From an angler’s perspective, the weather pattern going into Memorial Day Weekend improved. Warmer temperatures, a broken sky and breezier conditions encouraged walleye movement on a variety of north central Minnesota lakes. So, if you find fish today, there is a good chance that they will bite; that is the good news.
The shallow water breaklines on many of the regions better walleye lakes now host fewer schools of minnows. Shiners on many lakes, have already completed their spawning runs and moved away from shore. At the same time, insect hatches are beginning on many of those same lakes and the tandem combination of less food shallow, and more food deep have triggered walleye migrations away from the shorelines.
Walleyes migrating away from shore, toward deeper water is not necessarily bad news, but it does mean that in the short term, we all have to search a little harder for the fish we catch.
My trip on Friday was a good example of searching more territory to find smaller schools of fish. Long, straight stretches of shoreline territory that were productive a week ago, now held few, if any walleyes. Instead, shoreline related points and bars that lead toward deeper water held fish. The problem is that none of them held a lot of fish, there were only small packs of migrating fish that were meandering toward mid-lake structure.
What that meant for us, and what it might mean for you today is that catching a walleye or two doesn’t mean that you should linger for a long time in that area. For me, 1 or 2 passes on any given spot was about all I could do. Most of the time, the next spot I’d try would also produce 1 or 2 fish, but we rarely did better than that.
Why I believe that the fish were in the early stages of migrating is because stopping in the center of the lake, on totally free standing, mid-lake structure was not productive; the fish hadn’t made it that far yet. Fingers and points connected to shoreline structure but leading into deeper water were the key. By moving from point to point, picking up a keeper here and a slot-fish there, were able to slip my crew’s 12th walleye into the livewell by about 4:30 PM.
We fished with Lindy Live Bait Jigs tipped with shiners and they worked well. I had every intention of trying Lindy Rigs tipped with night crawlers too, but somehow allowed my supply of worms to go bad. I will have to try the crawlers today instead, and I’ll post an update about that in the next day or two.
I know that there are more folks fishing today than there are reading this report, so I’ll cut it short here. But in case you’ve been fishing the shorelines and struggling, making a move toward deeper, mid-lake structures located near the shoreline, you might pick up a few extra fish.
I almost never quote anonymous sources, I don’t believe in that. But today I have an email message from a reader that begs to be shared. I don’t want to get anybody into trouble though, so I decided to use the message without mentioning any names, after reading it, I hope you’ll understand why.
On May 29, 2021, (name withheld) wrote; “Hi Jeff, I have old friends who I have been fishing with for nearly 50 years that will meet me at (lake withheld) for a week in (early June). One is flying in, the other two will drive up.
There is a little conflict that I have that I don’t want to make a big deal out of, maybe you have some ideas. These boys and I have the same goal of wanting to be together and remembering (old fishing friends). We generally have a good time and tell jokes about each other.
The problem that I have is that I am more serious about fishing, and less about eating. It seems that having a full-blown breakfast conflicts with the time the fish are biting, and a good evening cookout does the same thing with the late bite.
Maybe you have some tips about mid-day fishing or a bit of advice on helping with this situation. My wife and I did pretty well on walleyes on (the same lake) last summer but are just beginning to get the hang of the Crappies.
It has taken me some considerable time to come around to the view that in cases like these, it is your friends who are onto to something. As somebody who could be considered “very serious” about fishing, I’ve seen time and time again that most folks want to enjoy their vacation more than they want to catch every fish in the lake.
Of the times that I’ve ever been dressed down by a fishing customer, more often than not, it has been because I was the one taking fishing too seriously, turning it into work, instead of having fun. It’s happened with my family too, they don’t always need to have the greatest catch, most days they’re more interested in experiencing the greatest togetherness.
My advice is to you would be to enjoy your friends, do not be judgmental, and morph yourself into the personality that best fits the situation at the time. Learning how to explore for fish during mid-day could turn out to be a lot of fun for you and when you win, it gives you even more fun stuff to talk about at those evening barbeques.
I've thought about this sort of thing a lot and I KNOW that when I'm on my death bed, nobody will ever even mention the fish "I could have caught" and most of them probably won't even mention the ones I did catch. What they will talk about is whether I was there for them, if I was attentive, helpful, and understanding. What they will care about most is the togetherness.
If missing every bite really bothers you, then get up early and fish a little bit while they cook breakfast. Then go back and enjoy a leisurely meal before you load back up and take them out for a nice afternoon on the lake.
The lake you’re headed for is a good one and fish can be caught during the daytime. Trust your electronics to help you find schools of fish on mid-lake structures and use your eyes to locate some of the lakes numerous cabbage patches. You will find fish in both areas.
By the time you arrive, there is a 95% chance that night crawlers will be productive. Use the wiggle worming technique in and around the shallow weeds and in deeper water, inject a bubble air into them with a worm-blower and fish the using Lindy Rigs with 6-foot leaders. I am pretty sure that those 2 methods will be solid, but trolling spinners may also be productive by then, so I’d pack along a few of them as well.
Read through the fishing reports archive for past June fishing reports and you’ll find l about all 3 presentations. If not, drop me a line and I’ll get some links for you.
Good Luck up here but first and foremost, enjoy your friends and HAVE FUN! — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Admittedly, Leech Lake was a lot more fun on Tuesday, before the cold front blew in. But even after an overnight drop in air temperature of 30 degrees or more, walleyes were still “catchable” along the shallow weed line and rock piles in Leech Lake’s Portage Bay and that should tell you something.
I’ve written before about how to judge whether or not the walleye bite is either “good” or “bad” on Leech. I think that when anglers can still catch walleyes when conditions are tough, that it is a signal that overall, there’s an underlying, strong walleye bite going on.
So, Wednesday, a post-cold front day, featuring a 6-degree surface temperature drop and a 180-degree wind reversal provided a good test of the theory. Friends coming back to the landing with walleyes in their live wells was an indicator that with better fishing conditions, the walleye bite might have been awesome, like it was the day before the cold front.
I, along with a group of friends were fishing the lake when a strong south wind churned the water into 3-foot whitecaps and created a strong current in the warm 67–68-degree water on Tuesday. I can honestly say that under those circumstances, walleyes were really snapping for us. Weed edges in 6 to 8 feet of water produced fast action and for folks willing to travel further south, so did shallow water rock structures near the shoreline.
Jig and minnow combinations were the only presentations we used that day. I’m not sure that there would have been any other way to fish effectively. Shiners are plentiful now, so those were the only minnows I had brought with. You won’t hear me say this too often, but on Leech, I do believe that shiners offer an advantage and even when they’re scarce, I’d go out of my way to find some.
On Wednesday, the same locations held fish, but the difference was that they were more scattered and less eager to strike. Still, we caught some walleyes by grubbing around in the cabbage patches and I watched my friends catch even more by scouring small rock piles. It entered my mind that they were doing better than we were and I think the reason for that is that I spent too much time moving around, looking for a “hot bite”. Instead of sticking with a small school of fish, chipping away until we made one bite, I moved along the shore hoping to land on a honey hole that nobody else had fished yet.
Finding the un-tapped school of walleye didn’t happen for me yesterday, but eventually I did stumble into a school of decent size perch and they were more interested in filling the action gap. I stuck with them for the afternoon and by days end, we had a couple of dozen perch. Some were better than others, but the were all decent eating size fish. I’ve heard from others that perch fishing has been reliable on Leech and our experience did support those reports.
Maybe on a different day, I would have been more stubborn about those walleyes, but my crew already has most of the fish they can legally take home. Plus, they really prefer action, so unless there would have been a lot happening, there was no incentive to stick it out too long on any one spot.
I know, fishing in one bay for a couple of days is little more than a snapshot of what’s happening on Leech. Getting reports from around Leech Lake is like pulling teeth, but if I can drum up some info from the west side, I definitely will. Meanwhile, like I said at the beginning, when folks caught fish, even with tough conditions on Wednesday. I take it as a sign that the fishing will be good whenever the conditions encourage more movement.
That could happen today under cloudy skies a moderate east wind. But east side anglers are liable to have some decent action this weekend, after the weather stabilizes and southerly winds return to the forecast.
If you’re already headed up for the Memorial Day Weekend, good luck. If you’re still on the fence about what to do this weekend, check in tomorrow for one more update before I take a day off on Saturday. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"After a weeklong warm up, a slightly cold, cold front interrupted progress toward early summer walleye patterns on Sunday. Walleyes that had already moved onto deep water structure stayed where they were, but there was not much change in numbers. According to incoming reports, small, scattered packs of larger, mostly female fish were all that could be turned up out there.
Surface water temperatures rebounded nicely afterward, hitting the 65-degree mark on Monday. Walleyes resumed their migration, in fact picked up their pace, we believe. By late in the day, larger schools of smaller male fish started showing up on some of the prominent bars and deep-water points. This is good news, because these migrating fish have been found in water depths of 15 to 22 feet.
Until now, many have relied on the most popular destinations for walleye action, the steep, shoreline breaks adjacent to ..." Read >> Cutfoot Sioux, Lake Winnibigoshish Fishing Report May 27, 2021
"Walleye anglers continue to report mixed results on area lakes. Most anglers are catching good numbers of walleyes, but they are only averaging 9-13” on many any lakes. Anglers catching bigger walleyes have been finding them in shallow water, 8 feet or less. Anglers are having success catching them on slip bobbers and leech during the evening hours or fishing a little deeper, 8-12 feet of water, with a jig and minnow during the day.
Pike fishing has cooled off as water temps continue to rise well above average for this time of year. Trophy pike have become few and far between, but good numbers of pike continue to be caught in shallow water bays. Large suckers, fished under a bobber, continues to account for most of the big pike caught right now. Spoons, spinnerbaits and large spinners remain very effective on smaller pike.
Stream Trout anglers have been having good success trolling small crankbaits for stream trout. Night crawlers fished under a bobber or floated off the bottom also has been very effective on trout in area lakes.
Smallmouth Bass anglers have been finding smallies up in shallow bays. Suspending jerkbaits has been very effective. On some area lakes smallies are spawning right now and anglers have been sight fishing them with tubes, senko worms and Ned rigs.
Panfish: Reports of crappies spawning on some area lakes have been coming in. Anglers catching these fish have been finding them in shallow bays over sand and around pencil reeds. Hair jigs, tipped with crappie minnows, under a bobber, has been very effective. Sunfish have not started to spawn, but anglers are starting to catch good numbers of them in emerging weedbeds. Angleworms or wax worms fished under a bobber has been very effective.
Lake trout anglers have been few and far between, so far this year, so reports are few and far between. The few reports we have gotten have been good. Anglers are reporting catching lakers 20-30 feet down over deep water. Large trolling spoons fished behind down riggers has been very effective on lakers. Anglers fishing out of a canoe, have been having great luck fishing heavy tube baits and bucktails jigged over deep water." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
"It's easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer number of different fishing rods available today. In its quest to offer anglers the upper hand in any fishing situation, St. Croix Rod, the Park Falls, Wisconsin-based, family-owned American rod manufacturer, offers over 700 distinct rod models alone.
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Fish love water temperatures in the 60s, at least that’s my experience. Whenever I look at my Humminbird and see 60 anything, I feel good about the odds of having a good day on the water. And right now, the water temperatures in almost every north central Minnesota lake are smack dab in the middle of ideal, mid-60-degree, fish catching range.
For me, the uptick in action has been noticeable on recent fishing trips. Fish have been biting aggressively enough to ensure good action most of the time. Except for the odd sunny day zinger on clear water under calm, sunny conditions. We had one of those zingers on Winnie a few days ago, the clear water didn’t mix too well with sunny and calm conditions, but even that day, we were still able to scrounge out some fish; more proof that 60 something is good!
With all the good news about Winnie and it’s outstanding 2018-year class of fish, other walleye lakes in the region aren’t getting as much press as they normally would. But there are excellent catches of walleye coming in from several large lakes in the region including Leech, Cass, Bemidji and of course, Winnie. Right now, though, many smaller lakes are producing good catches as well. So it would be a good time to visit one or two of the waters from your wish list, chances are the fish will be biting.
Crappie spawning in my home area was in full-swing late last week, especially in dark, tannin-stained waters. In clearer, cooler waters, crappies may still be in shallow water habitat, fanning beds and fertilizing eggs, but I don’t know for sure. With luck, crappie fishing will make the agenda over the next few days, I’ll let you know.
Fishing presentations haven’t changed a lot, shoreline breaks are still key to finding most of the better walleye spots. Jig and minnow combinations have been reliable and what I still see most folks using. Lindy Rigs, tipped with larger than average shiner minnows have added extra fish to my larder on Winnie though. The fish have seen a lot of jigs on that lake and the subtle live bait presentation, has triggered more of the reluctant fish into striking.
Leeches and night crawlers have worked, but in my opinion, are not the preferred food choice of the fish just yet. Soon, as insect hatches become the driving force in walleye location, leeches and crawlers will gain traction, so I’ll be sure to bring a few of each, just to be certain I don’t get caught flat-footed.
Fishing depths are all over the map right now, folks on Winnie are fishing deep, 28 feet is a depth you’ll hear a lot. There are folks fishing shallower too, 15 to 22 feet in some areas, but the water is really clear these days, so unless the water darkens, you’ll hear nothing about the shallow, 6-to-8-foot bites like we had last summer.
On smaller lakes, we have fished shallower, 10 to 12 feet of water has been my mainstay. But in some instances, I’ve found fish in the 8-foot range as well. So, I think you’ll have to do some exploring on your favorite lakes.
The weather forecast appears to favor a classic Memorial Day Weekend pattern. NOAA is calling for cooler, breezier conditions with a little rain for the weekend, followed by a calm, sunny drive home for folks on Monday. That is okay, from a fisherman’s perspective, cooler and breezier is typically good.
For today, Leech Lake is on the agenda and I’m excited about that. With luck, I’ll have some good, firsthand reports to share with you on before the upcoming weekend. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Q) On May 23, 2021 Dave Heck wrote; "Just wanted to know if you could give me any insight to the ins and outs of crappie fishing on the (witheld) Lake fishery. We will be coming up next saturday the 29th and staying until the 12th and unless we happen to hit the spawn (unlikely) our experience in years past has been a crappie bust.
We have done well with walleye, perch, and northern over the past few years but the crappie have eluded us. We did catch some in (witheld) a couple years ago but I have a larger boat now and can't get in there. I would consider myself a mediocre crappie fisherman and my wife and I are bringing another couple who are not avid fisherman but would like to eat some crappie (they say they have never eaten them before) any help would be appreciated. Thanks, Dave"
A) Dave, Good morning Dave, I have caught a lot of crappies on that lake, but my experience with early summer crappies is limited because during spring, most of my customers only ever want walleye.
What I do know is that by the time you get here, crappies will have completed spawning and will not be located in typical, shallow water spawning cover. There is a 99% chance that on that lake, they will be located in cabbage weeds. The same would be true for any good crappie lake that also has an abduncae of cabbage weeds, crappies just plain love this type of cover.
If I was on a mission to find them, I would fish each day, during the early morning and late evening and I'd limit my search exclusively to cabbage weeds testing every spot I could find.
Casting 1/16 ounce jigs tipped with plastic action tails is the best way to search for them, modify your presentation as needed. Fishing from an anchored positon using slip floats, is by far the most popular late evening presentation. Crappies are typical on a feeding cruise from around 8:00 PM thru 9:00 give or take. If you're in the right neighborhood, the bite will be reliable and repeatable during the time you'll be here. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
As an observer of water, weather, and fish activity, it was a really encouraging week for me. Warm, stable weather helped give lakes a boost toward better productivity last week. Water temperatures rose into the mid-to-high 60s. On Friday, we fished on Lake Winnibigoshish and surface water water tickled 65 degree. On Saturday, we fished a lake with bog-stained water and found surface temperatures above 69 degrees, almost touching 70 at one point.
Earlier this week, panfish in a wide cross section of north central Minnesota entered their spring spawning phase. Walleyes became active in a wider variety of lakes and northern pike were on a rampage. Preferred spring fishing presentations began giving way to those that we’d use during late May and early June.
On Friday for example, we saw lots of folks catching fish using traditional jig and minnow presentations. But we found it much easier to illicit walleye strikes by using Lindy Rigs tipped with large, lively shiners. I had several fish take Lindy Rigged Leeches as well. For me, the rigging rods will be ready to use every day from here on into summer.
Lilacs in bloom mean crappies in shallow water spawning territory. If you’ve read these reports, you’ve seen that before. This spring, I had more opportunity to prove that, and the timing worked out like clockwork. By last week, finding both crappies and sunfish in shallow water was easy.
You know that I am for selective harvest, especially when it comes to spring fishing for panfish. I’ve written before, and will again, that anglers can do a better job of voluntarily regulating panfish populations than any government-imposed regulations can ever do. If you want to join me on the Cub Reporter, Staff #003 IHBFBB’s “Voluntary Regulatory Commission” then start here.
You’ll hear a lot of folks talk about releasing panfish by sorting for size, but during spring, there’s a better way. A quick visual checkup helps us determine the sex of panfish, making it much easier to decide which ones are the best panfish to harvest and which are the best to release.
Up against the clock as usual, I’m giving you the readers digest version. Click here and look at the accompanying photo and note the differences in color between male and female panfish. In both cases, even though these fish are roughly the same size, their appearance between sexes is completely different.
Catch a dark-black faced crappie? You can through it in the livewell for supper; it’s a male. Catch a boldly colored, knobby headed sunfish? Release that one, it is a male, sometimes called “Bull” sunfish which performs the task of guarding the spawning beds. The pale colored sunfish are females and can be harvested without doing as much damage to the population in your favorite lake.
In case you missed it, we talked about this and a lot more during the Morning Show on KAXE/KBXE this past Thursday. You can hear the show by going to KAXE.org, clicking on the archived shows, selecting Thursday morning, 6:00-7:00 AM and scrolling in to about 6:20 AM.
I’m late already, so I have to run, but shoot me your questions so we can cover more ground during the upcoming week. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Minnesota Fishing Opener never ceases to amaze us. Years past we are all too familiar with cold air temps, generally ugly precipitation, marginal surface temperature, high winds and frozen fingers. Wow! Was this opener a surprise or what? The early ice out set stage for an early spawn; however, water temps still lingered a little less than ideal for several days, nonetheless, our opener was a successful one and we have been on them since.
The walleye are not in their typical transitions this year compared to most. Especially with the recent calm and high-sun days which has made the bite a little tough. Be prepared to work for them.
We have been finding the Walleye scattered in the shallow weeds in 6’ to 8’ of water, as well as out deeper along the rocky bottom areas in 9’ to 14’. Low light conditions (early morning/evenings) have proved to be best. And still a simple jig like the Drop Tg Tungsten by Clam Pro Tackle, and a Shiner has still been our “go-to” method. Upcoming forecast of clouds, precipitation and wind is looking promising, and the bite is sure to increase!
When it comes to Crappies, the bite is on and so is the spawn!
Our best set-ups have been 1/16th oz jigs and plastics, or a small feathered jig like the Northland Fire-Fly jig and Crappie Minnow under a float. Giving your rod a “twitch” every so often will provide action to your jig and maximize your chances of enticing even the stubborn ones.
Again, we stress the fact, as these fish are on the beds it is important to be selective in your harvest, the 9” to 11” are going to be your best eaters, while releasing the larger ones. Although, several lakes in our area it seems to be difficult to find any under 12” right now, so it is best to limit your harvest on those. As well as not pressure them too much. If you caught a few in a “honey-hole” move on to the next.
We all hope you are able to get out and enjoy Minnesota’s favorite pastime! Remember to be kind to others as well as nature! Get out there and “Break the Chain of Routine!" — Justin & Alice Wiese, Wheezy Guide Service 218-275-7525
Without a lot of time to write this morning, my summary of fishing conditions for the past couple of days may seem overly succinct. But that’s because with only 4 days of fishing under my belt, reports coming from friends around the state are likely more valuable than whatever I have to say right now.
Surface water temperatures are warming, we found 62 to 64 degrees on the shallow, dark water lake that we fished on Tuesday. Anglers on Winnibigoshish reported temperatures pushing toward 60 degrees, but in some areas, they are still as low as 57 degrees.
Maybe the cool water temps explain why for me, afternoons have produced better action than the mornings have. On Monday, I texted a friend at 10:45 and let him know that we were still trying to catch our first walleye. But at 5:05 PM, we dropped the 12th fish into the livewell. Tuesday’s fishing was similar, at noon we only had 3 or 4 fish, but at 5:00 PM, not only were there were 12 fish for Craig and Megan, but I had 2 fish for my own dinner as well.
Except for using Lindy Rigs on Winnie last weekend, Jig and minnow is the only presentation we have used since. The hot color, we discovered on Tuesday was black, at least it was productive for us. Alternate colors were glow-pink for Craig and for Megan, a collectible BE 14 353, green and black (Lindy Live Bait Jig) that was actually hand produced many years ago by yours truly. She steered that jig through hazardous pike waters all day long and managed to leave the lake still owning it. I don’t know how she did that, I couldn’t have done it.
Today, we’re going to branch out into fresh territory. Some of the smaller area lakes should be warming into decent panfish range, so we will try some mixed bag, walleye and crappie fishing. Whatever happens will be in tomorrow morning’s report updates. Good luck out there today! — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
As predicted, the go to bait for walleyes and saugers was a jig and frozen shiner vertically jigged in 14-20 feet of water. Many caught limits and most caught walleyes for a hearty fish fry. A healthy mix of small fish, eaters, slots and trophies reported.
Jig colors, gold, orange, glow, pink, chartreuse or a combo of these colors.
Some reported trolling crankbaits for the opener with success. Crankbaits trolled slowly, 1.5 - 2.0 mph this time of year can really put a lot of fish in the boat.
Plenty of pike made an appearance this weekend for walleye anglers with fish of all sizes boated. Amazing how these fish love a jig and minnow while walleye fishing.
There were some nice walleyes caught in the Rainy River this weekend as well. Between the fish left over from the spawn and the fish making the Rainy River their home, good fish were boated. There are 42 miles of navigable Rainy River from the mouth to Birchdale to fish. Sturgeon season is closed now until the harvest season opens up again 7July 1 thru September 30, 2021
Beautiful weekend up at the Northwest Angle too. Some commented in the morning everywhere they stopped, they caught fish. The go to presentation was a jig and a minnow. Some actually did well on crawlers already. Besides small fish and nice eaters, a lot of walleyes 20-24 inches made for good photos.
The walleye limit on the MN side of LOW and Rainy River is a combined limit of six walleyes and saugers, with up to four being walleyes. The protected slot is 19.5 - 28.0 inches must be released. Anglers can keep one walleye over 28 inches.
With the Canada border still closed, there are many ways to get up to the Angle. The LOW Passenger Service, charter boat shuttle service from the south end, is open and running. If you have the right boat and expertise, boating across is an option. And finally, Lake Country Air flying service, a float plane service out of Baudette and other locations." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"Walleye opener was excellent for some, tough for many. Sunny, calm and warmer then usual water temps meant walleyes were not going to be located in there usual opener locations. Anglers looking for walleyes in their usual opener locations were disappointed.
Successful anglers found walleyes in locations they normally would find them around memorial day. 15 to 20 feet of water was the key depth where walleyes were located during the day. Quarter ounce jigs tipped with a minnow, has been the best producing technique for successful anglers.
Pike anglers have been catching good numbers of very large pike so far. Anglers fishing large suckers under a bobber, over large shallow flats and weedbeds, have been reporting excellent catches. Anglers fishing off the dock have also been experiencing this excellent bite.
Smallmouth anglers have been finding bass up in shallow water, later in the day when the water temps warm up. These smallies have been hitting suspending jerk baits or tube baits fished slow. Bass are being found near downed trees, shallow sand flats, where they are looking to spawn soon.
Stream trout anglers found good fishing this weekend. Simple night crawler fished under a bobber accounted for most of the trout caught over the weekend. Anglers fishing from shore also caught trout with small spoons, jig and twisters." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
"Great Times Ahead! Opening weekend is always fantastic. We are super excited to get the season going. We are also excited to have the restaurant back to normal, mostly. We are not going to have the buffet for breakfast, but otherwise the restaurant operation is back to pre covid.
We find it very ironic that just before our Minnesota Governor drops the mask mandate the President puts a mask mandate through the Coast Guard for people on the charter boats. We do not think there will be much adherence to it, as last year nobody wore masks while on the charters and there were no incidents. Also, we are back to normal housekeeping where we will be replacing towels and taking garbage daily,
So, about the fishing, it has to be the nicest opening weather we have ever had. The fishing was good, not great, we maybe could have used a little wind, Shush, don't say that too loud. Many Walleye were caught, eaters, slot size, trophy sized and small ones. Anchor and jig with a minnow is all you need.
We are seeing summer-like weather to start the week with highs into 80's, yikes. Thankfully by the end of the week it appears we may get normal temps for this time of year and some rain. Which we need, but also do not want to say too loudly." — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
Well, here we are, the beginning of another walleye fishing season. For me, this marks the start of a hectic time, but it is a “good hectic”. There is always work to do, there is always something interesting to think about and thanks to 100 hour work weeks, never a sleepless night either!
One interesting thing to think about is where the walleyes will be this Saturday morning. My thinking is that fishing near spawning areas, a theme that runs through most opening day reports, will scarcely get a mention this weekend. Unless you’re fishing a lake in the furthest reaches of the Arrowhead region, walleyes will have largely abandoned spawning territory weeks ago.
For anglers fishing the large, walleye factory lakes, the single most important factor driving walleye location this weekend, I think, will be food.
Not coincidentally, most of the “really good” walleye waters also happen to be really good populations of shiners and other minnows. Sprawling sand flats adjacent to shallow water sand beaches offer ideal conditions for spawning shiners. Huge schools of small perch move into those same areas, offering walleyes another good reason to hang out near the sandy shorelines.
Word on the street is that shiners are running right now. In fact there isn’t anybody in the bait business who is worried about not having enough shiners on hand this weekend. That, combined with continued warm weather in the forecast adds more fuel to the fire as far as I’m concerned. In north central Minnesota, temperatures in the mid-60s, sunshine and calm water should provide ideal conditions for the spawning minnows.
Anglers, on the other hand, might not appreciate calm seas on Saturday. Large crowds, typical of fair-weather openers, have a way of scattering fish, even when they’re feeding heavily. When the fish scatter, it gets harder to find one of those one-spot hot bites. I find that staying away from the crowd helps, but that’s easier to say than it is to do. So instead of driving all over the lake, looking for wide open territory, I look for gaps between the lager groups of anglers.
Often, the crowds form around a few boats who landed on top of a decent school fish. The strategy is to figure out which way the fish move in reaction to the heavy traffic. Poke around in the area until you find your own school of fish. I know, if folks can see you catch fish, there will soon be a crowd forming around you too. That’s okay, especially for you, because you know the secret. The crowd will linger for a half hour, maybe more and that gives you a chance to poke around until you locate another school of fish.
Speaking of poking around, don’t forget about the flats in slightly deeper water, especially the ones with some weed cover. If you missed it, the article on May 6, 2021 "Where Will Walleyes Be On Opening Day?" expands on this strategy for finding early season walleyes on the flats.
Jig and minnow fishing will still be the mainstay presentation for the weekend. But do not forget about Lindy Rigging either, especially if the weather is calm. That lesson was really driven home for me last spring when I fished with Jon Thelen on Lake Mille Lacs. Walleyes had already seen thousands of jig and minnow combinations and many of them just yawned whenever they saw another one move past their face. But a large, lively shiner swimming at the end of a 10- foot Lindy Rig was an offer they could not refuse.
Another article, May 13, 2020 "When A Guide Can't Guide, What Does He Do?" illustrates the principal. At the time, I couldn’t mention the project, but that day, we produced a video too. Now it is available, so to learn more about Lindy Rigging early season Walleyes, view video >> Destination Fish Lindy Rigging Early Season Walleye
The Lindy Rigging principal is also a great idea for folks who plan to fish on smaller lakes that don't have massive runs of spawning minnows. Many of the better, non-walleye-factory lakes have populations of walleyes that will hold deeper, especially during the day. Often, I can catch those fish using a 1/4 ounce Lindy Live Bait Jig fished vertically. But if I was looking at good marks on my Huminbird, but still struggling to get fish to strike, I would not leave before trying the rigs and lively minnows trick.
Folks have asked me if I'm ready for the fishing opener. Until yesterday, I'd been saying no, last night I came close to finishing the rigging on my new boat. Like I said last week, there is no doubt that I was extremely lucky to get my order slipped in just under the wire.
Now I feel lucky that I managed to pull together all of the parts I needed to get this one set up and ready to fish this weekend. Today, she's going out on her maiden voyage and with luck, everything will be green for go, I'm sure it will be, but just to be safe, I better check.
I’ve been cautious about getting caught short without a boat this spring. But now that the Alaskan is in hand, I guess it’s time for me to let go of my Lund 208 Pro V GL Tiller. If you, or one of your friends has been disappointed by not being able to get a new rig this spring, this might be worth looking at. I’ll get all of the details together this morning and get them posted today.
One last thought about the fishing opener, if you don’t already have your fishing license, I’d strongly suggest that you but it online this spring. This is especially true for folks who add a spouse on their combination fishing license. New rules mean that the spouse must be in attendance, in person to purchase the license. No more adding the Mr. or Mrs. without presenting an I.D. and giving up your social security number. Dealers have complained that the whole process is taking a long time, so if you wait until the last minute, you might wind up in a long line.
Like you, I’ll be on the water tomorrow morning and like most folks, I’m essentially a tourist. I’ll get smarter as the week presses on, but for the next day or two, I won’t know anything more than anybody else does. If you see us on the lake, give us a wave and wish us luck, that’s what I’ll be doing for you! Good Luck Out There!! — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
On May 13, 2021, Cody Clarke wrote, Q) "Thanks for posting the fishing reports. The have been helpful as my father, my buddy and I prepare for our fishing trip to Lake Kabetogama next week. This will be our first trip to "KAB”, and we have heard great things.
I was curious to know if you have fished the lake and if you had any tips on structure or areas of the lake to start out with? We will be focusing on the walleye, pike and perch/crappie bite. Looking at the map it appears the north east end of the lake would be prime for spawning with all the shallow sand flats and weed growth.
Also, what is the water temperature currently up there? From what I read on your reports it appears as though the walleye have completed their spawn for this year, and I am trying to figure out where would be a good depth to start. Any help or advice you could provide would be great! We are excited to get up there and do some fishing!
A) Cody, as a matter of fact I have fished Kabetogama, not a lot, but enough to get a feel for the basics. My first open water trip was in 2018 and I fished the lake with Kent Keeler, who along with his wife Dawn and their son Kolby operate KAB Outdoors. Kent is an expert guide on the lake and fishing with him really gave me a jump start in terms of learning the lake and some of his favorite fishing patterns.
As it happens, the folks at KAB Outdoors submitted a fresh Kabetogama fishing report just this morning Read May 13, 2021. As of Wednesday afternoon, the water temperature on the main lake was 55 degrees. Compared to readings from other “opening week reports” this is warm by comparison. In fact, in 2019, the water temperatures were still in the 40’s on opening day. Again in 2020, surfaces temperatures were 5-6 degrees colder than they are now.
Walleye spawning activity has been finished for several weeks. That, combined with the warmer water temperatures, makes me believe that fishing patterns will more closely resemble Memorial Day than a typical fishing opener weekend.
I could attempt to re-write everything I know about fishing patterns and presentations on Kabetogama. But most of that information is already available and I think if you’re willing to follow a few links, you’ll find a lot more information and it will be available faster. These 5 are specifically pertinent, I think, to the conditions you'll find on Kabetogama this weekend.
So, let’s do it this way, take a look at the bullet points below and click on links to the articles that look most interesting. After perusing these, let me know if you still have questions and I’ll fill in the gaps tomorrow morning. If I don’t hear back from you, good luck on the opener, I think you’ll have a blast. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
After what seemed like an endless sleepy spring, this week before opener has been the complete opposite. My new Alaskan showed up last Friday and that means that the heat has been on to get her rigged and ready to go for Saturday morning. Between that, and taking care of all the typical last-minute preparations, the week has been hectic to say the least.
We’ve tried more than once to find crappies this spring, but for the most part, have arrived too early to find them in their typical spring haunts. But on my semi-weekly ECG visit to the Twin Cities, we found the Lilacs were in bloom in Eden Prairie last weekend, and you know what that means; crappies were already moving into shallow water spawning structure in metro area lakes.
We haven’t seen any Lilacs blooming in the Grand Rapids area, but for those of us in north central Minnesota, the countdown has definitely begun. Thanks to sunny, warm daytime weather, anglers are reporting good catches of crappies in shallow water.
I will know more tomorrow than I do today because we’re headed for the lake to give it a whirl. But for now, I do not believe that the fish these folks are catching have set up shop on spawning beds, but I do think that they’re “testing the waters”, pun intended.
Shiner minnows, or the lack thereof, are a common topic during the week before opener, but this year, they are a non-news story. Again, warm daytime temperatures and lots of sunshine has triggered shiner runs and the bait trappers are reporting good catches. Bait shops in Bemidji have had spottails on hand for almost a week already.
Grand Rapids area shops have them and so do the larger stores in the arrowhead region. I’m not sure that it will be needed, but tomorrow, I’ll compile a more comprehensive list about how bait supplies are holding up.
Words to the wise about getting your new fishing license for 2021, buy them online and save yourself a lot of time! — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
When asking bait dealers about the prospect of having shiners for the fishing opener, “cautiously optimistic” is one term I could use. Another one, depending on who I talk to, could be “living on pins and needles”.
The minnows are trying to cooperate, bait trappers are catching a few. But Mother Nature keeps throwing curve balls at them. The conditions have been too cold, too windy, coming from the wrong direction .. everything except for what minnow trappers need, calm and sunny.
Luckily for we anglers, the fishing opener is late this year, as late as it can ever be, so we still have time for the situation to straighten out.
On the phone yesterday with Lynne Powell at Fred’s Bait, I could hear the nervous tone in her voice. As usual, it is a race against time, if the tanks start filling up before the phone starts ringing, then everyone will be happy. But when the answer to anxious anglers calling about whether they can come in for shiner minnows is no, life just is not fun.
For me, it is still too early to get worried about it. The weekend forecast looks more favorable for producing good spawning conditions and shiners could make a move into shallow water fast, if that forecast comes true. Another reason to stay calm is that bait shop owners, all of them that I’ve talked to have good supplies of both fatheads and rainbows. If need be, those minnows will easily get us through the first few days of the season.
I've seen how stressful life at a bait shop gets around the fishing opener, so I’m not talking out of turn. If you want to do your part to make things run more efficiently, wait a while before you start calling them every few minutes. Give bait dealers a little time to breathe and do their work, then everything else will fall into place.
Preparing for the fishing opener myself, I always worry more about fish location than I do bait supplies. As it happens, this season, finding those minnows in the lakes will likely be more important than finding them in the bait tanks at the tackle shop.
It’s already been two full weeks since DNR fisheries wrapped up all of the walleye spawn take operations statewide. In most of those lakes, the majority walleyes are already done spawning and in their post spawn recovery period. Walleyes in some of the deeper, cool water lakes might still be actively spawning, but those runs should be done before the opener too.
That tells me that this year, finding feeding areas will be more important than focusing on the typical “post-spawn” habitat and locations. This will be especially true on the north central region’s large, shallow water lakes like Winnie, Leech, Upper Red and others.
Check the accompanying maps of Lake Winnibigoshish for a couple of likely scenarios. Shallow sand flats like those highlighted in Map 1 provide spawning habitat for spottails and other baitfish as well. When the weather is calm and warm, minnows will make daily moves onto the sand, into water depths of 1 to 3 feet. That’s when we experience those hot, shallow water jig bites. It is not uncommon to catch walleyes in 4 to 6 feet of water and if it’s breezy, they may go even shallower.
Where do those minnows go when cool weather interrupts spawning and they evacuate the shallow sand flats? The answer is mid-depth flats with lots of emerging, low-lying weed stubble. During early season, the weeds might not be more than a couple inches tall, but that’s okay, minnows don’t need heavy cover and those stubbly weed flats are perfect. If there are some heavier weed patches that’s okay too, but don’t spend your whole day looking for them, it isn’t necessary.
When the wind blows, walleyes will move onto the flats. But a cold front or calm water conditions will discourage that. Instead, they will move out to the deeper edges, adjacent to the flats. If the weather is super calm, they will move out to the even deeper, secondary breakline into the lakes main basin like the ones highlighted in map 2.
Jig and minnow combinations can be good, even in the deeper water. But last year I learned that using a Lindy Rig with large, lively minnows can produce better results. You may recall the story, fishing guides were locked out of work, so I joined Jon Thelen for a day of fishing on Mille Lacs. We used large shiners at the time, but big rainbows, redtails or even light pike suckers will do the same job. Review the video if you want a refresher course, of if you haven’t seen it yet, watch it now. You’ll see the presentation explained in full details.
I'm up against the clock, so for now, I'll wrap it up here. Tomorrow, I'll throw out a few more ideas about where to look for walleyes on opening day, so if you have a specific question, this would be the ideal time to ask. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"This time of year gives anglers an opportunity to catch all kinds of different species in shallow water. One of the most exciting bites going on right now is actually the sunfish bite as they're in the middle of their annual spawning process in many parts of the country.
We see a lot of big fish in the spring months but this particular fish has absolutely dropped our jaws. Screenshots of the catch immediately started circulating within the Wired2fish editorial team.
While fishing on Lake Havasu in Arizona, angler Thomas Farchione of Waterford, Wisconsin ..." Read Full Article >> Pending World-Record Redear Sunfish Caught
Angling life in north central Minnesota is starting to get interesting. Reports about minnow supplies from bait shops in the region are cautiously optimistic. Nobody that I know of has Spottail Shiners in their tanks yet but supplies of large fatheads and rainbows are already good.
Spottails had just started to run on Upper Red Lake last week, but then a cold front moved in and that turned schools of shiners back toward deeper water. Today, those minnows could begin appearing again in certain shallow water areas as the sunshine and calm seas return.
Along with minnows trapped on Upper Red Lake, most of the state’s largest bait dealers depend on massive shiner runs that occur on Lake Winnie, Leech Lake and Mille Lacs. While there are smaller lakes that contribute shiners too, the larger lakes with expansive shallow sand flats provide the most ideal habitat for shiners. Because the lakes are so large, trappers depend on having calm and sunny conditions to produce their better catches. So, in the interest of helping them out, say the bait dealers a prayer, cross your fingers or send kind thoughts for great weather and great catches of baitfish this week.
Tracking the progress of shiner runs, along with reporting about who has them in stock will be ongoing this week, so watch for updates.
For me, it was personally gratifying to catch a glimpse of my new Alaskan parked in the lot at Ray’s Marine in Grand Rapids on Tuesday. For many, ordering any new boat for delivery this spring has been frustrating and many have been told that they will have to wait for months before they can take delivery.
There is no doubt that I was extremely lucky to get my order slipped in just under the wire. But in my mind, this experience illustrates the importance of having a good relationship with a great dealership. For 32 years now, every boat I’ve owned has been a Lund and every Lund has come from Ray’s Marine in Grand Rapids. At times like these, there is no way to calculate the value of that long, strong relationship and I’m grateful beyond measure for their help and support.
Anglers fishing for panfish are reporting mixed results this week. The colder weather discouraged a lot of folks from fishing during the daytime, so there were few panfish reports from boaters. Dock and shoreline anglers have been happier though and report catching decent numbers of both crappie and sunfish. One caveat, the schools of feeding panfish do not start moving until last light.
I could see gathering with family and friends to fish the evening runs could be a great idea for fishing this weekend. Call your friend, you know, the one who has a cabin on a good little panfish lake. Ask what they want you bring for dinner before you start fishing off their dock.
Remember, Moms get a free fishing pass on Mother’s Day weekend, so there’s no need to buy yours a fishing license. You can use the savings to get her a gift and something tasty to put on the grill during your fishing trip.
With only 9 days remaining between now and the fishing opener, life is getting busy again and it feels good. I’ll be out and about, gathering information on water conditions, bait supplies and pre-season panfish reports. Remember, you don’t need to wait for an invitation, send along a few words about what you see and how you plan to spend your fishing opener; I’ll do the same. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Warmer weather is providing some incentive for panfish in some lakes to make short feeding runs into shallow water during early evening hours. Anglers in central and north-central Minnesota are beginning to report moderate to good catches of both crappie and sunfish.
Surface waters have yet to achieve temperatures suitable for spawning though, so daytime fishing has remained slow. On Saturday, I spotted dozens of people fishing shallow bays and small lakes my drive along US Highway 169 between Grand Rapids and Minneapolis. By Sunday, there was not hardly anybody fishing anywhere and that tells me that for most folks, fishing was probably a flop the day before.
Now, temperatures are forecast to cool again, so it is unlikely that panfish will get too serious about spawning runs into shallow water this week. If you’re thinking about wetting a line, get your chores done during the day and be in position for the chance at a late afternoon, early evening feeding run.
Last week, I started looking into who was planning what for this year’s walleye fishing opener, now less than two weeks away. After last season’s “non-opener”, I was particularly curious about where and when the 2021 Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener would take place. A quick search on the internet informed me that Ottertail County will be the “official epicenter” of walleye fishing on May 15, 2021. There were several references about how this year, the fishing opener would be “different” than past openers, but I didn’t learn much more than that.
Hungry for more details about what the term “different” means, I tracked down the Chairman of Ottertail County’s organizing committee, Erik Osberg. On the phone with Osberg, my first, most obvious question was whether Governor Walz will himself take to the water in pursuit of walleye on opening day.
“At the moment, the plan is that Governor Walz will attend the event and that he does intend to be fishing. There is no guarantee that he will be here and officials from the governor’s office tell us that there never is. But if all goes according to plan, we do have somebody ready and standing by to take him fishing,” Osberg said.
On the surface, that reply sounded odd, because personally, except for the covid-cancelled 2020 event, I couldn’t recall any governor missing any fishing opener, ever. But looking into it, I did discover that there have been several governor-less fishing openers since the very first event held in 1948.
Organizers from Explore Minnesota, the agency who oversees the annual fishing opener events, suggested that I search the Minnesota Historical Society’s archives, so I did. But a web article by Drew Wood on the Mpls-St-Paul Magazine's website, was actually more helpful. In his article “How the Governor’s Fishing Opener Came to Be”, Wood asserts that Governor Luther Youngdahl, instrumental in establishing the very first fishing opener event, skipped the very first one in 1948, but did attended later events. Governor Elmer C. Anderson must not have cared for fishing much, he skipped 3 events in a row.
The entire purpose of these fishing opener events is to promote fishing and fishing related businesses. Typically, the governor, along with invited VIP guests are treated to a full schedule of events and festivities that go on for a couple of days before the opener. Access to celebrities like the governor, along with other interesting guests help attract members of the outdoor media who then gang up to bring attention to whichever area of the state is being showcased.
Typically, public participation helps drive interest in localized events. But, this year, almost all the local events will be reserved for invited guests, VIPs and the governor himself. The traditional Friday afternoon community picnic has been left off the agenda and the Saturday shore lunch will also be closed to the public as well. In fact, all the local events on the schedule are reserved for invited guests.
Still, Ottertail County’s 2021 Walleye Fishing Opener could deliver broader media reach than past fishing openers, whether Governor Walz attends the 2021 event or not. That is because for the first time ever, anglers statewide are invited to participate in the virtual online walleye fishing derby.
Anglers do not have to be in Ottertail County to join the event. You can fish any lake in Minnesota, here’s how it works.
Download the Fish Donkey app on your phone and use the hashtag #onlyinMNCup to join the event. When you catch a walleye, submit one photo of your fish being measured on an accurate yardstick or bump board. Submit another photo of you holding the fish horizontally and the Fish Donkey app takes care of the rest. Thanks to the catch-photo-release style format, every fish you catch could be a potential winner, even if it must be released because of a slot-limit or other special regulation.
The longest walleye wins a $1,000.00 shopping spree at Mills Fleet Farm. There are down-line prizes too, a $500 Fleet Farm card, a $500 “anywhere in Ottertail County” card, and certificates worth $400 for Blackfish and $280 for WSI Sportswear. Sorry, there are no other categories, walleye is the only fish species that qualifies for prizes. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Larry Brown, East Peoria, IL wrote; "Jeff, Once again you are spot on with your response to Mike (April 29, 2021) about social versus biological facts in reducing limits in Minnesota. I agree with the sunfish limit reductions that will be implemented this year. As a tourist fishing Minnesota each year, I have seen the sunfish size deteriorate on many ofthe lakes I fish. I am for the reduction of limits to bring back the quality that I experienced in the 90's. I think the DNR got it right to limit the daily limit to 5 fish but also allow us a possession limit to take home at the end of the week.
To reduce the walleye limits would effect my having fish that I actually make last for a whole year, only fishing in Minnesota one week a year. If taken into consideration what I spend in one week on our vacation, the fish that I actually consume probably cost us $50 a pound.
Thanks again for being the voice of reason and remembering those of us who are traveling to your state to enjoy your beautiful resources."
Gerry Albert, retired MN DNR Large Lake Specialist wrote; "I just read your April 29, 2021 response the the walleye limit question. Your response should be required reading for politicians voting on the bill."
A) Larry and Gerry, thank you both for the comments. I’ve written before that we appear to be in the minority on this subject. But to the extent that it might be helpful, sharing the links with MN State Legislators is always an option. Here's a link that makes contacting them very easy >> MN Legislator Locator. Larry, other non-residents who have contacted me used the map to select the district for the resort or lodge where they stay when visiting Minnesota.
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.