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image links to fishrapper home page May 23, 2024 "Memorial Weekend Fishing Memos"

image of profesional fishingguide Jeff Sundin with gig black crappie "In many ways, Memorial Day Weekend marks the beginning of the “tourist season” in northern Minnesota. The blend of folks fishing here on Winnibigoshish for example will consist of more families and fewer groups of hard-core anglers on the lake. If that describes your crew for the weekend, some of these notes could be helpful.

First off, the rain that fell over the past few days added up to roughly 1-1/2 inches over most of the Itasca Region. That wasn’t enough to completely cure some of the low water problems in shallow, stream fed lakes, but it did help. Inflowing water will likely improve conditions at some of the ramps.

The fresh water forced surface water temperatures to drop a little bit too. On Winnie’s west side, our readings ranged between 56 and 57 degrees on Wednesday. Shiners, small perch and other forage fish were forced away from the shorelines and spread out across the lake’s sprawling sand flats. Walleyes were feeding on the scattered baitfish, but were spread out across miles, literally, of what looks like structureless territory.

For me, the best method of catching the roaming fish has been to either drift, or slowly troll across the flats, constantly and retrieving jigs and minnows out and away from the boat. We’ve used ¼ ounce live bait jigs, tipped with either shiners or large fatheads. My jig cadence has been aggressive, after a long cast, I’m using a sharp, vertical jump-fall-jump-fall retrieve all the way back to the boat. I think there are other retrieves and more nuanced presentations that will work too, mine is working though, so I keep doing it.

Gary Dunn wrote with a different idea. Dunn, “Gary Dunn wrote' "Hi Jeff, It sounds like you and your clients are doing well on minnows on Winnie. Last Friday, 5-27-3034, my fishing partner and I joined a flotilla of boats at the mouth of Third River.  Fishing from 6 to 14 feet of water we caught 12 walleyes exclusively on leeches. My buddy with a pink and white jig and me with a Lindy type rig with a 4-foot snell. The rest of the Winnie armada seemed to be fishing jigs and shiners or jigs and fatheads.  Maybe giving them a little something different was the key for us? Best wishes, and thanks for your continued updates on your website.”

Gary, thanks for your update too! Last week, I noticed that several of the better anglers on Leech Lake came right out of the starting gate throwing leeches at walleyes during the fishing opener. It sounds like maybe you’re on to something, there can’t be a lot of folks who didn’t stick with the traditional minnow presentations over the past 10 days. During the cold-water periods, I usually feel that minnows are “good enough” but I can see where the leeches, especially when the water is calm, might offer an advantage. I’ll keep some on hand and test your theory myself over the weekend.

Steve Mattek offered thoughts about panfish loctations. Mattek, “Steve Mattek wrote:"Fyi thought I'd share some stuff.

Went to the long shore in Williams narrows bay two days ago and caught one bluegill. Went back yesterday afternoon into evening in the rain and did pretty good, catching a mixed bag of gills and crappies. This was on small plastic with bobber. They were slightly out from the reeds, but still shallow water. Noticed the crappie were all males so they must just be moving in to nest. Walleyes have been tough for us. Thanks for your reports. Did catch some protected (slot-fish) off river channel but can't seem to find the 2019's. Will try that start shallow keep moving deeper you mentioned. Thanks, Steve”

image of loonSteve, I think if you start working on the flats in 12 to 16 feet of water, you will find some of the 2019, eater size walleyes. It can seem slow at times, but when you keep covering water, you will encounter small packs of nomadic fish. When the next weather warm up arrives, we will see the shiners and small baitfish pushing back toward the shorelines and that will trigger another movement of walleyes.

Your observation about crappies is familiar to me. The fish we caught on Monday were located in similar terrain to those you described. Most were scattered throughout cabbage patches located near bulrushes along the shoreline. The crappies we caught were ready to spawn, but hadn’t started yet. So, if it warms up fast, I do think they’ll move onto beds quickly. If the weather stays cold and blustery though, they might just skip spawning for this year. We’ll be keeping an eye on the situation and updating it as new information comes in.

Finally, a note from Kip Lindberg who writes, “Jeff, Love your fishing reports! I'm a former Minnesota resident who escaped, and (now) lives in Southwest Wyoming, where people can still hunt and fish without excessive (oversight) by political nannies. I (still) keep a fishing boat in Hayward, Wisconsin, and fish Winnie, Mille Lacs (at times), Devils Lake, and Lac Seul annually. 

I'm a walleye fisherman, mainly. I remember fishing Mille Lacs on Memorial Day weekends, back before it collapsed, with lots of good-sized walleyes that were healthy.  That same year, I fished it on Labor Day weekend and noticed that the fish still had length, but their girth was gone; they were starving and the next year, the DNR was caught flat footed with a total collapse of Mille Lacs Lake.

It's easy to say that the DNR should have known something was up, if they sit in a boat and fish.  Maybe it's the zebra mussels, but the netting cannot help it at all as those are spawning females. When you met with Brad Parsons, was there a conversation about the state of Mille Lacs? The problem is, what lake(s) are next?  Clearly Red Lake is destined for more of the same as when I was growing up in the seventies with the eventual collapse due to netting/overfishing by the tribe. Maybe that won't be an issue because the legislators will give the lake back to the tribe?
I have noticed that Leech Lake and Winnie have been impacted by the zebra mussels - it's a late/early bite.  May as well take a nap during the day. At least Lac Seul will be a tannin-stained lake with incredible fishing during my lifetime (I'm early 60's...), with the ability to put fifty+ fish in the boat per day.
I just don't have a lot of faith in the DNR.  They are very reactive - they just don't see anything coming, which is hard to believe.  ND and WI have much better game and fish departments.
Anyway, keep the faith!  Your reports are awesome, and I will be on Winnie in early June.  Just started fishing in the lake and starting to dial it in a bit. Kip”

Kip, as my grandfather used to say, “that’s a mouthful!” You’ve covered a lot more territory than I can respond to in one sitting, so let me have some time to plug away at this in the upcoming weeks.  Today though, I do want to start with this single overriding thought. Overall, the MN DNR, especially folks in the scientific arena does a darn good job. Granted, they do tend to be reactive, but that’s the way science works. First you decide what to study, then you study it and then you analyze what you studied. Once they’ve done all that, decisions can be made.

UNLESS POLITICS ENTERS THE EQUATION, then all bets are off. Most of the time, what stands between sound scientific based decisions and what actually happens are politically driven special interests. Even among those of us who fish and hunt, there are differences of opinion about how fish and game should be managed. I’ve said before that almost all anglers agree on “the problems”, but only ever disagree about “the solutions.”

In the cases of most situations, you’re describing here, I’d point to politics and politicians as the cause of our troubles way before I would point my finger at “the DNR”. In areas where the DNR could stand improvement, I’ve seen progress already. For example, they actively seek citizen input and I’ve seen firsthand that laypeople, like me, do have the ability to influence the system.

Other than to turn back the hands of time, I can’t see any way that anybody can “fix” the zebra mussel problems. The only thing that could have prevented them is not allowing Ukrainian cargo ships from emptying their ballast tanks into our fresh water. Once they did that, it was too late. Now that they’re here, we have no choice but to adapt and work around the problems they cause.

I’m going to break your notes down into a list of bullet points and in the coming weeks, I’ll seek out experts on these topics. I’ll work at getting it right, and as always, share with you everything I learn along the way.

For today and tomorrow, my focus will be directed at finding and catching walleyes. Then, like many of you, I’m taking the Memorial Day Weekend off. My brother and sister-in-law are headed this way, maybe more of my family too. I’m thinking that relieving some Memorial Day experiences of my youth is a good idea. Look at the picture of those lilacs and I’ll give you 3 guesses about what I’m thinking. fish smiley image — Office Cell Call or Text 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image links to fishrapper home page May 22, 2024 "How Do You Catch a Unique Fish?"

The Krugs, Travis, Jacob, Zachary, Virgil and Mary Jane tell me that it’s been 13 years since the first time we fished together. During that time, we’ve had some interesting fishing trips and somehow, every one of them seems to work out a little differently than the others. Our trip on Sunday was no exception to that rule of thumb. For me, fishing on Winnie this spring has been “different” anyway, so it’s fitting that the Krug’s would have enjoyed some of that different-ness with me.

What I mean by different, is that so far, I’ve been able to find and catch walleyes every day. That said, there have been some slow hours of fishing during the time I search for them. Part of the trouble has been that walleyes have been moving around a lot, and the best fishing depths vary from day to day. One day I find them in 6 feet of water, the next day they’re in 14 feet. My problem has been that I usually guess the wrong option first, then figure out which option is the right one.

On Sunday, I was bound and determined to locate walleyes in the shallow water. I’d caught them in 6 to 7 feet of water last Thursday, and on Saturday, my neighbor had a great morning in the same region. We worked the shallows for a couple of hours, moving from spot-to-spot, casting and retrieving jigs and minnows, but had zero fish to show for it.

We were close to a deeper spot on a flat and because of a good morning I had with those boys on a previous trip, named it “Krug Flat”. Casting into 14 feet of water with a ¼ ounce live bait jig tipped with a fathead triggered a strike from a walleye in the protected slot. Then we caught a couple of northern pike too and maybe a perch or two. There wasn’t enough fish there to hold our attention for long, but the clue of fishing deeper was a big help. On our next stop, casting and retrieving the ¼ ounce jig and minnow combos worked out better. In fact, the Krug clan had me cook some of their walleyes for dinner, and still packed up 3 limits to take home.

image of Jacob and Zachary Krug with a lake winnie walleyeI’m fairly confident that these were the same fish I’d been catching in the shallows earlier in the week. Proving that theory would be difficult, but let’s assume I’m right and that the fish are simply moving in and out of the shallows as daily conditions vary. That would mean that a solid game plan is to fish shallow, deep and in-between at every spot we try.

Surface water temperatures are still cool, ranging between 59 and 63 degrees. Minnows and small perch are still the best food source for walleyes and they’re likely what’s driving the nomadic feeing patterns. So, locating shallow sand flats where shiners and small gamefish gather, fish the shoreline flats first, key water depths would be 4 to 8 feet deep. The next stop should be further out on the flats, key depths are typically 12 to 16 feet. The last stop should be the breakline leading into the lake’s main basin. Key depths there would typically be 18 to 28 feet, give or take.

Until last Sunday, we used jigs tipped with live minnows exclusively. I did an experiment with plastics on Sunday though, and I did get a couple of strikes using them. It was clear then that Winnie’s walleyes were showing a strong preference for real meat. That said, the timing for a change is coming and yesterday, I stocked up on some of the plastics I had luck with last year. Ripple Shads, Keitech Minnows and Eye Candy are at the ready and I’ll be whirling them out every day this week.

Yesterday (5-21-2024), I took note of a comment in Bowen’s fishing report. “A water quality assessment in 2023 revealed that Winnie’s water clarity measured 27 feet, an all-time record clarity for the lake.” That record water clarity was confirmed to me in a conversation with DNR Fisheries Specialist Dan Schermerhorn, Lake Winnie’s large lake specialist.

image of Virgil Krug holding a nice winnie walleyeWhat I’ve noticed this spring is that some areas of the lake are much clearer than others. Areas where water is flowing into Winnie, like the Mississippi River and Third River Flowage are somewhat dingier. Anecdotally, folks are catching more fish in these regions than they are where the water is super-clear. With all the rain we received yesterday, I’m hoping that there will be even more cloudy water flowing in. If that happens, it could be helpful.

Take a tip from some of the big-time pro anglers down on Mille Lacs that is also related to the rainfall. We should remember that walleyes are by nature, currently oriented predators. Flowing water gets them moving, swimming, and prowling forward into the current, feeding along the way. So, whenever you spot fresh water flowing into the lake from small streams and rivers, check it out, there may be a feeding run happening there.

The headline of this report ponders the question, “How Do You Catch a Unique Fish? Well obviously, the answer is that "U-NIQUE" up on them!

I may be one of the last anglers on the lake who still doesn’t use forward-facing sonar. But I do realize that what allows me to get by without it is Knowing the lake’s structure. There’s no doubt that in clear water, I simply cannot drive around looking for fish on my graph the way I used to do. These days I sneak toward structures that I think are likely fish holding areas. I stop short of the structure, but within casting distance and ask my customers to cast to likely spots.

I call my system “the poor man’s panoptix” and it works for me. If you know the lake, the poor man’s panoptix will work for you too. And if you don’t know the lake, use your mapping chart to help learn it. Select points, inside turns and sunken structures, sneak in on them and cast toward them. Retrieve your lures repeating a drop-hop-swim motion. Admittedly, not every spot will produce fish, but if you stick with the pattern, you will amaze yourself with how often you guess the right spot.

No matter which system or pattern you choose to use, take it from me, the concept of “boat-shyness” is very real. Folks that are accustomed to success using presentations like vertical jigging, or drifting, or trolling on the formerly turbid waters of Winnie will continue to struggle until they make certain adaptations to accommodate the clear water conditions.

Yesterday’s rainfall was a godsend to the Itasca Region, we needed the water badly. It didn’t serve the needs of my customers though, so we stayed in dry dock all day yesterday. The rain arrived without any major lighting and thunder, so I’m optimistic that today’s fishing won’t be too severely impacted by it. I’ll let you know about that as soon as I am able. fish smiley image — Office Cell Call or Text 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image links to Ely Area, Arrowhead Outdoors Ice Fishing Report May 22, 2024

image of camper on canoe trip near Ely holding a large walleye "Walleye - Walleye fishing has been excellent for many Ely area anglers. Key depth to fish continues to be from 2 to 9 feet of water. Multiple reports, from anglers, of walleye stomachs being packed full of minnows, has anglers focusing on river mouths, shallow bays and windy shorelines, during the late evening hours or early mornings. Anglers catching walleyes have been throwing paddle tails, minnow baits, lindy rigs (tipped with a minnow) and jigs tipped with a minnow.

Popular colors have been gold, gold/white, pink/white and blue/white. Interestingly, multiple groups reported caught very large walleyes while pike fishing with lite and/or heavy suckers. If you're struggling catching small walleyes, maybe your bait is too small.

Pike - Pike fishing continues to be hot and heavy for many pike anglers. Pike anglers have been having great success floating heavy suckers under a bobber, in shallow bays and river mouths. Large spoons, buzzbaits and large minnow baits are also being thrown, with great success, in these same areas.

Smallmouth - Smallies are slowly sliding up onto shallow rock as they near their spawn. Anglers targeting them have been having success using Ned Rigs and suspending jerk minnows. Areas to target have been out around islands and shallow rocky flats.

Crappies - Many anglers reported good crappie fishing this last week on several area lakes. With water temp still hanging in the 50's, crappies still have yet to start spawning on area lakes. Anglers have been finding crappies either staging at the mouth of shallow bays they are looking to spawn in or are in the shallows waiting for spawning temps. Anglers have been using a simple jig and crappie minnow, under a bobber, to catch these crappies.

Stream Trout - Rainbows have been active on area stream trout lakes, this last week. Anglers fishing from shore have been using a simple night crawlers under a bobber, about 5 to 10 feet down. Anglers fishing from a boat have been trolling small, brightly colored, minnow baits around. Small handful of anglers also reported having good success trolling cowbells, to catch nice rainbows." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358

image links to fishrapper home page May 21, 2024 "Crappies on the Menu!"

image of Ken Seufert and the Hippie Chick with a pair of nice crappies caught near Grand Rapids I saw my first crappie of the season sitting over a bed in shallow water this Monday. That was it though, despite reports from some anglers that they’re finding crappies in some shallow water lakes, this single sighting tells me that crappies in much of the north central region are just beginning to explore spawning territory.

Ken Seufert and I had already fished for walleyes on Winnie last Saturday. So, on this trip, with the added assistance of “first mate” the Hippie Chick, was aimed at finding crappies, perch, or walleyes somewhere that could enjoy some different scenery. As the photos reveal, the crappies we hoped to find did show up, they just weren’t located where we expected to find them.

There were two key areas for us, one was a rocky reef located in 16 feet of water. There were small packs of fish scattered around the outer edges of the bar. When we spotted them, they struck, but they were nervous, moving quickly out of sight any time we caught one. In a sense, it was more like walleye fishing, slowly trolling, casting and retrieving and picking off the fish one-by-one.

image of Ken Seufert holding big walleye he caught near Grand Rapids MN The second area we located crappies was in patches of healthy green cabbage. Again, there were not any large schools of fish. Slow trolling, casting and retrieving 1/8 out live bait jigs tipped with fatheads allowed us to pick up fish one-by-one.

When we fished in the cabbage, small northern pike were caught frequently. We didn’t catch any of them that warranted harvest so in that way, fishing weeds was a disadvantage. On the other hand, casting the same jigs and minnows also allowed us to catch some really nice walleyes and, in that way, fishing the cabbage was a strong bonus. We did harvest 3 walleyes, but because we could not catch any fish under 20 inches, had to leave the lake with just those three.

Sunfish, a species that we commonly catch on this lake were non-existent. We never spotted any of them, or any bass, in the shallows. They didn’t appear to be in the cabbage either, so I imagine that they were located on deeper flats, or possibly out in the lake’s main basin. The surface temperature was still cool, ranging from 58 to 60 degrees, so they’ll probably turn up in the shallows whenever we receive our next significant weather warmup.

For the next few days, I’ll be focused on walleye fishing, but should be able to pick up the search for panfish again over the Memorial Day weekend.

Today, I’m slated for a walleye trip, but the weather forecast has my crew and me questioning whether we’ll pull it off. No matter what happens today though, I’ll have more fresh reports tomorrow morning. I still owe you a Winnie report from Sunday, when I fished with the Krug family and I’m anticipating news from Ely, and Lake of the Woods too.

If you’re headed for the lake today, keep an eye on the sky and be careful. It would appear that Mother Nature plans to end the drought all at once and if the weather forecast holds true, we’re in for a really wet day and night ahead. fish smiley image — Office Cell Call or Text 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image links to bowen lodge on lake winnie Cutfoot Sioux, Lake Winnie Fishing Report May 21, 2024

image of Rand Olson links to fishing report from Lake Winnie "With a full week of fishing now in the books, we’ve had a chance to compare real life experiences with recent DNR fisheries reports about Lake Winnie’s fish populations. So far, the key takeaway about this season is that the very large 2019-year class of walleyes have matured, and folks are catching lots of ideal eater size walleyes.

The typical bag coming into the fish cleaning station includes most fish measuring 15 to 16-1/2 inches, with an occasional larger, 17-17 ½ inch fish from the 2018-year class. Not many, but some fish from the 2013-year class remain in the system too, and folks are reporting 23-to-26-inch walleyes striking from time-to-time.

A water quality assessment in 2023 revealed that Winnie’s water clarity measured ..." Read >> Lake Winnie Fishing Report May 21, 2024

image links to Brainerd MN Area Fishing Report May 20, 2024 "The bite in Brainerd keeps heating up"

" I had a bad feeling going into my scouting trip on a small, Brainerd area lake late last Friday. Flat calm conditions and a high blue sky discouraged fish from feeding and I had little success finding them on sand, rocks, and points. After that, I went to the weeds and there, managed to put together a very good bite. This weedline bite continued throughout the day Saturday too, and aided me in putting together a large, multi-species bag of walleye, pike, and jumbo perch.

Fish could be found off the edges of deeper breaklines but the fish that were most active and feeding aggressively were found in 12 to 14 feet of water, just outside small weed beds.

Using side images to first find the fish, I circled back and zeroed in on them using live imaging to make pinpoint casts to them. That was the ticket to steady action, and we ended up running out of live bait during our trip. Once all the bait was gone, a jig and plastic allowed us to scrape together a couple more fish before the end of our day.

If we couldn’t get strikes from a school of fish after a handful of casts, we moved on to the next group.  Cycling though fish in a fast manner is the key to success using this technique. Other anglers that kept on the move also found more success than the ones who located and sat on very large schools of fish. We move, locate, and pinpoint the fish about as fast as we can, we catch the ones that will strike quickly, and then move on when the action slows. Good luck and tight lines this week!" — Joe Billiar, crooked hat guide service, 507-469-2714

image links to fishrapper home page May 20, 2024 "A Tale of Two ... Upper Red Lakes"

image of Roger Will and Bill Linder holding a pair of walleyes they caught on Upper Red Lake The headline news from two writers, each writing reports about the fishing on Upper Red Lake on Friday but with different deadlines, might look something like this.

Version 1) The fishing on Red Lake was phenomenal, despite sunshine and calm seas, walleyes crammed in shallow water provided steady action throughout the afternoon and early evening. Walleyes struck our jig and minnow combinations aggressively when cast into 3 to 4 feet of water.

Version 2) Walleye fishing on Red Lake just isn’t what it used to be. We moved steadily along the shoreline, trying spot-after-spot, but the best we could manage was ..." Read Full Report >> May 20, 2024 "A Tale of Two ... Upper Red Lakes"

image links to fishrapper home page May 17, 2024 "It All Depends On The Weather"

image of craig B Anderson with nice Winnie Walleye Shiners, along with other minnows and small gamefish are roaming the shallow sand flats on Lake Winnibigoshish right now. Walleyes definitely want to be there to feed on the bounty, and they are! That is at least when the weather conditions allow them to be there and twice now this week, we’ve seen both ends of the spectrum.

Wednesday and for most of the day Thursday, the skies were dark, and there was a light chop on the water. We located several areas where walleyes were in 6 to 7 feet of water and feeding heavily. Slow drifting, or backtrolling and casting/retrieving 1/8 live bait jigs tipped with minnows worked like a charm. In fact, I’d go so far as to say the action was almost as good as “the good old days”.

Then around 2:00 PM on Thursday, the sun began peeking through the clouds and the breeze subsided. I recall saying to my crew, “oh-oh, here we go again, back to the grind.” “What do you mean, one of them asked”? My reply was something like “sunny and calm is gonna kill the bite”. Then slowly but surely, it did, the walleyes disappeared from the shallow water and strikes became less frequent. My last hour or so on the lake was very slow. We’d already had a good day, but I felt relieved that the slowdown hadn’t occurred earlier.

image of the Hippie Chick with a nice Lake Winnie WalleyeEarlier this week, we’d experienced the same ups-and-downs in the shallow water action. So, I’ve been experimenting with spots located deeper. The Hippie Chick and I found some fish located on some of the mid lake bars. The trick to locating fish is to find spots that are located closest to the shoreline, not out in the middle of the lake. I watch for fish on the inside corners, adjacent to Winnie’s large flats. Sugar Bar, Bena Bar, Horseshoe Bar, Stony Point, Mallard Point, Highbanks, and others offer structures like these.

Even when we’ve found fish in deeper water, sunshine and calm seas have made them “flighty”. We’ve had to stay away from them, cast our jig/minnow combinations out and away from the boat, then retrieve them using a vertical hop-drop-hop-drop motion. Occasionally, I steer over the top of fish and see them on my sonar. We usually can pick up 1 or 2 of them but haven’t been able to keep any extended bite going with the old school, vertical jigging approach.

Another option is to seek out areas where inflowing water is less clear than the rest of the lake. We’ve found a few of them in the flowages and we have been able to catch “some” shallow walleyes there when its sunny. Using the same cast-and-retrieve approach, cover the water slowly and methodically, you will pick up a few nice fish.

Crappies are beginning to enter the conversation around the fish cleaning shack. Last night I spoke with a man, here at McArdle’s who had trailered to a small lake somewhere in the region. He was cleaning the 10 crappies that he caught in shallow, 2-to-3-foot water yesterday. “They were really spooky, I started with a 1/6-ounce jig tipped with 2-1/2-inch plastic tails but they would only nip at them. When I scaled down to a smaller, 1/32-ounce jig and tried smaller size plastics, they finally bit,” he told me.

image of Joyce Damon with a nice Winnibigoshish WalleyeThe water temperature on the lake he’d been fishing was 60 degrees and the fish appeared to be just moving into the shallows. We’ve looked for crappies in the shallows over here too but so far, have not found any sign of them. On Tuesday, we did see bass roaming through the bulrushes, but those were the only fish we spotted. The water temperatures here are cooler, now ranging from 54 to 58 degrees depending on depth and water color.

If you can adapt to changing conditions, you certainly will be successful fishing on Winnibigoshish, but adaptation is not a suggestion, it is mandatory. When you hear folks talking about the zebra mussel induced clear water and problems associated with them, don’t balk. The increased water clarity has changed the way I fish here, and while my success rate is improving, I consider myself low on the learning curve.

I know that Bowen Lodge is currently working on a comprehensive assessment of conditions and fish populations on Winnie. So, I won’t go into all of that right now but what I will offer is that there are still plenty of fish in the lake, and when conditions are favorable, they will be biting. We might just have to be more careful about picking the days and times we decide to fish out there. Like my buddy Fritz Becker always says, “it all depends on the weather.” fish smiley image — Office Cell Call or Text 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image links to bowen lodge on lake winnie Cutfoot Sioux, Lake Winnie Fishing Report May 16, 2024

image links to fishing report from LaKE Winnie "Jump to the conditions for our 2024 walleye fishing opener on Lake Winnie. Calm seas, bright sunshine, 54 to 56 degree water temperatures and robust crowds was the challenge. Hit or miss, was the best term we can use to describe the opening weekend results. Many of the more experienced anglers did very well. Many of the less technically oriented anglers struggled.

The good news is that walleyes which were caught tended to be high quality fish. Keepers from the large 2019-year class now range from 15-1/2 to 16-1/2 inches in length. The population remains strong too, so there’s an excellent chance of gathering fish for a meal. The also strong 2018-year class, and a smattering of remaining 2013 year class fish provided folks with opportunities to catch-photo-release some larger fish. Reports of fish from 18 to 22 inches were common, some larger fish in the 24-to-26-inch range were reported by especially lucky anglers.

The key depths tended to be deeper than typical for most. Most common were reports of folks catching fish in the 16-to-22-foot depth range. Fish were also located shallower, but only in ..." Read >> Lake Winnie Fishing Report May 16, 2024

image reader comments Reader Comments May 16, 2024 "Lake Kabetogama Fishing Report"

Brandon Flaata wrote, "Hi Jeff, Wanted to share my opener report from Lake Kabetogama and Namakin.

Overall Kabetogema had better fishing, but both lakes were tough. The trick was to stay mobile, fish a spot for 15 to 20 minutes, and if you didn't get a bite move on. It seemed like each spot we hit we would pick up 1 or 2 only, so for a chance to pick up 6 to 8 keepers between 2 guys in a day required a lot of moving around.

We didn't pick up any walleye in less than 14 feet of water. The shallower we got the more northern we caught. The magic range for my boat was 18 to 24 feet of water. Lots of people, like me, noticed that lots of fish have moved to deeper water already, beyond 30 feet deep. Like you, I am not a fan of fishing that deep, especially (on a lake) with a (protected slot limit). Although people were saying the bite was better deeper, I can't confirm that claim as I chose to stay shallower. Cheers! Brandon"

image links to Lake of the Woods, LOW Tourism May 16, 2024

image of young woman holding huge walleye caught near Zippel Bay on Lake of the Woods "This year's MN Fishing Opener weekend was not only great weather wise, the walleyes and saugers were caught in good numbers. A main fish gut hauler working with a number of resorts commented it was one of the most productive opening weekends he has seen based on the amount of fish guts collected after the weekend.

The goto presentation was a jig and frozen emerald shiner. Emerald shiners are a staple in LOW and walleyes love them. Other minnows worked also, but emerald shiners are a favorite of anglers for good reason.

Four Mile Bay held good walleyes in 12 to 18 feet of water. Not a surprise as the walleye bite on the river during the spring season was good and as of late, sturgeon anglers have been reporting catching walleyes on sturgeon rigs. The Lighthouse Gap area, Morris Point Gap and just in front of Pine Island held nice fish in 12 to 15 feet of water. Across the south shore, 18 to 22 feet was holding good numbers as well. As you can see, there are lots of fish around.

A quarter ounce jig in gold, glow white, pink, orange, chartreuse, or a combo of these colors tipped with a minnow worked well.

As a reminder, the limit of walleyes and saugers is a combined limit of six fish, up to four of the six can be walleyes. All walleyes between 19.5 and 28.0 inches must be released. One fish over 28.0 inches can be kept. The possession limit in MN is one daily limit of fish.

Although most anglers hit the lake, the Rainy River hosted some anglers and there were some nice walleyes caught this weekend there too. 10 to 15 feet of water was the norm. Sturgeon fishing on the Rainy River has been excellent. The catch and release season continues through May 15th and then closes until the keep season starts up again July 1st.

Up at the Northwest Angle, some nice walleyes were caught in 18 -to 25 feet of water, a little deeper than anticipated. Points were good as were areas with structure. The morning and evening bite was best. As water continues to warm, go to spots for walleyes will be neck down areas, shoreline breaks, points and bays. The goto presentation was a jig and minnow."  Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH

image links to Ely Area, Arrowhead Outdoors Ice Fishing Report May 15, 2024

Walleye anglers were greeted with warm water temps and clear blue skies. Water temps are being reported from 51 to 59 degrees. Anglers that fished this opener like they did last year, struggled. Small walleyes, too small to keep, we're a common catch. Yes, a few keepers were landed, but...

These anglers reported catching walleyes in 14 to 20 feet of water on a jig and minnows. So, where was the hot bite? Where were the big keepers, everyone wants, caught? Super shallow water. 2 to 7 feet of water, max! Here anglers are catching walleyes pitching 1/16oz to 1/8oz jigs, tipped with a good lively rainbow. Bigger the rainbow the better! Shallow sand flats, gravel, or near slow moving creeks entering a lake were the best place to find these active walleyes. Top jig colors reported were, green...yes green, bubble gum, blue and white.

Northern Pike anglers had a great time catching good numbers of quality pike over opening weekend. Large pike however, over 40", proved to be very challenging to find. Large suckers, fished under a bobber, was very effective as several groups had to return to the shop, the same day, for more large suckers. Pike anglers found pike in shallow bays with emerging weeds or a slow moving creek entering the lake.

Crappies - With water temps getting close to the 60's, anglers looking for something to fish for, before walleye opener, found dark colored crappies in shallow water staging to spawn, in 2 to 6 feet of water, on many area lakes. Crappie minnows fished under a bobber or hair jigs fished back in shallow, sun soaked bays, were very effective catching nice crappies.

Stream Trout - Anglers seeking stream trout, over opening weekend, enjoyed light fishing pressure and active trout. Small silver and blue spoons, spinners, and the ever popular night crawler, were all very popular and very effective stream trout. Shore anglers and boat anglers alike, enjoyed good stream trout fishing.

Smallmouth - Smallmouth bass reports were few and far between. Reports of bass being caught were mainly from walleyes guys, targeting walleyes. With water temps very close to 60, smallies are staged in shallow bays looking to spawn, very soon. The small group of smallmouth anglers, targeting smallies, reported finding smallies in 5 ft of water or less. As you can imagine Ned rigs and tubes were very effective on these bass." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358

image links to fishrapper home page May 13, 2024 "Noting the Note-Able"

image of Carey Brown and friends with stringer full of nice walleyes from Lake Winnie At the resorts around Lake Winnie this weekend, it wouldn’t have been hard to spot images like this one that I borrowed from McArdle’s facebook page. Carey, Curt, and Matt headed to the cleaning tables with a very nice limit of walleyes. They weren’t alone, we watched a steady stream of west side anglers coming in with fish all weekend long. On the north side of Winnie, you’ll find similar images of folks headed back to Bowen’s too.

It’s evident that walleyes are widely distributed around the lake. Yesterday, I talked with a friend who’d been on the lake catching fish in 6 to 7 feet of water. Not far up the shoreline, another group reported catching fish in 16 feet of water. Some folks were catching fish on sharp breaklines in 24 feet, and others fished on a large flat in 12 feet of water.

So far, jig and minnow combinations are the mainstay presentation on Winnie. There are also a handful of folks using Lindy Rigs, which is a good way to present larger minnows, like the big Mille Lacs shiners that some groups brought along this weekend.

I’m not sure how widespread the trend is, but I know that on Leech Lake, some of the guides are already tossing slip floats with leeches to catch walleyes. I think most of them are “sharp shooting” using forward sonar, which is a huge advantage for that style of presentation. Jig and minnow presentations are working on Leech too, best reports there are coming from folks fishing the shoreline breaks in 12 to 20 feet of water.

I’d been hearing some good reports about crappie fishing lately and decided to take the family to a smaller lake to look for them. The lakes where folks have been catching them have darker water and have warmed into the 61-to-64-degree range. The lake I chose has fairly dark water, but not dark enough, and we were too early for the shallow, pre-spawn fishing patterns. Water temperatures were still in the 55-to-57-degree range, and the only activity in shallow water was some small schools of perch patrolling the bulrushes.

We moved away from the shoreline and looked at a little bit of deep water, but there was enough wind to make that uncomfortable and we didn’t continue the search out in the main basin. We took some time to try jigging the shoreline breaks too and caught a couple small walleyes and some pike. If anything, though, the experience gave me the impression that sticking with the larger walleye lakes is a better idea, at least for another week or so.

The kids drove home yesterday evening, and tomorrow marks my first official workday of the season. So today is my “pre-fishing” day to get prepared for that trip. We’ll see what the weather looks like and decide where to go from there. I know a lot of you drove home yesterday too, but if you’re still around and headed out to the lake, Good Luck out there. fish smiley image — Office Cell Call or Text 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image links to wired2fish Wired2Fish May 13, 2024 "Flat-Sided Cranking Smallmouth | A Jerkbait Alternative"

image links to fishing video about how to catch smallmouth bass using wide bodied crankbaits"A jerkbait typically comes to mind when considering prespawn smallmouth bass fishing, but subtle flat-sided crankbaits are a unique alternative. Wired2fish’s Kyle Peterson provides an in-depth look at crankbaits’ use when targeting smallmouth bass on rocky drop-offs and flats adjacent to their spawning grounds. Peterson details the unique benefits of a crankbait, key locations and conditions, and his preferred gear for the technique.

Peterson starts by showcasing the Rapala OG Deep Tiny crankbait, emphasizing its slower rise compared to beefier round-bodied balsa crankbaits such as squarebills. This feature allows anglers to pause the bait effectively, keeping it in the strike zone longer, similar to a suspending jerkbait. Add a few Suspend Strips to make it suspend or even slow sink. So why a crankbait over a jerkbait? A crankbait can effectively ..." View Video and Learn More >> Flat-Sided Cranking Smallmouth | A Jerkbait Alternative

image links to Brainerd MN Area Fishing Report May 13, 2024 Joe Billiar

image of Joe Billiar holding nice size walleyes caught on Gull Lake "Fishing for walleyes around the Brainerd area was a mixed bag this weekend. Anglers who went out before sunrise and trolled crankbaits found good success in 4 to 6 feet of water. For most anglers, including myself, the bite died rapidly ss the sun came up.

Large schools of fish were easy to find but we were able to only pick off a few. Sunday looked much more promising. Missing 3 fish trolling cranks before sunrise was disappointing. Then, the fish were even more tight lipped than they were on Saturday. We did manage to find a few of them fishing with jigs and plastics. In my boat this weekend, artificials well outperformed live bait.

People were still bringing in crappies in the bays on gull. Good luck and tight lines for next week." — Joe Billiar

image links to fishrapper home page May 12, 2024 "Another Family Friendly Walleye Fishing Opener"

Image of Governor Jesse Ventura with Annalee Sundin at the 1999 Minnesota Walleye Fishing Opener I wonder if you remember what you did on the fishing opener 25 years ago? No, I don’t blame you, I can barely remember what I had for dinner last Thursday.

They say that memories, to be most vividly recorded in your brain’s cache, need to be emotional, somehow noteworthy of getting flagged within your internal archives. So, I guess that means the 1999 Minnesota’s Governor’s Fishing Opener was that, emotional, for me. It was noteworthy on several levels, and someday I might even write a story just about that. Today though, the connection between that opener, and this one is about one thing, family.

When you fish with somebody for a day, there’s a lot of time to chat. Often, the conversation meanders and folks wind up talking about anything from their favorite music to their most comfortable socks. On that day back in 1999, the Governor and I talked a lot about family. Unlikely as it may seem to you, he was a huge supporter of “family stuff”, especially about stuff that my family was into at the time.

Image of Annalee Sundin Jones with Lake Winnie Walleye 2024 Fishing OopenerHorses, my daughter, Annalee’s passion, happened to be a shared one with Mrs. Ventura. I mentioned to the Governor that she’d been pushing me to get her a horse. “Well Ya’ Better Make A Lot Of Money Doin’ This Then”, he said. I told him that I was doing my best, and at the time, added that all I really wanted to keep my nose above water long enough to see it happen. “That’s Why Ya’ Shouldn”t Be Screwin” Around Out Here With Me On The Opener. Ya’ Should Be Out Fishin’ With Her On The Opener.” He said.

Well, I took his advice and from then on, the fishing opener has been reserved for my family instead of paying customers. Some of the old f amiliar cast members are gone now, but these days, new ones are appearing on the scene. Like Audrey Jones, cameoed into the McArdle’s Resort sign. Audrey told me yesterday that she brought her mom and dad Annalee and Austin along, and they were gonna stay with her in their … wait for it, “Horse Tailer Camper.” That’s right, Annalee got her horse, and has been adding to the herd ever since.

You probably guessed that if we’re camping at McArdle’s, we must have fished Winnie on the opener, and you’re right we did. We didn’t leave the dock until about 2:30 PM and we were back in by 6:30 PM, so it wasn’t a hard-core fishing trip. Everybody caught something, but none of us caught a lot. There were 3 northern pike that we couldn’t keep, and 7 walleyes, 1 of them in the protected slot.  So, we ended up with 6, 2019-year class “keepers” for a meal.

Everything we caught came on jigs and minnows, the walleyes mostly on 1/8 ounce Live Bait Jigs tipped with either shiners or large fatheads. Those fish were located in water depths of 10 to 12 feet, along the breakline adjacent to a very wide, shallow water flat. The pike, and 1 walleye were caught on ¼ ounce Live Bait Jigs tipped with shiners. Those fish were caught on the deeper breakline in 20 to 22 feet of water.

At the dock, reports from other fishing groups were mixed. Some folks caught lots of fish, but there were those who struggled too. Most of the successful groups were those who found fish early. Most accounts were that fishing in water depths of 14 to 18 feet deep worked out best. Even at that depth though, crowd noise and commotion moved fish out quickly. Most folks who stayed in spots because there were lots of boats, suffered for the decision.

Our internet connectivity at the campers is very poor, so I don’t have a lot of fresh reports coming in from around the region. But I promise a harder-core report more heavily focused on fishing strategies as soon as my communications department can remedy the situation.

In the meantime, let’s not forget, we have Mother’s Day to celebrate, and Austin and I are planning to take our beloved wives out for a special breakfast. Then, we’ll do some fishing, probably another casual trip like we did yesterday.

Whatever you’re doing today, I hope you’re having a blast doing it. If it happens to be fishing, good luck! fish smiley image — Office Cell Call or Text 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image links to fishrapper home page May 10, 2024 MN Fishing Opener "New Product Introduction Benchmade FISHCRAFTER"

image links to product video by jeff sundin introducing new fishcarfter fillet knife Before I head out to the lake this morning, I want to mention that I tried out a new fillet knife last summer. It’s called the FISHCRAFTER™ and it’s manufactured here, in America, by Benchmade. I learned about the knife when my friends at Bowen Lodge asked me to help out with a video project aimed at launching the knife as a new product this summer. Well, it’s here and available to you now.

At the time, I didn’t know what to expect, I’d never seen the knife let alone cleaned a fish with it. Luckily, it turned out to be a fabulous product, and was immediately impressed by it. I could go on and on about the knife, its features and how sharp it is, but I don’t have to because the video demonstration is available on the Benchmade website too, and it’s easier for you to view that.

I’ve written before that if I suggest a product to you, it is because I’ve used it myself and believe it will help you. So, just for the record, this video demonstration was not a paid gig for me, I was simply helping out friends who are highly supportive of me, and in this instance, the Benchmade folks too. In my mind, the least I can do is to be equally supportive of them, especially considering how rare the opportunities are.

If you’re in the market for a top shelf fillet knife, one that will last you a lifetime, check this one out by following the link below. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed! Learn More >> Benchmade FISHCRAFTER™ DEPTH BLUE SANTOPRENE® 7" TRAILING POINT Fillet Knife fish smiley image — Office Cell Call or Text 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image links to fishrapper home page May 10, 2024 MN Fishing Opener "Shiner Tanks Filling Fast"

A lot has changed over the past few days. Posted this morning by Northwoods Bait in Bemidji, the photo left shows a net full of shiners. “Tanks are full, it’s time.” Was the succinct accompanying message.

Fred’s Bait in Deer River received another load of shiners yesterday too, and so have several other bait shops in the region. I can’t say for sure, but it appears that there will be enough to at least get folks started this weekend.

If you're stopping for minnows today, and can spare a minute to share news about the supply at your favorite bait store, let us know! fish smiley image — Office Cell Call or Text 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image links to fishrapper home page May 10, 2024 MN Fishing Opener "Ready Or Not, Here We Come!"

Well, here we are, the 2024 Minnesota walleye fishing season is upon us. By now, most folks already know what they need to know, and are moving toward their opening weekend destinations. The Hippie Chick and I got most of our gear packed up yesterday too, and today we’ll be joining the masses, hoping to land on the right spot, at the right time. Before I log off the computer and grab my fishing rod, we have a few last-minute notes to clean up from yesterday.

Q) Dave Perry asked, "I'm hoping you can let me know how the public access on the north side of Round Lake is by Squaw Lk. With low water levels will we be able to get a boat in. In past years when it was low the bigger boats couldn’t get launched. Any thoughts would be helpful, we're planning on heading up next week if we can launch our boat. Thank you!

A) Dave, here’s a note I got from Cory Smith, co-owner of Leino's Riverside Resort and Pub located on Round Lake. "Good morning, Jeff, to be safe on Round Lake bring some hip waders. You might have to walk the boat out a bit. Southeast access is going to be your best bet. Big heavy boats Most likely will be very tough to launch."

I reached out to folks on some of the Bowstring area lakes yesterday too. Unfortunately, none of those folks had the time, or made the time to respond. So, I’ll repeat the advisory I shared yesterday, Itasca, Cass, and Beltrami Counties are at the epicenter of Minnesota’s current rainfall shortage. If you’re headed for any lake where you’ve experienced trouble in other low water seasons, you should expect problems now too.

Q) Dan Ferguson wrote, “Jeff, I followed the link to the watershed map that you posted yesterday, but I didn’t find the color shaded map that your web page showed. How do I find that map?

A) Dan, click the link again, Minnesota DNR Watershed Map and when the map opens up, under the overlays tab in the legend, click on the current weekly stream flow tab. This will give you the color overlays you see in the photos I’ve shared. Experiment too with some of the other filters and you may find information that’s useful in determining conditions in your home region.

Anglers visiting certain lakes in our region may experience problems beyond the obvious safety concerns associated with low water levels. Zebra mussel infested waters like Winnie, Cass and others are very clear right now. Dan Schermerhorn, Large Lake Specialist for Winnibigoshish, works out of the Grand Rapids DNR Fisheries office. In a conversation yesterday, said, “it’s like looking into a bottle of water, gin clear.”

I speculated that the increased water clarity might be the result of low inflows from small rivers and streams. That, combined with cool water temperatures have slowed the development of algae blooms. I shared some tips about dealing with clear water conditions yesterday, in an article by Jens Heig at Bowen Lodge. If you missed that, and plan to fish one of these clear water lakes, check it out today, it could be helpful to you this weekend.

My conversation with Dan Schermerhorn was focused primarily on the fishing outlook for Winnie during the upcoming season. The article will provide information about walleye, perch and pike populations, growth trends and preliminary year class data. I’ll be working on that throughout the weekend, and it will be available early next week, I’ll let you know when it’s ready.

image links to wired2fish Wired2Fish May 10, 2024 "Berkley Powerbait Cullshad Swimbait Review"

image links to fishing article about how to use Berkely Powerbait Swimbaits"One of the hottest trends in fishing over the last several years is throwing big baits. This style of fishing has taken the bass fishing community by storm, and it’s quickly proven to be a productive way to catch some giant bass. One of the most productive big baits an angler can throw is a harness style swimbait. One of the most talked about harness style swimbaits to hit the market is the Berkley Powerbait Cullshad. This bait draws inspiration from other baits in its category while adding Berkley’s own unique twist to this popular style of lure.

The Berkley Powerbait CullShad Swimbait features a big bait profile with a lifelike action. The Cullshad features Berkley’s proprietary Honeycomb Technology that increases durability while maintaining a superb action. This bait comes standard with a pre-rigged harness and a screw lock hook keeper that keeps everything in place without hassle. This bait runs true at a variety of speeds whether you’re slow rolling it near the bottom or burning it on the surface. ..." Read Article and Learn More >> Berkley Powerbait Cullshad Swimbait Review

image links to fishrapper home page May 9, 2024 MN Fishing Opener "Shiner Supplies, Water Levels and Alternative Baits"

image shows an assortment of Joe Billiar's favortie artficial lures for walleye fishing I mentioned yesterday that the reader demand for tracking supplies of spottail shiners, while important, has lost intensity in recent years. Among the reasons, I cited an increased willingness among anglers to explore alternative presentations. Some still prefer live bait but have switched to minnow varieties that are easier to find. Others are rejecting live bait altogether, opting instead to rely on artificial lures to put their walleyes topside.

When I called Joe Billiar, Crooked Hat Guide Service in Baxter, MN for a shiner update, I learned that he is in the “artificial lure camp”. Not that Joe won’t use live bait, he will. But when he hits the water this weekend, he’ll be throwing some of his favorite soft plastics and hard baits too. I asked if he’d be willing to share his favorites with us, and he agreed. Here are his thoughts about alternatives to using live minnows for the upcoming walleye opener.

Billiar plans to be fishing in the Brainerd area this weekend, possibly on Gull Lake. “The fish should be well past spawn and ready to feed heavily up shallow. Like many anglers around the state, I will be pitching jigs into the shallow waters and the photo left shows some of my preferred opening day lineup.”

“Depending on the depth where I find fish, I will be throwing either a ¼ oz or 3/8 oz jig head, paired with a Kalin’s Tickle Tail, Jerk Minnow Jr, or Keitech Paddle Tail. I typically start with a 3 inch plastic tail but will go up or down based on bites and size of fish I encounter. The jigs are all long shank models that help place the hook far enough back on the tails for effective hook sets on short striking fish.”

Billiar advises us to work these more aggressively than we would when using live minnows, and I agree with his advice. The idea is to fan cast the area out and away from the boat and retrieve them using a sharp pull-drop-pull drop motion. “I’m looking for more of a reaction type bite, rather than a finesse bite. Based on the weekend weather forecast, typical shallow water spots should be good for opening weekend. Starting on Gull this year, it will certainly be busy, so I’d urge all anglers to just smile and be patient with each other.” Billiar says.

image links to the Minnesota Cooperative Stream Gaging websiteFinally, if all else fails, Billiar offers that the crappies are still going strong on Gull. He’ll plan to chase those if the walleyes choose to be their typical, tight-lipped selves on the opener.

Water levels in north central Minnesota remain low, and folks have been emailing with questions about specific lakes and individual landings. Lakes like Bowstring, Round, Splithand and other shallow water, river fed waters are most referred to. It’s hard for me to have firsthand information about every lake and landing, so I’ve been reaching out to folks who live on, or near, the most popular ones. Sometimes that works, often it does not, and that set me into searching for places where I could quickly gather public information about lake water levels.

Yesterday, I ran across this, “Cooperative Stream Gaging (CSG)” website. The information compiled here comes from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, National Weather Service and U.S. Geological Survey.

This site is new to me, so I’m just now exploring its usefulness in terms of determining lake water levels. But one thing I quickly learned is that conditions in north central Minnesota ate still quite dry compared to other regions of the state. I think it’s safe to say that if you’re headed toward the red zone on this map, you should plan to avoid any lake where shallow water has caused problems launching your boat in the past. There will be lots of eyeballs in the area this weekend, and exceptions will be revealed fast, and I’ll provide updates as they are.

Spottails began showing up at the bait stores in my region yesterday, and conditions look good for trappers to get more today. That said, this is one season where supplies of shiners are better in the south-central region than they are here in the northland. Tutt’s Bait and Tackle in Garrison got a fresh batch of shiners yesterday and from the images I saw, their supply looks good.

image links to fishing article from Bowen Lodge about Jeff Sundin's thoughts on walleye fishingIn the Hutchinson area, a reader wrote, “Just thought I'd share that here at our Meeker County family cabin property, the creek is running nicely after the 6 inches of rain in April. I put out the minnow trap for an overnight this past weekend and got myself a couple of dozen lovely spottails. Opener should be fun, maybe even a lighted bobber from shore on Friday night. Have a safe and productive opener!”

Once the flow of shiners from Red Lake, Winnie and Leech gets started, local bait tanks will fill fast. But if you’re headed north today and want to be sure you’ll have shiners this weekend, it might be smart to stop at some of the better shops in central Minnesota before you get this far north.

Jens Heig, from Bowen Lodge caught up with me earlier this week and asked for my thoughts about fishing Winnibigoshish for the walleye opener. He published an article there yesterday, so if you’re interested in Winnie this weekend, check out his article here, >> Bowen Lodge Fishing Article, Jeff Sundin Shares Thoughts on Minnesota Tradtion

For me, the tradition of sharing the walleye opener with my family is going up to a new level this weekend. Last summer, we picked up a camper and plan to use it for the first time this weekend. Staying on the west side of Winnie, we'll be free to behave like tourists, moving freely between the lake and our humble abode. I'm looking forward to the pace, likely more relaxed than driving back and forth whenever one of us needs a break from the action. Before we head out to the lake tomorrow, I'll drop in a few notes updating whatever I can. If you're headed for the lake, have fun, be safe and Good Luck! fish smiley image — Office Cell Call or Text 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image links to fishrapper home page May 8, 2024 MN Fishing Opener "Shiner Minnows For The Walleye Opener? Maybe."

image of tank filled with spottail shiners Anglers seeking news about shiner supplies for Minnesota’s walleye opener is less intense now, compared to what it as a few years ago. Some worry less because they’ve discovered that other bait varieties are equally effective for catching walleye. Others have learned about artificial lures that produce good results and rely more on those alternatives. Still, there are plenty of folks who hope to, if not insist on getting shiner minnows for the annual walleye fishing opener.

As of today, shiner supplies are “trickling” into bait shops in north central Minnesota. Bill Powell at Fred’s Bait told me this morning that they have enough shiners on hand now to last for a few hours on the opener. For him, low water levels and strong winds have been a problem. “The shiners are there, we just have to be able to get at them”, he advised.” According to Powell, supplies of fatheads, rainbows and creek mix minnows is really good, so folks who shop at either Fred’s Bait, or at the co-owned Winnie One Stop will find plenty of alternative minnows in the tanks.

“Supplies are better than last year”, says John Ferris, co-owner of Full Stringer Bait and Tackle in Longville, MN. “I don’t think we have enough spottails on hand now to last through the day tomorrow (Thursday). But there was a decent run of them starting up a few days ago, before the last round of rain and strong winds hit. With a little sun and calm water, they could start coming in better over the next few days. For now, we have 2 dozen limit on shiners until supplies improve.” Full Stringer does have good supplies of big rainbows, plenty of fatheads, crappie minnows, and suckers. Leech supplies are better than last year too, and the inventory should be adequate for the weekend.

The folks at the Remer Trading Post weren’t available for comment this morning. But they did post photos of a bait tank containing spottails on Tuesday. Succinctly commenting along with the photo, “Spottail shiners are in stock.” I’m not sure how long their supplies will last, of if they’re rationing sales, but if you’re passing through Remer, it might be worth stopping.

Tutt’s Bait and Tackle in Garrison announced delivery of a small supply of spots today too. “There is not an overabundance by any means, so get ‘em early, but grab plenty.” They advised.

image of crappie caught in shallow water, pre-spawn modeDespite recent rainfall, low water levels are still a concern. Rick Pint wrote me asking about a rumor that the Plughat Point Landing on Winnibigoshish would be closed this weekend. I followed up on that question with Eden Berndt, Recreation Specialist for the Chippewa National Forest, Deer River station. “There are no specific closure announcements concerning the Plughat landing.” Berndt advised that its condition is listed “as is”, so I suspect that using that landing may not be pleasurable this weekend. Especially if the crowd is robust, which often is the case on the opening weekend.

Berndt commented about Bowstring Lake too, offering this; “We’ve completed repairs to the ramp that had buckled over the winter, and we’re leveling out the docks in preparation for the opener. Lake water levels are low and there are areas where loon mud has been blown into ramps, we’re looking into what, if anything, can be done about that.”

Personally, I’m planning to avoid Bowstring early this season, but I know it is highly popular. If you have a larger boat, the south landing is where you’ll want to go for public access. Launching at one of the resorts may be an option too, so it might be worth your time inquiring into that before you drive over.

If you’re already in the area, and eager to fish before the walleye opener, then think about crappies. As of last weekend, about half of the crappies were being caught suspended over deep water, mid-lake basins. There were a few folks catching them in shallow water and warmer temperatures should accelerate pre-spawn activity. I mentioned last week that lilacs were blooming in the twin cities and that’s a sure signal of shallow crappie movement. As the bloom line moves north, so will the opportunities for pre-spawn crappie action in shallow water. fish smiley image — Office Cell Call or Text 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image links to Lake of the Woods, LOW Tourism May 7, 2024

image of rainy river anglers holding huge sturgeon "Things are shaping up nicely on the south end of Lake of the Woods for Minnesota's 2024 Fishing Opener. Recent rain has brought up the water levels, which were low. The walleyes and saugers are in very good shape across the south shore. Expectations are high.

The "go-to" presentation this weekend will be a jig and frozen emerald shiner or other kind of minnow. Emerald shiners are a staple in LOW and walleyes love them. Hook the shiner through the mouth and out the gill. Push the minnow all the way up to the jig head and hook the minnow as far back as possible. This will give you a better hooking percentage.

Jig sizes and colors? This is stained water so you can get away with a big heavier jig, which is nice for those who don't fish a lot. It enables them to have more control and feel the bottom. A quarter ounce jig is a good size for starters. In stained water, gold, glow white, glow red, pink, orange and chartreuse, or a combo of those colors, are great places to start.

The limit of walleyes and saugers is a combined limit of six fish, up to four of the six can be walleyes. All walleyes between 19.5 - 27.99 inches must be released. One fish 28.0 inches or over can be possessed. The possession limit in MN is one daily limit of fish.

Whether intentionally or unintentionally, there will be some good pike caught this weekend. The pike season on LOW is open year round. The limit is 3 pike per day with one fish allowed more than 40 inches. All fish 30 to 39.99 inches must be released.

On the Rainy River, sturgeon fishing on the Rainy River has been excellent. The catch and release season is May 8 to 15. The keep season starts up again July 1st. FYI, there will be some nice walleyes in the Rainy River for the fishing opener. Lots of sturgeon anglers are reporting big walleyes being caught on sturgeon rigs!

Up at the Northwest Angle, resorts are ready to roll for the opener. As many of you know, this is the area of LOW where the islands begin. Lots of structure. Go to spots for walleyes, neck down areas, shoreline breaks, points and bays which will have warmer water. In true NW Angle form, be ready for a mixed bag of fish. In addition to walleyes and saugers, pike, jumbo perch, crappies, and even a few smallies and muskies will be caught. Again, the goto presentation will be a jig and minnow. Slow trolling a crankbait will also produce fish if need be."  Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH

image links to fishrapper home page Jeff Sundin Fishing Report May 2, 2024 MN Fishing Opener "Water Levels, Fisheries Summit and More"

image of rainfall chart for select north central minnesota lakes Well folks, the final countdown to Minnesota’s walleye opener has entered single digits! In just 9 days, we’ll be on the water, testing our skills and hoping to find schools of hungry fish.

Folks will be looking for bait soon, and despite rising interest in alternative baits, most walleye anglers will still be most interested in finding their favorite, spottail shiner minnows. Today, I’ll be checking in with trappers around the region to learn whether shiners have begun to move into any of their traditional spawning territories.

Folks have been interested in learning about water levels too, and anecdotally, I can say that the situation has improved over the past month. After the 2024 MN DNR Fisheries Summit, the Hippie Chick and I hung around the Twin Cities for a couple days.

At my brother’s house in Edina, the weather was warm and wet, the grass was green and flowering trees were in full bloom. Lilacs in bloom always signal the start of crappie spawning season, and yesterday in Edina, they were beginning to bloom. Folks in the metro region may want to test that for themselves this weekend.

Water levels have been a concern this spring, and while we’re not out of the woods yet, I have seen evidence of improving conditions. Along the route home yesterday, streams and small rivers were filled to their outer edges, there was standing water in ditches and low areas. The flow from streams will help replenish the waters of small lakes from now until the opener. I’ll get some firsthand information about lakes in my home area, but I can always use your help with updates from elsewhere in the state.

Fisheries specialist to share wisdom about Itasca Region waters.

image of fisheries specialist Don Schreiner links to KAXE website I just wrapped up my Thursday morning radio segment on KAXE/KBXE. During the show, we talked about their recent interview with fisheries biologist, Don Schreiner. Today, at noon, Schreiner appears as the featured speaker in The Itasca Waters webinar series called “Practical Water Wisdom”. In it, Schreiner will offer his thoughts and guidance about fisheries management in Minnesota.

While I was reading the transcript of his recent KAXE/KBXE radio interview, I was immediately struck by his comments related to advanced technologies. Schreiner’s opinions about forward-facing sonar are completely understandable, and likely echo some that you’ve heard before, maybe even your own.

Schreiner: “The technology that anglers have is almost, I would say, in some cases, better than what fishery scientists have," And what that goes back to is, again, managing people. So, when it gets so simple to find these fish stocks and if they're actually biting, that's where the regulations come in. So, there is a lot of discussion going on the last couple years about the forward-looking sonar. And there's been a lot of discussion actually over the last 10 years about limiting the number of fish people can take, so it not only protects the fish stocks, which is biological, but it spreads that catch over more people, which is kind of an ethical concern that fish managers get into as well.”

As it happens, the topic was spoken to directly in one MN DNR presentation we saw at the fisheries summit last weekend. In it, the presenter actually suggests the opposite. Advanced electronics, in the hands of average anglers does not necessarily put additional pressure on Minnesota’s fish populations. On the other hand, advanced electronics do offer highly experienced anglers, like fishing guides and tournament pros an advantage.

The mitigating factor is that advanced anglers often release most, if not all their catch. So, while they may be catching more fish than they did previously, their harvest rate doesn’t increase. In the coming weeks and months, we’ll be learning more and of course, sharing the knowledge with you here.  

I think it’s a good idea to check out both the May 2, 2024 Water Wisdom Webinar and Schreiner’s interview on Featured speaker Don Schreiner talks Minnesota fisheries KAXE/KBXE earlier this week.

Admittedly, the topics Schreiner will discuss are most appealing to folks that have more than a casual interest in fishing. But if you’re like me, and love learning everything you can about the interactions between fish, people and habitat, tuning in to the discussions will be well worth your time. fish smiley image — Office Cell Call or Text 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image links to wired2fish Wired2Fish April 23, 2024 "Spring Jerkbait Fishing Walleyes | Advanced Tactics"

image links to fishing video about using jerkbaits to catch walleyes during spring"Join Wired2fish contributor Scott Walsh as he dives into springtime walleye fishing using jerkbaits. Throughout the year, especially post-spawn, a large population of walleye set up in the shallows to feed on baitfish. Walsh demonstrates how the combination between modern electronics and jerkbaits effectively put walleye in the boat.

Exploring the benefits of advanced fishing technology, Walsh incorporates tools like high definition mapping, MEGA 360 Imaging, and forward-facing sonar to pinpoint the ideal fishing spots and individual fish without wasting time. He shares insights into how these technologies not only assist in locating fish but also in making informed decisions about ..." View Video to Learn More >> Spring Jerkbait Fishing Walleyes | Advanced Tactics

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.