"The walleye fishing continues to be very reliable. Jig and minnow combination is the bait of choice. We are starting to see some fish taken on leeches, as well. The same spots are producing fish for our guests. Don't be afraid to venture out on the shoreline drops.
Especially when it is calm. I fished with Captain Mark and we caught walleyes, northerns, and some very large jumbo perch. This was accomplished in 19' of water off of the shoreline drop. Look for the clouds of baitfish and there will be fish there.
As I stated, the perch are starting to school. They are gorging on crayfish as well as the smaller baitfish that are out there. I bested Mark with a 12 3/4" beauty. Our perch fishermen are all doing very well.
Northerns are still being caught by the jigs and minnows. You will catch them fishing for walleyes with jigs and minnows. It is hard to target them right now as the weeds are just starting to emerge. It won't be long before we will be casting and trolling for them.
We have had some unstable weather the past few days. That hasn't seemed to affect the fish that much. I look for some great June fishing as the fish start to hold tighter to the structure. If you are thinking about coming up to Winnie, we have some prime cabins available for the weeks ahead. Check out our availability and give us a call. - Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
If Walleyes Are In Schools, When Do They Graduate? - Fishing Report May 28, 2016
For many, the graduation must have been recently, because we attended a graduation just yesterday, May 27; and from our vantage point, this Leech Lake Grad Party was a good one.
It's not all that often that I get to enjoy good fishing, say thank you and make up for a blooper all at the same time, but I did yesterday.
You might recall my recent story about Murphy’s Law and some of its corollaries; it was about one of those days when we tried hard, but never quite figured out how to get into good action. As it happens, it was Craig Anderson who I treated to that humiliating experience. Luckily, yesterday was a do-over, a re-match of sorts and this time, my ego faired a little bit better.
The night before our fishing trip, scheduled as a graduation present for Chelsie Anderson, Craig asked me where we’d go. I warned him that he’d think that I was a glutton for punishment when I answered; “I think we should go back again to Leech Lake.” If was disappointed with that decision, he didn’t say so and the meeting time was cheerfully set.
When we arrived at the ramp, the conditions were 180° opposite of our last trip. The sky was overcast, there was a light chop on the water and the surface temperature had risen to 62°, ideal for spring Walleye fishing.
A short run across the bay took us back to the last spot I’d fished. A series of plotter trails on the Humminbird revealed the weedline that I’d been following the day before; and the day before that.
For Chelsie Anderson, the Leech Lake Grad Party was a good one.
Nothing beats getting the day off to a good start!
Craig Anderson slipped this plump "Leech Lake Special" into the boat before the rest even had bait in the water.
I don’t think that I even dropped bait into the water before Craig was reeling in his first Walleye. It was a plump, 23 inch “Leech Lake Special” and that fish jump started the trip. From then on, catching Walleyes required only having patience enough to wait for the next strike and allowing the fish time to inhale the bait.
Finding the right location did require some adjustments. The patches of tall Cabbage weeds that held fish during Thursday’s sunshine were now inhabited mainly by small Pike. The Walleyes obviously didn’t need the shady protection today and had moved into shallower water a short distance away.
Instead of holding tight to dense cover, they were roaming the sand flats wherever there was sand grass and other short, stubble grew on the bottom. The lighter cover is enough to hold baitfish, but it also provides enough open territory for small schools of fish to roam, trapping baitfish as they move.
Except for keeping the boat moving at the correct jigging speed, about .7 to .8 MPH, there really wasn’t too much thinking about location involved. This isn’t the kind of “spot on a spot fishing” that you often read about, in fact, wandering around on these flats drives me a little bit crazy because I don’t feel like I’m doing enough. It works on Leech Lake though and sometimes I have to force myself to just go with the flow.
If there was an exact “key depth”, it was 8 feet during the morning. Later, the surface calmed and there was a minimal re-birth of action on the deeper weedline at about 10 feet. If we’d stayed longer, that location may have provided more intense action, but by then, we had plenty of fish and it was time to head home where holiday entertaining was on all of our agendas.
Today’s breeze will be more intense and under the overcast sky, I’d guess that the shallow sand flats will still be good on Leech. With stronger winds though, don’t overlook rocks; they have also been very good on breezy days.
For me, no Memorial Day weekend is really complete without a visit to Winnie, and since we’ve already “Graduated” from Leech Lake, I think we’re gonna venture out onto the other “big lake” with the long name.
Planning a dream fishing trip is without a doubt a fun exercise, and one that requires serious forethought given the time and resources most will require. There's nothing like getting away from civilization and experiencing something you just can't get closer to home. Dream a little and think about what your ultimate getaway would look like. But as you do so, remember that doing your homework can make the difference between a trip of a lifetime and a nightmarish remote excursion. View Video >> Five key questions you should ask yourself before planning your next dream trip.
From The Marcell Area, Frontier Sports, Paul Larson May 20, 2016
"For the last week or so, water temperatures seem to be the main topic among anglers in our area. The Edge of the Wilderness area has quite a few deep, cold water lakes and it is these lakes that are showing some reluctance as far as warming up is concerned. Temps in the high fifties and low sixties were encountered early last week. Since then, the temps dropped briefly in the middle of the week but have now started to climb into the sixties. The smaller shallow lakes have had panfish in the shallows for a week or so but they have just now started to show up in the shallows of the deeper lakes. Walleye have been finicky but are just beginning to transition into the shallow rock points and humps in depths from four to eight feet and fishing for them should improve. Right now the area lakes are experiencing a bait fish hatch with huge schools of bait that have been keeping the Walleyes busy. In situations like this it is very difficult to get bit. Pike have been the saving grace so far this season and have been more than cooperative. The catch and release Bass season has attracted many anglers new to the area, in search of the huge Smallmouth Bass for which our lakes are quite well known.
This weekend looks like it will be a winner despite the annual Memorial Day rain showers. It has rained so little this spring it is sorely needed. As an added bonus fishing in a light rain can be very good indeed! The store is fully stocked with many new items in both the gift shop and tackle department. The bait shop has everything in the way of minnows as well as leeches, crawlers and waxies. Be sure to stop in when you’re in the area and don’t forget to thank a veteran. Have a great holiday weekend everyone!..."
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 218-832-3901 or Email .
Cass Lake Horseshoe Resort May 26, 2016
Warmer water temperatures have triggered springtime Walleye action on Cass Lake. Clark Heitmann reported surface temperatures reaching the mid 60 degree range during the warm up. Temperatures slipped back a few degrees with the arrival of Wednesday’s cold front, but will rebound quickly as the front passes.
Cass Lake fishing guide Chad Benson says that Walleyes have been cooperative during low light periods. Cloudy, breezy days, late evenings or early mornings are productive, but both Heitmann and Benson caution anglers to expect tougher fishing on calm sunny days.
This “low light for Walleye” theme is common, especially now days as Walleye waters throughout the entire Itasca region continue to become clearer. Benson says; “I’ve never seen the water this clear on Cass Lake before, on Tuesday it was like fishing in an aquarium”.
Photo courtesy Horseshoe Resort: Crappies are already preparing beds in shallow cover and Bluegills are making exploratory runs into the shallows where they will begin spawning soon. One large crew found ‘em, and picked up a nice mess of Panfish on Tuesday.
At times like these, Benson relies on Cass Lake’s Jumbo Perch to keep the action lively for his customers. “Perch saved the trip on Tuesday” says Benson. They were on main lake structure, holding tight to the rocks.
Other customers have turned to fishing for Panfish during sunny conditions. Many of the small lakes connected to Cass offer good fishing for both Crappie and Sunfish. Crappies are already preparing beds in shallow cover and Bluegills are making exploratory runs into the shallows where they will begin spawning soon. “One large crew found ‘em, and picked up a nice mess of Panfish on Tuesday”, said Heitmann.
When the Walleye bite is on, it’s good and fish are holding along the breakline in water depths of 12 to 24 feet. Although most area guides suggest jig and minnow fishing for early season Walleyes. Chad Benson follows a different pattern; he’s a firm believer in Lindy Rigging using Leeches. “I’m a simple man” says Benson, “using Leeches are reliable and for many of my customers, I think they are easier to fish with”.
The Memorial Weekend forecast appears to be playing into the hands of anglers. Conditions for the upcoming weekend are predicted to be cloudy skies, slight chance of rain and moderate winds. - Horseshoe Resort on Cass Lake.
For A Calm Experience, Choose Upper Red Lake - Fishing Report - May 25, 2016
Recently, both Lake Winnibigoshish and Leech Lake have provided anglers with plenty of good Walleye action. Cass Lake is warming up and beginning to rock and so are many of the smaller Walleye waters in the Itasca area. Still, when the forecast calls for calm water and sunny skies, it sends me running from these lakes like a scared puppy.
It should become easier to fool daytime Walleyes when more of them begin migrating onto off shore structure. But the water is clear right now and the bright sky doesn’t work for fish focused primarily on shallow, shoreline feeding areas.
So despite our strong desire to stay closer to home and avoid the long drive, I decided to beat the calm seas by cruising back to upper red lake. I didn’t feel like we had another choice, I didn’t want to risk another episode of grinding away, trying to coax an occasional un-willing Walleye into biting.
That decision turned out to be a good one for us, the weather was gorgeous, the fish were biting and long drive aside; our spirits were good.
When we arrived, surface water temperatures were still below 60°. That was a surprise for me, I expected the dark water to have warmed up more, but apparently the lake has its own opinion.
Attempting to pick up where I’d left off last Saturday, I headed for a stretch of shoreline near Rogers Campground and we began jigging on the shallow breakline. Walleyes were scarce and that stretch of shoreline had now become inhabited by Sheephead. In fact, I believe I’m right saying that every single fish we caught on this stretch was a Sheephead except for one small Walleye.
That didn't worry me too much; we can always scrounge around in deeper water and find some Walleyes even when the sheep have moved in. But I do think you should make note of this migration because historically, this signals us that walleyes will soon begin moving away from the shallow breaks.
For the rest of our day, we fished rock structure out and way from shore. Typical depths ranged between 4 and 6 feet and it became obvious that we needed to find rocks if we wanted consistent action.
We used 1/16 ounce Lindy Jigs to help avoid too many snags and we tipped them with Fatheads. I had some Shiners along just in case of an emergency, but we never needed to use them, Fatheads work great.
Just because we moved away from the shoreline doesn’t mean that weren’t any more Walleyes in there. In fact, we had plenty of good reports from other anglers who continued to move along the breaks until they found active Walleyes. My decision to move out to the rocks was driven by our desire for a more peaceful adventure, away from the hubbub and commotion.
Today, we’re sticking closer to home, Lake Winnie is the slated destination, but it’s possible that we’ll switch to Leech if the conditions warrant.
If you’re on your way up for the long weekend, be sure to check in tomorrow because the calls are out for a thorough update for tomorrow morning.
"Following The Bait, Follow Up" and Leech Lake, Upper Red Lake Fishing Report - May 23, 2016
Yesterday, I wrote about finding baitfish on shallow spawning flats. It wasn't finished when I had to leave for my fishing trip and I left you hanging with a promise to expand on the theme today. I always keep my promises, so I've added another installment, scroll down or click >> Following the Baitfish
Upper Red Lake Walleye fishing was better on Saturday than it was on our previous trip last Wednesday.
I don't mean better in terms of "our catch", I mean that there were fish available in a wider variety of locations. It was easier to find a school of fish, they were more aggressive and there was a wider cross section of anglers hauling 'em in.
Surface temperatures have been slow to rise, but the water finally crossed the 60 degree mark before we left on Saturday afternoon. I think this, along with the calendar, have encouraged fish to move out of the rivers and begin filtering back onto main lake breaks.
You’ll recall what I’ve said before about being a lucky kid, so it was gratifying for me to see lots of families on the water, enjoying the fantastic weather. Especially gratifying, was watching most of them enjoy good fishing action, frequently adding fish to their larders for an evening fish fry at the cabin.
As a matter of fact, I,” Mr. C” and the “Hippie Chick” brought our fillets and enjoyed our own fish, fried up at the Gosh Dam Place. If you haven’t been there, you need to try it because both the service and the food are amazing. When you’re in the neighborhood, I think it will be well worth bringing in your own fillets and let them treat you; it’s always good.
The seas were calm, the sun was high and sky was clear, but the fish remained shallow. For us, holding the boat in 4.2 feet of water was the magic number. I saw fish caught in slightly deeper water too, and we caught several in shallower water by pitching 1/16 ounce Lindy Jigs tipped with Fatheads onto the shallow sand and retrieving them to the boat.
Leech Lake Walleye fishing was reliable on Sunday, but the weather was rough.
I'd like to tell you that I know everything there is to know about Leech Lake, but all I've got is one spot.
That's because when the wind started rocking on Sunday, we were sort of pinned down on one little rock spine, hoping only to bag as many fish as we could before it was time to pound our way across the lake, back to the landing.
If you know Leech Lake, then you know how this story is gonna go. The bigger the waves, (to a point) the bigger the fish and the better they bite.
With 3 footers ponding onto the shallow rocks at Two Points, getting strikes was hardly the issue; there were numerous opportunities to catch fish. As it turned out, we bagged 9 keepers, catching and releasing about the same number of slot fish. Under the circumstances, that was pretty good, but we could have done better.
Trying to stay focused on good hook sets, managing the fish and the landing net just gets trickier in big wave. If you’re wet, cold and off balance, it’s hard to do your best work. That’s why I think we did pretty well; I had a good crew, with good humor and plenty of talent.
Before the winds began to howl, the surface temperature was 59 degrees. As the lake water became turbulent, a thorough mixing brought it down to about 57 degrees. It seemed a lot colder when it splashed us, I’ll be happy when it rises just a bit more.
As usual, I’m up against the clock, so I’ll have to add the addable to the Leech Lake report tomorrow. If you’re planning to fish today, be safe and dry and Good Luck!! See You Tomorrow!!
On Upper Red Lake this Saturday, there were fish available in a wider variety of locations, they were more aggressive and there was a wider cross section of anglers hauling 'em in.
Jonah and Sarah showing a nice Leech Lake double header.
Big Leech Lake Walleyes are part of the reward for putting up with Big Leech Lake Waves. When the boat is rocking, so are the fish.
May 22, 2016 Follow The Bait, Find The Fish; Easy Right?
I’ve always loved a good old fashioned “good news, bad news" scenario and I have one for you today.
First, the good news; you can feel the food chains becoming active on Itasca Area Lakes. Insects hatching, Panfish moving into shallow water and baitfish, like Shiners traveling onto shallow, sandy flats for their spring spawing runs. While they're in and near these spawning flats, you can bet that they are attracting Walleye, Perch and Crappie.
With surface water temperatures pushing their way toward 60 degrees, fish are both more active and found in a wider variety of locations.
And the bad news; when predators, like Walleye are chasing minnows, they can become nomadic, following the baitfish like a hunting dog follows a Pheasant on the run. Sometimes we locate fish, then have a relatively small window of great action, only to have it fizzle out when the schools of baitfish are dispersed. Minnows are forced to move constantly as they’re being pursued by predators. Sometimes they return the area, sometimes they just keep moving, that means that we need to be mobile too.
Over the past few days, we’ve been in a variety of spots, all of them on different lakes and all having one thing in common; Shiner Spawning Runs. We’ve had moments of glory when we find the right spots, but we’ve struggled through some quiet times too as we search for the next best bite.
The tools we have, like my Helix 10, make finding fish easy when they’re in deeper water, but when they move into the super shallow sand, your own instinct is still the best tool you can use.
If you’re thinking, “But I don’t have instinct, I need more than that”, then here's something that you need to hear; "YES, YOU DO!"
Start by simply paying attention to what you see with your own eyes. Many times that alone will lead you to what the baitfish are doing. In turn, that will lead you to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Want a really easy tip first? Okay, try this; on large, shallow water lakes like Leech, Winnibigoshish, Red and others, there are miles of shallow sandy flats.
I can easily figure out where the baitfish will be heading by watching the shoreline for minnow traps. Bait dealers who pursue Shiners have spent a lot of time figuring out where the best spots for trapping minnows are located. When I see minnow traps spread out along a shoreline, it tells me that sooner or later, there will be baitfish on the flats. Searching the adjacent breaklines for pockets, weed patches or gravel will help me dial in the location of Walleyes.
Another way to locate shiners is to be on the lookout for holes that lay adjacent to shallow sand flats. Spawning shiners, and other minnows like to fall back into these holes at night, or when the weather gets cold.
Next time you launch your boat, look close at the washout hole near the dock. The image; a deeper hole, surrounded by a shallow flat helps visualize what you'll be looking for on the lake. It’s common to see minnows hovering in the deeper water, moving onto the shallow flats when the timing is right.
Check out the map, it's perfect example of a hole that provides sanctuary for minnows, but also allows easy access to shallow water too.
You can see by the plotter lines on my graph that we spent a fair amout of time working the shallow edges, near the hole. There were Walleye, Perch and Pike along the edge and all we had to do was move slowly as we casted jig and minnow combos onto the shallow flat, hopping them back toward the boat.
We know that there were tons of shiners on the shallow sand because the fish we caught we spitting them up as we reeled them in. In fact, sometimes we snagged them with our jigs as we retrieved them to the boat.
Now you can expand on this theme, check the map of your favorite lake and you’ll start spotting similar areas like this one. All holes are not created equal, if you find one that doesn't produce the desired result, don't give up. Sooner or later, you will land on the right one.
Watchintg for minnows hovering above weedy patches is another great trick. It's not only an effective way to locate schools of baitfish, but it's a good tool for locating the best weedbeds too. Early risers have seen the pattern, when calm surface water is alive with small fish, you can almost be sure that there's a weed bed underneath them.
During most of the day, minnows hold
tight to the weeds, but during early morning and late evening, they will rise to the surface. Knowing these areas is good because they are typically good fishing spots durning any season, not just during spawning time.
Pictching jig & minnow combinations onto shallow feeding flats
is the best game in town on Northern Minnesota's Walleye waters.
Tempted to share his technique, Mark Huesle reluctantly chose to keep this deadly presentation under wraps a little bit longer.
Tools we have today, like my Helix 10, make finding fish easy when they’re in deeper water, but when they move into the super shallow sand, instinct is the really the best tool you can use.
"The John Deere Orioles have flown north to their annual outing at the Four Seasons Resort. They are a group of John Deere employees, past and present, who come on a charter bus from Moline, Il, Waterloo, Ia, and Cedar Falls, Ia. They have been coming to the resort since 1967.
The reason I mention this group is the fact that the weather for their weekend is absolutely perfect! This happens for them exactly once every 20 or so years.
This week the walleye fishing was quite good. The fish were scattered from shallow to the deeper breaklines. Jigs and rigs with shiner minnows is the best bait. We have been lucky enough to have shiners available to our guests this year. Hopefully, that will continue. If you are coming, call to see if we have any of these minnows. It really seems to make a difference in your success right now.
Northerns are being caught right along with the walleyes. This is very typical for this time of year. You will have no problem catching these fish on jigs and minnows along the shoreline breaks.
Some very nice perch are being caught while fishing for walleyes and northerns. They seem to be scattered so far and the large schools that you expect to encounter are hard to come by. So don't expect to stop on one spot and catch a limit of perch. You will have much better success moving around and picking off one here and there. By the end of the day, you will have a nice bunch of perch.
The calm conditions and water clarity can make for some difficult conditions. But if you keep working and searching for the baitfish on your electronics, you will find the fish.
If your schedule allows, we still have a couple of openings for the upcoming holiday weekend. We also have specials later in the year, so check the availability and give us a call. " Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort.
Cass Lake Horseshoe Resort May 20, 2016
"Clark Heitmann; We’re looking forward to the warm weekend ahead, anticipating that the rising water temperatures will help kick the daytime Walleye bite into high gear.
On Cass Lake, surface water temperatures were around 48 degrees on the fishing opener and the lake was super clear, I think it’s the clearest I can remember seeing.
During the week, surface water has risen into the 55-57 degree range on Cass Lake; Lake Andrusia and Kitchi are somewhat warmer.
For now, the best times to fish for Walleye are during low light, early morning and late evening. As water temperatures warm, the daytime action will improve and anglers can be more flexible with their schedules.
Despite the conditions, there are always some fishermen who catch fish and the ones who have are pursuing Walleyes at the river mouths in 12 to 20 feet of water. Jig and minnow presentations have stood the test of time and continue to produce the best results during springtime.
The biggest Walleye caught (and released) this week was this dandy 25-1/2 inch fish. When you’re on a roll, you’re on a roll and it wasn’t long afterward that “Mr. Lucky” caught another whopper, a 40 inch plus Northern Pike.
Stay in touch and watch for improving action as the water temperature continues to rise. Clark Heitmann - Horseshoe Resort on Cass Lake.
From The Marcell Area, Frontier Sports, Paul Larson May 20, 2016
"By now everyone has heard about or experienced the bad weather and poor success of this year’s opener. Snow greeted anxious anglers Saturday morning accompanied by gusty winds. As for me, there wasn’t much in the way of fishing success to be had on Sunday so I dropped anchor and took photos of a flock of Pelicans that seemed to be catching a lot more fish than I was. The bad weather fortunately lasted only through my days off. By Tuesday things were shaping up and temperatures were again in the sixties. Throughout this week things have improved daily and while you can never be sure about the weather in northern Minnesota, this weekend looks like a winner. Already reports of fairly good Crappie fishing are coming in along with anglers telling of some Walleye action as well. The shop is all stocked and ready for the weekend. We have Crappie, Fathead and three sizes of Sucker minnows. We also have Spottail and Golden Shiners as well as Leeches, Crawlers and Waxies. The tackle department has many new offerings from LIVE TARGET and Savage Gear as well as Rapala and other trusted brands. The gift shop is well stocked with new items arriving almost daily.
It seems almost every year we need to have the state legislature authorize an emergency session and proclaim the second weekend of the fishing season as “The Alternate Opener.” This year is no different so I’ll just start over this weekend and forget about the opener that wasn’t. That’s how a real fishermen would handle it!" 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 218-832-3901 or Email .
From The Alexandria - Ottertail area Capt Josh Hagemeister;
"Walleyes were caught last weekend as well as some huge crappies. Shallow depths for the walleyes –5-8 ft was the most productive depth we had. Dragging (not jigging) a 1/8 oz. green jig tipped with a shiner minnow was the best of the best. Sandy shoreline flats with a little weed on them was what we were looking as far as bottom. But the most important link was finding that combination with schools of shiners nearby or suspending above it. Shiners equal walleye for the next 2 weeks…remember that. The crappies are in the shallows on some lakes but still staging outside of the shallows by suspending over deep water in others. We landed a few nice crappies by simply having another rod rigged and ready with a 1/16 ounce silver jig head tipped with a 2” white gulp twister tail. Watch it fall on the hummingbird down to the fish or do a countdown method—twitch it a couple of times and BAMM! Crappies in the boat. Looking forward to this weeks warmer water temps accelerating the walleyes to school more heavily and not be so scattered." - Capt Josh Hagemeister, 320-291-0708, 218-732-9919
May 19, 2016 Best Presentation For Red Lake Walleye? When You're Right, You're Right!
I think that if you fish, then YOU KNOW that what I'm about to say is true.
If there's an undiscovered gene that makes one person more independent than another, then I believe that most anglers are born with it.
We're the sort of folks who like to think that we have things figured out; we like to think that "our way" works the best and more often than not, we can back it up with proof. This attribute by the way, is a fabulous one to have; when you're right.
Unfortunately, those of us who are born with the "Independence Gene" need an occasional reminder that there are multiple levels of being right. Sometimes one way is more right than another way. So whenever we're presented with an opportunity to take good advice, we may be tempted to disregard it. It's especially true when it comes from somebody that we don't even know and even if they are more right than we are, we may never give ourselves the chance to find out.
That brings me to the moment when we were backtrolling along the shallow breakline on Upper Red Lake on Wednesday. The Walleyes were hitting, but the action was far from breathtaking, we would have loved to see it get better.
That's when we trolled by a group of men in a bright red, Lund Pro V. The helmsman asked me if I was a guide, my affirmitive reply triggered his response; "I am too, I'm out of Hibbing." Some small talk ensued and eventually led to a tidbit of un-solicited advice, he said; "Ya gotta use a 1/16 ounce jig, anchor the boat and cast toward the breakline; ya’ can't get 'em trolling."
That said, if we'd just kept on trolling, we would still have caught enough fish to call it a good day. In fact, by the time I'd been given the chance to accept this un-solicited advice; we were already nearly filled out with our bag limit.
This is where my "Independence Gene" almost tripped me up. It would have been really easy to ingnore the words of wisdom, accept the slow-but-steady action, and go home believing that I was right.
I knew that his advice was mostly good though, particularly in light of the fact that we watched him catch 3 or 4 Walleyes during our exchange. The problem was that my way was working well enough too, at least I thought so.
Luckily, I paid just enough attention to my inner voice when it whispered; "YOU KNOW he's right, we've caught lots of fish before by doing it his way, ya' better at least try it."
Long story short, I slowed way down and used the MinnKota to hold position along the breakline. I asked Mark and Adam to try tossing their 1/16 ounce Lindy Jigs, tipped with Fatheads onto the shallow flat and then hop them back toward the breakline. They cast them out, gave ‘em a couple of hops and ... WHAM!
From then on we caught the daylights out of Walleyes. The action was 10 times better than before and it lasted at least an hour, maybe longer. I ’m not sure how many Walleyes we released, but it was more than enough to cause an outbreak of grinning and giggling.
Mark Huelse (above) along with nephew Adam (below) showing off a couple of their better efforts on Upper Red Lake.
Best action came by pitching 1/16 ounce Lindy Jigs tipped with Fatheads onto the shallow flat and hopping them back to the breakline.
What was going on was that the water had warmed up, at 57 degrees, a school of shiner minnows had moved into about 3 feet of water on top of the shallow flat. That encouraged the fish to move toward the bait too, away from the breakline where were catching them earlier.
It was easy to prove
the presense of the Shiners because we snagged a couple of them with our jigs as we fished.
Once we knew that the Walleyes were feeding on those minnows, all we had to do was get our jigs away from the breakline and into that school of fish; that’s it, it really was that simple.
We had never been more than 50 feet away from that school of fish the whole time, but we just weren’t getting our baits in front of them by trolling.
It’s not that we hadn’t thought about going shallower, I had already tried trolling through there. But even in the ultra-dark water, my boat must have caused enough disturbances to move the fish out of our travel path.
It's kind of ironic, it hadn't been long before that in my effort to solve the puzzle, I mentioned to Mark that I was gonna get special authorization from the Hippie Chick to use the Rainbow Fish Meditation; I knew it would work, I just didn't realize that help would come in the form of a guy from Hibbing in a red Pro V from.
When You're Right, You're Right! I'm sorry that I didn't get your name, but I did take your advice and it worked. Thanks pal, I owe you one!
May 18, 2016 Walleye Fishing Upper Red Lake Report
On Upper Red Lake this Tuesday, surface temperatures ranged between 49 and 52° and for folks who are used to fishing the big lake, you know that it's typical for Walleye to start off slow in the morning when water is chilly. That’s how the morning began, our action was spotty as we poked around, moving from one gravel patch to another.
Whenever we encountered a small school of fish, we did pick them up one by though and for most Walleye fishermen, that’s good enough.
After lunch, sunshine had warmed water temperatures into the 52° - 53° range and now, we encountered small schools of much more aggressive fish. With action building as the lake warmed up, catching fish became easier and the action was good.
Comparing the walleye action to other seasons, I would rate yesterday as about a six on a scale of 1 to 10. It was not wide open, but there were plenty of fish and the average size was solid, most fish ranging between 16 and 18 inches.
There’s still a lot of time for a “hot bite” to develop. I don't believe that the shiner runs have begun in earnest and when they do, it will attract a lot of fish into Shallow water.
It won’t surprise you that our presentation was a Lindy Jig tipped with Fathead minnows. This is probably the most typical early-season Walleye presentation anywhere in the northland. We used 1/8 ounce jigs tipped with the largest fatheads I could find.
I'm not telling you that you couldn’t bring shiners with and catch plenty of fish. But for me, lakes like Upper Red, where you don’t need a shiner to trick a Walleye provide an opportunity to conserve the shiner supply for lakes where they’re more important.
I'm not sure how important color was either, but I did notice that two of my crew stuck with chartreuse yellow throughout the day and they seemed to have a slight edge on the rest of us. Glow Pink, Glow Blue and Black also provided action.
Key depths ranged between 4 and 6 feet and the presence of light rock or gravel definitely improved the odds of finding fish.
I got a heads up from a friend that Walleye populations in the Tamarack River were still high, but we didn’t try to fish them. We did not see any evidence that spawning activity is not completely wrapped up. The fish that we caught appeared to be well past that phase of the season, now focusing primarily of finding food.
May 17, 2016 Walleye Fishing Leech Lake, Lessons In Humility; Again
Murphy’s Law, most everybody knows it; “What Can Go Wrong, Will Go Wrong”. Most folks even know a few of the corollaries to Murphy’s Law like; “The Hurrieder I Go, The Behinder I Get” or “Nothing Is Ever So Bad That It Can’t Be Made Worse”.
As the Chancellor at the University of Sunny Side Up, I AM duty bound to reject the dark side of Murphy’s Law, I do my best, I really do. But I have to admit, there’s one particular corollary that irks me, it’s this one; “The More I Want To Do Good, The More Challenges Mother Nature Tosses At Me”.
If you think about it, we all have those occasions when somebody special is coming to town and we really want to show them a super good time. It seems like there are times when the harder we try, the less likely we are to succeed. Times when we’d be better off kicking back on the porch and cracking open a frosty Schmidt 3.2.
I think You KNOW, where I’m going with this … I was 2 days into the fishing season; I had a good bite going on Sunday and tried to squeeze out one more good day on Leech Lake, I got caught flat-footed without a backup plan. Any good safety planner KNOWS, that you've gotta have a backup, but this time, I didn't.
Sometimes it happens; the wind stops blowing, the sun shines bright and the fish go take a nap. Sometimes no matter how hard I try, I just can’t figure out how to fix it. I just wish that it wouldn’t happen when I’m fishing with my favorite people.
As the Chancellor at the University of Sunny Side Up, I AM duty bound to reject the dark side of Murphy’s Law.
But I have to admit, there are certain day when I fell like ... :)!!
Thankfully, my favorite people are also the ones most prone to being understanding, that’s why I’m Lucky!! Today is a new day, and maybe I got a little bit smarter overnight. Hopefully, I can do better today.
By the way, the surface water temperature on Leech Lake pushed up to about 52 degrees yesterday afternoon. With another sunny, calm day on tap, it will probably gain a couple degrees more today. I think that the next breezy day is gonna bring on another great bite, so keep it in your back pocket for when conditions improve.
For today, dark water will probably be the best way to beat the sunshine. We’ll see what the crew thinks about a ride up to the Red one today.
Walleye Fishing Leech Lake Steady As She Goes (May 16, 2016)
At 48 degrees, the morning air temperature was already a huge improvement over Saturday's weather. By comparison, it felt balmy by the time we launched the boat on Leech Lake.
Surface water was warmer than it was on Saturday too, even if it was only slightly. Now ranging between 49 and 52 degrees depending on where we stopped, I’m not sure that the water temperature by itself made any difference to the fish. I think it did matter to the baitfish though and that’s what helped us figure out where to fish.
Weedy flats in water depths of 8 to 12 feet were packed with minnows and tiny Perch. The baitfish, lacking a temperature related incentive to migrate closer to the shoreline, was spread out horizontally across the flats. There was so much food on these flats that the Walleyes could easily feed wherever they wanted too.
Walleyes were not forced into small spaces to locate food, they roamed the flats in small packs and that gave folks, including me, the impression that the bite was slow. Luckily, we figured out that this impression was wrong, the fish were actually biting, and we just needed to stop running around, looking for a “hot school” of fish.
There was some banter among us about which jig was the best, but the truth is that as long as they weren’t too heavy, they worked fine. You already know that I’m gonna tell you that I was using a Lindy Jig and for me, a 1/16 ounce black one tipped with smaller than average shiner minnows worked the best. Bill was a believer in the Lindy Jig too and his 1/16 ounce glow/blue one tipped with Rainbow Chubs did the trick for him. Rich and Roger, those two are set in their ways and they had to have those old-fashioned green ones; they worked too.
Walleyes roamed weedy flats in small packs, giving some folks, including me, the impression that the bite was slow. Luckily, we figured out that this impression was wrong.
A higher percentage of large, female Walleyes were holding deeper on the breakline in 13 to 16 feet. Fish in the pocket, AKA an "inside turn" were active early, but fizzled during midday.
Even if the color wasn’t all that important, the weight of the jig was. Even a relatively light 1/8 ounce jig was too heavy, they dragged the bottom too much, snagging on every tidbit of Chara, Sandgrass and Cabbage. The lighter 1/16 ounce weights were more manageable; they floated through the vegetation more easily and that allowed Walleyes more time to find them and strike.
The weed pattern worked best for us, but there was another pattern at play too. Some Walleyes were holding deeper on the breakline, in an inside turn. That school of fish was large and it appeared to contain a much higher percentage of larger fish, females migrating away from spawning areas toward their summer homes.
We got in on the tail end of a feeding run at this spot, catching 5 fish before the action ground to a halt. But comparing notes with other fishermen who knew about this school of fish and saw us fishing there, I learned that the action had been quite good earlier in the morning. In fact one of these fishermen told me that he’d had the best fishing trip of his life in this spot. In his words; “That spot was on fire at 6:30 this morning, our group caught at least 30 fish in the protected slot, 3 of them were over 25 inches”.
If you’re skeptical, bear in mind that the young angler is telling me his story, in the fish cleaning shack, while he’s assisting his partners in the cleaning of their groups limit of plump “keeper size” Walleyes.
For today, calm seas and sunshine may force a change of plan, but I’m gonna give Leech Lake another whirl. I think that if the Walleye decided to take a nap, we might just be in position to try for Crappies instead. That will depend on how fast the water warms and how warm it gets.
Minnesota's Fishing Opener, Fish Warmer Than People? (May 15, 2016)
A morning temperature of 30 degrees wasn’t what we’d been hoping for on Saturday for the Minnesota fishing opener. Still, that’s what we got and despite the chilly temperatures, thousands of optimistic anglers made their way onto Itasca Area Lakes.
Not everybody agrees, but for many, fish were more cooperative than usual, the weather did not stop the bite and "fish frying" was a common theme of stories that I heard from of my friends.
For me and my crew, there wasn’t any rush to be the first ones to the landing. In fact we spent most of the morning hanging around the house, catching up on yard chores. Eventually though, we did come up with a plan and headed for Leech Lake.
At the landing, early arrivals, anglers who started their trips during the wee hours, had already wrapped up and left the lake. That allowed us multiple choices of parking spots located close to the ramp. That was good for me because I didn’t have to walk as far to retrieve my truck when I realized that I’d launched the boat before putting in the drain plug. Oops, I had to make this mistake eventually and I’m glad I got it out of my system right away.
When we got back on the water, surface temperatures were hovering just above 50 degrees and there was a stiff breeze. The Northwest side of the bay wasn’t rough though, the waves were less than 1 foot everywhere we went.
I was expecting to mark fish in deeper water, somewhere between 15 and 20 feet. But at first, that plan didn’t work; it wasn’t until after we moved shallower, into the weeds before we started getting connected with fish.
For us, it didn’t matter what we caught, in fact we’d been hoping for a meal of Blackened Pike. So it didn’t bother us that most of the fish that we caught were Northern Pike and it also didn’t bother us that they were mostly small, that played into our game plan too.
At the ramp, I talked with several other groups who had fished on Leech and while some reports were better than others, they all reported catching some fish.
The early assessments from Winnie, Cass and some of the smaller waters were all fairly positive too. For most anglers who toughed it out, fish cooperated.
It’s already warmer than it was at noon yesterday and the weather forecast promises daily improvement all week. Hopefully, this bodes well for anglers; let’s see how the week unfolds.
30 degrees and snow wasn’t what we’d been hoping for on Saturday. Still, it didn’t deter thousands of anglers who made their way onto Itasca Area Lakes.
We’d been hoping for a meal of Blackened Pike. So it didn’t bother us that most of the fish that we caught were Northerns.
Go ahead, risk it!
Minnesota's Best Kept Walleye Fishing Secret? (May 13, 2016)
Relaxed, maybe too relaxed for a Minnesota resort owner with only two days left before the Walleye fishing opener. That’s what an observer could say about Clark Heitmann, 17 year owner of the Horseshoe Resort on Cass Lake.
When I hooked up with him on Thursday, his docks were in, the boats were parked and Heitmann was relaxed, awaiting the arrival of his first Walleye fishing guest of the 2016 season. When I apologized for barging in during the countdown to the opener, he said; “Hey, if we’re not ready by now, we’re never gonna be ready.”
One reason for Heitmann’ s calm, confident demeanor stems from knowing that he’s sitting on the North shore of what he calls; “Minnesota’s best kept Walleye fishing secret.”
I looked it up and he’s got a point, Cass Lake has a Walleye population that is strong. At 14.6 Walleye per test net, Minnesota’s “Smallest Large Lake” boasts a Walleye population that’s higher than its own historic average and well above that of many other popular Walleye waters.
Cass Lake can be challenging says Heitmann, but he adds; “if you fish it for a few days, you’ll get the feel of it and you’re gonna find fish.”
For folks who want to speed up the process, the Horseshoe Resort website features a list of qualified, professional guides, listed in order of the time they spend on Cass Lake, start at the top of the list and you can’t go wrong.
We're excited that Horseshoe Resort is signing on to help report fishing conditions and patterns on Cass Lake this summer. Watch for weekly updates and whenever you're in the neighborhood, stop in, check out the resort and get you own, first hand report.
At 14.6 Walleye per test net, Minnesota’s “Smallest Large Lake” boasts a Walleye population that’s higher than its own historic average and well above that of many other popular Walleye waters.
Given a few days of poking around, almost anybody can find Walleye on Cass Lake.
In the meantime, if you’ve been scratching your head about where to fish for Walleyes this spring, here’s one great way to get a solid head start. Go To >> Cass Lake’s Horseshoe Resort
Adjusting To The Adjustable; Opening Weekend (May 12, 2016)
It could be worse, so I'm not complaining; in fact I'm really optimistic about fishing this weekend. But I think the weather is gonna force a change of my original game plan for the Walleye opener.
Upper Red Lake was to be our destination, until I read that there will be a Northwest Wind at 10 to 15 MPH. I think my crew might be up for that challenge, but I'm not as tough as they are and I've already battled enough rollers on the shallow water giant to satisfy me.
Instead, I think we'll sleep in a little bit, allow the sunshine time to warm the morning; then we'll head for the lake. I'll be thinking about lakes where we can enjoy calmer water and even if we don't catch a ton of fish, I'm guessing that we'll gather a fish fry for sure and that will be good enough for us.
In fact, now that I think of it, we may not even try to catch Walleyes at all, the Northern Pike are probably gonna be snapping and my crew loves Blackened Pike just as much as they do Walleye. Hmm ... Let’s see, more action, harder fighting, good eating ... Yes, I could see this plan coming together!
If you're like me and enjoy catching, and eating Pike, then think about a couple of simple tricks that will help get you closer to a couple of good ones this weekend.
My crew loves Blackened Pike just as much as they do Walleye. Hmm ... Let’s see, more action, harder fighting, good eating ... Yes, I csee a plan coming together for the opener.
Big Pike love Crappies; the closer you can get to a school of Crappies, the better your chances of catching large pike. Focus on Bulrushes, shoreline rocks and weedy flats that have an immediate connection to both deep water and shallower spawning cover.
Big Pike love Suckers; and in case you hadn't heard, the Suckers are running right now. That means that anyplace where there's a current flowing will be potentially great Pike fishing. Creeks and river mouths are the obvious first choice, but narrows between bays, sand points exposed to the wind and Cabbage flats will hold Suckers too.
You can catch Pike on a lot of baits, but for me, sticking with jig and minnow presentations allows the chance for bonus Walleye too. In most of the lakes that I fish, all we have to do differently to attract more Pike is to use larger size, flashier minnows and jigs and fish them more aggressively.
If you want to target Walleye, but someone else in your boat wants to bag a Pike, try rigging a large Sucker below a float like Thill's Big Fish Slider. Hook the Sucker in the lips so that as you drift, it will swim along with the flow of the boat. That makes it easier for one angler to jig, while another one watches the float rig.
Shallow Water Crappies, Bluegill; Findable But Skittish (May 10, 2016)
On Monday, I found a range of surface temperatures that started at 52° and rose to about 58° in the warmest, small bay I could find. According to most articles I've read, the fish should have been found in the warmest water, right? But they weren't, they were found where the water temperature was 55°.
Panfish were very particular about the neighborhoods that they hung out in, when I found shallow water + weeds + woody shoreline cover, and then I could find fish. Take away any one of those elements and I might as well have been fishing in my bathtub.
It can be frustrating when you see fee with your eyes, but can't get them to strike and I got some of that treatment, especially from the Crappies. Despite seeing several large schools of Crappie's, the finicky fish offered only occasional strikes. The fish were nomadic and skittish, apparently on the prowl, looking for places to feed.
Sunfish were in habiting 6 to 10 inches of water, almost on the bank and like the Crappies, they were skittish too. Bluegills were easier to catch though and as long as I could avoid getting hung up on the branches and tangles, then I could entice Sunfish into striking.
There was no evidence of either species preparing to spawn; bedding or nest building was not going on at all. Instead they appeared to be basking in warmth from the shoreline, which tells me that these areas will soon be vacated as the cold snap takes full effect.
I am in transit, between projects right now and along my travel route today, I'll be checking in with my favorite bait dealers to get a handle on minnow supplies for the opener.
Mother's Wacky Sense of Humor (May 9, 2016)
After a warm, sunny and generally wonderful Mother's Day Weekend, how could anybody not be optimistic about Minnesota's Walleye Fishing Opener?
Water temperatures in the Itasca area are now in the high 50 to low 60 degree range. The water is even warmer in central Minnesota and Crappies have begun spawning in many southern Minnesota waters.
In typical fashion, now that we are in the final stage of the final countdown, Mother Nature has decided to throw us one of her opening day curve balls.
Wind, rain, maybe even a dose of snow, may serve to slow the progression of Walleyes migrating from spawning areas into main lake feeding flats. But at this point, the fish are off to a great head start and even if we do get some chilly weather, the range of good opening day water is likely to be above average.
Except for fish that move toward the shallow breaklines at evening time, Crappies had been elusive in the Northern 1/3 of Minnesota. We saw that begin to change this weekend as water temperatures warmed up. On Mother’s Day, we stumbled into schools of fish that were chasing minnows along a shallow, rocky shoreline. Not far from us, there were 3 men fishing in shallow water, near Bulrush patches and were saw several fish hoisted over the side and into the livewell of their boat.
Ironically, our only mission was to take my mother for a boat ride and when we found those Crappies, we were caught flat footed, not a single minnow, wax worm or cricket in the boat. All we could do was watch them swim along the surface as they move away from my boat.
Today might be different, it’s gonna be a work day and when I show up at the lake, I’ll have plenty of bait, a box full of Wobble Bobbers and enough jigs to get stuck in every tree branch in Northern Minnesota. So now all we need is for the fish to come back for one more feeding run before the crummy weather moves in.
You can expect a full report tomorrow, oh and a progress report about water temperatures, Walleye migrations and bait supplies too.
Weekend Weather Ideal For Mother's Day Fishing Trip (May 6, 2016)
I can't recall any better times fishing with my mamma than on Mother's Day. Historically though, the weather has been less than ideal for fishing on Mother's Day itself.
That's why several years ago, we asked for and received a special Sundin Family Only, proclamation from the Chancellor at SSU. For our family, Mother's Day now occurs during July, the warmest mid-summer month.
Looking at this weekend's forecast though, we just might have to make an exception this year.
Oh I KNOW, this weekend is not the Walleye opener, but we can still fish for Panfish and I love taking advantage of the DNR, who tosses in a free fishing day for Minnesota Mom's this weekend. That's right; mom doesn't even need to sweet talk me into buying her a license this weekend. It's the DNR's way of giving mom's a nice little gift.
I’m not trying to tell you what to do, but you know that you’re dying to get out on the lake anyway, and what better excuse will you ever have. Just think, all you have to say is; “Honey, we have to take mom fishing this weekend, so we can redeem her special Mother’s Day gift”. She will love you for it!
By the way, Crappie anglers are reporting better action every day. So far, the best fishing continues to occur
during the last hour of daylight. Thanks to these beautiful, warm sunny days, the water temperatures are warming rapidly. These improving conditions should play right into our hands for fishing this weekend.
In case you missed it last year, I think it would be worth a few minutes of your time to have a look at this video. It was almost one year ago to the day. Pre-spawn Crappies were moving over feeding flats during the daytime and we figured out where they were and how to catch them. So if you want to know what I'm going to be doing this weekend, then here's your "Sneak Peek"; View Video >> Pre-Spawn, Springtime Crappie Fishing.
What was I doing 10 years ago? Fishing, with my mom, of course!
Mamma said; "I don't want to go fishing this weekend ... unless it's in the new boat." Okay Mom, apparently, the Yellow dog agrees with you.
I checked the "Crapp-O-Meter" this morning; it's a little early in Deer River for Crappies to move over spawning beds. But, the further south you are, the closer you will be to prime time.
Reader Comments May 5, 2016 From Grant Ubl; Catching Early Pre-Spawn Crappies
On Wednesday, Grant Ubl wrote in response to our recent Q&A about catching Crappies before the spawning season; "Pre-spawn crappie location; Hard-bottom pencil reed areas are the target and the inside bends immediately adjacent to them. Having some wind blowing (soft-medium strength) in directly to the pocket are the key. They will be suspended over 20-40 feet of water and you'll never know it because they are in the top 5 feet, near the break.
I fish using an A-Just-A Bubble bobber and four feet leader of 4-6# line. Fill the bobber with water (30-50%) as required to cast properly, hook a minnow through the nose with a #6 Tru-Turn and let the minnow run free. Cast 45 degrees into the wind and just keep taking in slack until you connect; 99% of fisherman overlook this spot.”
Grant, thank you very much, I really appreciate your comments and I agree that your theory is a good one. It’s not an idea not that most of us haven't already thought of, in fact I’ve tried this approach several times this past week.
One of the pitfalls of trying to catch open water, surface hugging Crappies is that we still can get trapped by their propensity for making crepuscular feeing evening runs. If an angler can’t be on the water at prime time, early morning or late evening, then we may be fishing the right spot, but at the wrong time. Whether or not the fish are present becomes moot unless we happen to be there at feeding time.
I’ve made the assumption that I knew the correct Bulrush patch that they're headed for, even that I knew the most likely travel route for them to use. Still, my track records of actually connecting with them have been hit and miss.
That said, I still think that your approach is a fantastic idea and I wholeheartedly support trying it. I’m only cautious that in and of itself, this presentation may not represent a complete solution to our problem.
Oh and by the way, another excellent alternative bobber is Thill’s Wobble Bobber. They are weighted and you can cast them a mile. Their shape is unique and it encourages the float to “Wobble” on the surface; that puts a little extra action on the bait. We’ve used these with great success for fishing from the bank, where longer casts come in really handy.
Q&A May 4, 2016 From Jesse Aultman; How To Catch Pre-Spawn Crappies During Daylight?
"Hey Jeff, I just read your May 1st Panfish post and article and have a follow up questions.
I found some nice crappies and bluegills last night (May 2), but up until sunset I swore it was the Dead Sea out there. Couldn't find them on the graph in deep or mid-depths, couldn't spot anything in shallow, and couldn’t buy a bite here or there.
At sunset they showed themselves by feeding at the surface off a shallow bulrush point (that I had already fished an hour before). Then it was good fishing for about 15 minutes. I've had this happen every time that I've found crappies at this time of year; no sign of life until the sun hits the trees.
My kids like fishing, and I love taking them, but it's tough having to stay out until 9:00 to get in on the bite.
I believe they're catchable in the hours leading up until dusk, but I just can't seem to find them.
I see guys like you with crappies in hand and the sun still up, so I know it's possible! In my mind, now that I know where they want to feed on that area of that lake at sunset, I should be able to find them very close by in the last couple hours before "prime time".
But are they tucked into the bulrushes or laying belly-down in the mud off the break? In both cases, I won't see them on the graph (and I did fish and scan this area extensively before finally finding them at dusk).
How do you find, and then CATCH these fish without having to stay out way past bed time?"
A) Jesse this is a fantastic question. In fact, it's such a good question that the only honest way to answer it is to say I don't know, at least not always.
I’m glad that you pointed out that this dilemma is temporary, that way we can hang our hats on the idea that soon, the pursuit of “specks” will be a lot more fun.
In the meantime, your question is especially timely for me considering that I've spent the past few days doing exactly what you've described. Trying to locate Crappie's that would bite during picture taking time has been no easy chore. When you see me holding a fish for the camera, you can be assured that I worked really hard for it.
Like you, I get frustrated by not being able to figure out where they are and it irks me that even with the finest electronics, we still can’t see ‘em. The problem is amplified by fish that can get their entire feeding run(s) completed is less time than it takes to write this report.
I’m doing my best to figure out precisely what has to happen in order to produce consistent results during pre-spawn. At my present stage of development, it is still a hit and miss proposition and for now, I have only isolated a couple of the variables.
The first one is that I believe some of these fish relate primarily to green weeds, whenever they are available. They can occasionally be spotted holding along the breakline that divides the weed growth from the adjacent deep water. Crappies love cover though and I believe that more often than not, they are laying low in the weeds.
For the past two spring seasons, every single Crappie that I have caught during daylight hours has been located over the tops of submerged vegetation. This could explain why we have trouble isolating the images of fish on our electronics, at least sometimes. This could also explain why they seem to appear out of nowhere for the crepuscular feeding run; all they have to do is lift up a few feet and start swimming.
The second theory is one that you’ve already touched on; Crappies may simply be laying belly down in the mud. Harder to prove, this theory would also explain why we have such trouble seeing them on our graphs.
We already know that there would be plenty of delectable insect larvae to eat, so I think it would be easy for Crappies, other game fish too for that matter, to simply graze on bugs as they wait for warmer water.
Soon, the point will be moot, the urge to spawn, combined with improving water temperatures will re-direct their attention to shallow water and finding them will become much easier. In the meantime, we still have a few days to try and learn something more about pre-spawn behavior.
Something tells me that you’re not done yet, but I applaud the effort that you’ve already put in and I want everybody to know how much I appreciate your contribution. If you think of it, comparing notes about fishing is all that I do here and I wish that more folks would ask fantastic questions like this one, it’s good for fishing and that’s good for all of us.
I’ll be on the water again today trying to learn the learnable and whatever I discover, you will be the first to know.
Rainy River Sturgeon Report (May 3, 2016)
I remember grinning whenever Hannibal Smith wrapped up any weekly “A Team” adventure by saying “I Love It When a Plan Comes Together”.
It wouldn’t surprise me if that’s the way Matthias Norenberg felt after he wrapped up his weekend fishing adventure to the Rainy River.
Just imagine, his fishing buddies John Sundell and Joe Hendrickson were on their first ever Sturgeon fishing trip. They probably would have been thrilled to catch even one of these prehistoric powerhouses. But no, instead of an introductory fish or two, the group boated 11, many over 50 inches, including a 61 inch whopper, Hendrickson’s first catch ever.
Photos Courtesy Matthias Norenberg: Left to Right, Joe Hendrickson, Mathias Noernberg, John Sundell
Norenberg said; “The water was super high, but it didn’t seem to stop the bite. Our boat caught the most out of 20 boats, but everyone else was also catching nice fish”.
One of the fish, a 54 incher was wearing a numbered DNR tag that Norenberg reported to the Minnesota DNR. He promised an update when historical data about the fish is delivered, so we’ll be hearing more about the tagged fish later.
That story should be interesting because Lake Sturgeon live incredibly long lives. In fact a female Sturgeon can live upwards of 150 years. Think of it, Norenberg might have been holding a fish that was alive when the Model T Ford was still in production.
(5/3)From Lake of the Woods, Border View Lodge; "Noticing an uptick in Sturgeon action this spring, our friends at Border View Lodge added; “The Rainy River has been full of anglers that are out to catch a Sturgeon! We are mid-way through the keep season which ends May 7th. Many people seem to be having luck catching and even tagging a keeper.
As for us here at the lodge we are busy getting everything ready for our soft water walleye season. Spring cleaning is in full force as well as pulling all the boats and getting them cleaned, waxed and ready for the water.
We have our 2016 fall rates available on our website, feel free to give us a call, we would gladly help in getting your fall trip booked.
The weather has been great the past few days! The sunshine has been wonderful and we are starting to see temperatures warm. Temperatures this next week in the 60’s with Thursday and Friday even reaching 70’s." - 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge .
By the way, if you'd like to learn more about what Lake Sturgeon are, where they live and what they do, follow this link for a good tutorial. Read >> Lake Sturgeon
Fishing Report May 1, 2016 - "MAY" this be the "1st" Of New Weather Pattern?
I AM not the type of guy who dwells on the sighting of a black cloud when there are plenty of perfectly good silver linings to look at.
So I've been doing my best to shrug off the nagging, cold Northeast winds that have been blowing for most of the past week. Even for me though, this pattern is getting old and I'm looking forward to a warm up.
It's beginning to look like Mother Nature "MAY" have a reward in mind and this time, I think she really means it. Today's forecast of calm seas, sunny skies and warm temperatures could be setting the stage for a more enthusiastic feeding run.
That's fantastic news because after what appreared to be Crappies on the verge of a solid feeding run this past Friday, the pattern fell apart during Saturday's strong Northeast winds.
I will know a lot more tomorrow than I do today, but what I can tell you is that surface water temperatures were above 50 degrees in most areas that I fished over the past two days.
If there are Panfish located in deep water, then they are either holding close to the bottom, or they are rooting around in the mud; they do not appear on the screen of my Humminbird, anywhere.
For me, the only absolute proof of anything is the handful of Crappies that I caught on Friday. Those fish were located in about 7 feet of water, over sparse weeds located near a steep break close to deep water. In fact, if you read the Spring Panfish Article that I posted on Friday, you'll see a map of 3 spots. These fish were located at the larger shaded area on the map to the far right.
If the fish weren't suspended over deep water, and there were only a handul in shallow water, then where area they?
The most likely scenario is that they are
scattered horizontally accross mid depth flats, poised to make feeding runs into shallow water when conditions warrant. I tried to prove that by backtrolling in water depths of 12 to 20 feet, but the only fish I caught doing that were Walleyes.
I'm hopeful that today's mission will provide more solid information, but even if it doesn't, the promise of a nice warm boat ride sounds awful good, don't you think?
Crappies that I caught on Friday were located in about 7 feet of water, over sparse weeds located near a steep break adjacent to deep water. Click to see >> exact spot.
Photos courtesy Brian Castellano: Amanda, Alaina and Brian on family fishing adventure.
Brian Castellano: "Suckers were not going "gang busters" but we did manage to catch a couple. I would guess the next warm up we get will have them biting nonstop."
(5/1) From The Deer River Area, Brian Castellano says; "Amanda, Alaina, and I made our first open water trip of the season last Friday. It was Alaina's first trip to "Papa's" old stomping grounds, the Prairie River, near La Prairie. We were in pursuit of suckers and redhorse.
The fish were not going "gang busters" but we did manage to catch a couple. I would guess the next warm up we get will have them biting nonstop. I think people who like spearing suckers will hit the sucker run just right.
It always gives me a good feeling to get down to the river. I wish I knew how many hours, fish, and miles on my bicycle that I spent down there as a kid.
I made it out for my first crappie trip last night. The N/NE wind blowing into my face didn't give me a good feeling when arrived at my spot.
The wood ducks, mallards, Canada geese, bald eagle, and a beaver kept me entertained until the bite started around 7:30. While they only bit for a half hour, I was able to put 6 nice crappies in the pail along with a few nice sized perch. Just right for a dinner for two!
A bobber and a pink gypsy jig with a minnow put most of the fish in the pail. I did catch a few fish with no minnow on the jig.
The fish were sitting in about 4' of water on the edge of a channel that goes up into some shallows with cat tails along the shore.
At 8:00 the bite was done and by 8:30 I decided to call it a success."
Remembering The Story About Wiggle Worms
For Mark, who asked me about the original "Wiggle Worm Story" at the Northwest Sportshow.
I perused the archives looking for the original article that I wrote about using the 1/16 ounce jig tipped with night crawlers for Walleye fishing. So far, I haven’t located the original, but I did find this one from last summer and I think it will put you on the right track. Click Here For >> "Wiggle Worms July 23, 2015". I found another reference too, it's an article by Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune, who wrote about the technique after fishing with me several years ago. Follow this link to >> Sam Cook Article, Sundin "Wiggle Worms".
Soon, I’ll figure out where the rest of that information went, so keep an eye open for more.
At Big Cutfoot, I discovered a narrow band of open water along the shoreline. There’s still a lot of ice out there, but there’s not much chance it will linger long enough to throw Walleyes off of their spring spawning schedule.
Countdown To Minnesota Fishing Opener - Sundin Optimistic About The Fishing Opener; Of Course!
You know what? A lot of states don't have an "Opening Day" of fishing, but in Minnesota we do and I'm really glad.
The opening day of fishing is a tradition, an event that gives communities a reason to celebrate. The fishing opener gives families a date to mark on their calendars, special time, set aside to be together, enjoying the outdoors.
I think you'll enjoy this short video about the "Fishing Opener" in Minnesota and if you do, I hope you'll share it with your family and friends.
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!