Remember the old Neil Diamond tune? Bass on the rocks, ain’t no big surprise, happens a lot while you’re fishing walleyes …
The familiar spring fishing pattern, Walleye deep, Smallmouth shallow, has emerged. For anglers who like the idea of combining sport fishing with more sport fishing, the next couple of weeks will be prime time.
It’s safe to say that Smallmouth Bass are getting serious about spawning. That’s because even though a cold front sent temperatures into the 30’s on Saturday morning, the fish refused to vacate their chilly, shallow water haunts.
In the super clear water, it was easy for us to see fish milling around rocks in water depths ranging from 4 to 8 feet of water. Some of the fish were fanning beds, some of them were just on the prowl and a handful of them were holding deeper, along the outer edge of the heaviest rocks.
The water was calm, the conditions were bright and the Walleye were too shy to come up into the rocks. Instead, they were holding along the softer, sand bottom transition at the extreme outer edges of rock piles and rocky points. Water depths varied from spot to spot, but my rule of thumb was to start fishing at 15 feet and work deeper if necessary. The fish that we caught were all located somewhere between 15 and 20 feet.
The water was calm and we moved slowly, allowing us to fish with 1/8 ounce Lindy Jigs tipped with minnows. By midafternoon, the water warmed, the fish became more aggressive and by alternating between the shallow rocks and the deeper soft bottom transition, we could “call our shots”. When it was time to catch a Walleye, I’d slip out deeper, when it was time for a Bass, you get the idea.
If the weather gets windy, then the Walleye will move up top and join the Smallies for a swim. But sunshine, calm seas and clear water don’t encourage Walleye to move that shallow. The exception can sometimes be when there are numerous, gigantic boulders providing enough shade to protect their sensitive eyes.
While we were busy playing with our Bass, friends were fishing on Leech Lake, where there are still solid fishing reports coming in.
Because most of the people I hear from use the ramp at Federal Dam, I tend to hear mostly about the fishing spots in Portage Bay. But pointing out small, isolated areas to fish would be a dis-service to you. That’s because in my experience, if the fishing on Leech Lake is good, then it’s good. There are numerous areas in every corner of the lake that produce great Walleye fishing.
What I'm saying is that
if you were thinking about learning the lake better, then I think this would be a prime time for getting started. So far this spring, Leech Lake has been providing some of the most reliable action anywhere in the Itasca area.
You Know what they say; “If the fish are biting, they’re biting”. That’s the time that I like to put on my Amerigo Vespucci hat and start exploring.
It was a good day to be Bob and Bonnie Baird, Bass on the rocks, Walleye along the sand breaks. All of the fish were caught using 1/8 ounce Lindy Jigs tipped with minnows.
It was especially good to be Bonnie! Key water depths for Walleye 15 to 20 feet, for Smallmouth, 4-8 feet.
Fishing Report May 30, 2015 - "I Don't Think We're In Kansas Anymore Papa"
Okay, so you've done some fishing; you're Grandpas fishing pal and you've spent many an hour tagging along. Most of the time, the game plan has been hoofin' it to one of the family's favorite farm ponds; maybe the river bank sometimes, but never fishing from a boat.
All of those stories Grandpa tells about fishing in Minnesota sure make it sound fun though, trolling around the lake, catching fish left and right, big ones and yummy ones too!
Guess What? This year I get to go along. Just imagine, my first time ever fishing from a boat and Oh Boy! And when we get there, we're gonna ....
... Be looking at Whitecaps, driven across the lake by a cold Northwest wind. Then some big, goofy guy is gonna come along and say, rain, what rain? Don’t worry, it's all gonna be fine, just hop in boys, here we go!
Hmm ... I could imagine him thinking to himself; "Papa, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore".
I have to admit, that's not exactly how Cade's first fishing trip to Minnesota started, but it’s pretty darn close. I'll probably never know exactly how he tells the story, but I do know that after 2 days of fishing, he's definitely gonna have a few sentences of his own to jot down. I won't put any more words in his mouth, from here on; he gets to tell the rest of the story his own way.
Crummy weather notwithstanding, the good news is that fishing was really pretty good. The family will be heading home today with limits of Walleye, some bonus Perch, some Pike and a pretty darn good story about Cade's first fishing adventure.
The fishing presentation may have been new to Cade, but for you, there isn't much new news. We fished 1/8 ounce Lindy Jigs tipped with Fatheads and stuck mainly with shoreline breaks in 6 to 12 feet of water.
On Thursday, before the wind really started ripping, we did some poking around out in the middle of the lake and we did find one hump that had a catchable school of fish. Many of them were in the protected slot, but we did get 9 "keepers" too. That gave us a good head start and provided for a tasty shore lunch.
On Friday, Bowstring was our destination; I had hoped to do some mixed bag, Crappie, Perch and Walleye fishing. The strong wind played into our hand for catching Walleye, but the Crappie fishing plan just wasn't gonna work out this time.
For Walleye, we used the same presentation, fished same depths; we did the same everything as we’d done on Thursday.
I wouldn't have called it a "hot bite", but considering our particular circumstances, it was good enough. We missed a lot of strikes, but between the Pike, Perch and Walleye, we had lots of action and managed to bag 13 keeper Walleyes and some nice size Perch.
On one hand, Grandpa might not be ready to call this one the trip of a lifetime; on the other hand, it sure is gonna make a great story for Cade. Just think, for the rest of his life, he's always gonna be able to tell the story about his first trip; "How I survived 2 days on the lake, fishing with that big, goofy guy in Minnesota".
Crummy weather notwithstanding, fishing was really pretty good for Cade's first trip.
We used 1/8 ounce Lindy Jigs tipped with Fatheads and fished primarily shoreline breaks in 6 to 12 feet of water.
(May 30)Gus' Place Resort, Ball Club Lake; "Lake levels have improved, but we are still low for this time of year. Boat launching and lake access is not a problem. Surface water temperature is in the low 60s’
We have a good bite for all species is 8 to 12 feet.
Crappies are hitting a variety of baits, jigs & twister tails, Meps, Panther Martins and live minnows & bobbers. Most of the action is on the South end of the lake.
Walleye are also hitting live bait presentations on jigs or slip bobbers. Nice 10 inch Perch are running 6-8 feet along the shoreline. The minnow dealers are telling me that the Ball Club Lake Shiners have not yet started their run. This is a really great time of year to get out on the lake." - Gus Sheker, Gus' Place Resort 1-888-246-8520
Fishing Report May 28, 2015 - Sneaking a Peek At Summer Peak, It's Sneeking In
Even now, when the jig and minnow action in shallow water remains hot and heavy, casting an eye toward deep water is a good idea. Insect hatches are emerging in shallow water and on Wednesday, we experienced one of those peak fishing trips. You know; the kind where everything goes right and the fishing gets almost too easy.
For me, every time something like this happens, it is the signal that there's a massive movement in the near future. In the past, I've written about the fall turnover and how there's usually one or two of these magic days, just before the lakes turn over.
These “Magic Days” occur in the spring too, except that this migration isn't related to the turnover, it's all about food, Mayflies in particular.
Hatches of Midge, those Mosquito looking slow flying bugs that don't have beaks, aka Penny Becker's "Stupid Bugs" are going on right now. So are hatches of other small critters, ones that I can't even begin to identify. That indicates to me that soon, Mayflies will begin emerging too.
But before we ever see the first adult Mayfly flying off of the lakes surface, Walleye and other fish have already found them and are gorging on them. In their nearly mature, but still larval form, they percolate on the bottom of the lake. Just before their eventual rise to the top, they are a prime food source for Walleyes. In fact, to a Walleye, finding a mud flat full of Mayfly larvae is akin to you or me finding a patch of freshly ripened Strawberries; ya just gotta drop whatever you’re doing and go get some.
The hot bite that we experienced yesterday often comes just before the fish move into deeper territory to feed on the bugs. I guess that because they're on the move, the feeding fish are easier for us to encounter as they migrate. The problem is that we often remember the hot bite and return to the same spots, hoping for more good action, but we get there when it's too late; after the migration.
If I had a crystal ball, I could tell you the exact date that this will occur. But since I only have intuition, I'll use these 3 clues to make My Prediction.
Water temperature crossing the 65 degree mark + full moon due to arrive on June 2 + Silly Stupid Walleye Action on May 27 = Walleye on deep water structure this weekend.
One thing that I do know is that you know that we'll all know the answer in just a few days!!
I wonder how Bud will tell this story? Shallow water Walleyes on a rampage. It likely means that there's a big move in our future!
Did You Know That E-15 Will Ruin Your Outboard Engine? Not only is it bad for your boat's outboard motor, it could wreck your budget too! That's because running E-15 in your engine is liable to void your manufacturer warranty. View Video and find out >> What happens when you use E-15 in your outboard
Fishing Report May 27, 2015 - Turning Up The Heat, WOW!
Surface temperatures of 75 degrees on May 26 sound incredible, but that's what we found this Tuesday. In terms of warming, this small, dark water lake was a week or more ahead of other lakes I've been fishing.
Maybe you've noticed this phenomenon too, lakes where water levels were the lowest, are now warming rapidly as water from small feeder creeks and rivers trickles.
The water is darker than usual too; the rich root beer color is caused by Tannic Acid leeching into the water from woody bogs. Tree roots, branches and other woody materials all contribute color to the water.
My guess is that the sunshine is super charging this dark, bog stained water before it flows into these shallow watershed lakes. What's making them warm up so fast is that there wasn't that much water in the lake to begin with; nothing had to get heated up. Instead, they're being steadily filled back up with this pre-warmed, super charged water.
For us, the dark, warm water was a blessing because it encouraged Walleyes to linger along the shoreline breaks, making them easier to locate and catch. In fact, I was sort of surprised that the sunny skies and calm surface water didn't force them to move deeper.
My guess is that baitfish like shiners, small Perch and other minnows are attracting these fish to the shallows. In that the dark water is providing more than the usual amount of protection from the sunlight, the Walleyes are free to be more interested in food than they are worried about daylight.
The whole scenario reminded me of fishing on a miniature version of Upper Red Lake and the fishing presentation reflected the similarity.
Straddling the breakline in water depths of 5 to 7 feet, we kept moving at a brisk pace; .8 to 1.2 MPH. Jig and Minnow combinations provided plenty of action and today we used 1/8 ounce Lindy Jigs. We could have used 1/16 ounce jigs in the shallow water to prevent snagging the bottom, but moving so fast helped us keep the jigs from dragging too much. Today it didn't appear to matter which color we used. We happened to have the Pink/Glow color tied on from the day before, Blue/Glow, Pink/Yellow, Orange/Green, they all worked.
The variety of minnows that we used didn't matter much either. I had some dead Shiners on ice and they produced very good results. But once they were gone, we switched to using live Fatheads and the fish did not even notice, they continued to strike them with authority.
The one disappointment was that Crappies on this lake appeared to have already wrapped up their spawning run. We could see that there were several fishermen stubbornly guarding spots where they'd caught 'em last week. But today, it appeared to be too late, nobody was reeling in anything. My own exploration of 3 reliable spots resulted in a sighting of only one Crappie and a handful of half-hearted strikes at our lures.
Crappies notwithstanding, the Walleye fishing was very good and it stands to reason that it would happen today. My friends Fritz and Penny Becker have that certain "Golden Horseshoe" effect on me. Certain people are like that, they just know how to relax and have fun. Somehow the fish pick up on this and even when we're not supposed to, we stumble into these neat situations.
If I could wish anything in the world for you, it would be this gift for having fun; it's good!
Penny and Fritz Becker have that certain "Golden Horseshoe" effect on me. They just know how to relax and have fun, somehow the fish pick up on this and get silly too.
Shallow water breaklines in 5 to 7 feet were prime real estate on Tuesday. Shiners on ice, along with 1/8 ounce Lindy Jigs produced some healthy specimens.
Rich root beer color is caused by Tannic Acid leeching into the water from woody bogs. Tree roots, branches and other woody materials all contribute color to the water.
Robby Ott, Otter's Guide Service; "About a month ago I was asked by Boar Pig and Harry if I would take my uncle Joe and some buddies fishing on the Tuesday after Memorial Day. He didn't even finish his sentence and I said, "Absolutely". You see, I knew what a blast it would be fishing with this crew; it was far from disappointing.
Meeting at the Bowstring Store, we picked up our bait that has been well cared for by Tim Schultz. With little wind in the forecast, we made the decision to target crappies.
Arriving at the landing, everyone made their last minute adjustments and off we went. In boat #1, Timmy M, Joe and Robby and in boat #2 Boots, Boar Pig and Harry. All fired up, approaching the beaver house, things looked different. The house was there, the three major beaver runs were there. The nests were there, even the deer up on shore was there. After a few casts it was apparent that the five crappies we did catch didn't get the memo which read; "Pull up the stakes, were out of here."
Putting the puzzle together in my mind hmm, pressure from the busy weekend maybe? Done and out of here, probably not. I chalked this up as a line drive foul ball over the visitors dug out. Just a little BEHIND them.
Regardless, on to spot #2. At this point only a couple of jabs (comments) from the other boat. Arriving at #2, I could see that it was more of the same with only one crappie entering the boat; “Swing and a Miss”.
Now all you ball fans know that being down 0 - 2 in the count is not a good thing. Processing all this information we head the ball club out on the big lake, where we find cooler water temps. A sunken pencil reed island, loaded with rock. Skirting the edge of this structure, dinken and dunken in the weed pockets. We do pick up some but not quite where we want to be.
You have to remember, down to my last strike and a pitching change the attention to detail is 10 fold. So Into the jungle we go .Within a few minutes, both boats were flipping them in at a steady rate.
Some guys went with the stick and move method others decided to fence and Perry. I think at one point we all tried the rip and tear method, which had the least amount of success.
At one point, I just sat back and watched boat #2 in action. It reminded me of three kids fishing off the dock. Hey, there are two, you missed them, let me try. Grab me a minnow, I can’t. Why? There’s three over here. Let me put GOLDIE down there…
We went on and on and on, hearing old war stories of the red lake days, hunting trips, Vets Cub softball and the night with Little Moose and Big Thunder. Our Grand Finally was at Riley’s for a Fish Fry.
Catching all those crappies is pretty fun. Spending time with people like this is priceless. You might ask yourself, what happened to that 0 - 2 count?
Well the next pitch got deposited into the lumberyard. Who hit it, they all did. Thanks for a great time on the water."
Fishing Report May 26, 2015 - Memorial Day In The Northland
For most, Memorial Day Weekend was a great time to visit the Itasca Area. The weather was good, fishing was good and the rainy Monday even helped ease the loneliness of leaving the lakes for drive home.
Walleye and Crappie were the focus of attention for most anglers and semi-cooperative would be a good description for what most of us found.
For me, Walleye were active enough to catch, but locating them was like taking my final exam on Geography. The more spots we fished, the more fish we caught, but there was never a big school of fish that we could work on all day. We picked up a couple of fish at every stop and the good news is that staying focused paid off and eventually, most everyone had what they needed.
When you hear reports of excellent Walleye and Crappie action on some of the area’s smaller lakes; they are really real. Some visitors were just luckier than others at being in the right place at the right time.
Spotty and lucky are two terms that come to my mind. There were some really good spots, places where I KNEW that I should have been; but there were other people who “Got There First”.
Watching somebody else catch fish never tortures me, in fact I enjoy it. But for my fishing customers, spending their vacation watching somebody else have all of the fun doesn’t work very well. So there were times that we could have caught more if our timing had been better. Instead, I focused on doing my best, finding the next best thing.
Surface temperatures had pushed above 60 degrees almost everywhere and in some areas, temperatures even pushed above 65 degrees.
Crappies were establishing beds in shallow water Bulrushes and they provided some good action on Friday and Saturday. The rain that fell on Monday forced temperatures back into the 59 degree range and that represented a setback. A warm day today will encourage many of them to return to their spawning beds and there will be opportunities to catch Crappies throughout this week.
Walleyes are still focused primarily on shallow, shoreline related structures. We found most of our fish in the 8 to 12 foot range feeding on small minnows. For me, 1/8 ounce Jig and minnow presentations continue to be reliable. On Monday, the “Hot Presentation” was a 1/8 ounce Pink/Glow Lindy Jig tipped with large Fatheads. We actually had Shiners in the bucket, but on this trip, the Fatheads were much better. Maybe it was because of the dark skies, maybe the fish just had a sweet tooth for the Fatheads, they worked though and I am certainly happy about that!
Secret revealed: On Monday, Jonah's “Hot Presentation” was a 1/8 ounce Pink/Glow Lindy Jig tipped with large Fatheads.
Luckily Jordan wasn't too far behind on the learning curve. You Know what they say; "Catching Up Is Fun To Do"!
Fishing Report May 25, 2015 - Happy Memorial Day!
Traffic on the lakes will be down today as folks are ushered toward home by the rainy atmosphere.
In for a soggy wrap to what has otherwise been a glorious weekend, my crew will probably like having the extra room to work and freedom from the bugs will be joyful too.
For you, I Hope that it's been a great Memorial Day Weekend; safe travels on your way home. For me, it marks the end of some very hectic days and the beginning of the "Normal" fishing season.
From here on out, I'll be settling back into the routine, beginning with a fresh report on Tuesday; just in time to help you get back to work where you can rest up again!!
Fishing Report May 23, 2015 - Warming The Warmable
It's amazing what a few days of stable weather can do for fishing. It's not amazing at all, what a warm day on the lake can do to raise one's spirits.
Allow me to say a few words about that; "It Was A Beautiful Day"!
For today, 74 degrees, a light South wind and the Sunny Side IS Up; Wow! I hope that you are the lucky one who gets to spend today on the lake. No matter what, wherever you are, have a fantastic day on this glorious Memorial Day Weekend. OH by the way, don't forget to remember ... :)!!
(5/22) From The Marcell Area, Frontier Sports, Paul Larson said; "The storms last weekend dropped the water temperatures dramatically. That was the bad news. The good news is that as of yesterday the temps in the shallows have steadily warmed with 55 degrees observed today whereas on Monday they were in the high 40’s. That could only mean one thing, Crappies are moving into the shallows on the smaller shallower lakes in the area. The larger deeper lakes were slowly warming as well. I found Crappie in the 8 to 14 foot depths in and around newly emergent cabbage weeds, adjacent to their spawning areas. I have had reports of them being as deep as 20 feet in some of the lakes though. The weather forecast for this week and weekend are excellent and fishing should improve. Walleye have been everywhere. I found them on Monday suspended over 20 to 24 feet of water about 12 to 18 feet down swimming in the numerous bait balls off sharp drops, humps and points. As the water warms and the weather stabilizes, they should become more aggressive. They certainly weren’t in a feeding frenzy on Monday when I was fishing in a snow storm. Lake levels are up with the more than 7 inches of rain that fell last week. That should improve public access to the area lakes.
Memorial Weekend is upon us so make sure to thank a veteran and remember the ones who served their country well, but are no longer with us.
The store is ready for the weekend. The tackle department and the bait shop are fully stocked. Leeches, shiners, you name we have it. It will be fun to see folks we haven’t seen since last year. Have a great weekend everybody and be safe. - Paul Larson". Frontier Sports features a complete and fully stocked Sporting Goods department and Bait Shop, Gas, Grocery, Deli and Gift Shop. Frontier Sports is an authorized LIVE TARGET and SAVAGE GEAR dealer. Frontier Sports 219-832-3901 or Email .
Mult-Tasking was good for Travis Krug. First, he nets one for Zachary, then one for Jacob and then what?
... and the boys are pretty self-sufficient too. In spite of a friendly wager over who catches the biggest fish, Zachary resists the urge to snip his brother's fishing line and helps land one.
It was a good day to be Travis Krug. Walleye fishing with the boys, calm sunny weather and the added bonus of good fishing.
Fishing Report May 21, 2015 - Water, Water and More Good News About Water
Questions like the ones that came in by email yesterday, reflect concerns about water conditions in the Itasca Area. Luckily, I think that there's good news for anglers who have their sights set on Northern Minnesota lakes this Memorial Day Weekend.
Water temperatures are on the rise, water levels are on the rise and the expectations of productive fishing are on the rise too.
Ross Gunderson asks; "My question is that usually the cold water is great for eyes (especially fall) but right now you're saying it’s just too cold. With warmer temps in the near future, does that get the minnows going and actually bring the fish in shallower chasing shiners? So should I be focusing shallow this weekend? A)Ross, this is a tremendous question. In fact, it's so good that I could easily spend hours working on a proper answer that covers all of the bases. In the interest of time, I'll start by saying that for Walleye fishermen, cooling temperatures in the fall do encourage Walleye to feed more heavily in preparation for winter. But even in the fall, there's a limit, a moment when the temperature gets cool enough to make the Walleye slam on the brakes.
For me, with the exception of the "Early Spring Pre-Spawn Period", water temperatures below 55 degrees always make me nervous. In fact, if you scroll through the October archived reports, you'll see that the colder water temps get, the more cautious my advice becomes.
The reason isn't that Walleye suddenly stop feeding; they obviously continue to feed all winter long. It's just that once the surface temperature gets low enough, colder, heavier water sinks toward the bottom and forces the lakes water to "Turn Over". It doesn't hurt the fish at all, in fact it provides them an opportunity to go anyplace and do anything that their little heart’s desire. Pinning down their location is our problem, finding active fish could literally mean finding them one by one.
The problem that we face during spring is similar, there's a lot of water that is all the same temperature. There's good oxygen at all depths and the fish are free to roam anywhere and everywhere. If we can find 'em, we can usually catch 'em, but we have to do a lot of searching to gather a handful of fish.
You're on the right track with the notion that producing a "hot bite" relates to the entire food chain. Warming trends help produce fresh weed growth, insect hatches and most importantly, the development on Plankton. Most of us can't even see some of these microscopic critters, but they provide food for every kind of tiny fish in the lake. Soon, there's enough food and cover in shallow to set up the whole food chain.
While all of that is going on, the warming temperatures raise the fishes metabolism, that encourages them to begin prowling, looking for food. Once they're on the move, they naturally become more aggressive and before you know it, we have a "hot bite" on our hands.
I really wish that I had more time, but I'm up against the clock and gotta run. Tomorrow, I'll try to pick up where I left off AND I promise that I will also answer this question from Tommy Cemensky who asked; "Have you heard how the landings are on bowstring recently? With all the rain in the past week I'm hoping to get out there this weekend.
A) I'll get more info today, but I do know that conditions have improved. Some have told me that if you're willing to walk your boat out, you will be able to fish Bowstring this weekend.
Fishing Report May 20, 2015 - Recovering The Recoverable
On Tuesday, the sunshine was doing it's best to bring surface temperatures back into productive fishing territory, but the process was slow. At 51.5 degrees, Walleye action during the morning was very sluggish. There were some takers, but the production was limited to to scattered single fish, literally appearing one at each spot, as we began our rotation around the lake.
Most of the fish that we were catching ranged between 20 and 22 inches; the protected slot regulation was doing it's job, protecting them. With our goal set on gathering Walleye for a
fish dinner, it was apparent that we'd have our work cut out for us.
As the day progressed, surface temperatures did begin to rebound, but I thought the warming was extremely slow considering that 100% sunshine persisted all day long. The warmest surface reading that I found all day was 55 degrees and that was at a single, isolated bay were surface water was driven in by a fairly heavy breeze. The average temperature up top was about 53-54 degrees depending on where we were located around the lake. The most frequent reading that I saw was 53.0 degrees.
As the day progressed, Walleye action did improve moderately, we even found a couple of spots that produced 3 or 4 fish at a time. But there was never a moment when the fish really ramped up into a full scale bite. Our effort was rewarded with just enough action to keep us oninterested; always on alert for the next strike.
By the way, most of stikes were light and tentative, requiring long waits for the fish to nibble the jig and minnow combinations fully into their mouths. I'd say that my own track record was probably the worst of any of us, if I was lucky, I may have hooked 50% of the fish that struck. Some days are like that, there's always somebody who's suffering with a temporary case of poor timing, and this time it was my turn.
By the time it was over, I'd guess that we boated a dozen or so Walleye and another dozen Pike.
Luckily, 2 "Keeper Size" Walleye and 2 Pike provided plenty of protein for the evening fish fry and when compared to recent days, life on the lake was good!
Remember the big question that everyone was asking 2 weeks ago; can I get my boat onto the water? Well right now, small rivers and streams are filled to the brim with water and most of the Itasca Area Lakes are rebounding. There are still no guarantees that every lake will be accessible, but 85% to 90% of the area waters are now accessible.
There is still a lot of surface water in the ditches and small creeks, so lake levels will continue to rise going into the weekend. I'll do my best to check out a few of the problem spots and provide an update about water levels again tomorrow.
For today, more sunshine,
calms seas and hopefully, another couple of degrees further up the scale. Warmer, Calmer, Sunny Side Up... I'll Take It!
(5/20)Gus' Place Resort, Ball Club Lake; "This past week’s stormy weather has kept fishermen off the lake for the most part.
Surface water temp has dropped back down into the upper 40s. We had a very nice Crappie bite going until the storms rolled in and the rough water made it difficult to fish and hold positions. I expect we will see more crappie action when we warm back up.
Walleye and Perch fishermen are doing pretty good with slip bobbers and live bait presentations on the south end fishing on and around humps 8-12 feet of water. Northerns have been aggressive and we have seen really nice 5 and 6 pounders going for both live and artificial baits, trolled and drifted, 6 to 10 feet. We are not having trouble launching or docking boats." - Gus Sheker, Gus' Place Resort 1-888-246-8520
A Question From Rich Spiczka who asked; "Good day Jeff. Love your fishing reports. We used to stay at Williams Narrows every summer when I was a kid; I miss that place.
I have been checking in on your reports and in your most recent report, I think you mentioned Water temps in the 55 degree range. How long do you think it takes it to get up to 60s?
We will be in the Cass Lake/Blackduck area this weekend and are hopeful we can find some Crappies/Bluegills in their spawning habitat. It has been a few years since we have hit it right and we were hopeful with the early spring, but the weather recently has been an adventure. Thanks for any and all info, love the reports! A) Rich, the surface temperatures on a lot of Itasca Area Lakes actually already reached 60 degrees
before the recent cold snap which forced them back down. With sunshine and calm winds on tap for the next few days, it would not surprise me to see temperatures climbing back to 60 degrees for the Memorial Day weekend.
Crappie are likey to be in position for your trip, Bluegills? Maybe, but that could be a stretch. I will definitely know more in another day or two, when I do, I'll provide updates.
Fishing Report May 18, 2015 - Just The Facts
On Sunday, I and my buddy Marty Glackin got lucky; we managed to make a decent fishing trip out of what appeared to be a wash out. It was wet for the first few hours, but there was a 4 hour window of sunshine and warm breezes.
Surface temperatures responded during that time, rising to 56.5 degrees by 4:00 PM. That's when the 2nd round of storms approached, forcing us to leave the lake and head for cover.
Our fishing experience was nearly identical to the report I wrote yesterday, so there's no reason to go over all of it again, just keep scrolling down and read the report from May 17
All of this wet weather has put a serious dent in my picture taking, but yesterday I did manage to snap a few photos during the dry spell. As I was looking through
images of the past several days, I was struck by the similarity between the colors of spring and fall. Each are different, but similar, each beautiful in their own way.
Looking at the forecast for today, I could imagine looking at the shoreline and getting confused; I could imagine thinking it was fall and that the season was ending. Luckily, We Know ... this is not the end at all, it's only the beginning!
A closer look at the forecast suggests that once we get past today's dark clouds, we are in for a treat, a string of beautiful days; I'm all for it!!
Fishing Report May 17, 2015 - Welcome To Minnesota, Land Of The Wet Drought
For somebody who's technically still caught up in a drought, I sure do feel wet. If you've been out on the lakes recently, then I'll be that you do too. Here's the thing though, for the next 12 hours, we had better ENJOY IT! That's because tomorrow's high temperature is gonna be 15 degrees colder than this morning's low temperature. For me, rain and 70 degrees looks pretty darn good, especially compared to spending most of this week fishing in rain and 40 degrees.
Besides that, for me, there isn't much choice, my crew is only here for 2 days and if we're gonna catch anything, we're gonna have to do it now, crummy weather or not.
I'm guessing that there’s a good chance that I won't be seeing you on the water today, but don't worry, I'll be thinking about you and whatever happens, you will be the first to get the report!
The Good News is that when we get to the other side of this rainy cold front, we're gonna be treated to some very much improved water levels. Oh I Know, we won't be completely out of the drought, but water levels will be much better. In fact, on most of the smaller lakes, they already are, water levels have risen noticeably.
If you are planning to venture onto the water today, I learned something yesterday that may be helpful. Perch, Walleye and Crappies inhabited a stand of Cabbage Weeds and they were located shallower than you may have been searching.
After searching high and low along shoreline breaks, deep points and hard bottom areas, I finally got lucky and stumbled into a school of fish in the weeds, in shallow water. We had been working the same territory where we've caught fish throughout the week, but I was missing the fish by holding the boat in 10 to 12 feet of water. When we found green Cabbage weeds in 6 feet of water, we found a mixed bag of fish.
At first, we were using a typical jig and minnow presentation and we picked up a few Walleye, a handful of Perch and a million small Pike; but one cast changed everything.
When I pitched my jig into some Cabbage weeds that I could see, I felt a POP on my jig and pulled out a nice Crappie. The brisk wind and Grey skies, made it hard to keep my eyes on that spot, and I lost track of the weeds for a while. We kept poking around the area until I found the weeds again and when I did, there was another Crappie, this time the fish escaped, but not before I saw him and not before I dropped my marker buoy into the water to save the spot.
Now, with the spot marked, I grabbed my Crappie rod that was rigged with a White Whatsit and a slip float. For peace of mind, I added a small minnow, tossed out the jig and watched the bobber go down and reeled in a nice, healthy 12 inch PERCH. That's right, from then on, we never saw another Crappie, only Perch.
It didn't matter though, there was a good school, they were active Perch and they were good quality, ranging from 10 to 13 inches. The floats were handy, helping keep our jigs about the weeds, and we used them for most of the remaining time. But later, a Pike snipped off one of the rigs and we discovered an alternative presentation too.
Instead of rigging up a new slip float, I rigged up a Chartreuse Green Whatsit Spin and used it to cast into the weeds. Using the jig without live bait, I cast into the weeds and then used a drop-pop-swim style retrieve to capture some more of the aggressive fish. The combination of the small blade and the Whatsit’s erratic darting motion gets the attention of fish and in the weeds, they strike aggressively.
Depending on your lake and the spot where you're fishing, your mix of fish could be different. But in my experience, once the fish are engaged in this Cabbage patch pattern, it is very reliable and will produce some kind of fish for the next several weeks. Walleye, Pike, Perch, Crappie and Sunfish all use these weeds, and like today, there are occasions when there will be multiple species using the same weed patch, at the same time.
I think that last week, the already cold and still falling temperatures, forced fish away from shallow water and onto the breaklines. For a time, I had dialed in the location. When the surface temperatures rebounded, the fish moved back into shallower water. I was missing them because I was looking for them where they were, instead of where they are.
I'll bet that when the next wave of cold air hits us, history will repeat itself and the fish will move back to the breakline. This time, I'll have a better handle on where to look and if it works, I'll be able to report with even more confidence about the pattern.
So, if you're going out today, Good Luck; if you're hunkering down inside the cabin, well okay then, I'll be seeing you ... :)!!
Fishing Report May 16, 2015 - Leech Lake Fishing, Taming the Tame-able!
Remember some of the horror stories about dumb stuff you've seen at boat ramps? Well I think that those days are slipping by pretty fast. At least that was true at Leech Lake's Federal Dam boat ramp on Friday.
Arriving to a bumper crowd and an already packed parking lot, one could have gotten the impression that they'd be eating lunch before they'd be able to launch their boat and wet a line. But no, in short order and with incredible precision, the line of rigs at the ramp was reduced to nothing; it was very impressive!
On the lake, there were crowds at most of "the usual places", traffic was heavy, but manageable. Most of the fishermen on the water were very courteous and respectful, as always, a landing net in the water tended to create congestion, but that is to be expected.
After 3 days of watching the surface temperatures dropping, it was good to see a modest increase. Beginning the day with 52 degrees, we watched it creep up, 1/10 of a degree at a time and by 5:30 PM, it had reached 53 degrees. By then, sunshine was taking control of the sky, so there may have been further warming during the early evening too.
I don't think that most folks caught a lot of fish on Friday, but I don't think that most of them got skunked either. It was a tricky bite, the water was cold, the seas were too calm and staking out one’s own stretch of territory was out of the question. That said, there were fish to be had and for persistent anglers, it was probably a decent day.
We had to work at getting our ... wait; I mean that I and Don Hook had to work at getting our fish. But on Friday, Mark Huelse had the Golden Horse Shoe tucked away in his coat pocket. I sort of lost track, but I think that he caught a half dozen big girls ranging in size from 21-1/2 up to 27 inches. It was a good day to be Mark and it was a great day for me because I was on hand to see him rewarded for sitting in the cold rain for the previous 2 days. I KNOW that You Know what they say; “paybacks are a blessing”!
Before I make it sound too good though, remember that I did say it was a tricky bite. We worked hard at it all day long and it was not until 5:00 PM that we finally captured our 12th and final Walleye for the crew's trip home.
What helped make the day fun was that Perch and Pike were also mixed in along the same weed lines as the Walleyes. That created numerous spurts of action throughout the day and helped keep us interested.
For me, the secret pattern was to loosely follow the breakline, locating fresh patches of weeds. Whenever I found a new one, we'd pick up a few fish, but once the action fizzled, it was time to move along. Occasionally, there were above average numbers of fish in a small area, but there were very few spots that warranted long term lingering.
Key depths ranged from 10 to 12 feet and following the drop off was less important than finding a weed patch. To make it easier to find the weeds, I used the MinnKota to troll in an "S" pattern, covering water on both the shallow and deep sides of the breakline. I probably looked like a drunken sailor weaving in and out of traffic, but the system worked for us.
The presentation of choice is still a jig and minnow, for us, 1/8 ounce Pink/Yellow Lindy Jigs were the clear winner. My tried and true Blue/Glow color produced some fish too, but it was hard to ignore, today there was something special about the Pink/Yellow.
We had some Shiners and some Rainbows and caught fish on either one. Before the sun came out, I was convinced that the Rainbows worked better. But after conditions got brighter, I think maybe the Shiners became a better choice.
The point may be moot because Shiners were already being rationed at the bait shop on Friday. It's doubtful that bait trappers will be able to meet the demand over the weekend, so we'll need to be flexible. If this year is like the past couple of seasons, supplies will improve after next week, at least for a little while.
Fishing Report May 15, 2015 - Information Super Highway, Limit 50? Explaining the Explainable
There are some days that simply defy any logical explanation and for me, Thursday was one of them.
On our visit to one of my favorite small water Walleye lakes, we turned up lots of small Pike, a handful of Perch and plenty of sightings on the Humminbird, but did we catch any Walleyes? Nope, they weren't buying any of our offerings and after a few hours of searching, we decided to leave and head for the lake that's been a more reliable producer this week.
It's really not that unusual for an individual lake to be "turned off", sometimes the water just needs to warm up before fish become active. What was unusual is that the other half of our fishing party was off in a completely different direction with another guide and he was on Fish Lake, one of his favorite Walleye producers. The same thing happened over there, plenty of Pike, but the Walleyes? they were in lock down over there too.
The only thing that the two lakes appeared to have in common was that their surface temperatures had each fallen to 50 degrees. I guess that for the moment, 50 degrees must be the limit; the water must just be too cold to light a fire under those particular Walleyes.
Ironically, when we switched lakes, we were greeted by and even colder, 49 degree surface temperature. But in spite of colder temps, after just a couple of moves, we found fish that were active enough to strike, albeit a bit sluggishly.
I didn't get the opportunity to really dial in a precise pattern because by the time we had some action started, the weather had worked its magic and I was notified by my frozen crew of their intention to mutiny.
So, after another day of rain and cold, I was home early watching the rain fall on my un-mowed grass. Encouraged to get lazy by the Grey skies, I was in bed by 8:30, dreaming about waking up to a warm, sunshine filled morning with birds chirping and Walleyes pounding away at our jigs.
M M M ... I can see the warm day coming already! And Luckily, I still have one more chance to redeem myself with this crew AND today is gonna be a great day!!
Good Luck, have a fantastic day out there today and when you see us drift by, be sure to wave!!
Fishing Report May 14, 2015 - The Chilly Bones, Dripping Wet, 5 Extra Fish Fishing Report
Almost everybody that I saw on or near the water yesterday was in a fantastic mood, chuckling, telling fish stories, having a great time! That's because the only people left out there are the fishing "Die-Hards" and for them, there's no reason to be grumpy; they've been through all of this before. They know that Mother Nature doesn’t play fair and that sometimes; jumping through a few of her hoops is the only way to win.
I was especially lucky; my friend Mark Huelse is one of us, a die-hard who’s always smiling. I and Mark were given a chance to prove that being a die-hard isn't as hard as it sounds.
After spending a chilly, wet morning on Leech Lake, we could see light bulbs glowing over the heads of most anglers within our view. Lots of them were having the same idea at the same time; "let's get the heck out of here". By 1:00 PM, the landing at federal dam looked something like the entrance ramp to southbound Hwy 35. Everyone heading for home, even our crews, most of them anyway, were willing to settle for a modest morning catch, rather than going back out onto the water for round 2.
Except for Mark; "I wouldn't mind going back out for a couple of hours", he said. So we loaded up the boat, then we hustled down the road, found a smaller lake and re-launched with renewed enthusiasm.
The first hour wasn't the greatest, the wind was blowing harder than before and the rain looked like it might get heavier too. But luckily, after that initial threat, the sky lightened up, the breeze calmed. With the calm, conditions became very manageable and we were rewarded with just enough fish to make our afternoon enjoyable.
The majority of our action came in the form of smaller Northern Pike, they were ferocious. But a couple of shallow cabbage patches in about 8 feet of water also produced 5 Walleyes as well, 5 extra fish that we wouldn't have caught if we'd been hunkered down in the cabin.
Surface temperatures on the small lake hovered around 53 degrees and appear to be resisting any further drop. So looking ahead, prospects for the weekend are looking positive. With a predicted high of 70 degrees on Saturday, both Walleye and Crappie fishing action should rebound.
Crappies were already moving toward their spawning beds last week and as soon as water temperatures begin approaching 60 degrees, they will be back. They are most likely holding along the deeper edges of emerging weeds, but truthfully, since the opener, I've lost track of them. The lake that I plan to fish today will offer an opportunity to check a couple of possible spots and if I have any brilliant ideas, I'll let you know.
Whether it’s been Sand Grass and Coontail on the flats, or Cabbage weeds on the breaklines, Walleye location for me has been centered around weeds all week long. I guessing that with breezy conditions, there are probably some fish on shallow rocks too, but I see no reason not to stick with the weed pattern. The weeds that we fished yesterday were getting taller and greener in spite of the gloomy conditions.
A warming trend, especially if accompanied by some sunshine, could really super-charge the weed bite for next week. It won’t be long afterward that weed growth will become heavy, making this pattern tricky. So for what it’s worth, I’d suggest getting the most out of it now, while it’s an easy option.
Fishing Report May 13, 2015 - Leech Lake Walleye Fishing Report
On Tuesday, three days of cold weather finally caught up to me. Even Leech Lake which has a fairly high tolerance for temperature drops succumbed to the cold water produced by sleet, driven by a 39 degree, northwest wind.
When we arrived at Portage Bay, surface temperatures had dropped below 50° for the first time since the fishing opener last Saturday. Ranging from a low of 48 to a high 49.6 degrees, the cold water appeared to be clearer too, at least it was where we fished on the west side of Portage Bay.
Walleyes responded to the cold snap by shifting away from the 7 to 9 feet shoreline break and scattering across deeper, adjacent flats in water depths of 11 to 13 feet. These fish were still somewhat catchable and we did manage to coax a few. But it was a major departure from the good fishing that Leech has provided for the past few days.
The fish that did strike weren’t hard to hook; they seemed to still be fairly aggressive. I think that the problem for us was just that I couldn't find more than one or two fish in a spot. In classic Leech Lake style, Walleye spread across the flats forced us into making long, aimless drifts and waiting for the appearance of single sightings on the sonar.
It seems a little early in the season for me to be talking about getting bailed out by random occurrences of Good Luck. But on this particular day, Good Luck is exactly what transformed a slow day into a “going home with a 3 man limit day”.
What happened? Well during the midafternoon, the sleet dried up, the sun came out and temperatures moderated. The effects were not immediate, but the sun kept working its magic and by 3:30 PM we were observing 53 to 54° surface water temperatures again.
Just when I had resolved myself to be satisfied with a less than stellar performance, fish begin to move back into the shallow weeds again. One of my famous “Let’s check one more spot” moves paid off, there was a fresh school of fish and they were feeding.
Starting at about 3:30 PM larder increased from three fish in the live well, to a final total of a dozen keepers before we left the lake. For that hour and a half, the action was fairly close to what Leech has been producing since the opener.
For me, sticking to the soft break between 7 to 8 feet and maintaining contact with weeds, primarily sand grass, was the key location.
We were using 1/8 ounce Lindy Jigs tipped randomly with Rainbow Chubs or Spot Tail Shiners. If the fish had a preference, it was not obvious and we caught roughly equal numbers of fish on either bait. The same thing appeared to be true about jig colors too; we caught fish on Glow/Blue, Yellow/Lime, Black and Green/Orange. From what we could see, the go-to bait for everybody on the lake is jig and minnow combinations.
This day was my first trip on leech Lake this spring where there was noticeable increase in Perch activity. While we were fishing for Walleye, we picked up Perch, a dozen or so would have been considered “keepers”. Finally, a parting thought from Cub Reporter, Staff #003 IHBFBB.
There's a reason that I report our failures with enthusiasm equal to the consideration that I give our success stories. It is to help assure you that these reports are about real fishing with real people.
I felt like I needed to say that because of a couple of comments that I found on the Facebook page over the weekend that got my attention and bothered me a little bit. One of them, a comment about Sunday’s fishing report said; “Who are you talking to? Everyone I talked to said it was really slow. 3 of us fished for almost 7 hours and caught 5 only 2 keepers. Leech wasn't good either.” The other said; “That's weird because by mid-afternoon nobody was fishing Ravens.”
When you think about it, both of these comments imply that if my reports don’t match up with the respective author’s own personal experiences, and then it is I who must be full of … well, you know.
Here’s my point; for me, there are always gonna be more really good days than I deserve. In other words, sooner, rather than later, I’m gonna have a chance to show off some good work.
That means that on any given day, there is no need for me to skew any report in one direction or another.
There were roughly a half million people fishing over the weekend and there’s no way that I can presume to know who among them did well and who didn’t, but I’m doing my best to try and find out.
When you read these reports, they are about real people on real fishing trips. Most of the time, I do my best to focus on the encouraging reports because I want you to know that there are a lot of folks, having a lot of fun out here. I want you to join us; I want you to have fun too!
We all have our ups and downs, good days and bad. Whenever I have one of my down days, I assume that it’s because I still have something to learn; that I could have done better if only I’d figured out one more detail. That’s why I share the things that I do know and why you can find hundreds of pages of fishing reports, right here on this website. This is good, reliable and accurate information that will help you figure out how you can do better.
Somebody along the path taught me to be positive, to focus on keeping the Sunny Side Up. So if I should happen to forget to report about the black cloud that rained on your parade, I’m really sorry. But if you’re interested in seeing a picture of the Silver Lining, well then you might just be in the right place!
OH and by the way, ... !!
Fishing Report May 12, 2015 - Northern Minnesota Walleye Fishing
Monday was one of those "hunker down and get 'er done" days. Air temperatures in the low 40's, light rain and breezy conditions made tying knots and taking pictures a little tricky, but in spite of the cold front, Walleyes remained fairly active, allowing us to capture our limit of nice fish in the 16 to 19 inch range. We did not catch a single fish over 20 inches, making me think that the males are actively feeding while females are in their post-spawn recovery.
We found a uniform surface temperature hovering right at the 55 degree mark, down about 5 degrees from the 60 degree temps we saw before the fishing opener.
Our experience was that Walleyes were feeding, but they were scattered. Whenever we caught one, it was typical to see that is was packed with small Perch ranging in size from 3/4 to 2 inches long. That meant that getting them to strike was fairly easy, but the manner in which they were feeding also forced us to keep moving, searching for wherever there was a pack of fish that hadn’t chased away their own food source, yet.
Another key to finding fish on Monday was to stay in contact with newly emerging weed growth. Whenever we were not feeling the weeds, we were not getting strikes and I had to continually force the boat away from the breakline, into water depths of 7 to 8 feet, where the weedline ended.
The short stalks of Coontail, Northern Milfoil and Eelgrass provide enough cover to hold lots of baitfish, in this case small Perch. Since the weeds are still very short, 6 to 8 inches tall, fishing in them fairly easy. We could feel our 1/8 ounce jigs snagging them, but a sharp pop of the rod tip would almost always free the jig.
On Monday, we were able to catch fish on both Shiners and Rainbows, but on this particular occasion, I think the Shiners gave us a slight edge. Using Rainbows along with jigs of darker, subdued colors typically eases the pain of being attacked by small Pike. Today, I'm not sure that tricked worked either; the scissor-bills were on the prowl and struck most everything we used.
From what I could see, Walleyes are well past their spawning time, we did not catch any fish that showed physical signs of still being engaged with spawning.
While we were fishing, we noticed that there was already a Midge hatch, this could be another mile marker indicating an earlier movement toward mid lake structures this season. I think that it's still too early to worry out that, especially until after the Shiners finish spawning and leave the shallows. But, I'd be ready to check some of the deeper, mid-lake structures sooner than usual this year, especially if it begins warming up again.
(May 12) By the way, Knowing the right spot will definitely help you catch more spring Crappies. YES, and it's gonna be DejaVu all over again for Crappie fishermen in Northern Minnesota. Just as Crappies began moving into the shallows, a cold fron slipped in causing 5 degree temperature drop, pushing them back to the breaklines. They'll be back as the weather warms and guess what? This video will help put you right over ... >> Grand Rapids, Pre-Spawn Crappies .
(5/11)Gus' Place Resort, Ball Club Lake; "This year’s opener weekend was the best opener in two years. The primary reason is that this Spring the lake didn’t have ice drifting from shore to shore and we could actually get out on the water !
Surface water temp on Ball Club is already in the low 50’s. I was a little surprised that the lake was that warm and it explains the nice Crappie several new customers brought in over the weekend. Crappie were suspended in 24 feet and willing to take minnows on slip bobbers.
Our Guests reported in with impressive mixed bags, Walleye, Perch, Crappie and many nice Northerns. Some of the Northerns are still carrying eggs.
The head count per species seemed to be about equal and it just depended on your presentation and the fish you were targeting. Warm weather will improve the fishing every day.
Fishermen, Resort Owners, Tackle & Bait shop Owners and any of us who just love to go out boating are all talking about the low water on area lakes, especially the lakes connected to river systems. Low water conditions have a negative effect on recreation as well as businesses.
It is a fact we had a very dry Winter and this Spring is also starting out dry, but the question still remains; As tightly controlled as the upper Mississippi river is, why is the river system drawn down so low during a drought when there is ample water supply in the southern states? Who is in charge of these extreme draw downs and why? If the excuse is. “standard operating procedure” well then it can just as easily be called “asleep at the wheel”.
If you are a concerned sportsman or business owner and you think that the river system could be better managed during periods of low precipitation here are a few people to call with your concerns. If you don’t speak up, the people who can help, won’t hear us. The phone numbers below are not local numbers, maybe they don’t know what’s happening up here. Write these numbers down and remember these people are public employees.
*Bob Englestead (Mississippi water control chief) 1-651-290-5610
*Brian Johnson (head hydrologist – Mississippi river) 1-651-290-5652
*Edward McNally (Director of Headwaters R.O.P.E. study) 1-651-290-5387
*John Persell (congressman) 1-877-838-5537 ..." - Gus Sheker, Gus' Place Resort 1-888-246-8520
Fishing Report May 10, 2015 - Minnesota Fishing, Opening Day Report!
On Friday evening, I'd have bet the farm that the 2015 Minnesota Walleye Fishing season would open under warm, clear skies. Funny thing about Mother Nature though, she just KNOWS how to dish out little surprises.
For me, getting an eye full of the fishing season's first sunrise was high atop the list of priorities. I should have realized that Mother Nature is a lot like me, she sometimes forgets the first thing on the list; like she did yesterday. Instead of waking up early to a clear blue sky, grey clouds and 30 degree air temperatures were pushed along by a brisk Northwest wind.
For some, that didn't matter, by 5:30 AM there were already boats moving both in and out of "The Gap" between Winnibigoshish and Cutfoot Sioux. Strategically, they were probably the smart ones. A pair of happy fishermen that we spoke to upon arriving at our first fishing spot said; "We just need 2 more (walleyes) and we're finished". I wrapped up my trip needing 2 more too, but it took 5-1/2 hours of fishing before I achieved that.
It seemed to be a slow start for most everybody and for most of the morning; most of the fishermen in Cutfoot and along the North side of Winnibigoshish were reporting sluggish action. But, nobody was going fishless, even if they weren’t hammering them either, and nobody was disappointed. In fact from what I could see, it was quite the opposite. Nearly everybody looked happy to be there, optimistically working toward their goal of their first fish fry of the 2015 season.
Later, during the afternoon, temperatures warmed and the fishing action on Winnie picked up. There were limits, and near limits of fish taken on both the east and west sides of the lake. The west shoreline near Raven's Point received the most glowing reports, Tamarack Point, The Rock Pile and Stony Point got good reviews too and for me, staying inside Cutfoot Sioux was rewarding.
Leech Lake was mentioned more than once as North Central Minnesota's "Hot Bite" for the opener. One of the Grand Rapids area guides reported that he and his party began their fishing season by filling out in just a couple of hours. That was in Portage Bay, but there were good reports from Sucker Bay too. Anglers fishing from the resorts at the south end of the lake reported somewhat slower, but still steady fishing throughout the day.
Upper Red Lake, due to the cold overnight temperatures, produced a slow morning. But like Winnie, afternoon warming was the secret boost to giving fishermen something to cheer about. By late afternoon, it was “business as usual” for many Red Lake fishermen who sorted through a dozen or more fish apiece in order to capture their 2 legal size keepers.
Reports from smaller lakes in the Itasca Area haven't really started trickling in yet, mainly because low water conditions have restricted the accesses. In the short term, most of the traffic on lakes like Bowstring, Round, Jessie and other smaller, shallower ones will be limited to small, shallow draft boats. Even my Alaskan which is an incredibly shallow draft boat is gonna be tricky to launch at most of these shallow lakes.
For anglers who prefer Panfish, the cold snap will set back the schedule for Crappie spawning. For the next few days, skip looking for them on their beds and focus on emerging green weeds instead. In the next day or two, Crappies will continue to stage into these weedy flats as they prepare for water temperatures to rise above 60 degrees.
With a windy day on tap for today, I'm still scratching my head about the best place to take my crew, but until a better idea overcomes me, I'm guessing that Leech Lake will receive her Mother's Day Gift from me this morning.
Fishing Report May 8, 2015 - Minnesota Fishing In Techni-Color!
What does the 2015 Minnesota Fishing Opener have in common with the colors Green, Yellow and Purple? Have an idea?
Well, on a very short walk around my own property I can see the Green of fresh Asparagus sprouts, The Yellow of Marsh Marigolds and early blooming, Purple Lilacs. That might not sound like any big deal at first, but when these appearances culminate in unison with the Walleye opener, it means that the outdoorsman’s dream supper could be on my very near future. How about fresh Walleye, fresh picked Asparagus and fresh Morel Mushrooms for dinner tomorrow night? M..M..M..
The appearance of the Marsh Marigolds means that Morel Mushrooms are probably popping their little heads up too and the rain we received yesterday is liable to encourage them even more. The Asparagus, well that's easy because it's up already and all I have to do is pick some and the Walleye? Well even if I can't catch one tomorrow, the Lilacs are blooming and that means that I can almost certainly find some Crappies arriving near their spawning territory.
I know that for many, these pearls of wisdom will be written too late, they’re already in their rigs driving toward their favorite lake for the opener. But you, you’re lucky; you got the heads up in a nick of time. So sometime this weekend, maybe after you catch a few fish, take a break for a walk in the woods. Who knows, this could be your lucky weekend and all you have to do is take a little stroll to find out.
Oh by the way, I’m sure that by now, most of you have already figured out your own plans for the fishing opener. So I won’t bore you with a bunch of prognostication about the possibilities, likelihoods and prospective. But, for a good report about happens this weekend, be sure to check back because you will be the first to Know how the weekend goes!
Fishing Report May 7, 2015 - "Whatever Floats Your Boat!"
The familiar expression "Whatever floats your boat" will have a whole new meaning for Minnesota anglers this weekend. The grip of this spring drought isn't going to loosen in time for the opener and that means more people cramming into fewer boat landings. The inevitable longer lines at the better boat ramps will strain the infrastructure and will likely create a few clust... well, you know.
I KNOW; it's natural to become impatient, especially when you're looking forward to doing something really fun. But this Saturday, we're gonna have to all pitch in, rise above our human weakness, as our patience is put to the test more than usual.
The best way that we can all help is to focus on having our own rigs ready for action when our turn to launch comes up. Before I leave home on Saturday, I'm gonna make sure that my boat is organized, packed and almost ready to launch. I'll have life jackets stowed inside, the bow line neatly wrapped and ready to use, rods organized, tackle stowed away and I'll have my boat plug and minnow coolers ready to drop in at the last minute.
I've already run my engine several times this spring, so I know that it will probably start. But if I hadn't, I would pick up a pair of water muffs, hook 'em up to my garden hose and test run my engine in my own back yard. That way, I'd know that it will start and I won't be getting "the look" from that guy at the dock who's waiting for me to get her fired up at the ramp.
I'm gonna be sure that my batteries are charged, my connections are good and that my trolling motor is connected. I'm gonna have my cell phone, camera and cooler full of snacks already loaded in the boat before I get anywhere near the boat ramp and when it's my turn, I'm gonna do my best not to hold up the show.
I've gotta a feeling if folks follow suit, do their best not to be the one holding up the line, well then we'll get through the weekend just fine.
A Field Report From James Fitzgerald; "Enjoy reading your posts and I have some information to share straight from the fisheries in Grand Rapids".
"Hi James, you are right that water is low on Winnie this spring. I was at the Third River access on Tuesday. The access had enough water to launch medium size boats but I didn’t travel on the flowage. The biggest problem for navigation would be from wild rice and some stray logs that seem to move every year. The Birches, Tamarack Point, Richards Townsite, and West Winnie accesses are very shallow and the average boat these days will be difficult to launch. The Plug Hat access had enough water to launch a boat but water in the bay may be too shallow to float much longer than 16 feet. The Mosomo and Little Cut Foot accesses had plenty of water to launch a boat. Hope this helps". - James Fitzgerald
(5/5)Gus' Place Resort, Ball Club Lake Pre-Season Conditions Report; "The Fishing Opener the last two years has had problems with ice on the lakes. Last year was near record high water levels. This year it has been well announced (even by the State) we are now in a so called “severe” drought.
The radical swing in conditions does make a person wonder what is going on with the weather, but let’s not go into any political weather debates.
I agree with Jeff Sundin that Nature will find the right balance and take care of things (as long as it is able).
I am not sure Jeff will print all I have to say about the low water conditions, because I strongly believe that the local hydrologists have a very big part to play on the negative impact they have had this year on the Mississippi river chain of lakes they are supposed to be managing.
On Ball Club Lake the extensive “draw down” of this lake and the Mississippi chain started way back in January, day by day, week by week.
The lake cracked, groaned and snapped in loud protest as the water was sent down stream. As it became apparent to the “real people” who live along the Mississippi and not those just sitting at a desk in the Hydrologists office, WE WERE NOT GETTING NORMAL SNOWFALL last winter. One does not need to be a hydrologist to know that no snow usually means no Spring Run Off, but that did not matter and all the water we had was sent down stream with no conservation in mind at all. I emailed the local representatives in Grand Rapids with my concerns, but it went with out reply.
So here we are; we had mucho water last year and the lakes were full, no snow run off and no conservation of water release has put the whole Mississippi lake chain in a water deficit.
I blame lack of water management for much of the low water issues we see in the region this Spring, yes it is dry, but why pull the plug so long when we know the season is not normal?
Ok, the good news is that low water can often mean very good fishing. When the minnows are not able to get up and hide in the grass the predator fish are easier for you and I to catch, because they are also not in the cover.
I expect this to be a very good fishing season.
At Gus’ Place we have low water conditions, our harbor is still functioning as well as the boat ramp, the channel is marked and we are GETTING OUT!
It has been a rough year for the frogs, bad year for the “Skeets” but I did hear a few Leopard Frogs making the best of things today while I was working the docks in the harbor.
Best of luck to everyone on this year’s opener." - Gus Sheker, Gus' Place Resort 1-888-246-8520
Fishing Report May 5, 2015 - Defending Yourself Against Shallow Water Boat Ramps
The most commonly asked question in my inbox right now is; "Can I get my boat onto Bowstring Lake for the opener this weekend?" The answer is pretty much the same for everyone, so forgive me for not listing each one of your comments separately. A) All of the accesses on Bowstring Lake have very low water conditions and if you have a bunk type trailer under your boat, you are going to face serious challenges getting it launched on Bowstring. If you have a good roller type trailer, a boat with a fairly shallow draft and don't mind hand winching your boat onto your trailer, then you can probably fish there this weekend, it won't be handy, but it is doable.
Most of the landings in the Itasca Area are plagued with the same low water conditions, so or fishermen with larger boats, especially the ones that rest atop bunk trailers, your best bet will be focus on the lakes that provide well known, deep water ramps.
Double concrete ramps like the ones at the Mosomo Landing on Cutfoot Sioux, Federal Dam on Leech Lake and Walker Bay on the West side of Leech Lake are all going to provide adequate water for larger boats.
The best rule of thumb for making your decision is to avoid shallow water lakes, especially the ones that have drainage into rivers. Bowstring, Round, Little Winnie and even the offbeat, shallow landings on Winnie, Leech and Cass are all going to be problematic.
Deeper water, land-locked lakes tend to provide better conditions, but don't take for granted that they're all good, it's gonna take a bit of pre-trip scouting, we're all just gonna have to do our best.
I'm doing my best, but I can’t get everywhere to look at the conditions. This would be a great time for a few of you to lend a hand and let us know what the conditions look like at your favorite landings. >> EMAIL
Fishing Report May 4, 2015 - Shallow Water Panfish Springing Into Action
Crappies were active in the Itasca Area this weekend; the ones we caught on Saturday were not the largest size I've ever seen, averaging 10 to 11 inches. But after we figured out a system to trigger strikes, they provided good scrappy fight and I'm guessing that they'll be tasty too!
The water in the small lake that we fished was very low and very clear; it was difficult to navigate along the shoreline. Surface temperatures ranged from 56 to 60 degrees, falling well short of being warm enough to attract fish into the shallow spawning beds.
After a couple of hours bouncing around from one shallow bay to another, I spent some time looking in deep water. Except for marking an occasional single fish, probably Pike, the screen of my Humminbird was blank.
I made one more move toward the shoreline and begin creeping along the edges of submerged weeds that were already healthy and green. At first, that didn’t look good for us either, but we could see another fishing party; they were fishing the same weedline, and they were catching fish.
That bolstered our confidence, but we were frustrated at first. Using light weight jigs, a variety of live and artificial baits; we couldn’t get fish to strike.
Apparently, this particular school of fish didn’t like any presentation that forced them to move out of the cover. But there was something that they did like and once we switched to the heaviest, #6 Lindy Ice Worms, tipped them with crappie minnows and fished below floats, set at 4-5 feet, we were in business!
That made all of the difference; the extra weight of the Ice Worm helped us keep the minnows locked into position, nearly motionless just above the weed tops. The same fish that would not move out of the weeds to pick up our baits were now striking with authority.
The fish were holding along a soft shoreline break from 6 to 8 feet of water, where there was a healthy, green weed patch. Like I said, they were not interested in moving out of those weeds, so keep this in mind. It could be a big clue for anglers who like to fish clear water lakes, where visibility and water temperature are holding the back from moving into spawning structures.
We were not the only ones catching Crappies this weekend. In fact, by Sunday evening, I was doing a quick scan of my Facebook page and saw that a half dozen of my friends were posting Crappie pictures of their own.
Cooler, possibly wet weather appears to be heading our way later this week. That could be a temporary setback for Panfish, so if you can, try spending your evening on the lake today or tomorrow. If you can’t out that soon, don’t worry, I think that these fish will be moving toward their spawning structures within a week to 10 days, so you’re gonna get more chances.
Fishing Report May 2, 2015 - Shallow Water Panfish Springing Into Action
Itasca Area Panfish have begun responding to warming surface water temperatures and a Friday afternoon fishing trip for deep water Crappies, quickly turned into a shallow water foray for Bluegills.
Hoping to help break the fishless streak that I'd caused for myself by kicking off my season too early, Chris Andresen joined the search party. Our plan was to improve the odds of fishing Crappies by fishing on a lake that hosts a high population of smaller, eater size fish. You get the idea, instead of searching for a relatively small number of fish, we’d settle for smaller ones in greater numbers.
After trolling over a mid-lake, 30 foot hole, scanning for signs of Crappies, we found little evidence that there were still fish out there. Hoping to find signs of life in shallow water, I moved to the shoreline for a look and guess what? Surface temperatures had already risen above 60 degrees and ironically, the shallow water was inhabited by Sunfish instead of Crappies.
I have to admit, when given the choice, I’d rather fish for Sunfish anyway. So transitioning over to Bluegill fishing was as easy a decision as anybody could make.
The fish that we discovered were located in water depths of 12 to 24 inches. In that shallow water, the fish could see and hear everything we did. They were flighty and each time we’d encounter some, we could only catch a few before the small packs would break up and move out of casting range.
The good news is that they were definitely in the mood to feed. Our defense against spooking them was to creep along slowly, making long casts toward the shoreline. Occasionally, we’d discover a fresh batch of fish, have a spurt of action and then go back to searching.
Making the long casts was accomplished by using small jigs suspended about 8 inches below Thill slip floats. Even set that shallow, the jigs would sometimes reach the bottom and need to be pulled toward deeper water.
On this trip, finding the warmest water possible was the key to locating active fish. We could document a shift in water temperature of 2 or 3 degrees wherever the breeze was moving warm surface water into pockets and protected areas. The contrast in temperature was fairly extreme, ranging from 53 degrees on the calm side of the lake to a high temperature of 64 degrees in the Northeast corner.
Today, we’re going to try and expand on what we learned yesterday. Whatever we discover, you will be the first to KNOW!
An Email Question From Wally Benson; "I wonder if you think that the Army Corps lowering of the springtime water levels could be affecting the spawning of shiners and maybe even walleyes. It seems to me that in the past springs the water roared through the Winnie dam".
A) First things first; I'm not sure that the Corps of Engineers has very much control over our current situation. I don't believe that there could be any greater contrast between two seasons than comparing 2014 to 2015.
Last year, we had more water than we knew what to do with and for most of the summer, wet conditions persisted. This spring has brought us a major league water shortage, a drought that few of us can remember occurring this early in the season for a long time. There simply isn't any reason to allow water to flow out of Winnie, or most any other lake in the region.
That said; there's no doubt about it, low water levels and reduced current flow definitely do influence the behavior of spawning Walleyes. This year, we've seen that the fish still make their move toward spawning territory, but there was a noticeable lack of intensity. Smaller, slower moving schools of fish just plodded along, finishing the job with little fanfare.
The jury is out about the Shiners because their spawning season still lies ahead. Typically, Spottails are still spawning on shallow sand flats into late May, sometimes even into June on some of the deeper lakes that warm more slowly.
It wouldn't surprise me if the low water levels actually turned out to be an advantage to baitfish like Spottail Shiners. The sand flats where they spawn will still provide them with plenty of spawning territory and that space will warm more quickly than usual.
Fishing Report May 1, 2015 - Countdown To Northern Minnesota's Walleye Fishing Opener
Yesterday, I wrote a little bit about the availability of bait (See Report April 30) for the Minnesota Walleye opener. Those comments illicted comments and a question from a friend, Tom (witheld) by email; "Jeff, I agree with much of what you said, and people that are rude at the bait shops should be ashamed.
There's another party that should also be ashamed, and that's the bait shop owners that have chosen to take the opportunity to overcharge and gouge the public. Upwards of $40 a quart for shiners is ridiculous! Why can't they just charge a fair and honest price? - Tom A)
Tom, I know what you mean; I remember when Shiners were $6.00 per quart, easy to come by and nobody worried about getting them, ever. I don't enjoy paying big bucks for minnows either and I sure wish we could go back to those days, but we can't.
Honestly, it has become awful expensive for any of us to be alive these days. Fuel, vehicles, insurance, regulations; It's all expensive stuff. What I'm saying is that I'm really not sure what the "Fair Price" is or what it should be.
I do know one bait trapper really well and From what I can see, he's not getting rich very fast either.
I can see for myself that he's been getting run through the ringer by the State and by the DNR and by evolution. Thanks to Faucet Snails, Zebra Mussels and Spiny Water Fleas, his life revolves around a hodge-podge of AIS Schools, pre-harvest water testing, extra equipment, permit fees, regulations, and the list goes on.
By the time he sells his first minnow next weekend, he will already have invested thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours working. If he’s lucky, he’ll have enough minnows on hand to last through the first few days of the season, if not, he’ll get to spend the rest of his time listening to guys … well, you know.
Consumers really do have all of the power and in situations where prices rise sharply, it's the consumer who ultimately sets the fair price. Folks will go where they find the best deal, competition will drive pricing down and sooner or later, the prices will wind up wherever they need to be for the system to work.
I know that you follow some of my reports, so you've probably already seen some of what I wrote last year about the viability of bait shops and changes that lie ahead for we fishermen.
I've still got about 30 years of fishing ahead of me and I'm not ready to see any more bait shops close their doors. Speaking only for myself, I can honestly say that I'd rather pay a little bit too much for a minnow today, if it will help ensure that a decent bait shop remains open in my future.
For right now, none of us really knows what fair is. We’re all being forced into changes that we’d rather not make. I’ll stand by what I said last week, the bottom line; “fishing isn’t good for anybody, unless it’s good for everybody”.
Do your best, have a great fishing opener and be sure to give us a wave when we roll on by!!
By 5:30 AM there were already boats moving both in and out of "The Gap" between Winnibigoshish and Cutfoot Sioux. Strategically, they were probably the smart ones.
Warmer conditions found south of Laurentian Divide; Duane Rothstein opened his fishing season with a nice one!
On Bowstring Lake, all 3 of the public landings will be dificult for large boats. Small fishing boats, or vessels with shallow draft will be able to launch.
On Winnie, Birches, Tamarack Point, Richards Townsite, and West Winnie accesses are very shallow and the average boat these days will be difficult to launch. The Plug Hat access had enough water to launch a boat but water in the bay may be too shallow to float much longer than 16 feet. The Mosomo and Little Cut Foot accesses had plenty of water to launch a boat.
The best way that we all can help is to focus on having our own rigs ready for action when our turn to launch comes up. Try not to be the one who does anything dumb.
Gus Sheker, Ball Club Lake; "Rough year for frogs, bad year for “Skeets”. I did hear a few Leopard Frogs making the best of conditions. Read >> Gus Place Report
once we switched to the heaviest, #6 Lindy Ice Worms, tipped them with crappie minnows and fished below floats, set at 4-5 feet, we were in business!
Crappies were holding along a soft shoreline break from 6 to 8 feet of water, where there was a healthy, green weed patch.
Making the long casts was accomplished by using small jigs suspended about 8 inches below Thill slip floats. Even set that shallow, the jigs would sometimes reach the bottom and need to be pulled toward deeper water.
Cutfoot Sioux will certainly host Walleyes, lingering after the spawn. But we think that the odds will favor anglers who set their sights on fishing main breaklines on Lake Winnibigoshish. Read >> Lake Winnie Fishing Report
Do You Know that you can even post your own helpful hints to our fishing reports page on facebook? YES! You Can! You don't have to tell us your secrets, just go ahead and brag a little when you get a whopper! Click >>> Fishing Reports Minnesota .
And ... did you know that Jeff's Thursday Morning Program is available for two weeks after the air date? Yes, you'll never need to miss the show. Click the image and then select the 6:00 hour on Thursday. Scroll in to about 6:20 AM and you're in business!