Fishing season is off to a slower start for many, but a few anglers are having a great beginning to the open water season. It would be nice to get some warmer temperatures and sunny days, but we must deal with what Mother Nature brings us.
We're now over half way between the spring equinox and summer solstice. Water temps in the region are moving up slowly, fluctuating between 50-60 degrees depending on where you are. Walleyes are for the most part in post-spawn mode, but we are catching a few males still emitting milt. Panfish continue to stage near the shallows and bass are casually picking up eating habits. Pike always seem to be active and they continue to roam looking for schools of prey. Shallower waters are the best areas to target and it is important to utilize electronics, especially side scan.
Lake Superior is putting out some nice lakers, salmon and the occasional steelhead. Anglers last week found success trolling surface or mid-range diving baits in a variety of colors and patterns. Some spoons are taking a few fish as well. Most fish are eating well with smelt being so vulnerable this time of year. Speaking of smelt, they were showing up in Duluth and the North Shore last week but that won't last long. Stream anglers reported hit-and-miss results last week but, with other angling now available, more spots are opening to fish on rivers.
The St. Louis River estuary was busy all last week but also has been hit-and-miss. Walleyes that spawned upriver are dispersing and dropping back down into lower sections and so they are spread out. Jigging off channel edges with live jig/minnow combos has been a good tactic as well as covering water trolling meat-rigs (spinner baits tipped with a shiner or nightcrawler). Shad raps are also taking some nice fish. Crappies, pike, catfish and perch continue to be an added bonus as well.
Inland waters are giving up some nice catches of fish. Walleyes continue to roam near spawning grounds, less than 10 feet deep, over rocky, sandy and creek/stream areas. Slip bobbers and fatheads or jig/minnow combos continue to work. Trolling is also taking a few fish. Panfish are heating up in the shallow soft substrate vegetation areas. Look for fresh of the year weed growth and you will find fish nearby. Pike are being caught with many different lures but best to cast shorelines with small cranks and reel in slowly. This will also turn some other fish species.
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.