Excellent fly fishing opportunities in the Twin Cities; photo courtesy of Meet Minneapolis
The panfish bite was spectacular until cold temperatures and wet conditions arrived this week. Expect the bite to heat up quickly once temperatures rebound. When they do, hit the shallow bays on the northern sides of the lakes where water temperatures rise more rapidly.
Minnesota fishing opener dates for the 2017/2018 fishing season for most inland waters are as follows: walleye, sauger, northern pike, bass and lake trout, May 13; muskie, June 3. 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.
[Northeast] [Northwest] [Central] [Southern]
The Fishing Opener is right around the corner. Voyageurs National Park has placed all the rock markers, and the lamplighters should be placing navigational marker buoys within the next week, well ahead of the opener. Rain is needed to bring water levels back up to normal for the opener. The northern pike season is continuous on Lake Namakan which is great for anglers that want an early start. Crappie fishing has been slow, but it is expected to pick up quickly as water temperatures warm. 800-524-9085; www.kabetogama.com
Duluth - Lake Superior and inland waters
Conditions remain cool, wet and windy, and this has put a damper on fishing. On a positive note, this should slow down the spring spawning process which could help anglers on the fishing opener on May 13. If cooler water temperatures linger, fish (especially walleye and panfish) should remain in their typical spawning areas, making them easier to locate. Few anglers have been out on Lake Superior due to cold, damp and windy conditions, especially since these conditions can be dangerous. Even smelting has been relatively quiet. The waves, however, have been an amazing sight on the waterfront! Stream fishing has been fair with anglers reporting some nice catches of steelhead coming from the North Shore streams. Float indicators over a couple of sinkers and flies continue to be productive. The streams have a strong current so be careful. The St. Louis River is also off to a slow start. Water clarity is less than ideal, especially in the back, shallow bays where panfish action had been good. It may take several days for conditions to return to normal, but once they do there should be a flurry of crappie, perch and sunfish action. The inland lakes are the best bet for catching fish currently. Crappies have been active in roughly 10 feet of water in the shallow bays. A simple crappie minnow under a float has been best. Water temperatures in the shallow bays were running as high as 52 degrees a week or so ago, but now average about 47 degrees. Most public access docks should be in place. 800-438-5884; www.visitduluth.com
Anglers have been fishing for sunnies and crappies on the smaller bodies of water where water temperatures are generally the highest. Panfish action has been best for anglers using slip bobbers with live bait options such as crappie minnows, waxworms, and nightcrawlers. Look for these fish to move from the deeper weed areas to the shallower emergent vegetation on warm and sunny afternoons. Water temperatures above 50 degrees have been best. Sucker fishing continues to be good with fish making their seasonal migration to their spawning grounds. Any stream or river has the potential for some great fishing action. Look for deep holes in the rivers, especially at the bends where the current has carved out the bank, and at bridges. For tackle, use a slip sinker, swivel, and a short leader to a #4 hook with a bunch of nightcrawlers. Perch fishing has been nothing short of spectacular. These fish can be found on the weedy sand flats extending into main lake basins. The best approach is a small 1/16- or 1/8-ounce jig tipped with a crappie minnow or a fathead. Most perch have been holding in depths of 3-9 feet. www.visitgrandrapids.com
Baudette - Lake of the Woods & the Rainy River
Lots of large sturgeon are being reported by Rainy River anglers. For the most action, work the holes using a 3-ounce no-roll sinker, 1- to 1.5-foot leader, and a circle hook loaded with frozen shiners and crawlers. Anchor just upstream of a deeper hole and pitch your sturgeon rig to the hole. Heavy equipment is preferred. Northern pike fishing has been good in the shallow bays of Lake of the Woods, and on the Rainy River. The best tactic is either a buzz bait or a frozen cisco. Up at the Northwest Angle, the ice is entirely off the lake. 800-382-FISH; www.lakeofthewoodsmn.com
Area lakes offered excellent crappie action late last week when temperatures rose into the 60s for a couple of days. This week’s cold, wet and windy conditions have put an end to the fast crappie action, with crappies retreating into deeper waters. A few days of warmer, sunny weather will draw the crappies back into the shallows. When they fish relocate, just toss out a small jig with a plastic tail or small minnow under a float. On these cold, dreary days, check your gear and get your boat ready to go for the fishing opener on May 13! 800-458-2223; www.visitbemidji.com
Crappies and bluegill are in the process of setting up in the shallows to feed heavily before they spawn in a few weeks. They can be found suspended in the 10-20 feet of water in the colder lakes. In the shallow lakes and bays where water temperatures are in the 50s, begin in 5-8 foot depths. Anglers report some very nice fish coming in on minnows and small plastics under floats. Areas to concentrate on include those with downed trees, beaver lodges, or any kind of weed cover. Boat canals and areas in front of inflowing creeks should also hold fish due to warmer water conditions. Suspend your baits well off the bottom. 800-247-0054; www.parkrapids.com
The panfish bite on most Detroit Lakes area lakes were great until high winds and cold temperatures moved in. These conditions have also limited the number of anglers heading out onto the lakes. Water temperatures currently range from the low to mid-50s. The fish seem to be moving in and out of the shallows with each change in weather. Once temperatures rise, work the warmest, shallow water areas with developing weeds. 800-542-3992; www.visitdetroitlakes.com
Panfishing on Lake Minnewaska was excellent last weekend! Unfortunately, this week’s cooler temperatures and wet and windy conditions have taken a toll on all of the action. Once conditions stabilize and temperatures rebound, the fishing should heat back up. www.glenwoodlakesarea.org
Isle/Onamia - Lake Mille Lacs
While the weather was spectacular last weekend, temperatures in the 30s arrived Wednesday with snow flurries on Thursday. Water temperatures on Lake Mille Lacs have dipped back down to the upper 40s. 888-350-2692; www.millelacs.com
Fishing was ideal last weekend in the Willmar Lakes Area. Large sunnies and crappies were pulled from the northern end of Green Lake, as well as near Saulsbury Beach. Panfish were also taken from the north end of Eagle Lake, the north shore of Diamond Lake, Willmar Lake, Foot Lake, Games Lake, Norway Lake and Nest Lake. For the most active fish in the springtime, concentrate on areas near moving water, the shallows, and the north sides of the lakes where the water tends to be the warmest. 800-845-8747; www.willmarlakesarea.com
Winona - Mississippi River/Lake Pepin
The water is starting to heat up and anglers are catching walleye, crappies, perch and sunfish away from Lock & Dam 5A on the Mississippi River. 507-452-0735; www.visitwinona.com
Lanesboro - Southeast Bluff Country trout streams
As of Thursday, April 27, temperatures dropped low enough for snowflakes to be seen. Caddis were no longer seen, and streamers were a possibility. Caddis were visible on some streams a week earlier. 800-944-2670; www.lanesboro.com
Ortonville - Big Stone Lake
The Walleye Season Opener greeted Big Stone Lake anglers with crystal clear water and lots of sunshine last weekend. While conditions were very comfortable, they were not the best for fishing. It didn’t help that anglers had to rely on past knowledge of the best fishing spots at the beginning of the season. Fishing was slow at the beginning, but it didn’t take long for reports of walleye, white bass, and even some perch and crappie to come in. The water was so clear, anglers remarked at how many fish they could “see,” including walleye, northern pike and perch. All great indications of a healthy fishery. Water temperatures hovered around 50-degrees. Anglers having the most success used jigs or slip bobbers with a minnow or leech. One group boated down the center of the lake with jigs and came away with two limits. 800-568-5722; www.bigstonelake.com
Anglers may obtain fishing licenses 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by dialing 1-888-665-4236, or accessing DNR License Sales.
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