After a week of warm weather, lots of folks have chosen to get outside and shake off the coronawebs. There were boats on almost every small lake that I drove past. I am guessing that most didn’t really care much about catching fish, but it served as a reminder that I should whip up something for the handful of anglers who really were in serious pursuit of panfish.
Last spring, I shared a report about an early season crappie trip that the Hippie Chick and I went on. That fishing trip taught me a lot about where to look for spring crappies. Since I and Susan are planning another crappie fishing trip this weekend, I looked back to that article for another look at some of my own advice about how to get started.
The reason I needed the refresher course is that this portion of the season is typically when I struggle most. A few days after ice out, dissolved oxygen levels in the water are replenished and nearly equal from the surface to the bottom. For a time, water temperatures remain uniformly cold so there is no real incentive for crappies to begin moving shallow to initiate the spawning migrations. That leaves us with a period when there are no rules, for now, crappies, and other fish can go wherever they want to.
In certain areas, especially further north, the lakes still have some ice cover, so there’s a chance you could get in on the initial feeding run into back bays and inlets. But in most areas of Minnesota, the ice has been gone for a while already. Most of us have already missed out on the short-lived, “post ice-out migration” into shallow water.
Until the water warms and spawning begins, food and comfort are the only factors that influence crappie behavior. On warm sunny days, both can be found in shallow water. On cold, blustery days, crappies will show little interest in the shallows, they will move out and find comfort near deep water, but not necessarily in the deepest portions of your lake.
Picture the structures where you find crappies in the fall and winter on your favorite lake. For many, these spots include access to deep water holes that lay adjacent to shallower flats. In early fall, crappies show a preference for the sharpest breaklines and the ones that come closest to the shoreline; I think they show similar preferences in early spring.
The accompanying map shows the exact location of our spring trip last May. On that lake, most fish were in about 18 feet of water, holding along a sharp breakline adjacent to the lakes deepest hole.
The fish showed a definite preference for structure, if we moved onto the shallow flat, the screen of my Humminbird would show no fish. The same thing happened if I moved deeper, over the center of the mid-lake basin; my screen showed no fish there either. But provided I straddled the breakline, then we encountered schools of fish.
We’ll be heading for a different lake this weekend, one that I’ve wanted to try for a while. But when we get there, I plan to follow the same formula that led us to the crappies last spring. I’ll start at the deepest hole, then locate the sharpest breaklines and scan them for schools of fish. My guess is that the fish will be somewhere nearby.
Tomorrow, I’ll re-visit some notes of the notes about fish presentation that worked for us last spring. But if you want to skip ahead, you can read last May's report right now and get a jump on the schedule.
Wherever you are, I hope you find a way to get outside this weekend. The weather forecast looks awesome and remember, Mother Nature does not need to wear a mask. Believe me, I have breathed a lot of good air and loved it! I don’t think you will find anything more therapeutic than a healthy dosage Mother’s clean, fresh spring air! — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"This past week, MN Governor Tim Walz began allowing resorts and hotels to open with numerous guidelines for safety.
Many Lake of the Woods resorts and hotels are welcoming guests back. Properties are taking a variety of safety measures in many aspects of their businesses to ensure guest and employee safety.
The US and Canada have agreed to keep the international border shut until May 20th. Residents of the NW Angle and necessary supplies can travel across, others including visitors and land owners for the time being cannot. Some resorts are offering transport service via boat across the lake in MN waters to the Angle prior to the border opening.
On the south end... The majority of Big Traverse Bay is still ice covered, which is quite typical of this time of year. Warm weather is in the forecast and more and more open water is showing up daily. Things are looking very good for the opener May 9th. Some big pike are being caught in the open water of bays. The pike season on LOW never closes.
On the Rainy River... The Rainy River is open into Lake of the Woods. The sturgeon bite has been strong with many boats out and successful this weekend. Find a hole in the river, anchor up with a sturgeon rig loaded with crawlers or combo of crawlers and frozen emerald shiners. The sturgeon "keep season" continues through May 7th. May 8-15 is catch and release only. May 16th the sturgeon season closes until July 1st.
Up at the NW Angle... Ice is melting and open water is expanding quickly. The larger basins are still ice covered. Resorts are preparing and looking forward to the open water season." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"Great news, we are getting back towards normal, we have a long way to go, but a start is a start. Of course, our new normal is different.
Our team is still doing full housekeeping services with extra sanitizing procedures in place. All bedding and kitchen implements are sanitized before each arrival. We are stocking the cabins with extra towels, toilet paper and trash bags so you should have plenty for your entire stay. We ask that you place your trash and dirty towels outside the cabins and we will collect it daily.
It is suggested that you bring your own sanitizer wipes, hand sanitizer, gloves and personal protection gear with you to make your stay more comfortable. The fish cleaning house is open to one group at a time. It is up to everyone to maintain the social distancing activities.
The docks will be a spot to really watch this, as the docks are 4 feet wide. Currently we are taking to go food orders for breakfast, lunch and dinner on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We expect there will be changes to our services as we go forward towards Walleye opener.
Sturgeon fishing on Friday saw some excellent action with many large Sturgeon being caught. Saturday changed up with more smaller fish being caught. So far, the Sturgeon fishing has been doing great.
The forecast is looking great with highs up to 60’s." — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
At Lake Winnibigoshish (pictured), all that was left of the ice on the east side of Tamarack Bay was this small pile of slush. From there out, there was nothing but open water as far as I could see. At the Winnie Dam, water flow out of the lake was relatively slow, but there was enough current to attract a couple schools of suckers onto the apron. I did not see any walleyes or other game fish at the dam on this trip.
I was happy to see that the gate at the entrance of the boat ramp and parking lot was open. While the campground will remain closed during the opening week, the open gate may be an indication that the US Army Corps of Engineers intends to leave the boat ramp and parking lot open.
Traffic is usually light on the river, so that may not be a big deal for anglers who fish by boat. But during spring, this stretch of the Mississippi River attracts lots of shore fishing anglers. In fact, there were a half dozen people fishing there during my brief visit.
Inspired by the open gate at the dam, I drove into the boat landing at Plughat Point. The US Forest Service dock is already in the water at that location and the parking lot was open. This confirmed for me what I’d learned earlier, in a conversation with staff at the Deer River Ranger Station. The information I got from them yesterday is that all the US Forest Service boat ramps will be open. Campgrounds, they confirmed, will remain closed at least through the first week of the fishing season.
I skipped over driving into Big Cutfoot because I already knew that the lake was open by checking the live web cam at William’s Narrows Resort. If you’ve never checked out their live video feed, you should, especially during spring and especially early in the morning. Once the walleye begin their spawning migration into Little Cutfoot, it is not unusual for the web cam to catch them splash on the water’s surface. For me, those images get my heart pumping in anticipation of the fishing opener.
I stopped at Little Cutfoot and confirmed Will Layland’s Monday report that it was ice-free. The dock at the small landing near the summer homes was not in the water at that time, but the ramp was in decent condition and could be used now.
The scene at the bridge by Little Cutfoot was optimistic, there were a half dozen rigs parked at the Mosomo boat ramp. There was one boat on Little Cutfoot, but none of the others were in sight, I suppose they were chasing panfish in Big Cutfoot.
I headed east across County Rd. 35 and stopped at the north landing on Bowstring. The lake was wide open, not even an ice-cube floating in the water. The dock was not in the water yet, but the ramp was in good shape and so was the parking lot. Apparently, they’ve been working on the parking lot, there were some new timbers installed to prevent folks from parking too far onto the grass.
A trip home using the back roads revealed that Little Jessie, Moose Lake, Deer Lake and Bass Lake were all wide open, no sign of ice anywhere. From here on out, I think it is safe to assume that in the north central Itasca Region, any lake you’re interested in fishing can be accessed.
For me, preparation for the fishing opener begins in earnest today. Rigging the rig-able, cleaning the clean-able and fixing the fix-able. Maybe just for fun, I’ll take a drive further north too, just to see what conditions look like, we’ll see how the timing works out.
Folks have gotten so confused about what they can and can’t do, that I think this is a really good time to let them know what your plans are. Open or closed, ready or not, taking a break or whatever, if you want to let folks know what their options are, this is the time, and the place to do it. The note from Alice and Justin Wiese below is a perfect example.
“Justin and I plan to resume our full fishing service from opener and beyond.
We offer full day or half day reservations, fully equipped, and target multi-species. We have limited our group size and now will offer only up to 4 people/boat. We clean and sanitize boat and equipment thoroughly after each trip. $100 deposit is required at time of reservation, with a 48hr cancelation policy. We are looking forward to getting on the water!" — Justin & Alice Wiese, Wheezy Guide Service 218-275-7525
Early spring offers anglers a chance to get outside and go fishing. Crappies are one of the first fish available to most of us, but while pre-spawn crappie fishing can be a blast, there are times when they can be tricky to locate.
Jon Thelen shares a few tricks and tips that can help make finding them more consistent.
Join us on Fish Ed, and let host Jon Thelen show you a great way to target prespawn Crappie. Grab you panfish box, some Thill Crappie Corks and a bunch of minnows and get out on the water now!
A lot of ice disappeared over the weekend; we saw for ourselves that the east side of Pokegama was wide open. On Saturday, Cub Reporter Will Layland wrote;” Little Cutfoot is open, Little Jessie is mostly open and Big Jessie should be open by Monday.”
With the warm weather, some anglers emerged from their Covid Virus hiding spots and began testing the shallow bays and inlets for panfish. We saw folks fishing in several likely panfish locations around the area.
I aspired to getting in on some early action too, but I wanted to get some suckers for the smoker while I have the free time to prepare them. But my goal of finding a spot where suckers were running, looked better on paper than it did in practice. My favorite spots showed little sign of any fish movement and the best report I heard was from a young man who managed to catch one fish on the Prairie River.
I think that we were just too early, the icy cold water flowing from lakes discouraged the beginning of spring runs. Now that the ice is disappearing, I’ll bet that a few days of warm weather will trigger some movement and I’ll try again in a day or two.
Leech Lake, an important spot for opening day walleye anglers was on the list of places to check while I was out and about. I drove to a few spots on the east side of the lake and found the same conditions at each stop. Ice covered about ¾ of Portage Bay at the time, but the ice was slushy and dark, it won’t be long before a big wind comes along and breaks it up.
I already knew that the US Corps of Engineers campgrounds will be closed during the fishing opener. But I wanted to learn the status of the boat ramp, parking area and fish cleaning station at Federal Dam, so I drove over to the office. Naturally, the office was closed to the public, but the sign on their door offered a number to call for information. I called the number, left a message and within an hour, received a return call from a man named Hunter.
According to Hunter, the current plan is that the entire complex at Federal Dam will be closed for the first week of the fishing season. He told me that sometime during this week, there will be a meeting of corps officials. At it, they will discuss the possibility of revisiting their decision, but for now, we should assume that there will be no access to Leech Lake from the Federal Dam facility until at least May 16, 2020. I will have an update as soon as one becomes available.
I can live through a weekend when the fish are not biting, and I can handle the bad news about ramp closures such as the one on Leech Lake. I can even handle getting texts from my customers cancelling their early season fishing plans. But I have to say that sitting in my office on Sunday morning paying my taxes was even less fun than usual.
As I signed those checks and slipped them into their respective envelopes, preparing to mail them, I couldn’t help wondering if all this hysteria was really necessary. Has it really been worth it?
The fact that there is no financial help available for me is not the problem, I will survive. As I paid my taxes, the question running through my mind was not how I would survive without government assistance, no, my question is how will government survive with my assistance?
Every year for the past 35 years, I have been a tax “PAYER”. But if we follow the current trajectory, there’s a good chance that in 2020, my tax burden will be a lot less than it was last year. I know, I am just one guy, and losing my tax money will never put a dent in the treasury. But what about the other 26 million people who just got locked out of their jobs? Do you think their money will be missed when the bill for this comes due?
Getting over the treatment for this virus will be a lot worse than getting over the virus itself. Of course that’s only my opinion, I’ll go back to fishing now. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Helping your fellow fishermen and women stay abreast of fishing conditions in your area is good for everybody and it's easier than you think!
You don't have to write a book, you don't have to share your secret fishing spots and you don't even have to mention your lake. But even a few words about general trends, seasonal patterns and local weather conditions can really help.
Be like me, become a duly deputized "Cub Reporter", it's good for fishing! Contact Us or if you prefer to be "social", Fishing Reports Minnesota, the Facebook counterpart to this page is open to the public, so you can post your own fishing update or just share a photo of a nice catch.
Once the early spring minnow runs end in shallow water, hungry walleyes begin following their noses toward deeper shoreline structures. For a time, not only walleyes, but other fish populations stack up on well defined, shoreline related points and bars.
During this period, cold fronts breezing through are not uncommon and while they interrupt some of the most intense feeding runs, they don't stop them completely. Anglers can keep catching walleyes, even after a cold front as long as they adjust their tactics.
This week on Fish Ed, host Jon Thelen shows you a great way to deal with spring cold fronts. Don’t stay home, just change your tactics slightly enjoy more days on the water catching fish!
Learn More >> View Video Springtime Cold Front Walleye Jigging
John Keprios emailed on April 23, 2020; "I really enjoy your fishing reports on Fishrapper.com. They are inspiring, educational and FUN! Thank you!
Q) One quick question, I have never tried fishing for perch on Winnibigoshish just after ice out and would like to know if you have had any luck trying to catch perch on the open water between ice out and the walleye opener. Any advice like best depths to find them in and general locations?"
A) The short answer is that after ice out, everything is about spawning.
By the time Winnie, or any other good perch fishing lake is ice free, pike have already made their move into shallow, back water bays and creeks. Walleyes are next, moving toward their preferred spawning habitat even before the big lake is completely open. Perch are next to spawn, following closely behind the walleyes in timing, but not location.
While walleyes move toward shallow gravel on the main lake, or into the flowages and small rivers, perch head toward areas that contain woody cover. The spawning structure could consist of bulrushes, roots, standing beds of cabbage weeds or wild rice stubble and sometimes rocks.
Male perch move in first and feed for a few days while they wait for females to arrive. When the females show up, two or more males swim next to each female in anticipation of a release of eggs.
You may have seen perch eggs before, they appear as long, sticky, gelatinous tube-like strands. Those strands are fertilized by a simultaneous release of sperm. The egg strings float and stick to the surfaces of woody plants or rocks, thus protecting them from dropping into the silty bottom.
I have had some success sight fishing during this period, cruising along the edges of bulrushes and watching for fish. If you can stay with them, you can catch them, but the difficulty comes with the perch’s propensity for moving.
Since perch don’t create spawning beds, or “nests” like other panfish, it’s difficult to pin them down in one location. Once the females have moved through the cover and dropped their eggs, the males move on, searching for other “ripe” females. From an angler’s perspective, we never know if we should wait for more fish to show up, or if we should keep moving and searching for another school.
An alternative to sight fishing near shallow spawning cover is to locate perch feeding on minnows. On warm, sunny spring days, minnows will move onto shallow sand flats to spawn. But when conditions are cold, they back off and hold over weed stubble on the flats. Perch can often be found roaming the flats in water depths of 8 to 12 feet, feeding on minnows. Again, their nomadic behavior works against finding a single “hot spot” and hunkering down. You will have to keep moving to re-locate schools of moving fish.
When you find them, they will usually bite, so you will not have to spend tons of time developing any specialized presentation. A small jig or blade bait tipped with a minnow and suspended below a float will do the trick. Early spring is one time that I strongly suggest presenting your lures using bobbers. They will allow you to cover water out and away from the boat, so you won’t need to move over the tops of skittish fish.
Start your search in the flowages and back bays, then move out over mid-depth weed flats if necessary. Wait until after the opener to worry about fish in deeper water, out on the main lake.
Opening words from Ron Schara, MNFish President; "A year ago, a new non-profit fishing organization called MN-FISH was launched for the purpose of “shortening-the-time-between-bites”. Our goal was to give state anglers what we haven’t had; greater representation in the Minnesota Legislature. We also intended to act as a watchdog and support DNR fish management decisions when appropriate.
During this startup period, we discovered MNFISH would face its own growing pains and hurdles; such as attracting and communication with
members, developing social media, news releases and the like.
As the MN-FISH president, I feel we have accomplished most of our year-one goals. However, I regret that we’ve failed to ..." Read >> MN Fish Newsletter April 2020
On Wednesday, I received an email from Explore Minnesota. It contained the most comprehensive list of the types of lodging services that are available, or not available to anglers in Minnesota right now.
Long story short, resorts are (and always have been) allowed to remain open. However, while Governor Walz’ “Stay at Home Order” is in place, anglers will continue to be discouraged from traveling to them.
By now, most resort and campground owners have probably received the same email, so they likely already have this information available. But anglers everywhere continue to ask for updates about this confusing aspect of the executive order and its impact on the fishing opener.
According to the newsletter, even though resorts will be “allowed” to remain open, they are not obligated to be. So, if you have an opening weekend fishing trip planned, be sure to read this important newsletter and contact your resort owners before you decide whether or not to continue with your plans.
Resorts — The hotel portions of resorts (including rented cabins) can open as planned and can accept guests. Guests do not have to be members of a critical sector to stay at a resort.
Communal amenities may not be open for use, except for the following that may be open provided social distancing and enhanced cleaning protocols are followed: Retail food stores, Laundry facilities, Fish cleaning stations and ..." Read Full Document >> Minnesota Resorts Remain Open — With Caveats
Cub Reporter, Staff #003-IHBFBB; "I know that the way folks get their news has changed. These days everyone has, what they believe to be, their own "trusted sources".
Maybe it's only because I've followed this story so closely, that I've noticed that in many cases, most alternatative sources, especially social ones, do not offer actual news, only their interpretation of it.
I have done my best to share actual, factual information about how the Governor's Executive orders impacts fishing in Minnesota. Whether or not I'm pleased about how the Stay at Home Order has affected my life, is irrelevant; I just want to learn the facts. That's why I've said before and I say again, the Governor's Office, The MN Department of Health and now, Explore Minnesota have gone above and beyond in terms of providing up to date and accurate information.
I urge you to skip over news sources that offer their interpretation of news and go directly to the source; the facts are all there. Here are links to the web pages I've relied on most. Governor Tim Walz Executive Orders • MN Department of Health Covid 19 • Explore Minnesota Fact Sheet
Folks who know me, know that I have my own opinions and that sooner or later, I'll share them. That's true, when the time is right, folks will have a chance to hear everything that's been on my mind. But for now, I only want to reiterate one point of view that I've shared throughout this whole ordeal.
I believe that all of us are better off getting outside and breathing fresh air. Staying cooped up inside can only make things worse, not better.
Since I know a lot more about fishing than I do golf, I've tried to be the best spokesman for fishing that I can be. But that doesn't mean that I believe fishing is the only thing to do. No, I don't think it matters what you do outside, as long as you do something. Ride a bike, plant a flower, take a picture, do anything, but pick a pursuit, decide for yourself how to do it safely, then Go Outside and Live! — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
During a typical spring, I stop here, at the bridge over First River leading into Little Cutfoot Sioux at least a few times every week. Whenever I do, I take photos like this one and include them, along with notes anticipating when the annual walleye egg harvest might begin. Usually, it’s a happy time, an optimistic time.
On Tuesday, the bridge looked the same, so did the water and soon, so will the fish. But looking out over the ice breaking up on Little Cutfoot did not feel the same this year. It didn’t trigger my usual sense of optimism about the spring season. There wasn’t any anticipation and there won’t be any optimistic predictions because there won’t be any walleye egg harvest. This year, it will just be water under the bridge.
I knew that making that stop would hit me that way, that’s why I went there first, so I could get the bad news out of my system. Once I drove away and started checking some of the landings around Cutfoot and Winnie, I began feeling better.
Open water is getting easier to find on both lakes and while there’s still plenty of ice out there, we won’t see it last much longer.
At the north shore of Winnibigoshish, there are about 100 yards of open water along the shoreline.
The wind is supposed to blow from the southeast and if it does, the ice sheet has plenty of wiggle room for a running start at the shoreline. That will make it break up faster and probably dispose of another large chunk of ice today.
Whatever is left of the main ice sheet on Cutfoot is on its last leg too. Dark ice with numerous cracks and drain holes still covers the main part of McAvity Bay, but closer to William’s Narrows, there is a large swath of open water. It was hard for me to judge the size from where I stood, but half the distance from the narrows to the island appeared to be open.
Most of the water flowing from William’s Narrows toward Little Cutfoot was open too. Whatever ice was still floating around out there will be gone very soon or may even be gone already.
From the bridge at the Winnie, Tamarack still appears to be ice covered, but the Dam Bay is wide open. The scene there could change a lot today if the big southeast wind does show up. We’ll check on that in a day or two.
On my way home, I stopped for a photo at Little Ball Club Lake. The moderately deep, 185 acre lake was completely ice free as of April 21st and represented the largest lake I’d seen open this far north so far.
Another bright spot, in my opinion, was the announcement on Tuesday that the International Falls City Council voted to re-open two, city owned boat ramps.
In the International Falls Journal, LAUREL BEAGER and EMILY GEDDE wrote; “The International Falls City Council Monday took a number of steps related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including opening access to the two boat landings in the city.
The council on a 3-1-1 vote agreed to open as soon as possible before Friday the Ron Hall Memorial Access on Shorewood Drive and the Pat Roche Memorial Access off Highway 11 east.
Councilor Chelsea Nelson voted no, saying the purpose of closing the accesses was to ..." Read >> I Falls Council Vote Opens City Owned Boat Ramps
I hope more local agencies follow suit and I hope more accesses to more lakes are opened sooner rather than later. This is a matter of simple common sense, the more people that get outside under the sun and breathing fresh air, the faster we will get to the other side of this situation. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
On Sunday, I and the Hippie Chick felt like getting out of the house, so we took a drive over to Lake Superior. We sort of got hooked on shore fishing over there a few years back when we were on a sightseeing trip and stumbled upon a group of shore fishermen. We saw a few fish caught that day and it was enough to start us down the path of learning how to fish there as well.
I don’t need to catch many fish to be happy, but I do like seeing one come in occasionally. That’s one reason I love going over to Superior, if you look far enough down the shoreline, you’re going to see somebody catch a fish. Sometimes we can see them moving around in the water too, they don’t always bite, but it feels good to see them and know that they are nearby.
Rigging up to fish the shoreline is easy, a slip float suspended a few feet about a small jig tipped with waxworms is what most folks use. There are some folks who fish on the bottom using Lindy Rig type setup. The rig includes a ½ to ¾ ounce bottom weight and a leader with either a plain hook or a floating Lindy Rig leader. Again, tip the hook with a few waxies, cast the sinker and let the rig lay on the bottom.
After our first couple of trips over there, I learned that when you’re fishing from shore, the angler with the most reach has an advantage; so I started researching the best setup for delivering the small jigs further out into open water.
Longer than average rods aren’t required, but they sure do help. But when I started checking at the sporting goods store, salespeople were showing me rods that cost $200 to $300 and up. They were all real nice rods but spending that kind of money for a bobber rod didn’t make sense to me. Especially in light of how little action they’d see throughout an average season.
Luckily, I held out, because last summer I unwittingly stumbled into the perfect rods for this application. Shakespeare’s Ugly Stick Elite series rods cost 50 bucks and I found out on Sunday that they are perfect for shore fishing.
I didn’t know when I bought them that they’d turn out to be perfect for slip floats. I purchased them last summer when I was in the market for an affordable, but durable rod for spinner fishing in the weeds with my guide customers.
Trolling Little Joe Spinners is a great action presentation. It’s so good that there’s almost always somebody reeling in a fish and when the action gets hot and heavy, people get careless. Yanking fish out of the water without a net, letting the sinkers slap against the rod tips and grabbing the rod too close to the tip top are popular ways to trash them.
I had become weary of replacing expenseive rods and hoped that the Ugly Sticks would stand up to the abuse. They worked out well for spinner fishing, but that’s a story for later this summer What I found out last weekend is that they are even better for float fishing than they are for the high action spinner presentation.
I brought along two models, the 7’6” USESP761ML and the 7’0” USESP701ML. They both worked well for slip floats, but if you’re interested in the better model for summertime spinner fishing, then the light weight, USESP701ML is the better all-around selection.
The rig I set up included a Pfluger President reel spooled with 8-pound test line. The presentation includes a Thill Wobble Bobber in the ½ ounce size, a ½ ounce egg sinker, a barrel swivel and a 1/16-ounce Fuzzy grub, tipped with a couple of waxworms.
The slip knot goes onto the line first, then one of the small beads that are included in the package. Next, slip the Wobble Bobber onto your line, then slip on the egg sinker and finally tie on the barrel swivel. The last set is to tie a short leader; about 2 feet is perfect and attach the Fuzzy Grub to one end, attaching the other end to your barrel swivel.
Using this setup, I was able to cast so far that I spooled my reel several times. For obvious reasons, I wasn’t able to get close enough to any other anglers to make a side-by-side comparison, but I’m willing to bet that my rig out-reached whatever the rest of those folks were using. That observation based on my past experiences.
What makes the setup so effective is that the Wobble Bobber is weighted and by itself, casts a long way. By adding the ½ ounce egg sinker, I got even more distance out of each cast and because the rod is well balance for this presentation, tangles during cast were rare.
In the interest of full disclosure, nobody gives me free rods or reels, I buy them the same way you do. The Ugly Sticks cost me $49.00 each and came from Cabela’s because that was the only store that didn’t laugh at me when I asked about them. The Pflugers usually cost either side of $50.00 each and these I buy locally, usually from whichever one of the bait shops I frequent during the summer.
You’re liable to think that I’ve gone off the deep end to get so excited about a $100 fishing rig, but I’m telling you, it worked so well that I can’t help myself, I just had to share it.
Back at home, “spring-like” is the last term I’d use to describe weather in the northland this past week. But despite cold, blustery conditions, the ice is going out fast.
On Monday, small lakes in the Grand Rapids area like Forest Lake, McKinney and Hale were already ice free. Larger shallow lakes like Prairie (pictured), Splithand and Bass Lake still have some large patches of frozen slush, but there’s more open water than there is ice on them.
Deep water lakes like Trout, Deer and Caribou froze late and didn’t have much slush on them. These are still ice covered, but they are turning dark and showing signs of opening up soon.
I didn’t make the drive up to Winnie on Monday, but I expect to do that today. I won’t be surprised if there’s a third of lake, maybe even more already broken up by now. I’ll take photos while I’m there and let you know how it looks tomorrow.
Last week, I mentioned that there were large patches of open water on Mille Lacs and today, I saw video of the ice stacking up in mountainous piles along the south shore. I’ll bet the ice out will occur there within a couple of days. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Soft plastic grubs (aka twister tails) are proven and versatile baits for bass, crappies, walleyes, and striper, to name a few but have been overshadowed by paddle tail swimbaits the last several years.
Wired2Fish's Kyle Peterson circles back on a classic and shares a highly effective weedless rigging method that turns 'old school grubs' into 'new school' topwater baits for shallow water bass relating to cover like grass, wood and cut banks.
A grub is stealthy yet has the drawing power of flash and vibration, especially when worked near the surface. High-sticking an unweighted grub wakes the bait across the surface - bass show themselves by boiling on the bait, which gives the options to speed up, slow down or pause the bait to trigger the bite.
Responses to Saturday's column, Governor Allows Certain Outdoor Businesses To Re-Open.
Thomas Kotula wrote; "How far you go away from home is subjective and I doubt many people, including myself, are going to worry about that. Not to mention this is a suggestion by the governor not a law.
A) Trying to stay on top of all the rules is getting worse than keeping up to date with Minnesota's Fishing Regulations Book.
The best place to look for clarity on changes to these executive orders is on Governor Tim Walz' website, so that's where I checked. Under the NEWS tab, there's a complete list of all executive orders including the most recent Executive Order 20-38. In the order, article 1 says; "Consistent with federal guidance and to protect our neighbors, Minnesotans should stay close to home and are strongly discouraged from unnecessary travel, including long-distance travel to engage in outdoor recreational activities and travel to and from cabins, commercial lodging, and vacation homes or rentals."
In this sense Thomas is right, there is no law per-say, that limits the distance we may travel. They do not define what the term "long-distance" means either, so the measure truly is subjective.
Here's my thought, if the whole point of the order is to limit human interaction, then for me, one reasonable way to comply would be limiting my travel distance to a place that I can get to and fish for just for the day. After I'm done fishing, I get in the truck and return home without stopping or requiring interaction with people along the way.
If we have no human interaction at all, then we are in full compliance with every aspect of the order.
Jerry Kolling wrote; "We still need to at least go check on our cabins for maintenance sake."
A) Jerry, If I had a cabin, I'd be concerned about maintaining it too. So if you're asking for an opinion, I wouldn't blame you a bit for going to look after your cabin, not at all.
On the other hand, in the executive order it's pretty clear that Governor Walz does not want folks doing that. Voicing your concerns is important, but I have a sense that you're singing to the choir on this page. Perhaps leaving a message similar to this one on Governor Walz' Facebook page would be helpful, there's always a chance that someone in his office is listening.
Matt Klug wrote; "I’m glad for this (certain outdoor businesses allowed to re-open), but it would sure be nice if we could start guiding. Not being eligible for unemployment sucks.
A) Matt, personally, I couldn't care less about not being eligible for unemployment. What concerns me a lot more is that there's no reason that you need to be unemployed. You already have a job, you're the owner of a perfectly good business with customers who are ready to pay for your services. It's the government that will not allow you to work.
Small business owners everywhere are being told that they are not capable of providing reasonably safe experiences for their clientele.
Giving people accurate information and allowing them the freedom to use it, would be a far better solution than what we have now. Of course, that's just my opinion. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
If you have an itch to go fishing, and you live close to a bait shop, then you are in luck. Governor Tim Walz’ most recent executive order 20-38, allows bait stores to re-open beginning today, April 18, 2020 at 5:00 AM.
That’s right, Minnesotans are now allowed to stop for live bait on their way to the fishing hole. That is as long as the fishing hole isn’t too far away from home, and they don’t bring anybody from outside of their own household, and provided they don’t stay overnight, and as long as they pledge to stay at least 6 feet away from the nearest human.
Executive Order 20-38 also relaxes restrictions on certain other outdoor facilities such as marinas that rent seasonal docking spaces or provide repairs, sell fuel and the like.
Folks that install docks and boat lifts are in luck, they can go back to work too. And section iii of the order provides that state, regional, or local public water accesses may remain open, so lakeshore related service businesses should have access to most lakes.
Businesses that service off-highway vehicles such as ATVs, snowmobiles or jet skis may re-open, but by appointment only.
Golf courses, outdoor shooting ranges and game farms are permitted to re-open, provided of course that they strictly adhere to the “outdoor safety guidelines”. Other outdoor related businesses may also be permitted to re-open if they comply with the “Outdoor Recreation Guidelines”.
Under the order, fishing guides, launches and charter boats are expressly prohibited from offering services to anglers. So until the order is lifted, guys like me are definitely out of a job.
Although the order does not expressly prohibit resorts and lodges from operation, it is clear that Governor Walz does not want anglers traveling to fish. Section 1 of Executive Order 20-38 spells it out; “Minnesotans should stay close to home and are strongly discouraged from unnecessary travel, including long-distance travel to engage in outdoor recreational activities and travel to and from cabins, commercial lodging, and vacation homes or rentals.”
The expiration date of the order is still set for 11:59 PM on May 3, 2020. So far now, there’s still a chance that Minnesotans might enjoy something resembling a routine fishing opener.
There are those that tell me Walz is likely to extend the deadline again. I’m not sure if those sources are credible, so I won’t speculate about that. I do hope that he doesn’t extend it though, I know a lot of folks who will have big problems if that were to happen, including me.
I know that this isn’t going to be a “normal” fishing opener, but at least Walz’ latest order gives a few outdoor businesses some relief. Bait shops are hugely dependent on early season fishing sales. Whether you’ve thought about it or not, we anglers are equally dependent on bait shop owners. Fishing isn’t much fun when you don’t have the bait, so it’s in our own best interest to support them.
For me, there’s always a silver lining and in this particular situation, mine is this. Luckily, I share a household with someone who loves to fish almost as much as I do. She has a little vacation time to use and since I’m out of a job anyway, we might as well go fishing; socially compliant of course. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Folks in the southern half of Minnesota are lucky, the ice has been gone for good a while. Most of the lakes have been open long enough to become re-oxygenated and before this past cold spell struck, panfish had already begun early, pre-spawn feeding runs into small bays and shallow areas.
Somewhere south of the twin cities my nephew had already begun catching some good crappies and sunfish before the cold front interrupted. With warmer weather headed our way, I’ll bet those panfish will begin feeding again, they may even begin moving toward spawning locations if warm temperatures persist. If I know my nephew at all, those panfish are in trouble!
In my home territory, we still have lots of ice, but winter is beginning to lose its grip on my favorite fishing lakes. So far, I can’t report any lakes that are ice free, but almost everywhere I have checked, ice has receded at least a few feet from shorelines.
In some cases, the band of open water on small, shallow land locked lakes is wider, 20 to 50 feet I would estimate.
Lakes with strong current flow have much more open water than that. Take Winnie for example, on the southeast side of the lake where the Mississippi River flows out, the Dam Bay is already wide open. Tamarack Bay will begin breaking up soon and so will other areas with current from flowing water.
Pokegama has a large, rapidly growing swath of open water on either side of the causeway over Highway 169 and some of the lake’s shallow bays are opening too.
I didn’t have to drive too far south to get a look at my first ice free lake on Thursday. Just south of Aitkin, Hickory Lake was wide open and across the road from it, Little Pine Lake was in its final stages of becoming ice-free.
There was a strong northwest wind, so I expect anyone viewing the lake from the east side would tell you that Mille Lacs Lake was still completely ice covered. From the west side, I’d estimate something like 85% ice-covered.
There are wide gaps of open water in the ice wherever plowed roads existed last winter. Some of the bays were opening as well, some faster than others. Garrison Bay had the largest section of open water and Wigwam Bay was a close second. The further south I drove, the less open water I saw, except for the current area where Rum River flows out of the lake.
Last winter I set my prediction for ice out in the Lake Winnie region at April 26th, 2020. With a stretch of warmer weather on its way, it is beginning to appear that we’ll see a lot of open water in that area by then.
While I’m waiting, I think I will assign myself to getting the Pro V polished up and ready to go. It may be a while before I have handy access to early panfish spots, but it’s gonna happen fast and I want to be ready when the chance comes along.
If you’re thinking about getting outside this weekend, but don’t have any good ideas about what to do, I’ll make a suggestion.
I stumbled into a regional report from one of the DNR Conservation Officers a few days ago. In it, he mentioned that he’d been checking anglers who were fishing for suckers in our area. “Most anglers have been doing well”, the report said.
I know, fishing for suckers doesn’t sound very cool, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. They are scrappy fighters and I love to eat them after they have been smoked.
Small rivers and streams all over the state have sucker runs that occur during spring. Most Minnesotan’s can find a spot remarkably close to home and the probability of locating a good spot is high. The fish move upstream, noses into the current and hold along the bank, or near the edges of deeper holes.
All you need to catch them is an egg sinker, a plain hook, and some worms. Almost any spinning rod will do, an ideal rig would be a 6 to 7 food, medium action rod with 8 to 10-pound test line. The sinker weights vary depending on how much current you encounter, so have a variety on hand; ½, ¾ and 1 ounces sizes should be plenty.
I may have just talked myself into checking out the sucker hole later today. I don't think the Hippie Chick has experienced that yet and it might be a good excuse to get her out of the house. More on that later! — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
In the past month, some public officials in northern Minnesota have said visitors aren't welcome, worried metro vacationers might tote the coronavirus with them. But resorts need customers. Or some won't survive.
Three weeks from today, on the eve of the Fishing Opener, Minnesota resort owners near and far from the Twin Cities will swing open their cabin doors and hope people show up.
Already many of these small-business operators have developed new ways to clean their cabins, sell bait from their shops and keep anglers safe distances from one another while launching boats — all because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Now they need customers. Or some won’t survive.
“A lot of resorts are getting by now only on their ..." Learn More >> April 17, 2020 Northern Minnesota resort owners make clear they want anglers coming their way
I mentioned yesterday that I’d been soliciting information about lodges, resorts and bait shops about their current plans for the fishing season opener. I learned quickly from early responding resorts and bait shops that response to the Covid-19 situation is going to be all over the map.
Most of those early answers to my questions were clear; the proprietors either said we’ll be open, or they said we’ll be closed, there wasn’t much grey area.
Later in the day though, the responses began getting more thought provoking and complex; like this one from a regular contributor. Lee Nupson at Oak Point Resort on Leech Lake asked as many questions as it answered.
"Nupson; “We will be open but I am a little confused about our ability to be open. If we are allowed, how are our customers going to be able to come if there is a shelter-in-place until May 14th?
Our Customers keep asking and I don't know what to tell them. Do we want people from Chicago coming up here? Do we even want people from Minneapolis coming here? Our neighbors are even telling cabin owners up here they can't come to their own cabins. I saw the casinos are planning to open May 14th at 8 am. What is the rule?”
“We have plans to sterilize our cabins after every customer with bleach water or other cleaners. Our thoughts are to add a day to our cleaning (having the customers come in on Sun instead of Sat or check at 5 on Sat instead of 3 to give us more time to clean).
We're not sure which way we are going right now but leaning towards the extra day. I think our customers will understand. Our lodge will probably be limited to a certain amount of people and we are still thinking through that process as well." Lee Nupson, Oak Point Resort 218-335-2993
A) Lee, by the looks of your plan, I think you have the situation pretty well thought through.
You definitely are allowed to be open, even if there's a stay at home order in place. In fact, article 2 of the current Executive Stay At Home Order 20-33 spells it out clearly; "2. For purposes of this Executive Order, homes or residences include hotels, motels, shared rental units, shelters, and similar facilities, to the extent they are used for lodging.
A few of the questions in your response, along with some other reader comments, triggered me to re-read, digging deeper into the specific rules about Minnesota’s response to the Covid-19 situation. Specifically, who can or cannot do what under the rules of Governor Walz’ "Stay At Home Order" and here's what I found.
First, let’s clear up one detail about the name of the order. In Minnesota, Governor Walz, issued Emergency Executive Order 20-20 titled; “Directing Minnesotans to Stay at Home” on March 27, 2020. The order was originally set to expire on April 10, 2020 but was extended through May 3, 2020 by Walz' on April 8, 2020 (See >> Emergency Executive Order 20-33). At the time of this writing, the Stay At Home Order is still set to expire at 11:59 PM on May 3, 2020.
According to the FAQ section on the Governor’s website, “A stay at home order directs Minnesotans to limit movements outside of their homes beyond essential needs. By limiting social interactions, we decrease the chance of transmission of COVID-19 and help our health care sector prepare for increased demands.”
A couple of weeks ago I was following along with the term being used by several news media sources and mistakenly referred to the order as a “shelter-in-place-order”. I was almost immediately dressed down by a reader who in an email, pointed out that staying at home, and sheltering in place are two completely different things. He urged me not to be confused, so I looked up the order for clarification. He was right, an order to shelter-in-place would have been much more restrictive, ordering us to stay wherever we were, whenever the order would have been issued.
But that’s not the case in Minnesota. In Emergency Executive Order 20-20 titled; “Directing Minnesotans to Stay at Home”, there is a list of exemptions. The list includes a variety of activities for which Minnesotan’s are allowed to leave their homes.
Section 5, article C, Outdoor Activities is clear; “Individuals may engage in outdoor activities (e.g.) walking, hiking, running, biking, driving for pleasure, hunting, or fishing), and may go to available public parks and other public recreation lands, consistent with remaining at least six feet apart from individuals from other households.”
The answer to your question about non-residents coming into Minnesota is trickier. I checked the FAQ section on the Governor’s website and found this question; “Is Minnesota closing its borders and declaring martial law?”
“No. People are free to come into Minnesota, even during this temporary stay-at-home order. To protect our neighbors, people are encouraged to stay close to home and are strongly discouraged from engaging in unnecessary travel. These measures are meant to protect Minnesotans—especially our most vulnerable neighbors.”
The way I read it, guests from out of state are allowed to come. The question is how inconvenient is it to comply with the spirit of the stay at home order. I don’t see anything wrong with small groups of customers driving directly from point A to Point B, making only minimal stops along the way. But for larger groups, especially those that require frequent stops along the way, maybe it’s not such a good idea. We almost have to take each reservation on a case by case basis.
Your neighbors who have told fellow cabin owners that they can’t come to stay in their own cabins can also find clarification in the FAQ on Governor Walz’ website. Under the heading “When is it okay for me to travel?” Click on the tab “Can I travel to and from my cabin?”
“Although the executive order doesn’t prohibit traveling to or from a cabin, the Governor strongly urges all Minnesotans to stay in their primary residences. Staying home helps protects your neighbors from spreading COVID-19 and also avoids crowding rural medical facilities. Avoiding this kind of travel makes us all safer and healthier.”
Again, the answer is to take each situation on a case by case basis. I know lots of folks who own well stocked cabins, located comfortably away from their neighbors. Personally, I’d much rather share the wide open spaces, breathing fresh air with them than to share the oatmeal section at WalMart. Of course that’s just my opinion, I can’t speak for everybody.
I know this article still leaves some of Lee’s questions un-answered. But it’s getting a bit long-winded, so I’ll stop here for now.
Over the next several days, I’ll keep chipping away, adding updates as they become available. In the meantime, any question is a good one, so if you have something to ask, please shoot me an email and I’ll do my best to answer. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Jon Thelen fished there last spring with Charlie Nelson and found a pattern that worked great.
Trolling shallow water, back bays along the river using Little Joe spinners and planer boards worked like a charm.
Here’s a neat video that shows you how to dial in the bite and it works wherever walleyes, rivers and shallow water estuaries are found.
While you’re pondering the fishing opener, watch this video and learn how to get onto a spot and find your own school of hungry walleyes this spring. View Video >> Hot Spring Pattern For Shallow Water River Walleyes .
"As the Minnesota fishing opener approaches, many are wondering what will be available for their outing. Doing a little research, I called around to some of the local businesses to see who will be open for bait, licenses, and last-minute snacks for the day. Many of the businesses I called still had plans to be open on our Minnesota “Holiday”.
Here is a list of Central Minnesota businesses that plan to be open for the fishing opener (as of today 4/16/2020). All representatives made the comment that they were taking considerations for the health of their staff and customers, and could change between now and then (follow instructions if printed on their entry doors).
I have included their phone numbers here so that you may call in advance if you’re looking for anything specific.
Tales and Trails Sport Shop
Bait, Tackle, Licenses, • US Hwy 169 in Zimmerman, MN • Friday: 8 AM – 6 PM • Saturday: 7 AM – 6 PM • Sunday: 7 AM – 3 PM • 763-856-3985
Runnings Bait, Tackle, Licenses, Snacks • West 7th Street in Monticello, MN • Friday: 7:30 AM – 8 PM • Saturday: 8 AM – 7 PM • Sunday: 9 AM – 6 PM • 612-474-1224
Fleet Farm Tackle, Licenses, Fuel, Snacks • Chelsea Rd in Monticello, MN • Friday & Saturday: 7 AM – 8 PM • Sunday: 8 AM – 6 PM • 763-272-1610
BJ’s Bait and Tackle Bait, Tackle, Licenses • Bayview Road in South Haven, MN • Planned Hours: 7 AM – 6 PM • 320-274-3730
Cabela’s Bait, Tackle, Licenses, Electronics • Rogers Drive in Rogers, MN • Friday, Saturday, & Sunday: 10 AM – 6 PM • 763-493-8600
Prince Bait and Marine • Bait, Tackle, Licenses, Electronics • US Hwy 169 in Milaca, MN • Friday: 5:30 AM to 6 PM • Saturday: 5 AM to 4 PM • Sunday: Closed • 320-983-6344
Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, and Have a Great Fishing Opener!" Shane Boeshart, 641-529-0270
"Cut Foot Sioux Resort is planning on opening May 8th for 2020 fishing opener. We are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and will be taking measures to implement advisories from the CDC and Minnesota Department of Health as things change. Once we are closer to the opening date more details of our hours and services will be provided.
If you have any questions, please call or text us at 218-398-1421. In the meantime, stay healthy and safe. We hope to see you in the outdoors soon! " Jake, Amy, Jack & Lee Perrington, Cutfoot Sioux Inn 218-246-8706
On April 10th I wrote about the 2020 walleye opener, "For many, fishing closer to home is probably going to be the best bet. A day trip to any lake that allows comfortable travel time to and from our own homes would be ideal. Folks with well stocked cabins or campers that require little interaction in the community will probably be just fine too.
The situation is fluid, so I’ll be adding frequent updates as information about lodging and fishing supplies become available. In the meantime, stock up your tackle box and tune up your outboard, the opener is only 28 days away!"
Well, this morning I did post an update and thanks to a heads up from reader Mike Worden, learned that I was wrong about the May 13th extension. Worden wrote; "Good Morning, I know there is a lot of confusing information out there, but reading your "Fishing Reports Minnesota" post this morning I believe you may be confusing the Peacetime Executive Order with the current "Stay at Home" order.
They are two different things. The peacetime emergency order is related to protections such as landlord protections and electric companies, and also ties to the federal funding. I has to be re-established by law every 30-days."
I re-read the links and also re-read the articles on the Governor's website and Mike is right, the Stay Home Order and the Peacetime Emergency Order are two completely differnet things. The expiration of the Stay At Home Order 20-33 remains Sunday May 3, 2020 at 11:59 PM.
I did indeed confuse that stay At Home document with the declaration of Peacetime Emergency extension issued on April 12, 2020. I apologize for any confusion and hope to maintain more accurate appraisals of the situation in the days and weeks ahead!
We already know that under the original Emergency Executive Order 20-01, fishing, along with other outdoor activities are expressly allowed. But reading the text of the extension Order 20-33, I noticed something I hadn't seen yet. Paragraph 2 says, "For purposes of this Executive Order, homes or residences include hotels, motels, shared rental units, shelters, and similar facilities, to the extent they are used for lodging."
The way I read it, lodges, resorts and rentals can make the decisions about whether or not to remain open for themselves. Still, there's grey area about anglers plans to travel away from home for the fishing opener.
On Governor Walz' website, in the FAQ section you'll find this; "Although the executive order doesn’t prohibit traveling to or from a cabin, the Governor strongly urges all Minnesotans to stay in their primary residences. Staying home helps protects your neighbors from spreading COVID-19 and also avoids crowding rural medical facilities. Avoiding this kind of travel makes us all safer and healthier."
We already knew that the order doesn't mean that we can't go fishing, but anglers trying to stock up on fishing bait and other last minute supplies are sure to encounter some problems.
From the travel standpoint, the first week of the Minnesota's open water fishing season will for sure be slower than usual. But for most Minnesotan's, open water fishing spots are close by and in many cases, anglers can find good alternatives close to home.
You'll have to make your own decisions about whether you fish or not, but whether I'm working or not, I will definitely be on the water. Not just for the opener, but every day afterward.
For folks who do want to get outside and fish, I'll do my best to post current updates about where you can go and when you can go there. On Tuesday, I reached out to Minnesota resorts and bait shop owners asking about updates about their plans for the early season. The section below offers some information from early responders and I will keep the updates coming. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Hiawatha Beach Resort on Leech Lake will be open. They have 32 Cabin/Lodge Units, a 55 Slip Harbor, Rental Boats and Pontoons. 218-547-1510
"At Northland Lodge on Lake Winnie, Pat O'Reilly wrote, "Well, if the gov lets us have an opener we will be open for business as usual.
We do not want people hanging out in the lodge, but we will have bait available. Please, if you don't feel good or have been around anybody that doesn't feel good, then please STAY home." - Pat and Mike O'Reilly, Northland Lodge, 218-246-8531
"High Banks will be opening on May 8, 2020 for the summer season. Valet boat launching service available 7am-10pm daily. Launch fee is $15 and open to the public. Lodge with bar/restaurant opening pending state regulations." Rick and Kim Leonhardt 218-246-2560
From Eagle Nest Lodge on Cutfoot Sioux, Bryan Harris wrote, “We are planning to be open starting at opener, unless the Governor extends the stay at home order; but things will be different.
We probably won't have the lodge open but will have some lodge items available for delivery to our cabin guests or no-touch hand off for folks off the lake. The dock house will be staffed with dock boys and they will continue to do most of the tasks they usually do, catch boats, sell bait, pump gas, but at a safe distance.
We will step up our cabin and common area cleaning and disinfecting, of course. We may have shorter hours until we can get back to normal.
There are lots of factors at play and we are learning new things every day, so things will be very fluid. Bryan Harris, Eagle Nest Lodge 218-246-8701
At Fisherman’s Corner near Duluth, Scott Valkenburg wrote, “Hi Jeff, Fisherman’s Corner in Duluth, Mn. will be open for the opener and is open now! We clean all door handles, pens, etc. at least 4 times per day, keeping our shop a clean environment. Our current hours are 8am-6pm. Our spring-summer hours will be 7am -6pm., starting on May 4th, 2020. Thanks Scott Valkenburg, Fisherman’s Corner " Scott Valkenburg, Fisherman's Corner,
"Jessica at Becker’s Resort on Lake Winnie says, as of today, Becker’s will be open. We may have some rules and the lodge maybe closed; however we will be on our deck to help serve our guests and keep our fisherman happy.
I would say keep in touch especially the week before opener we should know more." - Tom & Jessica, Becker's Resort 218-665-2268
Karen from Stony Point Resort in Cass Lake, MN wrote, “We will be open for camping and cabins and the restaurant and bar will be open for take-out for sure and more if allowed by then.
We will have some bait and fishing licenses and boat gas." Thanks, Karen, Stoiny Point Resort 218-760-2535
David from Northern Acres Resort and Campground on Bowstring Lake said; “My sister and I just finished a meeting to discuss what we are going to do this spring.
With the best info we can find, and after looking at the real evidence worldwide, we decided that since we cannot guarantee either our guest's safety or our own safety we will not be opening until mid- June; that is if things are under control by then. We know this will disappoint many people, but we cannot in good conscience do anything else.
Who knows what the state and the Feds are planning to do? But we believe that we need to look after our own safety for ourselves.
With the number of morons still running around coughing and spitting on our food supplies in stores, thinking that is funny (including the trending idiotic move of licking toilet seats), we will not rely on common sense.
A year without a fishing opener is not a year that I would ever see.” — David Wanner, Northern Acres Resort 218-659-2845
"In Grand Rapids, MN Thousand Lakes Sports is currently open for appointment shopping, phone orders, and curb side pickups.
Anglers can also purchase items on our web store thousand lakes sports dot com. We will update you with any changes." Andy Walls, 1000 Lakes Sports 218-999-5992
If you’re like me, then you may tend to always have a handful of unfinished details on your plate. I admit it, I am famous for always running behind, having to get one last little thing done on my way to work.
Sometimes it’s because I didn’t have time to finish all of my chores the day before, but often, procrastination is the culprit. I could have been caught up, but for one reason or another, just didn’t make time to take care of little jobs when I had the chance.
For me, getting a new fishing license has never been a last minute detail. But I have witnessed a lot of folks who hadn’t planned ahead and were forced into scurrying for their new license on their way to the lake.
Waiting until the last minute is not a good idea this year, don’t procrastinate about getting your fishing license. The bait and tackle shops will already have their hands full coping with delays and slow-downs caused by the Covid-19 hysteria. The last thing they need is a line of people waiting to get a new fishing license.
In my view, buying your fishing license online has always been a good idea, but this season it makes more sense than ever. Not only will it save time and trouble at the bait shop, you’ll be serving your fellow man by not breathing down their necks at the license counter.
If you’ve never used Minnesota’s online license system before, then it will take a few minutes to get the hang of it. Overall though, it’s fairly straight forward process and you’ll get license without too much fuss. I like to download the PDF and save it to my computer in case I need a re-print later on.
Oh and by the way, Minnesota regulations do allow anglers to save the PDF on a smart phone. When the conservation officer asks to see your license, just call it up on the phone and you’re good to go.
So if you’re like me and have a tendency toward putting things off, click on this link to >> Buy Your Minnesota Fishing License Now; then it will be done. You’re welcome! — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
I'm just a fish bum who, just like all of you, is trying to navigate this new "normal" as the Coronavirus pandemic upends our daily routines and affects households and individuals throughout the world.
I don't care about politics and I'm not going to act like I know a whole bunch about this virus. I've tried to educate myself about it by watching the news, but I can only make it a few minutes before I turn it off.
I did, however, get news that Illinois closed all of its state-owned fisheries, wildlife areas and parks this week. This was supposedly done in response to the Coronavirus issues. We can only hope that other states do ..." Learn More >> Keep Lakes Open Amid Coronavirus
After reading my Thursday update about the Minnesota fishing opener, Nate Altendorf wrote; “The question I have about the MN fishing opener is can we travel outside of our community to fish?”
A) Nate, the direct answer is yes, we are allowed to travel anywhere in Minnesota to fish. But bear in mind that while we are legally allowed to fish anywhere in the state, some locations will be more practical than others.
Recalling yesterday’s comment from MN DNR Spokesperson Kim Pleticha; “All we ask is that anglers observe the safety practices described in the Governor’s Stay at Home Order.”
According to the stay home order, we definitely are allowed to go outside and fish. But the availability of overnight lodging, fishing supplies and other services are not specifically addressed in the stay home order; at least not in the frequently asked questions section of Governor Walz’ website.
We are, according to the order, allowed to travel to and from our private cabins. However traveling to the family hunting or fishing shack is not exactly being encouraged. Click on the tab When is it okay for me to travel? And read this; “Although the executive order doesn’t prohibit traveling to or from a cabin, the Governor strongly urges all Minnesotans to stay in their primary residences.”
The way I read it, decisions about where and when we go fishing will depend largely on how inconvenient it is for us to comply with the order.
For many, fishing closer to home is probably going to be the best bet. A day trip to any lake that allows comfortable travel time to and from our own homes would be ideal. Folks with well stocked cabins or campers that require little interaction in the community will probably be just fine too.
The situation is fluid, so I’ll be adding frequent updates as information about lodging and fishing supplies become available. In the meantime, stock up your tackle box and tune up your outboard, the opener is only 28 days away!
On Wednesday I spoke with MN DNR spokesperson Kim Pleticha about the prospect of any Covid-19 related interruption to the walleye opener on May 9, 2020. Pleticha assured me that the DNR has no plan to cancel, postpone or otherwise interrupt the 2020 opening of Minnesota’s walleye fishing season.
“All we ask is that anglers observe the safety practices described in the Governor’s Stay at Home Order;” Pleticha said. “Ramps and parking areas owned and maintained by the Minnesota DNR will be open. But we cannot give assurances that local accesses owned by counties or municipalities will remain open. Anglers will have to check ahead of time about accesses not owned by the state.”
I feel better after getting my question answered by an official source. At least I know for sure that there will be a fishing opener.
My next questions are for bait and tackle shop operators to answer. Can we come up with some creative ways to get bait and tackle safely into the hands of anglers who want to fish? I know a lot of these folks and instinctively, I think they can. I'm looking forward to seeing them spring into action over the next couple of weeks and I'll post updates as plans develop.
Maintain a safe distance, keep common surfaces clean and be respectful of other anglers near the landings. To me, that just sounds like simple common sense. In fact I can’t imagine why anyone needs to be told any of this. But, I do have to admit that there are times when I’ve observed severe shortages of common sense.
Maybe we should look at this whole covid thing as an opportunity to watch the re-birth of good manners in America; that would be worth something. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Since this Covid-19 stay home order was implemented, all my usual spring routines have been wiped out. Reporting the report-able has been fine for the gloom and doom crowd, but optimists like me have had to turn over a lot of stones to find a good story.
Take the Northwest Sportshow for example. According to the plan, it would have ended last Sunday. By now, I should have spent several days telling you about all the cool stuff that I found at the show; but that was cancelled, so I couldn’t.
After that, I should have been giving you reports from the Rainy River and talking about all the great walleye fishing that’s been going on. But we can’t get on the river with a boat so that’s been off the table too.
Last week, I was able to at least talk a little bit about ice fishing, but unless you’re here right now, it’s unlikely that you’ll find many suitable access points to get onto the ice. That’s okay, I don’t really think that there’s much point in talking ice fishing anyway, not many are willing to go anywhere right now. Activity on the lakes has been very light, even in some of the most popular places.
The truth is that the “here and now” isn’t much fun to talk about. So, for me that settles it, it’s time to officially begin ramping up for the fishing opener!
Yes, there is going to be a fishing opener, at least that’s what I’m hearing from the folks at MN DNR Fisheries and some prominent Minnesota outdoor writers. So far, folks are unwilling to go “on the record” with any official statement. But as we already know, outdoor activities such as hunting, and fishing have been excluded from the current stay at home order.
With still over a month to go until the opener, my instinct is that it would be very difficult for the state to justify shutting down activities that allow folks to get out of their homes and into the fresh air. That said, strange things have been happening all winter, so I can’t say that I’d be surprised if we don’t face more restrictive access to some of the most popular fishing spots.
Most of the MN DNR staff are working from home right now, so the flow of information is slower than usual. But I will pursue updates from the DNR daily and post any new news that comes along.
In the meantime, I’m watching the shoreline ice fade away on Grand Rapids area lakes. If the weather follows its current trajectory, I expect that lakes like Winnie, Leech and Cass are liable to have ice out earlier than my predicted date of April 26th, 2020. If that’s true, then we may well have some pre-season panfish opportunities to talk about soon.
With luck, they'll allow me to visit a couple of the walleye egg harvest sites in the next week or two as well. That would be great, I'm ready to start feeling useful again and the sooner, the better! — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
On Wednesday I promised one last update about ice conditions before the weekend. So, this morning I took a drive around the Grand Rapids area to check ice conditions at some of the more popular landings.
From what I could see today, anglers should be able to sneak in one last weekend of ice fishing on most north central region lakes. But I wouldn’t drag my feet, some of the landings are already getting soft and by the end of this weekend, they’ll be out of service.
The softest ice conditions I found were at lakes that are surrounded by low ground. The accompanying photo shows the public landing at Splithand Lake, south of Grand Rapids. You can see that drainage from snow melt in the low ground is flooding the shoreline, causing rapidly deteriorating ice.
Lakes that are surrounded by higher, drier ground have much better ice conditions. Up to the north of Grand Rapids, I found smaller lakes with excellent shoreline ice conditions. For my money, a walk-in trip to one of the smaller lakes would be a better bet than counting on the landings to hold up through the weekend.
Mother Nature is doing what she can to help, the outside temperature at 1:00 PM is 22 degrees. Temps are not predicted to reach above freezing today and the predicted overnight low is only 10 degrees. That should be enough to prevent much more melting today.
If you’re in range for a day trip, I think you’ll be able to find a spot to fish. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
As the open water season approaches, I find myself getting antsy for launching the boat, as many of you are probably feeling too. In light of the recent events across the Globe, I was not able to make my annual trip up to the Rainy River, so that put my first open water excursion on hold.
Not being able to take that trip has opened other areas of prep work for this season. Here are a few things you can do in the upcoming days and weeks leading up to opener to ensure you have a more successful time on the water.
1. Check Your Batteries
This one, in my opinion, is at the top of the list because we rely on our trolling motor, electronics, and engine to get us from fish to fish!
During the winter I put my batteries on a maintainer to keep them from discharging down. If you don’t have access to a maintainer, or an on-board charger, you can charge them once per month with a trickle charge battery charger (lead acid / AGM).
Pop the fill caps off the tops of the batteries (if equipped) and check the fluid level. Always wear a safety shield and gloves when doing this. If low, add distilled water (not tap water) and fill to ¼ inch below the bottom of the fill hole (or manufactures recommendation). When filled, charge batteries to full charge.
If you have lithium batteries, use the proper charger and follow the manufacturers guidelines for charging and maintaining your batteries as these vary from manufacture to manufacture. If you find your batteries are not holding a charge, it is probably time to replace them. If you have a 24 or 36 volt system, it is best to replace all batteries at the same time, but is not required.
2. Check Wires, Electrical Connections, and Accessories
This is second on the list because most anglers store their boats outside in the winter months. Check accessible connections, wires, and fuses. Corrosion to connections and battery cables can happen over winter if you don’t disconnect the batteries. Clean all connections with a wire brush while wearing proper safety gear.
With the batteries disconnected, look for any damage to wires from critters. It only takes one wire to ruin a boating trip. Connect those freshly charged batteries and run through all your accessories; live well(s), bait well(s), aeration system(s), horn, engine warning system, tilt/trim, steering, navigation/anchor lights, interior lights, dash lights, graphs, trolling motor, and so on.
It is important that everything is in working order prior to your vessel being launched so you can maximize time on the water and not block the boat ramps for other boaters/anglers.
3. Engine Maintenance
This is the powerhouse for the whole season. Take the engine cowling cover off and check all your connections. Check for any leaks, damage, and loose connections (wires, fuel/oil/vacuum hoses). Replace hoses and damaged/worn parts with factory OEM parts and tighten loose connections per manufacturer torque specs.
If you’re equipped with a carbureted unit, check the bowl for any gel or water, clean it and the carb with cleaner. Check spark plugs and replace if fouled (personally, I change mine every season).
Check oil (if equipped) change if necessary or add. Lower unit and prop inspections are also important. Gear oil should be fresh and prop should have zero play in it. If you’re not familiar with working on small engines, or if you notice something isn’t right during your walk-through, take it to a local shop that specializes in marine engines and have them check all your components out. Have them get it water ready for you, this includes water pump replacement, which I do every two seasons.
4. Prepping Your Gear
Getting gear ready can be done at anytime prior to the season. Make sure your reels and rods are in good shape. Check your reel seats for cracks and imperfections and your rod eyelets for any nicks or scrapes that may cause your line to fray and break.
Proper reel maintenance can be done during this time as well. I always keep the booklet so I can properly grease and oil my reels after cleaning them. Make sure the line on your reels are healthy and your drags are set correct. Fading of mono, fluoro, and superlines can be means for changing out this season. Make sure you put the amount of line called for on the reel. It was designed based on that lb./yd. designation.
Organize your boxes with similar lures or by brands. I use a label maker to label my boxes so I know what to grab when I’m on the water. Sharpen or replace bad hooks and split rings and make sure you’re stocked up on all your weights and hooks for the season. This category can go on and on, but use your best judgement and replenish what you need.
These are four things you can do leading up to open water in the coming weeks to make sure you are ready when you back down the ramp. If there is need for any replacement parts or tackle, look to your local mechanic(s) and tackle shop first before you head online or another area. Give them a call and see if they have it or can get it for you. It is very important we keep them going right now!
Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, and Have a Great Season! Shane Boeshart, 641-529-0270
Like most everyone I know, Minnesota’s “stay at home order” has me thrown off my game. Instinctively, I know that it's better to get outside in fresh air than it is to stay cooped up inside. The problem is that we need to figure out places to go that don't require too much human interaction.
Struggling to find good news for anglers, I’ve opted to say less, instead of more about the situation. And I have taken a conscious decision not to speculate about how or where I think we should travel afield during the "stay home" order.
But lately folks have been asking for advice about where they can go, several emails have echoed the sentiment of Nick Nelson Who wrote, “My teenage boys are going stir crazy at home. I'm planning on doing some perch fishing at Round Lake this weekend and bringing a 4-wheeler. Is the ice still safe? Thank you in advance.”
Well the answer was that I didn’t really know until today. That’s why used Nick’s question as an excuse to take my mom for a ride to check the ice conditions at Round Lake and others.
At Round Lake, we found a half dozen anglers on the ice and they were scattered all over the lake. The snow cover was completely gone and the ice at the landing was still solid. Some anglers were using ATVs to travel on the ice, and a few were still using snowmobiles. I did not go onto the ice, so I didn’t check the ice thickness, but folks were traveling freely from what we could tell.
We saw similar ice conditions at Cutfoot Sioux, Little Cutfoot, Bowstring Lake and on the north side of Winnie on the Bowen's Road. The ice at all of the landings was solid and travel by ATV should be a piece of cake. Here are some examples >> Lake Winnie Poacher's Landing • Cutfoot Sioux McAvity Landing • Round Lake South Landing
Conditions on the roads leading into the landings were another matter though. Muddy, rutted dirt roads were the rule, not the exception. In fact, the folks using the north landing on Bowstring didn't attempt driving to the landing. Instead, they were parking their vehicles on the shoulder of County Road 35 and using ATVs to access the landing. On the other lakes, anglers were driving trucks to the landings, but parking spaces were limited.
Unless something happens to get the surface of the ice wet again, conditions should remain favorable for fishing this weekend. According to the forecast, we could see rain in the area over the next few days.
I’m cautiously optimistic that ice fishing will be an option over the next several days. That said, this is the time of season when conditions change in a hurry. I will do my best to provide last minute updates on Friday, so check in before you drive up. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Perhaps we should call this the COVID - 19 fishing report. As you can imagine, some really cool annual traditions with Mother Nature are happening right now around Lake of the Woods.
With the current times, other than some local anglers fishing in their own backyard where they have private access, things are pretty quiet. Let's get through this chapter and look ahead as the walleyes are definitely waiting, willing and able!
As many of you have read, in response to the COVID - 19 situation, the City of Baudette has closed it's two public access points on the Rainy River, Koochiching County has closed their four access points to the Rainy River and Lake of the Woods County has also temporarily closed their access points. These closures are temporary in nature and are being reviewed often. Kooch County will review again April 14th which is the last day of the walleye season on LOW and the Rainy River.
We want to express our sincere appreciation and thanks for all who come up to the Lake of the Woods area throughout the year. Our community and small businesses are very tourism focused and dependent. This is a tough time for many for a variety of reasons. We look forward to getting this chapter behind us and creating wonderful memories with you again in the near future. Be safe and thank you.
On the south end... Ice conditions this March have held very well. As mentioned, low amount of traffic due to the times. Anglers out have been catching big pike as is traditional this time of year as well as walleyes and saugers.
On the Rainy River... The Rainy River is starting to open with a few local anglers with private access getting on the open water. As you can imagine, some big walleyes in the river. The spring walleye season goes through April 14th and will not be available to most this year. Looking forward to sturgeon season and the MN fishing opener May 9th!
Up at the NW Angle... A few locals still ice fishing. Walleyes, saugers, jumbo perch and an occasional pike or eelpout in the mix. Looking forward to open water." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"Not much for actual fishing information to report on this week. It is out of the norm for us, we feel we are at our best when guests are here. It proves to us how much we appreciate all of you and miss having you around. We are thankful for being able to serve so many generations of families spanning decades. We are grateful that so many people have put their trust in us. Without your passion and respect for our waterways and community we would not be able to fulfill our need to serve you.
As far as fishing information goes; while there is still plenty of ice on the lake, we do not see the river ice opening up any time soon. It has been a few years since we were able to have houses on the lake to the end of March, this year we have the ice.
We are continuing with a business as usual approach, so when the day comes and are back to normal, we will hit the ground running. If you choose to cancel, please do, we are not enforcing deposit requirements at this time. If your group wants to guarantee the spot and have your deposit paid, that’s great. Currently, what we will be asking of the groups who do not make deposits, is to ensure us that we are not holding the date for you when it should be made available for someone else. As always, if Border View Lodge is unable to, or prevented from making your reservation happen for you, we would refund any deposits made.
Because the lack of fishing information, maybe we have other things to share. Some of you may not know, Lisa and my history in the hospitality industry goes back to 1980. Whew, that’s 40 years. Mike’s 1st jobs were cleaning apartment buildings and paper routes for the Star Tribune and Bloomington Sun papers, during high school, Lisa and Mike had jobs with beginner positions like dishwasher, cook and server. Places like Bridgman’s and Pizza Hut were always busy. It was on the job training for us. In those days; clean uniforms, and attentive service were keys to success. Thank goodness cell phones did not exist. The biggest fear and distractions we faced were having friends or family become customers while on a shift. I am thinking that may still be true today.
We wish everyone health and wellness and will be patiently waiting the day we can wet a line." — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge