Credit to Explore Minnesota for the newsletter.
Fishing at sunset on Leech Lake
Most species continue to bite despite recent above-normal temperatures. Bass and muskie action has kicked into high gear. The crappies are schooling and eager to bite. Walleye anglers are still taking nice numbers of fish.
The forecast for most of the state this weekend calls for mostly sunny skies with highs in the 70s — ideal for a fishing outing!
For rules, regulations and other helpful information on fishing in Minnesota, consult the DNR’s Fish Minnesota web page.
International Falls – Rainy Lake
Walleye remain in a transition phase on Rainy Lake. They are beginning to show up on the main lake reef tops, breaklines and deeper points. Most of this activity is in 12 to 24 foot depths. Walleyes at the reefs are generally holding on the top or near the top of the structure. Jigs, lindy rigs and slip bobbers with a leech have been turning lots of fish. Many walleye remain shallow and continue to be caught in and around weedlines. Traditional spinner rigs with a crawler or minnow continue to be effective. More walleye will show up on the main lake structure in the coming weeks or even days.
Some crappies continue to be caught on small jigs and slip bobbers in 4 to 6 feet of water. The weeds or a combination of rock structure and weeds are generally best. Other crappies are beginning to school up on the breaklines, points and sunken brush piles.
The sun is out and water is warm! Blueberries and raspberries are starting to ripen. If you search the lake islands, you will find them first. The first major mayfly hatch is over on Lake Kabetogama so fishing should take a turn for the better. The next challenge is the abundance of forage as this year’s minnows are abundant. Water temperatures have risen into the high 70s which will send fish deeper on calm, sunny days.
Last week, 8 to 14 foot depths gave up lots of nice walleye, with live bait rigs and leeches and spinners with half of a crawler producing best. On days with wind and during low light hours, these tactics should continue to be productive. On sunny, calm days, check 20 to 30 feet of water using rigs and leeches. Walleye fishing has also been great at the windblown shorelines and muddy bottom weedlines. Anglers pulling bottom bouncers with a spinner and crawler are having lots of success. On bright days, use orange or chartreuse; on cloudy days, whites and pinks work better. The shallow weedlines on Lake Namakan are beginning to produce as well. Northern pike have been aggressive, responding to large, soft plastics and spinnerbaits worked at the rock piles and rocky shorelines. 800-524-9085; www.kabetogama.com
Ely Area Lakes and Rivers
The walleye bite remains fairly consistent throughout the area. Most of the walleye are coming from 6 to 8 feet of water at the weed beds and windy shorelines. A jig tipped with a leech or half a crawler has been best. Shallow-diving crank baits are also worth trying. A few large walleye are being pulled from the sunken islands on spinner rigs tipped with a leech or crawler, as well as on a jig and leech worked in 12 to 15 feet of water. Blue, pink and gold remain the best colors.
Smallmouth bass fishing remains excellent as fish begin to stage on the edge of the first break. Anglers should continue to work the shoreline, fishing a bit deeper in roughly 10 feet of water for the bigger bass. Topwater fishing remains good early in the morning, but anglers will want to switch to spinner baits, jerk baits or senko rigs as the sun rises. Pink, white and chartreuse remain the top colors. Anglers are having to fight off the northern pike at times.
Lake trout fishing has been good, with anglers taking fish on flashy spoons and down riggers trolled through 40 to 80 feet of water. Stick baits trolled with 3 to 4 colors of lead core line out have also produced lake trout.
Northern pike remain very active, but most have been on the smaller side. Spinnerbaits, buzz baits and suspended jerk baits fished in and around the weed beds have accounted for the majority of pike. Many large pike are now coming from the deep reefs where they are accidentally being caught by walleye anglers. Anglers targeting these fish are having luck with large minnow baits fished right on top of the humps. 800-777-7281; www.ely.org
Grand Rapids Area Lakes
The heat of the summer has kicked in and the muskie bite is heating up! Watch for muskie as they cruise the top of the cabbage weeds. They can also be caught in deeper waters on certain lakes. Many times the pike are suspended, awaiting whitefish and tullibee that may be feeding on bug hatches. The cabbage fish are often the most visible and active. Fast-paced cowgirl buck tails (double bladed) or noisy top water baits can be the key for hot summer muskie fishing. Lakes in the Grand Rapids area to chase muskie include Deer, North Star, Spider and Moose, along with the Mississippi River between the dams. Each of these have great habitat and abundant trophy-sized fish.
Largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing has also been good. Anglers will want to target the outside weedlines for consistent action. For smallmouth bass, use chatter baits and drop shot in areas with a mix of weeds and rocks. For largemouth bass, use swim baits with action tails and plastics over the top of the weeds and around docks. www.visitgrandrapids.com
Baudette – Lake of the Woods & the Rainy River
It has been an excellent week of summer fishing on the south end of Lake of the Woods. Walleye are responding well to jigging with frozen shiners or leeches. Drifting spinners with crawlers is also working well. The best depths remain 29 to 32 feet of water. The basin is filling with walleye, and crank baits are turning fish.
Anglers are taking a mixed bag of fish from the Rainy River and Four Mile Bay. Spinners and jigs are both working well. Some walleye are coming from the river channel edge of Four Mile Bay. Smallmouth bass are being pulled from the rocky areas, weed beds and bridges.
At the Northwest Angle & Islands Area, a combination of eating-size walleye and slot-sized fish are responding to spinners drifted west of Little Oak. Hammered gold and silver blades remain strong. Some walleye can be found on the structure, while others are holding over the mud. Fishing is still strong for smallmouth bass, large northern pike and muskie. 800-382-FISH; www.lakeofthewoodsmn.com
Walker – Leech Lake
Some days have been good for walleye anglers on Leech Lake, but overall, walleye fishing has been inconsistent now that we’re in the midst of summer. There is still a lot of bait in the water as the yearly bug hatches drag on. Anglers having the most success are trolling crank baits in a perch or crayfish pattern over the 12 to 17 foot flats. Pay attention to your locator and fish the areas where bait is coming up off the bottom. In the evenings, slide up to the shorelines in 7 to 10 feet of water and continue to pull crank baits to catch actively feeding walleye.
Some of the weedlines are still producing some walleye. Pulling spinner rigs tipped with a crawler or leech has been producing walleye, as well as perch, northern pike panfish and bass. Green, yellow and gold spinners or a plain live bait rig are good choices. The cabbage and coon tail weeds in 9 to 15 foot depths are almost certain to produce some sort of action.
Muskie fishing is still a bit slow, but some anglers are starting to turn lookers into biters. Buck tails and jerk baits seem to be the best baits, and the cabbage beds are giving up a few more fish than the rock.
Panfish are being pulled from the cabbage beds on 1/32 ounce jig stipped with a leech, crawler or plastic. Please release the large 9.5 to 10 plus inch fish as they are the prime spawners — the 8 to 9 inches are perfect for a fish fry. 800-833-1118; www.leech-lake.com
Mid-summer crappie action is in full swing. Crappies can be found schooled in and around the heavy, shallow weed beds in 8 to 12 feet of water. Anglers using 1/16 ounce tube jigs about halfway down along the weed edges or through the weed tops are taking lots of fish. In the middle of the day, these fish can be grouped tight together inside the weeds.
Walleye are being caught on the weed lines and secondary breaks in water ranging from 12 to 25 feet deep. Fast-moving live bait rigs such as a crawler/spinner combination worked along the weed edges will put fish in the boat, along with some really nice bluegills.
Largemouth bass are also schooling on the deep weedlines found on the points or inside turns in depths of 15 to 20 feet. It’s hard to beat a black 7 inch power worm rigged Texas-style. 800-247-0054; www.parkrapids.com
Walleye are holding in 13 to 28 feet of water in Detroit Lakes area lakes. The walleye are shallower on the stained lakes. The clear lakes are giving up walleye at the deeper weed edges. Long bars, extending points and sunken islands are all holding fish. Fish the windswept structure whenever possible. Rigging, jigging, pulling spinners and crank baits, and jigging raps have all turned fish.
Crappies have been roaming the flats in 9 to 13 feet of water, with many relating to the cabbage weeds. Sunfish are active at the weed patches, but some of the bigger bluegill are coming from water as deep as 24 feet off the sharp beaks.
Bass are also relating to the weeds out on the edges of the large flats or extending shoreline points.
Northern pike action remains mostly shallow, but some of the larger pike have come from deeper water off the edges and on the first breaks to deep water and basin areas. Muskie catches have improved over the last week or so with more summerlike temperatures. Fish are active and chasing high-action baits. 800-542-3992; www.visitdetroitlakes.com
Otter Tail Area Lakes
Hot summer temperatures have kicked the bass action into high gear! Lots of presentations, including stick worms on jigs, wacky rigs and swim jigs are turning fish on the deep weed edges on nearly every lake in the county. This is also a great time of year to try some topwater fishing. Frogs fished on top of the slop and in the lily pads will trigger bass.
Even some large bluegills are responding to the topwater lures, but the best way to catch them is by vertically jigging and casting bobbers at the deep weed edges. The points and inside turns at the deep weeds, cabbage and coontail are generally best.
Crappies are heavily related to the cabbage, especially on the main lake humps. Try working tubes over the tops of the cabbage leaves, as well as under deep swim rafts.
The walleye bite seems to be best when the wind blows. Walleye can be found stacked up on the main lake saddles, and at the deep weed edges. Spinner rigs and snells with a half a night crawler fished on a bottom bouncer is a great way to cover water and take your limit. 800-423-4571; www.ottertailcountry.com
Brainerd Area Lakes
Most species are biting in the Brainerd Lakes area! Despite the heat wave, the majority remain fairly shallow.
Walleye can be found in 6 to 20 feet of water on the larger lakes, and in 12 to 25 feet of water on the smaller lakes. For the most fish, check the green weeds on the points and inside turns. Some fish can also 0be found on the tips of points on the gradual sloping areas.
Panfish remain very active, hitting crawlers and leeches worked in 10-15 feet of water. The largemouth bass are very aggressive in the shallows. Some of the best bites are early in the morning on top water lures. Northern pike are active and feeding mostly during low light periods at the dense, weed-covered sharp edges. 800-450-7247; www.visitbrainerd.com
Isle/Onamia – Lake Mille Lacs
Late last week, roughly 17 people head out on a night launch on Lake Mille Lacs. The group took lots of large 18 to 20 inch bass, along with roughly 50 walleye. Crayfish-colored lures have been good for the smallmouth. 888-350-2692; www.millelacs.com
Three Rivers Park District – Carver, Hennepin, Ramsey and Scott counties
The Three Rivers Park District offers fishing at 18 parks in the Twin Cities area with a chance to reel in muskie, northern pike, sunfish, bass and walleye. Launch your boat at a lake access site, rent a boat or stay on land as you fish from a pier or on shore. There are also free fishing adventures. Learn more.
Stillwater – St. Croix River
A number of large catfish were pulled from the St. Croix River this week. For most, a 10 pound channel cat is a big cat, and the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers are filled with them. These daytime fish are feeding heavily and they don’t play games when they strike. Fishing for catfish is always fun, especially when the cats are biting like they are right now. 651/351-1717; www.discoverstillwater.com
Lanesboro – Southeast Bluff Country Rivers and Streams
Water temperatures near the springs in the spring fed streams are in the high 50s. The larger streams are in the mid- to upper 60s so it has been really refreshing to wade in the cold water at the end of a hot day.
Some areas did not receive heavy rainfall this week. Streams and rivers roughly 10 miles north and south of I90 had much less rain and not much runoff to spoil the fishing conditions. As always look for the small spring fed streams that don’t get as much runoff and that clear quickly. The North Branch Whitewater and South Branch Root River at Carimona are good examples.
Muddy waters have slowed many hatches but little midges, a few caddis, and an occasional large mayfly are still being seen. The trout fry are growing so larger crank baits and spinners are a more realistic mimic for the large bite items and frogs and toads are dropping into the streams attracting larger fish. The first grasshoppers are also being seen so hopper patterns should be considered as well.
Consider attending the Twin Cities Trout Unlimited Fish Camp at Whitewater State Park, August 2-4. Participants will enjoy fishing, as well as lessons and instruction, camping, children’s activities, snacks and four meals.
For years, the MN DNR has maintained assessable fishing sites in Whitewater State Park, near the Lanesboro Hatchery on Duschee Creek, and at the Lanesboro Park and Dam. Online maps are available.
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