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Matt Johnson

Metro Area Minnesota Fishing Reports by Matt Johnson

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Matt Johnson

Water temps have dropped a bit in the Metro throughout the last few days. Mid 50s right now and this cold rain will probably drop them a little more... good news though (if anything weather-related is good) is that it's supposed to be dry tomorrow but the air temp will be 20 degrees colder than the water temp :)   Make sure to bundle-up!

My plan for tomorrow's opener is to slow things down a little and try to find pods of fish instead of going crazy flying from spot-to-spot. Seems like fish are moving around slower this week and they WILL bite but just need things a little slower. Live-bait rigs on the drift might be the ticket... although a main lake drift tomorrow could be a little quick in 20 mph winds.

The crappies should be active as they are in the midst of spawning and they should be holding to respective spots willing to eat. I would also expect to see some action up in the shallower weed flats for both pike and bass... slow-rolling spinner baits should get those fish to move or else a little impulse strike on the wake bait or lipless crankbait. I'll also be pitching some Salmo Hornets on the outside weed lines with spinning rods to see what bites. And of course the infamous wacky-rig might get a little workout on the bass too! Keeps things versatile and see what the day throws at you. If you're dead-set on catching walleyes but the walleyes are just not biting, then I encourage you to switch tactics and maybe target a different species... heck, it will at least keep you warm tomorrow :)

Have fun everyone and be safe out there!!

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Matt Johnson

Well, things certainly warmed up nicely the last several days! Sure was a cold start to the MN fishing season but we were back in shorts and t-shirts before we knew it!  The fishing action heated up too... at least the shallows turned on again. We moved back up towards the banks (actually out a little ways in 3-6 feet of water) to focus on shallower fish. The bass were up cruising the last week or so and the panfish were right with them... with some larger sunfish starting to school up too! Trick with the bass the last several days though was to not sit on top of them, but instead cast from a distance and let them intercept. We fished slow with wacky-rigged Mister Twister Comidas and Poc'it Frys... seemed to seal the deal nicely (see attached pic). Sometimes you literally had to just hold your rod and be patient but they would scoot over and pick up the bait. Also found some real nice fish in the channel mouths and mouths of back bays... seemed to be a slight pattern that developed. Otherwise it was shallow inside weed lines and bomb casts! Early in the morning the fish would cruise the marinas and boat harbors, but then slide out during the day.

Hopefully everyone had a safe MN fishing opener and caught some fish! Rain this week (much needed) so things will be a little wet but it will all work out in the long run. Good luck this week if you make it out!

MJ comdia bass.jpg

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Matt Johnson

The fish have definitely moved out the last week or so... at least in regards to bass. A LOT of fish in that 6-12 foot range now, with some even deeper depending on the lake and weed growth. Still some fish to be had up around docks and inside weed lines, but the consistent action is out in the newly growing weeds and outside weed lines. With the 90 degree temps predicted later this week we'll be fishing summer patterns before we know it! :)

The pike are cruising the outside weed lines as well. Throw a lipless crankbait or pull a Salmo Hornet and you'll get bit by pike! LOL.  Some walleyes coming in on the hornets right now too.

The bluegills are bedding all over now too, but please be respectful of those big females and let them know if you tie into some of the bigger ones. This is a vulnerable time for the sunfish populations and if you plan to keep fish for a meal please be selective. You won't have a hard time catching them so comb through the bigger ones and keep the 7-8" fish for the table. Ok, my small soap box speech is done ;)

Otherwise the warm weather this week should get things kicked off in high gear! I'm looking forward to a great week of fishing and be safe everyone!

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Matt Johnson

Looks like I need to resurrect this one... sorry for the long delay... 

It's been a whirlwind of a winter already. A couple dozen guide trips in the books and over a dozen different lakes across the Metro and surrounding areas.  Chisago... to Minnetonka... to Clearwater... to Prior... to Big Marine... and other places in between.

The good news:  we have good ice and the season is definitely in full-swing!  It's making up for past years!

That being said... big word of the day... WEEDS, WEEDS, WEEDS!!!  The biggest fish are constantly coming out of the weeds.  Sure there are numbers out deeper and throughout the basins, but if you want to consistently catch big Metro fish (panfish) then focus on the weeds.  Even larger walleyes are coming from the weeds.  Spend some time with the underwater camera and/or sight-fishing... force yourself to get out of your comfort zone and fish in the weeds (if you don't already).  Also turn to plastics instead of live-bait.  These few ARE feeding, they are not dormant.  Fish plastics and get after 'em!

I've spent most of my time targeting fish in less than 20 feet of water.  You basin bite is holding fish during low-light though, so if you're going to hunker-down over a deeper pod of fish then make sure the focal point is sunrise and sunset, otherwise chase-down the shallow fish during the day and stay moving until you find biting fish.  Our best bites are mid-day in the weeds... or those first couple hours after sunrise on some lakes.  Haven't had to focus on the night-bite a whole lot, but if that's your window of fishing then definitely go for it--you'll still get bit!

The tip-ups have been a little quite lately. Haven't put a ton of time into them, but they haven't been flying much. A handful of small pike, that's about it. Might need to go on a tip-up excursion soon though!

Hopefully everyone is out enjoying the season! Good luck, be safe, and have fun!

 

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IceHawk

Great Report Matt

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Matt Johnson

The basin bite really turned on this past weekend.  For whatever reason, a lot of those stagnant fish decided to feed... and feed ALL DAY for a change!  Maybe they were just sick of it being so cold and decided enough was enough, lol.  Regardless, it seems like the anglers out over the basins did well this weekend.  And the beauty of it, the fish weren't moving a ton and you could sit over them! Always nice when they do that during these cold days!

The shallow weed bite continues to produce too though... so don't abandon that bite if you're on it.  Those fish have been pretty consistent all season and typically give-up the better-size fish too.  It's a plastics bite--although live bait will work too--and you'll get a better fight out of the fish as well.  Me personally, I'd prefer to focus on the fish in the weeds, but both bites are fun and seem to be productive lately.  And not all weed spots are created equal... deep water nearby is important, especially if you're going to camp and not move a lot.  Sure you can camp over a expansive shallow flat, but the size of fish doesn't seem to be there.  I've seen where you need to be adjacent to deeper water if you're setting up in the weeds and not planning to move around (hole-hop).  If you're able to move around a lot then you have more flexibility.

A few tactics that have worked for us lately... spoons have ramped-up some fish catching, same with larger tungsten--and this is more-directly focused at the basin bite.  It's important to get down quick and also entice a reaction strike.  I'm not looking to "coax" or finesse these fish, I want aggressive hits and impulse.  We've actually done well on jigging spoons with NO bait at all.  The aggressive fish will hit it, no questions asked.  The Leech Flutter Spoon from Clam Outdoors in size 1/16 and 1/8oz has been dynamite on the crappies over the basins, and again, try it WITHOUT bait and keep it active... you'll be surprised!  Haven't had to tip them with bait the last several times out.  Makes it a whole lot easier when running and gunning!  

Then for panfish it's been tungsten and plastics, although I've had some clients doing well with maggots too.  The Snow Drop and Drop-Kick jig have both been killer... and white or pink-glow Maki plastics (Mino or Leechi) have been hot.  Several other options out there catching fish too of course.

Hoping for some consistency this week with some warmer temps... I think I even saw 40 (!!!???) degrees on Wednesday!! Wow!! Finally get to fish in a stretch of 20-degree days for highs... might have to break out the t-shirts!! ;)

Good luck to everyone this week and be safe!!

 

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Matt Johnson

Well... we got snow!!  Should help--a little--with the water levels this spring!!  Only tough part right now, it's makes for on-ice travel difficult! 

The snow aside, the bite has actually been pretty consistent the last couple weeks. The fish continue to roam the basins and expansive weed beds (panfish) and the walleyes were holding onto the main lake breaklines and structure.  The walleye bite was definitely hit or miss, but those who grinded it out for the sunrise and/or sunset bite were finding some fish.  Dead sticking has put the most walleyes on the ice from our outings and reports that I'm hearing.  Walleye season has come to a close for the Metro but hopefully everyone had a good season for those targeting gamefish!

For the panfish, the best is still yet to come! March is one of my favorite months to fish.  The weather--typically--is a little nicer, and the fish behavior changes and leans a little closer to the aggressive side!  You also continue to find fish shallower--if you haven't been targeting them shallow already.  The next several weeks will produce some of the best panfishing all year (in my opinion).  Obviously we need to keep ice conditions and safety into consideration, but generally speaking the late ice bite is one of the best.

For me, I'll be focusing on shallow structure--namely weeds and shallower depressions over flats in or adjacent to weeds.  We do have a nice blanket of snow blocking out some of the light, but with the warmer afternoon temps predicted all week we'll see much of that snow begin to flatten out.  By the weekend I'm hopeful that travel around the lakes will be much-better than yesterday, Lol!!

All that said, make sure to change your approach to coincide with the more aggressive-natured fish too.  Meaning presentation and mobility.  Upsize your baits, focus on plastics and maybe even a little larger profile.  At least see if it works, then you can always go back.  Also make slightly larger moves on a spot to find the fish, as they will probably move a little more.  Then you can make smaller moves once you "get on them."  A few simple things to increase your odds at late ice.

Overall, get out and enjoy the warmer temps and good luck on the ice!!

 

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