This years fishing opener is shaping up to be a great one. Ice is off the majority of lakes, and most of the walleyes and northern pike are post-spawn and very hungry. For the opener, hit the shallows and move deeper until fish are located. Use smaller minnows on light jigs, and work them slowly. Drifting, trolling and casting should all work well. Have a safe opener and good luck fishing!
Minnesota fishing opener dates for the 2014/2015 Fishing Season for most inland waters are as follows: walleyes, sauger, northern pike and lake trout, May 10; largemouth and smallmouth bass,May 24; muskie, June 7. The fishing season for crappies, sunnies, perch and catfish is continuous. Please note that seasons and regulations vary for certain boundary waters and some individual lakes and rivers--consult the Minnesota DNR Fishing Seasons and Minnesota DNR Fishing Regulations web pages for the most current information.
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Lake Kabetogama will be fishable for opening day, with all or nearly all of the ice off the lake! Fishing will be great for post spawn northern pike, and most walleyes should be post-spawn as well. 800-524-9085 ; www.kabetogama.com
Duluth/Grand Marais - Lake Superior
All three creel clerks were out interviewing anglers last weekend. Along the Lower Shore of Lake Superior, water temperatures were in the mid-30s in the mornings and rising to upper 30s to low 40s by afternoon. Flows were moderate and stable, with some color to the water. Anglers took advantage of the decent weather and fishing pressure was moderate to high. Interviewed anglers landed 15 Kamloops, 12 steelhead, and 1 coho salmon. Along the Middle Shore, rivers were running fairly high and some portions were not very accessible to anglers. Water temperatures were in the upper 30s to about 44 degrees in the afternoons. Fishing pressure was light and interviewed anglers landed 2 steelhead, with other anglers reporting some fish hooked but not landed. Along the Upper Shore, snowmelt continues to keep rivers high and fairly turbid, especially in the afternoons. Some ice remains along the margins of some of the rivers but has diminished greatly, making access to fishable areas much better than last week. Water temperatures were 34-38 degrees. Fishing pressure was light and interviewed anglers landed 1 steelhead. Through 5/5, trap totals are 82 steelhead and 3 Kamloops at the Knife River, and 36 Kamloops and 1 steelhead at the French River. Rivers are still too cool for smelt to run, and ice is still packed along the beaches in Duluth. For more on the smelt run, refer to the " Smelt on the North Shore " fact sheet.
By mid-week, all smaller lakes and rivers in the Grand Rapids vicinity were completely open. Larger lakes such as Pokegama, Bowstring, and Winnie looked promising for the weekend opener. Anglers hoping to land walleyes on opening day should look to traditional shallow water locations less than ten feet deep, including rock structure, river mouths, weed beds, areas with current and warmer water locations where walleyes have spawned and are transitioning to post spawn structure. A jig tipped with a spottail shiner, golden shiner or fathead chub will be the best presentation. Use a light 1/8th or 1/16th ounce jig and a slow to medium jigging technique while bouncing off bottom. Try drifting, trolling and casting in these locations, keeping your boat to no more than .7 mph. Have a safe opener and good luck fishing! www.visitgrandrapids.com
There will be open water on some lakes in the Bemidji area when the fishing season opens on Saturday, May 10th. Which ones remains the question. Early this week, most of the larger area lakes such as Bemidji, Cass, Winnibigoshish and Upper Red still had some ice. Many of the public accesses may not have docks in the water when the season opens. Docks dont go in until the ice is off the lakes and it takes more than a few days to get all of the docks in the lakes. Anglers should be prepared to launch their boats without the aid of a dock, especially if they plan to fish a lake where the ice has only been off a day or two when the season opens. Anglers will have the best chance for success in the lakes with the warmest water on the opener. Areas close to inlets and outlets are often the key areas on the opener because post spawn walleyes will travel through those areas as they return to their home lakes. Jigs and minnows are the go-to presentation for walleyes early in the season. Slow presentations in areas with rocks, emerging weeds or some current are often best. Slip-bobbers with live bait are another good option once anglers find an area holding active fish. Local bait stores will have the most current information on the lakes, so anglers should ask their questions when getting their bait for the opener. 877-250-5959 ; www.visitbemidji.com
Bena -Lake Winnibigoshish
The ice took a beating May 7, and Cutfoot Sioux is now open. The main lake has just a bit of ice on the southwest shore from Townsite up to about Mallard Point. Current rain and winds will wipe out any lingering ice by the opener this weekend. Look for a good bite now that the spawn in Cutfoot is just about over. Lots of fish back at the north side of the lake. www.lakewinnie.net
Walker - Leech Lake
Earlier this week, anglers were wondering whether Leech Lakes Walker Bay would be free of ice for this weekends opener, but the forecasted warmer temperatures and rain made the outlook promising. Walleye numbers on Leech Lake are strong throughout the lake following several excellent year classes, and this should be a great walleye opener and season. Because of the late ice off, the majority of walleyes will probably be located along the long shallow shoreline breaks and points where the wind blows inward. Try a jig and minnow or a Lindy type rig set up for the most fish. Jigs should be light, with 1/8 to 1/4 ounce jigs in dark green or lime green being best, especially when tipped with a spot-tail shiner or fathead minnows. Areas to check out include Walker Bay, Cedar Point, and Steamboat Bay at Mounds Point. In the big lake, use the wind to determine the best locations, and consider the big lake side of the Narrows from Oak Point to Star Point. Pine Point from Grand Vu Lodge into Traders Bay will also draw many anglers. Again, depending on wind direction, check out Big Hardwood, first and second Duck Points, Stoney Point and Ottertail Point. 800-833-1118 ; www.leech-lake.com
As of May 1, the ice was off the lakes, the loons had returned, and the fish were biting! Long and Fish Hook lakes were two hot spots last weekend, and should be excellent for this weekends opener! 800-247-0054 ; www.parkrapids.com
All lakes in the Detroit Lakes area have been ice free for about a week. Water temperatures range from 48-53 degrees depending on lake and location. Sunnies and crappies are starting to move to the warmest of the shallow water locations close to healthy weeds. Small jigs or hooks under bobbers and tipped with small minnows should be best, especially if fished halfway down. For panfish, try small jigs with plastics or minnows. If shiner minnows are difficult to find, try fatheads or small suckers for the walleyes. Jigs and live bait rigs tipped with bait fished near river inlets and outlets, on the edges of large flats, and at the extending points into main lake areas should be best for walleyes and northern pike, especially if these areas have hard bottom consisting of gravel and new weed growth. Move and fish slowly, start shallow and move deeper until fish are contacted. 800-542-3992 ; www.visitdetroitlakes.com
Crappies have moved into the Starbuck Marina area of Lake Minnewaska. Anglers having the most success are using brightly colored tube jigs with minnows or sliver wigglers. Fish Hatchery Bay on the Glenwood side was also producing lots of fish. Other lakes to check out include Pelican, Pocket, Rachel and Reno. www.glenwoodlakesarea.org
Ice has left the lakes in the Pine River area and all accesses are open and ready for the Minnesota Fishing Opener! With water temperatures still in the mid-forties, look for walleyes to respond best to light presentations. Expect them to be schooled near spawning areas in shallow to very shallow water, depending on how bright the day the opener turns out to be. Small -ounce jigs tipped with shiner or fathead minnow should be best. When jig fishing, tie a two-way barrel swivel to the end of your line and then attach a 2-foot long, six pound test monofilament leader for your jig. This will eliminate a lot of twisted line caused by jigging. Northern pike anglers should find active fish at the shallow side of the weedlines in 8-12 feet of water. A jig and minnow also works well for pike, and slower presentation works best for both species. Crappies will also be moving to the back of the shallow water bays and inlets. For crappies, hit 1-2 foot depths using a small crappie jig and minnow under a bobber. 800-728-6926 ; http://www.pinerivermn.com
Whitefish Chain of Lakes Area
Ice is off the lakes and the Whitefish Chain is ready for the opener! The crappies and sunnies are moving into the smaller bays. Anglers report good numbers of both species, with lots of nice-sized crappies being taken. For walleye over the opener, try working the shallows, such as depths of 3-8 feet, early and late in the day. During the afternoon hours, move out a little deeper. Smaller minnows are best when the water is still cold, and jigs should be worked slowly. www.whitefish.org
Brainerd Lakes Area
All the lakes in the Brainerd Lakes Area are ice free. The last ice left Gull Lake the very end of April. The rivers and creeks were full of walleyes last weekend, and the spawn was still going strong on a few of the rivers as of Tuesday. Expect the majority of the walleyes to be relating to current areas. Key locations will be the rivers and creeks which connect one major lake to another. Prime locations include the bridge on the northern end of Gull Lake near Zorba's Restaurant. There is a fishing bridge located on the southern side of the bridge which is open to the public. While the south side of the bridge is good, the northern side is even better. For the most fish, use a jig tipped with a spot tail shiner. The best crappie action is just around the corner. The 67th Annual Minnesota Governors Fishing Opener will be hosted in the Brainerd Lakes Area this week and weekend, with the headquarters at Grand View Lodge. The Minnesota Fishing Opener is Saturday, May 10, with events planned for guests and participants in the governors opener from Thursday, May 8, through Sunday, May 11. The public is invited to a free Community Picnic on Friday, May 9, in downtown Nisswa. 800-450-2838 ; www.explorebrainerdlakes.com
Isle/Onamia - Lake Mille Lacs
Ice went off the lake on May 7, just in time for the opener. There has been a big push today to get the docks and reef markers out prior to the opener. There is an excellent population of keeper-size walleyes so anglers are very hopeful. Look to the shallower waters that warm first. Some of the warmest water is typically found on the north end in the sand around Big Point and Vineland Bay. Keep your presentation slow, small and shallow. Shiners and medium-sized leeches should work best. 888 -350-2692 ; www.millelacs.com
Willmar Lakes Area
On Lake Waconia, crappies are coming from slightly deeper waters than normal for this time of year. Anglers having the most success are hitting 15 plus feet of water using crappie minnows anywhere from 1 6 feet off the bottom. Some of the better locations include Waconia and Cemetery bays. This weekend, walleye anglers should hit the shallows casting rapalas or spinnerbaits, or try jigging with leeches and nightcrawlers. 952/442-5812; www.destinationwaconia.org
Southeast Minnesota Stream Conditions web page . You are also welcome to call the office for updates at 507-467-2442. Before traveling, please check out the new detailed fishing easement maps . 800-944-2670; www.lanesboro.com
Albert Lea Area Lakes
Fountain Lake is giving up lots of sunnies and crappies, especially near the Brookside Boat Landing. Anglers are having the most success using wax worms. 800-345-8414; www.albertleatourism.org
Fairmont Area Lakes
Amber Lake is giving up crappies to anglers using jig and minnow combinations in 8-12 feet of water. Quite a few catfish are also being taken. Reports from George Lake have been similar. Hall Lake has been pretty slow, but should be good location for the walleye opener. Budd Lake is producing lots of crappies and bluegills in depths of 8-12 feet during the day, and in shallower waters during early morning and evening hours. Sisseton Lake anglers are pulling crappies and bluegills from similar depths. Tuttle Lake anglers are finding lots of bullheads, along with a few border opener walleye this past weekend. The surface water temperature was 54 degrees on May 5. 800-657-3280; www.fairmontcvb.com
Ortonville -Big Stone Lake
As of Sunday, May 4, fishing on Big Stone Lake had been a challenge due to strong winds. Luckily, the wind settled down a bit by dusk most evenings, giving anglers a chance to catch some fish. Shoreline anglers seemed to do the best, taking a few walleyes here and there during low light hours. The best approach was to pitch a jig and minnow into the rocks. A few anglers tried trolling crankbaits through cloudy waters with limited success. This weeks warmer temperatures should help anglers catch more fish. 800-568-5722; www.bigstonelake.com