by Tim Anderson
May 26, 2008
Minnesota's opener started out with the typical cold, wind and rain. I elected to stay off the water for Saturday, but couldn't resist going out on Sunday. I fished the Gull chain, north of Brainerd on Sunday, and happened onto some really nice walleyes. Not much for numbers, but great size. During the day, in a northwest wind, I was pitching 1/4 oz.
jigs with blue/white ringworms, and catching a smorgasboard of walleye, pike, bass, perch, and even some big crappies. I fished the east side with the wind pounding on it, and fingers/points that stuck out into the main lake very near some spawning areas. Water temp. was 46 degrees, so I was working the jig really slow. All of my fish came in 4-8 feet of water. Highlight of the daybite was releasing a 28" walleye. After having dinner with my mom (mothers day) at Bar Harbor, I went back out for the evening bite, and caught a number of nice eaters, and released another big-un at 30". Our evening fish came on #5 rapalas in perch and firetiger, trolled very slowly up in 4-8 fow, 1.5mph with the electric motor. We had good success sweeping the bait forward, and then letting it back, and they would hit it on the pause.
I am not much of a panfisherman, but as I have been fishing, I have been noticing lots of folks catching crappies on the Gull Chain. The channels have been good, Margaret, Upper Gull, and Round too.
Last weekend was still tough...many lakes with water temps still in the upper forties. We caught some walleye, pike, and of course bass here and there, but nothing too spectacular. I spent lots of time "scouting"
this week for some upcoming guide trips. I caught pike and bass on Mitchell, Eagle, Goodrich, Round, Alexander and the Mississippi.
Walleyes have been pretty tough overall.
Things started picking up later this week with the warmth during the day, and the warmer nights. I've found some water up in the low sixties in some of the muddy back bays, and the fish are much more aggressive there (look for shallow bays with dark bottom on the north and west sides of "your" lake or river). Thursday morning we managed about 25 pike and 5 bass slow-rolling spinnerbaits (color didn't seem to matter) in the junk weeds and cabbage on the 4-8 foot flats out in front of the warmest bays we could find.
Bass opener was really good. I spent part of the day fishing largemouth, and part of the day fishing smallies over on Mille Lacs.
The largemouth were still pre-spawn (I have yet to see a bass on a nest anywhere in the Brainerd area), and just cruising around up in the shallow bays, tucked in pretty close to heavy cover. Water temp. was 58 degrees where we were fishing the largies. We boated 75 bass and 4 pike in about 3 hours, again, all on spinnerbaits basically as slow as we could go without getting weeds. We also got a few bass on scum frogs in the really heavy matted stuff. They wouldn't blast the scumfrog, but would just come up and suck it in, so you had to watch it really close...hard to do in the heavy winds. Smallie fishing on Mille Lacs was phenominal. Not fast and furious, but the fish were downright huge. We caught 20-25 bass, only two that were under 18", and all the rest, 18, 19, 20, and three that were pushing the 21 inch mark (probably a 4# plus average...unbelievable)! They were relating to the rock reefs, but were off to the sides in 4-10 fow on the upwind sides of the reefs. 55 degrees over there in the main lake. We caught them on the new Castaic soft swim baits (recently acquired by Nature Vision/Crazy Crank Lures) and 1/4 oz. jigs. These swim baits have great action, and were too much to resist for those big smallies. We also caught some bass on Rapalas (X-Raps) by ripping them, and then pausing. The bass would crush them on the pause.
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