June 7-9 is Take a Kid Fishing Weekend when Minnesota residents can fish without licenses if they take children 15 or younger fishing!
The bite is heating up as water temperatures rise. Walleye are moving deeper. Anglers are taking good numbers on jigs and rigs with minnows or leeches. Northern pike have become aggressive and are eager to bite!
Minnesota fishing opener dates for the 2019/2020 fishing season for most inland waters are as follows: walleye, sauger, northern pike, bass (catch-and-release) and lake trout, May 11; muskie, June 1. The fishing season for crappies, sunnies, perch and catfish is continuous. For rules, regulations and other helpful information on fishing in Minnesota, consult the DNR’s Fish Minnesota web page
International Falls – Rainy Lake
Rainy Lake water temperatures have been in the high 40sto mid-50s so walleye remain slightly behind in their traditional movements. Walleye are currently coming from the bays where water temperatures are slightly above that of the main lake, and the windblown shorelines and points have been the most productive. The best presentation has been a 1/16 to 1/8 ounce jig tipped with a minnow or plastic. A slow delivery is very helpful. Some anglers report that spinner rigs are starting to turn fish. With warmer temperatures, fishing is expected to continually improve.
Smallmouth bass have yet to begin nesting due to the cold water temperatures. Most fish are being caught near their traditional spawning areas where they can be found staging at the windy points, large boulders and other significant structure. The best approach is to suspending a twitch bait, along with a long pause. As always, plastics and hair jigs are great go-to options.
Crappies are in the shallows, hitting minnows under a slip bobber in depths of 3 to 5 feet. The turns and points in the bull rushes, as well as on and around the sunken rocks have been great locations.
Northern pike have completed their spawn but remain near their shallow spawning areas. The bays that are protected from larger bodies of water are a good place to start since the water is warmer. Spinner baits, spoons, and most significantly, suspended twitch baits have been the most productive. 800-325-5766; www.rainylake.org
Area guides report another great week on Lake Kabetogama! Walleye are being taken during the day on 3/8 ounce jigs tipped with a minnow worked in 30 to 36 foot depths. Most have been “keeper” size, but many nice catch-and-release fish have also been reported. During low light hours, walleye are being pulled from depths of 6 to 12 feet on 1/8 ounce jigs tipped with a minnow. The best technique is to either slowly troll or fan-cast from the boat. Water temperature range from 58 degrees (main lake) to 64 degrees in some bays. Crank baits worked along the shorelines are turning lots of bass. Northern pike seem to be active throughout the lake. The bugs are hatching and the water is warming, so the fish are becoming more active. 800-524-9085; www.kabetogama.com
Ely Area Lakes and Rivers
Walleye fishing continues to be best for anglers fishing near shore or just off their docks or campsites. Areas around the creek mouths are no longer as productive now that the minnow spawn has ended, but walleye continue to be found in the shallows. The large shallow flats near shore have been the best area to fish. Gold, blue and silver tinsel jigs tipped with minnow have been best. Anglers fishing from their docks or campsite are catching walleye on slip bobbers and leeches during evening hours and into the night. In fact, some real trophy-sized fish were caught this week by anglers using slip bobbers.
Crappies have started to spawn not that waters are consistently warmer. Anglers have been catching stingers full of crappies near the cattails and pencil reeds. Small slip bobbers and plain plastic tubes in pink, white, blue and chartreuse have been the top producers. Crappie minnows fished under a bobber are also turning crappies.
Lake trout fishing has been good for many anglers, but it has been challenging since some trout are coming from less than 10 feet of water on slip bobber rigs, yet others are coming from depths of more than 70 feet by anglers that are trolling. The most successful anglers are using deep-diving white crank baits over deep water. As water temperatures continue to rise, the lakers will move into deep waters and become easier for anglers to locate.
Stream trout fishing has been excellent for many anglers this last week. Rainbows are still being caught in the first 10 feet of the water column. Anglers are having success using cowbells, slip bobbers with baby crawlers, jigs with twisters, small streamers, and trolling small spoons or crank baits.
Smallmouth bass are still spawning so anglers have found them easy to locate, and some huge crappies have been taken. The most successful anglers are using pink, orange, chartreuse and white rigs and jigs. Wacky rigging has been the best way to trigger these fish to bite. Anglers have also been productive using suspended crank baits, and topwater baits such as poppers or flies.
Northern pike fishing is starting to slow as water temperatures rise and the big pike start moving deep. Still, anglers fishing early in the morning or on the edge of shallow bays near deep water are reporting lots of action. Large, heavy suckers and dead smelt fished under a bobber continue to turn the majority of large pike. 800-777-7281; www.ely.org
Grand Rapids Area Lakes
The walleye bite has heated up with the warmer temperatures. Some of the lakes giving up lots of walleye include Winnibigoshish, Moose, Bowstring and Trout lakes. A moon-eye jig and shiner is working well, but rig and leech are also consistently turning fish. Anglers that prefer to troll are doing well with shad raps on Pokegama and Sugar lakes during evening hours. During the day, look for walleye off shore, especially at the near-shore sunken islands.
Crappie fishing has been very good in the shallows now that they are moving into their spawning grounds. Anglers are taking fish on slip bobbers and minnows fished in just 2 to 5 feet of water. Bass fishing has also improved dramatically over the last week. Smallmouth bass are starting to move into and occupy spawning areas. Bluegills are on their beds on several area lakes. Please remember to release the larger fish. 800-355-9740; www.visitgrandrapids.com
Baudette – Lake of the Woods & the Rainy River
Walleye fishing has been on fire on Lake of the Woods Fish are sliding a bit deeper, holding in 15 to 30 foot depths with the most activity in 25 to 26 feet of water. Anglers that are anchored and jigging minnows or frozen shiners are taking the most fish. Gold combined with other colors have been the most productive. Nice reports are coming in all along the south shore and around Knight and Bridges islands. Water temperatures are in the mid- to upper 50s.
On the Rainy River, walleye and sauger are being pulled from the holes, current breaks and sand riffs. Smallmouth bass and northern pike anglers are finding lots of nice-sized fish, but most anglers remain focused on the walleye. Some anglers are taking a mixed bag of fish when casting at the river mouths, bays and rocky areas. The sturgeon season opens July 1.
Up at the Northwest Angle, large walleye are being taken by anglers trolling crank baits in less than 15 feet of water — some have been more than 28 inches long! Most of the keeper-size walleye are coming from 18 to 22 foot depths on orange and parakeet-colored jigs tipped with a minnow. Sauger, northern pike, perch and bass are also being reported by walleye anglers. The smallmouth bass remain deep but should slide up into the bays very soon. Water temperatures range from 55 to 59 degrees in the shallower areas. 800-382-FISH; www.lakeofthewoodsmn.com
Bena – Lake Winnibigoshish
The water continues to warm on Lake Winnibigoshish so walleye action is also heating up. Anglers are now taking greater numbers of walleye, especially from the main lake bars and flats in 16 to 18 feet of water. During lowlight hours and on days with windy conditions, fish are being taken from the points and shoreline breaks. A jig tipped with a minnow or leech is working extremely well. Northern pike activity has also picked up at the emerging weed beds in 9 to 12 foot depths. It’s time to fish Big Winnie! www.lakewinnie.net
Park Rapids Area Lakes
The crappie are on fire on lakes throughout the Park Rapids area. Crappies up to 16 inches in length have been caught this week. Anglers having the most success are using 1/16 ounce jigs tipped with a small white twister tail or a crappie minnow. The key has been to make a long cast and slowly swim the jig back to the boat in depths of 2 to 4 feet of water. Walleye action has also picked up nicely. Anglers trolling crank baits over the shallow sand weed flats in depths of 6 to 10 feet are doing well with the walleye. Shiner or perch patterns have been working best. The bass are spawning so they will hit almost anything thrown their way, but a senko worm rig has been extremely effective. Please remember to release the bass while they are spawning. 800-247-0054; www.parkrapids.com
Detroit Lakes Area Lakes
Water temperatures for Detroit Lakes area lakes are in the low to mid 60s and climbing. Some crappies are still on their shallow beds, and others have started to move to the weed flats and emerging bull rushes in depths of 7 to 9 feet of water. Trappers can no longer find shiners, but the shiner bite continues for walleye. Most walleye are coming from the emerging weedlines and shoreline breaks on Sallie, Melissa, Pelican and Big Detroit lakes. Anglers are having the most success in 12 to 17 feet of water when using jigs and minnows, but live bait rigs and leeches are also turning fish.
Northern pike have been very aggressive at the outside edge of the submerged weedlines. Bass are hitting small crank baits, spinner baits and jigs with plastics at the docks and shallow cover. Sunfish are in the shallow weeds, responding to small leeches, pieces of crawlers and waxworms on small jigs or hooks under bobbers. 800-542-3992; www.visitdetroitlakes.com
Brainerd Area Lakes
The water temperatures are finally in the 60s, and the fish are loving it. Walleye are active at the thick cabbage beds throughout Gull Lake. Jigs with shiners and slip bobbers with leeches have produced the most fish recently. Anglers continue to enjoy a great night bite. For the most action, cast jigging raps and suspending jerk baits. North Long Lake is also kicking out some nice walleye for anglers using leeches in 14 to 24 foot depths. The walleye bite on the smaller are lakes has improved dramatically with the stable weather. Bass are very active in the shallows. The bluegills are staging for their spawn. 800-450-7247; www.visitbrainerd.com
Isle/Onamia – Lake Mille Lacs
Anglers are having a blast on Lake Mille Lacs, with lots of walleye, smallmouth bass and large muskie being reported. The water temperature in the bays is 66 to 69 degrees, and the main lake is running 62 to 64 degrees depending on what side of the lake you are on. Most bass are on their beds all over the lake. The walleye bite is strong, with fish coming from the mud flats, sand and rock areas. Over the week, more walleye seem to be moving out to the mud flats and the deeper gravel/rocks in 24 to 30 feet of water. This time of year, jigs, rigs and jigging raps are best. Check out the Lake Mille Lacs webcams for great views of the lake. 888-350-2692; www.millelacs.com
Willmar Area Lakes
Fish are biting throughout the Willmar Lakes Area. Anglers are taking lots of nice walleye when trolling with bottom bouncers and leeches on Long Lake. Panfish are still active under the bridge and in the bays of Nest Lake. The Green Lake weeds are giving up crappies in roughly 25 feet of water. Diamond Lake is producing walleye, crappies and northern pike. For those that like to shore fish, look for active crappies and walleye on Foot, Ringo and Florida lakes. 800-845-8747; www.willmarlakesarea.com
Minneapolis-St. Paul Area
Stillwater – St. Croix River
St. Croix River walleye are transitioning to their summer haunts. Walleye anglers are having lots of success with both eating-size walleye, as well as large walleye.
Anglers are also having fun with the amazing freshwater drum, a.k.a. sheephead, action. The only problem is that when the drum are this aggressive, the other fish usually can’t get to the bait.
Smallmouth have been especially fun to catch right now since they are very willing to bite. Live bait has worked extremely well in depths of 11 to 14 feet, and in 22 foot depths in areas with a good flow. Pool 3 is giving up lots of fish at the current seams. 651/351-1717; www.discoverstillwater.com
Lanesboro – Southeast Bluff Country Rivers and Streams
As of Thursday, May 30, Lanesboro Fisheries Staff reported that 2.5 to 4 inches of rain had fallen last weekend, but stream conditions were improving rapidly and were expected to continually improve. Check out the DNR’s Stream Flow Report for the most current conditions. Before you go, check out the “Area Highlights” section of the Lanesboro Area Fisheries web page for stream maps. 800-944-2670; www.lanesboro.com
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