I grew up in the Bethel area so I fished the river a lot. Best walleye fishing north of princeton and best smallmouth fishing I've had was south of St Francis. One can catch them from Mille lacs to the Mississippi river
We fished Thursday-Sunday as well. Didn't do fantastic but ate fish all 3 mornings and all 4 of us went home with a limit. Kept 8 on Thursday and Saturday and 7 on Friday. I didn't fish Sunday morning but they picked up a few more then too. Size was very good. Most of our keepers were 15-19 inch fish. Got a 23 and a super fat 26" for slot fish. The 26 had to be an 8 pound fish-never seen one that fat on vermilion. Also ran into a 37" northern and a couple nice bass and perch. Thursday and Friday was exclusively an afternoon bite for us. All keepers came after 2:30pm. Saturday they bit all day. Lots of skinned minnows from short bites, probably 3:1 missed to caught ratio.
We did most of our damage in 26-30 feet off the edges of reefs in big bay and Frazer. Tried to drift or troll around 0.5-0.7mph. Usually like to go slower but wind made it tough at times. A longer leader on the lindy seemed to be the key. About 5 feet long compared to the usual 3. Couple of the guys threw a spinner on and that was the ticket at times as well. Not fast enough to spin but I think the fish were really hugging the bottom and maybe a little flash or stirring the mud up got them to go. Also found light biters but the larger the minnow the harder the hit. Ystore was out of pike suckers Saturday so we got light northern instead and the walleyes were smacking those hard.
All in all another successful trip. Somehow the October weather cooperated!
I’ve never just canoed the river so I guess I can’t really debate that time estimate. It’s always been a float/fish trip but casting only, not stopping to really work a deeper hole or anything.
I used to live on the river along that stretch. About midway between Isanti and St. Francis.
Cambridge to St Francis is definitely a long float, Isanti to St Francis not fishing just canoeing takes me about 5-6 hours. If your going solo check out the central park in Andover. You can float solo for about 3 hours and you end up within a 5 minute walk of your vehicle since it twists and turns so much in that stretch. I have not caught many walleye that far south but definitely will get a bass or two
My soft water season ended Saturday. Landed the boat and need to give it some TLC. I fished everyday in October and boated 304 walleye. Primarily fished my 5 favorite fall spots. Strictly used a jig/minnow. Lots of nice stuff with a fair amount of smaller fish. To be clear I am a catch and release guy. I probably kept 8 fish. This is a picture of a nice one from my last day out..