything into puddles!
Now it's 6:00 AM and the sky is clear blue, sunshine is creeping into the yard and it looks like we're gonna see some melting, even if it is only for a single day.
With only 20 days left before the 2013 Minnesota Fishing Opener, I think we should be expecting to hear a lot more news from the Minnesota DNR about the late ice out. It started about 10 days ago when the DNR restrictions on border waters of Cook County.
Now, a release from The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says; "The (DNR) has announced temporary fishing and spearing closures on a number of designated spawning beds and fish preserves in northern St. Louis and western Lake Counties. The temporary closures are in accordance with Minnesota Statute 6264:0125 to protect fish when they are more susceptible to catch and overharvest as well as limit disruption in spawning areas." Read the complete DNR News Release here .
As a matter of fact, there will be a lot more first hand news from the Grand Rapids Region very soon. Because this cub reporter, staff #003 needs an excuse to get out from behind this computer. I'll have photos and news from the Cutfoot Sioux Egg Harvest Station before the day is over.
(4/20) Humminbird 360 Imaging - Popular Science recognizes the ingenious ideas and technologies that become consumer products, and then cull out the best of them. And in 2012, the prestigious ‘Best of What’s New’ in recreation honor was given to Humminbird. After cleaning up ‘Best New Electronics’ at fishing’s homecoming bash, ICAST, Humminbird’s 360 Imaging shared techno limelight with household names like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and the golf giant TaylorMade.
As the tech-forward organization looks out in the headlights – even the high beams – Popular Science took notice of Humminbird’s ability to also see the future. Not only is Humminbird’s 360 Imaging virtually ahead of its time when compared to other sonar brands, the technology literally identifies >> Read Humminbird 360 Review here.
Fishing Report April 19, 2013, Jeff Sundin - Good Morning! First the Good News, you have a perfect excuse to stay inside today and catch up on your uhmm... reading. And the bad news? Oh, sorry, I don't have that here, you can get enough of that already.
The winter does seem to struggle with issues about "letting go" and even I have to admit, it would be nice to feel the boat rockin' under me again.
But as a steadfast member of the Loyal Order of the 21st'rs, it's already been spring for a long time, almost 4 months according to our calendars. So except for an excuse to close the schools today, another few inches of snow, that's nuthin'. Shrug it off and Carry On!
(4/19) Anglers Gearing up for the 2013 fishing season would be smart to be sure that their landing net is in good working condition too.
Ted Takasaki says; "Knotless, treated mesh results in fewer problems all around. The quicker you get fish get out of the net, the healthier they are and the faster you get back to fishing.”
The species of fish you’re going after determines the hoop size you need. Some nets are species specific making it important to ... click learn more about >> Selecting The Correct Landing Net .
By the way, you can share your own fishing stories and post fishing pictures too! Just Click >> Fishing Reports Minnesota Page
Fishing Report April 18, 2013, Jeff Sundin - Good Morning! Okay, stop looking at the snow and start looking at the calendar. Sooner or later, the date is gonna catch up to the weather and I'd hate to see you get caught flat-footed.
In spite of the temptation to dwell on the gloomy news about more snow and ice than we're used to at this time of the season, this is a fantastic time to get your gear in order, charge up the batteries and be ready to roll.
For me, preaparing for openeing day was accomplished earlier than usual this year. So with lots of extra time on my hands, I'm polishing up the website a little. Dusting off old pictures, re-organizing some old pages and finding room for some new features. You're gonna notice a few changes over the next couple of weeks; But don't worry! I'm not going anywhere, just making time to brighten things up a little.
Click on a few of the links this morning and you'll already see some changes. I hope that you agree with me that they make life just a little more cheerful!
On Tuesday, I talked with Grant Prokop who has been out on the ice and after a slow start, discovered that hard work pays off. In Grant's words; "It took forever to find fish, but once we did, the fishing was fantastic".
Grant was referring to Sunfish that he had caught on Monday while fishing on Bass Lake. Travel conditions were good for his crew and they were able to move around freely using a Ranger.
The crew was headed for Round Lake on Tuesday where they'd been catching some good size Perch. He had a little advice for anyone who's been on the fence about doing some Perch fishing; The fish are really fat, really ripe with spawn and he thinks that the prime time, pre-spawn bite could come screeching to a halt soon. His adice was to get out there right now while the gettin' is good!
Travel conditions are good on Round Lake too and they hadn't found any trouble during the search for Perch.
Fishing Report, April 17, 2013, Jeff Sundin
Good Morning! We're getting there, slowly but surely. On Tuesday, some of the snow disappeard as the temps climbed into the high 30 degree range. Slight as it may be, the warming trend is predicted to continue for the next week and that will certainly help.
It's tempting to be discouraged by the late spring, but don't do it, It won't help! Besides, just think of how long the jig and minnow bite is gonna last this spring! It will still be going strong in June and folks who never get to experience it, might get in on some fantastic shallow water action.
In fact, I can remember the spring that the ice was stacked up on the West side of Lake Winnie so high that it took nearly a month to melt. Larry Lashley, Tim Fishbach and our dearly departed friend Jessie Priem came on two, 3 day fishing trips, spereated by a couple weeks. That season, the boys nicknamed that spot "The Glacier" and we were stationed in front of it for a total of six days, catching fish like crazy every time we went out there.
Okay, so what I'm saying; Nature has an odd way rejuvinating itself. It's not really up to us to figure it out, except to learn how tro live with it. But sooner or later, the day is gonna come where we get to reap the harvest and when we do, it's gonna be good!
Fishing news around the territory was slow yesterday. Like me, most anglers have sort of reserved themselves for the upcoming fishing opener, For the moment, talk of the gizmos and gadgets we need to get ready for the fishing season has become more important.
(4/17) A Facebook question from Elizabeth P.
Q) You (on 4-14) said that there would be open water for our fishing trip in May, but maybe not where we usually fish. What if we really only know one lake and it's still frozen?
A) Elizabeth, I know that learning new lakes seems like a lot of hassle. But honestly, it isn't that hard and compared to just a decade ago, technology has made the job downright simple.
Over the winter, I've talked to a lot of people who were kicking tires, thinking about buying something new for their boats. Or maybe they were thinking of a new fishing rod or some other cool toy, you know, they were living the fishing season vicariously through shopping.
The first question I always asked them was; What are you using for electronics?
At times like we're gonna see this spring, working a decent charting system into your budget will pay off for you big time. Even if you don't rush out and buy a new GPS, for a really modest investment, you can still show up at a new lake armed with the latest technology, a detailed map that you work out ahead of time on your own home computer. That's right, you can learn the whole lake, investegate the structure, even in 3D. Then take all of the information right to the lake and fish it like you've been there 100 times.
The software is called Contour Elite and it's produced by Lakemaster. The software is available for areas all over the country. Mine is the Minnesota version and I'm gussing that this is the same one you'd want. It installs on your home computer in a few minutes and lets you call up a full detail map of a huge list of area lakes that you'd be interested in trying.
The Contour Elite software allows you to highlight suggested fishing spots, add GPS coordinates and print out a finished paper map. Or if you already own a Humminbird unit with GPS Charting, then you can simply save the information to an SD Card, load it into your unit and fish the new lake just like you're an old pro. You'll have all of the data you saved at home appearing right on the screen of your Humminbird.
"The Bemidji area is locked into winter mode, with more than 30 inches of ice remaining on most of the lakes. Anglers are still ice fishing, with most using snowmobiles to access the lakes.
Many of the fish have been moving into shallow water, waiting for spring to arrive. Anglers may have trouble locating the fish, but they should assume they will be biting if they find the right locations.
Anglers need to keep moving to find the fish. If anglers are on the right spot, the fish should be active. If the fish don’t seem to be biting, anglers are missing something and not doing everything right.
If anglers know where the fish are supposed to be on late ice from previous years, it should help them figure out where the fish are located now.
Sunfish and perch in many lakes have moved into very shallow water, with six to eight feet a common depth range to find both species.
The fish may also be suspended over the closest drop-off in deeper water. Many of the fish have been suspending right below the ice, so anglers may be on the right spot and fishing too deep and have their baits below the level of the fish.
Fish that are suspended right below the ice may look like interference on sonar and anglers may not believe or know what they are seeing on their electronics.
Fish suspended right below the ice also tend to be very spooky and will often be moving constantly as they feed.
There are special rods made for super shallow water that are designed to dab and dunk into holes. It often takes some stealth and some finesse to catch the fish when they move shallow, but the results can be fantastic and worth the extra effort." - Paul A. Nelson, Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service
Fishing Report, April 16, 2013, Jeff Sundin - Good Morning! It didn't take too long on Monday to figure out what happens when anglers temporarily run out of some fishing to do. They start thinking about their fishing gear! Except for questions about whether or not we'll have open water for the 2013 FishingOpener; My inbox contained nothing but questions about gearing up for the season.
First, YES! There will be open water and there will be places to fish. In fact, technically, there already are, even if they aren't exactly the first places that come to mind. I took a ride yesterday evening and found LOTS of open water on the Mississippi and Leech Lake Rivers. The water level is really high right now and that means that the current is going to be a strong influence on all of the lakes in the chain.
Keep that in mind when you're thinking about alternative locations for your opening day fishing trip. Smaller lakes with good size rivers running through, are going to open faster than isolated, inland lakes will. Name some? Lake Andrusia, Big Wolf, Lake Bemidji, Little Winnie, Prairie, Bowstring, Sand ... you get the idea. Just take a look at the map, follow the Mississppi, the Bigfork or Prairie Rivers and you'll get more ideas than you know what to do with.
Bowen Lodge April 16, 2013 Because Lake Winnie and other nearby lakes are part of the story, we're keeping close tabs on breaking news about the Illegal Walleye Selling and Fish Dumping Case, Minnesota's largest criminal fish selling scheme in two decades.
Authorities are bringing state charges against 21 individuals following a major investigation into the illegal sale and dumping of thousands of protected game fish in north-central and northwestern Minnesota.
The illegal fish were of various sizes, from small to trophy specimens. In one case, a trophy muskie was sold for mounting. Some business owners or employees were involved in the illegal purchase and sale of walleye, though officials were unable to document that fish were sold as >> Read Full Lake Winnie Fishing Report .
(4/16) A Facebook message from Lyle Unger gets right to the point. Question) "I am looking at getting a new boat. Why do you always get an Alaskan?
Answer) Lyle, It's gonna take me more than one reply to answer this question fully, but here's the short reply.
In 1989, I got my first Lund Boat, it was their "New", at the time, 1700 Pro V, with a 60 HP tiller engine. In those days, it was considered a monster fishing boat with lots of space and a wide open floor plan that allowed me to seat 3 passengers right up the middle of the boat. That seating arrangement gave my customers unbelievable flexibility to fish a variety of styles by simply turning their seats. For almost 25 years now, I've never run any other type of boat and never run any models except for Pro V and Alaskan "Tiller Models."
For a fishing guide, there is nothing more important than the ability to put the customer in prime position to catch fish. If the customers aren't getting in on the action, then every other feature, of any other boat is virtually worthless.
Fast forward, I was steadfastly loyal to the Pro V's all of the way into the early 2000's, when the open floor plan, 1900 Gary Roach, tiller model became extinct. I'd probably still be using that model today if it still existed.
It was the seating arrangement of 3 passengers, up the middle, that drove me intitially to explore the 20 Foot Alaskan. Luckily, I convinced myself to try the first one, because it turned out to be quite a surprise, a real treat!
The 2000 Alaskan gave me the seating arrangement that I wanted, plus provided even more space and an extra bonus was the simplicity of the rig. Very few wires, a fully Vinyl covered floor and deck combined with the Camo paint made my Alaskan virtually maintance free. In fact, once considered a dis-advantage, the Vinyl floor has become so popular that it's now offered as a "Feature" on the higher end boats.
My own customers will be the first ones to tell you how nice it is to fish with someone who isn't barking at them about spilling a soda, burning a hole in the rug or putting their feet up on some "special spot". In the Alaskan, our experience is just a lot more relaxed.
Fast forward again, 10 years later, the Alaskan has come a long way. Today it sports the IPS Hull, just like my old Pro V's, has a handful of added features while still retaining my favorite, open floor, 3 up the middle design.
Combined with a 90 Horsepower OptiMax "Big Tiller" engine, it has plenty of get up and go too, but will virtually creep along the breakline at any effective trolling speed I choose. The OptiMax 2-stroke gives me the added advantage of extra torgue and that allows me to load the boat onto the trailer in much shallower water without damaging the prop. The ability to fish almost any lake, high water or low is a huge advantage! Especially for guys like me who sometimes like to pretend that they're Amerigo Vespucci.
Now, one more advantage and it's a big one. Beause of this boat's lighter weight, combined with the extra torgue of the OptiMax, I can get the rig up on plane at much lower speeds than I could with the heavier boats. Advantage? My customers come home a lot drier these days.
If I could have anything that I wanted, I'd probably have more than one rig. Something like the big, tough fiberglass Pro V for lakes like Leech or Lake of the Woods. Then I could have an Alaskan for the smaller lakes and rivers that I love to fish. I'm like you though and I have to stretch my dollar, so for me, the Alaskan is a great compromise. Big enough to be big, small enough to be small and simple enough to be really effective as a pure fishing boat.
Okay, so there's the short answer. We never even got into why I like the Alaskan for hunting. Go ahead and pin me down on some more details and later, we'll pick up the discussion from here.
Fishing Report, April 15, 2013, Jeff Sundin - Good Morning! For me, it's always been nice to look at April 15th in the rear view mirror. This year, I think it will be downright wonderful!
In spite of the fact that that it's a little bit hard to see it coming; Summer is just around the corner and for all of you worry warts out there, Yes, there will be open water when the clock stikes midnight on May 11, 2013 . That said, I do have to admit that the late ice out is gonna force a few changes this spring.
The Minnesota DNR has already announced the closure of certain fishing areas in Cook County. The measure is intended to protect populations of spawning female Walleyes by prohibiting fishing in areas where they are likely to be highly concentrated. According to the press release by the DNR; "Closures on Minnesota-Ontario waters are made in cooperation with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and affect both sides of the border."
So far, no announcement about closures in the Itasca Area have been published, but with virtually every lake in the area still ice covered, it won't be a big surprise if an announcement is made in the next week or so.
I'll be attending the Walleye Advisory Council Meetings in just a couple of weeks and I'm sure that we'll get all of the details at or before that meeting.
Rainy River Walleyes are officially out of danger from anglers this morning and if they could think; I'll bet that a lot of them would be happy that they "dodged a bullet" this spring. After anglers flocked to the river for the first day or two of open water, the bumper traffic subsided, slowing to a crawl. Fishing pressure on the river during the colder than average "pre-spawn season" turned out to be much lighter than usual and the Lion's share of late arriving Walleyes moving upstream to spawn, will complete their mission without hardly ever seeing a boat.
Don't get me wrong, for many anglers it was a good spring on the river. In fact, we had a couple of really good days there ourselves and we'll be back again next spring. It's just that the cold weather discouraged lots of folks from showing up, many of them choosing to fish on "hard water" instead.
Which reminds me; Ice Fishing is still going strong for anglers who have stuck with it. Locally, Perch fishermen continue to benefit from the late ice. Not every lake has good ice conditions, but there are enough of them to provide more than ample opportunity for anyone who's willing to do a modest amount of scouting. ATV's remain the best way of moving around, but now that we've more fresh snow, snowmobiles can still be used too.
Crappies have been aggressive lately too, especially for ice fishermen on the border. Rainy Lake has been in the news a lot lately. In fact, there's a report from just yesterday included in Greg Clusiau's Fishing Report (read below).
In the Deer River area, Crappies are aggressive too and all of the "popular lakes" are producing action. Throughout the area, there are tons of small fish being caught on virually every good Crappie lake. So be prepared to do some sorting, but better size fish have become more active too and persistence will pay off.
"My good buddies from across the border in Ft. Frances were knocking the daylights out of the BIG crappies on Rainy Lake. I had no fishing partner on this day and didn’t want to make the trip alone. However, after looking over their Facebook reports I " ... >> Read Greg's Full Report
Good Morning! Thank you to everyone who always works so hard to make the Naswauk Home and Sport Show a great place to visit. As usual, Tammie Sumner and all of the folks in Nashwauk were welcoming in every way.
Thanks also to the anglers who dropped in to see my seminar on Cold Water Walleye Fishing. It's rewarding to know that the time organizing and producing the material was well spent. Any time that I can speak to a group of fishermen who are engaged, trying to learn more about the sport, well it makes for a good day.
For me, yesterday's appearance wrapped up the seminar season. That is unless I get a couple of last minute calls to slip in another event or two before the Minnesota Fishing Opener.
The seminar focused on strategies for locating and catching early season Walleye, especially when the season is really early, like it's gonna be this year. I know that your fishing club or organization might be planning an event soon and if you are, give me a call about coming out to do this seminar for you.
ICE Fishing news from around the Itasca area was generally good on Saturday. Without giving away too many secrets, there was one father-son team that went out yesterday morning and returned home by early afternoon with a limit of nice Sunfish. The duo was fishing in the Grand Rapids area, using ice jigs tipped with Wax Worms.
On the Rainy River, Fishing Reports continue to reflect the hit and miss nature of this years season. On the same day, anglers fishing in the same area with same baits will report wildly differing results. My buddy Matt Mattson was up there on Friday and Saturday. He and his group reported that their experience was a struggle. There's always a highlight reel though and this time, their 10 year angler gave the group a few fishing lessons. When I was a kid, catching the most fish was always a really big deal and I'll bet that kid is gonna tell the story a whole bunch.
Meanwhile, further down stream; Anglers who are fishing closest to the ice pack are reporting the best action. There have been several groups turning in reports ot 50+ fishing trips, even as high as 80 fish on some outings.
The anglers fishing the ice pack are literally keeping their boats within the floating ice chunks as they break away. Some are actually taking a pro-active approach and running their boats onto the ice to break off their own chunks.
Lighter than average jigs have been the rule of thumb all season long. When we were there, 1/4 ounce Lindy Jigs were the heaviest we ever needed. Some anglers are using 3/8 ounce, but none are going heavier than that.
(4/13) From the Rainy River, I just happened to be on hand for the recording of the first Fish Ed show of the new season. If you're wondering how we caught those Walleyes on the river just a few days ago, then you're in luck because Jon Thelen has it all dialed in. View this episode now and use the information on the river this weekend. Click to watch >> Fish Ed, Big Walleyes on the Rainy River .
(4/13) An inbound ice fishing report from Grant Prokop and his fishing buddies said that they started their ice fishing trip on Leech Lake where the battle with slush was enough to force them off of the ice. A move to Bowstring Lake yielded similar results so they moved again, this time to Round Lake. The third time was a charm and Grant said that it didn't take long to find some active Perch. The fish were located in 6 to 12 feet of water along the lakes main breakline.
So you're thinking that all sounds well and good, but I'm waiting for better weather. Okay Then, you can come pay me a visit at the Sport Show tomorrow in Nashwauk, where the heat will be on and the smiles will be flowing freely!
Fishing Report, April 12, 2013, Jeff Sundin
Another wintery day in the Northland and for me ... well let's just say that I'm lucky to have a lot of work to do inside!
In spite of the crummy weather, the world of fishing is far from dormant; Knowing that the season is about to close, Walleye fishermen were still heading for the Rainy River on Thursday, so were the Pike fishermen who planned to fish the ice on Lake of the woods.
Closer to home, Deer River area Ice fishermen are still lingering too and the ice conditions remain favorable for the weekend. The weather may not be perfect, but if the spirit moves you, drilling one last set of holes could easily be in your future this weekend.
Fishing Report, April 11, 2013, Jeff Sundin
Don't get too far away from the report that I posted yesterday, because that information is still up to date. The best news of this day is that the weather has given us a break, at least so far. Virtually all of the rain and snow that struck the Twin Cities area yesterday, has missed us.
It doesn't look like we're in for too much snow today either, but the windy conditions could give most anglers pause. If you're heading out onto the ice today, dress like it's winter and be careful!
(4/11) An email from Dave Beyer; Q) "You have a picture on the website of fish on your Humminbird. I just bought a new 596 last year and can't get images like that. Could you tell me what you have your settings at to mark fish like that? Thanks for any info. Love reading your reports.
A) Dave, Using your 596, you can count on seeing images just like the ones you see in this report because the screen resolution of your unit is the same as it is on my larger unit.
For me, tuning in so that I can see fish is a fairly simple process because I've become accustomed to the controls, but getting used to your settings does take a bit of experimentation.
Knowing that your boat is likely to be rigged differently than mine, these suggestions will get you started, but be sure to do your own "tweaking" until you get the desired results.
I am assuming that the transducer has been properly installed and that it is positioned reasonably level to the water line. If there's any reason to suspect that it's not, start by re-positioning it.
For me, the first move I make is to press the menu button, enter the "Sonar" menu and take the unit out of "Auto Mode". I prefer to make my own settings, beginning with the sensitivity, followed by the lower depth range. To get the sensitivity dialed in, I find a spot where I know what the bottom content is like. An excellent starting spot if over a sand bottom in a depth that's similar to where I spend most of my time fishing. I know that most of my spring fishing will be in depths of less than 20 feet, so I'll start with my lower depth range set at 20 feet.
Now let's just say that I'm over a sandy bottom in 15 feet of water. I'll turn the sensitivity down until my bottom reading becomes broken or appears to be a weak signal return. Now turn it back up until you get a robust image of the bottom, but without a lot of screen clutter. From now on, you'll know what the sand bottom looks like on your Humminbird and a soft bottom will return a weaker signal that lacks definition or sometimes even refuses to give depth readins at higher speeds. Harder bottom areas like rocks will return a stronger, more robost signal with lots of color.
Once you tweak the sensitivity, good size fish, the kind worth stopping for, will appear on the screen as thicker vertical images, showing some solid color in the center. The taller the image and the more intense the color, the larger the fish.
A longer image (like the ones you see on the sreen to the right) simply means that the fish remained under your transducer for a longer period of time. In my example, we can still see that they are good size fish because of the solid yellow color in the center. In fact, one of the fish pictures that accompany that report is very likely to be one of the marks you see on that screen.
Another trick is to use the SwitchFire mode. When I want to see a lot more detail, like schools of baitfish or even evidence of an insect hatch, I'll swith the unit into "Max Mode". This setting will show me a lot more detail, but may maike spotting individual fish a little more tricky. Whenver I want to see fish and nothing but the fish, I'll switch into the "Clear Mode" and that takes out a lot of the clutter caused by bugs, weeds, air bubbles and baitfish. If I need to, I can turn the sensitivity up a bit to make the fish show up better.
Okay, that's the quick answer, but know that we could go on for a much longer time. Never be afraid to experiment with your settings and keep fine tuning until you feel comfortable with the appearance of your screen images.
(4/11) From the Minneapolis Star and Tribune; "A major fish poaching scheme involving the buying and selling of hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of walleyes netted from some of northern Minnesota’s most popular lakes has been busted, authorities said Wednesday.
Ten men from northern Minnesota have been indicted for allegedly netting walleyes and other fish from lakes on the Red Lake and Leech Lake Indian reservations and selling them in violation of federal, state and tribal law. >> Link to News About Illegal Walleye Netting
Whether you're an ice fisherman or a river rat, the news from Baudette, MN should pique your interest. There are nearly an equal number of anglers fishing on the ice for late season Pike and Walleye as there are on the river fishing for Walleye and Sturgeon.
Depending on your style, you could choose to close out the "Big Game" season this weekend in an ice shelter or a boat and catch fish either way.
For ice fishermen, a report from River Bend Resort on Monday was that the plowed roads onto Lake of the Woods continue to be maintained by Adrians Resort and that ice conditions remain good. ATV and snowmobile travel would be good choices too and with all of the permanent shelters long gone from the lake, travel conditions are better than they were when all of the bomber traffic was on the lake.
Walleye and Pike are gathering at the gap, staging before heading into the river and Ice fishing action is "steady".
On the Rainy River frosty conditions during the morning have encouraged Walleyes to act a lot like teenagers. Don't expect them to roll out of bed much earlier than about 11:00 AM. Once they get moving though, their appetites begin to build and by mid-afternoon and even if it's not at it's full potential, fishing action shapes up fairly well. For me, the best game plan is to get a good rest, have a nice breakfast roll on to the river somewhere around 10 AM.
The surface temperatures actually dropped during our stay. On Monday afternoon we saw temps in the 38.6 to 39 degree range, but by Tuesday afternoon, 37.5 to 38 degrees was the warmest we found. There is virtually no runoff from tributaries which remain frozen, the ice sitting two feet or more above the water level of the river. Without a major heatwave to cause sudden melting, current conditions should be favorable through the weekend.
Our fishing on Monday and Tuesday was what I'd call steady. Lacking the current speed and warmer temperatures that generate a mass movement of fish, the Walleye are trickling into the river in small groups. In fact, it looked to me like the fish that we caught were a 50/50 mix of "River Fish" vs. "Lake Fish". Some of them bright and silvery, fresh from the lake, others sporting the pale Yellow color of resident river fish.
Walleyes. In cold, clear water, seemed to be moving away from the boat as we passed over them. The Walleyes that showed up on the Humminbird mounted at the bow, rarely appeared on the unit at the back of the boat. By pitching our lures away from the boat, we were able to trigger more strikes and we think that it was a key point to rememebr. 1/4 ounce Lindy Jigs tipped with good size Rainbows and fished with a steady "Lift-Drop" retrieve triggered fish and after that, it was just a matter of time before we were rewarded for the effort.
Conditions on tributaries to The Rainy River remain stable. Both, the Littlefork and Bigfork Rivers remain 95% ice covered. Grey spots are begining to appear, especially further South on the Bigfork, but it looks like neither of them will break loose before the Walleye season ends after April 14th.
That eases some concerns about flooding, a condition that causes a lot more trouble than just slow fishing days! In other words, cold temperatures and a slow melt down really are a Silver lining in the story.
(4/10) From the Deer River area, I got an email from Jeff Andres who was in the area for some ice fishing last weekend. In his own words; "I appreciated your thoughts on the lake conditions. We made it up to fish on Friday afternoon and Saturday. We did pretty good on Friday with some nice perch and a few sunnies and crappies. Had a little issue with slush and snow off the south access of Bowstring late in the day with the sun that was out. (We) Broke thru the snow/ice crust while walking hole to hole. Nothing we couldn't deal with. Main lake was 20% snow free and easy to get around on sleds. 4 wheelers did ok, too, but they did have a little trouble where there was more snow. Saturday was almost a bust with catching--nobody wanted to cooperate. Fished that afternoon on Winnie and that was slow, too. I'd guess the big bite won't be until this weekend or more likely the one following. Everywhere we drilled we had the water pocket under the crust. One fellow went out of the north access on Bowstring with his pickup and made it about a block before he had to abandon his rig.
By the way, when you do finally make your way up to the Rainy River, you'll want to know more about where to find Walleye under a variety of conditions. Where do they go when the current is slow vs fast? Get some quick tips right now by watching these videos that we made on the Rainy River last spring.
Another warm period, due to arrive tomorrow will begin heating up the shoreline again and it's possible that the county could use that as an opportunity to plow out one of the landings. Conditions are changing fast up there and I wouldn't be surprised by an announcement at almost any time. Stay tuned throughout the day.
Fishing Report, April 9, 2013, Jeff Sundin - An early start this morning is gonna delay the update until late tonight, but don't worry, you can count on a full report as soon as I'm back behing the computer.
One thing I can tell you, the sun isn't even up and I can already tell that it is A Beautiful Day!!
At River Bend Resort, Paul said visitors to Lake of the Woods are split 50/50 between ice fishermen and river fishermen. Adrian's Resort continues to maintain their plowed roads and angers are driving trucks to the Walleye and Pike! If your gear is ready, the fish are hungry and waiting.
A fresh window of opportunity brings renewed enthushiasm for river fishermen.
Most of the snow is behind us now and temperatures are just warm enough to melt it away. That's causing slightly rising water levels and an uptick in the current flow. The fish are responding by advancing upstream toward spawning areas.
From the Rainy River, a note of encouragement came from reports at the Frontier Landing where the ramp is now clear enough to allow larger boats access to the river. More good news is that the Vidas landing is being used by anglers with "car-toppers" and boats small enough to push accross the ice. That takes some pressure off the landing at Birchdale and improves the odds of launching a boat within a reasonable time.
Surface temperatures remain cold, hovering around 37 degrees, well below the magic spawning temperatures. That's why anglers on the Rainy continue to catch larger female fish.
On Sunday, Matt Mattson shared a report from the Rainy saying; "They were fishing by the frontier landing and caught about 50 fish. There was one really big walleye that got away. The crew arrived at about 8:00 AM and no trouble getting on river, but they said that it was a little busy getting off. He also said anything with a silver spinner worked great."
"The ice conditions were excellent, with melted-down snow and slush making for easy travel and there was plenty of ice to play on, at least 24”. However, every once in a while, if a hole was drilled a little too close to a “wet-looking area”, you’d run into some “layered” ice and water, making for some tough drilling. Keeping your eyes open and " ... >> Read Greg's Full Report .
Fishing Report, April 7, 2013, Jeff Sundin
A snowy day in the Deer River area gave me a perfect excuse to hunker down and take care of business on Saturday. After I caught up on some paperwork, I ran to town and picked up one last bag of gizmos and gadgets for rigging the boat. Back home, back to work at the computer and hardly a thought about fishing slipped into my head.
By this time tomorrow, I'll be heading back up to the Rainy River, hoping for a better position in the waiting line than the last time.
(4/7) Q) Whos rods, brands and models, and reels will you using in your boat for this seasons panfishing, walleye, and northern fishing? Or what do you recommend for panfishing, walleye, and northern fishing? I am courious as to what you use today. - "Your website is wonderful and the daily logs are a joy to read. PLEASE keep up the great effort!" - Eric Koeppen
A) Eric, when it comes to choosing rods and reels today, I am just like most anglers; I shop around for the most useful rods and then try to find the best price. Just lately, I've found several that I really like.
Last year for panfish I used a rod from St. Croix's panfish lineup, the PFS70LXF. It's a seven foot light action rod with an extra fast tip, that worked out great for Crappie fishing and doubled well as a Walleye rod in shallow water situations where 1/16 ounce jigs were required.
Another long, ultra light rod that I really like is the GTS SWS 702-1 by TFO Rods. The Gary Loomis designed rod is tecnically not an ultra light, but with the line rating of 4-8 pound test and a lure weight rating of 1/16 to 1/4 ounce, it is extremely versatile. This one goes into my personal list of top ten favorites, maybe even in the #2 position, behind Gary's original GLX SR 842. At less than half the price though, the TFO is a hard act to follow.
There are some great, affordable rods for combination Walleye and Bass fishing during mid-summer. The Diawa DXW721MXS and the DXWMXLXS feature a well thought out handle design, real cork in just the right spot, Fuji Guides, IM7 Graphite and a 5 year warranty, all for about $90. These rods are a good all around choice for fishing jig and minnow, jig worms and shallow water Lindy Rigging.
If you fish with a graphite rod, then Gary Loomis has touched your life already. Working together, the boys at TFO could easily earn a spot in your boat too.
TFO's Signature Series Rods have started gathering in the corner of my kitchen. In fact there's quite a collection building up and at $100, I know that you can find one of these that you'll like. They have a lineup of spinning rods that allow you to cover everything from Perch to Muskies. For me, a good all around choice is the TFG SSS 662-1 a 6' 6" rod that handles lures from 1/16 to 1/4 ounce and line weights of 4 to 8 pounds. There are other versatile models in this lineup too, so be sure to tell your retailer that you want to compare a few of them to match your own preferences.
For Bass and Pike in heavier cover, or at times when I need to use heavier weights, I switch to casting rods. I like rods in the 7 foot range that I can also use for trolling crankbaits and spinners in late summer. I know that a lot of guys use longer rods for trolling, but I don't troll as much as they do and I'm looking for a balanced medium action rod that allows me to cheat on the trolling, but still allows me enough power to do some casting with swim baits and fishing texas rigged plastic worms etc... If I need anything heavier than that, I pull out the Musky rods.
A couple of years ago, I stumbled into a deal on some Jason Mitchell rods that I really like. Their JMC70MLF is a medium light rod that allows us to cast the baits that I want to cast, but still has a light enough tip section for trolling crankbaits.
More rods from the TFO lineup that I like are their Signature Series Casting models TFG SSC 764-1 and the TFG SSC 763-1 these are both 7'6" rods that offer enough versatility for a wide range of baits and situations. For trolling, the 763 has a lighter tip section, for casting heavier baits, the 664 is a little heavier and gives you extra power to get out of cover.
Okay, talking about fishing reels is a little trickier for me. I've found that lately, this can turn out to be a real crap shoot, espeically when you find a model that you really like, go back for more and then discover that it's been discontinued or even worse, cheapened in some way. I have a list of "favorite reels" as long as my arm, the only problem is that I can't get any of them any more.
One thing that I've discovered, for me and my situation, buying a really expensive reel doesn't usually solve anything. Reels that get passed out to my customers are always going to get used really hard and they all break, even the really expensive ones.
What I'm saying is that, I've overlooked some really wonderful reels, only because of their price tags. If I was buying something just for myself or someone special like the Admiral, then I'd look at a wider array of offerings.
Just recently, for spinning reels, I've tended to gravitate toward the Diawa and Pfluger lineups. Both of these manufacturers have offerings in the
$50 to $80 range that stand up well to the abuse that they get in my boat. I usually pick up a couple of each brand at random intervals throughout the season.
This winter, I stocked up a little heavier on the Pflugers because I found them at an attractive price, but don't let that sway you away from the Diawas, I've had several of them wind up on my top ten list too!
Casting reels are different, especially the heavier weight ones. For me, ABU Garcias are the hands down winners in this category. I have an assortment, all with different model numbers and model names, but they are generally all really good reels. I'd rattle off some numbers, but I've had most of them so long that they may not even be available. Besides we can always revisit this subject later, when other ideas pop into my mind.
By the way, Whenever you're looking at fishing rods or reels, don't rule out Cabelas branded gear either. Many of them are manufactured by the some companies we've talked about here, but have the Cabelas name printed on them. The only reason that I don't have more Cabelas branded gear is that I never know when I'll need one and it isn't really too handy for me to drive down to their stores. I'm too fussy about rods to order them by mail, so I tend to shop more locally instead.
On the ice at Lake Winnibigoshish and Cutfoot Sioux; Brian Castellano managed a couple of ice fishing trips this week and wrote; "I managed to get out twice this week. On Tuesday afternoon, I headed up to Big Cutfoot Sioux in search of crappies. There was 5" of solid crust on top, 5" of slush, and about 24" of ice out there. While I ended up walking out, I could have ATV'd out with no problem what so ever, if I would have brought the ATV.
The crappies were snappin' but the majority of them were too small for the bucket. I also caught a few tulibees and a 21" walleye. I was fishing out deep, 22-27'.
This morning (Thursday), I went up to perch fish on Bowens Flats on Winnie. Ice conditions were similar to Cutfoot. Again, it was a gangbusters bite and once again, most of them were too small. However, I did manage to keep 10 decent ones, in the 9-10" range. We fished in 7-8' of water. Northland Forage Minnow jigging spoons were working so well, I didn't even need bait. I was able to ATV out with no problems, but on the trip back in, around 1:30, the snow had softened up enough where the last 75 yds to shore was a struggle. - Brian
(4-6) On the Rainy River, there are Walleyes to be caught, if you can get at 'em. On Friday, gettin' at 'em was the problem for us. When we first laid eyes on the Rainy River, it was still frozen. Nothing but ice all the way from Baudette to Clementson. But continuing East on Hwy. 11, the river started looking really good a few miles before the Frontier landing. Open water had advanced a few miles downstream of the ramp and there were already a string of boats fishing that popular stretch.
By the time we got to the Frontier Landing, we spotted what we thought was good news. There were fishermen with "big rigs" and they were launching their boats at Frontier. We thought that would mean getting onto the river was gonna be eaiser and faster. That is until we turned into the landing where we were greeted by a Koochiching County employee. He looked at the big Alaskan on the trailer behind us and said; "I know that you boys can get that thing in here, but you're not gonna get it out, not here anyway".
What the others were doing to gain access was to back their trailers accross the ice and carelully stop just at the edge. Rolling their boats off of the trailer and letting them drop into the water. That way they could get on the river and start fishing right away. Knowing that loading their boats back onto the trailers would be impossible, the game plan for guys with heavy boats was to fish all day, then drop a driver off at Frontier who would then meet them upstream at Birchdale. Hmmm.... sounded complicated to us, looked a little tricky too, especially knowing that's Chris' big diesel truck wighed nearly double what most of the other trucks we saw on that bank of ice.
We decided that a better plan for us was to head over to Birchdale and wait out the line of traffic. That idea didn't last long though; We talked to one fisherman who took position in line at 7:30 AM and had just gotten his boat on the water ..... It was 10:17 AM. The three of us decided that we'd rather go explore un-charted territory, even go home instead of spending 2-1/2 hours at each end of thae waiting line. We backed up the rig, got back onto Eastbound 11 and headed upstream to Pelland.
When we got there, the ramp was open and the crowd was light. Even if we never caught a fish, we were ahead of the game, because at least we were on the water instead of waiting in line.
We'd been warned ahead of time that there weren't many fish along that stretch of river and the warnings turned out to be right. But even on the slowest fishing day, there are always some highlights. This time the highlight was a Musky that came out of nowhere and grabbed Nik's jig and minnow. It wasn't a giant, but it was difinitely a nice catch and especially nice for someone who hadn't boated a Musky before.
The day wasn't too productive, a couple of Walleyes in the boat and a couple of near misses was the best we could scrounge up. But even along the drive home, we all agreed that the outcome was worth the effort and like always, we left the river knowing more than we did when we arrived.
Fishing Report, April 5, 2013, Jeff Sundin
Anglers Are Cashing In On The Bonus Round! I happened to be looking for a picture to go with our facebook post this morning when I realized; It was exactly one year ago today that I, Jonny Petrowske and Billy Rosner fished on the Rainy River together. That was one heck of a day for all three of us and I'm not sure that it can be topped, but I think we're all gonna try.
It's completely coincidence, but I'm heading up there again this morning, one year later and this time with a different crew, but with no lower expectations. I am more than hopeful that lightning does sometimes strike twice. If it does, you're less than 24 hours away from finding out!
On The Rainy River; Current flow continues to be manageable and it appears that this weekend will likely be the peak fishing time of this springs, short but sweet Walleye window. That is, at least for fishing.
All of the launch ramps are still covered with ice except for the ramp at Birchdale, which means that it's gonna be crowded. Temperatures just above freezing won't encourage too much melting, so don't expect a lot of changes. Without intervention, the Frontier Landing probably isn't gonna open up today either because cold, Grey skies are in the forecast.
We will definitely be snapping some photos today. So good news or bad, you'll get a healthy dose of the scenery from the river tomorrow morning.
Fishing Report, April 4, 2013, Jeff Sundin
Anglers Are Cashing In On The Bonus Round! I think that I've been a little too tentative about spreading good news lately. Hinting that maybe you should make some plans for one more late season ice fishing rally, or heading toward the river for some open water Walleye Fishing. Working around the edges of the good news about improving conditions doesn't seem to be sinking in. Let's try it this way; "Game On! Get up off of the sofa and Go Fishing!" .
Ice conditions are improving daily, the fish are biting and traffic is light. Chances are good that you'll find a nice spot to cash in on late season Perch and Panfish and you'll have the spot almost all to yourself.
Rainy River Walleye Fishermen have already figured out that right now, conditions on the river are likely the best that they'll ever be this spring. It's crowded at the Birchdale Ramp because it's still the only place where anglers can launch a larger boat. The landing at Frontier is getting closer, but for now the only people who can use it are the ones with small boats that can be pushed accross the ice.
With such a short window of opportunity, putting up with crowded launch ramps is just part of the overall experience. In my view, everyone who visits the Rainy River during the spring, understands that we're in it together and most of the time, they really work smoothly with each other.
The reason they put up with the traffic is that fishing is usually good enough to make the trip worthwhile and so far, the action this spring is no exception. Most everyone has been catching fish, some more than others, but everyone is having fun.
Typical of the early portion of the season, the first wave of "pre-spawn" female Walleyes are on the move now and many anglers are catching fish in the mid 20 inch range. Right now, any minute, of any day, could be the chance to land the catch of a lifetime.
(4/4) I have been following your reports and wondering if you could give me a little more input on travel. We are headed up there on Friday and will be staying at the Hill near Round Lake. We will be fishing Round and Bowstring and would rather bring 4-wheelers as opposed to snowmobiles. Is that possible? Is there any chance of truck travel on either of these lakes? Any input would be greatly appreciated! - Todd Williamson
A) Todd, Some area lakes are already free of snow. Even if there is still some snow cover on these lakes, I think that snowmobiles should be left at home now. There are more ice fishermen using ATV's on a variety of area lakes right now. Round and Bowstring might both be partially snow covered, but the snow is melting fast, so I'd surely bring them along. Depending on how much melting has already occurred on these two lakes, it may still be necessary to walk to your fishing spots, but there's an equally good chance that ATV's will perform great this weekend.
On Wednesday evening, Bill Powell at Fred's Bait in Deer river told me that he's been seeing a healthy flow of ice fishing traffic. The anglers that he's talked to are reporting that travel conditions are improving daily. Most of them are getting around easily on area lakes.
Sandy Leino at Leinos Riverside Resort on Round Lake gave me a second hand report about an ice fisherman travelling by truck on Round lake yesterday. Now truck travel might be possible, I'm not endorsing the idea though and I'd urge you to exercise caution before you head out there. My usual rule of thumb is that I like to be the 12th set of tracks heading onto the lake in my truck.
Bowen Lodge on Lake Winnibigoshish April 4, 2013
Bill and Gail Heig are smelling spring in the air too and they've begun ramping up for the 2013 Walleye Fishing opener on Lake Winnie and Cutfoot Sioux.
Fishing information about Walleye, Northern Pike, Panfish and Perch will be covered again during the open water fishing season at the Bowen Lodge Fishing Report Page .
But, anxious for some early news about the forecast for the 2013 fishing opener, Bill had a chat with the DNR's Lake Winnie specialist on Wednesday and got great news.
Lake Winnie is holding a record number of Walleye right now. Today, they're ranging in size from 13 to 14 inches and we've been told to expect a lot of fish in this size range, especially early in the season. That's great news because there's a slight gap in the size structure of fish between 16 to 17 inches. So those fish are going to >> Read Full Lake Winnie Fishing Report .
Fishing Report, April 3, 2013, Jeff Sundin
Hurry Up And Wait! In case you missed the announcement on the Facebook Fishing Reports Page yesterday, the Koochiching County Road Crew opened up the ramp at Birchdale yesterday.
With a window of only 12 fishing days to work with, I'd be willing to bet that there are already 100 rigs on their way to fish the Rainy River today. I wish that I was one of them and I will be soon, but not just yet.
Tributaries to the Rainy River are still ice-bound and the current flow in the main river channel is slow. The warm weather that's coming our way will get the spring thaw started again, but the except for traffic, the next few days will be an ideal time to fish Walleyes on the river.
Ice Fishing is still an option in the Deer River area too; Colder weather helped re-freeze wet areas on the ice and stabilized conditions should persist throughout the the day today. Travel by ATV is okay, especially on smaller lakes, but for best results, hoofing it to your fishing spot is still the smartest idea.
Numbers of anglers headeding for the ice are low, but the ones who fish, are being rewarded for their efforts. Crappie action has made a strong comeback and the Jumbo perch are going strong as well.
Typical spring presentations are working well. Fish are feeding their way toward shallower water, but insect hatches are a strong attraction. Many of the fish continue holding in areas where deep water meets mid-depth flats containing softer bottoms. Midge (Bloodworm) Larvae is a primary food source, especially for Perch, so pack baits that emulate that presentation.
For me, using tiny baits like Lindy's Toad or Bug, tipped with Red Eurolarvae is a killer presentation during this time of the season. WaxWorms are a great second choice and there are a number of artificial tails that will work on these tiny baits too. Just in case the Crappies are hungry for meat, I'd bring a few minnows, but don't over do it, grubs and small artificials should carry their weight really well right now.
Conditions could get wet again once the next heat wave rolls in, so if you have the time, get out there now while the gettin' is good.
Fishing Report, April 2, 2013, Jeff Sundin
A day of treading water. That was the scene around Deer river on Monday when outside temperatures hovered just at the freezing mark.
Rivers and areas of lakes where there's a current flow are continuing to open up, albeit slowly. Surface water on lakes froze and remained frozen throughout the day. Much of the snow cover on area lakes is either gone or concentrated in areas where it was the deepest. Ice fishermen should expect another chance to travel by ATV providing that they're willing to explore and find a lake where the access is in good condition.
I stopped at the South end of Ball Club Lake on Monday evening and found that the area was almost free of snow, walking conditions on the lake were okay, but very slippery. Find your cleats and have 'em handy.
On the Rainy River; The main channel continues to expand downstream and open water can now be seen from the Froniter Landing. So far, there are still no open accesses for large boats, only for vessels small enough to be pushed accross the 30 yards of shoreline ice.
(4/2) Had you given up on Ice Fishing For Crappies? Greg Clusiau almost did too! But luckily, Brainerd Area Fishing Guide, Jamie Dietman talked him into hitting the ice over the weekend and they were rewarded with ... >> read full story here
Fishing Report, April 1, 2013, Jeff Sundin - Welcome to April and to the beginning of the open water season. I know, winter is holding on tight, trying to linger, but even when it looks like it's winning, it's losing.
We needed this cold snap just to slow down the melting. There's already so much water moving under the snow that even when it looks like frozen lakes are all we're ever gonna see, ice out continues working it's way toward the Northland. My prediction? Ice out will be a touch late, but not more than a week or so and we'll be looking at photos of spawning Walleyes somewhere between April 24th and 30th.
Bear in mind, all of that water has to be going somewhere. In my own yard, it's flowing under the deep snow, moving toward low spots and filling them up fast. On area lakes, much of the standing water is seeping into cracks and crevices in the ice. Saturated with water, the ice will turn dark soon after the remaining snow cover melts, bringing ice out back toward a typical date.
Reading ice fishing reports from the Bemidji area yesterday; Anglers who have been on the lakes are fishing smaller waters and are all hoofing it to their fishing spots. There just isn't a good vehicle for moving around in the slush. Die hard fishermen are paying their dues in order to find fish, but they are being rewarded for the effort. Crappies, Sunfish and Perch are moving shallower, toward spawning areas and typical spring patterns are emerging.
Perch are staging on mid-depth flats and on shallower, slow tapering shoreline drop off areas. Females are feeding aggressively in preparation for their spawning runs and can be found anyplace where food is abundant.
The holy grail of feeding locations for Perch are the soft bottom areas where Bloodworms are present.
In fresh water lakes, Bloodworms are the stringy looking, Red Larvae that you sometimes see lying on the ice just after you catch a Perch or Sunfish. They are the larvae of the Midge, a flying insect that looks like a lot like a Mosquito.
Typically found in deeper water where the bottom consists of softer Marl, the Midge Larvae can be found anywhere that has the correct bottom composition. When you discover the presence of Bloodworms, you have discovered a "Good Spot"!
Minnows will still attract plenty of Perch too, but these fish will be on the move and the action is likely to be spotty. Areas with low lying weed cover, rubble or clam beds will help hold minnows in the area and are good choices for early spring Perch.
(4/1) On Lake Winnibigoshish, Zach Dagel and his crew attempted to get onto the this Saturday. Zack reported that the meltdown is real, in fact it's too real! Slush and water hampered their efforts to travel on the lake and even their track-equipped Ranger became bogged down in the slush. Timing for a return visit depends entirely on getting cold temperatures that will re-freeze the saturated snow.
(4/1) On Lake of the Woods is still a viable option for Ice Fishermen too. Bill Powell reported 2 good fishing trips to the big lake this week. He said that conditions at Long Point are good and that he and Billy Maki found good fishing in areas where they could still drive the truck. A mixed bag of Walleye, Sauger and some bonus Tulibees kept them busy on Wednesday. On Friday, larger Walleye showed up in the area and they caught several fish over 20 inches long. Powell says that ice conditions are likely to remain good for vehicle traffic throughout the next week.
(4/1) On Lake of the Woods, Border View Lodge, Mike Kinsella wrote; "The permanent houses are off the lake! Thank you all for another great winter season at Border View Lodge! The staff enjoyed the season and all of the guests that make it such a wonderful place!
The change of season shows our ability to change colors like a chameleon. If it is winter we get, it is winter we stay. Until the spring actually starts we are still thinking ice fishing.
The ice is still in great shape! It appears that we will be able to ice fish until April 14th which at this time we plan to do unless the conditions change. The bite has been good. Without having our permanent houses we will be fishing outside with wind breaks. The close to Pine Island bite has improved and we are expecting a great bite to happen. Now that the snow is melting and we are getting current in the river it should get excellent!
Hot deals you ask! Take 20% off of our winter fishing packages to ice fish for Walleyes in April. Track vehicle transportation while fishing outside, no permanent houses. The guides will be able to take you to where the fish are biting!
Birchdale has open water that anglers have been pushing in small jon boats for the last few days. Open water fish has been doing well! As far as the river being open we may have to wait awhile longer. It is forecasted to stay below freezing most of this week. A betting person would say that we are at least two weeks away from having open water in front of our lodge. Each year is a little different some years it averages a mile a day, when other years it seems to all go at once. Only time will tell." - Starting 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge .
Friday's comments about the Rainy River piqued the interest of Dave Pruin who asked;
Q) "Jeff, I've got to try the Rainy! As for the response yesterday; Do you guys use mostly jigs? What size, color? Minnows or plastic? Most important how deep? How fast? You know what info can make a trip. Any info would be appreciated, the email is ... (edited) Thanks, Dave
A) Dave, We do use jigs most of the time and the weight is based on the current flow. Unlike fishing on the lake, river conditions are changing constantly and your abilitity to adapt is a key for producing consistent results. Typically, jig weights I use range from 1/4 ounce to 1/2 ounce, but it pays to have some larger and some smaller too. A strong current or a school of inactive fish could force you to use jigs weighing 3/4, 1 ounce or even heavier. Agressive, feeding fish on the shoreline may dicate using jigs as light as 1/16 ounce.
Last spring, I had a really lucky run using 1/4 ounce Fuzz E Grubs, Glow/Blue tipped with nice size Rainbow Chubs. Other colors produced fish too and so did other weights. My friend Jonny Petrowske had a 3/8 ounce Hot Pink/Chartreuse Lindy Jig that put lots of fish in the boat too! Other colors I like are Glow/Pink, White/Glow and the Orange/Green combo. Don't rule out dark colors, especially when the current flow is fast and the water becomes muddy.
Slipping against the current in the main river channel at .5 to 1.2 MPH is ideal for me, but there are times when fishing tight against the bank can be really productive too. I prefer not to anchor on the river, but there are also lots of folks who love that presentation. Anglers who specialize in anchoring find fingers, bumps or depressions in the bottom, anchor their boats in position to fish the current breaks caused by the structure and fish from a satationary position. While it might be somewhat time consuming, this method is very effective.
Live bait is always on my agenda, but I have a supply of soft plastics on hand too. A variety of minnows will work and my belief is that the size of your bait is more important than the specific species of minnow. This can change from day to day too, so I'll usually try to have a variety of sizes on hand to suit the daily preference of the fish. Rainbow Chubs, Large Fatheads, Golden Shiners, Spottail Shiners and Emerald Shiners are all good choices.
I have witnessed fantastic catches by anglers who were using soft plastics too. Artificials are especially effective when the males get into the shallow water, gravel areas when they begin spawning. Casting jigs tipped with large action tails like Money Minnows, twirl tails or other "swimming type baits" will trigger agressive strikes, sometimes within inches of the bank.
Fish are the hungriest during "pre-spawn", when temperatures are cold, let's say below the 42 - 44 degree range, when fish are actively feeding. After the large females begin to drop their eggs, they become much less agressive and the action will die off for a short time. Eventually, the smaller males will congregate in shallow areas, stretches of gravel, where they will continue to ligner and feed until well after the season closes.
Last year, on a three day trip to the Rainy River, we caught Walleyes using a slightly different presentation each day. Luckily, we happened to be recording and captured some helpful tips for fishing the river that you can watch today. Start with my favorite one where I mess up and lose my fish. After that, watch 'em all and you'll see that that there a lot of twists, but nothing you can learn in a very short time .
Remember, now that the action is heating up, "Like" the Facebook Fishing Reports Page and receive bonus updates throughout the day, during the whole fishing season. Hey! You can even post your own fish pictures!
Helping your fellow fishermen and women stay abreast of fishing conditions in your area is good for everybody and it's easier than you think!
You don't have to write a book, you don't have to share your secret fishing spots and you don't even have to mention your lake. But even a few words about general trends, seasonal patterns and local weather conditions can really help.
Fishing Reports Minnesota, the Facebook counterpart to this page is open to the public, so you can post your own fishing update or just share a photo of a nice catch. Be like me, become a duly deputized "Cub Reporter", it's good for fishing! Contact Us