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Houston's fishing report: Will we have open water for fishing openers?

Jarrid Houston

"Winter will not let go" is a trending conversation in the Northland. The unfortunate fact is that we are nowhere near open water with the recent weather patterns and upcoming forecast. Will we have open water for the fishing openers that are fast approaching in Wisconsin and Minnesota? My guess is yes and no, depending on where you go.

The Wisconsin opener is May 5, and I am willing to bet we will have to travel south to seek out boating opportunities unless you want to ice-fish for legal target species around here. Currently we are holding an average of 25 inches of ice on inland lakes around the area. If you remember, it wasn't so long ago that conditions were similar. The good news is everything will be pushed behind, which should make for a great start to the regular fishing season. In the meantime, we still have ice, we have open water on Lake Superior and we have stream opportunities as well.

Lake Superior is hosting a few open-water shorecasters who are finding mixed success near river mouths for Kamloops rainbows and the occasional salmon. The breakwall in Two Harbors also has been a popular spot. The best fishing seems to be in the early-morning hours and later afternoon. North Shore fishing can take many hours for little reward. It's important to be patient and relentless. Those who stick it out will find success. Weighted bobbers with a variety of baits or casting spoons remain the go-to methods. Ice fishing can still be had in the areas near Ashland.

Stream fishing has been good for anglers taking to Wisconsin's Brule River. Anglers are still catching many winter holdover fish, but we are starting to see a few fresh fish coming in from the lake as well. Lake-run browns seem to be going pretty well. Float indicators drifted over Superior "X" patterns, nymphs or egg flies seem to be the ticket. Patience is also required for stream angling. The tributaries will get better as we climb further into spring.

The St. Louis River is breaking up well in the lower sections but still has a long way to go until open water. Fishing remains quiet.

Inland lake fishing is drawing fewer anglers. I'm pretty sure it's mostly because some anglers are growing tired of ice-fishing. I can relate. For those who are getting out, success is coming from panfish areas on drops near shore transitions. The regular small jigs tipped with waxworms are taking fish. Some are getting some nice crappies and perch with live crappie minnows under floats.

Hurry up, spring.

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