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Jarrid Houston column: Minnesota opener was slower than last year, but fish were caught

Lake Superior coho have been biting near port entries and river mouths.

Jarrid Houston
Jarrid Houston

The fishing season is off and running. Shoreline trees and grass are starting to green up as we finally climb through spring.

Many walleyes and other species have been caught so far, but as anglers, we still have room to improve. The good news is that we have a whole fishing season in front of us now.

The start of the Minnesota season was not nearly as successful as last year's opener but we were still able to tag a few fish along the way. Water temperatures are hovering in the 50s depending on what body of water you are fishing. The shallower rocky/woody bays certainly have the edge for warmer water temperatures.

Send us your big fish photos by email to outdoors@duluthnews.com.
Event included a catfish excursion on the Red River with volunteer guides from the Red River Catfish Club and a morning shooting clay targets at the Dakota Sporting Clays range west of Grand Forks.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources report for the week of May 22.
Salmon and trout were biting, but a big east wind blew anglers off Lake Superior midweek.
The in-person contest is June 3, or fish anywhere and submit entries on an app.
The goal on this opening day was to catch enough keeper-size walleyes for an evening fish fry that night at Ballard’s Resort, our base for the weekend.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources report for the week of May 15.
Big sturgeon like the one Dawson Erickson landed have been all over the internet this spring. Landing the fish would have been nearly impossible without help, Dawson's dad, Kevin Erickson, said.
There is great fishing available everywhere in Minnesota, not just on the big waters of the north country, was the message when Mankato hosted the sport's annual season-opening celebration.
Anglers gather on the bridge year after year for a very successful opening day tradition.

One constant to start the season around the Duluth-Superior area has definitely been the wind. Opening day started out with very gusty winds. At least the sun was out and able to help keep anglers somewhat comfortable. Looking back, I sort of wish we would have tried a different body of water, but hey, that's fishing. Sunday, and the following days have been better for sure.

Here’s this week’s report:


Lake Superior still shows good signs of life especially for the coho bite. Zig-zag trolling patterns outside the port entries and near tributaries are getting some nice plump fish to bite. Depths targeted have been 40-80 feet of water, but don't be afraid to get deeper, especially on the bright sky days. Over in Chequamegon Bay, anglers are picking up some good smallmouths in the mid depth sloughs. Rip jigging soft plastics has been the way to go.

Not much to report for Lake Superior walleyes as of yet. In the rivers, fishing is getting a little better each day with reported catches of a few trout and salmon. Small-river fishing will get better for native river fish as we climb closer to June.

The St. Louis River Estuary opened up with the start of the Minnesota fishing season. As predicted, it has been busy. Many anglers are finding some success trolling crank baits and with worms. We have not seen many big fish so far, but that can change tomorrow as any river rat knows.

Jig and minnows are also tagging some good bites. Don't be surprised to run into the occasional sturgeon, smallmouth or pike when using live bait. Most of the fishing has been up river from Boy Scout Landing to the Highway 23 bridge. But there are walleyes scattered in the lower sections as well. Not a lot of new navigation hazards to report, but there are a few, so be careful. I know of a few new lumber sticks stuck in some mud for sure. The biggest fish we have landed so far is a 25.5-inch spawned-out female, successfully released of course.

Inland lakes in Minnesota have had some good bites near structure and bottlenecks where wind has provided extra current to keep fish active. On our sonar, we have certainly seen our fair share of non-biters, mostly in the form of suckers. One key tip is to try and locate bait balls of minnows swimming around. They are out there, and if you find them, you will find fish.

Walleye fishing has been best with live bait, which is typical this time of year. Like river angling, other species will play ball with live bait as well. Concentrate on the shallow rock and sand to mud areas. With wind, fishing will be best as the water surface will be broken up.

Crappies are just staging to spawn, so we will start to see some dark-bodied males getting ready to nest. Like every spring, this panfish spawning time is very important for future fish hatches. Soon behind will be the sunfish and bass. We will see you on the water!

Jarrid Houston of South Range is a fishing guide ( houstonsguideservice.com ) on Minnesota and Wisconsin inland waters, the St. Louis River and, in winter, on Lake Superior.
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