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Author Topic: Explore Minnesota Weekly Fishing Update - May 15, 2015  (Read 804 times)

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Offline mudbrook

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Explore Minnesota Weekly Fishing Update - May 15, 2015
« on: May 19, 2015, 11:32:54 AM »
Explore Minnesota Weekly Fishing Update - May 15, 2015

Most anglers were very pleased with last weekend’s fishing opener. This weekend, walleye anglers should begin with shiner minnows, switching to night crawlers or leeches if minnows don’t produce. Expect action to continually heat up as water temperatures warm over the next couple of weeks.

Minnesota fishing opener dates for the 2015/2016 fishing season for most inland waters are as follows: walleye, sauger, northern pike and lake trout, May 9; muskie, June 6. Please note that a new, early catch-and-release season for largemouth and smallmouth bass opens May 9, 2015! The fishing season for crappies, sunnies, perch and catfish is continuous. Seasons and regulations vary for certain boundary waters and some individual lakes and rivers--consult the Minnesota DNR Fishing Basics web page for the most current information.

Northeast Minnesota
International Falls - Rainy Lake & the Rainy River

During last week’s fishing opener, Rainy Lake walleye anglers had the most success when jigging in 20-25 feet of water near the rocky shorelines and islands, and over the submerged structure. The rocky shorelines were also holding nice smallmouth bass and northern pike—both reacted well to crankbaits cast toward shore. Some anglers found pockets of crappie while fishing for walleye. On the Rainy River, most anglers continued to fish for sturgeon, with reports of some very nice fish being taken. Please note that the sturgeon season closes Friday, May 15 to allow for spawning. Walleye and smallmouth bass have also been active in the river where jigging with a minnow near the edges of the current has been productive. 800-325-5766;


Opening day fishing was incredible for many anglers. The majority of anglers targeting walleye used jig and minnow combinations in the shallows, and spinner rigs tipped with crawlers in deeper waters. The largest walleye registered was 27.5 inches. The cold front early this week caused the bite to slow a bit, but it will pick back up by toward the end of the week due to warmer air temperatures. Northern pike anglers did well last weekend with fish measuring up to 44 inches. Sucker minnows under a bobber, set in less than ten feet of water, were very productive. A few nice lake trout weighing up to ten pounds were brought to the dock, with most lakers coming from depths of 40 feet. The crappie bite has not yet kicked into high gear as water temperatures hover in the low 50s. Once the temperature rises above 60 degrees, this bite should heat up. Smallmouth bass have been active, with some fish weighing roughly 5 pounds. This season the DNR relaxed bass fishing regulations so anglers were able to keep bass in the northeast portion of the state beginning May 9. 1-800-777-7281;

Cook County: Lutsen-Tofte, Grand Marais, Gunflint Trail, and Grand Portage

After a few cool and wet nights, the water temperatures are now starting to climb. Anglers on the opener stuck to the shallow shores, and the bays and inlets gave up a few walleye on Crescent, Devilfish, and Elbow lakes, all located off the Gunflint Trail. Anglers had the most success using jigs and minnows--leeches and nightcrawlers were productive too. The female walleye are starting to move a bit deeper on sunny days, heading into the shallows during evening hours. Northern pike remain very aggressive, pulling down bobbers and hitting red and white metal casting spoons. A simple jig tipped with a small minnow or piece of plastic tail suspended in 6 feet of water has been enough to fool nice pike on Poplar Lake, located midway up the Gunflint Trail. Lake Superior and river anglers are also having a great time! Lake Superior lake trout are moving shallower, and a few shoreline casters have taken some nice fish. Other anglers are doing well when trolling in 60-80 feet of water.

Duluth - Lake Superior and inland waters

Windy, rainy days have hindered angling success. While opening day went well, Sunday was extremely windy, forcing some to hit the inland lakes where fishing was good.  With the recent rains, the St. Louis River is very dirty and has faster moving water than on opening weekend. This is making fishing a bit of a challenge. Anglers heading out onto the St. Louis River are having success using worm harnesses, crankbaits, and jigs, but the key has been to spread out. The walleye are well into post-spawn mode and can be caught throughout this body of water.  Water temperatures are about perfect on the inland lakes for the annual bluegill spawn. The best place to find bluegills and crappies is a shallow area with a black bottom. Please remember to practice selective harvest. Live bait continues to produce fish, especially a jig and minnow combination. Once water temperatures warm to summer levels, switch to trolling. Earlier this week, most tributaries along the lower shore of Lake Superior had elevated water levels according to the DNR. The middle and upper shore tributaries were mostly clear with low to normal water flows. Angler pressure was low. The smelt run had diminished following a banner season during the month of April and into early May. 800-438-5884;

Northwest Minnesota
Baudette - Lake of the Woods & the Rainy River

Water levels were low on Lake of the Woods for the 2015 Minnesota Walleye Opener, but anglers still walked away successful! Limits of walleye and sauger were taken by anglers throughout the weekend, with many slot fish thrown back. Pine Island was a popular spot, and anglers did well when jigging a live minnow or frozen shiner in 15-19 feet of water. Towards the west, Zippel Bay, Long Point and Rocky Point gave up nice numbers of fish. The most successful anglers anchored in 17-19 feet over the rubble. The best tackle colors were white, gold, and pink. Rainy River fishing was very good during morning and evening hours. Saugers helped fill limits, and a few smallmouth bass were caught and released. Sturgeon were hitting in the deep pockets from Clementson to Four Mile Bay. Anglers having the most success used a 4/0 or 5/0 circle hook with 2 to 3 ounces of weight baited with a bunch of crawlers.  Even some unsuspecting walleye anglers using a jig and minnow took sturgeon! The catch and release sturgeon season remains open through May 15. Up at the Northwest Angle, limits of nice-size walleye were pulled from 25-30 foot depths; most trophy-sized fish were found in depths of 15-20 feet. Jigging with a minnow worked best near Oak and Flag islands.  800-382-FISH;

Bemidji Area Lakes

The 2015 Fishing Opener was a success for many anglers in the Bemidji area, with walleye on the menu for Mother’s Day dinners in many homes. This week’s strong cold front and rainy weather has not kept the anglers off of the lakes. Most of the larger lakes in the area have multiple launches, so there are at least a few good launches with deep enough water to float most boats off the trailers in almost any water level. Unfortunately, some of the accesses on the lakes are still too low to launch most large boats, especially boats on bunk trailers. The bad news for anglers with large boats can be good news for anglers with boats small enough to launch in low water levels, and there are quite a few lakes right now that are getting no fishing pressure due to low water levels. Anglers may be able to use pay accesses through one of the resorts on these low water lakes since the resorts often have better boat accesses than the public accesses. Jigs and shiner minnows were the presentation of choice for most anglers on the fishing opener, with good supplies of bait at most of the bait stores. Leeches on live bait rigs, jigs, and bobber rigs also worked well for walleye. Most of the larger lakes gave up walleye in depths of 6-18 feet depending on weather, time of day and amount of fishing pressure. Crappies have also been very active, with anglers finding lots of fish in shallow waters on the edge of the reeds or cane patches. Anglers having the most success used bobber rigs with hair jigs or ice fishing jigs tipped with fathead minnows. 800-458-2223;

Walker - Leech Lake

The fishing opener drew large numbers of anglers to Leech Lake, with anglers concentrating on the traditional early walleye hot spots. Anglers who hit the lake early faced icy-cold conditions and a dark, cloudy morning with a good walleye chop. These early anglers reported that the walleye were hungry and aggressive, with nice walleye limits taken along with a few jumbo perch and northern pike. Lots of eating-size fish were also caught. The protected slot limit for walleye on Leech Lake is 20-26 inches, giving anglers a chance to catch some larger fish. Many pictures of nice catch-and-release fish and happy anglers were also taken. Saturday morning, the sun came out, the wind died down, and the bite cooled off a bit. Sunday morning’s weather was similar except that anglers were facing a strong northeast wind, along with a pouring rain by late afternoon. Overall, a jig and shiner minnow combination seemed to work best, especially in depths of less than 10 feet. Expect the larger walleye to turn more aggressive as weather conditions stabilize later this week. A jig and a minnow should still be the rig of choice, and last weekend’s hot spots should still hold fish. The Stoney Point area, along with Little Stoney and Northland Reef, Grand Vu Flats, and Pine, Star and Oak points are great places to start. 800-833-1118;

Detroit Lakes

Reports were mixed during last weekend’s opener. A few lakes, such as the shallower, early ice-out lakes, produced good numbers of fish. Saturday was one of the busiest openers in years. Sunday was slower due to colder temperatures, rain and high winds. Most walleye came from 12 feet of water on jigs and shiners, especially at the inside turn with wind quartering into it. Once temperatures warm back up, look for the shiners to move into shallower waters and the walleye to follow. The post-spawn northern pike bite was incredible on most lakes. Crappie action was good, and they continue to bite. Water temperatures dropped from around 60 degrees to the low 50s during the cold snap. Crappies will move onto their spawning beds when water temperatures warm up a few degrees. 800-542-3992;

Central Region
Otter Tail Lakes Area

Anglers fishing in Otter Tail County over the walleye fishing opener were extremely pleased with their choice.  Anglers of all skill levels caught walleye, and it was hard to keep the northern off the line.  Nearly every lake in the county was giving up fish. The cool temperatures over the weekend were a set-back to the shiner spawn, with mid-week water temperatures in the upper 40s. Be aware that fishing may be a bit more challenging this weekend then it was last weekend.  Once the water warms back up to 55 degrees, fish will not be as impacted by major weather changes. Panfish who had made homes in the shallows the past week or two may have retreated to deeper water.  Once the sun shines for a day, however, they will hurry back. Spawning time for crappies isn’t far off.  This week and weekend, walleye anglers should begin with shiner minnows, and this doesn’t do the trick, switch to night crawlers or leeches--it’s important to bring several types of bait along this time of year.  Presentations may also vary from day to day, with lindy rigs working one day, and jigs working the next. For your walleye, northern pike and perch, work the area between the deep weed line and the shoreline since fish will linger in this area until the shiner minnows have finished their spawn. 800-423-4571;

Brainerd Lakes Area

The walleye bite has been fantastic on many area lakes and it should only improve!  A common mistake that many people make this time of year is to fish too deep. Last weekend, the best bite seemed to be in the 6-9 foot range along the inside weed edge. Shallow running crankbaits and lightweight 1/16- or 1/8-ounce jig and minnow combinations produced numerous fish. If the fish aren’t there, begin slowly working your way out towards the weed edge in 10-14 feet of water depending on that particular body of water. Gull, Round, and North Long were the top producers. The panfish bite has been hit or miss. Surface water temperatures have been fluctuating daily, and most lakes seem to be hovering around the 55 degree mark. Unstable weather can easily push these fish out from the shallows and back out to the first nearby break/drop-off. This week, use look for old reed beds in 3-5 feet of water if the sun is shining. Lakes such as the Upper Gull Chain, Margaret, North Long, Round and the Mission Chain have been kicking out some nice fish. Minnesota’s new “catch-and-release” bass season started off with a bang!  This season runs from May 9 until the official bass opener, May 23. Largemouth bass have been stacked up in shallow water bays in 2-6 foot depths at the green weeds. Shallow-running crank baits or chatterbaits that have a wide wobble are outstanding for covering water and enticing active bass this time of year. If fish seem finicky and sluggish, slow down your presentation and throw a traditional jig and pig or wacky worm rig. As with the panfish, work your way out towards the weedline in search of active biters if you aren’t seeing much activity in the back bays. 800-450-2838;

Isle/Onamia - Lake Mille Lacs

Lake Mille Lacs was a little quieter than normal over the opener - a little quieter on the walleye bite and a little quieter in angler hours. That's not to say that there weren't any anglers or they didn't catch any fish. In fact, most anglers reported some fish (seven on average), including some "keepers!" The action was best on the north end of the lake in 18-22 feet of water during the day, and in 7-12 feet of water in the evenings. Leeches and shiners were the top producers. Smallmouth bass action was good, with nearly all of the fish coming from less than 5 feet of water. Small tube jigs and grub tails worked the best. 888-350-2692;

Willmar Lakes Area

While the fishing opener wasn’t quite as spectacular as expected, anglers connected with some nice fish on Diamond, Willmar and Foot lakes. Bullheads and perch were the main catch on Long Lake. This weekend’s warm up should lead to an increase in action. Local anglers expect an active bite on Solomon Lake. 800-845-8747;

Southern Minnesota
Lanesboro -Southeast Bluff Country Trout Streams

As of Tuesday, May 12, area streams and rivers monitored by fisheries staff were mostly clear, with normal water levels. As of May 7, following some heavy rains, area waters had turned murky but damage was not noted. Larger caddis were being observed in the bushes on the stream side. And Blue Winged Olives could be seen on overcast days. Anglers are encouraged to stop by a DNR Fisheries office in southeast Minnesota to pick up a copy of the new 2015 Trout Angling Opportunities in Southern and Central Minnesota booklet. Check the DNR Fisheries web page for locations.   As updates on stream conditions become available, they are posted on the Southeast Minnesota Stream Conditions web page. You are also welcome to call the office for updates at 507-467-2442. 800-944-2670;

Ortonville - Big Stone Lake

Big Stone Lake kicked out good numbers of nice-sized fish last weekend. There were several reports of 5-plus pound walleyes caught and released! Largemouth bass, white bass, northern pike and bluegill were also taken—anglers enjoyed the variety of fish Big Stone had to offer! The walleye were a daytime challenge due to very clear water so low light hours and nighttime were best for fishing. During these low light conditions, casting into the shallows or trolling over depths of 5 feet or less was ideal. Spinner and crawler combinations were starting to turn more fish on the south end of the lake. Expect continual improvement as water temperatures warm over the next couple of weeks. 800-568-5722;

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