Jarrid Houston column: That's a wrap for ice fishing, now on to open water walleyes
North Shore coho are going good, but expect traffic at the boat landings.
Goodness, gracious do we have a whole lot of melting going on! Flooding is of course a concern for most of us as we navigate through this fast transition. In a perfect scenario, we would like to see a slow melt that takes several weeks. Unfortunately, this year Mother Nature says “too bad."
The quick run-off will likely affect both our lakes and lands. Ice conditions are going to be very sloppy from now on and, although we still have thick ice on many waters, ice around shorelines is quickly becoming very hazardous. We are throwing in the towel on the ice angling season to hit open water. The good news is all this melt will help raise water levels, refresh lakes and escalate spring spawning rituals.
Speaking of spring rituals, we have already started to hit the open waters. Let’s get into it:
With boat landings now ice-free, Lake Superior continues to draw some anglers in search of North Shore fish. Some landings have already been busy on nice days. Most catches have been coho salmon slamming surface running stick baits. Like the weather, every day is very different.
Best depths have been from 40-140 feet of water. Brightly colored baits in the 5- to 9-inch category have been best. I like the exotic Wonder Bread color schemes, but, more importantly, searching out active feeding schools is going to be the biggest challenge.
Also, another little reminder: Make sure you have all your proper gear, updated registration and current fishing licenses. Our stream-angling friends are about to watch a giant increase in water level, current, river color and in some aspects dangerous debris.
The St. Louis River Estuary is still making its way toward open water. The increased big boat traffic has helped in the harbor area, not to mention the current will start to crack up ice farther upstream. We’re still a long way from launching a boat, but getting closer.
In other river systems around our extended regions, thousands of anglers/boats have traveled to find spring walleye opportunities. The Rainy River (season closes April 14,) the Mississippi River and the Wisconsin tributaries of Lake Michigan have been hosting full parking lots. I am looking forward to heading down to Green Bay this week.
Inland lakes in the Northland of course are still ice capped but getting slushy. After a few days we should see the ice rise and make for less slush/standing water, but conditions will deteriorate fast. We will now monitor the ice-out dates but that of course will make their way north these next several weeks.
As mentioned, we are done ice fishing. For those that still want to try last shot ice angling, be very, very careful. Now we’re off to Green Bay.
All the best hook-sets, angling nation.