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minnetonka opener?????


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never have fished minnetonka before and i was wondering if it opens wiith the rest of the state? does anyone fish tonka on opener if so what techniques? still trying to figure out where we are going to head and are trying to stay close to home....

thanks,

waleyhuntr

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For the past 5 years I've fished Tonka on the opener. So many guys run up north on the opener and I consistenly do better than they do. Never really understood why? I usually make a run up north 2-3 weeks after the opener.

We usually start out an hour before sunrise and we like to pull cranks in 7-9 feet of water looking for walleyes. Once the sun comes up, we get a fair number of northerns doing this as well. About an hour after the sun comes up we usually switch our presentation to lindy rigs with leeches or jig and a minnow if we've got them dialed in at a certain location. Slip bobbers with shiners can be a good stategy as well depending on the conditions.

I typically fish the east end of the lake, but this year I'm actually thinking of working the area between Phelps down around the corner towards Smithtown Bay. It seems like the walleye action has been picking up on other parts of the lake during the past few years.

Tonka is not an easy lake to fish for walleyes. With over 90% of the bottom being muddy, coupled with the milfoil, it can be very challenging. I was talking with Doc Sampson at Cabin Fever in Victoria about 5 years ago when I was really getting into Walleye fishing and he advised me to start on a lake like Waconia or Buffalo before trying to figure out Tonka. It was good advice. I learned how to catch walleyes on smaller lakes first and then moved over to Tonka.

I have to say that I rarely catch a limit of walleyes on Tonka, but with no slot limit, the fish you do catch you can keep. On Waconia I've caught a lot of fish and rarely do I get one that is in the slot limit. It all depends on what you're looking for. It really comes down to personal preference.

The one thing that is nice about Tonka, compared to Waconia, is that it has a great population of northerns. We usually end up with a lot more action on Tonka, but it is a mixed bag. The first 2-3 weeks after the opener is my favorite time of year on Tonka. I spend a lot of time chasing the walleyes during this time period as once it is over the walleyes get a lot harder to find. As the boat traffic increases and the weeds grow up the walleyes transition out of these post spawn areas and move either really deep, or up into the thick weeds and become much more difficult to target.

A lot of bass fishermen that I know catch a fair amount of walleyes each summer while working the weed beds for bass. I wish you luck in whatever you decide to do. Hopefully this helps?

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Hey pike guy just got a question for you. Fishing tonka on opener as well. Plan on being out about 4:30 am. I havent had the greatest luck on tonka early season. Usually I start catching a few once they get out a lot deeper and hang out more on the established weedline in 18 feet or so. The problem I have is even though I like to troll cranks shallow I cant seem to do it on tonka like I can on other lakes (indy being a good example) If its mid may or mid october and I try and come into about 7-10 feet of water I still run into weeds trying to troll 2-3 feet down. I pretty much only fish the east end (from big island on east) Am i just night finding the right spots to troll? The few I've caught early season have been off more the typical jig/lindy rig bite in usually about 12-15 feet

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I will probably kick myself for spilling the beans, but around opener fish on shallow rocks at night. Cast or troll xraps or huskys and you will do well. I just kicked myself.

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Hey man, don't kick yourself. That's what this site is all about. The bottom line is we are hear to help each other. But you did hit the nail on the head. Shallow rocks at night is where I always start. As for the question that you had, it is my opinion that the weeds come up quicker on the east end of the lake, and you will have trouble pulling cranks in 7-10 feet of water on the east end. No doubt about it. A couple places on the east end of the lake that I have had a lot of luck early is Brown's Bay and the North side of Big Island. I'm sure I just upset someone by telling you that? Oh well. Where you will have more luck pulling cranks is on the west end of the lake. The water is definitely not as clear. Having grown up on Halstead's out on the very west end of the lake, I have always been amazed at how Halsteads can be so dirty and the east end so pristine. If you are willing to work the west end of the lake, here are some spots for you. On Halsteads, the east side of grass island over towards the last rock buoy is a good place. In Cook's Bay there is a hole out in front of the bridge that goes into the Seton channel system that has been good for us early. If you go south out of Priests bay there is Hardscrabble point on the right. Really hard to miss that one. There is a sharp drop right there at the end that we cast cranks and have done okay. If you go south out of Priests/Cooks Bay down toward the left is what us locals call Red Bridge. There is a ton of rock there, and is a nice spot to cast cranks. If you are wondering why I am so willing to share spots it is because of what I have learned over the past 5 years. Tonka has a good walleye population, but they can be tough to catch. You might run into me. I'll be in tan 82 Starcraft with a black 50 horse merc. It aint pretty, but it gets the job done.

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Tonka's an exellent choice for the opener. Sure, the walleyes can be tough sometimes just as pikeguy said but if fishing were easy there wouldn't be any fish left.

All the above mentioned spots are worthy of a try the key is to be versatile and mobile. Tonka's not one of those lakes where your going to pull up on a spot and fill the live well. It just doesn't work that way. You have to work for them. You can catch a limit but you may have to work a dozen spots to do it. You catch the one or two active fish out of the school and move on.

I prefer the upper lake the first couple weeks of the season. The dingy water warms faster and there's less weeds and more hard bottom. If you wanna fish the lower lake the fish will be slightly deeper and more active in low light periods due to the clarity of the water. That's why evening/night trolling is popular in the spring especially on the lower lake. Browns bay is probably the most popular choice but Robinsons and Gideons are excellent as well.

The Pike rarely disappoint, the key is finding the depth and speed that will trigger a strike. I like that 9 to 12 ft. range on flats where the foil is just starting to come up and provide some cover for them. My favorite spring colors are firetiger, perch and gold&black. Be size aware too, It's spring and it's cold. This is the time of year when a 2 inch crank will likely out produce a 3 or 4 inch crank.

Now, someone might post next that they do everything the opposite of what I just said, and that's just fine. Neither one of use is wrong, just different experiences that's all. That's what I mean by being versatile.

Good Luck!

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Thanks a lot for the advice, I generally spend a lot of time focusing on bracketts and diamond but like I said havent had much success early season so definately appreciate the advise and might have to go a little bit farther west out of my comfort zone this time. Cant wait to give it a shot

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Some good info, you know I never have really tried Tonka in the spring for Walleyes. I think I should. I fish them a lot in the winter and this winter was pretty good.

So it sounds like trolling cranks is the preferred method, my boat trolls pretty fast what speed do you guys prefer?

Also if not trolling/casting cranks, what other methods do you use?

Gregg I see some of your spots were given away in this months MN Sprtsmn. Good stuff!!

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I do my best to keep my boat moving slow. I always try to keep it around 1 mph. It usually means backtrolling for me, unless I have a decent wind that I can aim the bow into.

Cranks are just my way of starting out. I use it as my main method for trying to locate active fish. After I make a pass over a spot and catch a fish, I mark it on the gps, and then I keep working the spot, trying to pick up more fish. If I find fish, I will work the area by casting cranks, pulling lindy rigs, vertical jiggins, and even running slip bobber rigs.

The key is to thoroughly work an area once you pick up a fish, and if it keeps producing stay. If it doesn't move onto the next spot. This is kinda the norm for Tonka walleyes. It is no different than a run and gun approach the bass guys use all summer long.

My experience when working an area is to slow my presentation way down. It is my personal belief that when people think they are working a bait slowly they are still moving it too fast. Slow down even more and you will probably put a lot more fish in the boat.

I learned this about 10 years ago from a friend of mine that owns a resort in Spicer, MN. Up until that valuable lesson every walleye I caught was probably a fluke or just dumb luck. It wasn't until I started slowing things way down that I started catching fish a lot more consistently.

Hopefully this helps, Good luck on the opener. Maybe we'll see you out there. Pikeguy.

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pikeguy, you were wondering why you usually catch more fish down here on Opener than the guys up north do; I could be wrong, but farther north the walleyes might still be spawning by the time Opener rolls around and they don't usually bite too hot when they're still spawning, which is probably why the action really heats up the weekends after Opener up north.

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Trolling cranks isn't the only thing to do it's just that it's a great search tool. Especially early when the fish are scattered and the cover is minimul. Kinda like fan casting a spinnerbait for bass. Also the early spring is the only time of year we can troll the shallows, within 3 weeks the foil is up to the top and it's all over.

If your interested in some good spring pike runs try one of these;

1) The breakline between Arcola Bridge and Bracketts point.

2) The south shore of Crystal Bay west of the golf club.

3) From the Narrows east to the boueys (both sides).

4) Echo bay south shore from west point to the Tonka Bay Marina.

5) Wayzata Bay northwest shore from the train depot west to the beach

As for the walleyes I usually miss out on the spring crank bite because I work evenings and the best bite is always late evening and after dark. Personally I do a lot of backtrolling, pulling blades with crawlers and some rigging too. Lots of good spots I'd be happy to share with you, just throw a dot com on the end of my poster name and drop me a line.

Some guides get all bent out of shape when you talk about or post specific spots. But it's never bothered me, there are no real secrets anymore and everyone knows the spots. The distincion is knowing WHEN to be there. Only the wind, weather and water conditions plus your experience can tell you that, not some magazine.

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I can think of only 3 decent ones. There are others but they are buried back in residential areas and are diffecult to describe how to get to.

The best is in Wayzata at the Sunsets docks. When you walk out on the dock hang a right and go all the way to the end.

The narrows channel. Best in the evening or after dark and early and late in the year.

Grays Bay channel. Simular to the narrows.

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I'm guessing the boat traffic won't be too bad the monday after opener? Was gonna go somewhere else with my little boat, but am now kinda' pumped to try 'tonka. Does the wayzata bay access still have that giant sink hole at the end of the cement slabs? I was able to back in around it easily with my small boat, but I'm assuming the water is lower now than it was last fall? Or perhaps the better pike/crappie fishing is on the west end?

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I'm thinkin the same thing JBMasterAngler.... Tonka can be awsome before the big rigs really start hitting the water. I'm gonna fish it way more this year in the evenings after work I think!

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Hey trapper, good to see you in FM again. I know I took a break for a while. Had to get serious about looking for a job. Kicker is that it looks like I'm going to be starting the new career next Monday. I was trying to get them to agree to a start date of June 1st, but they wouldn't go for it. Go figure. I get laid off on November 14th due to a downsizing and now I have to go back to work right before the opener.

Since JB is on the post as well, I'll let you in on how I target Tonka. Having grown up on Halsteads, I learned at a very young age to avoid fishing Tonka on the weekend with the exception of the opener and the first weekend or two after it.

After that any time I fish Tonka on the weekend will be from 5:00 am until about 10:00 am. After 10:00 am the crowds are just too crazy. During the week is more/less okay anytime.

A lot of us that have lived on the lake have a term for the weekend people, and we are not referring to the fishermen. We are referring to the recreational boaters. We call them, "citiots". I hope I don't have to explain it further. . .?

I have seen a lot of other terms used for them, but I wanted to set the record straight so everyone was up to date on the Tonka lingo.

Talk to you soon, Pikeguy

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Tradition!Some folks fish for fun,family,tradition or even just to get away.Not necessarily for "limits".Gotta love individuality in America!!!!!!!!!!!GO FISH NOW!c63

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Many openers on Tonka. Trolling crankbaits has always been the most productive. Husky jerk-baits for years have been the go to bait for me.

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • partyonpine
      Opener and the week after were good.  Not the numbers we normally get but better quality in the East End.  Not surprised on the weights for the Auto City a.  Usually for us we only catch a few slot fish but we averaged 3 a day for 10 days.  2 overs, biggest 27 inches.     Our best luck was 12-16 feet for quality.  When we went deeper we caught more but smaller.  Bass were really starting to heat up.  For me little earlier than normal.  Found some nice Bluegills the day we went after some panfish.  Dock fishing was as many as we wanted per usual.
    • Shulsebus
      We will be up on June 8th for the week. It will be our 13th year in a row staying on the lake.  I hope the walleye are hitting the bobbers by the time that we get there. 
    • SkunkedAgain
      Those are some fine specimens. Great job
    • gimruis
      I'm quite shocked to hear that a walleye tournament is still doing a live weigh in.  Virtually every event these days around here is doing a catch, photo, and release format.   Regardless, nice work.  Congrats.
    • LakeofthewoodsMN
      On the south end...   A great week of fishing with walleyes and saugers caught in good numbers.   The go-to presentation, again, was a jig and frozen emerald shiner.  Emerald shiners are a staple in LOW and walleyes love them.  Other minnows worked also, but emerald shiners are a favorite of anglers for good reason.   The Lighthouse Gap area, Morris Point Gap and just in front of Pine Island held nice fish in 17 - 21' of water.  Various schools of walleyes and saugers across the south shore.     A quarter ounce jig in gold, glow white, pink, orange, chartreuse, or a combo of these colors tipped with a minnow worked well again.   Some big pike and jumbo perch being caught by walleye anglers. On the Rainy River...  Some nice walleyes were caught on the river this weekend, although most anglers normally head to the lake.  12 - 15' of water is holding some nice fish.   Sturgeon fishing on the Rainy River is closed until the keep season starts up again July 1st. Up at the NW Angle...  Some nice walleyes being caught along with a mixed bag.  12 - 25 feet of water.  Points, neck down areas and bays with warming water were holding good fish this week.    The go-to presentation was a jig and minnow as on the south shore.  A mixed bag as is common around the Angle.  
    • leech~~
      Nice work!   Here's two words you hardly ever hear anyone say anymore.  "grateful and humbled"   
    • Brianf.
      RLG, thanks for the shout-out!     Jeff and I are still trying to wrap our heads around what happened this past weekend.  We are humbled and full of gratitude  for having won 'The Classic' for a second time.     We practiced through all the rain on Thurs and the wind on Friday and found six different spots holding big fish.  Fishing was good on both days with several 'overs' in our catch...but would it hold up for another day?   We didn't know.     On tourney day, we made a long run to our first spot where I lucked out on a 26.5"er on my second cast.  Jeff followed up with a thick 27" er a few minutes later, which turned out to be the big fish for the event at 7.26lbs.  We finished out our limit and weighed-in at 10:30 am for the welfare of the fish in our livewell.    There were some big weights in this event which would have won in most other years, but - for whatever reason - this was our day.  Everything just went our way.  Again, we are just super grateful and humbled by this success.  We also want to congratulate all the other anglers who did well and give a big 'thank you' to the tournament organizers who put on such a great event!  
    • SkunkedAgain
      I had a good start to the season on opener. Fishing was slow but consistent. I had four eaters in the box by lunch dragging perch raps. Crappies were biting. I haven't been up since so don't know how things have changed since then, but I'm sure the walleye continue to migrate out into the main basins.
    • redlabguy
      Let’s start this by congratulating Brianf and son for winning their second City Autoglass Walleye Classic last weekend. These guys know how to fish.  We just got to the lake for the season. Chores are almost done and I’m ready to fish.  red(new dog is more yellow)labguy
    • Jetsky
      I tried starting a 2024 Lake Vermilion Fishing Report topic but it doesn't show up on this board.   Maybe somebody else knows how to do it?
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