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image denotes commentary by Jeff Sundin Jeff Sundin April 11, 2024 "Water Levels and Walleye Spawning Updates"

image of walleye traps set up at the Little Cutfoot Sioux egg take operationOn Wednesday, the Hippie Chick and I took a tour of the Winnie, Cutfoot and Bowstring Lakes region. We expected to see that water levels were low, and they were, but not as low as I had anticipated. I’m in touch with folks at the corps of engineers now and will provide updates on the precise water conditions later today. Before I do that though, lets talk about the Cutfoot Sioux walleye spawning run and the DNR egg take.

As the photo reveals, most of the walleye trappig gear was already set up at Little Cutfoot Sioux walleye egg take site on Wednesday. We drove in and talked with fisheries staff who told us that be setting the traps and holding pens sometime today, Thursday Aprill 11, 2024. Dissolved oxygen levels are good they reported, and water temperatures are moving toward ideal range. So, whenever the fish are ready, the action will begin.

It is still early though, and I would advise that we don’t get too excited about seeing fish in the nets just yet. Reports from other egg take operations that are already underway in other regions indicate that the fish, so far, have not been ready. Very few walleyes have come to the traps at the other operations and if my visual observation is any indication, walleyes haven’t started moving into the narrows at Cutfoot Sioux either. Why do you think that Jeff, you may be asking?      

Well for one thing, there weren’t any pelicans trolling the shorelines in either First River or Little Cutfoot. It seems to me that those birds find fish almost instantly, and their absence is a sign that walleyes haven’t arrived there yet. Another indicator that I use is the Williams Narrows web cams. Walleyes make a lot of commotion during their spawning runs and early in the morning, I can see them moving the surface water along the edges of the narrows. Yesterday, there was very little movement in the calm water.

We’ll probably run back up to check on the setup again tomorrow, and I’ll post an update for folks thinking about checking out the traps over the weekend. fish smiley image — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL


image denotes commentary by Jeff Sundin Jeff Sundin April 11, 2024 "Minnesota Fishing Museum - Helping Anglers Remember the Memorable"

image of minnesota hall of fame fishing guide Jeff Sundin from 1960 standing at the tiller of old martin motor Did you know that the outboard motor I’m clutching in this photo is a late 40s or early 50s Martin? No? Don’t feel bad, I didn’t either until after I visited the Minnesota Fishing Museum last Friday. After I’d wandered around the museum looking for one like it, I sought the advice of Jeff Doty, former MN Fishing Museum board president. I asked if he recognized the motor in my photo. “No, I can’t say that I know that one, but we have a couple of guys here who do. I’ll track one of them down and we’ll get you hooked up,” Doty replied.

A couple of hours later, Doty introduced me to board member Bruce Reischl who advised, “that engine is a Martin. We don’t have one on the floor at the museum right now, but I do have one in my personal collection. It, along with many more, will be on display at the MN Fishing Museum on Saturday April 20, 2024, as part of a special event hosted for the Antique Outboard Motor Club.

The photo reveals my obvious personal connection to the fishing history associated with that old engine. I was thrilled to be in a place where I could not only learn more about it, but even have the opportunity to see and touch one. Maybe your curiosity about the history of fishing is about something different, your personal connection might be to a special fishing lure, fishing reel or some other piece of historic gear. No matter what your curiosity might be, there’s a good chance that the answer can be found here, at the state of Minnesota’s official fishing museum. That is of course, if the museum is still there for you when you need it.

There’s a proposal in the Minnesota Legislature that will help make sure the museum remains open. It’s called HF 5209, and it would provide a $150,000 grant from the arts and cultural heritage fund, one of the four funds overseen by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. The goal of the legislation is to provide funding for programming and educational opportunities celebrating Minnesota's outdoor culture and heritage.

The first hearing is scheduled for tomorrow, Friday April 12, 2024, and the folks at the Minnesota Fishing Museum could use our help. A few words of support directed to the committee chair could go a long way toward getting the legislation passed. It’s important to note too that these funds would not come from any new taxes. That’s right, the money has already been raised through Lessard-Sams 3/16% of Minnesota sales taxes that we’ve already all paid. The role of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council is simply to oversee who receives the grants. So, for angling enthusiasts, this is purely a winning proposition.

I didn’t always value the impact of history on my daily life, but these days I do. That’s why I’m supporting the measure, and I’d love it if you’d join me in contacting Representative Leon Lillie, Committee Chair and voicing your support for this bill. Rep. Leon Lillie (DFL) District: 44B, 365 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155, 651-296-1188 or Email: rep.leon.lillie@house.mn.gov fish smiley image — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL


image links to fishrapper.com Lake of the Woods, LOW Tourism April 9, 2024

image of big walleye caught by brett amundson on the Rainy River "This is the time of year that some are still ice fishing on the south end's main basin of Lake of the Woods, while others are fishing out of boats on the open water of the Rainy River. It's nice to have options!

Ice anglers targeting walleyes are being rewarded with good catches of walleyes, saugers, and some jumbo perch. Most action is in 18 to 25 feet of water. Northern Pike enthusiasts are catching big fish by tip up fishing in prespawn areas that are adjacent to traditional spawning areas. Tip ups with live suckers or dead bait such as smelt and herring in 8 to 14 feet of water has been the pattern overall.

Soon, pike will be sliding into back bays to spawn, which creates an entirely different fishing opportunity. The pike season on Lake of the Woods never closes. The limit is 3 pike per day with one being able to be more than 40 inches. All fish measuring 30.0 to 40.0 inches must be released.

Anticipation is high for the MN Fishing Opener, which is Saturday, May 11, 2024. Good numbers of walleyes and saugers are currently staged in many locations along the south shore.

On the Rainy River, open water has made it all the way to Four Mile Bay. Walleye fishing and sturgeon fishing has been excellent. The water clarity is still very good and there are a lot of fish in the river. Boat ramps are open all the way to Wheeler's Point. Birchdale, Frontier, Vidas, Timber Mill Park in Baudette, and the Wheeler's Point boat ramp at the mouth of the Rainy River are all open.

Jigs with brightly colored plastics or jigs with a frozen emerald shiner have been the ticket for most spring walleye anglers. Don't forget about slow trolling crankbaits against the current as this is a very effective technique this time of the year.

Sturgeon are active and being caught on the river as well by both walleye anglers and those targeting sturgeon. Most sturgeon anglers are either a glob of crawlers or a combo of crawlers and frozen emerald shiners on a sturgeon rig, which is an 18 inch leader with a 4/0 circle hook combined with a no roll sinker. Local bait shops have all of the gear and bait.

Up at the Northwest Angle, open water is appearing in some of the areas with current such as Flag Island Flats, Minnesota Point and Million Dollar Rock, just to name a few. The sight of open water simply is wetting the pallet of those eager for the MN Fishing Opener on May 11th, 2024"  Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH


image denotes commentary by Jeff Sundin Jeff Sundin April 8, 2024 "Countdown To Walleye Opener"

It’s time to start the countdown, with only 32 days until the walleye opener, it's time to start rigging rods, fine tuning gear and checking water conditions.

Some of the folks that gathered to chat at Ray’s Marine Open House this weekend expressed concern about the dry conditions and low water levels. There’s no doubt that concern is warranted, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it so dry during the month of April. That said, our conversations reminded me about the dramatic turnaround we experienced during the 1999 fishing opener. A couple of weeks before opening day, rain began falling and didn’t stop. Pokegama Lake in Grand Rapids was littered with dock sections and other debris that floated away from shore under flood-like conditions.

I’m not saying that will happen again this spring, but Mother Nature has a way of making up for lost time. There are signals in the forecast that she’s at least thinking about making up for dry conditions in north central Minnesota now. There’s rain falling outside my office window as I write this. It won’t be enough to re-fill the rivers and lakes in my region, but if do we receive the forecast ¼ to ½ inch, it will at least be a start.

Rising water would also be helpful in terms of improving spawning conditions for pike, walleye, and other fish. On Saturday, I got word from a friend that the Grand Rapids fisheries staff plan to set up their gear for the walleye “egg-take” operation at Cutfoot Sioux this week. I’ll confirm that today as soon as the DNR regional office is open for phone calls. The timing for this is good for me because this week we’re entertaining our granddaughter Audrey Jones, and grandpa is looking for excuses to get outside. We’ll wait for a dry day, and then we’ll take a tour of the area to check conditions.

Meanwhile, I borrowed a photo from my friends at Williams Narrows Resort. The William's Narrows Resort Web Cam provides views from the narrows at the river between Big and Little Cutfoot Sioux Lakes. As you can see, water levels there look fairly good. That’s likely because the Corps of Engineers are holding back on river flow at the Winnie Dam. I’ll double check with them to confirm that too. fish smiley image — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL


image denotes commentary by Jeff Sundin Jeff Sundin April 5, 2024 "Sundin's Short List of Fishing Guides"

For some strange reason, folks keep asking me when I plan to retire. I guess they think that 40 years as a full-time fishing guide ought to be enough time for me. But I don’t think it is, and my answer to the question is never, I do not have any plans to “retire”, at least not any time soon.

You might think my reason is because I love to fish, and while that is partially true, I love people more than I love fishing. So, if I were to retire, I’d likely still get to fish a lot, but it would not be the same, I’d be losing out on what’s really important to me, the daily contact with customers; people who over the years have become friends, close friends, like family almost.

While I don't plan to retire, I have noticed something about myself, and it's that my primary focus has shifted away from the daily grind of working purely because I need to pay the bills. Instead of fishing every single day of the season, I'm taking the occasional weekend off to work in the garden, or stay caught up with family and friends. I've discovered too that sometimes there are other guides who can do a better job than me when customers have specific goals in mind. Musky fishing trips for example, are better handled by guides whose primary business is doing that. Sometimes, folks want to fish in an area that I don't vist very often, it can be more gratifying for customers when I line them up with somebody who fishes in that region specifically.

For me, finding and helping really great fishing guides get establihed has been gratifying. That’s why this year, I’m establishing “Sundin’s Short List of Fishing Guides”. The project is the result of customer inquiries about booking fishing dates that I can’t handle myself. When I’m already booked up, I try to find the right guide for the right job and it’s not always easy. What I have in mind is a listing that prospective customers can use to book alternative guides who have availability when I don’t or serve customers outside of my typical service areas.

I’d be interested in hearing from you about fishing trips you have taken with guides of exemplary quality. Fishing guides who you know have delivered service over and above your expectations. It doesn’t matter to me if they’re seasoned pros, or if they just started guiding, it only matters that they are good. And if you are a guide yourself, have a strong work ethic and believe in delivering excellent service to your customers, you might be the one I’m looking for, so let me know who you are!

Public appearances where I can meet and chat with people who love fishing has been another gratifying pursuit for me, and I have a couple of them this weekend.

Tomorrow, I’ll be at the Minnesota Fishing Museum and Fishing Hall of Fame in Little Falls for their annual “Night with the Pros” fundraising event. There’s an early, member’s private event at the Museum in downtown Little Falls at 3:00 Pm, then at 4:30 a meet and greet at the Rice Creek Convention Center, followed by dinner at 6:30. Silent auctions, raffle prizes and giveaways take place before, during and after dinner.

The event is particularly “kid friendly” and fun. If you come, you’ll learn that all of the fishing pros love autographing their photo programs, hats and the like. For a full list of the fishing pros who will attend the event click here >> MN Fishing Museum Night with the Pros Celebrity List

Ticket sales end soon but are still available as of Wednesday morning. Here’s a link to the ticket sales page on Event Brite >> 2024 Night With The Pros Minnesota Fishing Museum and Hall of Fame

On Saturday, I’ll be on hand at Ray’s Marine, Grand Rapids location open house. Hall of Fame Fishing Pro, Ted Takasaki and Capt. Donnie Obert will both be there delivering free fishing presentations. plus there will be lots of other pros on hand too and we'll help answer questions about boats, motors, electronics and more hot new fishing gear for the upcoming fishing season. Follow this link for more information about Ray's Marine Boat Show and Open House

If you're thinking about fishing this weekend, you'll have options. On Friday morning, I will drop in a few updates about where to go this weekend. fish smiley image — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL


image denotes commentary by Jeff Sundin Jeff Sundin April 4, 2024 "Nashville, Myrtle Beach, Little Falls and More!"

image of the Hippie Chick standing in front of wall of Azaleas at the Brookgreen Gards In case you noticed that I haven’t been around much lately, I apologize, it is completely my fault. You see after 55 years in the work force; I finally took off with the Hippie Chick for my first ever 2-week vacation. Yup, that’s right, I’ve never been away from work this long since the day I got my first paper route way back in 1969. Now that we’re back home, you’ll notice the fishing reports and updates flowing freely again. But before I get myself fully immersed in work, gather around the water cooler and let me tell you about some highlights of our trip.

On this trip we first re-visited some of our favorite places in the Myrtle Beach region of South Carolina. Then after a week of looking at flowers and walking along the beach, ae headed to Nashville where our focus shifted to music.

I can’t say that fishing never entered my mind, but the weather down south wasn’t that much nicer than what we were missing out on back at home, so we never booked any fishing trips. In the end, cooking fresh shrimp and tuna from the fish market was as close as we ever came to wetting a line.

Brookgreen Gardens is our happy place near Myrtle Beach. We’ve been there in April November, December, and now, March. There’s been beautiful art, sculpture, flowers and scenery on every trip, but they’ve all been different. This year, we caught the Azaleas in bloom, they were everywhere, and they were breath taking! If you occasionally visit the area but you’ve never been there, don’t let yourself miss it on your next trip, its beauty simply can’t be overstated.

image of birds fishing in the rocks near Myrtle Beach The ocean wasn’t quite as welcoming to us this year, cold air temperatures and strong winds kept most of our beach walks short. Luckily, there were just enough warm afternoons to allow us to get out there a little bit.

The trip from Myrtle Beach over to Nashville was an interesting one. I’ve never seen so much traffic in my entire life, it seemed like we were surrounded by cars and trucks for every single minute of the 12-hour drive. Luckily, once we arrived, “Music City” more than made up for our trouble. Everywhere we looked there was food, music, flowers, and history; more than we could possibly take in on a single trip.

I won’t speak for my family, but for me, the absolute highlight of Nashville was getting to see the band Kelley’s Heroes. The 3-piece group used to be the “backup band” for Don Kelley, a legend in the Nashville music scene. Since Don retired and moved to Florida, the band continues as a 3 piece, but their sound is way bigger than any 3-piece country outfit I’ve ever seen.

As a guitar player, my interest was drawn to Luke McQueary, their virtuoso guitarist. But both Joe Fick their bass player and Billy Van Fleet their drummer are equally talented in every possible way, they are probably the most entertaining musicians I’ve ever watched. Since we’ve been home, watching them, along with former versions of Don Kelley’s bands have entertained us even more. You can find dozens of videos on You Tube, but here’s a link to one that I like a lot. >> Kelley's Heroes Performing Working Man Blues

image of Nashville Band Kelleys Heroes performing at Roberst Western World Besides the live music, Nashville’s rich history offered more highlights. We took the backstage tour of the Ryman Theatre and that was awesome. My brother Gary and I dragged our wives to a few music stores too. Again, as a guitar player, I was flabbergasted by the sheer number of vintage musical instruments. It would literally take years of shopping in Minneapolis-St. Paul to handle the number of vintage guitars that I saw in a single day in Nashville.

While we were at the Gibson Garage, I got the bright idea to re-live my musical life vicariously through the guitars they had on display. If you happen to follow my personal facebook page, you’ll see the guitars that represent ones I’ve owned, and let slip through my fingers over the years. There’s nothing important about the project, just something interesting to do while I wait for the fishing season to start. If you like music, guitars in particular, you can check out the daily updates on my facebook page.

This week, my re-entry to fishing will include some personal appearances. On Friday, I’ll be on hand at the Minnesota Fishing Museum and Hall of Fame “Night with the Pros” event. The annual fundraising event will be held at the Rice Creek Hunting and Convention Center near Little Falls. The event starts at 4:00 PM with a meet and greet session where you can chat it up with fishing pros, gather autographs, and checking out the auction items. Dinner starts at 6:30 and prize drawings follow. Ticket sales end soon but are still available as of Wednesday morning. Here’s a link to the ticket sales page on Event Brite >> 2024 Night With The Pros Minnesota Fishing Museum and Hall of Fame

On Saturday, I’ll be on hand at Ray’s Marine, Grand Rapids location open house. Hall of Fame Fishing Pro, Ted Takasaki and Capt. Donnie Obert will both be there delivering free fishing presentations. plus there will be lots of other pros on hand too and we'll help answer questions about boats, motors, electronics and more hot new fishing gear for the upcoming fishing season. Follow this link for more information about Ray's Marine Boat Show and Open House

If you're in the neighborhood for either event, stop by and let's catch up! fish smiley image — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL


image links to fishrapper.com Lake of the Woods, LOW Tourism April 3, 2024

image of young angler with monster northern pike from Arneson's Rocky Point Resort "For a while now, Lake of the Woods has been the only game in town for Minnesota anglers who want to continue ice fishing. Now that the deadline for shelter removal has passed, most folks have given up on ice fishing, but not everybody. Up at the Northwest Angle, the ice bite finished strong but is now finished, and the focus is now on the May 11, 2024, walleye fishing opener.

On the south end of Lake of the Woods, cold spring weather helped dispel certain social media predictions about the greatest of weather and deteriorating ice conditions for the late ice fishing season. The bottom line, after an early warm up, conditions turned back to winter, preserving ice conditions for those wanting to take advantage of them. March ice anglers were rewarded with good catches of walleyes, saugers and of course this time of year, monster pike. 

Although the walleye season continues through April 14th, 2024 for the most part, ice accesses are closed for the year.

In the areas where access remains available, monster pike are staged in pre-spawn areas.  If you can get to them, the opportunity to catch a big pike is good. But soon, they will make their way to back into shallow, open water bays and ditches to spawn. This early spawning run creates some great pike fishing as the pike season on LOW never closes.

image of Nick Ney holding giant walleye caught on the Rainy RiverAnticipation is high for the Minnesota Walleye Fishing Opener, which occurs on Saturday, May 11, 2024.  Good numbers of walleyes and saugers are currently staged in numerous areas along the south shore.

On the Rainy River, open water gave way to fresh ice formed during the recent cold spell. Now that the weather has moderated, open water is expanding nicely and with daytime temps in the 40's and 50's over the next couple of weeks, things are looking good for some walleye fishing action. The Nelson Park boat ramp in Birchdale, the Frontier boat ramp and Vidas boat ramp are all open. 

Very good numbers of walleyes are in the river.  Most fish being caught are 16 to 26 inches with a few giants over 30 inches being caught.  The hope is the big female walleyes will be making their way up the river from the lake once water temps rise a bit.  Be ready!

Jigs with brightly colored plastics or jigs with a frozen emerald shiner have been good for walleyes.  Slow trolling crankbaits is a very effective technique this time of the year.

Sturgeon are being caught on the river as well by both walleye anglers and those targeting sturgeon.  Most sturgeon anglers are using a sturgeon rig, which is an 18-inch leader with a 4/0 circle hook combined with a no roll sinker.  Local bait shops have all of the gear and bait."  Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH


You Are Invited To Become A Duly Deputized Fishrapper Cub Reporter

image links to fishrapper facebook page If you've been waiting for a gold engraved invitation to participate in the daily reports, then stop waiting and consider this your own personal invitation.

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.


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