For weeks now, the prevailing winds have blown from either the west or northwest. For our guests, along with most everyone who fishes the north half of Big Winnie, heading toward the north and western shorelines has offered both predictable and reliable fishing for walleye, perch and pike.
On Sunday, gusty winds from the south churned up huge, un-manageable whitecaps and turned over the water in those areas several times over. Of the few folks who attempted fishing on the north end, none were impressed by the fishing action and none reported good catches.
As water current caused by the wind intensified, walleyes began re-adjusting their position and fishing on the east and south shorelines improved steadily throughout the day. Our guests found some fish right here in Tamarack Bay, as well as the shoreline breaks stretching from Highbanks, all the way down into Musky Bay.
With another day of strong south wind predicted for Monday, walleye populations in these areas should build up even more and to the extent that they continue, fishing these areas will become more reliable.
Water temperatures were 58 to 59 degrees and with the thorough mixing, were probably the same from top-to-bottom of the water column. Technically, this is considered a turnover, which occurs periodically throughout the open water season on Winnie.
With oxygen levels and water temperatures now the same wherever they go, fish have no reason to seek out comfort. Food becomes the primary driver of fish location and when there’s a strong current, they will move into it to take advantage of disoriented minnows and small, prey-sized gamefish. As they do, small groups of fish show up in the same areas and over time, the “school” becomes larger and larger.
Over the short term, the southeast region will become the place to go for anglers in the know.
Presentations were limited by the wind speed on Sunday. Drifting with the wind and hopping ¼ ounce jigs tipped with large fatheads along the breakline was the most consistent presentation. Having a good drift sock was and will be mandatory today as the whitecaps continue to roll along the shoreline.
Key depths ranged from 10 to 14 feet, and as the current intensified, the shallow end of that range was the most reliable.
An interesting phenomenon that occurs along the east side is that when the wind blows from the south, larger fish begin cruising the shoreline. After weeks of catching numerous 13 to 14-inch walleyes, Sunday anglers reported greater numbers of fish in the 15 to 18-inch range, along with a healthy number of fish in the protected slot. The 2018-year class was still well represented, but proportionately lower than usual.
We’ve still got a few weeks of what’s shaping up to be a great fall fishing season. Maybe you haven’t thought about it, but we could help make a last minute trip to Big Winnie happen. Give us a call! — Chad & Melissa Mertz The Pines Resort 218-246-8546 or 1-800-342-1552
"You asked, and we listened. While the response to our popular How to Read Fish Finder Sonar Technologies video was overwhelmingly positive, we received numerous comments from viewers asking to see what the diver looks like underwater. So we saddled Kyle up in his scuba gear and sent him below for a pass using Humminbird's MEGA Side Imaging at the console and MEGA 360 Imaging on the bow.
The results are, well, tell us your thoughts. The goal was to have a little fun while also showing "what you see is what you get" with quality side and 360-degree sonar imaging.
Humanmade objects, bottom structure and cover, fish, and other elements appear on the screen as they ..." Learn More >> What a Diver Looks Like on Fish Finder Sonar Technologies
As small schools of fish move toward the shoreline by following the edges of these bars, they start showing up on shoreline breaks and on the flats that lay adjacent to them. As smaller schools continue to arrive, they amass into larger and larger schools, and feeding becomes their #1 priority. This is how we find ourselves in the throes of “the fall bite.”
At this point, we have already seen evidence of some early migrations. Our guests have found good schools of walleyes along both ..." Read >> Bowen Lodge Fishing Report September 15, 2020
Thankfully, I think much of the country is coming towards the end of a hot and quite honestly, weird summer. With the pandemic shutting so many things down, lakes have been absolutely packed with party boats and the extra traffic has made fishing downright tough for the past several months.
Now that Labor Day has passed and the kids are starting back to school, I'm hoping the crowds thin out and the fishing somewhat returns to normal. As the nights slowly begin to get a little cooler and days become a bit shorter, lots of bass are going to start moving shallow and the fall frog bite will be fast approaching.
Honestly, I can't remember a fall I've been so excited about. Maybe it's the want for ..." Read Article >> 5 Bass Fishing Frogs I'm Excited to Try This Fall
If knowing a lot is good, then knowing more is better, right? Not necessarily!
Most folks who fish Winnie already know that fishing on the big lake is good right now. Some folks even think that they know the exact spots where fishing is the best. But be careful, fish are on the move and if you’re someone who thinks you know “the right spot”, you could get caught holding a creel that’s lighter than it needs to be.
60 to 61-degree surface water temps, moderating winds and cloudy skies have combined to trigger fall migrations. Walleye, pike, and perch show up on the flats one day, on the deep breaklines the next and then back up into shallow, weedy, shoreline breaks the next.
Don’t fall into the trap of returning to yesterday’s “best spot” and forgetting to test fresh areas. Be sure to check every day, at least some deep-water spots, some shallow spots and take a look at the mid-depth flats too. Key depths to watch are 6-1/2 to 8 feet, 10 to 14 feet and 20 to 24 feet, checking these 3 ranges will put you over fish at some point every day.
For walleye, the best presentation depends on the kind of spot you’re fishing. Fish located on the steep breaklines or on well-defined structure in deeper water are most vulnerable to jig and minnow or Lindy Rig presentations. Minnows are probably all you’ll really need for bait, but night crawlers are still producing strikes too.
On the shallow breaklines, trolling spinners tipped with minnows is still the best method of exploration. Some of the best catches we’ve seen this fall were caught just this Saturday trolling spinners tipped with fatheads in 6-1/2 of water. Not only was the action good, the average size of the fish were better than what we’ve seen recently.
For our guests, it makes the most sense to focus on areas within Tamarack Bay and up the north shoreline. But there are also known bites going on all 4 sides of the lake. Recently, we’ve heard good things about the north shore, which is a traditional fall migration route for fish that will end up in Cutfoot Sioux in the near future.
Water clarity remains relatively low compared to the past few seasons. We can see the bottom in 4 to 5 feet, quite a difference from the 12 to 14 foot clarity we endured last fall.
As long as the lake water doesn’t get too clear, fish continue to use the shallow breaklines, so explore the entire shoreline between the green cans at the gap, all the way down to Stony Point. The same strategy can be used in Tamarack Bay, during fall, fish can show up anywhere from Plughat Point to the Satellite dishes traveling north. They could also turn up anywhere along the break from 3 Sisters to the flats off of Tamarack Point.
Perch and eating size pike will come along as the by-product of you search for walleyes. If you want to target larger pike, you’ll be better off seeking out weeds and casting for them.
Panfish reports have been very sporadic, some folks find them and some don’t. From what we know today, searching for panfish in the weeds has been better than looking into traditional deep, open water spots. Locations are likely to change soon, so check back for updates as they become available. — Chad & Melissa Mertz The Pines Resort 218-246-8546 or 1-800-342-1552
"The fall fishing is in full swing and the fish are hungry and eager to bite. Multi-species has been great this past week. Walleyes, Northerns, and Perch, have all been good to very good.
Walleyes are being found in the shallow water 6-8' along the shoreline points. The wind side of the point seems to be the best. Jigs and minnows are the preferred method of catching them right now.
Northern fishing is very good. Trolling larger spoons is a sure bet. Fish the deepest weeds just inside the shoreline break in 13-15'. Look for areas that have a lot of life on your electronics and you will catch pike. Some fish are also in 7-10', as well. Fish are being caught while pursuing walleyes on jigs and minnows. We also have had some success on big sucker minnows under bobbers. Using this method, you need to find the thickest weeds possible.
Perch have been scattered, but the size has been real good. You probably won't sit in one spot and catch a limit of perch, but if you move around you will be able to find the fish. The depth we are finding them ranges from 4' all the way to 25', so you need to be willing to look around and try different structures.
We have decided to close the resort on October 4 this year. We thank all of our guests for coming during this season of uncertainty. Thank you for trusting us to keep you safe. Oh, by the way, the fishing should be good from now to October 4, so if you want to come up, we have space for you. Still offering our fall 20% discount on cabin rental.
The future of walleye fishing is very bright on Lake Winnie, so if you want to make plans for next season, give us a call, prime dates are filling up fast for 2021. — Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
"On September 10, 2020, Steve Sykes wrote; "I am headed up to Eagle Nest Lodge tomorrow for 5 days of fishing. According to your updates it looks like they are biting on Winnie.
Q) I was curious if the water is cloudy with an algae bloom or if it’s starting to clear up and what depths have been good for you. Also, I was wondering if spinners and night crawlers are still a good bet or if it’s pretty much changed over to jigs and minnows.
A) Steve, since the cold snap that blew in over Labor Day, water temperatures dropped significantly. In a conversation with Grand Rapids area guide Reed Ylitalo, I learned that on Thursday morning, he found surface temperatures of about 59 degrees on the big lake. By mid-afternoon, the water had warmed back up to about 62 degrees, he reported.
As the water has cooled, the algae bloom has diminished and water clarity has increased, but overall, conditions for anglers are still much better than what they have been in recent years.
Areas where algae blooms are holding up best occur wherever there is an inflow of water from bog stained lowlands. The Lake Winnie region has received a lot of rain this summer and the water is high. So, the warmer, more fertile backwater bays have contributed greatly to the reduced clarity in certain areas.
When you get here, take a quick trip around the lake and you will notice how much variation in water clarity there is. Areas where there is no significant influx of water from backwater flowages or feeder creeks are much clearer. One caveat, the Mississippi River water coming into the west side of Winnibigoshish does not count. That water is coming straight in from Cass Lake which has remained super clear this summer.
Because of the variations in water clarity, fishing depths vary too. There are a lot of folks fishing at depths of 5 to 8 feet and catching plenty of fish. For me, 10 to 12 feet has provided more consistent action. I notice too, that there are still folks fishing the lakes deeper bars and mid lake humps. I think the likelihood is that they are catching fish too, but probably in water depths ranging between 18 and 26 feet.
The walleye, pike and perch have been active, so the rule of thumb is that if you find fish using your electronics, they will probably bite, no matter what the depth.
Spinners are still trailing behind a lot of the guide boats on the big lake. It is the fastest way to locate fish and the most productive in terms of providing action. Nobody, to my knowledge, is using night crawlers though, a few scoops of fatheads are all you will need to get in on the “spinny and minny” presentation.
Some of the guides, me included, prefer to fish jig and minnow combinations right now. The action is somewhat slower, but overall, we’re getting a better average size fish, particularly when it comes to the perch.
So far, I have not needed anything heavier than my 1/8-ounce Lindy Live Bait Jigs. But as I have watched some of the fish trend deeper, I have stocked up on the same jigs in the ¼-ounce size.
Fatheads and occasionally rainbows are about the only jigging minnows available in the region right now. And as far as Winnie is concerned, those choices are good enough. I try to find the largest fatheads I can purchase and stick with the biggest ones for walleye and sort the smaller ones into a separate pail for when we encounter perch and crappies.
The short term weather forecast appears to be playing into our hands in terms of exploration. Opportunity to move freely around the lake should be improved as calmer conditions are predicted. Good luck out there, it should be a good weekend for some action. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Just as I predicted, the fall fishing season has got off to a roaring start! All species of fish are in the biting mood right now. The nice thing about the bite is that your favorite method of fishing will probably catch fish.
The walleyes have moved shallow and they are catching them in 5-8' of water. Anything with bait attached to it will catch them. I have been using an 1/8 oz. jig but some are using spinners and doing just as well.
Northern fishing has been nothing short of fantastic. Trolling spoons seems to be working the best, but we are catching pike on jigs and minnows as well as casting, too. Keep in mind, whatever you prefer will work.
Perch fishing has been good. It is hard to go out and get a limit of 10" plus fish, but if you are patient, you will get the nicer perch. By the end of your stay, you should have a nice limit of perch. Eight to ten fee of water with minnows has been the best perch depth. It seems like when you catch a few nice ones, you will have to move a little to catch some more nice ones. That may change as the water cools down even more.
The word is definitely out about the good bite on Lake Winnie. Boat traffic is up from the past couple of years. We still have openings for guests who want to take advantage of the fishing and our 20% fall discount. Look forward to seeing you this fall." — Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
"By now, most everybody knows that the fishing on Winnie has been good. Walleye, perch and pike have kept anglers busy for the better part of a month. Until late last week, catching fish has been a simple matter of finding a school, rigging up with your favored presentation and figuring out the right boat speed.
The late summer peak, we believe, coincided with the arrival of a full moon that occurred just yesterday, September 2nd. As the moon waxed toward maturity, not only did the fishing action intensify, but there was also a noticeable uptick in the size of fish that we saw anglers on the lake catching.
The accompanying image shows some of the larger walleyes that were active on Tuesday, the day of the full moon. When the Armstrong crew ..." Read >> Bowen Lodge Fishing Report September 4, 2020
Last Friday morning, August 28, 2020, I mentioned that I was headed to Winnibigoshish for a couple of days and promised a firsthand update about fishing and water conditions over there.
First off, I’ll have to agree with the recent reports coming in from Winnie, there certainly are a lot of fish in that lake right now. Walleye ranging in size from 5 inches to 13-1/2 inches are plentiful and right now, easy to catch. Walleye moving into my self-imposed “keeper range” of 14 to 15 inches are beginning to show up, but we had to catch and sort a lot of small ones to get a decent batch of those.
There were 6 of us fishing on Saturday and we fished from 7:30 AM to 4:45 PM. When it was over, we had amassed a total of 22 fish in the keeper, 14 to 15-inch range and there were 2 outliers, one 16 and one 17-1/2 inch fish. We only caught one fish in the protected slot, a 22-inch holdover from the 2013-year class.
On Friday, the boys were interested in a mixed bag. They wanted to bag some pike, along with whatever else would bite. That day, we fished Little Joe Spinners tipped with fatheads and they produced the desired results. Perch, walleye, pike and rock bass were all mixed together on the shallow shoreline breaks.
If there was a “best” color for the #3 Indiana blades, I don’t know about it; we caught fish using chartreuse/gold, pink/gold, fire tiger, perch and blue/gold. For me, there’s a fondness growing for the chartreuse/gold model, that one seems to be a safe bet on most of the lakes I’ve fished this summer.
On Saturday, we wanted to be more particular about catching walleye and perch so we fished with jigs and minnows instead. This produced the desired result too, there were just a few pike, and only 2 rock bass that struck the 1/8 Live Bait Jigs tipped with fatheads. Perch, in smaller numbers, but of a larger average size was one of the side benefits of changing up the presentation. Maybe the larger ones don’t like chasing down the spinners right now, maybe I just found a better spot, who knows for sure?
Key depths were shallow, 5 to 7 feet was my preference all day Friday and during the morning on Saturday. By mid-day on Saturday, bright sunshine and calmer water drove the fish deeper; 10 to 12 feet became my new favorite depth for the entire afternoon.
Nobody likes a party pooper and I am definitely not interested in being that. However, I do fell that it is my responsibility to be realistic and so my report comes with one caveat. The “HOT BITE” that is going on Winnie right now will likely last as long as the water clarity remains low. The delightful algae bloom that is fueling Winnie’s return to the good old days isn’t going to last forever.
The surface water on Friday was 76 degrees, but an overnight cool front forced those temperatures down into the 71-72 degree range on Saturday. On my morning ride across the lake, lines of foam formed across the whitecaps. That foam represents dying plankton and as our precious algae bloom subsides, fish will respond to clearing water conditions by becoming more crepuscular feeders again.
I guess what I’m saying is enjoy what we have while we have and be prepared to make adjustments as needed. The fish won’t be gone, but they may become a little bit harder to catch before the season is over. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"As predicted, the walleye fishing is really heating up. The fish have moved shallow and are eager to bite. This program should last the rest of the fall. It hearkens back to the old days where we could catch walleyes in the shallow water.
The algae bloom has made the water clarity down to four feet. Quite the contrast to the 12-14' of clarity just a few months ago. Jigs and minnows, trolling crankbaits or spinners with live bait are all working great. The walleyes are mainly on the small side, but with sorting, you can catch plenty of fish over 14" for the pan.
Perch fishing has been o.k. When you find them, you can get a nice batch of perch.
Northern fishing remains very good. Trolling seems to be the best method for pike, but you can get some while fishing for walleyes or casting big baits. Spoons and large stick baits are working great trolling for northerns. Vary your depth and speed until you get the location for the day.
Our fall discount starts on Labor Day and we are going to have a great month of fishing. If you want to get away now would be an awesome time to do it." — Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
On Lake Winnibigoshish, the surface water temperature is warm, at 75 degrees, the water is about 7 or 8 degrees higher now than it was one year ago today. Thanks to frequent rain this summer, water levels are high too, docks at some of the landings are flooded, or awfully close to it. The Corps of Engineers has water flowing freely through the dam and the Mississippi River is filled from bank to bank.
From what we can see, this is all good news for anglers. The constant inflow from Lake Winnie’s tributary creeks and rivers, combined with the warm water temperature has apparently given the big lake the ability to maintain a healthy algae bloom this summer.
The semi-green, stained water reminds us of what the lake looked like during the pre-zebra mussel days and obviously, the fish see it that way too.
Remember when the best late summer fishing on Winnie occurred during mid-day and the prime depths ranged between 6 and 10 feet of water? Well, if you have longed for the return of fishing patterns reminiscent of “the good old days”, then you better give us a call, those days are here.
The strong walleye year class of 2018 are maturing into what most folks consider the keeper size range. It’s easy to catch fish in the 13 to 13-1/2 range now and with some sorting, anglers could expect to bag a few fish over 14 inches as well. Depending on the day, larger fish, in the protected slot provide photo ops and perch, pike and rock bass help round out the larder for family fish fries back at the cabin.
With strong demand for “eater size” fish, activity on the big lake has increased. There are small groups of anglers popping up in many of the areas that were most popular during the “pre-zeeb” days and most of them are catching fish.
Tamarack Point, The Rock Pile, Musky Bay and both big and little Stony Points are holding good numbers of fish. Anglers who prefer fishing deeper water can still find schools of fish on the lake’s large bars as well. Bena Bar, Center Bar, horseshoe and Sugar Bars are holding both walleye and perch.
Key fishing depths vary from spot to spot, but overall, 6 to 7 feet deep has been the sweet spot for shoreline anglers. Fishing the bars is best when you target fish on breaklines in the 16 to 22 foot depth range or when you target fish on top of the flats in 12 to 14 feet of water.
The two most popular presentations among our guests are trolling spinners, and jigging. Trolling crankbaits has always been a good choice for the late summer period on Winnie too, and there are some folks doing that now too.
The most popular spinner rigs feature a long, 2/0 Aberdeen hook tipped with a fathead minnow. A #3 Indiana blade is the size that most of the guides on Winnie use and they troll them behind small bullet weights. The 3/16 ounce size sinkers are most popular overall, but there are times when adjusting lighter or heavier can be helpful. Carry a variety of weights ranging between 1/16 and ¼ ounce and you’ll have all of your options covered.
Spinner colors that produce well include hammered gold, perch, fire tiger, chartreuse/gold and pink/gold. Some folks like to tie their own spinners, but if you want a good “out of the package” spinner that works and isn’t too expensive, check out Little Joes, they have been reliable. Here’s a link to the model that we’ve described here. >> Little Joe Red Devil Spinner
Perch, pike and rock bass action has been good on the lake these days too. There are times when specializing might be more productive, but most of our guests are not doing anything special to target them because they catch plenty while they go after the walleyes.
To catch strictly perch, jigs and minnows are probably the best. For pike, casting spinnerbaits into heavier weed cover will help you key in on some of the larger size fish in the shallows. Trolling crankbaits over deeper flats on the larger bars will zero in on more pike too.
Panfish, for now are not coming in very fast, there have been a few sunfish and crappies caught in the weeds, but we’re waiting for some cooler water temperatures to help activate serious fall pan fishing. We'll keep you posted as fishing conditions transitionfrom summer to fall. — Chad & Melissa Mertz The Pines Resort 218-246-8546 or 1-800-342-1552
For a time, crappie locations vary with both the weather and time of day. During early morning and late evening, some of them are sneaking out of vegetation and showing up along steep breaklines in water depths of 18 to 24 feet. Inside turns, adjacent to weedy flats and close the shoreline are key early season locations.
It is cool weather that helps accelerate the movement out of shallow weeds, but when conditions warm and the sun shines, many crappies will retreat back into heavy cover. Cabbage, Coontail and Wild Celery are the 3 most common locations to find them.
For the moment, Cabbage appears to be the most preferred cover; that’s where the fish ..." Read >> Bowen Lodge Fishing Report August 23, 2020
Take the past couple of days for example; on Monday, we fished on Lake Winnie and had a fairly good day. There was a stiff breeze blowing and walleyes were active enough to keep us busy for most of the time we fished.
Tuesday was another story though, bright sunshine, calm seas and clear water combined forces to make the day a real grind. Finding fish wasn’t hard, we spent the morning looking at fish on the screen of my Humminbird, getting them to bite was another story.
During the afternoon, we switched gears, left the walleyes alone and did some pre-meditated bass fishing. That went better, but still wasn’t as good as I expected. The bass held tight in heavy cover and only occasionally felt compelled to strike our wacky rigged YUM Dingers.
As water temperatures begin trending downward, fish of all species become more nomadic. Some begin to migrate toward early fall locations, but not all at the same time. Some fish give up some of their mid-summer traditions early, others hold on until they run out of juicy things to eat and still others move back and forth between summer and fall haunts.
Mid-depth flats and the open water between them now hold more fish than the prominent structures do. Any small patch of gravel, small rock rise or patch of weeds could hold a handful of fish. That’s not to say that you won’t find fish along a steep breakline on mid-lake bars or humps. And it’s not to say that you can’t find a school of fish in a shoreline related weed bed either. You can, but you can’t necessarily expect to find the same school of fish in the same spot the next day.
In a perfect scenario, one where you’re free to fish only during “prime time”, spending a couple of hours at dawn and a couple more at dusk would probably yield as many, or more fish than if you spent the entire day on the lake. But if you can’t do it that way, then this would be a good time to explore the flats.
On Winnie, there are miles and miles of water in the 12 to 16 foot depth range. The bottom structure over most of those miles contains little more than sand and scattered patches of low-lying grasses. But every so often, you will encounter something different, gravel, rocks or sometimes weeds.
On any given day, fishing those subtle interruptions in terrain could be the difference between catching fish and not.
Trolling crankbaits is one good way to explore, typically, 1.7 to 2.5 MPH is an effective range of speeds and that allows you to cover a lot of water in a hurry. If you have side imaging, you can cover even more water by cruising the flats without fishing. My Humminbird picks up changes in bottom structure at faster speeds, moving at 5 to 6 MPH allows me to cover a lot of water fast. Whenever I see something interesting, I use the cursor to mark the spot and then go back at slower speeds for a closer look.
Sometimes the spots you find will be small and when they are, trolling might not be the most efficient presentation. Lindy Live Bait Jigs tipped with large fathead minnows worked for us on Monday and these typically provide the most action in terms of the variety of fish new catch. Perch and pike will almost always strike the jig and minnow combos. But sometimes the walleyes won’t go for it, so if you feel like you’re marking walleyes that won’t strike, try wiggle worming, Lindy Rigging or slip floats; at times those presentations will allow you to focus more strictly on walleyes.
After 10 hours on the water with the sun glaring in my eyes yesterday, I felt like I know how walleyes feel on bright days. There are days when it feels like the sun penetrates the innermost workings of my brain. That is why I’m not too upset about being in dry-dock for another “Covid Cancellation” today.
I’ll use the time to get caught up on chores, clean the clean-able and make ready for some more fishing tomorrow. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"The walleyes are biting. All methods are working. Trolling, jigging, live bait rigging, jigging raps, and bobber fishing are all catching fish.
The key is finding the fish and then they will bite. We are catching a lot of small fish right now. Some are keepers and some are just a tad small to keep. If the growth continues as it has this summer, Most of the 2018 year class will be in the keeper category by Labor Day.
Northern fishing is steady. All methods are working. The largest fish seem to be caught on sucker minnows. Trolling, casting, and jigging larger minnows are also catching nice pike.
Perch fishing is kind of spotty. You can get perch, though, if you are persistent. Worms or minnows under bobbers are working, as well as spinners and minnows, jigs and minnnows, and a bare hook with a minnow or worm. Look for them in the weeds, on the flats, or off the main breaklines.
I am still very optimistic for the fall fishing. Those small walleyes are hungry and eager to bite. They are showing up in the shallows when there is a chop on the water. Multi-species fishing will be great.
Take advantage of our fall discount. Give us a call and we can get you in on some quality fishing." — Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
"The walleye fishing continues to improve daily. The small fish from this spring are mostly in the keepable size right now. Trolling, rigging, bobber fishing, jigging raps, jig and live bait, it doesn't matter. If you find a school of these fish, they will bite.
It requires some sorting, but you can get several 14" fish each time you go out. Work the flats adjacent to deep water. When the lake is calmer, work the top of the main bars.
Northern fishing is in full swing. All methods of northern fishing is working right now. Trolling seems to be the preferred method for numbers of fish, but I think casting may be producing larger average fish.
Perch are readily available. The trick is to find the larger fish in the school. Deeper water off the breaklines are producing nice perch.
As I stated in previous reports, the walleye fishing has a very bright future, starting now.
If you like to catch walleyes, even smaller ones, Winnie is the place to be this fall. Come and take advantage of our upcoming specials. Starting August 22 stay the week and enjoy a 20% discount. Look forward to seeing you on the water." — Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
Take the entrants in last weekend’s walleye tournament for example. Pre-fishing was a grind, sunny, calm conditions favored the walleye, but the anglers, not too much. But on tournament day, the air was cool and a steady breeze blew up a good chop on the lake; the fish decided it was time to take advantage of the opportunity to feed.
Our friend Jeff Sundin compared notes with some of his friends who finished in the top 10 and found out presentations, water depths and locations varied. There were fish caught in shallow water weeds, on the flats and in deep water too. There were fish caught on jigging baits, slip-bobbers, crankbaits and spinners; all mainstay presentations for Winnie and all readily available to ..." Read >> Bowen Lodge Fishing Report August 3, 2020
"The walleye fishing has definitely picked up this past week. Trolling patterns have developed using spinners and live bait as well as crankbaits. You have to be aware of the amount of line you have out as more seems to work better.
Flats on top of main bars and off of shorline drops are best when there is a chop. When it is calm, low light conditions are the best time to catch fish. Jigging Raps and jigging spoons are starting to become more and more popular. Some bobber fishing is working well on spooky fish.
The large year class that were 11" this spring are now stretching into the bottom end of "keeper" size fish. Some of these fish have grown to be 14" already. They are obviously feeding well as they are solid fish. It is possible that they all may grow into keepers by this fall. Either way, we are looking at a bright five year stretch for walleye fishermen!
Northerns have been good. Trolling and casting are working well. Many pike are being caught on crankbaits while targeting walleyes. Those trolling larger spoons are doing well, too.
Perch have been caught trolling crankbaits, on jigging raps, and jigs and minnows. If you would slow down the spinners, and tip them with minnows, that would work as well. The perch are hanging out on the breaklines. Sometimes it is hard to differentiate between the small walleyes and the perch on your electronics. It won't take long to figure it out once you start fishing, though.
All in all, there are multiple fishing opportunities on Lake Winnie right now. I look for a great fall season. If you want to get away, pick out a date and give us a call. You can take advantage of our upcoming specials." — Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
"First, I would like to apologize for the lack of fishing reports the past two weeks. The problem is that not much had changed.
Now we are seeing the normal migration out to the flats for walleyes. Probably in pursuit of the young of the year perch.
Trolling with spinners tipped with live bait or crankbaits are catching walleyes right now. A key to this fishing is getting away from the boat as the fish are rather spooky.
Northern fishing is in full swing. All methods are catching pike right now. Look for some weed growth on the bottom in 13-15' of water. Some of the backwater areas are also producing pike.
Perch fishing has been pretty good. Some searching is required to find the bigger fish. Once you locate them, you may have to move to stay on them. Minnows and worms are working on the perch.
We have limited openings for the next few weeks. Our specials are scheduled to kick in on August 22. We are looking forward to a great fall bite. As always, we offer 20% discount on all cabin rentals after Labor Day. Pick out a date and give us a call." — Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
"Hot, sunny weather and calm winds have allowed surface water temperatures to sky rocket on both Cutfoot and Winnibigoshish. It doesn’t matter where we go on either lake, 80 degrees is the current minimum temperature and we’ve see a few readings pushing the 85 degree mark.
Generally speaking, fish are active but typical of the post zebra mussel era, clear water conditions do not favor anglers who target walleye during the daytime. For die-hard walleye anglers, fishing during the early morning and late evening is the secret to consistency.
If you hang around the fish cleaning shack, you might over hear anglers talking about searching for fish on mid-lake structures like bars and humps. The consensus among many is that the fish have ..." Read >> Lake Winnie Fishing Report July 8, 2020
"The fishing this past week can be summed up in one word "hot". We saw temperatures that were way above normal and calm winds. That made for some hot fishing. Catching had its moments, as well.
Walleyes are finally showing up on the mid lake structure. The bugs are hatching and the fish are eating. Look for a sunken island that has less fishing pressure for best results. Rigs and leeches or crawlers is working the best. Some walleyes are being caught on jigging Raps, too.
Northern fishing is still very good. Find the best weed growth and use your favorite method to catch pike. You will not be disappointed.
Some muskies were reported on the prowl. Jake had one eat one of the perch he was reeling in. There were also four others that were hooked and got away. So these fish are starting to get active.
Perch fishing is still very solid. Backwater areas in dense weeds are still the best bet for perch. Jigs and fathead minnows or even artificial baits are catching perch. All in all, it was a pretty good week of fishing despite the calm, hot weather.
We have some openings coming up, but they are filling up fast. With the Canadian Border closed, we are getting calls from folks who normally go north of the border to fish. We welcome the opportunity to show them that they don't necessarily have to travel to Canada to have some good fishing". — Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
"Walleye fishing this season is kind of like the rest of the year has gone, kind of out of sorts! There are no signs of life out on the midlake structure. That is totally out of whack! A normal year would see bugs hatching on the mid lake structure of Lake Winnie. That hasn't happened so far.
We are catching some fish along the shoreline drops in low light conditions, morning and evening. Rigs with leeches seem to be the best presentation. Look a little deeper than normal in 20-30' of water.
Perch fishing has been pretty reliable. If you are looking for a meal of fish, this has been the go to program. Minnows in the backwater areas in the cabbage weeds are holding the most perch. Some perch are being caught off the shoreline drops, and most of the fish are being caught on minnows.
Northerns are starting to be caught. Finding new weed growth is the key to finding pike. Jigs and small sucker minnows, and your favorite trolling baits are good bets for these fish.
We are entering our family fishing time. The pool is open and the ice-cream is refreshing. If you are looking for a family resort on a serious fishing lake, we fit the bill."
We have some openings for the rest of the summer. Check your schedule and give us a call. — Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
"Walleye anglers who love to fish mid-summer, mid-lake patterns on Lake Winnie have renewed enthusiasm today. A much anticipated period of calmer, warmer weather, which will allow easier access to mid-lake fishing structure is in the forecast for this week.
Surface water temperatures have been receding, now in the mid-to-upper-60s. It happened so slowly that we barely noticed, but the lake’s water temperature went from being slightly ahead of schedule early this month, to now being lower than average, for this time of summer.
Insect hatches have not been heavy so far, but as water temperatures rise, they should intensify. Mid-lake structure adjacent to soft bottom areas will continue to attract and hold walleyes until ..." Read >> Lake Winnibigoshish Fishing Report June 23, 2020
"Fishing this week seemed like an episode of "Deadliest Catch"! The south and southeast wind howled most of the week 20-30 mph making fishing a real challenge.
Most of the success focused on the perch. Fishermen were finding perch in the weeds in 5-6' of water. Backwater areas were the main focus to find these fish. A myriad of methods were used including: jigs and minnows, bobbers and minnows, bobbers and a piece of worm, jig and a piece of worm, jig and leech, spinners and minnows, shad raps, etc. Basically, they bit on whatever you put down there.
Was an extremely tough week for the walleye fishermen. Unable to fish anything but the southern part of the lake, they struggled. Many reported catching numerous small walleyes and a few in the slot.
Northerns are coming in, as well. Most of them are caught while chasing perch, using whatever they are fishing with for the perch.
The weather has straightened out the past couple of days. With some westerly winds, the fishermen will be able to get out and establish some kind of pattern to catch walleyes. But the perch continue to provide great action and good eating.
We have some openings for the remainder of the summer. If you are thinking about a summer fishing vacation for you and the family, we fit the bill. Look forward to hearing from you." — Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
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"Strong winds have been blowing from the southeast at 20-30 mph and that's made fishing difficult for our guests. Despite the rugged conditions, fish have been caught by the guests.
Perch continue to be the best bet for a fish fry. Deeper shoreline breaks 20-25' using jigs and fatheads have been a good reliable perch pattern. Some guests are venturing into Sugar Lake and finding perch, as well.
The walleyes seem to be either 11" or 21" long. The walleyes are a little shallower on the same breaklines as the perch. 14-17' of water has been good for the walleyes. Some fish above the slot of 23" are also coming in.
Northerns are patrolling areas inhabited by the perch. Jigs and minnows while fishing for other species have been catching pike. The weather is supposed to straighten out after this warm spell. With the wind changing and the wind moving to the west northwest, we hope to be able to get out and explore the midlake structures. The fish should start feeding on the bugs that hatch out of the midlake. Will keep you posted.
There are plenty of walleye along with bonus pike and perch, all 3 species will grab the jigs and minnows. Use 1/8 ounce sizes for starters, move up to ¼ ounce on windy days or when the fish are holding along the deeper portions of the breakline.
Walleye purists have gotten serious about Lindy Rigs tipped with live leeches and night crawlers. These have been the standard for many who fish the bars and humps on Winnie. Long, 6 to 10 foot leaders are helpful; rig them with light weight #6 hooks and use only the ..." Read >> Lake Winnibigoshish Fishing Report June 12, 2020
For many, trips out to nearby structures like Plughat Point, The Three Sisters and along the NE shoreline of Tamarack Bay, (area known as the Satellite Dishes) have provided all the action they’ve needed. Northern pike, walleye and perch are mixed and located along the breakline in water depths of 8 to 12 feet.
For some of our more adventurous guests, Winnie’s mid lake bars are attractive now as well. Well-known structures like the Bena Bar, Horseshoe, Moses, Sugar and other large bars, closely related to steep shoreline breaks are the best. These areas are particularly productive for larger fish right now and would be good spots for “Catch Photo Release” walleye fishing.
Pike and perch still inhabit certain areas of the main lake bars, but are encountered less often than they were earlier this season. With insect hatches beginning to emerge, they are probably located deeper, near soft bottom areas where the larvae mature. Once the bug hatches run their course, both perch and pike will begin showing up on gravel and rock structures again.
Presentations vary, there are still a lot of people fishing with jigs and minnows and the fish continue to like that. In the shallow bays, 1/8 ounce weights are the mainstay. On deeper structures, ¼ ounce jigs are a better choice. Winnie walleyes love shiners; they are the natural forage, so we do recommend using them when they’re available. Some of the bait shops have been offering a “river mix”; in one bag full of minnows you’ll get rainbows, dace, brass shiners, leatherbacks and others. This is a good alternative when spot tail shiners are not available.
The water is warming up and other presentations are becoming more reliable every day. Lindy Rigs tipped with leeches and night crawlers are producing fish, so are slip-floats. Spinners, a presentation that usually comes into play later, are producing fish too.
Area fishing guide Jeff Sundin has been experimenting with spinners and offers this; “The weeds aren’t very well developed yet, so the traditional bullet sinker and spinner trolled over the cabbage tops hasn’t begun. I’ve had good luck trolling deeper though, in water depths of 12 to 18 feet. You could troll your spinner behind a bottom bouncer, but I don’t always like getting out the heavier artillery. I like to use the same rods we use for spinning the weeds, but instead of the bullet weights, I slip on a ¾ ounce Lindy “No Snagg” sinker. That weight will allow you to get down to the fish easily, but without having to use high power casting rods like the ones we use for bottom bouncing.”
Usually, trolling speeds for spinners are 1.0 to 1.3 MPH, but experiment with speeds until you dial in the best speed for the conditions.
Panfish anglers are finding crappies in the cabbage weeds. They are not always active during the daytime, but for those who fish during the evening, the bite has been fairly reliable. Focus on fishing the pockets within cabbage weed beds, and for thicker weeds, follow the edges closely.
Casting small jigs tipped with action tails is a great way to pursue crappies; spinners tipped with minnows will produce fish too.
Feeling cooped up lately? Maybe it's time to get outside and do some fishing! Like most everyone, we've had a crazy season so far and there have been some cancellations. Lately, folks have had renewed enthusiasm and the phones are ringing, but we still have some cabins available during some very desireable time slots.
When the Lilacs are in bloom, crappies are in the peak of their spawning season. Whenever there’s a dragonfly hatch, sunfish find their way to the shallows and begin fanning their spawning beds. Those proverbs are obviously true because panfish action has really taken off over these past few days.
As you can see by the photo, this male crappie is wearing his Sunday best, his black spawning outfit. You can see too by the wear and tear on his tail fin that he’s been working hard, fanning the silt out of a depression in the soft, marl bottom.
Female fish do not ..." Read >> Bowen Lodge Fishing Report June 1, 2020
On Thursday, strong west winds blew into our bay and interrupted our ability to check up on them, but before that, the gamefish had moved shallow enough so that we could see them. Cruising over the shallow sand flats, it was easy to spot fish roaming around.
That’s the good news; the bad news is that when we can see them, they can see us. When fish are that shallow and the water is this clear, you need to come up with an approach plan that won’t spook them.
On Winnie, anglers are still learning how to deal with clear water, so for guidance, we’ve researched some tricks of the trade employed by pro anglers who fish on other popular, clear-water lakes. Some of the tactics they’ve used will help you find and catch more fish on Winnie too.
Slip floats and live bait have been putting fish in the cooler on Mille Lacs for decades. The presentation is gaining momentum on Winnie these days and for good reason; it works. One great rig includes a Thill 2X Pro Series bobber, a large, #4 size sinker placed about a foot above a 1/16 ounce jig. Tip the jig with a lively leech, a lip hooked shiner, rainbow chub or ½ of a night crawler.
It’s important to set the float to hold your bait about 18-24 inches above the bottom (above the fish). Walleye will come up to examine and strike your bait, but will seldom go down to find it. More often than not, a bobber rig that’s set too deep will result in numerous nibbles from small, unwanted perch. If you’ve tried slipping floats and that pesky perch bite has happened to you, then you were probably fishing too deep.
The importance of the 2X large float and heavy slip shot is that it will allow you the element of surprise. When you can get your lure far enough away from the boat, the fish will often respond to the natural presentation before they become agitated by the presence of your boat.
Another presentation that anglers on Winnie have overlooked is “pitching” jig and minnow, or jig and leech combinations. The principal is to keep your boat away from the fish while your lures are dropping into the strike zone.
Hold your boat along the outer edges of the breakline, just close enough to allow your cast to reach the fish. Move slowly and cast toward the area you suspect fish are present, allow the jig to fall toward the bottom and then retrieve it with a hop-drop-swim approach. If you’re fishing minnows, your presentation can be more aggressive; for leeches, slow down and use lighter jigs, so they have plenty of time to swim.
Many anglers cruise the deep edge of the breakline and cast toward shallow water. But overlook the reverse scenario, sometimes holding your boat on the shallow side and casting toward deep water will put more fish in your livewell.
The pitching presentation is also a good way to find fish holding in the deep cabbage weeds that grow on the flats in our bay. Those cabbage flats are fun to fish because you never know what the next strike will produce. Fishing in the cabbage, our guests have come in with walleye, northern pike, perch, largemouth bass, sunfish, crappie, rock bass and even an occasional musky.
Mother Nature is issuing a chill for the next couple of days, but the forecast looks good for a warmer week ahead. The surface water temps are coming into the ideal range for an action bite and this is typically the season when spots along the Mississippi River channel will produce walleyes. The 3 sisters, Tamarack Point, The Satellite Dishes and Bowens Flats are all good areas to check. We know that there are fish in these areas right now because we’ve seen ‘em with our own eyes.
You won’t need to search far and wide for perch and pike, they will come along periodically while you fish for walleyes. If you encounter a school of good size perch, you may want to capitalize on the opportunity. They are delicious to eat and have already made more than a few fish fries for our guests this spring.
If you’re adventurous, there’s a good chance that you can explore for panfish this week. They can be illusive, but once you find them, Winnie can produce good size crappie and sunfish. They’ll be in the back bays in and around heavy cover like Bulrush, Wild Rice and emerging Lilly Pads. — Chad & Melissa Mertz The Pines Resort 218-246-8546 or 1-800-342-1552
"The weather was great on the Memorial Day Weekend. The fishing was good, also.
Walleyes are not hard to come by using jigs and minnows. Walleyes you can keep are a different story. Most of the fish that are caught are either in the protected slot (18"-23") or small, 6-11". The future of walleye fishing looks very bright on the horizon. We have two huge year classes that are being caught in large numbers.
While they are too small now, the 11" fish may grow large enough to keep by fall. But those two years should keep walleye fishing great for the foreseeable future on Lake Winnie.
The best bet for eating fish continues to be the perch. We are still catching really nice size perch in good numbers. Jigs or rigs with fathead minnows seem to be the best presentation.
The schools of perch are pretty tightly packed together. Troll the edge of the shoreline drops until you locate the perch, then sit right on top of them and fish vertically. Many limits of 20 nice size perch are being caught right now.
Northerns are a bonus these days. They can be caught while fishing walleyes or perch. Not any pattern to them, but they are hanging out where the rest of the fish are.
Fish will be migrating out to the midlake structure soon. This can be some of the best fishing of the year. We have openings right now, so if you are looking for a getaway now is a great time to be here. " — Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
The walleye year class of 2018 is among the best ever for Winnibigoshish. Not only were there huge numbers of fish hatched, but they had both good survival and great growth rates during their first year. We’re seeing anecdotal evidence that they must have also had a great survival rate over this past winter because anglers are catching them left and right this spring.
The ‘18s aren’t ready for the creel yet, at an average length of around 11-12 inches, they’ll for sure be eaters by next spring. Some of the really fast growers may even reach an acceptable size by ..." Read >> Bowen Lodge Fishing Report May 21, 2020
The fishing was great this weekend but the catching was kind of spotty. Walleyes continue to relate to the shoreline drops with the points on the west and north side seeing the most action.
The evening offers some opportunities to do a little casting into the very shallow water where the shiners are moving toward the shoreline.
The great year-classes that we have heard about for the last two years can be experienced. It is quite a challenge to hook a 6 inch or 11 inch walleye! But you can get a bite every cast, you just can't expect to hook them.
Perch fishing is still the way to deliver a fish fry. Most of the primary breaklines are holding schools of nice size perch. As you can see from my youngest grandson Jack's first fish, they are really nice. Jigs and fathead minnows fished slow is still the best way to catch 'em.
Northerns are spotty, but are being caught when fishing for perch or walleyes. The size varies, but they seem to be pretty chunky for this time of year. Most of the fish coming in are under the 22-26" slot.
Our dockboys are experts at removing the "Y" bones and deliver a boneless filet to your cabin.
We still have openings for the Holiday Weekend. If you are looking for a place to come and do some fishing, give us a call." — Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
After a busy and productive fishing opener, traffic on the lake got quiet during mid-week. Between cold, windy conditions and a little bit of rain, folks opted to hold off until better weather arrives.
The anticipated warmup did arrive on Thursday and sent outside air temperatures up into the high 60s. Surface water temperatures began rising too, strong afternoon winds churned the surface, bring water temps back down, but the trend will be upward over the next few days.
The reason we’re monitoring water temperature is that shiner minnows are waiting for a warmup before they’ll move away from the weedy flats and onto shallow water sand and gravel. The beginning of shiner spawning definitely allows bait trappers an opportunity to gather supplies of our favorite minnows. But for anglers, the shiner runs offer a chance to find hungry walleyes stuffed into well-defined and predictable locations.
Tamarack Bay, located just outside of our front door, is one of Winnie’s most productive areas for minnows to spawn. Sprawling weed flats offer minnows protection in terms of both cover and their ability to spread out horizontally across the expanse of shallow water. To feed, walleyes have to roam constantly in search of scattered schools of bait. But when shiners begin spawning, they are for a short time, very vulnerable. They will all be crammed into shallow water and along breaklines where walleyes can find them.
Walleye anglers familiar with Winnibigoshish know that between now and Memorial Day, Tamarack Bay has the potential be one of the lake’s most productive areas.
Key depths will vary with the weather, but anglers should focus on the 8 to 12 foot range most of the time. Well defined shoreline breaks will be the structure to look for. The shallow flats that lay along both sides the Mississippi River channel can be productive, so are the shallow breaklines that run all of the way from Plughat Point west to Bowens Flats. The large flat at Tamarack Point is also one of the preferred structures during the early season.
Most folks stick with jig and minnows during the early season, they are very reliable. Lindy Rigs tipped with minnows work too and occasionally, slip floats help our guests put fish in the boat too.
Expect to encounter schools of perch on the flats too. They are either about to spawn, or are already in the process and both Tamarack and the Dam Bays are mating destinations for them.
Looking at the weather forecast, we are chomping at the bit to get on the water. Temperatures in the 70s, lots of sunny days and moderate winds are forecast for the next full week. These conditions are going to trigger a lot of fish movement, so if you’ve been on the fence about making a trip, now is the time to call us; we may still have an opening for you.
This is also a good time to let you know that we do have a few openings for Memorial Day weekend, so be sure to inquire about our Memorial Day Special.
We’re looking forward to a wonderful week of fishing and we’d love to hear from you. Let us know how you do on the lake and if you like, stop by for a visit.
When the sun comes out and the weather gets warm, we recall the old saying; “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.” Check out this year’s ice cream flavors! Waffle cones are available at the lodge, in addition to many other frozen treats, YUM! See You Soon — Chad & Melissa Mertz The Pines Resort 218-246-8546 or 1-800-342-1552
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.
It’s been a couple of weeks since spawning walleyes made their move through Little Cutfoot With the spawning run completed, female walleyes have already moved out and were found migrating away from Cutfoot and into the big lake. At this stage of the season, fishing can be a little “hit and miss” and that’s what we’ve observed so far.
Because of the cold water temperatures, there was little incentive for most of the migrating fish to move shallow and feed. Instead, they closely followed traditional migration routes along shoreline breaks and along the river channels. Anglers who found and fished along those migration routes were rewarded with good catches.
Areas that produced well for our guests, included ..." Read >> Bowen Lodge Fishing Report May 14, 2020
"Opening Day of Minnesota fishing finally came and went. One thing I noticed is that the fish didn't know about or care about Covid 19! Everyone who wet a line caught some fish.
The best reports for keeping fish were on the perch front. Lots of nice 10-12" perch were caught along the primary breaklines. Anglers reported fishing 15 to 20 feet deep seemed to be the best depths. Jigs and minnows worked very slow were the best presentation.
Walleyes were caught in good numbers, but the keepers were far between. Jigs and minnows were also the best bet here, but you needed to be working the bait to get them to bite. The fish were both shallow and deep. The west side points were the main areas where the fish were found.
Some northerns were caught among the walleyes. Most of these fish were in the protected slot, or the anglers chose not to keep them.
The weather was cold but we dodged the snow that other areas enjoyed. The wind was down which helped to make it bearable.
We have had some cancellations due to the virus. If you are interested in fishing Lake Winnie in the spring, give us a call. We are taking every precaution to not allow the spread of the disease at The Four Seasons. Look forward to seeing you." — Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
We have really been hustling to get the resort ready for this weekend and we did it. After a long winter, there was no amount of work that could discourage us. Seeing the open water, hearing sounds of spring and breathing the fresh air has us excited for the fishing opener.
Apparently, we’re not the only ones who are enthused about getting out on the water, walleye anglers must be too because we have a full house for the weekend.
The monster size year class of walleyes that hatched in 2018 had already begun showing up late in the 2019 season. Over the winter, we heard numerous reports from guests and friends who fished the lake and caught lots of 11 to 12-inch walleyes. Granted, they were small then and still will be this spring, but as our summer progresses, we anticipate seeing those fish begin maturing, rapidly moving toward the keeper size range.
We know that the growth rate in Winnie is typically really great, but we’re not making any assumptions. The current growth rate may be somewhat diminished by the larger size of that year class. That’s okay with us because if it happens, that would probably help keep those fish in the keeper size range for a longer period of time.
In the meantime, these fish are likely to provide our guests with a lot of action this summer and for the next few seasons to come.
This spring, the ice was off Winnie a little earlier than average. Most, if not all the female walleyes have already completed their migration into spawning areas. But the water temperatures are still cold, and we think it’s likely that many scattered groups of male fish will still be lingering near shallow gravel patches and current areas.
On opening morning, anglers looking for smaller fish to eat, are probably best off focusing on shallow spawning areas before fishing pressure forces those male fish to move. After that, you’ll be better off searching for fish on the flats, wherever newly emerging weed stubble provides cover for minnows.
In Tamarack Bay, a key area for shiner trappers during spring, large expanses of these shallow weed stubble flats attract huge schools of minnows. Walleyes, eager to feed after the spawning season is complete, begin roaming the flats to feed.
Key water depths will depend on cloud and wind conditions. Typical fish depths during spring will range anywhere from 6 feet to about 12 feet. When fish are actively feeding, slow tapering drop-off areas will produce best. Fish in neutral or negative feeding patterns will gravitate toward steeper breaklines with access to deeper water.
Jig and minnow combinations are the long-time favorite presentation during the early season on Winnie. A supply of jigs in the 1/16, 1/8 and ¼ ounce sizes will cover every situation; 1/8 ounce are the most common weights.
We’ve learned that one key factor in angler success on Winnie has been water clarity. For us, it has appeared that the population of Zebra Mussels in Lake Winnibigoshish had leveled out. For some insight, we reached out to Grand Rapids Fishery Supervisor Dave Weitzel and he replied. “We think that zebra mussels have stabilized. It seems that once they fully infest a lake, the population will go through little ups and downs. It seems that they may have been down a bit the last couple of years.”
We know that the mussels will always be with us, but with populations not exploding the way they did a few years back. It is possible that the impact of their presence will be felt a little less dramatically as their population stabilizes. In 2018, we learned that when Zebra Mussel populations are down, water clarity diminishes, algae blooms come back, and fishing gets good.
We know that anglers figure out how to find and catch walleyes in other clear water lakes. Over time, adaptation has been the secret to consistent success on Winnie too. So when we combine that with what we know about how strong the walleye population is, and that conditions could stabilize, it is hard to be anything but positive about the upcoming season.
While we were in contact with Dave Weitzel, we cleared up a couple of other questions. We asked about whether anglers will be allowed to fish in Little Cutfoot for the opener. Weitzel; “Cut Foot and Little Cut Foot are both open for fishing. There is a nasty rumor going around that DNR closed it, but that is not true. We only close it if we are taking eggs within a few days of opener and fish are artificially concentrated.”
We asked too about water levels and water clarity and he said this; “I have not had reports about water clarity, but I have heard that water levels are low. I suspect that the lake was drawn down anticipating spring rains, but those rains never came. I know that the US Army Corps of Engineers held water back to alleviate flood concerns in Aitkin, but the lack of rain in April is contributing to low water.”
Northern Pike will continue to provide good action and good eating for our guests this summer too. Pike populations remain high; in fact, recent statistics show 13-15 fish per test net now. That is roughly double the 6 fish per test net during the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The protected slot that requires releasing all pike from 22-26 inches took effect in 2018 and by all accounts, began doing its job. There were numerous reports from folks who released a lot of fish in that protected range.
Perch populations have declined over the past few years, but the reward for that has been more fish entering the “keeper” size range. Last winter, our guests experienced periods of fabulous perch fishing. There were some exceptionally nice fish too, even some 14 plus inches long. Fish over 9 inches are becoming more abundant and now make up 15% of the total perch population. There are fewer small fish and more desirable ones in the lake. Anglers should anticipate catching fewer fish overall, but when they find them, there will be a better chance at catching keepers.”
Historically, panfish populations in Cutfoot, Little Cutfoot and Winnie have been cyclical. In 2018 we saw evidence of a new up and coming crop of sunfish. There were fish everywhere and they were aggressive, especially during the mid-summer period. They were, however, pretty small and it depends on each angler’s individual threshold whether they will be of interest this summer or not.
Bass and Musky fishing will be on the agenda this summer too, but let’s get the walleye season started before we focus any more on the warmer water species.
The word for us is that Spottail Shiners will be hard to come by and we do not anticipate having them on hand. We will have plenty of fatheads and Golden Shiners may inhabit our bait tanks this weekend too, at least that’s what our bait supplier tells us. We won’t eceive our bait delivery until late afternoon on Thursday, so we’ll provide an update via Facebook for everyone who read this report in the morning. If you’re not a social media person, check back here in the afternoon for the bait supply update.
We are 2 days away from opening weekend and we’re chomping at the bit to get the season rolling. We will see you when you get here! — Chad & Melissa Mertz The Pines Resort 218-246-8546 or 1-800-342-1552
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!
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