Hope everyone had a great start to the general fishing season. On the water, catching fish and becoming reacquainted with nature most certainly had us thinking that all is right in the world.
It was by far the busiest I have ever seen for an opening day. With that said, everyone seemed to be in good spirits and having fun.
We witnessed many nets flying, but it was refreshing to see most people releasing quality fish. We also did our part as well, only keeping a few eater-sized walleyes and releasing several mature-sized fish.
Water temperatures have these fish holding onto typical post-spawn feeding patterns. It was fun digging in the tackle box and trying new baits and techniques and taking notes. Our success mostly came from jigging live minnows, but we turned fish on casting and trolling methods as well.
Sure it was chilly, but nothing warms the heart and soul more than opening weekend spent with the ones we love.
Here is our report:
Lake Superior has had a decent bite going on. Although charter fishing is still prohibited, many captains and other anglers have been getting together and finding some success. Best baits seem to be bright colored hot pinks, oranges and greens pulled behind planer boards on the upper half of the water column.
Target depths have been ranging from near shore 50-100 feet to a little off shore in the 150-plus feet. The best luck seems to be during warmer parts of the day. Lake trout have been accounting for most catches, but many have also been getting into some coho salmon, brown trout and a few steelhead. This bite will continue to flourish for the next several weeks.
Stream anglers are finding success at first light swinging strike indicators over egg patterns. It's important to be stealthy and not spook fish when maneuvering to new fishing bends/holes.
The St. Louis River has everything going for it right now. (Except crappies, we could not find any of those yet.) The best walleye bite has been on oversized live bait jigged on 1/8-1/4 oz jigs. Better-quality fish have been in middle to lower sections of the estuary but there is still some nice fish being caught upriver.
Don't be surprised to tangle with some bonus smallmouth, northern pike or sturgeon as these fish are very active right now as well.
Trolling has also been bringing a lot of fish to the boat. Most success for us has been on double jointed cranks in mid sized ranges. Best colors have been golds and browns, but in all honesty, color hasn't been a huge variable for us.
Most boat traffic has been from Oliver to the 23 bridge, but make no mistake, we have found some good fish in all sections of the river. The river upstream of the Highway 23 bridge is still off-limits until May 19th. There is no signage like usual, but it is mentioned in the Minnesota fishing regulations. Also, make sure you have a paper copy of your license when fishing border waters.
Inland waters, like the reservoirs north of Duluth, continue to put on a good bite as well. Drift jigging live bait in the 6-14 foot breaks has been good for a mix of walleyes, bass and pike.
The reservoirs north of Duluth have been seeing some action on a mix of worms, minnows and leeches. Some anglers are finding good success with slip bobbers and leeches off sharp transitions. Remember to check the size limit regulations as many different lakes have different rules.
Panfishing has been slower than I thought it would be at this time, but that makes sense given the cooler spring we have endured so far. Water temps continue to hover in the 47-60 degree range depending on where you are. Forecast is calling for much warmer weather on the way, so look for panfish to move up into shallow fresh vegetation in next couple of weeks.
On a side note, a round of applause to the conservation officers working our waters this opener weekend. Things were as busy as I have ever seen and it's awesome to know we have some enforcers out on the water helping to keep us safe and protect our resources. Tight lines everyone and see you out there!
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.