Minnesota Statewide Fishing Reports
INFO AS OF 5-17-19
The fishing season got off to a great start last weekend during the 2019 Minnesota Fishing Opener. The presentation that turned the majority of fish was a jig and minnow worked slowly in the shallows. As water temperatures warm, expect the walleye and crappie action to continually improve.
Please remember that the water remains very cold so a life jacket is strongly encouraged.
Minnesota fishing opener dates for the 2019/2020 fishing season for most inland waters are as follows: walleye, sauger, northern pike, bass (catch-and-release) and lake trout, May 11; muskie, June 1. The fishing season for crappies, sunnies, perch and catfish is continuous. For rules, regulations and other helpful information on fishing in Minnesota, consult the DNR's Fish Minnesota web page.
International Falls - Rainy Lake & the Rainy River
There was a decent walleye opener on Rainy Lake. Anglers found a nice walleye bite on the rocky shorelines in somewhat shallow areas, and there were some reports of good crappie and northern pike action. The general consensus is that the bite will become much stronger as the water temperatures rise. For now, hit the shallow bays that warm the fastest, and expect to find walleye and crappie where there’s some structure -- northern pike should be on the weedy edges. Most anglers agree that minnows are the preferred bait, whether trolling with a spinner rig or still fishing with a jig. 800-325-5766; www.rainylake.org
The fishing season got off to a great start on the 2019 fishing opener! Walleye fishing was excellent over the weekend and continues to be strong. Water temperatures are holding in the mid to upper 40s so the patterns remain unchanged. The shallow waters along most rubble/gravel/sand shorelines are producing the larger fish with a few eating-sized fish in the mix. The deeper waters adjacent to these areas producing lots of smaller fish. A jig and minnow is the preferred presentation regardless of where you drop a line. Wind speeds seem to change by the hour so you will want jigs of various sizes. Try to stay as vertical as possible and close to the bottom. Shiners are the preferred bait but rainbows and chubs are working just as well when the bite is on. Dock fishing was spectacular over the opener. Resort owners said their docks were lined up with anglers catching lots of fish. A slip bobber can be deadly when fishing like this, not to mention extremely fun! Northern pike are extremely active and mixed in with the walleye.
With most targeting walleye and pike, crappie reports are limited. When water temperatures reach the upper 50s, crappie will move into the shallows as they prepare to spawn. Check the adjacent deep holes to these areas and you will likely find suspended fish waiting to move in. 800-524-9085; www.kabetogama.com
Ely Area Lakes and Rivers
Walleye fishing was excellent over the fishing opener last weekend. Anglers fishing in 20 to 28 feet of water during the day, then moving shallow (10 feet of water or less) in the evening, at night and early in the morning, caught lots of walleye. Jig and minnow combinations were the way to go when the walleye were deep. As they moved shallow, minnow baits cast into the shallows were the top producers. The best colors were blue, purple, rainbow-minnow and perch.
Northern pike fishing was challenging for many as large, live suckers were in short supply. Anglers that simply switched over to dead smelt or large golden shiners reported excellent fishing. Areas where water fed into the lake and areas with shallow muddy bays were best for large pike.
A number of nice sunny and calm days caused the panfish to move into the shallows where fishing was excellent by 1p.m. Again, a jig and a minnow under a bobber was the way to go. As water temperatures warm this week, small tubes and hair jigs will start to produce good numbers of fish throughout the day.
Last weekend’s cold water temperatures created the perfect conditions for lake trout fishing. White and clown-colored crankbaits, trolled over deeper water, resulted in a more consistent bite than fishing the shallows. Still, the largest trout were pulled from the shallows. 800-777-7281; www.ely.org
The 2019 Minnesota Fishing Opener presented anglers with good fishing action on several area lakes. Some of the better lakes for walleye action were Big and Little Cutfoot, Winnibigoshish, Bowstring and Little Winnibigoshish, plus the Mississippi River. Jig and minnow combinations were the top producers, with medium leeches under a slip bobber a close second. Water temperatures were in the low to mid 40s so a slow presentation was key. In the evening hours, some anglers had success trolling floating rapalas and shad raps.
Crappie fishing was good on several lakes. The shallow bays were key spots since the water temperatures were 4 to 5 degrees warmer than the main lake. Small jigs tipped with a small minnow or plastic were all that was needed, with depths of 2 to 4 feet producing the most fish. It was important to stay mobile, and work the calmest waters, especially during evening hours. As the water warms, look for the bite to continually improve for most species. www.visitgrandrapids.com
Baudette - Lake of the Woods & the Rainy River
The fishing opener was a success with limits of walleye and sauger pulled from the Rainy River, Four Mile Bay and the main basin of the Lake of the Woods. A jig and minnow turned the majority of fish. Depths of 18 to 25 feet were generally best.
On the Rainy River, good numbers of walleye were taken between Baudette and Wheeler's Point. A brightly colored jig with a frozen shiner was hard to beat. Anglers used heavier jigs due to the strong current in the river.
Up at the Northwest Angle, anglers had to dodge some lingering ice chunks to find walleye. The best bite was on a jig and minnow adjacent to shoreline structure, points and neck-down areas, especially during evening hours. Sauger, northern pike and perch were in the mix. 800-382-FISH; www.lakeofthewoodsmn.com
Bena - Lake Winnibigoshish
Lake Winnibigoshish walleye are being taken on jigs and minnows worked in 8 to 11 feet of water at Big Stoney Point, Raven’s Point, Sugar Point and the Bird Houses, as well as in the Highbanks area on to Tamarack Point. Anglers will have the most success working the traditional shoreline breaks. As water temperatures climb, move even shallower. Perch action also has been good on the 10 to 12 foot flats and humps. Learn more about fantastic spring fishing on Lake Winnibigoshish! www.lakewinnie.net
Walker - Leech Lake
There was a great walleye chop and lot of hungry walleye on Leech Lake last weekend. Many keeper-size walleye under 20 inches were taken, along with a few bonus picture fish over the 20 inch mark. Some trophy-sized walleye were also reported. Depths of 7 to 10 feet near spawning areas, especially where there were sand, weeds, sand, rock and gravel were best. A 1/8-ounce jig tipped with a shiner, rainbow or fathead turning most of the fish. Water temperatures ranged from 49 to 52 degrees on the west side of Leech Lake. The temperatures on the east side of the lake and on the main lake varied more. Many areas of the main lake and Walker Bay were in the mid-40s and seemed to produce fewer fish. Productive areas included the West Goose Flats, Star Point, Duck, Pine and the Grand View Flats. On the east side of the lake, areas around Bear Island and points such as Battle, Five Mile, Sugar and Partridge gave up nice numbers.
Crappie reports were mixed, but that bite should pick up nicely as June approaches. Sucker, Boy, Miller and Steamboat are all good starting points. 800-833-1118; www.leech-lake.com
Hackensack Area Lakes
Last weekend’s fishing opener was very comparable to other openers with walleye generally in the shallows. Lighter jigs and minnows seemed to produce the most fish, but it was important to get the presentation a ways out from the boat. Some anglers did have success rigging instead of jigging in the shallows. While minnows were best, some anglers did well using leeches and crawlers. Other anglers found some fish when pitching crank baits into the shallows during early morning and late evening hours. Lakes that gave up nice numbers of walleye included Pine Mountain, Ten Mile, Woman, Baby and Little Boy.
Some anglers targeted walleye and crappies, and they were not disappointed. Crappie fishing heated up over the weekend as water temperatures warmed, and there were many more reports of fish coming from the shallows. Crappie and walleye action is expected to really heat up over the next few weeks. 800-279-6932; www.hackensackchamber.com
Park Rapids Area Lakes
The waters in the Park Rapids area are warming up rapidly! The water temperatures were in the high 40s to low 50s over the fishing opener where was perfect for a mix of walleye and northern pike. Most fish came from 5 to 10 foot depths near shore. Anglers using using live bait rigs and shiner minnows had the most success, but those trolling shad-style crank baits also took fish.
This week, the crappies are starting to move into depths of 3 to 5 feet when the sun is out. If the day is cloudy, crappies can be found in deeper waters nearby, generally 7 to 15 feet deep. The same holds true for bluegills and bass. 800-247-0054; www.parkrapids.com
Detroit Lakes Area Lakes
The Detroit Lakes area dodged the rain over opening weekend, the wind had a significant impact on anglers in terms of boat control and comfort. Most of the walleye came from the shallows, responding to jig and minnow combinations worked in 4 to 12 feet of water. The warming waters this week will improve the bite, and shiner minnows should be readily available.
Crappies are moving onto spawning beds in shallows. The crappie and sunfish bite remains good throughout the area. Most fish are in the shallows and it is not uncommon to catch a mixed bag of walleye, northern pike, bass and crappies.
Water temperatures are around 50 degrees and rising a little every day. As water temperatures approach 60 degrees, the crawlers and leeches will become more of a factor for catching walleye, especially along the shoreline breaks. 800-542-3992; www.visitdetroitlakes.com
Otter Tail Lakes Country
Water temperatures around Otter Tail County are roughly 52 to 54 degrees this week. Once temperatures warm a bit further, the shiners will move into the shallows, and the walleye action will really heat up. Currently, anglers are catching fish when pitching rigs and jigs with shiners. A small rig with a worm, #6 octopus hook and short leader should also turn fish. This rig can be worked through new weed growth with ease.
Panfish action has been fantastic in the shallows on warm, sunny days, but once a cold front moves in, the fish head deeper. Adapting to daily weather fluctuations has been important. On warm days, look to old bulrush stands on the main lake, and to the back bays with muddy bottoms that absorb the sun. Any wood cover sticking out of the water should also produce fish. Some anglers are taking more fish when using plastics instead of live bait recently. Keep the trolling motor moving for the best results, but if you’re not finding fish in the shallows, be ready to switch gears and search a bit deeper.
Bass fishing has been nothing short of amazing. The early catch and release season for largemouth bass should not be overlooked. Anglers having the most success are slowly dragging swim jigs tipped with beaver-style trailers through old bulrush stands, tree limbs or lily pads in back bays. As water temperatures start to climb, switch to small, square-bill crank baits.
It's official! The 2020 Minnesota Governor's Fishing Opener will be held May 7-10 in Otter Trail County. Thumper Pond Resort will serve as the event headquarters. 800-423-4571; www.ottertaillakescountry.com
Brainerd Area Lakes
Water temperatures are currently range from the low 50s to low 60s depending on the lake. On the smaller lakes, walleye are being pulled from the emergent weeds by anglers snap-jigging plastics. Areas with rocks are best for a good night bite on shiners.
On the larger area lakes, the best walleye bite has been during afternoon hours past dark. Trolling with larger jerk baits and long-lining shiners near the drop-offs in 8 to 12 feet of water has been producing well.
Bass can be found very shallow in the warmest water of the lakes. Crappies and bluegills are still going strong with the crappie spawn just starting on some lakes. 800-450-7247; www.visitbrainerd.com
Isle/Onamia - Lake Mille Lacs
Fishing was fantastic around Lake Mille Lacs over opening weekend. Water temps were still pretty cold but the weather was spectacular. Anglers had success using all sorts of methods from rigging with leeches, bobber fishing, jigging with minnows and trolling in the shallows with rapalas.
Smallmouth bass fishing has been picking up over the last few days and will continue to improve as water temperatures warm. Anglers had the most success with tube jigs.
Anglers fishing Mille Lacs may keep one walleye from May 11 through May 31, but the walleye must measure between 21 and 23 inches, or be more than 28 inches long. Check out the Lake Mille Lacs webcams for great views of the lake. 888-350-2692; www.millelacs.com
Willmar Area Lakes
Anglers are pulling walleye from roughly 14 feet of water on Diamond Lake. Other active walleye lakes are Ringo, East Solomon, Long, Big Kandiyohi and Foot.
Crappies and sunfish continue to bite on Foot Lake, and near the bay on Nest Lake. The northwest shore of Eagle Lake is starting to heat up. The shallower lakes are at roughly 58 degrees. Expect fishing to really pick up as water temperatures warm up a bit. For now, stick to the shallows using a nightcrawler. 800-845-8747; www.willmarlakesarea.com
Minneapolis-St. Paul Area
This Saturday, May 18, Minnesota Trout Unlimited will host a Habitat Restoration Opportunity on Eagle Creek in Savage. Consider attending this morning event and help improve this metro trout stream by removing buckthorn and other invasive trees. Lunch will be provided. Non-members and kids are always welcome! Hiking boots or knee boots and gloves are encouraged.
Meet at the parking lot at 8401 Eagle Creek Parkway in Savage. Please RSVP to Tony Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lanesboro - Southeast Bluff Country trout streams
As of May 9, the streams seemed to be adapting well to the extra water. Streams monitored were running slightly high and slightly off in color. Caddis were hatching heavily last weekend and into the week. As of May 2, there were lots of reports of dark Hendricksons. Several species of caddis were hatching intermittently. Blue-winged olives were considered a possibility by DNR fisheries staff. Some anglers were having success with streamers. Learn more at the DNR’s Trout Streams page. Before you go, check out the "Area Highlights" section of the Lanesboro Area Fisheries web page for stream maps. 800-944-2670; www.lanesboro.com
Preston Area Rivers and Streams
Check out Preston Trout Days May 17-19. This annual citywide celebration features trout fishing on the 9-Hole Fishing Course, children's fishing contest, patriotic floats at the Grand Parade, live music, car show, variety of vendors and local food stands, Firemen’s Beer Tent, and lots of treasures at citywide garage sales! Get up early and enjoy a hearty breakfast at the Lion’s Club pancake breakfast. 507-765-2153
Ortonville - Big Stone Lake
Some monster walleye were pulled from Big Stone Lake this week. Anglers also reported some fast bass action. 800-568-5722; www.bigstonelake.com
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The information in this report is provided courtesy of Explore Minnesota Tourism.