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I could use some advise. My family owns a cabin on Big Ole Lake and I'll be staying there over the opener weekend. Since Ole is primarily a bass lake, I'll be looking to hit up some neighboring lakes for ol' marble eyes. Each year I go into Frontier Sports in Marcel and ask the same guy where the walleyes are biting, and it never fails, the guy tells me Jessie EVERY TIME!!! Now I've fished nearly every lake within a 30 mile radius of Marcel, but I've never fished Jessie. Is it truely the walleye fishery this guy says it is?

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Iron,

Jessie is one of the areas top lakes for walleye. It usually starts putting out fish consistently a week or so after opener depending on weather patterns. On opener pitch lite jigs on long casts to last years bullrush edges. As the season progresses move to crawlers and leeches on the cabbage edges and humps. The lake is a very consistent producer. Good Luck GF

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Jessie can indeed be very good at times but I avoid it on the opener because it is a total zoo at the access. A friend of mine went there two years ago and it was over an hour to get his boat launched in the evening. I fish the smaller lakes on opening weekend and then hit Jessie during the week. Just thought I would warn you now! Good luck!!!

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Thanks guys. I appreciate the info! If you could reccommend a good opener spot up there for walleyes without the circus, where would you go? I've heard Maple (by Turtle) is good. I've also heard good things about Little Bowstring. I've fished both, but have never had outstanding success on either.

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Coach Dog,

I hear what you're screamin' dog! There are way too many options in that area. I think your best bet is to get a map of the area, close your eyes, point to a lake, and then go fan-cast the hell out of it. If anyone has a more strategic or proven approach, I'd love to hear it.
When you were talking about shuckies, I assume you mean toothed critters, as opposed to paper mouths, buckets, or ol' marble eyes... Is that right? Now I'm confused. I need a beer. We'll discuss this further at Richie's, May 11th. All are invited! Anyway, thanks for the reply and we'll see you on the water.

Iron Man

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Iron Man-
Funny you should mention the guy at Frontier. He's gotta the same guy that I'm thinking of because he always, and I mean ALWAYS, tells me that Jessie is the place to be. I ask where the wall-dogs are biting and he says "Jessie is picking up," or "they're bitin' on Jessie." He must really like that lake. Maybe it would be worth a try, but I'm not a fan of crowded boat ramps, so maybe later in the season. I would suggest to you Spider or North Star, however, they receive the opener pressure as well, but probably not as bad as Jessie. I have also had some luck on Grave for wall-dogs, but haven't tried it on the opener.
I tried Maple w/ a buddy of mine once but only caught a couple shuckies. It may be worth a try though because everyone may be on Turtle. Or how about Turtle? I don't know. Your guess is as good as mine. You sound like you have the same problem as me: So many lakes... so little time. Let me know what you decide and let me here of your results.

-Coach Dog

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  • 3 weeks later...

How did the opener treat you on Jessie? I'm heading up in ten days and I was curious if anybody got into some 'eyes?

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The crowds should be thinned out now so I will start fishing it this week. Will let you know how it was after a few days of scouting. Good luck!!!

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Thanks Merc! I've been heading up to the in-laws there for the last 16 Memorial Weekends. I'm guessing that the bite will be picking up by then this year. Good luck and have some fun.

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Hey Duffman
I was at the access on Jessie on monday, about 5 rigs there. I talked to some of the guys when they came in, really slow all weekend. Of course with the warm weather now it should start picking up.
If you and red are not busy I would like to invite you to Jeremy's Eagle court of honor on may 25 at 2pm in rapids. Give me a call when you get up to the lake.
Should go after some legless sallymanders too.

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Graybuck....
Thanks for the info, I didn't see the billions of 3" perch this winter ice fishing like I did last year. Hopefully the forage base is a little down this year and the bite will be better.

Thanks for the invite, I'll talk to the Redhead and see if anything is planned for then. I'll give you a call when I'm up.

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Hey Duffman, we fished Jessie this week with pretty good results. Thursday bite was better than Saturday but because of a lot of boats it was tough to stay in our small area Saturday. Everyone out there was getting some fish that I talked to. Leeches in 6 to 7 feet of water worked for us but did see some people using shiners. One boat was fishing the 10 to 12 foot depth during the day and had some really nice size fish. This weekend will be packed I'm sure as every Memorial weekend is. Good luck, I'm going golfing this weekend and will try it next week after the crowds leave.

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merc....
After playing bumper boats on the St. Louis River for the opener I think I will be able to handle the weekend crowd on Jessie. LOL

Glad to hear you got into some fish, I will start out with shiners, but will also have leeches for backup. I'll probably stick to my lucky spots, but if those don't produce, I'll either move to somplace new or just try going after a different species.

Thanks for the update, I'll post a report when I get back.

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • Bobberwatcher
      I don't see ice going out til April. Some more 50 degree temps on the way, but still getting near or below freezing most nights and an extended forecast I saw is showing highs around 30 and even some single digit lows at night for the last couple weeks March. Little if any rain too. 
    • Bobberwatcher
      I don't see ice going out til April. Some more 50 degree temps on the way, but still getting near or below freezing most nights and an extended forecast I saw is showing highs around 30 and even some single digit lows at night for the last couple weeks March. Little if any rain too. 
    • CigarGuy
      Looks like there's plenty of ice still in Spring Bay! Kids snowmobile racing.
    • BWpineisland
      My wife is in total agreement with yours. I love the quiet and remoteness, my wife hates the ice travel!
    • SkunkedAgain
      There aren't a lot of cabins in the bay to begin with, a whole other bonus! For the folks on the south side of the bay, it's an access issue as well. People in general are less likely to go in the winter when you don't have road access, because now you introduce ice conditions, snow depth, darkness, cold, and other factors into the trip. While I have always enjoyed those challenges, it is much different to drive up on a Friday night and pull up to your place versus get there at 10pm, unload machines and gear, and go across the lake at night with gear in tow. I love it. My wife hates it. My daughter is in the middle.   Enjoy it up there.
    • smurfy
      yea that ice looks like its about on its last leg!!!!
    • Rick G
      Being we had a few hours of weather cold enough to make ice I decided to check out one of the small shallow lakes in the St Cloud area.  Ice was in surprisingly good shape this morning, had about 6-7 inches of hard ice again.   Found a pretty decent bite in 8-11 ft of water.  Crappies were riding high in the water colom while sunfish remained close to the bottom for the most part.  Best bait for me was a 3mm motoroil/chrome with a impulse mayfly. By mid afternoon we could definitely tell the ice wasn't as firm as it was in the morning. By the time we left at 4pm I had put all thoughts of returning tomorrow morning out of my mind.  At no point did I feel unsafe, we were prepared for whatever, floatation suits, ropes and ice picks at the ready😏😁.  Today was definitely my last day on the ice for the yr...next stop, spring carp/suckers😁   VID_20240229_150704553.mp4
    • Rick G
      Just trying to make as little noise as possible once holes have been drilled.  
    • CigarGuy
      I take my sxs all the way down Phillips Rd. road to Cains driveway and turn around at the entrance to Laura's and her son's Brian's driveways, Brian bought Davey Crockett's old place.(I think that was his name). You see them fishing on his dock at the beginning of the narrow part of the channel heading in Black Bay. They have the only 2 driveways that are plowed during the winter down Phillips Rd. My neighbor, whom you met, used to plow his boat house road so we access the lake easier in the winter for ice fishing, but he doesn't ice fishing much anymore, so just sleds down that road. I think I know who lets you access the lake, nice of him. I'm surprised more people in Black Bay don't use their places in the winter. I'm heading up in the morning!
    • chucker1101
      I drove on I-35 over Albert Lea Lake on Jan 5. It wasn't even partially frozen, and it's like 6-8 ft average depth or something like that. Those lakes in Sourthern Minnesota didn't even get 2 months of ice this year.
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