Jarrid Houston column: Minnesota's opening day of fishing holiday is upon us!
A jig and minnow worked well on Hayward lakes walleyes for Wisconsin's opener, and likely will work in Minnesota, too.
One opening day holiday is behind us, one more to go. Last Saturday was Wisconsin’s general fishing opener and this Saturday it’s Minnesota's turn.
One of the greatest things about being part of the Twin Ports community is having easy access to great fishing in both states. The advantage for Minnesota angling is that we can adapt to what worked, or did not work, for the Wisconsin opener.
So here is this week’s fishing report:
Last weekend we traveled to the green grass turfs of Hayward, Wisconsin, where we found lots and lots of walleyes. With the late ice-out, some walleyes were still showing some residual signs of spawn. A 1/8-ounce jig and small fathead minnows or crappie minnows worked best. Pike of course were very active with the cold water. Water temperatures were anywhere from 40-60 degrees.
Lake Superior continues to see better catches mostly because the smelt are running. Many beaches are being stormed by netters getting buckets of the little delicacy fish. If you haven’t been out yet, time is running out. As fast as it starts, it can end just abruptly.
Many trollers are targeting river mouths and finding some trout/salmon. Using a stick bait that resembles smelt will continue to be best. Try and zig-zag your trolling patterns to mimic a struggling minnow. This should draw a few bites. Over toward Lake Superior's famed Chequamegon Bay, many smallmouth fans are starting to get some awesome spring bites. Ripping soft plastics over steep drops is getting a few fish. The tributary stream anglers are finally getting back to some big bites as well.
The St Louis River Estuary is about to get very busy with Saturday’s opener. Be prepared to play fair with other anglers and please, please practice some patience at boat landings and on the water. The river is obviously down a few access points, so things will be busy. Water temperatures and flow are setting up to be pretty decent. I forecast a pretty good bite. Which leads me to the next “broken record” talk: Please, please practice selective harvest and release prime spawning females with eggs. Just because you can keep big fish doesn’t mean you should. The typical jig and minnow, or jig and soft plastic, will be a good bet. Slow pulling cranks and worms should also tag some fish. We will likely fish inland this weekend to avoid the crowds, but we look forward to hitting the estuary once the dust settles.
One thing is for sure, I am as giddy as a kid on Christmas Eve! I forecast northern Minnesota lakes to have similar temps this weekend as Wisconsin did last weekend, at least around Grand Rapids and points south. The farther north, it will get trickier to find warmer water. Casting shorelines with hard-bodied baits will get a few walleye bites, as well as pike. Some big pike will be caught this weekend in Minnesota, no doubt.
Lastly, a few reminders: make sure your boat is rigged, tested, registered and has proper safety equipment before you get to the boat landing. The good people from the DNR will be out patrolling, especially on popular fisheries, so also make sure you have your fishing license for this current angling season.
We hope everyone has a great and successful Minnesota and St. Louis River opener. Remember, this holiday means more than just catching fish! We will see you on the water. All the best hooksets anglers!