And we are off! Like the green flag start to the Daytona 500, we are now fishing hard.
It's difficult to argue that May is not the best month of fishing all year. Despite the cooler temps and unpredictable rain/fog (even snow) we have been dealing with, anglers are ecstatic to be back on the water. Last weekend it was Wisconsin's opener, this weekend it is Minnesota's turn. Currently, fish are being caught using several different tactics. However, most would agree, slowing down and downsizing presentations has been, and will continue to be, key. Until we see a drastic spike in water temperatures, this will continue to be a recipe for success. What is equally as exciting as the Fishing Opener Holiday is the fact that it is only the middle of May. Which of course means, we have a ton of open water season in front of us.
Lake Superior continues to host many anglers in search of spring coho salmon although big lake fishing slowed a bit last week. Still, fish are showing up for the fishermen putting in effort. Near-shore trolling with stick baits still seems to be the best. Once you find a few bites, it is important to mark a waypoint and continue to key in on the area. The best news recently has been coming from the areas of Chequamegon Bay and the Apostle Islands. More on this next week.
Smelt are still on the move making their way toward the Twin Ports. At the time of this writing, things are wrapping up in the Ashland area which means things should be heating up on the South Shores from Brule to Superior and into the North Shores of Duluth. In other news, stream anglers are still having there way with some good catches of steelhead. Even a few Kamloops are showing up on the North Shore streams. Best tactic continues to be drifting spawn. Don't be afraid to throw hardware though.
The St. Louis River has all the docks installed and the boat launches have been hosting a good amount of traffic. For walleyes, slow-retrieving of crankbaits cast in shallower areas is my favorite tactic for bigger fish. Otherwise, simple spinners and bottom bouncer rigs or jig and minnow combos work as well. This is also a great time of year to tangle with big slab crappies. Seek out the warmest water and you will find fish. Another great option is targeting rough fish (which were on fire last week). Suckers, catfish and drum have been hanging around shallower waters taking crawlers and oversized chubs.
Inland waters are seeing surface temps of anywhere from 45-55 degrees and the bite is just starting. Panfish continue to congregate near shallow, old, decaying vegetation. Simple bobber, split-shot and small hook/live bait combos are doing extremely well on select lakes. Look to stream/creek mouths and shallow gravel shoals for walleyes and pike. Trolling can take some fish, but this is a great time of year to cast, jig, or drift for active fish.
Just another reminder that, this time of year, lots of fish can be very vulnerable. Make sure we make the right choices on deciding what to harvest. It's important to be conservation minded and release bigger fish and harvest more plentiful smaller fish.
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.